Thursday, October 31, 2013

The Shining Knight Guest Stars

"The Shining Knight Guest Stars" from Stars and S.T.R.I.P.E. #12 (DC, 2000) by Geoff Johns, Lee Moder and Dan Davis
Yay, 7 Soldiers of Victory! I always hear good things about Geoff Johns' take on the Star-Spangled Kid and Stripesy, probably because it could stand as proof Johns isn't all darkness and violence (to be fair, there are other books that would do, like Booster Gold and Adventure Comics). It really is everything the New52 isn't, am I right?

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Sturm und Drang

"Sturm und Drang" from Starman vol.2 #39 (DC, 1998) by James Robinson, Tony Harris and Wade von Grawbadger
James Robinson sort of became DC's new Roy Thomas with Starman, not just because he made use of Golden Age characters, but over the last 20 years, also dusted off obscure ones from intervening years (many from First Issue Special). If Robinson likes to wax nostalgic, his Starman is ABOUT nostalgia, with Jack Knight, latest in the Starman line, running a nostalgia shop and himself struggling with the past. How can he be in love with the past, and yet have such a difficult relationship with his father? In some ways, Starman is really about the post-Crisis DC Universe, specifically its heroic legacies (villainous ones as well). Even the cops in Opal City are part of a long line of iconic cops. And Opal City. Robinson and Harris created an iconic city to rival Metropolis and Gotham City there, and in a fraction of the pages, indeed from issue 1. Wow, I need to reread this series some time.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Starman No More

"Starman No More" from Starman vol.1 #21 (DC, 1990) by Roger Stern, Tom Lyle and Scott Hanna
If that image reminds you of Spider-Man's costume in a trash can, it's because that's totally the reference they're going for. And appropriate, because the Will Payton Starman was a Marvel teen hero type, indeed, I'd call him the Firestorm of the late 80s. Tom Lyle seemed to specialize in youthful heroes (Robin, the Comet, and this), which made the first 30 issues, written by the always solid Roger Stern, a pleasant journey of heroic discovery. And though the costume's yellow and purple color scheme has always reminded me of those sugary two-toned lollipops (what are those called?), I never much minded. I suppose the black and red was better, but not as idealistic. After Len Strazewski came on board as writer, things sadly flattened out, though he managed to pump out 16 more issues before the book met its end.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Starfire Leaps Into Shadow

"Starfire Leaps Into Shadow" from Starfire #6 (DC, 1977) by Steve Englehart, Mike Vosburg and Vince Colletta

Sunday, October 27, 2013

After Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home

"After Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home" from Star Trek: Debt of Honor GN (DC, 1992) by Chris Claremont, Adam Hughes and Karl Story
Siskoid's Blog of Geekery covered every single Star Trek comic DC ever published (and Marvel, and Malibu, and Gold Key, and almost all the IDWs, etc.), and they don't usually offer up outstanding splash pages. Mostly, it's fair to mediocre likenesses or photo referenced art, though DC did have some good runs, especially with the movie era original cast of characters supplemented by new characters. But for art, I've chosen one of the graphic novels, Debt of Honor, the review to which you can find HERE.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

The Unknown Soldier's Greatest Role

"The Unknown Soldier's Greatest Role" from Star Spangled War Stories #156 (DC, 1971) by Bob Haney and Joe Kubert
So picking up Star Spangled Comics' numbering with #131, this series turned to the war comics popular at the time and managed to stay in publication for another 15 years, until 1977's #204. In its heyday, it published some memorable strips - Mademoiselle Marie, The War That Time Forgot, Enemy Ace and Unknown Soldier (who took over the numbering with #205 LET'S KEEP GOING!) - and a heck of a lot of Joe Kubert covers.

Friday, October 25, 2013

Liberty Belle vs. the Axis

"Liberty Belle vs. the Axis" from Star Spangled Comics #33 (Detective, 1944) by Don Cameron and Chuck Winter
Liberty Belle is an old favorite from All-Star Squadron and her Golden Age stories seem to have a nice, sleek style. She wasn't Star Spangled Comics's only, or even main, feature of course. The headliners were Star-Spangled Kid and Stripesy, the Newsboy Legion and eventually, Robin in solo stories, giving the book a distinctly youthful flavor. Of course, there were more adult heroes, like Belle, but also Tarantula, TNT and Dan the Dyna-Mite, and Robotman. The book eventually phased out superheroes in favor of strips like Tomahawk and horror stuff, until it became Star Spangled War Stories with #131.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Mars or Bust

