feature requests

Longbox Junk Glory #1

  • atom | Male | Utah

"I have a lot of issues. . ."

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

October 2022

SuMoTuWeThFrSa
 1
2345678
9101112131415
16171819202122
23242526272829
3031 

Archives

Tags

Welcome to Longbox Junk, the place to find all the comic book reviews you never asked for!

 
Black Panther is one of those characters I like a lot in a supporting role.  I've been a fan of Black Panther for a long time, but I have to admit that I've never read a full solo run of the character.  I guess there's just some comic characters I like in smaller doses.  He's an awesome hero with a really cool costume design, but I'd rather see him and go, "Cool! Black Panther!" every now and then than follow him on a regular basis.
 
That said. . .
 
Because I DO like Black Panther, I wasn't able to resist a short stack of 6 pretty banged-up Jungle Action comics I spotted on a trip to some antique/junk stores my wife wanted to check out a couple of weeks ago.  I figured for five bucks each, I might not be bringing something too "valuable" into my collection, but I WOULD have something fun to read out on the back porch after dinner.
 
I was a bit interested to learn that one of them (the comic at hand) was sort of a minor "key" issue because it has the origin of Black Panther.  Mine isn't in the best condition (it's actually pretty bad), but I still always get a kick out of finding a little something unexpected for my collection, especially at a random junk shop.
 
Which brings us here. . .
 
Let's crank up the Longbox Junk time machine and head back to 1974 for a look at the origin of Black Panther, shall we?  That's right. . .it's another Longbox Junk retro review nobody asked for!
 
Watch your step boarding the craft.  Please make sure all items are secure.  Fasten the safety belt for your protection.  All set? Next stop. . .THE BRONZE AGE OF COMICS!
 
*Lowers ridiculous steampunk goggles and pulls gigantic lever*
 
IS EVERYONE READY?
 
*The floor begins to vibrate.  A weird humming noise fills the cabin*
 
LET'S GOOOOOOOOO!!

JUNGLE ACTION #8

MARVEL COMICS (1974)

 

COVER: Rich Buckler
 
MALICE BY CRIMSON MOONLIGHT
 
SCRIPT: Don McGregor
PENCILS: Rich Buckler
INKS: Klaus Jansen
 
THE COVER:
 
They don't make 'em like THAT anymore!  
 
It's a real Bronze Age beauty, with vibrant color and a nice feeling of motion and action.  Black Panther looks great in his iconic dark costume against the bright primary colors of the background.  The whole thing is a feast for the eyes, and just looking at it makes me happy. There's nothing I don't like about this cover!  Let's get inside.
 
THE STORY:
 
We begin our tale in the forest outside of the Wakandan Palace, where Black Panther is engaged in a test of his physical power. . .fighting off a large group of attackers. . .as part of a ceremony to fully imbue him with the Panther powers locked within a mysterious heart-shaped herb that cooks nearby.
 
Unknown to Black Panther or his royal aides in attendance at the ceremony, an agent of Erik Killmonger has infiltrated the palace.  Her name is Malice and she's on a mission to find and rescue another recently captured agent of Killmonger's called Venomm.
 
 
Malice makes her way through the palace, interrogating guards until she discovers Venomm's location.  As she approaches, she hears Venomm talking with his guard, a friend and Lieutenant of King T'Challa named Taka.  Malice listens as Venomm confides the strange origin of his ruined face and fall to evil to his sympathetic guard.
 
 
A savage attack by a bully with a bottle of acid when Venomm was young led to his becoming withdrawn from society and taking company with snakes.  He managed to build up immunity to all but the strongest venom. . .a skill that Erik Killmonger admired, and so he recruited Venomm to his cause.
 
As Malice listens to Venomm's sad tale, in the forest outside the palace, the ceremony continues.  Black Panther's guest from the United States, Monica, hears strange chanting in the woods and investigates.  She sees Black Panther laying on the ground, surrounded by dark figures!
 
 
Not knowing what is happening, Monica leaps to rescue Black Panther, unwittingly disrupting the ritual of the heart-shaped herb!  After a tense confrontation with his royal attendants over the forbidden outsider interrupting the sacred ritual, King T'Challa abandons the ritual against the protests of his attendants and escorts Monica back to the palace.
 
 
When they arrive, Panther immediately senses something is wrong, and discovers the unconscious palace guards.  Before he can react, Malice attacks!  Black Panther is taken by surprise and is amazed at the strength and skill of his attacker.  He recovers quickly and engages Malice, who becomes distracted by Monica and the arrival of T'Challa's royal attendants.
 
 
 
As T'Challa's attendants recapture Venomm, Malice makes her escape.  Black Panther doesn't pursue her, instead choosing to stop one of his more vigilant Lieutenants from killing Venomm.
 
 
To be Continued. . .
 
There are also a few pages of supplemental material in the back of the comic, taking the place of the reprint backup story from the original 1950's Jungle Action series that usually ended the issues in this series.  There are some images of Black Panther by various artists reprinted from previous appearances in other comics. . .
 
 
 
As well as a map of Wakanda reprinted and corrected from its original appearance in Jungle Tales #6 of this series, as well as a map of the interior of the Royal Palace. . .
 
 
 
THE REVIEW:
 
And there it is.  Jungle Action #8. . .the Origin of Black Panther.  Let's break it on down!
 
Sooooooooo. . .
 
Despite saying so on the cover and being bumped up in collector "value" because of it, this is NOT a Black Panther origin story.  The previous issue and some of the following issues have more origin material for Black Panther than this issue does!
 
Except for a little bit of information regarding the "heart-shaped herb" that gives the Kings of Wakanda their powers and the physical test that comes before that sacred ritual, there isn't ANYTHING in this issue that could give cause to label it an origin issue.  Actually, there are a solid two pages devoted to VENOMM'S origin, making this more of an origin issue for Venomm than for Black Panther!
 
It's pretty disappointing and even a bit strange to have no origin in an origin issue. . .and it's even stranger knowing that there are people who are out there paying more for this comic on the collector market because it's being sold as an origin issue.  
 
Is it misleading, or is it "buyer beware"?  To me, there's nothing in this issue that would make it any more "valuable" than the one before or after it.  But I guess it's a pretty good example of how a lot of comics being sold these days aren't being read.  People will pay more for a Black Panther "origin issue" just because they're told it's a Black Panther origin issue and therefore is "worth" more.
 
I'm going to resist getting into a rant about comic collectors who don't actually read comics here, so let's just leave the missing "origin" of Black Panther behind and take a look at what we actually have here.
 
SO.
 
This issue is the 3rd part of an extended 13 issue story called "Panther's Rage" that ran through most of the 24 issues of this series.  This story introduced Black Panther's greatest foe, Erik Killmonger.  We don't get any Killmonger in this issue, but his presence is felt through his agents Malice and Venomm.
 
As a standalone issue, it's not very new reader friendly at all.  There are a lot of people and events in this issue that are firmly connected to previous issues.  That said, as part of the ongoing story (That I read online to fill in the gaps between the issues I have), it's a great little break. . .a sort of segue between Killmonger initially being in T'Challa's face, and then working through agents to try and collapse the monarchy of Wakanda.  
 
Overall, the complete "Panther's Rage" is some darn fine Bronze Age storytelling. . .it's commonly regarded as one of the stories that started moving Marvel toward tighter continuity and longer storylines.  Unfortunately, unlike a lot of Bronze Age comics that can be read on their own, reading just one issue out of context (like this one) isn't the best experience.
 
That's not to say this issue isn't well-written.  It is.  There are some great descriptive passages in here that really set a mood of simmering intrigue and conflict that Black Panther doesn't understand yet.  There's some good writing in here.
 
The art?  The art is good. . .not great.  It tells the story well and even has a few standout moments.  Just that there's not enough of those moments to push the visuals into anyplace remarkable.  If I had to describe the art in one word, that word would be "solid".
 
So, the writing is good, the art is solid.  The main thing holding this issue back from being more enjoyable is the tightly connected place it holds in an ongoing storyline.
 

CONCLUSION

 
What we have here is a fine example of how comics can become "valuable" just because someone says it is, and the buyer doesn't question WHY.  But this isn't the place for THAT can of worms to be opened.
 
This is part of an ongoing story that is an interesting piece of Bronze Age comic history in being one of the first multi-issue tightly connected storylines. . .13 issue stories were pretty much unheard of at the time.  Most continued stories were 2-4 issues at the most.  
 
As a part of that story, it's a very nice transition issue.  As a standalone comic, it's decent, but not great.
 
If you are a Black Panther fan and haven't read "Panther's Rage" then I certainly recommend you do. It's been collected and reprinted several times so it's pretty easy to find.   As far as just reading this single issue. . .I can't really say it's a great idea.  It's not a BAD read, but it's definitely out of context by itself.   And one more time, buyers beware. . .this is NOT a Black Panther origin issue!
 
Up Next. . .
 
It's been a while since I reviewed an entire series from top to bottom, so why not?
I've recently completed the full run of Marvel's 19 issue 1980-83 series of King Conan.  Let's take a look at what sort of sword swingin' fun is going on in there, shall we?  WE SHALL!
 
Be there or be square!

- read more

Longbox Junk - Iron Man: The End

187 views • 11 days ago • (0) Comments

Welcome to Longbox Junk, the blog absolutely STUFFED with comic book reviews nobody asked me to write!

 
SO. . .
 
Summer is FINALLY pretty much over.  Things are starting to settle down a bit at work, and I actually have a bit more time to write about some Longbox Junk!  Let's do this!
 
Marvel comics has had quite a bit of success telling tales of their heroes at the end of their careers. Starting with the wildly popular "Old Man Logan" Wolverine story and moving forward from there with many more tales of superheroes past their prime.  
 
One can argue that DC actually started the trend with their groundbreaking "Dark Knight Returns" story about an aging Batman returning for one final ride (let's just pretend the sequels don't exist, deal?), but that's neither here nor there.
 
What IS here is a series of one-shot comics (and mini-series) Marvel has occasionally published since 2002 that feature the final adventures of some of their most popular heroes. . .Hulk, Wolverine, Miles Morales Spider-Man, Captain America, Doctor Strange, among others.
 
The comic at hand is part of that "The End" series, and showcases the high-flyin', high tech Avenger Iron Man.  So, let's head into the future a bit and see what's in store for Tony Stark at the end of his days as a superhero, shall we?  WE SHALL!

IRON MAN: THE END

Marvel (2009)

 
 
COVER: Bob Layton
 
THE END
 
SCRIPT: Bob Layton & David Michelinie
PENCILS: Bernard Chang
INKS: Bob Layton
 
THE COVER:
 
A very nice homage to the classic cover of Iron Man's first appearance in Tales of Suspense #39.  In a reversal of the original cover, Tony Stark is putting away the Iron Man armor instead of putting it on.  I like the bookend feel of it all.  I also really like the colors on this one.  The green circuitry in the background perfectly complements the iconic red and gold Iron Man armor!  It's a real eye catcher.
 
It's a simple cover, but it's a winner!  Let's get inside this thing.
 
