Thursday, January 18, 2018

Planet Of The Space Ghosts!

The first three-issue story arc in the Future Quest Presents series is a nifty three-part tale starring Space Ghost, Jan and Jace and of course Blip. Along for the ride this time are the Herculoids, though only Igoo the Rock Ape gets a major role. The writer Rich Parker continues to develop the Hanna-Barbera continuity begun in the pages of the maxi-series Future Quest in which we have a universe of heroes who are forced to confront a genocidal menace called Omnikron. The "Ghost Planet" we learn is the remnants of a world Omnikron has descended upon and the Space Force of which Space Ghost was once a part was destroyed attempting to stop Omnikron's advance.

Now Space Ghost is working alone to police the spaceways and at the same time trying to rebuild that force by getting more ore from the neighboring planet Amzot (home of the Herculoids) which can be used to create more power bands. He hopes that Jan and Jace, two orphans he rescued from a black hole event will mature to become the nucleus for a new Space Force. To that end they go to Amzot and employ Igoo who is made of the ore they need and they enter a mine closed for many years since the arrival of Omnikron.

Inside they find a deadly menace and we learn the secret origin of longtime Space Ghost foe Metallus. I won't spoil it anymore, but this is a humdinger of an adventure by Parker and Ariel Olivetti, the artist who drew Space Ghost's origin many years ago for DC Comics. The comic looks outstanding and reads with the deftness of understanding that Parker brings without fail to his projects. Get this series.

Here are the alternate covers. The Steve Rude one is stellar! No artist gets Space Ghost better than Rude.

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Wednesday, January 17, 2018

A Day In The Anti-Life - Black Mariah!

Frankly I'm dismayed at all the positive chatter about Oprah Winfrey running for president. To my mind it would be an absolute disaster for the country and for the Democratic Party. A high-profile candidate like Oprah slips by much of the party machinery just like a certain "so-called" President we already have in place. And despite the fact that I probably agree with Oprah's positions more than I do those of the "The Donald" it still speaks to a broken system and spells perhaps the beginning of the end of orderly politics in the United States. Celebrity presidents are fine for fiction, but in reality they are the absolute sacrifice of style over substance.

Good government is damn difficult to do, as can be seen by the rampaging examples of lousy governance we suffer under on both the local, state, and national level these days. Politicians must transform into public servants when they are elected and stop being candidates, but in the perpetual food processor which passes for the politics these days, the campaigns never end. The much maligned media are much to blame as the horse race nature of politics offers immediate drama and the much beloved "narrative" which many journalist crave. Pitting the mighty Oprah against the forces of darkness headed by the dangerous Trump is likely irresistible for news outlets. But what's good for the news business and ad rates ain't necessarily good for the average citizen.

I hope this Oprah nonsense never gets off the ground. Trump was sufficient evidence that being President ain't a part time gig which some dopey celebrity can dabble in. It's a job of work which requires commitment and focus and  energy. Does Oprah have drive and energy? Sure! But does she have the experience to go with the seeming business acumen she is credited with? No one knows, but before she lands in the Oval Office, why not take a stab at mayor Chicago and prove that the rough and tumble of governing is for real. The Democrats need to rebuild from the ground up and focus on the next generation of candidates and look to a future will be with for quite some time to come. The country needs to re-examine its political structure, especially campaign financing and gerrymandering. They need not get distracted by the sugar high of yet one more celeb who wants to audition for national politics.

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Blasting Off Into The Past!

I well remember as a lad gazing into the Sears catalog with wide eyes at the incredible toys contained on its pages. Most all of them were well beyond my reach as I had no money of my own and no really practical way to order anything I might want anyway.

The pages were filled with toy soldiers, spacemen and such, and the myriad gear and whatnots that were needed to make them better still.

On some pagers were robots and on some pages were astronauts and on some pages were cowboys, but all the pages held dreams. There were dreams of toys that I'd never have and dreams of what those toys represented.

Blast Off! is a tome which was released by Dark Horse over fifteen years ago, and I don't really know when I snagged a copy, but it was one of those books that was just too pretty to let lay.

Likely I got it for a discount and that made it even more charming to my wandering eye. The book is filled like the Sears catalog of my boyhood with toys I'll never have. These are toys from earlier decades -- the 30's through the 50's,-- but they are decades as far from me as those toys in the Sears catalog so long ago.

They are part of dream tapestry of vibrant images of a fun and adventure without the costs which adulthood responsibilities bring to bear.

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Tuesday, January 16, 2018

The Right Kirby Stuff!

I want this. In the Jack Kirby canon the Sky Masters of the Space Force have in many ways been the most elusive of his projects. The series has had a few collections over the decades, but I've managed to miss them all and only have a few installments which ran in Comics Revue. Now at last we have what appears to be a quality reprint of the Sunday color pages.

The dailies for this comic strip project were reprinted recently by Hermes Press. I didn't pop the cork on that for the simple reason it didn't contain the color sections and Hermes dailies can be a little suspect (too few per page for my tastes). But I'll likely add this to my list since I want to read the Sky Master of the Space Force saga in its brief entirety.

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Monday, January 15, 2018

No Escape From Riverdale!

I honestly don't know why I've waited so long to sample Afterlife with Archie. Francesco Francavilla has been a favorite artist since I first stumbled across The Black Coat several years ago. His Black Beetle is pure pulp creamy goodness. His art has texture and atmosphere unlike most of the new breed of artists who seem overcome by the computer toys they play with. But I knew I wanted to read this the second I saw it, but I just never popped for it. Maybe it was the reluctance to drop a dime on yet another new comic when I was trying to swear them off. I really don't know, since by and large I rather enjoy askew visions of the Riverdale gang.

