The much-publicized “Blizzard of ’03” that hit last weekend afforded me some time to do some reading (in between rounds of shoveling snow). That in turns prompts me to do a few reviews…

  • JLA/JSA: VIRTUE AND VICE (96pp hardcover — $24.95) by David S. Goyer, Geoff Johns, Carlos Pacheco and Jesus Merino. I found this book confusing at the beginning because there were too many scene-jumps; in fact, the lack of page numbers in some sections had me wondering if something was out of order. Despite this, the multiple levels of menace made it worthy of the massive team-up with some entertaining teamwork. The art was pleasing as well, but what exactly was Mr. Terrific giving Batman to eat at the beginning of the book – mashed potatoes with cookies?
  • BATMAN: ABSOLUTION (96pp hardcover — $24.95) by J.M DeMatteis and Brian Ashmore. The storytelling was a bit choppy in some places, but the plot did all come together in the end. The art reminded me of the painted Batman trading cards of the 1960s. One quibble: This had to be the smallest lettering I have seen in a book in a long time.
  • JLA: DESTINY (4 issues @$5.95) by John Arcudi and Tom Mandrake. One of the major problems with the miniseries being done these days is that they’re written to be dropped into a trade paperback collection without any additional effort. As such, the individual issues end up lacking some simple aids for the reader. Would it be too much to include some kind of “roll call” of characters? And a recap? And maybe identifying the heroes by name a few times? In any case, if you can make it to the fourth chapter, this story all fits together, but it could have used some more coherent storytelling earlier on.
  • ADVENTURES OF SUPERMAN #613 by Joe Casey, Derec Aucoin, Jose Marzan and John Stanisci. “Valentine’s Day Sale” is a cute story that intersperses Lois and Clark’s plans for a February 14 celebration (QUITE familiar to folks who remember the first Superman movie) with Funky Flashman’s scheme to make a fortune selling Superman paraphernalia, much to our hero’s annoyance. The resolution is clever, though the entire story would have been an eight-pager back in the days when Julius Schwartz edited the book.]
  • HERO #1 by Will Pfeifer and Kano. Having written quite a lot of the stories of the “second incarnation” of the DIAL “H” FOR HERO concept, I was looking forward to seeing this new spin. Unfortunately, like so many comics these days, this debut issue is merely the first chapter in a who-knows-how-many-issues-long tale. We meet Jerry, the protagonist, and he is planning to kill himself because of things that have happened after he discovers and uses the H-Dial. What has driven him to the brink of suicide and will he actually do it? Alas, that will have to wait for an upcoming issue and, assuming one is willing to continue to shell out $2.50 a month, I suppose we’ll find out.

The nice folks at CrossGen have added me to their mailing list so I’ve gotten a look at their books for the first time. They are quite new-reader-friendly with a recap on the inside front cover of each book, but I’d suggest adding head shots of the main characters to all the books to make it easier to match names with faces.

Thus far, I’ve read two books written by Barbara Kesel (who I’ve always referred to as “the kid sister I never wanted”): THE FIRST #26 (art by Andy Smith and Rob Hunter) and MERIDIAN #31 (art by June Brigman and Drew Geraci). Both are nicely drawn and well-colored and I was able to figure out pretty much who was who thanks to the recaps. However, both were obviously chapters in a much larger story – they moved the action along a bit (and one had a “startling revelation” at the end) – but I found myself unsatisfied and thinking, “I wish more had gone on here.”

On the fanzine front, Jim Kingman, editor and publisher of COMIC EFFECT (48pp, $3.50 an issue, $13 for 4: PO Box 2188, Pasadena, CA 91102), has sent me a couple of issues to peruse. #29 is devoted completely to KAMANDI and contained everything I ever wanted to know (and more) about the Last Boy on Earth’s appearances.

#32 seems more representative of the ‘zine’s regular fare. It contains a wide variety of well-illustrated articles on such topics as Asian stereotypes in comics, The Shield, WHODUNNIT, small press publications, “Lois Lane, Wonder Woman and Wonder Girl” and a lot more.

COMIC EFFECT is worth a look.


FEEDBACK DEPARTMENT:

That WATCHMEN thing was going to be a prequel to the original, more of a regular superheroes story then the original, set in the sixties I think. It was going to come out at either the ten or fifteen year mark after the WATCHMEN came out… but Alan Moore and DC got into their little “argument” and that was that. At least that’s what I heard somewhere.
— Lanier (Lanier2369@rocketmail.com)

I believe there was talk of a tenth anniversary WATCHMEN “event,” but I don’t recall this particular scenario. Anybody?

*****

Remember me? It seems like ages since I’ve e-mailed you. I wanted to drop you a note with some additional info for this week’s column:

* Space Ranger hasn’t made any substantial appearances since GREEN LANTERN [second series] #s 136-137 but he HAS appeared, specifically in cameos in CRISIS ON INFINITE EARTHS #10, GUY GARDNER #24 and STARMAN [second series] #55.

As for Tommy Tomorrow, he also appeared in CRISIS #10 (and 12, which revealed that in the new timeline, he was the kid who’d otherwise have grown up to be Kamandi). His appearances since have all been non-canonical, such as his turn as a villain in TWILIGHT #s 1-3, his appearance as one of Robby Reed’s alternate identities in SILVER AGE SECRET FILES #1 and a fantasy sequence in STARMAN [second series] #55.

* Frank Rock definitely fits as DC’s Nick Fury analog though I think Checkmate was created to be DC’s version of SHIELD.