THE STORY:
 
We begin our tale 50 years in the future.  Tony Stark has spent more than half a century as a secret superhero and world-famous technology innovator, but now he's feeling the years bearing down. . .
 
 
Lately, Tony has been preoccupied by what may be his greatest project. . .Project Big Jump.  The world's first space elevator, which will allow orbital travel without having to use a rocket and is the first step in a solar power project that will provide the earth with unlimited energy. 
 
 
 
While working to complete the project as Iron Man, Tony is shocked when an unexpected earthquake threatens both the project and some of his workers.  Leaping into action, Tony manages to save the workers, but he realizes that he made several mistakes while doing so, and without a bit of luck on his side, things wouldn't have ended well. . .
 
 
Later, Tony confesses his questionable decisions during the earthquake to his wife, Senator Bethany Cabe.  He also reveals that he has a degenerative and incurable nerve condition brought on by his decades of constant neural connection to the Iron Man armor.  
 
Bethany suggests that maybe it's time for Tony to hang up the Iron Man armor for good before his condition gets worse.  Tony resists and his hostility to the idea pushes his wife away. . .
 
 
Knowing that his wife is right, Tony decides to concentrate fully on completing Project Big Jump while he can.  In order to accomplish this, he promotes a brilliant young protégé, Nick Travis, to Stark Universal's Head Technologist. . .taking Tony's place and allowing Stark to devote his attention to Big Jump.
 
 
Now freed of distractions, Tony throws himself into completing Project Big Jump, but as the weeks go on, an investigation of the strange earthquake at the project site reveals that it wasn't a natural accident at all. . .but was sabotage!  
 
Further investigation points suspicion, and then firm evidence proves that Stark's old adversary, Roxxon Energy was behind the attempted sabotage. It seems they don't like the idea of free and limitless energy.
 
 Tony reveals his findings to his wife and refuses to let her attempt a diplomatic solution.  He decides to take the fight to Roxxon as Iron Man!
 
 
Tony suits up as Iron Man and flies to Siberia, in the New Soviet Union.  His stealth technology allows him to penetrate the Soviet border, but as he arrives at a hidden research lab, his presence is discovered and he is confronted by the Soviet Union's own version of Iron Man, Arkady Vostok. . .The Ultra-Dynamo!
 
 
As the battle is joined, Iron Man quickly discovers that he is outmatched by Ultra-Dynamo.  His weapons and tactics are just too well known, and Dynamo's improved armor has counters to everything Tony can throw at him!
 
 
In the end, Tony takes such a savage beating that he is forced to run for his life!  Even worse, he later discovers that the battle has even further damaged his nervous system, accelerating his condition.
 
 
Disheartened and shaken by his defeat and the worsening of his nervous condition, Tony slides into a deep depression, so deep that he almost returns to the alcohol he left behind so many years ago.  But Tony remembers the strength it took to win THAT battle and realizes that he needs the same strength to quit his addiction to Iron Man.. .
 
 
Tony tells his wife that he's finally done being the hero, and it's time to rebuild their relationship, but he needs to find a replacement first, because the world still needs Iron Man.  And so, he throws himself into the search for the NEW Iron Man!
 
 
Finally, Tony realizes the answer was right in front of him all along. . .his protégé, Nick Travis.
But when he reveals his secret identity as Iron Man and makes the offer to Travis, he refuses.  
 
Nick protests that he's a scientist and not a superhero.  Tony doesn't take the refusal well and lashes out.  Nick tells Tony that he's not acting like much of a hero.  But he can see Tony's desperation and reluctantly agrees to undergo some training. . .for emergencies only.
 
 
And so, Tony begins to train Nick with his newest nano-particle armor, the most advanced design yet, and equipped with cutting edge weapons and technology the likes of which the world has never seen.  Tony is amazed at how quickly and naturally Nick takes to the training. . .
 
 
Unfortunately, Tony isn't the most patient teacher, and the stress of training causes a rift to grow between Tony and Nick.  Eventually Nick tells Tony he's done with it and leaves Tony hanging.
 
Fast forward a few weeks to the day Project Big Jump is finally finished and ready to activate.
 
Nick attempts to break the ice between him and Tony, but as they talk, security alarms blare and something is spotted flying in toward them!  It's Ultra-Dynamo!  The Soviet hero informs Tony that he is there to destroy him as a threat to the economy of the New Soviet Union.
 
 
Tony is unable to get to his Iron Man armor in time and is forced to run for his life. 
Nick, however, is able to quickly use the new nano-particle tech Iron Man armor and jumps to protect Tony.
 
Ultra-Dynamo is confident in his victory, but quickly discovers that the new armor is more than a match for him.  In the end, Nick uses the high-tech abilities of the new Iron Man armor and finally defeats Ultra-Dynamo.
 
Tony is impressed, as Nick has included new upgrades that even he didn't know about.  Tony and Nick make peace as they both realize they've misjudged each other.
 
 
Later, at the activation ceremony for Project Big Jump, Tony Stark publicly announces that he will be stepping down from Stark Universal and retiring with his wife aboard the space elevator's orbiting satellite station.  He also announces that the New Iron Man will remain his representative on Earth.
 
 
At the end of it all, as Tony and Bethany travel to the space station on the first orbital shuttle, Tony tells his wife that he came to realize that he was able to leave Iron Man behind for good because he finally understood that it was the man and not the machine that had accomplished all the good he had ever done.  
 
And so, we end the story with Tony and Bethany looking forward to a quiet future together in space.
 

The End.
 
THE REVIEW:
 
Okay then.  There it is.  The final days of Tony Stark as Iron Man.  Let's break it on down!
 
Not bad.  It's interesting to me that this hero doesn't go out with a bang, but just sort of quietly. . .retires.
He realizes he's not cut out for the job anymore and just passes the mantle and leaves it all behind.
 
I've read a few of these "The End" one shots and this one is probably the most low-key ending for a major Marvel superhero that I've seen yet (but to be fair, I haven't read ALL of them).  Overall, even though there's a few action scenes throughout, this was a surprisingly calm and quiet end for the hero,  with a story that focuses more on Tony Stark than Iron Man.
 
This is hardly surprising when you look at the creative team.  
 
David Michelinie and Bob Layton are credited with pretty much being the team that redefined and refined Iron Man during their long creative run on the title during the late 70s and through the 80s. 
 
 They brought the focus in on Tony Stark as being more than a prop mask secret identity for the superhero Iron Man and as a character in his own right, which led to critically praised storylines like "Demon in a Bottle" (which this story nods back to) where Tony Stark the man and not Iron Man the machine was in the spotlight.
 
Michelinie and Layton are regarded as being what many consider the definitive Iron Man creative team, and I REALLY like that Marvel brought them in on this project.  And not only that but let them pretty much ignore the 30+ years of stories that came after their run ended and tell the story of the end of THEIR Iron Man!
 
That's right. . .this issue is a callback to the Iron Man of the 80s.  No secret Invasion, no Avengers Dissembled, no Civil Wars. . .none of that.  This story is a direct continuation and conclusion to the Iron Man story that began in 1978 and ended in 1989!  As such, it's an unexpected treat for fans of old-school Iron Man like myself.
 
It's a really bold and interesting move and I give Marvel credit where it's due. . .especially since the first Iron Man movie had hit big the year previous and this version of Iron Man would have been pretty much unrecognizable to movie fans looking for Iron Man comics, and maybe even to (then) current Iron Man comic fans!
 
 A round of applause for Marvel letting a story like this NOT tie into their hugely popular Iron Man movie and letting something be for the fans of Iron Man past. Say what you will about Disney/Marvel, but this just sort of feels special.
 

CONCLUSION

 
Overall, I found Iron Man: The End to be a surprisingly enjoyable read, especially given that the creative team was allowed to put the cap on a story that ended over 30 years ago.
 
 If you are a fan of old-school Iron man stories from the late 70s to the end of the 80s and you aren't aware that this issue exists or haven't read it yet. . .I say do yourself a favor and pick this one up!
 
It's not the greatest Iron Man story ever told, but it IS well-written, has nice art, and just feels like something special that Marvel gave to their Iron Man fans of days gone by.  
 
I give Iron Man: The End a Longbox Junk Gold Seal of Approval!  It's a very nice bargain bin surprise.
 
Up Next. . .
 
I just picked up a handful of Jungle Action comics from an antique store last weekend, so how about I crack one open and we head back to the 70s for a retro review?  Yeah, that sounds nice.  Let's do it!
 
Be there or be square!

- read more

Welcome to Longbox Junk, where the comics are cheap and the reviews are free!

 
For those of you who have been sending me messages of concern about the frequency of Longbox Junk posts, I have good news and bad news:
 
The good news is that my health has taken a turn for the better and I'm feeling about 90% normal, with just a few bad days here and there now, and thank for THAT.  
 
The bad news is that it's summertime and the hotel I manage is SUPER busy!  I write these things during my down time at work, and this time of year that's pretty scarce.  One would THINK that with gas prices above five bucks a gallon that people would want to put off their interstate travel plans.
 
Nope.  Not happening.  I've observed before that Americans are a bit psychopathic about doing what they want, when they want (during the supposedly strict state Covid lockdown when our hotel's business didn't slow down one single bit), and this is just more evidence of that.  I have the distinct feeling that even if gas was TEN dollars a gallon, it wouldn't stop people from rolling out on vacation.
 
What I'm trying to say is that the long gaps between entries are pretty normal for this time of year.
 
BUT ENOUGH OF THAT!
 
I've got a retro review for you! Summertime may be super busy at work and a slow time for Longbox Junk, but it's also flea market and yard sale season.  I LOVE flea markets and yard sales!  For a Longbox Junker like me, it's a great time to pick up old comics at a price that won't break the bank.  Every weekend this time of year is like a treasure hunt!
 
CASE IN POINT. . .
 
The comic at hand is part of a stack of six from this series that I recently bought at a yard sale for the sweet price of five lousy bucks apiece.  Now THAT'S the kind of summertime Longbox Junkin' I'm talkin' about!  
 
I already have an issue of Marvel's "Rampaging Hulk" Magazine in my collection that's in black and white, so I was pleasantly surprised to see that THESE Hulk Magazines are printed in full, glorious SUPER MARVEL-COLOR!  Look! It even says so right there on the cover!
 
I did some checking, and thanks to the fine and friendly folk of the "Old Guys Who Like Old Comics" Facebook group, I learned that Marvel-Color was a process where the colored plates are shot from the colored artwork, making the artwork pop in a sharp and bright way that was rare at the time.  All I know is that it REALLY looks good!  
 
And not for nothin' but if you're looking for a comic book group second to none, go check out "Old Guys Who Like Old Comics" on Facebook.  No, really. . .go.  I'll wait.
 
ANYWAY. . .
 
Let's crank up the Longbox Junk time machine and head back to 1979 for a look inside this awesomely colored comic book magazine I found at a random yard sale, shall we?  WE SHALL!

