By Beau Smith
Part of my goal with Busted Knuckles is to hopefully steer you into some form of entertainment that you may have missed. That could be comic books, films, TV, books, music and other forms of pop culture. I know that I always appreciate it when others inform me on stuff that they know I may like.
This kind of sharing has been a common bond and a foundation in comic books for as long as they’ve been published. It used to be something that was passed around by kids in the neighborhood or at school, but as we all know, kids are no longer the bulk of comic book readers.
The main thing is that the information is being passed on. Granted, I’m no Brainiac. My reviews (if you wanna call em’ that) aren’t gonna be the ones that are discussed in the coffee shop or quoted on blogs. I’m just trying to highlight a few items that you may wanna consider when you’ve got a few extra bucks and looking for some place to spend em’.
I’ve got a stack of recent DC Comics here that I’m gonna go through. Let’s see if there’s anything you might be interested in.
Justice League Unlimited #27
Writer Adam Beechen
Art Carlo Barberi and Bob Petrecca
This is a book that I read every month. As most of you know I am a huge fan of the JLU animated series on The Cartoon Network. I think it’s the correct way to represent the characters of the DC Universe. The characters are always interesting and most importantly? likable.
The same can be said about the comic book. The comic book series is more a slice of the pie rather than the whole thing like the TV show. There’s just not enough pages to get as deep as a TV episode. With JLU #27 you’ll find a story that’s paced the way a 22 page story should be. It’s got a near perfect talking/action ratio. Characters are set up quickly, but not too quickly and make it great for a new reader or an older one. The book is all ages without talking up or down to any particular age group. That alone is a true art in comic book story telling. It’s all but lost today in mainstream super hero comics.
The JLU book is a wonderful place to showcase non-icon characters on both sides of the law. In this issue the focus is on Black Lightning. After you read this issue you wonder why there aren’t more stories with this character. For that matter you wonder the same on any non-icon character they showcase within these pages. Adam Beechen takes the time, without taking too much time, to make these characters interesting as well as making the reader get involved on an emotional level.
The bad guy in this issue is Parasite and he’s on a rampage looking for Superman. He’s willing to bust up the city to get Superman’s attention. What he does get is Black Lightning, Wonder Woman, Hawkgirl, Firestorm, Steel and a couple of other Leaguers. It’s a very nice story with a lesson and emotional movement within the Black Lightning character. My only complaint is a writing 101 thing. Beechen needed to have the characters call each other by name so first time or casual readers would know who the other characters are.
If you want mainstream super heroes done the right way then this book is a real deal at $2.25. Printing wise this issue has the probability to fall apart if you handle it too much. The paper and format are built for being disposable.
Superman Confidential #1
Script and Art by Darwyn Cooke and Tim Sale
Let it be known that I will always buy a book with Darwyn Cooke art even if the story is terrible. I think that he is one of the most A-List artists in comics today. Cooke is able to give you a retro/modern style of art that is always worth looking at over and over.
Tim Sale is another A-Lister and continues to get better and better with ever year he remains in comic books. That is highly unusual for an artist that has been in the business as long as Tim. When I was with Eclipse Comics in the mid 1980s I remember pushing our editorial staff to hire him for some of our flagship books. He was good 20 years ago and he’s even better today. Tim is not a guy that will coast on his talent. He is always looking to get better. His work is always innovative. More artists should follow his path.
The story telling in this issue is an editor’s dream come true. The pacing is dead on and will stand up through time. There isn’t any flash-in-the-pan trendy pose of the moment stuff here. It’s solid and compelling. Characters talk when they need to and shut up when they’re supposed to. Dave Stewart shows why he is one of the top colorists in comic books. His work is subtle and never steps out of bounds taking away from the art.
The story and the characters are just what you need them to be. This is a near perfect first issue and leaves you right where one should?wanting more. The story stirs up your interest and you never feel a bump along the ride.
My only complaints are the slimy, glossy cover stock. It’s a waste of money, creepy to the touch and a fingerprint collector. The issue is also stuffed with annoying 3D glasses, inserts and a Teen Titans preview/ad that is a bother.
Jonah Hex #13
Written By Jimmy Palmiotti and Justin Gray
Art by Jordi Bernet
This story is the origin of Jonah Hex. You could almost say this is the Negative Zone version of The Lone Ranger. My own cowboy hat is off to writers Jimmy Palmiotti and Justin Gray for telling the origin of Jonah Hex within the confines of one issue. I don’t have to tell you how really rare that is in these modern times of writers that puke out blocks of text like a frat-boy at his first kegger.
