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  • atom | Male | Utah

"I have a lot of issues. . ."

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

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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.
 

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Longbox Junk - Silver Surfer/ Superman

516 views • 156 days ago • (1) Comment

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

 
There's been a bit of sad news lately in the world of comics.  The great George Perez has announced that he won't be with us for much longer, due to terminal cancer.  I'm very sure that I'm not alone in considering Mr. Perez to be a living legend among modern comic creators.  He's regarded by many as one of the greatest modern comic artists, and rightly so.  
 
Judging from the outpouring of fan support and tribute I'm seeing on the internet lately, it's clear that Perez is a man and a talent that will definitely be missed.  I would also like to show my appreciation for George Perez by setting aside my originally-planned review for now and taking the time to spotlight some of his work here. . .but with a bit of a Longbox Junk twist!
 
Most of the tributes I'm seeing focus on Mr. Perez's fantastic art.  And why shouldn't they?  It's what he's known for. . .fantastic scenes packed SO full of characters and detail that they invite lingering on the page just to take it all in.  It's his trademark and what put him on a well-deserved pedestal among the great modern comic artists.
 
SO. . .
 
I'm gonna spotlight a comic without ONE SINGLE PANEL of that signature Perez art everyone loves him for!  That's right. . .I'm going to take a look at George Perez the comic WRITER in this edition of Longbox Junk!  
 
I want to show another side of this great, multi-talented creator that fans of his art might not be so much aware of by taking a look at a 1996 collaboration between DC and Marvel wherein the two rival companies came together to tell a cosmic tale of titanic trickery across two universes involving two of their mightiest heroes. . .Superman and The Silver Surfer!  
 
Ready?  Let's do it!

SILVER SURFER/ SUPERMAN

Marvel/ DC (1996)

 
 
 
Folded out to show the villains on the back side
 
 
POP!
 
SCRIPT: George Perez
PENCILS: Ron Lim
INKS: Terry Austin
COVER: Ron Lim & Terry Austin
 
THE COVER:
 
I'm actually not a huge fan of Superman (or Silver Surfer, for that matter), but just LOOK at that cover!  Superman is my favorite part of it!  He's a bright image of strength, power, and heroism as he boldly flies across the front of this comic!  And then there's the Silver Surfer. . .a gleaming, powerful being capturing the power cosmic as he speeds along the bottom of the page!  Such a great cover, giving both heroes a their own chance to shine.  Ron Lim knocks it out of the park before we even get to the first page!  
 
THE STORY:
 
We begin our tale with Superman in the skies over Metropolis, enjoying the end of an uneventful patrol of the city. . .
 

. . .And with the Silver Surfer, exploring the galaxy and being surprised to discover a planet where once there was only a barren asteroid.
 
 
WHEN SUDDENLY. . .
 
Superman finds himself transported in the blink of an eye to what seems to be Krypton!  The people seem to be in some sort of panic and Superman is attacked by Kryptonian security forces, who believe the strangely-clad man who just appeared among them is part of an invading force!
 

Superman tries to fight off the security forces, a bit more of a task than he's used to, with his powers greatly reduced by the Red Kryptonian sun. . .
 

As Superman tries to escape, the leader of the invading alien force shows himself, a strange, hybrid creature who calls himself "Super Skrull".  There are several odd things, such as Super Skrull knowing Superman's Kryptonian name of Kal-El and that the creature speaks English, but Superman doesn't have time to ponder them as the Super Skrull challenges him to one on one combat!
 

IN THE MEANTIME. . .
 
The Silver Surfer is surprised to find himself yanked from deep space and onto the planet Earth, where he once made his home.  But the city he finds himself in is unfamiliar, and his cosmic powers are somehow going out of his control!
 

As Silver Surfer tries to regain control of his powers, the citizens of Metropolis panic as they realize they have been somehow cut off from the rest of the world.  Lex Luthor's successor, The Contessa, pinpoints the alien Silver Surfer as the cause and is determined to either gain his power for herself, or destroy him. . .
 

Contessa send robotic minions to take down the Surfer, and as they fight, he realizes he still doesn't have complete control over his powers.  Not wanting to harm civilians, Silver Surfer makes a dash for outer space in an attempt to end the fight. . .
 

. . .But he is confused when he flies past what should be the limits of Earth's atmosphere and he finds that he still isn't in space, but crashes into an invisible barrier! 
 