THE HULK MAGAZINE #14

Marvel (1979)

 

COVER: Bob Larkin
 
THE COVER:
 
At the heart of things, The Hulk is a nuclear age horror story and this cover showcases exactly that.  I like it a lot!  The black border really makes the brilliant colors of the title and the feature text pop.  At the center of it all is the Hulk!
 
 Between the black sky and lightning framing the raging beast, to the torch-wielding villagers below, THIS is a fantastic image!  It's full of detail and atmosphere. There's NOTHING I don't like about this cover.  It's a beautiful example of some great Bronze Age comic art.  
 
Let's get inside this thing!
 
THE STORIES:
 
There's two big stories in this magazine for your 1979 buck and a half!  We've got The Hulk leading things off and a Moon Knight backup.  Let's take a look at each one in their own turn. . .
 
A Cure For Chaos!
 
SCRIPT: Doug Moench
PENCILS: Ron Wilson
INKS: Rudy Nebres
COLORS: Steve Oliff
 
Our tale begins as Doctor Robert Bruce Banner (AKA The Hulk) arrives in Switzerland.  We follow the thoughts of this gentle man of science as he dwells on the Gamma radiation accident that turned him into the monster known as The Hulk.  
 
He's in Europe trying to find one Doctor Hans Feldstadt.  A scientist who has recently won the Nobel Prize for his research into Gamma radiation.  It's a long shot, but Banner is willing to take any chance to rid himself of the monster inside him!
 

Unfortunately, upon arrival, Banner discovers that Doctor Feldstadt has departed Zurich for some unknown reason.  Desperately, Banner seizes upon information that Feldstadt may be in the village of Jungfrau, and so he continues to follow Feldstadt's trail to the Swiss mountains. . .

 
But once again, Banner finds only dead ends.  With Feldstadt seemingly nowhere to be found, Banner decides to make his way to a mysterious castle overlooking the village where a Doctor Klein is said to be in residence, hoping that Doctor Feldstadt may have been acquainted with Klein. . .

 
At the castle, Banner immediately recognizes the man who opens the door as the missing Doctor Feldstadt.  
 
As Banner demands to be let in and assist Feldstadt in his research, he learns that the Doctor has taken on a false name and hidden himself far from prying eyes in order to continue his research in peace. . .the Nobel Prize has brought him too much unwanted attention.
 
Mistaking Banner's desperation for the desire to ride the coattails of the famous scientist, Feldstadt turns him away.  Banner's persistent attempts to get inside the castle cause Feldstadt to call the police.  As Banner gets more frustrated, he feels the change coming over him!

 
Banner changes into the Hulk and begins to rampage through the village, leaving a trail of destruction as he searches for the one person who was kind to Banner, Katrina, the serving girl at the local inn.

 
The next morning, Banner returns to Feldstadt's castle.  After witnessing the destruction from the night before, Feldstadt has come to realize that the strange visitor is the infamous Doctor Banner.  
 
Feldstadt sees the great opportunity before him to study the most famous example of Gamma irradiation and invites Banner to join him in his research. . .

 
But as time goes by, Banner is dismayed to find that Feldstadt is less interested in reversing the effects and damage of Gamma radiation, but more in discovering new effects. 
 
 Feldstadt explains that all avenues must be explored in a scientific manner, but Banner becomes frustrated and convinced that Feldstadt will use him to accidentally create another monster like him. 
 
 Banner realizes he won't find the answers he was looking for with Feldstadt and leaves.

 
That night, Banner reconsiders his hasty departure.  Feldstadt may not be pursuing the exact thing Banner is looking for, but his research may still be an important step in ridding himself of The Hulk.  Banner decides to return to the castle and apologize.  
 
But as he dines at the inn, Banner overhears a group of villagers talking about attacking the castle and driving Feldstadt out. . .believing him and his strange experiments to be the cause of the monster that ran rampant through the village the night before.
 
Banner rushes to the castle to warn Feldstadt of the danger.  Breaking in and making his way to the laboratory, Banner is shocked to see Feldstadt engaged in some sort of experiment on the serving girl from the inn, Katrina!  

 
As Banner berates Feldstadt for using human guinea pigs in his experiments, Feldstadt counters with the fact that only by experimenting on humans can he research the effects of Gamma rays on humans, which may possibly lead to Banner's cure.  
 
Torn between the two moral opposites, Banner suddenly remembers the villagers and their plan to attack.  As he warns Feldstadt, they arrive and surround the castle.  
 
Enraged by the villagers, Feldstadt grabs a pistol and begins shooting!  In response, they throw lit torches into the castle windows, trying to burn Feldstadt out!

 
As Banner rescues Katrina, the flames spread and ignite chemicals in the laboratory, causing the Gamma ray machine to explode, exposing Feldstadt to a massive dose of radiation.  To Banner's horror, Doctor Feldstadt transforms into a brutish monstrosity!

 
The creature that was once Doctor Feldstadt attacks Banner, savagely beating him until he can't help but to transform into The Hulk!  Unfortunately for Feldstadt, he can't match The Hulk's power and ferocity, and after a short battle he is easily defeated by the Jade Giant!

 
After defeating the Feldstadt creature, Hulk saves him from the burning castle before leaving the bewildered villagers behind. . .

 
But the next day, Banner learns that the radiation and the beating the Hulk dealt out to him were too much and Feldstadt has died, taking his secrets to the grave, since his laboratory and notes were destroyed in the fire.  Banner moves along, leaving Switzerland with little hope of ever ridding himself of the curse known as The Hulk.


The End.
 
THE REVIEW:
 
I said in my look at the cover that at its heart, The Hulk is a nuclear age horror story. . .a Jekyll and Hyde tale shadowed by the looming Cold War fear of radiation.  This tale leans hard into the horror aspect of The Hulk, and I liked it quite a bit!
 
We have a mysterious castle overlooking a mountain village, a mad scientist overtaken by his own experiments, and a battle between two rampaging monsters while a mob of villagers burn the castle down around them!  It's just a great little gothic romp that I found very enjoyable.
 
Is it the greatest story I've ever read?  Not even close, but I really liked the way Doug Moench pays homage to classic horror tropes here.  I mean. . .there's literally torch-wielding villagers!  
 
If you're a fan of old-fashioned horror movies, then this story will bring a smile to your face.  There's no super-heroics here, just clandestine experiments carried out in a dank castle and the grim misunderstood monster called The Hulk.  
 
Let's talk about the art.
 
I mentioned the "Marvel-Color" brag on the cover, so let's take a look at what they're talking about.  Frankly, I'm impressed!  Just LOOK at the pages scanned above.  The colors really are sharp and brilliant, making each page pop!  
 
Compared to other Marvel comics I have from 1979, the color here is simply on another whole different level.  I'd say that Marvel had a right to brag about their Super Marvel-Color process!
 
Ron Wilson's art takes full advantage of the sharper color process, filling each page with wonderful detail (Just look at the scans above of Feldstadt's laboratory for some prime examples) that perfectly complements the dark science fiction horror tale being told.  
 
A very nicely done story all around.
 
Now for some Moon Knight!
 
Countdown To Dark
 
SCRIPT: Doug Moench
PENCILS: Bill Sienkiewicz, with Gene Colan & Keith Pollard (Story recap pages)
INKS: Bob Mcleod, with Frank Giacoia &Tony DeZuniga (Story recap pages)
COLORS: Steve Oliff
 
This story is actually the final chapter of a story continued from the previous two issues.  Unfortunately, I don't have those issues.  The good news is that Marvel was kind enough to provide a couple of nice recap pages. . .
 

 
To boil it down to the gravy. . .While on the hunt for a stolen Egyptian artifact, Marc Spector (AKA Moon Knight) has stumbled into a terrorist plot to blackmail New York City with a nuclear bomb.
 
Not knowing who the head of the plot is, Moon Knight's only lead is a planned hijacking.  He joins the hijackers in his identity as Marc Spector, international mercenary. . .and that brings us to the events of this issue.
 

We begin our tale in progress, as Marc Spector is shocked to find Moon Knight attacking the terrorist group he has infiltrated!  Elsewhere, we learn that a mysterious man called Lupinar is aware of Spector's infiltration AND his identity as Moon Knight, and that he is behind the deception.  

 
As Marc Spector fights the fake Moon Knight, the terrorists open fire and believe they've killed both Spector and Moon Knight, leaving them both for dead.  But Spector is protected by his armored Moon Knight costume beneath his clothes, and he resumes his pursuit of the terrorists. . .

 
The terrorists split up and Moon Knight contacts his comrade Frenchie in the skies above, tasking him to follow one of the cars while Moon Knight rides unnoticed on the roof of the other, hoping the terrorists will lead him to the head of the nuclear plot. . .

 
After a day spent in hiding, watching the terrorists as they go to ground and wait for orders, night falls and they are on the move again with Moon Knight following.  His hunch pays off as the car he's been following heads to a massive fortress-like mansion.  Moon Knight takes out the terrorists in the car as Frenchie circles overhead and tries to contact N.E.S.T. (a government nuclear emergency response agency) with their location.

 
Moon Knight gains entry into the mansion and easily takes down Lupinar's assistant, Smelt.  As he explores the halls of the building, not knowing exactly who or what he's looking for, Moon Knight is surprised to open a door and find himself being invited into the room for a glass of wine!
 
A mysterious figure in the shadows informs Moon Knight that not only has he been expecting him, but all that has transpired has been in the service of luring Moon Knight to the very place he stands!  The figure steps into the light and is revealed to be a twisted wolf-like monstrosity of a man. . .

 
The man, Lupinar, rails against a world that has rejected him because of his condition.  He reveals to Moon Knight that his plan was to take the ransom and detonate the nuclear bomb anyway. . .and then burn the billion dollars.  But once he learned Moon Knight was involved, he knew he had finally met a worthy challenge, and so lured him to the mansion. 
 
As Frenchy circles above, trying to contact N.E.S.T., Lupinar draws two swords, throwing one to Moon Knight and challenging him to a duel!

 
As Moon Knight and his opponent clash, Lupinar gloats that should Moon Knight defeat him, his terrorist henchmen have orders to demand his release from custody or they will destroy New York, so even if he does lose, he will still win in the end.  
 
Little does he know that Frenchie has managed to contact N.E.S.T. and they have apprehended the remaining terrorists and now have the mansion surrounded.
 

 
When Moon Knight informs Lupinar of the failure of the nuclear plot and his intention to take him alive and into custody, Lupinar throws himself onto Moon Knight's sword, preferring to kill himself than to be taken prisoner.  Moon Knight is saddened by the outcome and leaves the mansion. . .

 
Outside, N.E.S.T. has finished rounding up the terrorists and begin disabling their nuclear bomb.  Disgusted by being forced to kill again, Moon Knight calls for Frenchie to pick him up and take him home.  His work is done here.
 
The End.
 
THE REVIEW:
 
I'm a big Moon Knight fan and was excited to see some early Moon Knight stories were to be found in these Hulk Magazines. . . especially when I saw that the classic Moon Knight team of Moench and Sienkiewicz were on the job!
 