Once again we find characters that know when to talk and when to shut up. If you have never read a Jonah Hex comic before you will enjoy this as much as some one that has read everything he’s ever appeared in.
The dialogue is so right for each character no matter if they are main or supporting. That is also rare today. Jonah Hex #13 may possibly be the best comic book that Palmiotti and Gray have written to date. Mainly because they cross every “t”and dot every “i”.
As far as the art. For those of you that have never ventured beyond Wizard magazine this is your chance to see a true master at work. Jordi Bernet is on a level with Alex Toth, Moebius, and Joe Kubert. If you’ve never picked up Bernet’s Torpedo 1936 then you have missed the bus and fallen under the wheels.
Torpedo 1936 is a brutal and beautiful masterpiece of art. Gangsters, thugs and crime they way they were meant to be drawn. You leave your morals at the door when you check into Torpedo 1936. DC Comics, Palmiotti and Gray couldn’t have picked a better artist to draw the origin of Jonah Hex. From a stunning cover to the gun blasting last page this is a comic worth every bit of it’s $2.99 cover price. As you look through this issue make sure you notice the detail to realistic weapons, clothing and the landscape. It’s so nice to see an artist that knows his reference. I also advise that you check out Torpedo 1936 when you get the chance.
The format if this comic is perfect for the story and art.
Superman/Batman Annual #1
Written By Joe Kelly
Art by Ed McGuinness, Ryan Ottley, Dean Murphy, Carlo Barberi, Dexter Vines, Cliff Rathburn, Don Hillsman II, Rob Petrecca, Andy Owens, and Rodney Ramos.
Ya wanna have fun for only $3.99? Then pick this issue up and enjoy it. It’s one of those rare DC Comics that has icon heroes showing their sense of humor without being slapstick or over the top. It’s breezy, with natural dialogue tinted with wit. The story hauls Super Woman, Ultraman, Deathstoke, his semi-recognizable twin from another universe and The Owl in for a very entertaining story with form fitting art for the occasion. Lots of action and once again when characters talk you enjoy what they say.
The most enjoyable part of the story is with Clark, Lois and Bruce Wayne on a cruise ship. I haven’t laughed out loud with these characters in a long time. Joe Kelly gives the readers a taste of what Superman and Batman could be if editorial and management wasn’t so constipated with things being so grim and angst ridden. If this is a “Re-Imaginary Story” then I want more.
The editor on this story is my old Guy Gardner editor, Eddie Berganza. This issue shows what Eddie can do when left to his own devices. Superman / Batman Annual #1 is the kind of fun we used to have during my two year run on Guy Gardner. This has all the childhood joy of being a little kid and getting away with fartin’ in class and not getting caught. Smellin’ without the yellin’.
I cannot recommend this issue highly enough. It’s a perfect example of what DC heroes could be from time to time if they were liberated from their “Writing comics like an old person” bondage.
Birds Of Prey #99
Written By Gail Simone
Art By James Raiz and Robin Riggs
Birds Of Prey is DC Comics most consistent super hero comic book. It has been since issue #1 and continues to be here at issue #99. What Chuck Dixon, Jordan Gorfinkel, Terry Moore and others have put into a strong foundation, Gail Simone has built into a skyscraper.
As a man I can tell you this isn’t a “woman’s book”. By that I mean it doesn’t matter if the main characters are all women and the book is written by a woman. It is not a “chick” book. Anybody of any gender will enjoy this. Do not put a label on Birds Of Prey. Do not try and shove it into a box. The label won’t stick and it’ll just keep jumpin’ out of that box.
Way too many times Marvel and DC Comics have both thought that if you have a woman write a book about women, or a minority write a book about a member of a minority then it will be better. I disagree with that in a big way. In the Sunday USA Weekend supplement of the Sunday paper a reader writes in asking if it’s true that novelist Jodi Picoult will be writing Wonder Woman for DC Comics. The editor answers yes, that Picoult will be doing a five part series with Wonder Woman. The editor mentions that Picoult has a strong female following of readers. That is true. The editor mentions that Picoult may bring new readers to Wonder Woman. She may, but I doubt that. Not because I don’t think Picoult is a good writer, but because it’s something that sales and marketing has proven over and over. Consumers from one genre not crossover automatically to another form of entertainment. The part that stuck out to me was when the editor ended the answer with “Besides, having a woman write Wonder Woman makes sense.”
