A review of reviews

It’s been far too long since I’ve reviewed any comics on this site, but I’ve still been writing super-short reviews on both my new Twitter account and as part of the Lawrence Public Library‘s BiblioCommons catalog interface. Especially given the latter, most tend to be about trade compilations or book-like originals rather than single issues. Here are some of them, expanded and collected for your perusal…

Starlight : the return of Duke McQueen (Image, 2015) is the best Mark Millar comic since Superman: Red Son! Well, okay, maybe since Old Man Logan, but it’s by far my favorite of his creator owned projects. It’s a great Sci Fi romp– a Flash Gordon-esque adventure intertwined with its own sequel– with gorgeous art (reminiscent of Alex Toth) by Goran Parlov. Seeing that work makes me want to not brush up on my brush skills & just get better at well-placed pen lines!

Hawkeye vs Deadpool (Marvel, 2015) by Gerry Duggan, writer, and Matteo Lolli & Jacopo Camagni, artists, was unexpectedly enjoyable! Even though he’s a frequent FCBD sketch request, I’ve never really enjoyed the Deadpool comics I’ve read … until this one. Amazingly enough, Deadpool interacts with others and all parties stay pretty much true to character– something I’ve never seen done before! It really did live up to the cover blurb of “a story filled with mystery, action and humor”. My only quibble is that the colorist on the last issue threw off the tone of the previous four … and if that’s the only complaint, it’s a pretty darn impressive comic!

On the other hand, I was terribly disappointed in She-Hulk vol. 1 : Law and Disorder (Marvel, 2014) by writer Charles Soule and artists Javier Pulido & Ron Wimberly. While Pulido’s crisp artwork is fun, his storytelling is spotty– more than once I found myself rereading pages because his panel flow was unclear (undoubtedly made worse in the trade binding than the saddle stitched originals). The fact that She-Hulk was colored off-model (except on the covers) didn’t help matters. Soule’s script was intriguing, but it couldn’t overcome my lack of interest in the sharp and jagged artwork of Ron Wimberly in the last third of the book, an ill fit for the tone set by Pulido.

Black Panther by Jack Kirby (Marvel, 2005) was good as vintage ’70s Kirby/Royer, not so good as a Black Panther comic. It took issues before the Wakandan setting even comes into play, and then only tangentially. You’d be better off reading Kirby’s Eternals from that same period.

Some years ago, I belatedly discovered the work of former Disney animator and children’s book author Bill Peet, so I was hoping that Bill Peet : an autobiography (Houghton Mifflin, 1989) would be an enlightening read. It was a very readable autobiography, told in a manner quite similar to the author’s storybooks. It tells the broad arc of his life up until his full-time career as book author/illustrator, without getting bogged down in the minutia of his long publishing career. While I would have liked to have read a bit more about this early transition into his life as an author, it ended at a point that was appropriately inspiring for his target audience.

In addition to these short reviews, I also authored this longer review of Marvel’s Miracleman reprints for the Lawrence Public Library website. Given the likely impermanence of that link, I’ll include it here, too:

“It’s kind of a miracle…”

… that Miracleman, the lost Alan Moore gem from early in his career, ever saw print again. Tied up in lawsuits over the ownership of the work (both the Moore issues and the later stories by Neil Gaiman) for nearly twenty years, this post-modern—and decidedly adult– take on Britain’s Captain Marvel knockoff (it’s a long story – see here for as good a summation as anywhere), is finally seeing print from Marvel.

Years before he reworked the Charlton action heroes as The Watchmen, in 1982 Moore took a relatively minor and long unused hero and crafted an epic tale of what happens when an ordinary human, reporter Michael Moran, realizes he shares the god-like powers of Miracleman and has to reconcile them with his human life and family … and the government that kept those powers hidden from him for 20 years. It quickly takes a dark turn and, freed from a fictional universe shared with other properties, the title let Moore’s take on where unlimited power leads have free rein. And it does, moving into darker and darker territory, especially as … oh, but that would be telling.

Marvel’s monthly reprints have nearly reached the end of the Moore issues, with plans to reprint the Gaiman stories, including new issues for him to complete the story as he had planned to do before Eclipse, Miracleman’s original publisher, went bankrupt in 1994. The first two books collecting these issues, “A dream of flying” and “The red king syndrome”, were recently added to our collection, so enjoy these classic tales by “the original writer”, with detailed art by Garry Leach, Alan Davis, Rick Veitch, and others … before Marvel inevitably tries to merge the character into their own convoluted superhero universe.

If the first two volumes whet your appetite for more post-modern superhero adventures by Moore & company, there is of course his “Watchmen” (with Dave Gibbons), as well as Veitch’s bleak cold war fantasy “The One” (which predated Watchmen) and “The Maximortal” (which also features an analog to the travails of Superman creators Siegel and Shuster), and Davis’ “Justice League of America: the nail” (out of print, but available via interlibrary loan. Or try his “Fantastic Four: the end” from our collection to get a more positive spin on the superhero genre).


2 thoughts on “A review of reviews

  1. Nice to see new activity at good ol’ Smeary Soapbox Press-Ents! Sounds like I enjoyed Soule/Pulido’s take on She-Hulk more than you did. Although I do agree Ron Wimberly’s art was not a good fit with what Pulido established with the book. I think there is a lesson there. If you need a fill-in artist for a book perhaps it’s best to go with an artist with a similar style of the regular artist.

    Hope to see more of your reviews here!


    1. I’ve been pretty busy these last few months, and have missed my ideal timeline for a number of reviews, but I hope to get back on a more regular posting schedule soon!

      Maybe my disappointment in She-Hulk was so great because my hopes were so high based on early peeks at the book…


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