I have to say that I wasn't disappointed.  Okay. . .maybe a little bit because I don't have the rest of this story to enjoy, and only have the conclusion to it.  Reading this story brings back memories of the great original Moon Knight series by Moench and Sienkiewicz.  Just good, solid superhero action with a psychological twist.  
 
I had a big smile on my face the whole time I was reading this story.  THIS is the Moon Knight I remember and like the most! There's something to be said for changing a character to keep up to date for new readers, but sometimes you just want to get back to the basics, and THIS is classic Moon Knight right here.
 
The story itself sort of connects with the classic horror tropes of the Hulk main story by giving us Moon Knight swordfighting a werewolf (sort of) in a spooky mansion.  It's kind of a Halloween-themed issue, even though it came out in April.  
 
As for the art, what can I say?  It's Bill Freakin' Sienkiewicz before he went insane and just started scribbling all over the place.  In other words, it's rock solid and made even better by the same SUPER MARVEL-COLOR process that gave the lines of the Hulk story such a fine, sharp look.
 
Overall, even though this is just one piece of a multi-issue story, it really makes me want to dig out my original run of Moon Knight and read it all over again!
 

CONCLUSION

 
I'm gonna come right out and say that I really enjoyed this magazine and, in my humble opinion, it's a great little nugget of 1970s Longbox Junk gold!  
 
The first story was a very nice gothic tale spotlighting the desperation of Doctor Banner to rid himself of the Hulk.  Even to the point of working with a mad scientist.  It leaned hard into the nuclear age horror story aspect of the Hulk and paid homage to classic horror tropes.  It's the kind of Hulk story I never knew I wanted until I read it!
 
AND THEN. . .
 
We ALSO get an early Moon Knight tale from the classic Moon Knight team of Moench and Sienkiewicz!  Even though it was the conclusion of a multi-part story and I wasn't able to read the whole thing, it hit me HARD with nostalgia for some old school Moon Knight.
 
The two together provided me with a very enjoyable reading experience! The stories both hold up well, even 43 years down the road. I can highly recommend this magazine to fans of the Hulk, Moon Knight, or both.  Even if you aren't big fans of the characters, this issue is worth a look for the beautiful, sharp Bronze Age art alone.  Every page is a feast for the eyes!  Just LOOK at the scans above!
 
Overall, if you're a fan of the Hulk or Moon Knight, you WANT this magazine!  I can't really think of anything to complain about beyond a bit of disappointment that the Moon Knight story wasn't complete.  I give Hulk Magazine #14 the official Longbox Junk Gold Seal of Approval!
 
Up Next. . .
 
Not really sure.  I've been piling up a LOT of Longbox Junk!
This has been a great year for comic hunting.
 
But no matter WHAT I throw down next. . .
 
Be there or be square!

- read more

Longbox Junk - Glory #1

630 views • 11 weeks ago • (0) Comments

Welcome to Longbox Junk, the blog absolutely STUFFED with comic reviews nobody asked me to write!

 
In case you haven't noticed by now, I spend a LOT of time digging through bargain bins.  I've noticed over the years that there are certain "staples" that no decent dollar box is ever missing. . .Image Comics is probably the biggest one of those staples.
 
If you are in a comic shop. . .it doesn't matter where that comic shop is. . .and you are going through a box of cheap comics, I GUARANTEE you're going to be finding some Image Comics.  I'd put money down on that guarantee and not worry one bit about losing it.
 
What I'm saying is that when it comes to Longbox Junk, Image is the King of The Hill. 
 
Now, don't get me wrong.  Since their founding in the 90s, Image has matured into the publisher you go to when you get tired of the same old superhero stories, but back in the beginning it was ALL superhero ALL the time. 
 
Image wanted to be Marvel SO badly, that when you read Image comics today, it's almost pathetic.  Their trying to grab Marvel's fans is so obvious and so blatant that I'm surprised they didn't get sued over their barely-disguised versions of established Marvel characters.
 
THAT SAID. . .
 
While Marvel WAS Image's biggest "inspiration", DC was definitely on their radar as well.  Image didn't have nearly the amount of DC "inspired" characters as they did Marvel, but they were there.  Supreme for Superman, ShadowHawk for Batman, and Glory for Wonder Woman (among others).
 
Which brings us to the comic at hand! 
 
Glory is a character created by Rob Liefeld in 1993.  She's the result of a union between an Amazon Queen and a Demon Lord, raised by her mother among the Amazons and becoming their greatest warrior.  She struggled with her dual nature and eventually left her home among the Amazons to live in the world of Man. . .first appearing as a heroine during World War II (Thanks, Wikipedia!).
 
See what I mean about Image's early characters being heavily "inspired" by established characters?  How they managed to avoid a pile of lawsuits is a mystery to me.  Obviously, from the description above, Glory is a blatant copy of Wonder Woman.
 
BUT. . .
 
I'm willing to give ANY comic a fair chance, and that's what I'm gonna do here.  So let's take a closer look at Image's version of Wonder Woman and see if there's anything to like, shall we?
 
WE SHALL!

GLORY #1

IMAGE (1995)

 
 
WHO WROTE THE BOOK OF LOVE?
 
SCRIPT: Jo Duffy
PENCILS: Mike Deodato
INKS: Mike Deodato
COVER: Mike Deodato
 
THE COVER:
 
You want 90s? You GOT 90s with this cover!  I don't even know where to start.  This cover has a LOT going on. Unfortunately, not much of it's good.  I DO like the black frame and the colors, but that's about it.  It's not the worst example of 90s art that I've seen, but it certainly hasn't aged well. You can definitely see what Image was trying to sell here. Let's just say I'm glad we've (mostly) moved along from this sort of thing.  
 
Let's get inside!
 
THE STORY:
 
We begin our tale in the middle of an ongoing conversation.  Our titular hero, Gloriana Demeter (AKA Glory) is at a meeting with the board of Factor Cosmetics.  Mr. Factors himself is trying to sell Glory on the prospect of being the spokeswoman for Factor's newest line of cosmetics. . .
 
 
Unfortunately for Mr. Factor, Glory doesn't seem to be interested in his somewhat offensive hard-sell technique.  She tells him in no uncertain terms that he has nothing new to offer her, and that pleasing normal men isn't interesting to her any longer after having been with the superhuman Supreme.  In the process, we get a brief bit of exposition on her decades-long superhero career during and after WWII. . .
 
 
 
Factors counters by telling her that the. . .ahem. . .Glory Days are long past and that she's no long a household name.  In the meantime, outside the window, Glory's friend and Brigade teammate Leonard Swann (AKA Vandal) kills a strange bird. . .
 
We discover that the bird was a spy sent by Glory's father, the demonic Lord Silverfall, who is watching Glory from his hellish castle in the underworld. . .
 
 

 
Back in the Factor Cosmetic boardroom, Glory refuses Mr. Factor's offer.  Factor does NOT take this well and begins to berate and harass Glory. . .perhaps unwise, when the object of Factor's attempted bullying is a superpowered half demon.  A fight breaks out and Factor's bodyguard pulls a gun!
 
 
Glory punches the bodyguard through the window, where he is saved from falling to his death by another one of her Brigade teammates waiting for her below, Flanders Edison (AKA Rumble).
 
 
Glory leaves the meeting and joins her friends below. She tells them what happened, and they think she let them off too easily.  The heroes leave the scene after Rumble changes back to normal size.  
 
He tries to tell the other two about an antique arcane book he's discovered, but Glory and Vandal ignore him as Vandal tells Glory about the spy from Lord Silverfall he found. . .
 
 
As Rumble and Vandal leave to go get some food, Glory is ambushed by some sort of demonic creature!
 
 
The End. . .To Be Continued!
 
THE REVIEW:
 
Allright.  There it is.  The first issue of Image's Glory.  Let's break it on down!
 
*Sigh* There's not much here to like, to be honest.  
 
There's no real beginning to this story, as we're dropped right into the middle of a conversation.  There's no real ending, with the issue just stopping at a cliffhanger surprise attack.  What's in the middle is really very short and doesn't shed much light on who Glory is, what she's about, and why we should keep wanting to read about her.
 
I've laid out my personal expectations for the first issue of a comic series quite a few times already here at Longbox Junk, but to sketch them out again, I expect a first issue to introduce characters and their situations in a new reader-friendly way and to leave me wanting more.  It's a pretty low bar.
 
Unfortunately, Glory #1 fails at both of these simple things.  There's a LITTLE bit of information about Glory here, but not nearly enough to qualify as a decent introduction to a new reader.  I had to go to Wikipedia to learn who the demonic guy watching her was (Her demon father, Lord Silverfall) and to learn that Glory is half Amazon and Half Demon.  Her teammates just appear out of nowhere and I had to hit Wikipedia to find out who THEY were as well. 
 
 I feel sorry for new readers in 1995 who didn't have Wikipedia, because this is a pretty lousy introduction.  It's obvious from the letters page to see that Image was fully expecting readers to go out and buy Brigade, Supreme, Youngblood, and several others in order to get the big picture.  What we have here is just a fragment.
 
As far as leaving me wanting more, Glory #1 fails even harder than it did in giving me a decent introduction to a new character.  After reading this and realizing I would have to dig into several other series to find out what's going on, I lost interest in ever wanting to know more about Glory.  
 
There's a definite stench of money grab wafting out of this comic.  From the cheesecake cover to the letter page listing out the *checks* TEN ISSUES from EIGHT different series you need to read to fill in the story past the fragment here, this whole thing reeks of a publisher trying to scrape every dollar they can from their fans.
 

CONCLUSION

 
Style over substance is good way to sum up this comic.  It's basically a cheesecake cover hook baiting Image fans into buying the first issue of a series that doesn't even introduce the main character very well and gives them no incentive to read more without shelling out ten times the cash they've already spent on this issue.  
 
If nothing else, Glory #1 serves as a perfect example of the desperation in Image's early sales tactics.  Other than that interesting bit of insight into the strange days of 90s comics, there's really nothing else I can recommend about this beyond a few nice panels of art (like the double page spread of Silverfall's castle I scanned above).  Maybe it gets better as it goes on, but this first issue leaves me completely uninterested in finding out if it does. Glory is a bargain bin mainstay, and now I see why.
 
Up Next. . .
 
He's a guy you do NOT want to see when he's angry. 
Yeah, you know who I'm talking about. It's the one and only INCREDIBLE HULK!
 
I recently got my hands on a half dozen of Marvel's "The Hulk" magazines from the 1970s. What say we take a look inside one and see what's going on?  Let's do it!
 
Be there or be square.

- read more

Welcome to Longbox Junk, the place to find more comic reviews you never asked for than you could ever ask for! Read it again. . .it DOES make sense!
 
Recently, I've thrown out a few reviews of comics that are the bread-and-butter bargain box fillers. . .and there WILL be more to come.  But right now, it's flea market and yard sale season here in Utah and I've been having a pretty good run of luck finding some great older comics.
 
And so, I got to thinking. . .
 
