2000: A YEAR IN REVIEW

I was a guest on Howard Margolin’s radio show, “Destinies – The Voice of Science Fiction,” last week for his annual wrap-up of the best, worst, and most disappointing things of the year in comic books. I’ve appeared on the program a number of times over the past fifteen years, though this was only my second participation in the wrap-up.

Howard asks his guests to come up with what they feel were the best, worst, and most disappointing projects in comics in the year past. Herewith is the gist of my comments:

Among the best, the same as last year… reprints. I was happy to see DC expanding its Archives series, especially with the inclusion THE SPIRIT. The Starman Archives brought us stories that have never before seen the light of day, and the Hawkman and World’s Finest volumes are important additions to the Silver Age library.

It was also good to see Marvel trying again with their Masterworks series, starting with a new Fantastic Four volume and the promise of Daredevil to follow. Though I have original copies of virtually everything they reprint, it’s nice to have them in a uniform set.

And many of DC’s Millennium Editions were great to see, especially key issues of the Golden Age and early Silver Age. And kudos to DC for bringing all of the Will Eisner trade paperbacks back into print, though it would have been nice to have them all in a consistent size and package.

I enjoyed JLA: A LEAGUE OF ONE, the hardcover graphic novel in which Wonder Woman must turn against her fellow Justice Leaguers in order to save them. Kudos also to the Neil Gaimen-scripted GREEN LANTERN & SUPERMAN: LEGEND OF THE GREEN FLAME, what was originally intended to be the last issue of ACTION COMICS WEEKLY, though the art on the last two pages of the story was jarringly poor.

On the shelf with “real” books you’ll find THE AMAZING ADVENTURES OF KAVALIER AND CLAY, a novel by Michael Chabon. It’s about two teenagers in New York City who create a comic book hero, The Escapist, and thereby give birth to the highly successful line of Empire Comics. Mixing his fictional world with that of the real Golden Age of Comics, Chabon delivers a well-written work that deserves a spot on every comic book collector’s shelf.

Finally, LAUGH DIGEST #161 featured a story titled “When It Rains…” by a newcomer to Archie Comics. I sure hope they give this guy more work.


BOBRO’S TRIVIA QUIZ
1. Who is Scotty talking to when he says, “Captain, the engines canna stand the strain”?
2. Hitting who in the head with a brick was a common trick of Ignatz?
3. You remember Val; he married a Princess. What name is he better known by?
4. Four different “over-covers” – in equal quantities despite rumors to the contrary – marked the first issue of what book?
5. Each reprinting of what DC graphic novel featured a different 5th color on the cover?
6. A son of Darkseid and Suli, who is half-brother to Orion?
7. Reluctant to take over when his brother was killed, who became Starman?
8. This group included Mr. Manplastic as a member; who are they?
9. He was credited as “Special Consultant” in THE CENTURIONS miniseries; who is he?
10. Entrusted with the Ebony Blade, who did Dane Whitman become?
11. Years after he played the Man of Steel, who played Lois Lane’s father?
12. Each of the Forever People had a different power: who possessed “magna-power”?
13. Atlas, in FIRST ISSUE SPECIAL, was created by whom?
14. Residents at 344 Clinton street had what journalist as a neighbor?

BOBRO’S FUN FACTS TO KNOW & TELL:
1. Edd “Kookie” Byrnes, who became a regular on the series, played a criminal in the pilot episode of “77 Sunset Strip.”
2. “King Kong” was based on a story by Edgar Wallace and Merian C. Cooper.
3. In 1949, “Kiss Me Kate” was the first musical to win a Tony award; “Death of a Salesman” won one for best play.


CONTINUING THE REVIEW OF 2000

Among the worst of the year:

Overpriced hardcovers that should have been $4.95 Annuals at best. STAR TREK: NEXT GENERATION: THE GORN CRISIS is a perfect example of this. It’s a minor incident in the Federation war with the Dominion, handicapped by uneven art and storytelling.

The “new look” coloring on the Batman books, while interesting the first time or two, has worn out its welcome as far as I’m concerned. From a coloring palette that expanded from 64 tints to 16 million thanks to the use of computerized color separations (and we all know whose “fault” that was, don’t we?), these books have swung the pendulum completely in the other direction. Time to swing back towards the middle, guys.

The EMPEROR JOKER plot in the Superman books took far too long to develop and seemed to drag on forever. Back in the days when Julie Schwartz was editor of the books, that plot would have been a single issue of DC COMICS PRESENTS… and a better story for it.

The abysmal level to which proofreading has fallen in comics is nothing short of appalling. Certainly, typos have always been a part of publishing, but the numbers of them that appear these days make me wonder if anybody really reads some of these books before shipping them off to the printer. Top of the list of offenders for me – spelling “satellite” correctly and incorrectly in the same panel of DC 2000.

As for disappointments, SECRET SOCIETY OF SUPERHEROES topped my list as something that could have been a classic, but fell short when the creative team took too much for granted about what the reader knew (or should have to know) about the DC Universe.

I had high hopes for WORLD’S FUNNEST, the team up of Bat-Mite and Mr. Mxyzptlk by Evan Dorkin and a cast of artists, but found that it turned out to be a one-trick pony (okay, a one-JOKE pony).

Speaking of one-trick ponies, too many of the ELSEWORLDS books seem to have fallen into the rut of “Let’s shoehorn the hero in THIS piece of literature or THAT historical event.” Thankfully, some are only single issues, but when they get dragged out over more than one, the story rarely justifies the treatment.

Disappointing and flirting with making my worst of the year category among the monthly books I’ve read is THE FLASH. Last year, I cited this title as one that I enjoyed reading, the mysterious parallel world in which Wally West found himself kept me waiting for each new installment. Well, no sooner is that story line completed when Wally finds himself in a different parallel world plot that has been going on for the past six months. Might I suggest a look at the volumes of FLASH ARCHIVES for an idea on how to do some entertaining stories that take less than a single issue to tell?

Finally, a personal disappointment: As you may know, I wrote a number of the custom comics for DC and the US Postal Service for the CELEBRATE THE CENTURY series. The issue covering the 1990s included a stamp honoring “Seinfeld” and I wrote a page of banter between Superman and Jerry using numerous catch-phrases from the show. Unfortunately, someone in the long chain of approvals – NOT Jerry himself, I’ve been told – balked and the page was not used. So, Jerry, as the Man of Steel would have said on the page, “Sorry, no Supes for you!”

You can access Howard’s program online at 11:30 p.m. ET every Friday night at www.wusb.org.


That’ll do it for this week. Join me again in seven days as I dive back into the emailbox for another round of interesting and amusing questions.


TRIVIA ANSWERS:
As we bid a fond adieu for the year 2000, we can think back to all the concern about the “Y2K Bug” the last January 1st approached. To the memory of that non-event is this trivia quiz dedicated.
1. KirK
2. Krazy Kat
3. Karate Kid
4. legends of the darK Knight
5. the Killing joKe
6. KalibaK
7. jacK Knight
8. KooKie quartet
9. ChucK RozaKis
10. The blacK Knight
11. KirK alyn
12. vyKin the blacK
13. jacK Kirby
14. clarK Kent

Make every day of 2001 a trivia day! Check out BobRo’s daily Anything Goes Trivia at www.wfcomics.com/trivia.

 

Copyright ? 2000 to 2003 by Bob Rozakis. All Rights Reserved.


 

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