Thursday, June 04, 2009

"Post No. 640"


"COMIC BOOK REVIEWS":

THE ADVENTURES OF SUPERMAN (DC) #494 (09/92), by Ordway, Grummet & Hazelwood, finds Supes stuck in outer space confronting an entity called "Kismet" which questions him on various decisions he's made during his career as "the man of steel".

Kismet presents several different scenerios to his actions had he not done certain things over the years, such as saving Lois Lane in his pre-Superman days when she was about to die in a plane crash, the time when Kryptonian villians tried to kill him and become rulers, and an accident which left a fellow schoolmate in a coma when he was a teenager in Smallville. More so, it questions his judgement and ethics due to those given him by his foster parents, Ma and Pa Kent. For a filler issue between various storylines in this title, it was excellant.

JUSTICE LEAGUE EUROPE (DC) #1 (04/89) was a spin-off title, of course, from the then current humorous type version of the JLA, written by Gruffen & Dematteis and art by Sears & Marcos, and it starred the line up of Captain Atom (as chairman), Powergirl, Animal Man, The Flash (Wally West version), Elongated Man, Wonder Woman, Metamorpho and Rocket Red. This title continued in the (then) tradition of tongue-in-cheek JLA titles, with a cover drawn very similiar to the Justice League America #1 of a group shot and someone making a silly remark.

This group of heroes find themselves located in Paris with Captain Atom trying to decide if he's really capable of being their leader. One of the nicer scenes is of the more pleasant times when Ralph Digby (ala, "The Elongated Man") and his wife, Sue, were still together and happy before she was killed off down the line in more modern DC titles. They confront such hazzards as trying to get their transporter on line (which burns up Animal Man's costume), to a crowd striken with some sort of madness, to finding a dead nazi at their front door. As I recall, this title wasn't "as good" as the regular JLA one of the time (now 20 years past), but acceptable.

MARVEL ADVENTURES (Marvel) #5 (11/2007) by Van Lente, Sandoval, Bonet & Gracia begins with a very eye-catching cover of "Iron Man" by Rafa Sandoval & Roger Bonet. Fred Van Lente's script isn't half bad for this "for all ages" type Marvel title, dealing with Iron Man trying to take down a bunch of pirates in a suit of armor designed for deep water use, and then having these "techno-pirates" actually capture him and steal said armor. They unceremoniously bind Tony Stark and shoot him out one of their torpedo tubes after blowing up a ship, and he gets a case of the bends, which forces him to go back and recapture his armor to keep from dying. I've read a handful of other issues of this title and even though they aren't up to the more adult versions of their super heroes, none of them have been badly done. This issue also contains a nice full page tribute to the late Mike Weiringo (1963-2007).

SALVATION RUN limited series (DC) #2(of 7 - 02/2008) by Willingham, Chen and Wong, continued being a fine series about the DC villians being exiled to a hostile planet, being used as their prison. In this issue, "Hellhound" gets badly wounded and "The Body Doubles", Bonny and Carmen, insist that they take him along rather than leaving him to die. There was an alternative motive for this kindness, however, as they knew eventually the planet's predators would appear, to whom they threw Hellhound to a fate of being devoured by "Lion-Lizards" (nice girls). Then, "The Joker" decides he's had enough of the super-intelligent mouthing of "Psimon", and beats his skull in with a rock (the norm' for The Joker, of course) and takes over that group of villians as their leader. In the meantime, the third grouping of Earth's greatest villians gets transported to this world via the "Boom Tube" which includes Lex Luthor and "Catwoman". Naturally, Luthor has his own agenda as to "who's boss" around there. Next time I'd at a comic book ship where I can pick up back issues I definately plan on completing this run to read.

CODE OF HONOR limited series (Marvel) Book 1 (01/97) by Chuck Dixon with painted artwork by Tristan Shane & Brad Parker is about a black cop working the slum areas of N.Y.C., always being over-shadowed by the heroics of the city's various Marvel superheroes. This follows his beginnings on the police force and various calls, at times confronting super-powered villians and a array of such heroes as Spider-man, the Punisher, The Hulk, Sub-mariner, and others, but the real tale is about the officer himself and the terms he comes to deal with to remain honest to both the city and himself. Very nice piece of work by Dixon of which I wouldn't mind reading following issues. The painted-type artwork isn't quite in the same league as, say, Alex Ross, but darn close.

FOREVER MAELSTORM limited series (DC) #1 (of 6 - 01/2003) by Chaykin & Tishman, Lucas & Barreto. Quirky type of artwork that almost set me off from reading it, but sort'a grew on me as I got into the story, which is about a time traveler named "Forever Maelstorm" and his companion, a talking timber wolf. He gallops around time visiting all sorts of historic people, such as Ben Franklin and the early Revolutionary War crowd (and the like), only to finally end up in one alternate current reality where most of life had ceased in 1964. Not one of Howard Chaykin's best creations and probably nothing I'd care to finish reading unless I just happen to run across other issues at a very cheap price. This first issue contained a preview of the Superman: Metropolis comic, but DC, at that time, published such previews so reduced in size (2 pages to one) that they're difficult to read and enjoy and get a true idea to the product. This comics' one really redeeming point to me is that it had a "Beatles mention" (pg. 8, panel 3), and that's been listed on my "Beatles & Bizarros" blog (unabashed plug w/link in the top right column).
DOCTOR STRANGE SORCERER SUPREME (Marvel) #'s 88 & 89 (04 & 05/1996). In this two issue storyline right before the last issue of the series, Dr. Strange's friend, Wong, blames Stephen for the death of his true love. Thus Strange takes Wong on a journey into the neather area between life and death, where spirits of the departed linger and rest for their final destination, and ponder the events of this corporal life and lives that are to come. Wong is reunited with his lost love and fully understands her departure and finds peace with Strange, only to discover that he's now alone in this dimension. In the following issue, Strange reappears after Wong is nearly drug on into the existence of "things that no longer are alive on Earth", and they return to their corporate building, "The Tempo". But things aren't always as they seem.