If comics from Malibu, Image, Marvel's New Universe, and the like are some of the comics you're practically guaranteed to find while Longbox Junkin' through the cheap bins at your local comic shop. . .what are some of the comics you're most likely to find at the flea market, or at an estate sale, or at an antique/junk store?  In other words, what is the "Longbox Junk" of comics found OUTSIDE of the comic shop?
 
Three words: Dell Four Color
 
Dell's Four Color comics have to be THE most common comics I've come across outside of comic shops.  The series ran from 1939 to 1962, for an astounding 1354 issues. . .the record for the most issues produced of an American comic book.  Four Color hit 1000 issues LONG before Action Comics managed to get to that milestone.  Not bad for a series that didn't have any regular characters or continuity!
 
Four Color isn't so much a "series" as it is a vast collection of one-shots.  Each one can be read on its own, in any order.  They cover a VERY wide range of subjects. . .heavy on licensed properties popular at the time, and Disney properties in particular.  You can find anything from westerns to detective stories, to funny animals, to adaptations of movies and novels. . .and everything in between!  
 
And, like I said above, the great thing about Four Color comics are that they are easy to find in the wild.  I have about FIFTY of them in my collection!  Even better than the relative ease of finding them is the rock bottom prices most of them are sold at.  I see some pretty high "values" in online price guides for Four Color comics. . .but I've never paid more than twenty bucks for one.   
 
What I'm trying to say is that if you're Longbox Junkin' out in the wild outside the comic shop, you WILL find Four Color comics, and you WILL be able to afford issues going back into the Golden Age of comics.  Perfect example: The issue at hand is from 1958, in decent condition, and I bought it at a flea market for FIVE BUCKS.
 
ANYWAY. . .
 
Let's strap into the Longbox Junk time machine and take a trip back to 1958, when westerns were king and comics cost a dime!  Ready? LET'S DO THIS!
 
 

FOUR COLOR #942

TALES OF THE PONY EXPRESS

DELL (1958)

 
 
COVER: Sam Savitt
 
THE COVER:
 
I'll tell you true, folks.  To ME, that cover alone is worth the five bucks I paid for this comic!  Just look at it! It's FULL of motion, action, and detail!  This stunning painting of a Pony Express rider running for his life from a band of pursuing Indians isn't just a great comic cover, it's a great piece of western art, period.  Let's get inside!
 
THE STORIES:
 
Plenty of Western action in here for your one thin dime! Two full-length comic adventures, along with two one pagers on the inside front and back covers.  You can't buy THAT for four bucks these days!
 
Let's check out each one in their own turn, shall we?  WE SHALL!
 
ALERT FOR WAR PAINT 
(Inside Front Cover)
 
SCRIPT: ?
PENCILS: Nicholas Firfires
 
Basically a short little lesson in the meaning of various Native American war paints.  It's actually pretty  interesting, but there's not much more here than an appetizer.  The whole thing is scanned below.
 
 
NEXT!

 
WAR PAINT
 
SCRIPT: Eric Friewald & Robert Schaefer
PENCILS: Nicholas Firfires
 
THE STORY:
 
Pony Express rider Craig Garrett is given the task of buying new horses for the Express, as well as being trusted with the $5000 in government gold allocated for the purpose.  Little does he know that word of the gold being held at an isolated Express station has gotten out and a band of outlaws have attacked and stolen the funds, making it look like it was an Indian attack!
 
 
Garrett isn't convinced that Indians were behind the attack, though.  He follows clues and believes he's found proof, but must keep on the trail and prove his theory before the army mobilizes against the Indians and it's full-on war!  
 
He and another express rider follow clues to the town of Liberty Junction, but lose the trail.  Garrett discovers that a man named Miller had been talking about the Express Station attack before it happened, and Garrett is back on the trail!  
 
The two Express riders head to Indian Land outside of town after hearing that Miller is a friend of the local tribe. They don't receive a warm welcome, but Garrett convinces the warriors that confront them  that he's there to prevent a war and needs to see their Chief. . .
 
 
The tribe's Chief is doubtful that a friend of the tribe like Miller would use them to hide such a crime as murder and theft, and even to try and pin the blame on the tribe.  But after overhearing Miller secretly talking to his two co-conspirators, he quickly realizes that Garrett is telling the truth.

 
Knowing they've been found out, Miller and his friends make their escape from the camp. Garrett, his partner, and an Indian brave set off in hot pursuit!  
 
 
After a short gun battle, the criminal gang is taken down.  At the end of it all, the gold is recovered, a war is prevented, and the Pony Express has made some new Indian friends.  All's well that ends well.
 
 
The End.
 
THE REVIEW:
 
Okay. . .not bad!  I liked that this story followed a trail just a little bit out of the ordinary, giving the reader equal parts investigation and action.  It wasn't all just rootin' tootin' shootin' like you find in a lot of these older western comics. 
 
 I can see that there was some actual thought and effort put into this story, which is a little surprising because if you read a lot of old westerns like I do, you KNOW that there's quite a bit of similarity across the board. 
 
The art was also surprisingly good for Four Color.  Normally, what you get is a fantastic cover and art inside that hopefully is at least serviceable, but usually is borderline bad.  The art here is actually pretty good.  Not great, but solid and better than expected. 
 
So overall a well-done story backed up by decent art.  Not bad.  I usually come into these Four Color comics with pretty low expectations, but this time I was pleasantly surprised.  Let's check out the second story and see what we get.
 
NEXT!
 
DESERT AMBUSH
 
SCRIPT: Eric Friewald & Robert Schaefer
PENCILS: Nicholas Firfires
 
THE STORY:
 
Pony Express rider Craig Garrett is tricked into an ambush by two men while riding a dangerous route across the Nevada desert.  When he wakes up from the attack, he realizes that the men didn't steal any of the mail, just Garrett's prize horse, Colonel.
 
 
After recovering from the attack for a few days at a nearby Express Station, Garrett takes a leave of absence.  He's seen that there's a big horse race taking place in Carson City in four days, and suspects that he was ambushed because of his horse's reputation for being one of the finest in the West. . .and that the culprits will be entering Colonel in the race.
 
 
Arriving in Carson City, Garrett meets a man named Len Miller, who was entered in the big race, but has to forfeit his entry fee because his horse has taken ill.  Miller offers Garrett the hospitality of his home while the Express rider tries to locate his own horse.
 
 
The next morning, before the cross country race begins, Garrett and Miller spot the two men who ambushed Garrett a few days before.  They've got Colonel, and just as Garrett thought, have him entered into the race.  Garrett confronts the men.  They deny his accusations and the sheriff is called.
 
Garrett proves his ownership of Colonel by giving the horse commands that he obeys.  That's enough proof for the Sheriff and the two thieves are taken away to jail.  In thanks for Miller's hospitality, Garrett lets him ride Colonel in the big race.
 
 
Riding the powerful Pony Express horse, Miller easily wins the race.  With the prize money, he can now afford an operation that his wife needs.  Garrett has his prize horse back again.  All's well that ends well.
 
 
The End.
 
THE REVIEW:
 
With the same creative team as the first story, it's no surprise that this one is pretty solid as well.  Once again, there's less focus on gunplay than one would expect from a western comic from the 1950s.  As a matter of fact, there's NO gunplay at all in this story! There's a little bit of fist fighting to be had in a couple of places, but this is definitely a story that breaks my expectations for a Golden Age western comic!  I like that.  I like it a lot!
 
Overall, this was a well-written little nugget of western action that steps outside the boundaries of what I normally expect.  It's backed up with some very solid art, and I found it to be a pretty enjoyable read.
 
Let's wrap this up!
 
TRAILS THAT CROSS
(Inside Back Cover)
 
SCRIPT: ?
PENCILS: Nicholas Firfires
 
Another one pager to finish this comic off like the one on the inside front cover that started the show.  Like the opener, there's not much to this little story. . .a tale of two Pony Express riders passing each other while they sleep in the saddle.  If the one inside the front cover was an appetizer, this one makes for a nice little dessert.  The whole thing is scanned below. . .
 


CONCLUSION

 
One of the things I love about doing these Longbox Junk "Retro Reviews" is knowing that I'm writing what will probably be the ONLY review of this comic that has been, or ever will be, written.  I feel that by scanning the pages and describing the contents, I'm doing a small part to add to the overall comic knowledge out there, even if nobody asked me to.  
 
Hopefully, I don't sound like I'm not just tooting my own horn, and some of what I've put out here in this review will be useful or informative for those interested in Golden Age western comics like this one.  
 
THAT SAID. . .
 
I found this comic to be quite a surprise.  Both of the stories focused less on gunplay and more on narrative than I expected coming in.  There's plenty of action, don't get me wrong, but that action is a different sort than I'm used to when I open up a Golden Age western comic.  
 
The stories seemed less like boilerplate, and more like some thought and effort had been put into them.  The artwork was also surprisingly solid for a Four Color comic.  The combination of the two gave me some timeless western action that still reads well even after 64 years!
 
I'm not sure how rare this comic is, but I can certainly recommend it to anyone who enjoys a good western story that steps slightly outside the often-repeated scripts that most Golden Age western comics stick to.
 
Up Next. . .
 
Back to the bargain bin!
 
If you've ever gone digging through a dollar box, I can practically guarantee you've seen a "Glory" comic.  So let's take a look at Image's version of Wonder Woman, shall we?  WE SHALL!
 
Be there or be square!

- read more

Welcome to Longbox Junk!  It's the blog absolutely STUFFED with comic book reviews nobody ever asked me to write.
 
Every now and then, I like to take a step back away from my usual bargain bin fare and shine the spotlight on one of the older (and possibly, but not always, more "valuable") comics in my collection.  This is one of those times.  
 
Strap into the Longbox Junk time machine, because it's time for a Retro Review!
 
The comic at hand holds a lot of nostalgia for me.  Reading it takes me back to my younger days in the 1970's in a big way because it's a comic book tie-in to one of my favorite T.V. shows back then. . .Emergency!  
 
The show (and the comic) follows the day-to-day exploits of a team of paramedics (John Gage and Roy DeSoto of squad 51).  As a kid, I LOVED this show!  My brother and I used to watch it any time we could.  And when we couldn't watch it, we were in the yard playing it! 
 
 After my brother left active duty in the Army, he actually became a paramedic.  I think maybe those days in the 70's playing and watching Emergency! might have had a little something to do with that.
 
The show itself was a pretty big hit in its time (lasting a respectable 6 seasons).  I'm not sure how well it's remembered these days, but I have the feeling it's one of those kinds of shows that people don't think about much now, but when you mention it to someone of a certain age there's an "Oh yeah. . .I remember that" sort of thing.
 
I was never aware that Emergency! Even HAD comics until recently, when I found this issue at a little antique shop a few towns over that my wife wanted to check out.  I could NOT wait to get home and read this baby!
 
So yeah. . .big fan of the Emergency! T.V. show.  Now the question is whether or not the comics can stand up and deliver some of that nostalgia I have when I think of long-ago afternoons playing paramedic with my brother.  That's a pretty tall order, but let's find out!
 

