DC, Legionnaires #19, written by Tom Peyer, Mark Waid and Tom McCraw, drawn by Jeffrey Moy, 1994
I picked this one up because I love Tom Peyer. He doesn’t have a huge body of work and a large chunk of it belongs in the LOSH of the 90s. That’s a scary scene to jump into blindly, but fortunately being lost in confusing continuity didn’t ruin this book. Here, disheartened Legionnaire XS stops a terrorist plot at a funeral. It’s a nice character study but nothing amazing. Penciller Jeffrey Moy has nice layouts but I’m not crazy about his style. Heads seem too big, characters all seem too young and while many panels look perfectly fine, there’s a weird vibe about things. He’s proof that not all 90s books were pure Image imitators.
DC, Legion of Super-Heroes #88, written by Tom Peyer and Tom McCraw, drawn by Lee Moder, 1997
Again, I bought this one hoping to find some decent Tom Peyer work. Lucky me; this one was better than his Legionnaires. Peyer knows how to write creatively with a nice dose of humour and this issue shows that in strides. Impulse wants to hang out with the Legion—things go wrong! It’s a tight, Saturday morning cartoon-type plot that’s loads of fun. I like Lee Moder’s work much better than Jeffrey’s Moy’s as well. His characters are delightfully expressive and his work is cartoony without being off-the-wall.
DC, L.E.G.I.O.N. #3, written by Alan Grant and Keith Giffen, drawn by Barry Kitson, 1989
You know I love me some L.E.G.I.O.N. This early issue deals with the aftermath of “freeing” Vril Dox’s planet. Maybe it wasn’t such a good idea? We see beautiful character development, team-building and dialogue accompanied by a solid, thought-provoking story. What more could you want? Oh, great art? Barry Kitson has that covered.
DC, Valor #3, written by Robert Loren Fleming, drawn by Mark D. Bright, 1993
I’ve always really liked Valor, aka Mon-El. He was the kind of B-character that I thought deserved bigger roles. James Robinson did nice things with him in his Superman run a few years back, remember that? Apparently he even had his own ongoing series. You wouldn’t know it if you didn’t check the bargain bins. This third issue, with a nice fun story from the underrated Robert Loren Fleming, doesn’t exactly embrace Valor’s potential, but it is a cool book. Mark D. Bright (whose work on Icon and Black Panther I really like) draws a surprisingly detailed story with lots of neat ideas, considering most of the scenes revolve around Valor flying around in his spaceship. This is a short, inconsequential, enjoyable little book that I was happy to read but likely to forget.
Marvel, X-Factor #43, written by Louise Simonson, drawn by Paul Smith and Al Milgrom, 1989
That’s one cool cover. X-Factor facing down a Celestial while it reaches out to grab their ship? I’m in. Unfortunately the story isn’t as neat as the cover may lead you to believe. About halfway through, the team is transported to some fantasy battle-world and I quickly tuned out. Barbarians, monsters, steel-ostriches—yeah, I don’t know. This seemed like more of a Thor book than an X-Factor. Even the art team of Paul Smith and Al Milgrom couldn’t keep me interested.
Marvel, Alpha Flight # 12, written by Steven Seagle, drawn by Duncan Rouleau, 1998
The first volume of Alpha Flight was the first series I tried to collect every issue of. This second volume, though? Not really my cup of tea. This extra-sized issue deals with the then-threating Zodiac and their systematic strike on Alpha Flight. Steven Seagle’s story and script are fine but Duncan Rouleau’s art is pretty weak. I like some of Rouleau’s later work, but here it’s overly stylized and ill-defined. I think my enjoyment was also hampered by what they did to Madison Jeffries, the former hero Box. I’m glad Matt Fraction brought him back properly a few years ago, he needed redeeming after this mess.
Marvel, Avengers #349, written by Bob Harras, drawn by Steve Epting, 1992
More proof that the 90s weren’t completely Imagified! Steve Epting’s work here is very tasteful. Women are drawn like Sal Buscema might draw them—not Rob Liefeld. Heroes have muscles galore, but that’s because they are Thor and Hercules. And the proportions are all correct and natural looking! It’s really very easy on the eyes. The story isn’t much, though. Hera and Ares want to cause some trouble, so they possess Thor and battles ensue. Bob Harras doesn’t do much in terms of dialogue or style, so there isn’t much to recommend here. It’s good to know that Steve Epting was always pretty talented, though.
Valiant, Magnus: Robot Fighter #22, written by John Ostrander, drawn by James Brock, 1993
John Ostrander wrote Magnus? Cool! Or at least, I thought it would be. This is a fairly straightforward story about robots attacking and Magnus punching them. It’s actually the art that steals the show. I have no idea who James Brock is, but he doesn’t a wonderful job here providing clean, detailed, dynamic work. The overly saturated, dense colours don’t help, but the book isn’t ruined by them. This is basic Magnus with above average art. I’ve already forgotten the details of the story.
Valiant, Harbinger #19, written by Howard Simpson and Maurice Fontenot, drawn by Howard Simpson, 1993
For me, Howard Simpson’s art defines the “Valiant house style”. His work was generic, poorly coloured and yet surprisingly readable. He also happened to be everywhere in Valiant’s early 1990s and hasn’t been seen much since. Whatever happened to this guy? Harbinger #19 is a fairly forgettable comic. The bad guys are hunting down a girl and the team is out to stop them. It’s simple, generic stuff. You don’t need to buy this comic.
