Thursday, June 30, 2011
I was a big fan of Nick Cardy's cover work for DC comics. Like Gil Kane for Marvel, his covers were always exciting and really made me want to read the comic, whether it was a superhero, western or horror title. I wish he had done more interior work though - which is why the original Teen Titans series has always been a favorite of mine. It is pretty fun to go back and reread those issues today. The art is still just as beautiful, but the dialogue is crazy! The ultra hip lingo that the Titans use is so over the top... I don't remember teenagers talking that way even back then! Then again, it wasn't written by teenagers, so that may answer the question!
Wednesday, June 29, 2011
Yknow, when I was listening and reading all of the negative reaction to the Green Lantern film (a movie I liked a lot more than most - the action, performances and overall look made up for a less than inspired script for me), I was thinking about how spoiled we comic fans are nowadays when it comes to seeing our favorite superheroes in other media. When I was a kid getting up early in the morning to watch an episode of Super Friends that was in it's third re-run, I never dreamed of a day when so many comic characters would be translated into film and television properties. If I'd had a peek 35 years into my future to see what was in store, I think my little head would have exploded with excitement. Now, in an age when we have so many comic book movies and shows to choose from, we tend to focus on what they got wrong rather than how cool it is that these things got made at all. back in the 70's when Super Friends was the only game in town, it was a different story. I was never bothered by the fact that they were rarely called The Justice League or that nobody ever threw a punch, I was just thrilled that the guys from the comics were on my TV, in full motion! When they added more characters in later years, I loved it even more... and of course my favorite seasons were the ones where they had multiple stories per episode - Full team, Zan & Jayna adventure, Safety tips or magic tricks, and then best of all a team up between a Super Friend regular and a special guest star! It was like reading one of those 100-page comics with all the various features. I of course loved the Legion of Doom years, even though the episodes were somewhat repetitive in nature, it was just too cool to see so many comic characters in one big story. Sure the series looks very quaint and dated now, but I am glad I was at the right age to appreciate it because for most of the heroes featured on it, it would be decades before we got to see them animated again.
Tuesday, June 28, 2011
I had always heard about The Spirit but never read any of his adventures until I had already been a comic book fan for decades. It was kind of like the first time that I watched Citizen Kane and saw all of the scenes that other filmmakers were clearly inspired by. Will Eisner was the same way with The Spirit - endlessly inventive and expanding the medium in ways that so many creators who followed would be influenced by. It's such a shame that the recent Spirit movie was so poorly executed. The character deserved much better and I hope that folks won't bee too reluctant to sample his print adventures based on what was presented on the silver screen.
Monday, June 27, 2011
Jim Aparo is my favorite comic artist and while I love his work on Brave and the Bold, Aquaman, Batman and the Outsiders and Phantom Stranger, the place where he made the strongest and most lasting impression on me was his Spectre run with Michael Fleischer in Adventure Comics. I loved these morality plays where the ghostly guardian meted out horrific and ironic punishments to evildoers. Aparo's moody art with superb use of shadow and panel composition made these stories unlike anything I had ever seen before. I was very happy with The Spectre animated short that DC released as a bonus feature on their direct to DVD films a while back. The fact that they decided to give it a 70's vibe with the setting really put it over the top for me. It's one of my favorite things to come out of DC Animation, and that's saying a lot.
A lot of people cite the 90's as an era of shoddy work and excesses in comics, but there were some definite bright spots. One is the Spectre series by John Ostrander and Tom Mandrake, truly a sensational comic. The first twelve issues are among the best comics I have ever read and they were able to maintain the quality throughout the rest of the run.
I have mixed opinions on the Crispus Allen version of the Spectre. While I thought he was a good selection as a new host, I have to say that none of the stories featuring him really hit the mark with me and the Spectre with a goatee just looked wrong, no matter which artist illustrated it.
Here are a couple of Spectre pieces in my collection, by Tom Mandrake and Steve Rude:
Friday, June 24, 2011
My dad would sometimes play cassette tapes of old radio dramas on camping trips and that was my first exposure to The Shadow. I later saw a comic that had him appear with Batman and thought it was great... one of the first times I began to think about unlikely team ups and how fun they can be. The Alec Baldwin Shadow movie is a guilty pleasure for me, I like to pop it in every couple of years. I must say that even though I get a kick out of the film it doesn't really seem like The Shadow to me, save for an early scene where he confronts gangsters on a bridge. I am glad the kept with the appropriate time period, but I would still like to see an adaptation that really digs into the noir roots of the character. I have heard rumblings of a new cinematic version of The Shadow and it will be interesting to see what kind of take a new interpretation will have.