 
IN THE MEANTIME. . .
 
The story shifts back to Superman as he battles The Super Skrull.  Weakened by his exposure to Krypton's red sun, Superman finds himself being badly beaten by the alien creature.  But Superman isn't one to back down from a fight when innocent lives are at stake, even a losing one!  
 

The Super Skrull offers to lower his defenses and give Superman one good punch.  As the alien creature gloats about winning some sort of game, Superman takes the punch, but is thrown back by the Skrull. . .whose body becomes living elastic!
 

When Superman crashes into a wall and debris showers down on the onlookers, a strange thing happens!  Super Skrull begins to rage about how harming innocent bystanders is against the rules, and he uses his elastic body to save them!
 
Superman realizes that something is definitely wrong.  The Kryptonians begin to flicker and change form.  Superman now understands that he's been under some sort of mental control and he's not on Krypton at all!  
 

BACK WITH THE SILVER SURFER. . .
 
After crashing through the invisible barrier above Metropolis, the Surfer is astounded to discover himself standing in a strange place, with a glass-encased miniature city of Metropolis in front of him.  A hole in the glass case is where he must have broken his way through. . .
 

 
As he ponders the strange scene before him, the Surfer is attacked by the automated defenses of something called "The Fortress".  He grabs the bottled city of Metropolis and tries to fight his way out, all the while being taunted by a mysterious voice!  As he battles his way through the defenses, he comes to realize that the voice is actually a living being playing a deadly game with him!
 

BACK WITH SUPERMAN. . .
 
The illusion of Krypton dispelled, Superman takes on the Super Skrull with his full powers. . .but as they fight, Superman reveals that he knows that he's actually fighting his old foe, Mr. Mxyzptlk!  But the joke is on Superman when his opponent instead reveals himself to be a strange little creature calling himself The Impossible Man!
 

Impossible Man tells Superman that he and Mr. Mxyzptlk met in the space between dimensions and became friends.  They agreed to play a game where the two tricksters would swap their greatest adversaries into their own different universes, with the winner being the one who convinced their opponent they were fighting their own enemy first.  Superman had believed he was fighting Mr. Mxyzptlk, so Impossible Man declares himself winner!
 

Now that he understands he's been used as part of an interdimensional game, Superman demands to be returned to his own universe.  Impossible Man tells him that won't be possible until a winner has been declared and he combines his powers with Mr. Mxyzptlk to swap Superman and the Silver Surfer back to where they belong. 
 
 Impossible Man leaves to inform Mr. Mxyzptlk of his victory, leaving Superman stranded on the strange planet.  Shortly afterward, Superman is horrified to discover an ACTUAL Skrull invasion force on its way!
 
 
When Impossible Man teleports to Superman's universe, he discovers an enraged Silver Surfer protecting Metropolis from Mr. Mxyzptlk.  As he declares himself the winner of their game, Impossible Man realizes that Mr. Mxyzptlk has broken the rules by putting innocent lives in danger.  As Mxyzptlk mocks Impossible Man for being so easily tricked, he flies into a rage and the two begin to fight!
 

The two tricksters battle, quickly shifting in and out of the forms of their respective universe's greatest heroes. . .Hulk vs. Doomsday, Plastic Man vs. Super Skrull, Wonder Woman vs. Wolverine, Giant Man vs. The Atom, Cyclops vs. Batman, Spider-Man vs. Mister Miracle, Namor vs. Aquaman, and finally Lobo vs. Galactus!  
 

The battle finally ends when Silver Surfer steps in and uses his powers, demanding that the game be ended and he and Superman be switched back to their own universe.  Impossible Man brings Superman to the Fortress of Solitude so that he can testify Impossible Man won the game, forcing Mr. Mxyzptlk to concede. . .
 

With all four of the players now in the same space and the game ended, Superman and Silver Surfer agree to help Impossible Man and Mr. Mxyzptlk clean up their mess by taking care of the Skrull invaders and putting Metropolis back where it belongs. . .while the two tricksters agree to send Superman and Silver Surfer back to where they belong.
 

And so, working together, Metropolis is returned to its normal place. . .
 

 
. . .And the Skrull invasion force is sent into retreat.
 