Image, Savage Dragon #21, written and drawn by Erik Larsen, 1995
I don’t read enough Savage Dragon. Every time I grab an issue I gobble it up and want more. Erik Larsen was always my favourite of the young Image hotshots—his art was charming, his dialogue fun and he seemed to know what he was doing. This issue is especially awesome, featuring the climax of a particularly epic battle ending in the Dragon’s ultimate victory. The layouts are so perfect and the detail so precise that you can feel the weight of what’s happening in every panel. I had no prior knowledge of any of these characters, the events leading up to this issue or the aftermath, but man was I rocked by what I found here. Someday I’ll find a huge stack of Savage Dragon for cheap, I just know it.
Milestone, Kobalt #2, written by John Rozum, drawn by Arvell Jones, 1994
Man, Milestone had some amazing comics, didn’t they? Kobalt is probably one of my least favourite of their titles, but it still rocks. Tough-as-nails superhero Kobalt is asked to take on a teenage sidekick, but he’d really rather not. In this issue, things don’t exactly go his way. John Rozum writes a nice script and Arvell Jones draws a decent-enough page, but this isn’t the best package Milestone has put out. The great colouring they had developed looks amazing in the pages of Blood Syndicate and Static, but here it reminded me a little too much of Valiant’s over-saturating tendencies. Not the prettiest, but still a great find for cheap!
DC, Camelot 3000 #1, written by Mike W. Barr, drawn by Brian Bolland, 1982
It’s a book with Brian Bolland drawing the interiors. I don’t have to tell you the art is amazing, so let’s just skip to the story. It’s strange. I wasn’t expecting a War of the Worlds type book, but that’s exactly what I got. An out-of-time King Arthur is ready to fight off alien hordes. Ok! Mike W. Barr’s script is decent and when accompanied by Bolland’s ground-breaking work, it makes for a nice read. I picked up most of the other books in this 12-issue maxi-series so I’m excited to see where it will go. It will look nice, I know that much.
DC, Martian Manhunter #1, written by A.J. Lieberman, drawn by Al Barrionuevo, 2006
I’ve always had a soft spot for Martian Manhunter (he’s my favourite JLAer, for sure) but I didn’t pick up this mini-series when it came out because, honestly, I didn’t know what to expect. I mean, A.J. Lieberman and Al Barrionuevo? I don’t know those names and I didn’t know how they would treat my little green buddy. Turns out I didn’t miss much skipping out. This first issue was surely lacking. MM is sporting a great new costume (though some may disagree) but unfortunately his new story isn’t much to get excited about. There’s another Martian out there, so he wants to investigate. There’s also a character shift at the end that I’m not crazy about. And that internal dialogue? No thanks—it didn’t work. I might still pick up the other issues in this mini, but I’m not holding my breath.
DC, Hawkman #5, written by Geoff Johns and James Robinson, drawn by Rags Morales, 2002
Hawkman and Green Arrow fight, then team-up. It’s not the most original plot structure, but it works well enough here. Rags Morales draws a very impressive superhero book and Johns and Robinson know how to script—it’s just nothing we haven’t seen before. Great cover, great art, a great twist ending… great title to pick up cheap if you’re interested!
DC, Hourman #6, written by Tom Peyer, drawn by Rags Morales, 1999
Now this is the series that made me a lifelong Tom Peyer fan. The story picks up with a downtrodden Snapper Carr (I almost typed Rick Jones) lamenting about stuff and Hourman facing off against the over-used (in this series) villain Amazo. There’s some time-travel shenanigans (as always), grade A dialogue work and a story that always kept me interested. And that cover? Hourman is asking an evil robot Plastic Man “why aren’t you…funny?” Man, I love this book. Rags Morales draws more amazing pictures too—his late 90s/early 00s work was the best of his career in my opinion. Just terrific all around!
DC, New Gods #6, written by Rachel Pollack, drawn by Luke Ross, 1996
Speaking of terrific stuff—not this book! This is perhaps the worst use of the New Gods property I’ve ever read (actually, I think Genesis was worse, but nevertheless). Rachel Pollack concocts some story about New Genesis going all evil and Luke Ross pretends he’s drawing WildC.A.T.s. The plot is bad, the script is bad, the art is bad… this book is bad. John Byrne would later take over and… sort of improve things but this stain on Kirby’s Fourth World material wouldn’t be cleaned until Walt Simonson came along and did Orion. So let’s just move on to that.
DC, Orion #19, written by Walter Simonson, drawn by Walter Simonson and Eddie Campbell, 2001
Ah, the best non-Kirby Fourth World title ever made. Unfortunately, this issue is a bad example of the how awesome this series was. Here we get a clearly forced “Joker: Last Laugh” tie-in, which basically amounts to villain Slig saying “I remember hearing about this Joker guy and how he was crazy evil and turned fish into Joker-fish… so I’ll do that too”. It’s weak, let me tell you. Still, there’s enough uninterrupted, normal plot that shines through to make this another enjoyable read. Orion ends up in an alley, broken, after being part of a crazy adventure. He makes friends with a homeless man and kicks some butt too. It’s all prelude to what seems like an exciting next issue. The backup story from Simonson and Eddie Campbell is disappointingly short and thin on plot, but seeing Campbell draw Darkseid is a real treat. Buy this issue but do yourself a favour and hunt down every other Orion issue as well. It’s a great series and I’ll never stop singing it’s praises!