EMERGENCY! #3

Charlton (1976)

 
 
COVER: Jack Sparling
 
THE COVER:
 
We're off to a good start because THAT is one great cover!  Beautifully painted by prolific Bronze Age artist Jack Sparling, this cover has a real sense of motion and action. The splashes of bright and dark colors combine to give this a feeling of chaos barely being controlled by the featured firemen.  This isn't just a great comic book cover, it's a great piece of art, period.  Let's get inside!
 
Two stories in this issue. . .an extra-sized comic story and a short two-page text piece (With some of John Byrne's earliest comic work illustrating it!).  Let's take a look at each one in their own turn.
 
ONE BIG HAPPY FAMILY
 
SCRIPT: Joe Gill
PENCILS: Jordi Franch Cubells (As J. Franch)
 
THE STORY:
 
A new fireman is transferred to Station 51 from another station for personality conflicts with the men there.  Joe Diskin quickly lives up to his reputation as rude and unfriendly at the station, but when he's on the job, he's a skilled and brave firefighter that helps the paramedics of Squad 51 through a rough situation while rescuing people trapped in a raging fire.
 
 
Thinking that the men of Station 51 just got off on the wrong foot with Diskin, Paramedic John Gage decides to try and make friends with the new man.  Unfortunately, despite his best efforts, Gage runs into a brick wall of unfriendly behavior from Diskin, causing Gage to wonder if maybe there's no getting through to him.
 
 
Despite Gage's failure to make friends with Diskin, the new firefighter once again proves his worth while assisting the Paramedics during a harrowing rescue operation during a blaze at a power plant, risking his life to keep the flames at bay while Gage and his partner, Roy DeSoto, save trapped workers.
 
 
As the days go by, Gage is more determined than ever to break through Diskin's hard shell, even though the rest of the men at Station 51 have given up.  Finally, Gage manages to get Diskin to socialize with him by challenging him to a handball game. 
 
 
After returning to the station, Gage and DeSoto discover that the other men of Station 51 are passing around a petition for their Chief to transfer Diskin to yet another station.  The Paramedics immediately stand up for Diskin, telling the others that the new man may not be friendly, but he's a good firefighter that deserves as much of a chance as anyone else.  Unknown to them, Diskin overhears the whole thing.
 
 
Later, as Diskin assists the paramedics during another fire, he finally has a friendly word for the team as he challenges them to another handball game.  It seems that Diskin has decided he wants to be part of the Station 51 family after all.  
 
The End.
 
THE REVIEW:
 
Okay.  Not bad!  I wanted some of that nostalgia from Emergency! and I got it.  This story reads like a "lost" episode of the show!  I like that it took just as much time with what was going on at the station as it did with action scenes, just like many of the T.V. show episodes did. 
 
There's really not that much to the story. . .a new guy has trouble fitting in and Johnny Gage takes it on himself to try to bring him into the "family". . .but it's that simple framework that allows the writer to provide a story where I can almost HEAR the voices of the actors from the T.V. show as I read it.
 
The art for this story delivers in a big way!  A lot of the Charlton comics had great covers and not so great art inside.  This comic is not one of those.  The artist manages to mostly capture the likenesses of the T.V. actors, but where the art REALLY shines is during the action scenes of billowing smoke and chaos!  Some of the station scenes are a little sketchy, but the firefighting action more than makes up for it.
 
All in all, just a great little story!  I'll tell you true. . .it makes me want to go watch some Emergency!
 
Let's see what the backup text story is about, shall we?  We shall!
 
TRIAL BY FIRE

 
SCRIPT: ?
ILLUSTATIONS: John Byrne
 
THE STORY:
 
While his usual partner, Roy DeSoto is on vacation, Johnny Gage is teamed up with a new paramedic who transferred from the firefighting team.  Although the new man seems to be a good paramedic, one of the other firemen warns Gage that the new guy quit firefighting because he lost his nerve after being injured in a fire.  Fortunately, after being rescued by the new man, Gage realizes that the warning was off base and the new paramedic will fit in just fine.
 
The End.
 
The entire story is scanned below. . .
 
 
 
 
THE REVIEW:
 
This story follows the same theme as the main comic offering above. . .a new guy having trouble fitting in and John Gage helping him along.  It's. . .okay.  It's not bad, but I would have rather seen a bit more page space given to the main story instead.
 
I guess the main draw here is that this actually has some of John Byrne's earliest comic work.  There's not much of it, being spot illustrations for a text piece, but you can definitely see a master's hand at work here, even in the tiny amount we're given. 
 
Overall, this backup story is okay.  I personally think the space could have been put to better use expanding the main story for a couple more pages.  The art is an interesting artifact of comic history. 
 

CONCLUSION

 
So there it is.  Emergency! #3.  
 
I'm glad I found this comic and now have it in my collection.  It really DOES read just like an episode of the T.V. show. . .to the point that I could almost hear the voices of the actors in my head when I read it.  This story could EASILY have been adapted for the show.  
 
Is it the best comic I've ever read?  No.  Not even close.  But what this DID do for me was take me back in time to the 70's like I was taking a trip in a paper time machine and left me wanting more!  I really don't think there's much more I could ask from a comic book.
 
If you were a fan of Emergency! Then I heartily recommend this comic.  If you're looking for something a little unusual that doesn't involve superheroes, then check this out.  I'm probably a little biased because the T.V. show holds some great memories for me, but it's really a decent comic even without that connection.
 
The series was very short. . .four issues only.  There was a second Emergency! series (also from Charlton) that also ran for only 4 issues.  I don't see that they've been collected in any way, so I guess finding these in the wild or buying the issues online is the only way to get them.   Luckily, it doesn't seem the prices are too bad.
 
Up Next. . .
 
I'm not really sure!  It's flea market and yard sale season and I've had a REALLY good run of luck finding great comics out there so far this year.  So I might do a few more retro reviews spotlighting some of them.
 
In any case, be there or be square!

- read more

Longbox Junk - Elfquest #1

493 views • 20 weeks ago • (0) Comments

Welcome to Longbox Junk, the blog packed FULL of comic reviews nobody ever asked for!

 
Not long ago, I did several reviews based around the meat and potatoes of your average bargain bin.  Those title you're practically guaranteed to find at least one representative of in just about any dollar box at just about any comic shop you might find yourself Longbox Junkin' in.  Let's return to that idea for a moment, shall we?
 
The comic at hand is definitely one of those ubiquitous bargain bin finds.  If you're digging through a longbox of cheap comics, I would be perfectly willing to bet you a buck you'll find an Elfquest comic. . .and I wouldn't worry one bit about losing that bet. 

Oddly enough, despite there being SO many Elfquest comics out there, I've never read one.  UNTIL TODAY!  Today, I'm going to see what's going on with the Elfquest.
 
BUT FIRST. . .
 
Before we get into the nitty gritty of this Elfquest comic, I ask an extra moment or two of your time for a little background that may or may not interest you. . .
 
I did NOT get this comic from the bargain bin.  It's one of the more unusual items in my collection.  Not because it's "worth" more than usual, but because of the way I came across it. 
 
I have a copy of  Elfquest #1 that is slabbed and graded (9.8) for some reason.  I found it at a yard sale about 5 or 6 years ago.  It was the only comic the people had at the yard sale, and they had no idea where it came from.  They didn't have any kids and they weren't in the least bit interested in comic books.
 
I found it extremely odd that I would come across a slabbed comic book at a yard sale in the first place, let alone one single slabbed comic that the people putting the sale on had no idea of how it got there. 
 
 And then there was the comic itself. . .a 1980's reprint of a series that could easily be found in the bargain bins.  WHY was it slabbed in the first place? The process of grading the comic obviously cost more than the comic is "worth".  WHO went to the trouble to do this? WHY did they decide to slab a "worthless" reprint? HOW did it end up in a Utah yard sale?  SO MANY QUESTIONS!
 
The people doing the yard sale had no idea how much to charge me, so I gave them five bucks and took home my odd treasure.  I know that this comic isn't "worth" the plastic it's slabbed in, but I've never been able to make myself break it open.  And so there it sits in my collection, along with the other four slabbed comics I own (which are significantly more "valuable") as a mystery I ponder for a moment each time I see it.
 
ANYWAY. . .
 
I recently came across another copy of this first issue in a bargain bin and decided to finally see what's inside, now that I don't have to crack open a slab to read it.  Are we ready? LET'S DO THIS!
 

ELFQUEST #1

Marvel/Epic (1985)

 
 
FIRE AND FLIGHT
 
SCRIPT: Richard Pini & Wendy Pini
PENCILS: Wendy Pini
INKS: Wendy Pini
COVER: Wendy Pini
 
THE COVER:
 
Honestly, it's a little too busy for my taste.  It's nicely drawn and the figures themselves are interesting, but the colors are a bit bland and there's just too much going on.  It's not a BAD cover, but there's nothing in particular that draws my eye. Nothing that really hooks me in.  Well. . .I guess they can't ALL be winners.  Let's get inside!
 
THE STORY:
 
We begin our tale in the far distant past of a world not unlike our own, inhabited by primitive mankind.  During a furious storm, a remarkable event happens.  A gigantic shining structure of some sort drops through a hole in the sky!
 
 
As the massive structure lands, the primitive humans investigate.  The doors open and strange beings emerge!  They appear to be just as stunned by their arrival as the humans who witnessed it. . .
 
 
As the equally frightened primitive humans and strange aliens confront each other, the humans attack! 
 
The terrified beings from the mysterious structure find that their magical powers are weak on this world, and they are unable to defend themselves as the humans brutally slaughter them!  A few survivors manage to flee into the surrounding forest, never to return. . .
 
 
We move forward in time, through uncounted generations of conflict between the ancestors of the surviving elves and the brutal humans who hunt and kill them.  

 
We find ourselves witnessing a band of humans preparing a ritual sacrifice. . .a captured elf.  Watching from the forest are a band of would-be rescuers.  Wolfriders, led by an elf called Cutter.  On his command, the band of elves and wolves rush forward on the attack!
 

 
Taken by surprise, the battle against the humans is short and brutal.  The captive elf, Redlance, is rescued.  Cutter leaves the leader of the men alive as a warning to others, before fleeing back into the forest to return home. . .
 
 
But while the news of Redlance's rescue is cause for celebration among the elves, the humans mourn the deaths from the raid, and the shaman that Cutter spared swears by his savage that he will have revenge on the elves!
 
 
Later that night, while Cutter and his friend, Skywise, ponder the events of the raid, they are alerted to danger by the howling of wolves!  They learn through their ability to telepathically communicate with their animal allies that a band of men are coming to attack the elven stronghold!
 
Cutter quickly uses telepathy to summon elven warriors to defend against the coming attack. . .
 
 
As Cutter and his Wolfriders confront the approaching humans, he tries to warn them away. . .if the forest is burned, then both human AND elf will suffer greatly.  But the human shaman has sworn revenge in the name of his and refuses to listen to reason!
 
 
A short, brutal battle ensues.  The human shaman is killed, but not before he and his followers set the forest ablaze!  Cutter rushes ahead of the fire back to the elven camp and frantically tries to help his tribe evacuate as the flames approach. . .but the fire spreads quickly and their escape is cut off!
 