That’s the politically correct truck being jammed into reverse. If that were said about a man there would be ruffled feathers in the hen house. In my opinion the best person to write a character or a story is THE BEST WRITER. Gender, sexual preference, skin color, religion doesn’t play a part here or shouldn’t. It should be the best writer. Yes, everyone should have an opportunity to prove they are the best writer, but not given the job because of the above mentioned situation.
Gail Simone is a WRITER. She’s proven she can write anyone and anything. I don’t know if DC originally hired her partly because she’s a woman. I don’t mean that she is only partly a woman? (trust me, Gail is ALL woman.) I wasn’t there behind closed doors when that was talked about. I will say that I have been behind closed doors enough with editorial and on the marketing end to know that it’s always brought up and said. If her being a woman had nothing to do with it, then GREAT! Score one for the smart guys. If it was, then even the blind pig finds the acorn on occasion.
Bird Of Prey #99 is a lesson in dialogue. Gail is one of the best in comics at having characters say interesting, realistic things to each other. You won’t find her writing to have the characters sound cute. Just as no one really speaks with a deadpan seriousness all the time neither do people talk like an episode of The Gilmore Girls 24/7. (There’s a show that needs to leave the caffeine alone.)
The action to talk ratio is geared just right. The story moves well and pacing is one of Gail’s trademarks. Panel layouts are excellent and you know what’s going on even if you cover up the word balloons. Raiz and Riggs should be complimented on the fact they do not try and cheat on backgrounds. You sign them up for a story you get every panel filled up.
This story has that lull before the storm feeling to it. I’m looking forward to issue #100 to see what kinda surprises come up. My only complaints on this issue are that DC uses the black borders/pages for the story. I just don’t think they frame the art well enough. The other complaint is that Lady Blackhawk / Zinda is not in the story enough. She wears the best costume in comics.
There ya go. Run out to your local comic shop or retail source for comics and grab a couple of these. I hope you found something you may enjoy. I may not be as articulate as some of the comic book highbrows, but my heart is in the right place.
Busted Knuckles Manly Cover Of The Week
Secret Six #4
Art By Frank Springer
In the late 1960s DC Comics Secret Six had some of the most striking and creative covers in comics. Action/adventure icon, Frank Springer was the artist and he was truly as master of visual impact. He was really good at steering the reader’s eye in the proper fashion to get the most out of the not only the cover, bu the art inside as well.
This is one of my favorite covers that I used to wish would’ve been for sale as a poster. You may wanna pick up some of the Secret Six comics. They were filled with wonderful art and packed with dense, intriguing stories of action and espionage. It really captured that cool spy feel of the 60s.
Busted Knuckles Babe Of The Week
– TV Host
When I was going through puberty we had three TV channels. The TV hosts and women that gave the news were few and far between or they looked like Barbara Walters? and that was not a good thing. We had a drunken weather lady on our local channel; she was good for a cheap laugh and not much else. It wasn’t until the 80s did you have anyone worth watching. The leggy Mary Hart started the ball rolling and today you’ve got better looking babes doing the news and hosting TV shows than movie stars on the big screen.
Samantha Harris is one of em’. She hosts some worthless shows like “Dancing With The Stars” and some entertainment junk on E! She comes across as smart and sexy even though the shows she’s on are a bore. So if you’re flipping through the channels and she comes on it’ll be worth your eye time.
I wanna thank everybody that wrote in last week to let me know that the cover art from last week’s Busted Knuckles Manly Cover of The Week (Captain Action #1) was done by Irv Novick and Carmine Infantino. That’s much appreciated.
I also wanna thank Frank Byrns for letting me know that there is a place on the web where you can trade comics? or at least trade paperbacks. Frank was kind enough to let me know that if you go to http://www.sequentialswap.com you’ll be able to trade with other trade paperback readers for no charge at all. Check it out.
A reminder to all you die-hard Knuckleheads to check out my monthly print columns “Dottin’ The Eyes” in The Comics Buyer’s Guide magazine and my “Far From Fragile” column in Impact-The Action Entertainment Magazine. I think you’ll enjoy em’ and ya never know? you might find more interesting stuff.
Prepare for Thanksgiving and rest up for football. It’s right around the corner and then we’ll be on the fast track to Christmas. This is the best time of year and I look forward to sharing the season with all of you.
See ya next week.
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