I almost gave up on this after the first half of the first story, thinking that Waid had turned my favorite Lee/Kirby creation into a sitcom, but some...moreI almost gave up on this after the first half of the first story, thinking that Waid had turned my favorite Lee/Kirby creation into a sitcom, but something happened toward the end of that first story that made me realize, "Hey, Waid does get it. Maybe more than anyone in a long, long time, he gets what the FF should be about: not the villains, not the Negative Zone, not Dr. Doom, not the weird cosmic stuff, all of which I love, but the characters and their relationships. Waid's FF takes a little getting used to, but give it a try; he's onto something here. (less)
You think you know where this is going, but you really don't. At least I didn't. New Mexico governor Arcadia Alvarado is early into her presidential c...moreYou think you know where this is going, but you really don't. At least I didn't. New Mexico governor Arcadia Alvarado is early into her presidential campaign when she begins to suspect she was recently abducted by aliens. Alvarado is convinced that she must become President in order to help prevent an alien invasion.
Sounds pretty silly, right? And it definitely sounds like something you've seen before. But it isn't. I'm going to have to re-read this one soon because it so completely goes where I had no idea it would go. I'm interested in the next volume and even if it's a bust, this first installment is definitely worth a look. (less)
Quite disappointed with this. I understand this collection runs the gamut of Spectre stories covering many years with many writers and artists, but I...moreQuite disappointed with this. I understand this collection runs the gamut of Spectre stories covering many years with many writers and artists, but I felt few of these stories carried much impact.
The early Gardner F. Fox and Bob Haney stories are pretty much goofy fun, but don't really go anywhere or explore the possibilities of a character as potentially fascinating as The Spectre. Things pick up a bit when Neal Adams draws and writes some of the later stories, but not for long. Spectre's failure in issue #8 looks promising, but the writing then devolves into several "redemption-of-the-week" stories.
Beginning a little over halfway through the collection with Adventure Comics #431 (writing by Michael Fleisher and art by Jim Aparo), things get wild and crazy as The Spectre becomes more menacing and violent, really pushing the edges of a post-code mainstream comic. Yet again, none of these stories really deliver on the potential of how interesting the characters of The Spectre and Jim Corrigan could've been.
The best story comes from DC Comics Presents #29, "Where No Superman Has Gone Before," which shows us that even Superman has limits, albeit limits imposed upon him by The Spectre. Here we learn what Spectre is really capable of doing, why he can do it, and to what lengths he'll go. (It's also a great Superman story.) For me, this is the only story in the entire collection that takes risks with its characters.
We used this book as a teaching guide for our college ministry this summer, specifically for the college guys. It's my first experience with "The Bibl...moreWe used this book as a teaching guide for our college ministry this summer, specifically for the college guys. It's my first experience with "The Bible Speaks Today" series, but thought it was a good, easy-to-read/easy-to-understand commentary, yet with plenty of challenging material. (less)
I've really grown tired of the whole "Season One" reboot concept from both Marvel and DC, but since I'm a Doctor Strange fan, I thought I would give t...moreI've really grown tired of the whole "Season One" reboot concept from both Marvel and DC, but since I'm a Doctor Strange fan, I thought I would give this one a try.
The first half of the book, a retelling of the Doctor Strange origin story, is quite good, showing that Stephen Strange's transformation from the arrogant, yet brilliant surgeon to master of the mystic arts was neither immediate nor easy. Rios' art works well in these early pages, managing to do something quite difficult: to convey that multiple events are happening on multiple dimensions while drawing on a two-dimensional surface. Ironically, the artwork succeeds on this level (levels?) while becoming confusing in many of the action sequences; you simply can't tell what's going on in many of the panels.
The story is essentially a quest story, with Strange and fellow mystic arts student Wong traveling with a woman named Sofia in order to obtain three rings, which will enable them to command the Vishanti, an ancient mystical force, whether they are "worthy or unworthy." Pak has some fun with the ring motif, and provides a good mixture of adventure and humor, but ultimately the quest becomes muddled and disappointing. Strange is supposed to be learning how to deny himself and help others, yet the whole way in which the characters seem to go about their goal seems rather "unworthy."
Doctor Strange: Season One isn't a bad read; I was just expecting more. From some of the other reviews I've read, this is one of the best of the Season One graphic novels. If that's the case, I think I'll avoid the rest of them. (less)
Wow.... Lemire takes a break both from the current story and art style for the first third of this collection, bringing in one of my favorite new arti...moreWow.... Lemire takes a break both from the current story and art style for the first third of this collection, bringing in one of my favorite new artists Matt Kindt (currently working on the incredible Mind Mgmt) to show us a bit about how this story started 100 years ago. I could not turn the pages fast enough. When Lemire brings us back to the present, the series' sense of urgency (that you previously thought was painfully urgent) gets ramped up to unimaginable levels. Good, messed up stuff. (less)
The Manhattan Projects, Volume 1: "Science. Bad." is a perfect storm for me. It's got enough science, real history and real characters mixed with scie...moreThe Manhattan Projects, Volume 1: "Science. Bad." is a perfect storm for me. It's got enough science, real history and real characters mixed with science fiction, alternate history and yes, even aliens, to keep me more than interested.