Wong is not with Dr. Strange, but an entity called "Afterlife" which feeds on souls and it has taken over Strange's body. Fortunately, Dr. Strange is powerful enough to free himself and Afterlife escapes to continue feeding, but in the end. he, with his friendship bond with Wong, are able to not defeat this entity, but release it from its false persona, revealing an angel that was trapped in the form. This was a pretty good tale from J. M. Dematteis and Mark Buckingham's artwork suited the story very well.

NIGHT FORCE (DC) #1 (2nd. DC series - 12/96) is the continuing tale of "Baron Winters" and his companions battling the occult, and once again, written by Marv Wolfman. This time we have Brent Anderson & Will Blyberg doing the artwork in a very purposely-drawn Gene Colan style. And the tale begins in a mid-eastern country where an execution is about to take place. Those who wish to stop this are too late to do so, and the story continues here in the U.S. where children are being possessed by something murderous, all chanting in Arabic, and all born with a strange symbol on their necks.

I'll have to admit, that even though I've always been a Marv Wolfman fan, I was never much for this series even in its original concept. I'm sure there's probably a huge fan following of these characters, therefore I feel I have no right to give an unbiased opinion. But it was interesting enough that I wouldn't mind reading other issues.

THE BATTLE FOR BLUDHAVEN limited series (DC) 1-6 (06-08/2006). To quote "Wikipedia":



"Following the Chemo disaster, the President declares a state of emergency and erects a wall around the city, as it is a threat to public health. Since Chemo was only chemically toxic, the nuclear fallout present in the city is a mystery. A new government-sanctioned super team codenamed "Freedom's Ring" (an apparent spin-off of the Force of July ) takes charge of Blüdhaven, and orders the Teen Titans and all other metahumans to leave the city. One year later, "The Wall" has become a permanent structure, and displaced citizens compare the immediate area to the Gaza Strip . Many live in refugee camps that have sprung up around the wall while the superhero Monolith helps to keep the peace.
Within the city, Father Time the supervillain commands American forces, ordering his men to shoot and kill any heroes (referred to as insurgents ) who enter the city. His forces also erect internment camps in which experiments are conducted upon American citizens. Also active in the city are the Atomic Knights , who run an 'underground railroad ' in an attempt to smuggle citizens out of the city. The Society dispatch the Nuclear Legion (Geiger, Professor Radium , Reactron , Mister Nitro, Neutron ) to discover the nature of the radioactive leak inside the city, but in a conflict with Freedom's Ring and the Atomic Knights, one member of the Legion is killed. The Society sends the Nuclear Family to assist, and they locate the leak, but engage the Atomic Knights under the city in a struggle that merges into a larger battle between the Titans and SHADE agents.
Increasingly concerned by the developments, Robin leads the Titans back into the city. The Black Baron, once a drug lord who was mutated by the blast, now styles himself as the leader and ruler of the inner part of the city. In a fight with the Titans, Monolith and Firebrand , the Baron is punched into the next state by Monolith. SHADE agents engage the Titans and Lady Liberty is killed by Ravager, who then defeats the SHADE officers sent to retrieve the Titans. The Green Lantern Hal Jordan arrives to square off against Major Force , and Major Victory tells Force to stand down. Force refuses and beats Victory to death using Victory's own arm, after which Force's subordinates and some of the SHADE agents refuse to stand by him. Monolith is shattered in the fight and Firebrand escapes, following a voice that urges him to come to the Mississippi River .
The Atomic Knights place Captain Atom in a containment suit designed to limit his radiation output, similar to the armor worn by Monarch . Atom kills Major Force by draining all of the radioactive energy out of him and delivers a warning, telling anyone who wants to live to evacuate the city. After the evacuation, Captain Atom unleashes a nuclear explosion, destroying what is left of Blüdhaven and leaving a radioactive crater in its place. Meanwhile, the Atomic Knights retreat to an underground bunker known as Command-D. Later Brother Eye , in pursuit of Karate Kid , Una and his creator, the scientist Buddy Blank , claims Blüdhaven for himself, activating a new OMAC Army."


'Can't say that I was a "big" fan of this series, probably because of the way DC now portrays various characters originally created in The Golden Age Quality Comics' hero line. Nor do I feel that DC has ever really given a decent treatment to any of the Charlton Comics heros (especially "Captain Atom"). It was interesting enough, and "The Teen Titans" played well into this series, but overall it was just another dark and gritty DC series of which sometimes I grow bored. However, it was really nice to see "The Atomic Knights" back into action again as they have always been one of my favorite Silver-Age teams from this company having read many of their stories back years ago in Strange Adventures.

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