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Longbox Junk One Shots: Azrael Plus, G.I. Combat, Red Sonja, The Lone Gunmen, Bruce Wayne, Scarecrow, Conan

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"I have a lot of issues. . ."

I write comic book reviews that NOBODY has ever asked for!

August 2018

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Welcome to another round of random single issue Longbox Junk.  Let's get this party started!

AZRAEL PLUS (DC)

A team-up between two great characters. . .Azrael and The Question.

First, the good. . .an awesome Kitson cover!

Now the bad. . .the rest of it.

Maybe I'm being a bit harsh here, it's not really BAD bad. . .it's just not really that good in any way. It's readable, but extremely forgettable. The art is okay, but I remember Giarrano's art being better than this. The teamup between The Question and Azrael is forced, and the issue ends on a note that makes it look like it was supposed to be continued, but it wasn't.

Overall, I don't really even see why this issue existed at all. Was it supposed to be the first in a new "Brave and Bold" style team-up book? I just don't get this at all.

Nice cover, though. . .

G.I. COMBAT FEATURING THE HAUNTED TANK (DC)

First. . .Awesome cover!

This 2010 one shot perfectly captures the feel of the old-school Haunted Tank stories I grew up on, both story-wise and with the sketchy art and muted colors. The story isn't anything fancy or outstanding, it's just another battle for the Haunted Tank crew. . .and that's what makes this great. They didn't try to make big changes or an epic story, they gave us a great homage and paid due respect to the original material.

Very well done.

RED SONJA: VACANT SHELL (Dynamite)

The best part of this one shot is the fantastic Paul Renaud artwork! Every panel on every page is a perfectly-executed piece of art. Very nicely done!

That fantastic art is attached to a pretty average story, though. Sonja rescues the wrong person and through her actions causes the death and demonic possession of a town full of innocents. Then she makes things worse when she tries to make things right. It was interesting in that Sonja totally effed everything up and just sort of ended up skulking away at the end of the story, but the execution of the story was pretty dull overall.

Good taken with bad, this was a pretty good read, but easily forgotten.

LONE GUNMEN (Dark Horse)

I found this one shot to be pretty enjoyable, but a little confusing. It seems to be tied more to the short-lived Lone Gunmen T.V. series that I had never seen, so I had to Wiki who Jimmy Bond and Yves Harlow were, as they weren't in the X-Files T.V. show or comic that I knew the Lone Gunmen from. So there's that. . .but it didn't stop the story from being pretty entertaining, with witty dialogue and sharp art that captured the likeness of the actors very nicely.

But the best part of this one shot. . .which actually looks like it was SUPPOSED to be the first issue of an ongoing, from what's written by the creative team in the back. . .was a single-page silent "story" about two of the Gunmen engaging in the quintessential nerd argument: Kirk VS Picard. The third jumps in and settles it with something everyone can agree on. . .Seven of Nine.

And if you don't get that, don't even bother reading this issue.  It's pretty much for nerds only.

BRUCE WAYNE: AGENT OF S.H.I.E.L.D. (Amalgam)

This mashup between Marvel and DC characters is a fun, frantic, all-out action fiesta!

Don't even bother trying to make sense of the story. It starts in the middle and ends on a cliffhanger. Just bask in the madness that was Amalgam and enjoy characters like Moonwing. . .a Dick Grayson mashup of Nightwing and Moon Knight.

The best thing about this craziness is the fantastic Cary Nord artwork. He makes what should be ridiculous look great!

All in all, this was a pretty fun issue, for a throwaway one-shot. It's full of comic cliche nonsense poking fun at comic cliche nonsense.

SCARECROW (DC)

One of a series of "New Year's Evil" one-shots focusing on DC villains.

In this story, Scarecrow escapes Arkham Asylum determined to break the lone witness who testified against him in court and landed him in custody again. . .a young handicapped woman. He goes to great lengths to achieve his ends, even offering her a chance to be his partner in crime and get revenge on those who belittled and bullied her. . .but in the end, it's she that breaks the Scarecrow.

I really liked this story. It really showed the madness of Scarecrow quite nicely as he became obsessed with his victim. The dark and twisted art fits the insanity in this story very well.

Overall, I thought this was a great little villain-centric short story and a nice hidden gem in my collection.

AND FINALLY. . .

CONAN: THE WEIGHT OF THE CROWN

I have to say right up front that this one shot is about as close as I've come to finding the perfect Conan story.

It's a tale about Conan becoming a king, but it's not a King Conan story. It's about the FIRST time he became a king, when he was a young warrior just beginning his wanderings outside of his homeland. . .and he is a miserable failure at being a leader.

At first, everyone loves him because he's young and awesome and he keeps them safe. . .but as time goes by and he's more concerned with battles and parties than crops and plagues, his kingdom falls into disarray and misery. When the son of the previous king arrives with an army to take his revenge and his father's kingdom back, Conan just gives him the crown and rides away without a fight, knowing that he was the crappiest king ever.

I love that this story shows Conan as a loser. There are so many tales of his coming out on top due to sheer luck or skill on the battlefield. . .this story shows that his worst enemy is just day to day living outside of battle, and he is soundly defeated by it in the way no other enemy ever came close to.

Robertson's dark and extremely detailed artwork is perfect for this grim story. Probably one of the best depictions of Conan I've ever seen. Nicely done all around!  Highly suggested.

CONCLUSION

And there you have it. . .another fine little batch of one shots.  

Overall, I'd say there wasn't really a BAD one in the bunch.  The only one that came close was the Azrael/Question team-up.  My favorite this time around was clearly the Conan one-shot.

I'd suggest all of them, except maybe the Bruce Wayne and Azrael issues.  Bruce Wayne was fun and had great art, but it's more of a curiosity than an actual story.  The Azrael/Question issue just seems like it has no purpose in existing at all.

Coming Next. . .

Feel my pain as another one of my favorite characters starts strong and then goes off the rails.

42 issues of Dynamite's Green Hornet.  Be there or be square!

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