"Mars or Bust" from Stanley and His Monster #109 (DC, 1968) by Arnold Drake, Bob Oksner and Tex Blaisdell
First appearing in Fox and the Crow #95, Stanley and His Monster had taken over the book completely by issue 109, and closed the book with 112. I don't know if Bill Watterson ever took inspiration from this strip, because it very much has the same basic premise as Calvin and Hobbes, but regardless, it's nowhere near as funny or charming. Kids' fare, with some amusing art here and there, but little more. If you want to read some S&HM, I'd rather you found Phil Foglio's 90s mini-series, which tied into Gaiman's Sandman, believe it or not, while remaining a cartoony humor comic.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

The Flames of Hell

"The Flames of Hell" from Stalker #3 (DC, 1975) by Paul Levitz, Steve Ditko and Wally Wood
At 4 issues, Stalker is kind of a mini-series before there were such things. He sells his soul to get combat abilities, and is kind of Ditko's answer to Kirby's Demon. Always thought the concept had a lot of potential, but though he's appeared a number of times (most recently in Sword of Sorcery), never really fulfilling that potential.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Spirit in Blood

"Spirit in Blood" from The Spirit vol.2 #2 (DC, 2010) by Mark Schultz and Moritat
When DC started the (doomed) First Wave imprint, they immediately rebooted their Spirit book and gave it to other people. Why not just slap "First Wave" on the ongoing they had? Or had it lost all its good will when Cooke left?

Monday, October 21, 2013

The Maneater

"The Maneater" from The Spirit vol.1 #2 (DC, 2007) by Darwyn Cooke and J. Bone
DC has published two Spirit series, both within the last 6 years. The first is very well regarded, and might even be as good as Will Eisner's original strips, especially the Cooke issues. And you can sort of see why.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

The Spectre Corps

"The Spectre Corps" from The Spectre vol.4 #16 (DC, 2002) by J.M. DeMatteis, Norm Breyfogle, Jim Royal and Joe Rubinstein
Making Hal Jordan the new Spectre may have been a case of destroying one character to redeem another, but it did make sense in the context of the clusterfrak thay made of this particular Green Lantern to make way for a younger model. Parallax wasn't a good idea, but it did make Hal a sort of "spirit of vengeance", which plugged him into the Spectre persona (for 27 issues of his own book, plus the Legends of the DC Universe arc where the idea premiered, and on until his resurrection in Blackest Night/Brightest Day), but it's not like this was a plan from the start.

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Moon Bullets

"Moon Bullets" from The Spectre vol.3 #1 (DC, 1992) by John Ostrander and Tom Mandrake
The Spectre was back to his omnipotent self in the 90s series, which was a huge step up in every way. John Ostrander and Tom Mandrake, who had worked together on Firestorm, did almost the entire run of 62 issues. Despite the Spectre's near-infinite power, he was plagued by moral dilemmas and doubts about the divine motive behind his mission. Ostrander didn't shy away from uncomfortable subjects, and Mandrake was great at nightmarish retribution gags. Ostrander even brought the priest from Suicide Squad into it. Oh, and the three glow in the dark covers are pretty neat, and probably made sure readers sampled the comic early on, contributing to its success. Man, I gotta read this again some time (indeed, the entire 80s-90s Ostrander oeuvre, which all ties together somehow).

Friday, October 18, 2013

The Lacquer Look

"The Lacquer Look" from The Spectre vol.2 #4 (DC, 1987) by Doug Moench, Gene Colan and Steve Mitchell
The 80s Spectre series lasted less than three years and was unremarkable (I mostly remember its cool house ad, the first cover by Mike Kaluta). Basically, Jim Corrigan was brought back from the dead, made a private eye, and the Spectre sprang out of him for a 48-hour window lest Corrigan start dying again (he was the supernatural equivalent of Aquaman then). It may just have been too gritty and down to earth for a Spectre book. After all, this guy was throwing planets around in the Golden Age.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

A T Rex Follows the Spectre Home

"A T Rex Follows the Spectre Home" from The Spectre vol.1 #5 (DC, 1968) by Neil Adams
Neil Adams, when writing, was an odd duck even early in his career, wasn't he? Anyway, this is pulled from the first Spectre solo series, which lasted only 10 issues and that aside from Adams' work, is a bit unremarkable. Especially for Spectre fans, as he becomes just another horror host by the end.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Just Another Ninja Babe

"Just Another Ninja Babe" from Sovereign Seven #3 (DC, 1995) by Chris Claremont, Dwayne Turner and Jerome K. Moore
Chris Claremont does love his ninja babes... Sovereign Seven was creator-owned which is why we didn't see much of this team outside their own book. Signing one of Marvel's big stars was something of a coup, but the series he came up with was derivative of his X-Men work (hey, if all the Image artists could do it...).