Thursday, June 23, 2011
I first discovered the Seven Soldiers of Victory with their Silver Age reintroduction in the Pages of Justice League of America. I fondly remember that storyline because it also featured the JSA who and Metamorpho helping the JLA to find the time-lost SSOV. I had never seen so many characters together in one story, it really blew my young mind. As with the JSA, I would love to see some new stories featuring tales of the Seven Soldiers of Victory while they were still in their prime. The last time I saw them in action was the pages of All-Star Squadron, and that was decades ago. Grant Morrison recently revamped the Seven Soldiers concept, and that had some nice moments - but give me the original crew any day!
Wednesday, June 22, 2011
Secret Six is one of those fun books to come out of the last decade that will unfortunately be a victim of the DCU reboot, and that's too bad. I really liked what Gail Simone did to flesh out characters like Bane, Deadshot and Catman and the book had a wickedly fun dark sense of humor to it. Of course, there is some solace in the fact that there is a new Suicide Squad book amongst the reboot titles, and hopefully that will strike some of the same notes that Secret Six was popular for. Other than Deadshot, I don't know if any of the other characters from SS will apear in it.
Tuesday, June 21, 2011
This one was a request from Savage Dragon creator Erik Larsen, so how could I refuse? The Dragon would be another character that would fit in on a Ben Grimm poker night. I wonder if Larsen knew that his creation would endure for so long when he started drawing pictures of The Dragon as a young kid? I had a whole stable of heroes myself: Alastor the Avenger, Sonic Man, The Gimmick, Clay, and Machine Man (I was crushed when I found out there was already a character with that name!) Alas, they never made it past my grade school years, so I have to hand it to Larsen for keeping his childhood character alive and thriving.
Monday, June 20, 2011
As a big fan of the suit and gas mask outfit that Wesley Dodds is most well known for, I always favored it over the far more traditional superhero outfit that he wore for a time when he took on a sidekick, Sandy. That said, those tales feature some great early Jack Kirby artwork, so there is still certainly a lot to appreciate there. Sandman, along with the rest of the JSA is apparently being given a rest for a while while the DC Reboot launches. I hope it isn't too long before they see action again - they are great characters still with a lot of story potential.
Friday, June 17, 2011
I felt like doing a cover that was an unofficial crossover to Crisis on Infinite Earths, a series that blew my mind back in high school (note the red sky). Company wide crossovers have become all too commonplace since the original Crisis, but at the time it was so new and exciting to me, I literally couldn't wait for the next issue.
I still love the movie adaptation of The Rocketeer and Joe Johnston did such a good job with that period piece superhero movie, that I have high hopes for his take on Captain America.
Thursday, June 16, 2011
I never really followed The Question that closely, only picking up a couple of issues of his series. it wasn't until his appearances on Justice League Unlimited that I really started to take notice. I really liked his characterization on that show. Unfortunately that was right about the time that DC decided to kill him off and replace him with Renee Montoya. I think this was a double mistake because not only did we lose Vic Sage, but Montoya was dramatically altered. I liked her much better as a supporting character in the Batman Universe.
Wednesday, June 15, 2011
Well, it looks like SYFY's Phantom pilot did not get picked up to be an ongoing series, and perhaps that's for the best. I had no problem with the current day setting given that the Phantom mantle is passed down from generation to generation, but the lead actor and especially the costume really needed some work. I still think it is a strong concept and hope that this less than successful attempt will deter others from taking a crack at adapting the character.
Tuesday, June 14, 2011
The Phantom Stranger is another character that I was drawn to due to the incredible artwork of Jim Aparo. I liked how he seemed to keep one foot in the mystery/suspense genre and the other in the more traditional superhero world. Another cool thing was how his role in each story changed from tale to tale. Sometimes he would be the main driving protagonist, and other times he was more of an observer, doling out a few key pieces of advice. His back story has always been shrouded in mystery, and I think that is very fitting for the character. He hasn't had a very high profile lately, but with the Vertigo characters being woven back into the DCU and some of the new titles that have been announced I think the time is right for The Phantom Stranger to make a return.
Monday, June 13, 2011
Marv Wolfman and George Perez run on The New Teen Titans is comics at their best. It really set the standard for DC titles at the time. I remember being disappointed when Perez was taken off of JLA after only a handful of issues because that I think he is the perfect match for that title, but NTT was so good, I was quickly won over. It is too bad that the Teen Titans were never quite able to reach the same critical heights after Wolfman and Perez left though. The core team from their run has been scattered around, and I really like them best when they are featured together. I checked out the promotional images from the latest Teen Titans reboot and while I was hoping for a return of a more traditional team, it seems that DC is going in a different direction. Oh well, at least I have the long-awaited Wolfman/Perez NTT graphic novel, Games, to look forward to.
