Thursday, January 25, 2007

"Reviews of Current Comic Books"

Reviews....I promised Reviews.

Well...if the upcoming adaptation to film of Frank Miller's 300 limited series (which was published by Dark Horse Comics) is as faithful as was "Sin City", it'll be one hell of a flick! Indications from the preview of the movie appears that scenes are right on the panels shown in the series. It'll be somewhat dark n' gritty like Sin City, but in a historical and classical sort of way. If you've not read this series, you really should before seeing the flick. Looking at current prices for a full set of the 6 issues in on-line auctions makes me believe you'd come out better for a reading copy by just purchasing the over-sized (10" x 13") hardcover published Dark Horse Books for $30. Written and drawn by Miller with a great coloring job by Lynn Varley. (An A+ rating.)

I've already mentioned something before about DC's 52 Week 37, but if you're following this series, #37 is a definate issue to buy just because of the number of things from previous storylines being in it. I'm going to just stop reviewing this title until the whole thing's over with; there's too many things changing around all the time that make previous reviews useless. I will say, as I've said before, that this is an important series in the current history of The DC Universe, and characters will definately be changed around by the time it's over. (Rating A+.)

All Star Superman is a fun title, with some great art by Frank Quitely, and of course, written by Grant Morrison, and the current issue I've picked up (#6) continues with an excellant story revolving around the circumstances of the death of Jonathan ("Pa") Kent. It's also a "Krypto" appearance. By this book; you'll like it! (I missed #3, but will definately go back and pick up that issue.) And the next issue will have Bizarro! (Rating A+.)

Robin is up to #157 now. I've never, until now, bought a single issue. Just not a big fan of the character, although I've always been a fan of the silver-age character in association with The Batman. But this issue drew me to it because of a promise of an appearance of one of Jack Kirby's old characters from "The Demon", which is Klarion the Witch Boy. We don't get to see as much of him as we do Klarion's familiar (cat), "Teekl". Even so, it was a fair read and future issues have Klarion more in the current storyline. The Frazer Irving art is nice, but Adam Beechen's script is a bit sparce (Rating B.).

In JLA Classified #32, we see a new storyline starting involving the villian "Destiny", but he's really more of a sub-plot to another character in this who wants to control all points of existence. Destiny, of course, convinces him he ought to just rule the world, the universe, (whatever). It's an "alright" script for JLA characters as far as that goes (by Dan Slott), and Dan Jurgens' art is still looking somewhat like a fair Neal Adams imitation at times. Still if one wanted to get in on this series, this issue would probably be a good starting point. (Rating B.)

Justice Society #2 is the first issue of this I've picked up, but only because it's the first one I've seen available. I've always been a fan of the Golden Age DC heroes, but can't say I'm overly-enthused about this title from reading the single issue. It has a really nice Alex Ross (with assists) cover, Geoff Johns script, and Dale Eagleham/Ruy Jose' art, but nothing in this issue really grabbed me. Plots revolved around the death of "Mr. America", the end of the "Steel", blood line, as well as the illegitimate son of "The Wildcat". All of these individually would make fine reading perhaps, but there's just too many spoons in this bowl. Maybe I'll give it an issue or two more just to see if John gets a decent handle on the characters. (Rating C.)

Also a disapointment was Green Lantern #16, which I picked up just for the Alan Scott GA G.L. app. For one thing, he made almost no app. in the title; the JLA was shown even more and they weren't headlines on the cover. Dunt know...maybe Johns is spreading himself out a little thin. (Rating C-.)

Superman #658 was an interesting issue, whereas The Man of Steel gets a glimpse of events that could or could not occure in the future. The character "Jimmy Olsen" gets a fair amount of fleshing out in this issue (Kurt Busiek, writer), and Carlos Pacheco's artwork is more than "passing". (Rating B+.)