At the end of it all, Superman and Silver Surfer have a moment between themselves to reflect on the strange adventure.  They part as friends and hope to meet again, but have been told by Impossible Man and Mr. Mxyzptlk that their memories of this encounter will soon disappear completely.  
 

The End.
 
THE REVIEW:
 
Okay, there it is.  Superman and Silver Surfer being used as pawns in a game between two interdimensional tricksters.  Let's break it on down!
 
I'm gonna be totally honest and up front here.  I intended this review as a tribute to the great George Perez with a bit of a Longbox Junk twist, and the takeaway here is that Perez is known as one of the greatest comic artists and not as one of the great comic writers for a reason.
 
Hold on! Don't get me wrong here!  I'm not saying his writing is bad at all.  I'm just saying that there's a reason he's better known as a legendary artist.  This is actually a really fun story!  
 
I love a good "one and done" comic story and this one definitely fits the bill.  It's not deep.  It's not particularly memorable.  The status quo (at the time) of the two heroes doesn't budge an inch.  It just tells a fun tale of two heroes being caught up in a strange game.  
 
The way that Perez gets Superman and Silver Surfer into each others' universes IS a bit convoluted, and I feel that there must have been a more straightforward story to be told on that end, but other than that, this is just a colorful, action-packed, FUN comic!  And really. . .when it comes down to it, isn't being fun sometimes enough reason to like a comic book?  In my humble opinion, I say YES!
 
So George Perez does a decent job writing this thing, let's take a look at the art.
 
So, Ron Lim has a mighty hard row to hoe being the artist on a comic where George Perez is involved.  Let's face it, when most people see Perez's name on the cover of a comic, they're gonna assume he's got something to do with the art.  Nope. . .not here.
 
Fortunately, Lim steps up to the plate with confidence and knocks it right out of the park!  This comic is simply gorgeous to look at!  Lim has a simple, classic style with nice clean lines and a great touch on facial expressions that brings a lot of character to this comic. 
 
 There are plenty of little "wow!" moments to be found here. . .Just scroll up and look at some of the pages I scanned to see a few.  My favorites mostly revolve around the Silver Surfer.  His introduction to the story, flying through the stars right into the readers face is simply fantastic!
 

CONCLUSION

 
George Perez the writer isn't quite on the same level as George Perez the artist, but overall, this is a comic that is so much fun to read that I don't even care.  The story is fun, the art is fun, this is just a FUN comic from cover to cover!
 
Sometimes we get so caught up in the dramatic stories of our four-color heroes. . .their loves, their losses, their titanic conflicts, their inner angst. . .that we forget that comics can be FUN.  This story is a perfect breath of fresh air.  A nice little break. 
 
 Is it the best story ever written?  No.  Not even close.  But is it FUN?  Yes.  And for that, I give George Perez credit where credit is due.  He may be known more as an artist, and he's definitely going to be remembered that way by most comic fans, but he can sure write a fun story when he wants to!
 
All in all, I found this one shot story to be a nugget of Longbox Junk gold.  Check it out if you just want to read a fun little story that shows a different side of superstar artist George Perez. And not for nothin' but let's not forget page after page of some very nice art by Ron Lim.  It's just a really good comic from end to end.
 
Up Next. . .
 
The review I ORIGINALLY had planned. 
 
A four-issue series that ponders the following question:  What if legendary martial artist Bruce Lee didn't actually die, but was frozen in suspended animation and revived today?  Join me next time and we'll find out!
 
It's Bruce Lee: The Dragon Rises from Magnetic Press (Yeah, I've never heard of them either)
 
Be there or be square!

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LONGBOX JUNK - The World of Krypton

651 views • 310 days ago • (2) Comments

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

 
Sorry about the delays between posts (I actually started writing this one June 12).  Between work really ramping up and my wife being in a car wreck (and in and out of the hospital, doctor appointments and such), I've had to put comic readin' and reviewin' on the back burner for a little bit.  But here I am, back at it!
 
SO. . .
 
If you've been reading Longbox Junk for a while, then you probably already know that I'm not much of a Superman fan.  If you're new to Longbox Junk, Welcome!  I hope you stick around for a while.  And by the way. . .I'm not much of a Superman fan.
 
But what I AM a fan of is a great comic book cover!  So when I spotted these three issues at the flea market recently for two bucks apiece, the cover for #3 immediately caught my eye, and I bought the set.  Seriously. . .scroll down and just LOOK at that cover!  It's a Bronze Age beauty if I ever saw one!
 