Friday, June 10, 2011
Out of all of DC's properties, I think that The Metal Men have the best potential for translation to children's animation. A team of brightly colored robots that can transform into anything, each with their own distinct personalities? Sounds like the perfect recipe to me. Their stories are exciting but light hearted and best of all educational... I really think DC is missing a sure thing by not pitching a series to Nickelodeon or The Cartoon Network. I was beyond thrilled to see The Metal Men make a few appearances on Batman: The Brave and the Bold, and those episodes only confirmed my opinion on this. So, if anyone from DC reads this blog, get this in motion!
Thursday, June 9, 2011
Hmmmm... it looks as though DC's previews for the upcoming rebooted universe titles are just about complete, and yet there is no sign of The Marvel Family. I'm hoping they are part of one of the few titles left to announce, but if that is not the case I wonder how long it will be before we see them in action once again? After years of darkening Mary Marvel, depowering Billy Batson, and turning Freddie Freeman into Shazam, it feels like forever since we have seen a straightforward tale of the Marvel Family. It's too bad, because I think they have a lot to offer in their more traditional forms. The wish fulfillment aspect of a young boy who can transform into an adult hero is still unique in comics and DC should be capitalizing on that... especially if they want to spin Captain Marvel off into the world of film. Hopefully DC has something up their sleeve that we just haven't seen yet.
Wednesday, June 8, 2011
Well, checking out the promos for the newly revamped DCU, I am sorry that thus far I do not see J'onn J'onzz anywhere, even on the Justice League. I hope he wasn't resurrected just to be shuffled off into comic book limbo for another decade. Apparently the promo image for the JLA only shows about half of the final team roster, so hopefully J'onn will still play an active role there. It really would be a shame not to include him as he is one of the few characters on the team not tied to a solo title and writers are free to do a lot more with him than the others within the book.
Tuesday, June 7, 2011
One of the reasons the The Thing is such a great character is the fact that you can insert him into any type of story. One issue can be full of dark, psychological topics and serious business, ans then the next issue he's dealing with a team of talking animals. I've always gotten a kick out of animal sidekicks to superheroes, being a pet lover myself. It's kind of cool to see things like the Krypto animated series and Marvel's Pet Avengers... these concepts can seem hokey but I think they serve as a great entry point for younger readers to the world of comics.
Monday, June 6, 2011
This was a tough cover to make but I think it was worth the effort. The Legion looks to be set for yet another reboot along with the rest of the DCU. Hopefully the new series will be as reader friendly as possible despite the huge cast and long history of the team. Even though it was skewed towards younger viewers, I think that the Superboy and the Legion of Superheroes animated series did an admirable job of presenting the LSH to a new audience. I also got a kick out of the Smalville appearance, complete with the Persuader! I'd like to see DC devote one of its animated films to the LSH - The Great Darkness Saga would be a great storyline to adapt.
Friday, June 3, 2011
Rounding out my trilogy of Thing/JSA covers, I decided to present their first meeting. Still no word on what the future holds for the JSA in the revamped DCU... I have a feeling they will stay with a contemporary title, which is fine... but I would really love to see some new adventures of the team while they were in their prime. Period piece comics can be a tough sell, but I think that a retro JSA series could find a following.
Thursday, June 2, 2011
Continuing with the JSA, I just had to include a cover featuring them as they were when I first discovered them as a kid. Plus I didn't want to pass up the opportunity to include the Earth-2 Robin in his funky Silver Age outfit, I just love that costume! Well, I have read that there will indeed be a new Justice Society of America series among the 52 rebooted DC Universe titles, but no word on the creative team just yet. Hopefully there will be top notch talent attached and the series will continue to tap into the rich history of the group.
Wednesday, June 1, 2011
I wrote yesterday of what a big fan I was of the Justice League. Well, my favorite stories were always the yearly guest appearances by the original super-team, The Justice Society. I was fascinated by this group of characters and would try and hunt down any appearances they would make. I was thrilled when they finally got their own series by Len Straczewski and Mike Parobeck, but disappointed that it lasted under a year. They finally came back again in a big way under the pen of Geoff Johns, and I have enjoyed their new adventures quite a bit for the most part. Now that the DCU is about to undergo a huge revamp, I wonder what the future will hold for them. Perhaps their own dedicated Earth-2 is in order again?
I like the JSA so much, that I couldn't just stick with one cover... more to come tomorrow!