Just got through typing up a lengthy review of Marvel Fanfare #32 from 1987. My computer decided to delete the whole thing.
Check it out. It's good.
- read more
"Betrayal". This comic has no credits, but Wikipedia says it's written by Denny O'Neil (Batman, Green Lantern) with art by Howard Chaykin (American Flagg, Black Kiss, Hawkgirl). (Other issues in this series are inked by Crusty Bunkers, aka Neal Adams' studio.)
This book features Fafhrd and The Gray Mouser, a couple of rogues created for the pulp magazine genre in 1958. Fafhrd is a redbearded, loincloth-wearing "Norse" barbarian. Gray mouser is a diminutive thief. They travel together in a world that looks like Renaissance Europe. They look for adventure and they banter throughout, as event after event seemingly befall them.
When the ship they are travelling on is boarded by pirates, the duo are taken as slaves and set to work. When that ship is attacked, they are set adrift. They wash up in the port city of Lankhmar, whose overlord Glipkerio had ordered their first ship to be attacked. They infiltrate the palace by telling the guards they bring gifts of "stones". What they give Glipkerio is a rock.- read more
Written by Garth Ennis with art by Carlos Esquerra.
Mary exists in the near future during World War III. A Franco-German power has risen to take control of the European Union. The British, who have never felt very European, side with the Americans. After Europe drops a nuke on Birmingham, England, the US threatens to retaliate. From then on, nukes are off the table and the rest of the war is fought without them. There is also a new technology that allows any foot soldier to scramble electronics which takes away air superiority for either side. The titular character is the head of an elite British special forces team. They are described as a "kill-team" because they don't do recon, rescue or demolition. They just go in to kill. This is the premise and it's very Garth Ennis.
In this issue, Mary's team has been ordered to hunt down a man named Anderton. It's personal for Mary because he was the leader on her first mission where he betrayed them and was found to be working for the enemy. Following a lead, they confiscate some computer discs, fake ID's and cash along with some kind of worm-like creature being kept in a hazmat cannister.- read more
"Shadow Doom!" is written by Marv Wolman and Archie Goodwin with art by Steve Ditko.
How do you feel about Steve Ditko? When I was a kid during the Golden Age of Comics*, he was an old-timer still working at Marvel. It always seemed like a fill-in issue. In my head, the conversation in the Marvel Bullpen goes like this:
"We're late, but since this is the Bronze Age, we still have to go to press!"- read more
After "The Bob Newhart Show" and "Newhart", Bob Newhart returned to televsion with "Bob". But the third time was not the charm and this show failed to catch on with viewers. Bob was a comic book artist (not a newspaper strip artist but an actual honest-to-goodness comic book artist) who drew a book called Mad-Dog for the fictional Ace Comics. This comic has the gimmick of being drawn by that fictional tv character.
I vaguely remember that show so I can't really comment on that. But I can tell you about this book. According to an "editorial page" filled with inter-company memoes and post-it notes, Bob and his editor are at odds at how this comic should be done. The result is a flip book with an extreme, feral version of Mad-Dog on the front and Bob's version on the back. Bob's version is kind of like a Silver Age hero. He's a veternarian (professional scientist) with a sidekick named Buddy and a cute secretary.
The "modern" side is written by Evan Dorkin and shows MD breaking up a car-jacking. The news reports about a new vigilante in town and the cliffhanger involves a powerful businessman taking an interest in the things being reported. It's very '90's and you almost feel like you weren't meant to like it much. (My apologies to the creative team if that's not the case. LOL!)- read more
"Gnort by Gnortwest" is written by Keith Giffen and J.M. DeMatteis with art by Tom Artis and Art Nichols.
G'Nort is a canine-like member of the Green Lantern Corps. He is also sometimes an invaluable part of Justice League Antartica, which is where you are assigned when you cause more trouble than you solve. This issue is devoted to G'Nort.
Bored sitting around, G'Nort comes back to Justice League HQ to see if he can help out. Everyone is busy, of course, including those two chuckleheads Booster Gold and Blue Beetle. They tell him the same thing they told him last time: "Take a walk. A long walk."- read more
"Deathgarden" is written by Bill Kunkel with art by Dave Wenzel and Dan Green.