Maybe I know just enough about the key players (Oppenheimer, Einstein, Feynman, FDR, Truman, etc.) to be able to appreciate how they're used in this first installment (collecting individual issues #1-5) to bring about something that's frightening, hilarious and most of all, filled with wonder. It's just weird enough and intriguing enough for me to want to camp out at the comic book store for the next installment, which can't come soon enough.
(Okay, I've used my allotment of the word "enough" for about the next three months.)(less)
Terry and the Pirates is an action-adventure strip that's a cross between Indiana Jones and Tintin (which, debuting in 1929, seems to have an unmistak...moreTerry and the Pirates is an action-adventure strip that's a cross between Indiana Jones and Tintin (which, debuting in 1929, seems to have an unmistakable influence on Terry). The saga begins as Terry, a young American boy (probably about 12 or 13?) explores China, looking for a hidden treasure left by a relative. Assisting Terry is a "two-fisted" journalist named Pat Ryan and a Chinese guide (of sorts) named George Webster Confucius, or "Connie" for short. The trio get embroiled in all sorts of adventures with pirates, femmes fatales, and other villains.
The series is great fun, despite the many un-politically correct interpretations of other races and Caniff's often confusing attempts at conveying slang and broken English. This is, however, 1934-36, and Caniff is simply a product of his times, so don't judge him too harshly. What makes Terry and the Pirates not only good, but very good (bordering on stellar) is Caniff's artwork, storytelling and pacing. When I look at Caniff's drawings from 1934, I'm amazed at the detail, the amount of characterization conveyed in the faces and the attention to detail. It's simply stunning. Plus Caniff knows how to tell a story. There's something going on in each panel; no filler. Yet Caniff's greatest strength is in the story's pacing.
I never seriously read comic strips as a kid, so I never was caught up in keeping up with a serialized story day after day. Caniff understands this, makes each daily strip essential and makes each one work on it's own, yet provides just enough of a cliffhanger to keep you hungry for the next installment.
The trick for Caniff was to keep two story lines going at the same time. In those days, many Americans only read the Sunday newspaper, which meant comic strip serial fans would miss the majority of the story if they only read Sunday editions. Caniff wrote a separate story for the Sunday edition (which is presented first in this IDW edition) from the daily edition, giving readers two separate stories. Eventually (in the last fourth of this volume) the story lines merged.
From all the reviews I've read, this first volume is the weakest of the series (collected in six volumes from IDW). If that's the case, I've got some amazing reads ahead. Even in this first volume, you can see the progression in both art and story, neither of which are weak or bad. They just start out good and get better and better.
If you enjoy Indiana Jones, Tintin, Jonny Quest, or just great adventure comics, you're going to love Terry and the Pirates. A big thank you to Chris Marshall over at the Collected Comics Library for steering me in the direction of Terry. It's pretty safe to say that the complete Terry and the Pirates is firmly at the top of this year's Christmas list. Give it a try - I think you'll enjoy it as much as I do. (less)
I never was a huge Steve Ditko fan growing up, but lately I've come to enjoy and appreciate his work. (His philosophy? Not so much.) Strange Suspense:...moreI never was a huge Steve Ditko fan growing up, but lately I've come to enjoy and appreciate his work. (His philosophy? Not so much.) Strange Suspense: The Steve Ditko Archives is the first of a multi-volume series, the fourth volume of which, Impossible Tales, should come out in May 2013.
The tales in Strange Suspense are all pre-code stories with writing of varying quality, ranging from clever Twilight Zone-ish tales to really bad morality tales that certainly have not stood the test of time. Although the bulk of these stories are horror, this volume also includes science fiction tales, Western yarns, and even a romance story. Again, some are better written than others, but this is Ditko's show and he does not disappoint, even in these early efforts. (It's not clear who wrote most of these stories; maybe Ditko.)
Strange Suspense is packed with stories and cover art that is by and large stellar, even if Ditko himself thinks otherwise. Ditko is quoted as saying of his early work, "a lot of it was pure junk" (p. 10). I disagree, although you can see a definite development of his skills at work here. The only problem I have with the book is the color alignment is off in many places. Maybe this was something that could not be corrected, but it's very distracting.
Be aware that Strange Suspense is out of print and hard to find at a reasonable price. My advice is to get it through interlibrary loan (as I did) to see if you want to make an investment in it or the whole series.
This book is a great introduction to Wrightson's work at Creepy and Eerie, especially for those who are new to "old school" 70s and 80s horror comics....moreThis book is a great introduction to Wrightson's work at Creepy and Eerie, especially for those who are new to "old school" 70s and 80s horror comics. No matter what the story is about, Wrightson finds just the right tone, including classics such as Poe's "The Black Cat" and Lovecraft's "Cool Air," as well as several other great stories.
My only criticism is that this collection includes too many frontpieces from the magazines featuring Uncle Creepy and Cousin Eerie. Fewer of these, and we would've had more room for one or two additional stories.
Still, a hardcover collection of Wrightson's work for $20 is a no-brainer. Buy it. (less)