So I bought three comics featuring a character I don't even like much because I liked the cover on one of them and didn't want to break up the set.  It's just my sort of random way of collecting comic books.  It's Longbox Junkin' is what it is.
 
BUT. . .
 
When I got the comics home and was looking them up to enter them onto my COMIC BOOK REALM list (where I make a half-hearted effort to keep track of the gigantic pile of random comics I've accumulated over the years), something caught my eye.  Apparently, The World Of Krypton is regarded as the FIRST actual comic book mini-series.
 
I found it a bit strange that a little piece of comic history like this was. . .well. . .Longbox Junk.  In perfect-o condition, these issues are only "worth" about eight bucks each.  And yet I see they hold an acknowledged place in the comic book timeline.  I hadn't really intended ever reading these comics, but NOW my interest in them was raised.
 
Enough introduction! Let's take a look at these Bronze Age relics.  Are they an overlooked and undervalued piece of comic history?  Or do they rightfully belong on a folding table at a Utah flea market, flapping in the wind and sold for less than the price of a Big Mac meal at McDonald's?
 
Let's find out!
 

THE WORLD OF KRYPTON

DC (1979)

 
SCRIPTS: Paul Kupperberg
PENCILS: Howard Chaykin & Alan Kupperberg (Uncredited Layouts)
INKS: Murphy Anderson & Frank Chiaramonte
COVERS: Ross Andru & Giordano (Inks)
 

ISSUE ONE

THE JOR-EL STORY

 
THE COVER:
 
To me, kind of "Meh".  It's nicely-drawn and the background elements of the building and the ship in the sky are interesting, but there's nothing really here that grabs me and makes me want to read this comic.  
 
THE STORY:
 
After Superman discovers a memory tape on the moon that turns out to part of his father's journals, we join the Man of Steel as he learns about Jor-El's early life. . .beginning with his entering school as a brilliant student of science, but unfortunately not quite as brilliant at making friends outside of his studies.  
 
After graduation, Jor-El joins Krypton's fledgling space program, where he studies and then creates anti-gravity.  Unfortunately, his first anti-gravity ship crashes, stranding the young astronaut he has fallen in love with (Lara) and forcing him to travel to Krypton's moon to rescue her.
 
His next project is more successful. . .developing orbital "prison cells" where convicts sleep in suspended animation while undergoing rehabilitating hypno-training, after which they can become part of society again.  Now that he's become a successful and recognized scientist, Jor-El and Lara decide to marry.
 
Unfortunately, their application for marriage (Filed with Krypton's automated Matri-Comp marriage compatibility computer) is denied.  As Lara fights against the man Matri-Comp seems to have arbitrarily assigned her (despite her never meeting him previously), Jor-El fights against a criminal that has sabotaged his prison capsule and battles his pursuers using Jor-El's own stolen anti-gravity technology.
 
After defeating the escaped criminal, clues point toward a rival member of the science council as being behind the plot.  Returning to Lara, Jor-El discovers her hypnotized and declaring her love for a strange man.  Jor-El discovers that the Matri-Comp has developed intelligence and feelings, and has decided to marry Lara through an android proxy.
 
After destroying Matri-Comp and its android, Lara and Jor-El are finally able to marry, and we end the story at their wedding with Superman himself somehow being present, but with an assurance we'll be told why and how in the next issue!
 
To be continued. . .
 
THE REVIEW:
 
Say what you will about Bronze Age comics, but the writers of that era were able to pack a LOT into a little space!  The amount of story to be found in this issue would easily take up 3 or 4 issues of a modern comic.  But for all the information packed into this comic, it's actually a pretty brisk read.  
 
The story jumps from place to place a bit, and the whole back half involving Jor-El fighting against an escaped criminal and a marriage computer gone mad seems tacked on just to provide some action.  Despite these few things, I found this to be a decent read, even though Superman is probably my LEAST favorite comic book character.  
 
I think this story kept my attention mostly because with each page that went by, I kept wondering "How much more stuff can they put in this thing?" This single issue is like a Dagwood sandwich of comic writing!  It's a teetering pile of stuff crammed between two covers!  Even the bare-bones synopsis I provided above takes up six paragraphs.  
 