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Allred Draws the DC Universe

"Allred Draws the DC Universe" from Solo #7 (DC, 2005) by Lee and Michael Allred
A lot of choices from Solo, the book that gave celebrity writer/artists the chance to do ANYTHING THEY WANTED with DC properties. Always been partial to Mike Allred's stuff, so here you go.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Midnight Is Not the Spirit, We Swear

"Midnight Is Not the Spirit, We Swear" from Smash Comics #73 (E.M. Arnold, 1947) by Jack Cole
From the Quality family of books, Smash was the home of the Ray, the Invisible Hood, Magno, The Jester, Black X, Lady Luck and the robot Bozo the Iron Man, but the one that most dominated the book by far, earning the cover from #28 all the way to #85, was Midnight, a straight-up replacement for the Spirit while Will Eisner went to fight in the war, but whose strip continued after Eisner's return. Having Jack "Plastic Man" Cole on your side does wonders for your career, no matter whose shadow it started under. Of course, today, Midnight isn't well remembered at all.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Not Flying Yet

"Not Flying Yet" from Smallville #11 (DC, 2005) by Dan Thomsen, Tom Derenick and Adam Dehraker
I never followed Smallville (and it seems daunting to do so now), and I certainly didn't read the tie-in comic book (which wasn't a success based on the fact it ran only 11 issues, while the show lasted 10 years) despite some fair likenesses (above), but I AM a huge fan of Bryan Q. Miller's Smallville Season 11 digital-direct comic. I discovered them in a liveblog HERE. Just sharing the love.

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Simon Dark Loves Cephalopods

"Simon Dark Loves Cephalopods" from Simon Dark #17 (DC, 2009) by Steve Niles and Scott Hampton
Lurks in Shadows. Hides in the dark.
Simon. Simon. Simon Dark.

If you're good he'll stay away.
If you're bad he'll make you pay.

Lurks in Shadows. Hides in the dark.
Simon. Simon. Simon Dark.

Friday, October 11, 2013


"Ovation" from Silverblade #9 (DC, 1988) by Cary Bates, Gene Colan and Steve Mitchell
Silverblade had an interesting premise that perhaps worked best for fans of old movies, since its hero was an old actor rejuvenated and turned into one of his characters (kind of like the Adam West comics). Not sure if Gene Colan was the right artist for this flight of fancy, but since I inherited a couple issues at some point, I think I'd like to read the whole thing at some point.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Bibbo's Poker Buddies

"Bibbo's Poker Buddies" from Showcase '95 #6 (DC, 1995) by Mike Carlin and Denis Rodier
Though it changed titles with a new numbering every year, Showcase '93 to '96 is very much the same series. The anthology book usually "showcased" three features per issue, several in short multi-issue arcs. And looking at my collection now, it thoroughly earned its "90s" title. Wow, there's a lot of ugly crosshatched art in here. As you might imagine, they used a lot of Batman material to sell the book (even a few chapters of Knightfall), and offered continuations of mini-series (like Metal Men) or preludes to new series (like Peter David's Supergirl). I guess the idea was to make it a book you had to pick if you didn't want to miss the next big thing, or were a Batman fan. Some good stuff in there, but I can't guarantee you'll enjoy an issue picked at random.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

I -- Spy

"I -- Spy" from Showcase #50 (DC, 1964) by Robert Kanigher, Carmine Infantino and Murphy Anderson
Showcase was an inauspicious anthology series when it started with stories about firefighters and deep sea divers. And then... the new Flash. From then on, Showcase had the golden touch, or I should I call it a SILVER touch? Green Lantern, the Challengers of the Unknown, Adam Strange, the Atom, Rip Hunter, Tommy Tomorrow... okay, okay, diminish returns. The better strips all got their own series represented on Daily Splash, so I went for a cool, designy splash for Danger Trail star King Faraday.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Bulletproof Shield

"Bulletproof Shield" from The Shield #2 (DC, 2009) by Eric Trautmann, Marco Rudy and Mick Gray
Archie's precursor to Captain America back in the 40s, I was mostly familiar with the armored version DC published under their Impact Comics imprint. As for the Red Circle label, only a few years ago trying to incorporate the Archie heroes into the DCU, well, that was one of three half-assed attempts to do this kind of thing. The others were pulp heroes (First Wave) and the Milestone characters (which I can't even call HALF-assed). Let's just say having Magog appear in your first couple of issues is NOT the way to get me to read your comic.

