Thursday, August 4, 2011

Wednesday is a Hundred Penny Reprint For All I Care #115

Dracula: The Company of Monsters #1 (2010/2011)
Fantastic Four MGC #570 (2009/2011)
Incorruptible #1/Irredeemable #1 (2009/2011)
The Rocketeer: Hundred Penny Press Edition (1988/2011)

Dracula: The Company of Monsters #1 Boom! Blast Edition (Boom! Studios, 2011, $1.00)
There was a time years ago when I would read an Advance Comics or Diamond Previews catalog cover to cover on a monthly basis. I'd spend a whole weekend going through it entry by entry, and this was years before I did it professionally. Well, we have the glorious internet now, which means I get to write as much as read, and I otherwise have better shit to do with my trek toward middle age. I still toss through each page, but I managed to be completely oblivious to the fact that this series is still being published. I thought it was a mini-series, but they're on the eleventh issue with a different creative team. I guess they're doing something right.

Writer Kurt Busiek manages to build up the absent Dracula through flashbacks, while also getting the reader involved in the book's human protagonists. It occurs to me that the first I ever liked a Busiek story was Vampirella: Morning in America, and I just might have to pick up Dynamite's upcoming reprint. Both stories remind me of Marv Wolfman's Tomb of Dracula, and I wonder if Busiek, like Wolfman, is known for super-heroes but better suited for horror. There was a lot more to interest me here than Kirby: Genesis, for instance.

Wait a minute! Son of a bitch! Busiek is only credited with "story," kind of like the starfucking Virgin Comics did a few years back. Daryl Gregory is the guy who actually turned this into a script, so maybe that's why I like it better. Plus, Gregory and artist Scott Godlewski, who has a passing resemblance to Tony Moore, are still on the book. Might be worth checking out...

Fantastic Four MGC #570 (Marvel, 2011, $1.00)
Here's a reprint of the first issue of Jonathan Hickman and Dale Eaglesham's run on the book, and possibly the first story I've ever read by the writer. My, but it's derivative. It starts out with a flashback to Reed Richards' daddy issues, and then we get the mise-en-scène super battle where the brainy writer gets to use his cute idea to jazz up a minor villain without being bothered to plot an actual story for them from beginning to end. Grant Morrision's great at that kind of thing, in part because he's better at mad ideas than plot anyway, but also because he gets in and out so quickly, like in a Bond movie. Hickman spends half an issue on it, so that by the time he started in on his actual story, it felt like an afterthought.

There's some forced "levity" with Ben and Johnny, and some presumed leftover business from Millar's run, but Hickman's heart seems to be with Mister Fantastic. Hickman tries to outdo Rip Hunter's chalkboard from 52, and then dives headfirst into Alan Moore's Supreme, essentially deifying the one iconic Marvel hero no one has never found interesting enough to give his own series. For the record, everyone at Marvel has had their own series but Mr. Fantastic, even his own school-aged son. That's fantastically boring.

It's funny, because Iron Man has been flagellated ever since Secret Invasion, and Hank Pym got free of it through Skrull impersonation and a dead wife, but nobody seems to call Reed Richards on the carpet for being the Karl Rove/Dick Cheney of the Marvel Universe. Nothing says republican elite like determining the person who is the most brilliant and knows what's best for the entire universe is yourself, so the most effective sounding board would be hundreds of duplicates of yourself to echo your every opinion. It's not like I ever loved Reed, but Hickman may get credit for actually inspiring me to deeply dislike Mister Fantastic. Congratulations on that, I guess.

The art is nice, even if Eaglesham continues to draw everyone as stiff hardbodied Adonises and Adonnas, or whatever. Reed Richards with Miami Vice stubble and rock hard abs only accentuates the right wing fantasy path the character is on. I wonder if Steve Ditko reads any Marvel comics, because if he does, I bet he's sad that it's one of Kirby's characters that ended up the standard bearer for Ayn Rand?

Incorruptible #1/Irredeemable #1 Boom! Blast Edition (Boom! Studios, 2011, $1.00)
In my review of the trade paperback, I already pointed out how unnecessary a long form telling of evil Superman was, since this year we celebrate the twenty-fifth anniversary of 1986, and mourn a quarter century of depressing anti-heroic deconstruction. I'll only add of Irredeemable that taken on its own, what a shitty first issue it had. Seven pages of the Plutonian killing a family, eight pages of flashback to the guy meeting some other heroes at a baseball game, and eight pages of other heroes explaining that a pissed off immoral Superman is a bad thing.

Incorruptible is also pretty slight, but is amusing in a Bronze Age kind of clunkyness. Max Damage was a bad dude supervillain who had a heavy experience with the psycho Plutonian (explored next issue?) that turned him into a hardline born again type. Max refuses to feed the meat pipe to his underage girlfriend, named Jailbait and heavily reenforced through dialogue, because artist Jean Diaz draws her as a standard issue adult super-heroine. Max teams up with the cops to bring down his old gang. Max takes a flamethrower to his millions of dollars worth of dirty money, rather than launder it through charity, to emphasize that Damage is in his own way just as big of an asshole wackjob as the Plutonian. Truth to tell, the whole purpose of Incorruptible is to be the uglier, dumber sister title to Irredeemable, balancing the scales of a hero gone bad with a villain made good. Shame the same can't be said about either title and their role in the direct market, as they're both lame enough to be published for a buck cheaper at DC.

The Rocketeer: Hundred Penny Press Edition (IDW, 2011, $1.00)
This comic reprints Comico's 1988 The Rocketeer Adventure Magazine #1, which as I recall was itself a reprint of serialized short stories first published in 1982 by Pacific. Dave Stevens was an outstanding and highly influential illustrator, but the guy was the Anti-Prolific Equation when it came to serialized storytelling. I don't think this tale wrapped until the third issue was published in 1993, by Dark Horse, two years after the movie adaptation came out. It's a gorgeous book, especially with the quality of printing, but the story is as lightweight as the adventure serials that inspired it.

Cliff Secord is kind of a jerk with highly questionable motivations. His personality basically consists of being selfish and jealous enough to steal government property ahead of World War II to hold on to his girlfriend. Admittedly, that girl is Bettie Page, and Stevens' depiction had a lot to do with her now being an inspirational, iconic figure, but that doesn't translate much into a character as scripted. I think this is a classic example of people reading into the book what they want, because it's so damn pretty, but pretty vacant. The Rocketeer never mattered to me before, and nothing here will change that.

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