Now that my seasonal obsession with Reality TV (Survivor, Amazing Race, The Apprentice) has officially drawn to a satisfying close, I can get on with one of the true joys in my life, reading comics all summer long. And if Stars Wars: Revenge of the Sith can jump the gun on summer fun, then so can I.
Green Lantern Secret Files & Origins 2005. “Flight.” Writer: Geoff Johns. Artist: Darwyn Cooke. Letterer: Jared K. Fletcher. Colorist: Dave Stewart. Editors: Ivan Cohen and Steve Wacker.
The young Hal Jordan wants to “fly” just like his airforce pilot dad, and that doesn’t sit too well with mom. Hal’s father eventually grants his son the boy’s first flight, albeit secretly. Years later, an older Hal Jordan wants to take his boss Carol Ferris for an evening’s flight, and while she’s a little hesitant to at first, Hal is able to win her over. Over a decade later, Hal Jordan, no longer possessed by Parallax and once again a Green Lantern, decides to take Kyle Rayner for a dawn’s early flight. The younger GL is a little nonchalant of the escapade, having flown via the ring for years, but he soon learns what it means to “fly” without the use of the power ring. When reading this exhilarating tale of what makes the adult Hal ever the wide-eyed, adventurous boy, I realized Johns and Cooke are as happy as am I to have our hero back, in command and control, and ready for endless flights.
Human Target. Vertigo/DC Comics. 21 issues. 2003-2005. Writer: Peter Milligan. Artists: Javier Pulido, Cliff Chiang, and Cameron Stewart. Editor: Karen Berger.
A series as good as Human Target, starring Christopher Chance as a private eye who will take on the role of anyone’s identity to solve a case (and then some), cannot last in today’s comics market. An audience of around 11,000 doesn’t cut it. Based on writer Len Wein and artists Carmine Infantino and Dick Giordano’s “Human Target” series that ran in the back of Action Comics in 1972 and 1973, this book capitalized on the Vertigo edge and was well-written, well-drawn, thoughtful, topical, psychological, and most of all, entertaining. With issue 21, Human Target is done, and it’s a real shame. But 21 outstanding issues (plus a 4-issue miniseries and original hardcover edition) is nothing to sidestep, although almost everyone reading comics did. Still, the books will always be out there. I speak for the 11,000 of us who have been enthralled, enriched and inevitably disappointed, and highly recommend the entire series.
Superman #296. February, 1976. DC Comics. “Who Took The Super Out Of Superman!” Writers: Cary Bates and Elliot S! Maggin. Artists: Curt Swan and Bob Oksner. Letterer: Ben Oda. Editor: Julius Schwartz.
In the early to mid-1970s, Superman did not have a lot of epic, multi-issue adventures. There was his lengthy battle with a sand creature when all kryptonite was destroyed and the awkward Billy Anders/Lynx series of stories, but for the most part Superman tales ran 13 to 20 pages. In late 1975, DC took a stab at an epic tale spanning four issues of Superman, and at the time it was a big deal. For reasons unknown to him, Superman lost his powers when out of costume. The Man of Steel figured that this was his mind and body telling him that the time had come for him to choose between being Superman or Clark Kent full-time. It was an intriguing premise that of course involved super-villains, foremost the mysterious Mr. Xavier, who lived in the same apartment building as Clark Kent. A fully realized epic tale by Bates and Maggin, with fine art by Swan and Oksner. I’ve always enjoyed just looking at the dramatic cover for the first installment.
Catwoman #37. “Character Driven.” Writer: Ed Brubaker. Artists: Paul Gulacy and Jimmy Palmiotti. Letterer: Clem Robins. Colorist: Laurie Kronenberg. Editor: Matt Idelson.
I don’t know why I’ve always thought of Selina (Catwoman) Kyle as such a loner. Well, Catwoman #37 lays that false assumption to rest. Selina is leaping over rooftops trying to decide what to do with her life after “War Games.” She is even considering returning to her thieving persona. Meanwhile, her friends are successfully preparing a surprise birthday party for her. In attendance are Holly and her girlfriend; Leslie Thompkins (a far cry from the Leslie first portrayed in Detective Comics #457, March, 1976), Slam (“How did I get to look like Robert Mitchum?”) Bradley, and Ted (Wildcat) Grant. Even Batman makes an appearance. In the end, Selina is going to stay on the straight and narrow and do her best to keep her East End of Gotham safe. This is writer Ed Brubaker’s swan song on the book, and like the story title states, the events depicted here are indeed “character driven.” “War Games” was absurd at times, yet suddenly all the Bat-titles are so good. What the heck happened?
Justice League of America #125. “The Men Who Sold Destruction!” Writer: Gerry Conway. Artists: Dick Dillin and Frank McLaughlin. Letterer: Milton Snapinn. Editor: Julius Schwartz.
The poor DC Universe; Earth, in particular. There’s always somebody or something trying to destroy it. And sometimes the reasons are, well, pretty dang ludicrous. Take the alien Dronndarians, for example. They’ve got way too much excess energy in their own universe, so much so that it threatens their very existence. The Dronndarians use their alien science to siphon the energy into the DC Universe. The energy is so destructive, however, that they can’t channel it all through at once, so they decide to release it in small doses through Earth criminals, who are allowed one energy blast apiece. It’s kind of a complicated scheme involving Two-Face teaming up with the JLA, along with possessed statues of Napoleon, Julius Caesar and Benjamin Franklin conversing with each other. But for me, on that particular sunny Sunday morning when I read it no other comic would do. This was Gerry Conway’s first JLA script, and continued in JLA #126, where the Weaponers of Qward are enlisted by the Dronndarians to help shift all that energy to Earth. Now, why the Dronndarians couldn’t siphon the energy to an uninhabited universe or dimension…aw, heck, then there wouldn’t be any action and adventure at all!