The art is. . .it's okay.  It compliments the story without trying to take it over.  I saw Howard Chaykin's name on this and was expecting something a little darker and grittier, but I guess this is one of those cases where the inker has more of a hand in things than usual.  The lines are a lot cleaner and sharper than what I would think of when I see Chaykin's name on a comic.
 
 
Overall, I have to tip my hat to Paul Kupperberg on this one.  His writing isn't fancy or flashy, or particularly deep, but he tells a story in one single issue that would take months of modern comics to tell.  It's not all good. . .there are definitely parts that seem tacked on for obligatory action scenes that could have been trimmed. . .but for the most part, this was a decent read.
 
NEXT!

ISSUE TWO

THIS PLANET IS DOOMED!

 
THE COVER:
 
Again, sort of "Meh".  I like the interesting details on the city of Kandor, but other than that, this just seems like a pretty unremarkable Superman comic cover.  Sorry Superman fans.  It's just me, I guess.
 
THE STORY:
 
We pick up the story shortly after Jor-El and Lara's wedding at the end of issue #1.  Jor-El and his father are attacked by an alien ice bird long thought to be extinct during a visit to Antarctic City.  Jor-El's father is severely injured and falls into a coma before being able to tell Jor-El his reason for the visit.
 
Jor-El searches his father's papers and makes a terrifying discovery. . .his father's research indicates that Krypton's planetary core is unstable and within the next few years, the planet is doomed!  Jor-El (and his trusted assistant, Kal-El. . .who is actually Superman trapped in the past on Krypton) wastes no time in trying to find a way to evacuate the planet.
 
Unfortunately, Kryptonian politics delay the project until Jor-El and several other scientists friendly to his cause pool their talents and own resources to at least try and save some of the doomed Kryptonians in gigantic space arks of Jor-El's design when the time comes.
 
Jor-El's father briefly regains consciousness and tells his son that the real reason behind their visit to the Antarctic was because he had discovered a gigantic alien ship in the ice. . .but dies before he can reveal the location.
 
As Jor-El searches for the alien craft, Kal-El designs a robot capable of doing the work of 100 men, and construction of the first Kryptonian evacuation ark begins.  
 
BUT THEN!
 
An unidentified craft attacks the capital city of Kandor, ripping it from the ground, and then shrinking the city before departing!  Along with Kandor goes the ark under construction, the super-construction robot, Jor-El's fellow scientists working with him on the project, AND the supply of rare fuel needed for the starships!  All hope seems lost.
 
With Kandor gone, Krypton is plunged into panic.  As the Kryptonians try to hold their society together without their capital city, Jor-El receives even more bad news. . .his assistant, Kal-El has gone missing (Superman discovered a way off-page to return to Earth and his own timeline).  Despite the crushing hopelessness of it all, Jor-El vows to continue with his project somehow, if only to save his own recently-born son, who is named Kal-El in honor of Jor-El's faithful assistant.
 
With the newly-reformed science council now behind Jor-El's research, he begins investigating other dimensions as an alternative to the gigantic space arks.  During his research, he discovers the Phantom Zone.  It's unsuitable for general habitation, but Jor-El convinces the Science Council that it would be a better place for criminals than the expensive system of orbiting suspended animation prison satellites he created years ago (in issue #1).
 
AND THEN. . .
 
Jor-El finally discovers the location of the crashed alien ship that his father had discovered!  It seems to hold all the answers needed to help the Kryptonians escape into space locked inside its strange technology.  Unfortunately, during a test flight, a criminal named Jax-Ur fires a powerful rocket, causing the alien ship to crash before completely destroying Krypton's moon, Wegthor!
 
Jax-Ur is captured and is the first criminal sentenced to the Phantom Zone, but the loss of the alien ship's technology and the destruction of the launching facility on Wegthor together spell the end of Jor-El's rescue plans for the people of Krypton.
 
To be continued. . .
 
THE REVIEW:
 
I THOUGHT there was a lot going on in the first issue.  The second issue ups the ante at least a few notches by bombarding the reader with so much story that even a major event like the capital city of Kandor literally being ripped from the planet and stolen by Brainiac takes up ONE page.
 
That's it.  Right there.  Capital City gone.
 