They have no choice but to try and make it to the mysterious caverns of the trolls if his tribe is to survive. . .
 

The desperate elves arrive at the caverns, only to find the door guard reluctant to let them in.  Cutter manages to force his way inside as the fire rages behind them, destroying their home. . .
 
 
As the door to the cave is closed behind them, the elves mourn the loss of their home, and are guided through the twisted tunnels of the caverns to meet the King of the trolls to explain the reason they've trespassed on his secretive kingdom. . .
 

 
The elven refugees are led deep into the underground kingdom by their reluctant guides, until they finally arrive in a vast hall and find themselves before the throne of Greymung the Shiftless, Mighty King of the Trolls!
 

To Be Continued. . .
 
THE REVIEW:
 
Okay then.  There it is.  Elfquest #1.  Let's break it on down!
 
When it comes to first issues, there's a bare minimum level of what I expect to find.  Two things. . .just TWO things.  First, does it introduce the characters and their situation in a new reader-friendly way?  Second, does it make me want to read more?  Is that too much to ask?  I don't think so.
 
As far as introduction goes. . .not bad.  Not great, but I've seen worse.  You don't really learn too much about Cutter and his band of elves in this issue.  It's a little lacking in that area.  But where this issue DOES do a great job of introduction is to the world itself and the general conflict between man and elf. 
 
I really found it interesting that the elves are actually aliens to this world.  It's only mentioned in the first couple of pages, but THAT'S the story that I'm interested in.  I'm not sure if it's covered in future issues, but that's what interested me most about this story.  The rest of it was pretty much setup to get Cutter and his tribe out of a settled place and on the move.  
 
Thinking about it, the general story here resembles a sort of fantasy Battlestar Galactica, if you will.  A small band of survivors forced to flee their homes after an apocalyptic attack, searching for a new home while being pursued by a brutal enemy.  The good news is, I'm a huge Battlestar Galactica fan, so the resemblance (whether intentional or not) is okay with me.
 
But does it make me want to read more?
 
Wellllll. . .maybe?  I wouldn't mind reading more of this story, but at the same time, this first issue doesn't exactly make me want to run right out and find more Elfquest.  Like I said, it follows a very familiar story path with a coat of fantasy paint slapped on.  
 
This series has been around for a long time and there's a LOT of Elfquest comics out there. . .so logic tells me that there's SOMETHING here that people have enjoyed.  But is it the art? More on THAT in a bit, but most of what I see when I do a bit of internet research on this series revolves around the art and not the story.  Does the story get any better?  Does it step off of the "Fantasy Battlestar Galactica" trail that this issue firmly sets it out on?  Do I want to find out?
 
You know what?  I think I might.  I'd give the next few issues a read, anyway.  I like this world enough to give the story a chance.  Maybe not a BIG chance, but like I said. . .a few more issues would let me know if I wanted to get deeper down the massive 30+ year and running Elfquest rabbit hole.
 
SO. . .
 
The story mostly meets the expectations I have for a first issue.  Let's talk about the art.
 
Like I said above, when you look up Elfquest on the internet, you're going to get mostly talk about Wendy Pini's art.  So generally, the art is considered the star of the Elfquest show.  I guess I can say that the art DOES deserve top billing in this issue.  It's actually pretty unique and interesting.
 
It's cartoony, yet detailed.  There are nice cinematic angles and interesting character designs.  Overall, the art style is certainly eye-catching.  But judging from the amount of praise heaped on Wendy Pini online, one would THINK that she's one of the greatest comic artists out there. I disagree.
 
 I'm not here to knock anyone off their pedestal, but I'm also here to be honest.  For THIS comic, Pini's art is great.  I'm not sure it would work very well outside these pages.  And to be fair, Pini seems to have not strayed far from Elfquest in order to find out.  
 
To compare, I do have the "Beauty and The Beast: Portrait of Love" one shot tie in to the late 80's Beauty and The Beast T.V. show, which features some of Pini's fairly infrequent non-Elfquest work. . .
 
 
From the looks of it, I'm thinking she's very smart to just stay in her fantasy lane.  
 
THAT SAID. . .
 
Pini's art in THIS comic is interesting, engaging, and quite enjoyable.
 
The colors, on the other hand, vary wildly from bland to gaudy.  The Marvel/Epic Elfquest series is a reprint of the original series, which was in black and white.  Honestly, it probably should have stayed that way. 
 
I went online and took a look at Elfquest in black and white and, even though I'm not much of a fan of black and white comics, I think that something was actually lost by "improving" the art with color.  
 

CONCLUSION

 
What we have here is a pretty decent first issue.  It introduces the world of Elfquest nicely.  Character introductions maybe not so much, but there's enough there to like.  It doesn't exactly grab me and make me want to read more, but the story is JUST good enough to make me want to pick up more Elfquest and check it out if I come across some. . .and I will, because there's a LOT of these comics out there in the bargain bins.
 
The art backing up the story is interesting and enjoyable, but the amount of internet praise heaped on the artist seems a bit out of proportion to what's actually here.  It's good, but not great.
 
All in all, I'd definitely recommend fans of fantasy comics to check out Elfquest, if they haven't already.  They're easy to find in the bargain bins, there are several collections, OR you can read the first issue for FREE (in a very nicely re-colored online version that makes me reconsider my remarks about the art being better in black and white above) at https://elfquest.com/ , courtesy of the creators!
 
Up Next. . .
 
Let's do a Longbox Junk Retro Review!
 
Be there or be square.

- read more

Longbox Junk - Dragon's Claws #1

539 views • 23 weeks ago • (0) Comments

Welcome to Longbox Junk!  If you want comic reviews you never asked for, you're in the right place!

First, my sincere apologies for the delays between posts. 

 I had a nasty case of COVID several months ago and it seems that it's not going to entirely be letting go of me any time soon.  My doctor tells me I'm one of the "lucky" COVID  "long haulers".  I feel like I have no energy or motivation. . .even for something as simple as sitting down to write a comic review.  I also still have pretty frequent problems breathing and just generally have a constant light-headed feeling and hardly any appetite, along with random hot flashes several times a day.  It ain't fun, folks!  

- read more

Welcome to Longbox Junk, where I keep writing comic book reviews even though nobody asked me to!

 
Here at Longbox Junk, I like to step outside of my comfort zone from time to time, just to keep things interesting.  The comic at hand is a fine example of one of these times.  Generally-speaking, I've never been a fan of "funny" comic books. 
 
Sure, I like a good issue of MAD Magazine or some Archie comics from time to time, but other than that, I've just never found "funny" comics that. . .well. . .funny.  The humor never really hits the mark for some reason.  Don't get me wrong.  There's some great comedy to be found in comic books (anything by Garth Ennis comes to mind), but for the most part, the laugh out loud moments are pretty few and far between (for me, anyway).
 
BUT. . .
 
Here at Longbox Junk, EVERY comic deserves a fair shot. So let's step outside of my comic book comfort zone and give Captain Carrot a fair shot, shall we?  WE SHALL!

CAPTAIN CARROT

AND HIS AMAZING ZOO CREW #1

DC (1982)

 

THE PLUTO SYNDROME!
 
SCRIPT: Roy Thomas
PENCILS: Scott Shaw & Ross Andru
INKS: Bob Smith
COVER: Scott Shaw & Ross Andru
 
THE COVER:
 
This cover is what caught my eye as I dug through the bargain bin a couple of weeks ago.  It's got SO much color, action, and just plain FUN that I had no choice but to bring it home!  I don't know what I'm in for when I open this thing up, but this great cover is definitely worth the price of admission!
 
THE STORY:
 
The story begins in progress (Continued from a 16 page insert in New Teen Titans #16 that I'll sorta summarize below) with Superman finding himself stranded on a strange world populated by humanlike animals.  
 
Strange rays from the planet Pluto had been causing humans on Superman's earth to exhibit animalistic behavior.  During his investigation, he smashed through an invisible barrier in space that led to him discovering this odd version of earth where intelligent animals rule.
 
Superman quickly discovers that the same rays from Pluto are also affecting this other Earth, causing the animals to behave like. . .well. . .animals.  Enlisting the aid of a rabbit that gained super powers from a piece of a glowing meteor that followed Superman through the invisible barrier (One Roger Rabbit, now calling himself Captain Carrot), the two heroes try to find a way through the barrier in order to save both of their worlds.
 
 
But when they arrive at the barrier, neither Superman or Captain Carrot are able to cross it.  Suddenly, Superman is drawn through the mysterious barrier against his will and vanishes, leaving Captain Carrot alone!
 
 
Captain Carrot returns to Earth, but quickly discovers that he's better at super-hopping than super-landing.  He's rescued from certain death by a strange metal pig. . .who introduces himself as "Pig - Iron" and tells Carrot his origin story.  It turns out he gained his powers from the same sort of glowing stone Captain Carrot got his from.
 

Captain Carrot realizes that if the glowing meteor fragments gave the two of them powers, then the same thing must have given the four OTHER superpowered heroes he's been seeing on the news their powers as well. . .and one of them might be able to get Captain Carrot to Pluto!  
 
And so Pig-Iron and Captain Carrot set off on a journey to find and recruit other heroes to their team.  First stop, Mew Orleans!  There, they quickly find "Alley-Kat-Abra", a cat who gained magical powers from one of the meteor fragments.  
 
After hearing her origin story, the growing team moves along to find other heroes, using Alley-Kat's magical teleport powers to travel to Kornsas. . .
 
 
Once the team arrives in Kornsas, they quickly find "Fastback", a turtle who gained the power of amazing speed from one of the glowing meteor fragments.  After he gives us ANOTHER origin story, Fastback agrees to join the group of heroes as they make their way west to Follywood, where the final two meteor fragments landed. . .
 
 
In Follywood, the new team joins up with a dog called "Yankee Poodle" (who fires stars that push from one hand and stripes that pull from her other) and a duck (who can stretch and form shapes with his body) called "Rubberduck", helping them with taking care of a riot caused by the mysterious rays from Pluto.  
 
After two MORE origin stories, Captain Carrot has gathered a fine team of superheroes and they're ready to try to travel to Pluto and get to the bottom of what's happening!
 
]
 
Using Ally-Kat-Abra's magical powers, the team manages to penetrate the invisible barrier and find themselves on another world.  They've made it to Pluto!
 
 
Upon finding and entering a hidden fortress, the team discovers Superman held captive by a bizarre creature calling itself "Starro".  
 
And then it's time for ANOTHER origin story as Starro describes how after being defeated by the Justice League on Superman's Earth, a small piece of himself made its way to Captain Carrot's universe, where it regrew into Starro, a creature determined to become master of everthing. . .after it destroys Superman and his friends!
 

Despite Superman telling them to run for their lives, Captain Carrot and his team attack Starro!  Unfortunately, they don't do a great job of it and mostly just get in each other's way until Captain Carrot manages to get them to work TOGETHER to finally score the victory!
 