The saga began, according to writer Robert Aguirre-Sacasa when he glommed the variant cover above for Life with Archie. the moody image of Archie Andrews being confronted by his friends converted to zombies is a hoot. And despite the scion of Riverdale's comment to the contrary, Auirre-Sacasa soon imagined that such a thing could be. It begins with Hot Dog who is killed in a tragic accident and Jughead's appeal to Sabrina to help him. But what she does literally seems to raise hell and before you know it, all of Riverdale is awash in the undead. How the minions of the town deal with this apocalyptic moment is the story and it's told with more than a touch of actual human drama. The longtime feuds and alliances are in evidence, but they given a new more sober cast. Bit players come into focus as the story shifts its focus from issue to issue.

The debut storyline, comprised of five issues is contained in the trade I read along with a nifty cover gallery and some other bits of artwork which show Francavilla's process. The story has since been extended beyond this first installment and in a few months the second trade with hit the stands. I now know I'll be there to snatch one up, because I want to know what happens next. Archie fans come in all sizes ana ages and these pliable characters have been turned into a worthy cast for a story like this. What we already know about them allows for some clever twists and turns and what we learn reveals aspects of the characters which have been there all along perhaps. It's pretty dandy storytelling, both in terms of the written word and especially graphically. Here are some more covers by Francavilla for the series.

This one is most highly recommended, but I'd guess folks already know that. There are more stories in this alternate-universe, one starring Sabrina and another focused on Jughead as a werewolf. I don't anticipate getting those as the main allure for me was Francavilla's artowkr, but I've learned never to say never. For me it turns out, that despite all attempts there is no escape from Riverdale.

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Sunday, January 14, 2018

Chilling Adventures In Sorcery!

Behind this typically moody Francesco Francavilla cover are some truly tasty classics from the weird history of Archie Comics. I picked up this volume of Chilling Adventures in Sorcery because it advertised the art of two favorites -- Gray Morrow and Alex Toth. These two along with Vincente Alcazar and Carlos Pino draw most of the stories here with another by Bruce Jones and a page by Frank Thorne. What really surprised me in this black and white volume were the two original issues of the series which featured Sabrina and were done in the classic Archie style by artists Stan Goldberg and Dan DeCarlo. To be honest the B&W format does not maximize these tales, but they are still good to have. On the contrary the B&W approach is ideal for the rest of the more realistic yarns by Morrow and his team. Gray Morrow draws most of these with Alcazar a close second. Both of the contributions by Toth and Thorne appear to be from later issues in the run. Speaking of that I assume and hope that we will get a second volume of this which will give us the remaining issues of the Sorcery run under the Red Circle banner and perhaps the three issues of Mad House which were also done by Morrow and his compatriots.

Here are the covers of the issues which are contained in this tome. We have all stories as far as I can tell along with some text horror tales to boot.

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Saturday, January 13, 2018

Beware The Inhumans!

This is exactly the kind of collection I adore. What we have here is a sprawling array of comics from across several years which relate the core misadventures of Jack Kirby's Inhumans following their initial outings in the pages of the Fantastic Four and after their brief ill-fated back up series in The Mighty Thor.

The tome begins with Medusa's one-off try-out in the pages of Marvel Super-Heroes #15. This is the book that launched Captain Marvel and showcased the initial adventures of the Phantom Eagle and The Guardians of the Galaxy. Like those two latter creations, this glimpse did not result in a solo book. The story by Archie Goodwin and Gene Colan is pretty good.

Second up is one of my all-time favorite Marvel yarns, the debut Hulk King-Size Special by Gary Friedrich, Marie Severin and Syd Shores which pits the Jade Giant against the denizens of the Great Refuge. It's a truly giant tale.

Then it's back to the Fab 4 when the Inhumans return to home and confront yet again the menace of Maximus the Mad. By this time Crystal has joined the team to give Sue Richards a reprieve following the birth of Franklin Richards.

We have a few pages from FF #5 in which Crystal must return to the Great Refuge, much to the chagrin of Johnny Storm.

His heartbreak gives way to a wild search which is the feature of the ninety-ninth issue of the Fantastic Four's venerable run.

Then it's a new series as one-half of the new comic Amazing Adventures. The Inhumans under the complete control of Jack "King" Kirby occupy ten or so pages of the title with the Black Widow getting the balance. This dual act continues for many issues.

Jack steps away after four issues, leaving his creations and leaving Marvel behind to discover a dazzling new Fourth World.

His successor Johnny Romita teams with Stan Lee and they together tell us a story which reveals that modern mankind's society's pollution is slowly killing Crystal. To Johnny's despair she must return home to the Great Refuge yet again.

Meanwhile Roy Thomas and Neal Adams team up to continue the Inhumans feature in the pages of Amazing Adventures.

This continues for quite a time until Neal Adams steps away to be replaced by Mike Sekowsky, another stalwart talent from the halls of DC.

Sekowsky draws two dazzling issues in which the Inhumans defeat the schemes of Magneto and wrap up their solo feature.

Roy Thomas and Neal Adams are together again in the Avengers when the Inhumans are drawn once again into the sprawling Kree-Skrull War.

The collection closes with a hilarious set from Not Brand Echh #12. This funny bit by Arnold Drake and Tom Sutton imagines what a proposed Inhumans series might be like if it were done in the classic comic strip styles of Prince Valiant, Peanuts, Pogo, and others. One of the best bits in run.

And that's the lot. A beautiful package with a grand range of classic talent. Missing from this tome are Triton's solo adventures in the pages of the Sub-Mariner and the Inhumans turn in the final issue of Silver Surfer. I understand the former being missing, as Triton is alone and is in several issues, but I would expect to see the Surfer issue as it follows up on the Hulk annual in many respects.

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