And finally...Superman Confidential #3, which begins with this nearly mono-chromatic cover. I really like Tim Sale's artwork, and honestly, that's what's been getting me to come back for issue after issue, because the story (by Darwyn Cooke) really isn't all "that" interesting. Also, I really wish that DC wouldn't put a distracting two-page center-spread advertisement for Nintendo right in the middle of their books. I can't give this title more than a B- Rating, although I DO like the art.

And that's it. As you can see, nary a Marvel (or anything else save for the "300" series) in this lot review; all DC's this time.

Hey! Only Eleven Months till Christmas! (Shop now, Shop Early.*heh*)

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

"Unexpected Surprize"

Sometimes life just wants to throw you a curve.

Today my wife and I went to visit her terminally ill father, who is still staying at home. The first thing he wanted to talk about was his illness and how far it had progressed. In the conversation, he asked my wife if she could take an (undetermined time) leave of absense from her job and come up there to stay with him and help with the chores and such until such time he had to go to the nursing home, or, a hospital.

This was, to say the least, a bit of a bombshell. He had never asked (or mentioned) anything about this before. What it boils down to is that my wife (and I) and basically he only people he can depend on for any help in the family. He being a widower, his other two daughters are either too busy with their families (or simply just don't care), which leaves all of the weight on us. Plus, he's been in a nursing home previously and disliked it, so he wants to keep away from that again until it is absolutely a necessity (can't blaim him). Haven't a clue IF my wife will still have a job when she finally is ready to return. So' looks like I'll be batchin' it it soon for a while.

In other news, my mother went back for one of her last sessions of physical therapy since she dislocated her sholder. He only has two more appointments, now for that, then a follow up visit to her doctor on it. She's able to drive alright and do most of whatever she did before, but still can't lift much weight with that arm. And, my own dad, at (almost) 87 is...okay.

As soon as I read some new comics I'll be giving my reviews. The only one I've read thus far is the current issue of 52 (DC) Week 37, and in that I can tell you to totally forget EVERYTHING I've reviewed before about this title. In this particular issue, two different characters thought dead aren't, plus the identity of the new hero, "Supernova", is revealed. Real glad I didn't miss this one!

I also purchased current issues of All Star Superman #6, Superman #658, Superman Confidential #3, Green Lantern #16, JLA Classified #32, Robin #157, & Justice Society #2, plus the Frank Miller 300 hardcover, all of which I shall soon review.

Monday, January 15, 2007


Hey, it's "2 for the price of 1" Day! Not only do you get THE ORIGIN OF "MIKE STRIPE"! if you click onto the "My Unpublished Work" link on the right column, but Here's another New Adventure of The World's Least Merchandised Super Hero as well!

Thursday, January 11, 2007

"Reviews, and Stuff"

Is it just me, or did "George W's" address last night sound a LOT like LBJ's philosophy, that the only way to end the conflict in Viet Nam was to step UP the bombings? I dunno... I certainly don't think there was any real surprizes in his speach since his intentions had already been leaked out a few days ago.

Let's see...lots of things...Yvonne DeCarlo passed away at age 84, which was more than a surprize to me since, like some others, I didn't even know she was still alive! Oh course she did a LOT more than just play Lily on the 60's t.v. sitcom, "The Munsters" (which you can see by clicking onto the link). Like Uma said in "Pulp Fiction", you're either "an Elvis guy, or a Beatles guy, but you can't like both of them equally". You can like them both, but when it comes right down to it, there's one you prefer over the other. Thus it was with "The Munsters". I was actually more of a fan of "The Addams Family", but it doesn't mean I didn't enjoy the show or that I haven't seen every episode (as well as the two feature flicks made from it) at some time or another in the past 40+ years.

And Bowie turned 60...the l.p. record turned 60 years old as well with the first 14"'er being introduced in 1947.

So much for that; here's "Puck's Comic Reads", that is, new comics I've picked up lately and some thoughts about them.

Teen Titans Go! (DC) #38 (2/07) features the "Return of The MAD MOD!", which you just know is going to feature some Beatles' referances. This one didn't disapoint and I found several which have been added to my "Beatles and Bizarros" blog site (link on the list to the right). Fun issue!