The splash page shows The Falcon flying over Harlem after receiving a distress call from Captain America. On the street below, the star-spangled Avenger lies unconcious on the sidewalk, clutching a flower. Falcon whisks him off to a S.H.I.E.L.D. medical installation where he is joined by Nick Fury. The examining doctor announces that Cap is dying, poisoned by a toxin found in the flower found at the scene. Given possible leads by Fury and the doctor, Falcon flies off.
Meanwhile, Spider-Man is swinging over an alley, observing some goons loading a truck with boxes. Swooping down, Spidey takes them all out and discovers that they have been stealing...fertilizer. Cue Falcon who has heard the commotion. In his haste to help his friend, a grief-stricken Falcon attacks Spider-Man. They both explain and decide to team up. One of the beat-up goons directs them toward a mansion with an elaborate greenhouse, where they discover The Plantman, who has been hired by Advanced Idea Mechanics to franken-engineer some new deadly flora.- read more
"The Mission" is written by Greg Rucka with art by Drew Johnson and Ray Snyder.
Diana, Wonder Woman, is an ambassador to the United Nations as well as being a member of the Justice League of America. This issue mostly deals with her staff at the embassy. Through the eyes of a new hire, we meet the people who work for Diana. When asked why he wants to work there during his interview, the new guy explains "because she makes a difference." He sits in on a bull session discussing Diana's book tour. (There is an amusing bit where they show a proposed cover to the book. It has a sexy "-in-the-air" pose that they all cringe at. The irony is that this issue has a cover by the uber-talented Adam Hughes, known for his knockout ladies.) He also meets Superman when he drops by and the private chef, a minotaur named Ferdinand. He's promised a treat by his co-workers at the end of his first day, and the creative team delivers on that promise to him and the reader.
The b-plot to this story involves Wonder Woman herself. On behalf of United Nations troops, Diana has been tasked with taking down an African warlord. The conceit is that, for most of her scenes, Wonder Woman is seen as only a blur, taking out tanks and artillery, but avoiding bloodshed. She shows up at the end to bring the whole thing together.- read more
"Kings of Fire and Darkness" is written by Doug Moench, who made Master of Kung Fu and Moon Knight books to remember during the bronze and copper ages. Pencils are by Mark Silvestri of Uncanny X-Men and Witchblade fame. Ricardo Villamonte takes the art up a notch with his moody inks.
Conan the King has just slain a dragon and is addressing his people, assuring the citizens of Aqulonia that the danger is past and that they can enjoy the peace of a strong and just king. In his chambers, Conan's queen, Zenobia, is tending his wounds when they are interrupted by his vizier, Alcemedes. Alcemedes tells a tale of Aquilonia's first and greatest king, Andromedus. Andromedus had gone south to Tarantia to investigate dark sorceries that threatened the kingdom and was never seen again. Alcemedes also tells Conan of a powerful theorectical energy called magnetism that, if harnessed, could be a source of great power. And this magnetism affects the compasses of anyone who ventures near the site of Andromedus' disappearance.
King Conan puts a party together and they head south. After fighting off bandits, giant lizards and demonic apparitions, they reach the place of magnetism. What they find is a tower with a spiral caged staircase. Humans are placed at the bottom at birth and, when they reach the top at old age, are sacrificed to "The Undead One". Aquilonia's first sorceror, Xander Kon, has turned her first king into an undead vessel of power which he feeds. He explains that he will soon have enough power that he won't need The Undead One or the Human sacrifices.- read more
"The File of the Playful Payload".
This comic was published in 1962 when John Kennedy was president and the country was embroiled in a tight race into space with the U.S.S.R. Drift Marlo is a detective that is head of security at an air force base similar to Cape Canaveral (although that name is never used, nor NASA for that matter). His job is mostlly to keep foreign spies and other threats away from our space secrets. His last name is meant to evoke Philip Marlowe, the fictional detective created by Raymond Chandler.
In this issue, Drift has to guard a chimpanzee named Maybelle. She has been trained to go into space to test equipment and has been trained to perform simple tasks by repetition. There is an unsavory-looking character with a Russian-sounding name hanging around the base who you just know is up to no good. (Again, the words "Russian" or "Soviet Union" are never used.) After Maybelle is launched into space, ground control loses contact with the rocket. Drift convinces the base commander to let him go up in a second ship to save Maybelle.- read more
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