 
After defeating Starro and freeing Superman, the team decides to stick together and fight injustice on their Earth, while Superman returns to do the same on his own.  Taking on the name of "Captain Carrot and His Amazing Zoo Crew", a new superhero team is born!
 
 
BUT. . .
 
Even as they celebrate their first victory as a team, a mysterious new threat emerges!
 
 
The End. . .To be continued.
 
THE REVIEW:
 
I'm gonna be honest here and tell you right up front that this hasn't changed my mind about "funny" comics.  That said. . .it ain't bad.  It might not be as funny as it wants to be, but it's definitely fun, so credit where it's due, because sometimes you just want a comic to be FUN.
 
Most of the humor here is derived from (pretty bad) puns and clever wordplay, as well as a couple of running jokes. Origin stories are the biggest running gag. . .there's SEVEN of them in this issue and the writers lean into that ridiculous number pretty hard, with the characters cracking jokes every time another origin story starts up.  The best part of the joke is that ALL of the origin stories are pretty much exactly the same.
 
Another running joke is Captain Carrot never getting Superman's name right.  It's not quite as funny as they try to make it, but it's amusing.  Speaking of the Man of Steel, they were smart bringing in Superman as the straight man in this first issue.  His befuddlement at the rest of the characters cracking wise through the story shows that DC isn't afraid to let one of their tentpole characters be the of the joke in order to promote this strange little comic and set it firmly in the DC "universe".
 
On the art side of things, I liked the look of this comic quite a bit.  It's colorful, it's exaggerated, it's FUN.  The art here isn't going to win any awards, but it's a style well-suited for the wacky story being told.  From what I read, Ross Andru drew Superman only. . .making him stick out like a realistic sore thumb and leaning into the Man of Steel being the straight man outsider in a world of comedy.  It's a great visual gag!
 

CONCLUSION

 
I'm not a fan of "funny" comics, but I liked this one. . .even though it was more fun than funny to me.  But like I said above, there's nothing wrong with a comic just being fun now and then.  It wasn't the greatest comic I've ever read, but it was better than I expected.  The jokes weren't as funny as they wanted to be, but they weren't bad either.
 
This series lasted a respectable 20 issues, and I've come across several of them in the bargain bins over the years. . .but if you don't want to go Longbox Junkin' for single issues, the whole series (along with a later mini-series and the original Teen Titans preview) has been collected in a big, chunky DC Showcase Presents volume.
 
Overall, I can certainly recommend Captain Carrot to parents for younger readers, as well as older readers who are just looking for something lighthearted and fun to read.  Unfortunately, if you're already iffy about "funny" comics (like myself), Captain Carrot is a decent read, but it isn't going to change your mind. 
 
Up Next. . .
 
Let's get DEEP down in the bargain bin, shall we?
It's prolific artist Brian Stelfreeze's FIRST comic work. . .
It's a 1988 3-issue miniseries from a publisher better known for early comic industry magazines, "Comics Interview Group". It's CYCOPS! 
 
Be there or be square.
 

- read more

Longbox Junk - Blindside

630 views • 32 weeks ago • (0) Comments

Welcome to Longbox Junk! It's the blog with more comic reviews you never asked for than you could ever ask for! No need to thank me. . .it's just what I DO!

 
I've mentioned it before, but I have sort of a soft spot in my comic-lovin' heart for early Image comics.  These days, Image has carved out a great spot for themselves as the company you go to when you get tired of superhero stories, but in their early days they were ALL superhero ALL the time.  And it was in the most obviously desperate "We wanna be the new Marvel!" way possible.
 
To accomplish their goal, Image flooded the market with a LOT of new superhero comics.  There was a point in time in the 90's that they were pretty much throwing anything they could at the wall to see what would stick.  That point in time was around 1996. . .which brings us to the comic at hand!
 
Blindside was one of the comics that did NOT stick.  It's one of several projects from Image that didn't last more than one issue, even though there were more planned and advertised.  So let's take a look at this unloved and abandoned relic of the 90's and see if there's something here to like, shall we?  WE SHALL!
 
 

BLINDSIDE #1

Image Comics (1996)

 
 

 
 
I Spy With My Little Eye
 
SCRIPT: Marat Mychaels & Robert Loren Fleming
PENCILS: Marat Mychaels & Leo Jimenez, with Chuck Drost
INKS: Al Vey & Sean Parsons
COVER:  Marat Mychaels & Al Vey
 
THE COVER:
 
Not bad, in that special 90's-Tastic way.  I'm always a bit of a sucker for monochromatic backgrounds on a comic cover, and the stark white of this one sets of the character portrait very nicely.  I like the bold colors a lot as well.  The logo looks like it was created with the '96 version of Windows Paint, though.  Not good.
 
Blindside himself is SO 90's that the 90's are like "Can you tone it down a bit?"  Between the gritted teeth, bulging muscles, the McFarlane-Lite twisted pose and tangled rope, and the "It's a mask. . .but with HAIR!", this cover IS the 90's.  Still, not too bad.  Let's get inside!
 
THE STORY:
 
We begin our tale alongside Richard Kemp. . .a highly-trained top agent of the ultra-secret "Orion Sector" intelligence agency.  He's observing a meeting between Criminal Mastermind Ronald Quinn and a scientist who has developed some sort of device built into a helmet.  
 
Quinn demands that the device be immediately tested on one of his henchmen, despite the Professor's insisting that it isn't ready. . .
 

As the device seemingly malfunctions, killing Quinn's henchman, Richard is discovered in his hiding place. . .
 
Using the man who found him as a human shield, Richard jumps down from his perch and leaps into action, easily dispatching Quinn's thugs. . .but as he fights, Quinn himself takes the agent by surprise from behind, knocking him out!
 
 
 
 
When Richard regains consciousness, he finds himself Quinn's prisoner!  He witnesses Quinn kill the Professor for delivering a faulty device.  Then Quinn puts the helmet on Richard and turns it on. . .promising the captive agent an agonizing death!
 

But Richard doesn't die!  Instead, he wakes up handcuffed to a hospital bed and surrounded by Orion Sector agents, including his Uncle Bud. . .who had taken Richard in after his father's death and been his Orion Sector mentor for many years.
 
 After reporting what happened during the stakeout, Richard is shocked to learn that Quinn has an alibi, there was no helmet found, and no other dead bodies. . .just the Professor, killed with Richard's gun and no other prints to be found.
 
He's been set up!
 
After the Orion Sector agents leave, Richard ponders his situation.  He knows too much to stand trial.  He'll just. . .disappear.  He's devoted his life to Orion Sector, as did his father before him.  Richard sees himself as a patriot and doesn't want to go down without a fight.
 

As he agonizes about how to clear himself of the false murder charge, Richard suddenly has some sort of painful mental attack.  As the pain fades, Richard realizes that he can see through the walls!  There are three men with guns outside his room, and they're coming in after him!
 

As the armed men burst into the room, Richard is ready for them!  During the fight, he learns that they are Orion Sector agents, sent to terminate him!  
 
Not believing that his Uncle Bud could ever stand by something like this, Richard makes his escape by smashing through the hospital window, declaring that he would take Orion Sector down as he falls, still firing at the men who attacked him. . .
 

But somehow, the fall doesn't kill him!  Richard is amazed to find himself unharmed. . .but there's more Orion Sector men below, and he's still under fire.  Richard makes a desperate escape through the hospital parking lot, finally managing to steal a motorcycle. . .
 
 
Knowing that he didn't have a chance of eluding his highly-trained pursuers, Richard decides to make use of his own training and attack instead of running, managing to destroy a truck full of Orion Sector agents with a single shot, using his new powers to guide the bullet to his target!
 
 
But there's more agents where they came from!  Richard goes into a kind of combat frenzy, attacking the remaining pursuing agents and stealing their car. . .
 

After wrecking the car, Richard manages to escape on foot.  He makes a gritty promise to destroy Orion Sector and anyone behind his betrayal. And from the looks of it, he means it!
 

 
To be continued. . .wait. . .never mind.  There was never a second issue.  The End, I guess?
 
THE REVIEW:
 
Okay then. . .there it is. The one and only issue of Blindside.  Let's break it on down!
 
I really hate to say this, but there's not much to like here.  I can see why the plug got pulled on Blindside so quickly.  There's some decent art here and there, but overall, this comic is so utterly average that I had to read it three times in order to write this review because I kept forgetting the details of the story.  And when you've got such a simple story as the one here, that ain't a good thing.
 
The framework of the story itself is pretty solid. . .secret agent on the run after being framed for murder and discovering that he's somehow gained some unusual powers.  The powers add a little curve on a well-worn action hero story path, but not enough of a curve to make me want to read more.
 
The dialogue is pretty stilted and full of exposition.  You can really tell that the writer is actually more of an artist when you read this.  It's definitely a bit of a slog reading this comic. . .and like I mentioned above, it's so utterly average that you forget it almost as soon as you're done reading.
 
On the art side of things, 90's nostalgia pins this one JUST on the good side of bad.  There are actually some really interesting moments to be found (The stark white background page of Blindside attacking multiple gunmen I scanned above is definitely a standout), but there's just not enough of them to elevate this comic much.
 

CONCLUSION

 
Every comic is a labor of love for someone.  The letters page in Blindside tells me that Marat Mychaels created this character when he was 14 years old and had been waiting years for a chance to bring his idea to the comic world.  Unfortunately, the actual execution of Blindside when he finally got that chance didn't do Mychaels' enthusiasm for the character any justice.
 
From what I see, he took the character elsewhere, where it didn't fare much better. . .2 issues of an aborted mini-series and a couple of guest appearances.  I give Mychaels credit for trying, but I guess sometimes things just don't work out.
 
In my humble opinion, Mychaels isn't much of a writer. Blindside might have worked if he had recognized this and let someone else write his character. . .but the early days of Image are littered with failed projects where one guy tried to wear all the hats.  This is a fine example of exactly that.
 
Unfortunately, I can't really recommend Blindside, except as a curiosity. . .an abandoned relic of the 90's that may interest someone just for that.  The writing is somehow overblown and forgettable at the same time.  The art has moments, but not enough of them.  There's really not much to like here.
 
Up Next. . .
 
It's the origin story of one of DC's most unusual superheroes and his team. . .
 
CAPTAIN CARROT AND HIS AMAZING ZOO CREW! 
 
Guest Starring Superman because he must have lost some sort of bet.
 
Be there or be square!

- read more

World Community Grid Logo
ComicBookRealm.com: 65 years, 233 days, 9 hours of Run Time
Help projects like: Smash Childhood Cancer, OpenZika, Help Stop TB, FightAIDS@Home - Phase 2, Outsmart Ebola Together, Mapping Cancer Markers, FightAIDS@Home
Join World Community Grid today!
  • Newest
  • Clarion Books's Besties: Find Their Groove Soft Cover # 1
  • Just Imagine Graphics's Just Imagine Comics and Stories Issue # 7
  • Exhibit A Press's Mister Negativity and Other Tales of Supernatural Law TPB # 1
  • Spread Love Comix's Spread Love Issue # 2
CBR.com member auction items ?