The Immortal Iron Fist lmt. series (Marvel) #2 (2007) continues "The Last Iron Fist" story (sure...). Well... the art's nice.

52 (DC) Week 34 (12-27-06) features the death of two different DC characters, one of which (if you've read my previous blog reviews of comics) was expected. Not to ruin it for those who haven't read this, but it's yet another Ditko-based character from the 1960's (The Blue Beetle being the other one that's been killed off and re-done). With DC having the Charlton Comics rights these days, it's beginning to make to wonder if this isn't a plan to distance themselves from any previous version of said characters so they can be made over in The DC image? The back-up 2 pager's nice; "The Origin of Zatanna", with Brian Bolland art.

Justice League of America (DC) #5 (2/07) features the old GA character/villian, "Solomon Grundy", who's now smart and dresses rather well. Reminds me of that period where Peter David and Dale Keown were doing the "Hulk" book and had the green-guy intelligent. The original JLA is in this issue as well. This is the first issue I've picked up of the new series. not bad.

Superman Confidential (DC) #2 (2/07) is a pretty book, with that distinct Tim Sale artwork, but like the first issue, seems to be all glamour and no meat to the story.

and finally...

Supergirl (DC) #13 (2/07) where she meets "Powerboy". Now here's where I need some explanation as to what the hell's going on in The DC Universe these days with this character? I thought she was in the future with "The Legion", but here she is in current time as well. (What's the scoop, sumbodi?). The usual fare with this title. Meet some villians, beat them up. It's okay.

Later, folks.

Friday, January 05, 2007


No new "news" today. Just wanted to let everyone know that if you click onto "My Unpublished Work" link you'll see a NEW Adventure of The World's Most Unamalgamated Super Hero, "Mike Stripe"!

Thursday, January 04, 2007

"John Force---Magic Agent"

Over on "Johnny Bacardi's" 01/03/07 blog post he was talking about an old cartoon show produced in the early 1960's created by Batman creator, Bob Kane, called: "Cool McCool". This was a secret agent-type, and is well-remembered by many people our age (that is, "Johnny" & myself; dunt know about YOU), got me to thinking about another spy-type character from that time.

It was in a comic book published by The American Comics Group (aka: ACG), called Magic Agent, and it starred a character called: "John Force" The title ran for three issues in 1962.

John Force's only "costume" as such was a trench coat (well...yeah! I mean, he DID wear OTHER clothes under it! Get yert mind outta the gutter, folks! *heh*), and he wore an eye-patch. This eye-patch-wearing spy/secret agent-type was created by writer Richard Hughes (who also created "Herbie"), and the art was by Paul Reinman (who many remember best from the various super-heroes he drew for MLJ/Archie back in the 1960's) and inked by Pete Costanza (who inked many of C. C. Beck's "Captain Marvels"), and he beat Marvel's own one-eyed secret agent, "Nick Fury", by a good three years.

John Force did have his own "secret weapon", which was a magic coin which he could touch and create illusions (among other mental/super-natural events, such as telepathy), plus he was an excellant hand-to-hand combatant.

(The idea of using magic coins for various powers, I might inject here, was used again in comics in the 1960's, this time by DC, who in issues of Captain Action (based on the action figure), the hero also used various magic-powered coins to obtain the powers of the gods.)

The idea of a super-natural type of character wearing a trench coat would be used by DC (again) a good twenty years later when John Constantine, the Hellblazer appeared (first in the pages of Swamp Thing, then later in his own title which still runs to this day).

The above cover illustration is from Magic Agent #1, the first app. of John Force (artwork by Kurt Schaffenberger). This character stayed around for about three years and appeared too in issues of Forbidden Worlds (#'s 124 & 125), Unknown Worlds (48,50,52,54 & 56), plus perhaps a few of those full page advertizements you occasionally saw running in various ACG titles. Not only did he appear before any of the other ACG super heroes-types (Herbie, excluded), but he also outlasted (appearance-wise) both "Magic Man" and "Nemesis".