* Actually, Lando (from WORLD’S BEST…/FINEST #s 1-7) didn’t use reverse-magic. However, Quality Comics had two magicians (later acquired by DC) who used backwards spells. Following his last Zatara story (ACTION COMICS #29), Fred Guardineer moved to Quality, where he created a far more blatant Mandrake doppelganger than Zatara ever was, complete with slicked back hair, mustache, red cape and the requisite hypnotic gestures. Introduced in CRACK COMICS #10, Tor did not immediately use backwards spells but they seem to have come into use between #s 12 and 16. Guardineer also inherited NATIONAL COMICS’ Merlin strip, involving a descendant of King Arthur’s magician who, up to that point, had only possessed powers while wearing a magical green cloak. With Guardineer’s first issue (#12), reverse-magic became the order of the day. Tor and Merlin were killed off in DC’s “JSA Returns” event a few years back.

* All kidding aside, the White Rabbit IS still alive. See page 21 of 2001’s WONDER WOMAN #175.
— John Wells (mikishawm@yahoo.com)

Thanks, John. I know I can always count on my Official Unofficial Researcher to come through.

*****

I fondly remember your Invaders homage in FREEDOM FIGHTERS. I remember The Americommando and Rusty and The Barracuda, but I’m drawing a blank on the names of the counterparts of The Human Torch and Toro. Please refresh my memory.
— Blue Burke (SCStingRays2002@yahoo.com)

Fireball and Sparky were the blazing duo.

*****

Another pseudo crossover between two comics teams from different companies was done in NEW TEEN TITANS and DNAGENTS from DC and Eclipse by Marv Wolfman and Mark Evanier respectively. Similar to the FREEDOM FIGHTERS / INVADERS crossover, each team fought a doppelganger team of the other, and both stories appeared at roughly the same time. I believe the DNAgents doppels were the Recombatants; don’t recall what the Titans’ doppels were called.

Post-Crisis, by the way, the Cyborg-Superman was originally a Reed Richards doppelganger, introduced in a Superman story with a full Fantastic Four origin and team homage.

Re: recalling Kara post-Crisis. There was the Deadman story in CHRISTMAS WITH THE SUPER-HEROES #2 circa 1989 where Deadman meets a blonde ghost named Kara; she was a hero who no one remembered at all. If it wasn’t Supergirl, it was a darn good imitation.

Other DC “sdrawkcab gnikaeps” characters include Tor and Merlin, both magicians retroactively said to be of the “same order” as Zatara. They were both Quality Comics characters in the 1940s (debuting in Crack and National Comics respectively), and were formally added to the DC Universe in ALL-STAR COMICS v2 #1, the first bookend issue of the “event” mini-series that appeared just before the current JSA series was launched. Of course, they also died in that issue, so they’re unlikely to show up much again.

Later appearances of Tommy Tomorrow and Space Ranger; Tommy appears in the Howard Chaykin three-issue Elseworlds series TWILIGHT. Note that just about every DC “sf” character appearing in that series was severely twisted from their previously established character, so “Tommy” is a meglomaniac fascist. “Tommy” also appears for a couple of panels in a Robby Reed Dial H For Hero story in SILVER AGE SECRET FILES when Robby dials into him…come to think of it, that scene also had a female friend of Robby’s, Suzy, dialing into Supergirl, who looked exactly like Kara Zor-El. If I’m recalling correctly, longtime Tommy and Supergirl artist Jim Mooney was the artist on that story, so it was probably a tip of the hat to him to get him to draw those two again.

As for Space Ranger, he appeared, along with Cryll, Ultra the Multi-Alien, and Space Cabby in STARMAN #55. And as I learned / recalled when checking the issue number, Tommy
Tomorrow briefly appears as a character in a story told by Ultra (which turns out to bear little resemblance to the actual events that the story was supposedly based on).
— Tom Galloway (tyg@panix.com)

*****

Regarding Tommy Tomorrow, Robby Reed turned into him at the end of a story in THE SILVER AGE SECRET FILES. His female companion turned into a dead-ringer for the Silver Age Supergirl. Both were probably an homage to the artist of the story and a number of the original Dial H stories Jim Mooney, who also drew Tommy Tomorrow and Supergirl.
— Mark Katzoff (mkatz36022@aol.com)

*****

According to the Grand Comics Database, Tommy Tomorrow had a brief appearance in a Superbaby story called “Little Green Men Who Weren’t There” in the NEW ADVENTURES OF SUPERBOY #24 — a story written by one Bob Rozakis!

Anyway, great job with the column. By the way, you’re looking great in the new picture — congrats on the weight loss. I’ve lost a bit of weight myself over the past 12-18 months, so I know how hard it can be to get it off and keep it off. Keep up the good work, and thanks again for the entertaining comics info.
— Jason Fliegel (QuerlB5@aol.com)

*****

No question this week, Bob. Just wanted to congratulate you for your “improved” appearance. As one who fights the battle of the bulge (and does get into the gym regularly), you have my sympathies and moral support. Keep up the good work!

I do have to say that it’s really weird seeing you with short hair and no mustache. Some of my earliest memories of DC comics are the Ask the Answer Man column on the old Daily Planet “last pages” of the comics. Anyway, the wild hair and mustache in the caricature made you look quite a bit older. I would have guessed you were in your forties or fifties back then. The new picture on this site changes my opinion, however. Good job! You’ve always been one of my favorites in the biz. A true gentleman.
— Derek Wilson (derek@detroitmusic.com)

Okay, everybody, finish reading this column and get some exercise! A walk, a jog, a bicycle ride, an hour at the gym – let’s go!
And when you get back, don’t forget my daily Anything Goes Trivia at http://www.worldfamouscomics.com/trivia. See you back here — with all of us just a little more physically fit – next week.


Need some answers from the Answer Man?
Ask BobRo at It’s BobRo’s Answer Board.

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


 

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