Eye on Comics

Comics criticism and commentary from Don MacPherson

Archive for October, 2013

Pair Necessities

Posted by Don MacPherson on 27th October 2013

Showcase Presents: DC Comics Presents – Superman Team-Ups Vol. 1 trade paperback
Writers: Mike Barr, Cary Bates, Paul Levitz, Dennis O’Neil, Jim Starlin, Len Wein, Marv Wolfman, Gerry Conway, Steve Englehart, David Michelinie & Martin Pasko
Pencils: Murphy Anderson, José Luis García-López, Jim Starlin, Joe Staton, Curt Swan, Rich Buckler & Dick Dillin
Inks: Dan Adkins, Murphy Anderson, Vince Colletta, José Luis García-López, Joe Giella, Steve Mitchell, Jack Abel, Dick Giordano, Frank McLaughlin & Frank Chiaramonte
Letters: Ben Oda, Clem Robins, Todd Klein & Milt Snapinn
Cover artist: José Luis García-López
Editor: Julius Schwartz (original)/Ben Joy (collected edition)
Publisher: DC Comics
Price: $17.99 US/$22.99 CAN

I’ve amassed a small collection of DC’s Showcase reprint editions and some selections from Marvel’s Essential line, and I’ve only recently started really delving into them. I find I’m enjoying these phone-book-like collections of Silver and Bronze Age material as much as some of the better modern comics on my pull list today. Mind you, I’m definitely judging these books through a different filter, from a different perspective. These are not sophisticated comics, not by a long run. The writers take some ridiculous shortcuts to get the plots where they want them to go at times, and some of the stories definitely bite off more than they can chew for a one-off, standalone story. But they are incredibly fun, especially when they include such forgettable villains as Dr. Horus and the De-Volver. Perhaps the best thing this black-and-white reprint edition has going for it, though, is how it spotlights the incredible talent of artist José Luis García-López, arguably the best comics talent the Bronze Age ever produced. Read the rest of this entry »

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Trading Burgers for Brains

Posted by Don MacPherson on 20th October 2013

Afterlife With Archie #1
“This Is How the End of the World Begins…”
Writer: Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa
Artist/Colors: Francesco Francavilla
Letters: Jack Morelli
Cover artists: Francesco Francavilla (regular)/Francavilla, Robert Hack, Andrew Pepoy & Tim Seeley (variants)
Publisher: Archie Comic Publications
Price: $2.99 US

Though I thumbed through the pages of Archie digests on the can when I was a kid (just like everyone else in the Western Hemisphere, I think), I’m not much of a reader of the publisher’s comics these days. Nevertheless, it succeeded in piquing my curiosity with this comic, despite its gimmicky nature and obvious effort to capitalize on one of the big pop-culture trends of the day. But Francesca Francavilla’s art should be more than enough to draw the attention of any modern enthusiast of the medium. On top of that, my local comic shop participated in the store-specific variant promotion, and I always like to show my support when it invests in such an item. Not surprisingly, the visuals are impressive throughout this first issue, but what took me aback is the strength of the writing. Though the broad concept is clearly something of a stunt designed to spark interest outside the publisher’s base audience, the storytelling doesn’t treat it like a gimmick at all. Instead, we get a much more grim, mature take on these characters. Honestly, the zombie-genre bits weren’t what held my attention, but rather the strong characterization writer Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa brought to bear here. Read the rest of this entry »

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Weird Webs

Posted by Don MacPherson on 8th October 2013

Variant coverMarvel Knights: Spider-Man #1
“99 Problems… One of Five”
Writer: Matt Kindt
Artist: Marco Rudy
Colors: Val Staples
Letters: Virtual Calligraphy
Cover artists: Rudy (regular)/Carlo Barberi (variant)
Editor: Tom Brennan
Publisher: Marvel Entertainment
Price: $3.99 US

Marvel decision to revive its Marvel Knights brand is well timed, as it’s given the publisher an opportunity to publish a Spider-Man comic for Peter Parker purists who might prefer their Spideys amazing rather than superior. I’m also pleased to see the Marvel Knights label is being reserved for somewhat unconventional material and to emphasize the talent crafting the comics rather than the icons in the stories. Matt Kindt’s star is definitely on the rise, as is Marco Rudy’s — oddly enough, mainly for work they’ve done on DC titles. I found their take on Spider-Man to be unexpected, unusual and experimental, and I’m always pleased when I find something new in the world of a decades-old character and a genre that many could easily argue has seen it all. That being said, there are more than “99 Problems” in this story, as a couple in the plot and art kept me from connecting to the material as much as I wanted. Still, that Marvel and these creators took the chances they did with these characters is a welcome development that merits a look. Read the rest of this entry »

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