Monday, October 7, 2013

Mary Marvel's Fashion Parade

"Mary Marvel's Fashion Parade" from Shazam! #13 (DC, 1974) by E. Nelson Bridwell and various artists
I'm really happy the fashion show doesn't take us to the dark and grimy oughts. The 70s series brought the Marvel Family into the DC Universe (albeit on Earth-S) and featuring art by Cap's creator C.C. Beck in the first 10 issues featured the light-hearted superhero style that had made Fawcett's books a big hit in the 40s (and more importantly, the tone of Shazam cartoon shows of my youth). Of course, in the 70s, the book must already gave seemed "all-ages" to DC readers. It did make it to issue 35 before getting relegated to a back-up in World's Finest.

Sunday, October 6, 2013

So Is Shadowpact in Fables Continuity?

"So Is Shadowpact in Fables Continuity?" from Shadowpact #1 (DC, 2006) by Bill Willigham
An ancestor of Justice League Dark, though maybe with a more interesting cast - Ragman, Blue Devil and Detective Chimp... INHERENTLY more interesting than any other cast you care to mention - Shadowpact had Willingham making use of the dark fairy tale land in Nightshade's origin, so... Is the "Land of Nightshades" one of Fables' Homelands? Thought I'd ask.

Saturday, October 5, 2013

The Shadow's America

"The Shadow's America" from The Shadow Strikes! #31 (DC, 1992) by Gerard Jones, Rod Whigham and John Beatty
While Helfer and Baker were doing the Mature Readers version of the Shadow, Gerard Jones was given the all-ages (or Teen, I suppose) version to write, and it's DC's longest run of the character. Jones did a pretty good job with it, as ever, a sort of stylistic chameleon who could pulp, straight superhero, pompous weirdness (Mosaic) and humor (Guy Gardner) all in the space of one month.

Friday, October 4, 2013

The Shadow Dies

"The Shadow Dies" from The Shadow vol.3 #13 (DC, 1988) by Andrew Helfer and Kyle Baker
Though I have some affection for Dark Horse's various Shadow mini-series, the best Shadow ongoing is still probably the late 80s, mature readers book by Helfer and Baker. I remember getting the first 8 issues in one bundle at a comics store going out of business sale, and they were exciting enough to get to go see Alex Baldwin's Shadow movie. And though I haven't seen it since that first time, I still think it was pretty keen. I have nothing but nostalgia to back that up, of course.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Night of the Mummy

"Night of the Mummy" from The Shadow vol.1 #8 (DC, 1974-1975) by Denny O'Neil and Frank Robbins
As a kid, I hated Frank Robbins' rough distorted style. As an adult, I've come to appreciate its energy. He was one of the artists on DC's 70s Shadow series and I quite like his work there. Not to say the series' other artists were dogs - Kaluta and Cruz! A cursory look at this series shows a lot of story titles started with "Night of..." I guess the Shadow inspires that kind of thing.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Shade Showdown

"Shade Showdown" from Shade, the Changing Man vol.2 #16 (DC, 1991) by Peter Milligan, Chris Bachalo and Rick Bryant
Mature Readers Shade faces off against the American Scream in the first mega-story arc of the series that would become on the first books in DC's new Vertigo imprint. Trademarks: Crazy covers, a memorable supporting cast, and Shade "changing" each time Milligan killed him off, at one point turning the book into Shade the Changing Woman. I should reread the whole thing some day.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Shade's Shadow Coma

"Shade's Shadow Coma" from Shade, the Changing Man vol.1 #7 (DC, 1978) by Steve Ditko and Michael Fleischer
So was Ditko's Shade the Changing Man some kind of Objectivist parable? I bet it was, wasn't it? Well, when I first encountered this comic, I thought it was Ditko's attempt to pull a Kirby with his own mythology - the Meta-Zone is an SF version of all those Dr. Strange dimensions, just like the Fourth World was an SF Asgard - and I don't feel any more objectivist than I did then, so... Ayn Rand Fail!