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

"The Final Days of a White Elephant"

In the early 1900's, a large motel was built next to the railroad tracks in my hometown of Horse Cave, Kentucky. It was called The Owens Hotel, and it was extremely popular a place to stay in, as the old L&N Railroad linked the tracks between Nashville, Tennessee, and Louisville, Ky., with this being nearly in the center between the two cities.

It was close to Mammoth Cave (within 15 miles), and all the way up until the late 1960's, the small burg of Horse Cave was still filled with many business, stores, groceries, pharmacies, 5 & dimes and even a movie house. For a small town of approx. 1,500 people, it was pretty "booming"!

Back in the 1940's, this area still sold alcoholic beverages, and the Interstate highway hadn't been yet constructed, so everyone had to pass through the town if they traveled what was the main road then: HWY 31-West. Then in the mid to late 1960's, Interstate 65 opened and, as with so many such towns, Horse Cave was by-passed. Businesses began to fail and move out and eventually the main part of the town had little to offer. Add such corporations as Wal-Mart, K-Mart, and shopping malls and the town had nothing to offer anyone that was young, so Horse Cave became more of a place for the retired. The hotel was one of the first places to go out of business, and it sat there, mostly empty for many years being used on occasion as a boarding house with apartments for rent, or as a campaign HQ for some political party.

The above two photos: the top one is of a neon sign that hung across the street from the motel, and the bottom, a photo of the place as it looked in the 1980's (at which time it was actually within reason to rebuild.)

Finally in the 1980's, the building, sitting almost empty, suffered more than one fire. It was never rebuilt and the place continued to fall into decay. Sadly, at last, there was nothing left but the reinforced brick shell. Now, at one time 30+ years ago, a person came into this town and had a plan to rebuild the place and actually had people conned into buying bricks from the walls. Her whole plan was to inscribe contributors names onto these bricks and put them back into the building during its reconstruction. This was all just a scam and that person skipped town with a lot of the locals' money. Discouraged, the local townspeople once again neglected the hotel and it fell even further into dismay.

About 10+ years ago, the town decided to attempt to get grants to rebuild it once again. There was this grand plan to get passenger cars back on the trains which still pass through the town, and Owens Hotel would be the place for them to stay so they could get off and enjoy some fine meals or visit the local live theatre. And in fact, several government grants were obtained, but time ran out before all of the funds needed to even start on the project took hold, and, as well, there were those who didn't like the fact that this rundown building ready to be condemned kept the town from getting beautification awards and extra cash given for such from the state. Everyone started to finally realize it was time for the structure to be torn down. And with the new mayor here locally that has had this as his wish for so long now, it looks like that day draws ever nearer.

I personally, if anyone was going to shed tears for this, would be one of the first to do so, so I grew up a good ten years of my childhood hardly a block from the hotel. I have been in many rooms in it, and seen the beauty it once contained. This was one of the reasons so many opposed its destruction. They remembered all of the school dances and the like that was held there back in the 1940's and before, and honestly, back then it had a quite fantastic dinning area and was up to date with the times. But...that was back then. Because of those memories, they think it wouldn't take much to repair the building. They just don't realize that hundreds of thousands of dollars wouldn't do it; we're now talking in the millions. It would be better to totally tear it down and reconstruct the entire structure to even make it look anything like it did originally. tears from me.

If people want to remember it as it was, tear it down, use the bricks to build a wall around the area, then put a playground within that. On the wall, a nice bronze plaque with an ingraved picture of the hotel's original splender would be a fitting tribute. And perhaps now any funds given to this town can actually be used to better the downtown district again and perhaps bring in needed businesses.

Monday, January 01, 2007

"Happy New Year 2007!"

Wishing everyone only the Best in 2007! (And to start things off right, there's a New Adventure of "Mike Stripe" if you click onto "My Unpublished Work" link!)