While I admired Kupperberg's compressed storytelling in the first issue, here it just seems like too much.  The story jumps from place to place so quickly that it's difficult to get invested in any one thing before it's gone and you're reading about something else.  Even writing the synopsis above, I glossed over several plot points for the sake of space and readability. 
 
Extremely compressed storytelling aside, this issue also seems strange because Superman himself plays a fairly large supporting role, with practically no explanation as to why or how beyond one single tiny editor box: 
 
We don't need no stinkin' exposition!
 
Reading this comic in 2021, I was able to hit the internet for more information. . .discovering that this story (for some strange reason) ties heavily into Superman #141, from 1960, which tells the story of how Superman accidentally ended up on Krypton in the past, got to know his parents, and fell in love, before managing to escape despite not having any powers under the red Kryptonian sun.
 
It seems like an odd story path in tying so strongly into a single Superman issue published almost TWENTY YEARS before the story at hand. . .especially during the Bronze Age, where comics weren't generally kept and collected the way they are now.  One wonders what the thinking was behind the idea, when there was really no way at the time for the average reader to go back and reference. . .well. . .just about ANYTHING not in the card catalogue at a library or in an encyclopedia (For my younger readers, they were a sort of multi-volume printed versions of Wikipedia that took up a lot of space.  Just kidding.  You know what an encyclopedia is, right?  , I feel old).
 
ANYWAY. . .
 
It just seems really strange to tie a good chunk of this story to a single comic book issue published in 1960.  Beyond the single editor note pictured above, Superman is just sort of. . .there. . .in full Superman garb for most of this issue without any further explanation.  Maybe they were afraid a Superman comic without Superman wouldn't sell?  
 
Overall, this issue suffers from some extremely compressed storytelling that causes the story to jump from place to place without any real time to dwell on any single story element.  Combined with the strange decision to tie this issue in with an issue of Superman published twenty years previously, this whole second chapter of World of Krypton seems a bit confusing.  It's not BAD, mind you.  It's just a little hard for me to get into.
 
NEXT!

ISSUE THREE

THE LAST DAYS OF KRYPTON

 
THE COVER:
 
Now HERE'S the winner!  What a glorious comic book cover!  I'm not even a Superman fan and I absolutely LOVE this cover!  The colors, the composition, the. . .everything! There's not a single thing I don't like about this piece of comic art.  It was worth buying this set of comics for this cover alone!
 
THE STORY:
 
Continuing from the previous issue, we follow Jor-El shortly after Jax-Ur is sentenced to the Phantom Zone for destroying Krypton's moon, Wegthor.  Because of the destruction, the Science Council votes to ban all further space travel and rocket research, despite the protests of Jor-El.
 
Unable to convince the Science Council of the need to evacuate the planet, Jor-El continues his research on his own, knowing that he will be condemned to the Phantom Zone if caught.  Suspecting Jor-El of disobeying their command, the Science Council secretly assigns an agent to follow and watch him.
 
Jor-El discovers a large piece of debris from the destroyed alien ship (from issue #2) orbiting Krypton and calculates it will land in the Scarlet Jungle.  He suspects it is the remains of the ship's engine.  As he waits for it to crash so he can retrieve the technology, Jor-El continues his rocket research, not suspecting that the Council's Agent, Par-Es is watching.
 
When the debris from the alien ship finally crash lands, Jor-El travels to the Scarlet Jungle.  Realizing he's being followed, he subdues Par-Es using his anti-gravity belt (that he invented in issue #1) and brings the wreckage back to his lab.
 
As earthquakes rock Krypton, Jor-El works to the point of exhaustion trying to build at least one working rocket to evacuate his wife and son from the doomed planet.  Unknown to him, he has contracted Scarlet Jungle Fever, which makes him weak and unable to resist the mental commands of a group of Krypton's worst criminals (including General Zod) plotting to escape the Phantom Zone.
 
Realizing something is wrong with her husband, Lara foils the escape plot and helps Jor-El recover from the fever.  He wastes no time in continuing to build a rocket, and finally manages to complete his work as the earthquakes wracking the planet cause the city to crumble around him.
 
Jor-El puts his son into the rocket, but Lara refuses to go with him. . .preferring to die with her husband and trusting that their son will thrive on his new homeworld of Earth.  As the rocket with baby Kal-El launches into space, the planet explodes behind him!
 
In the end, we witness baby Kal-El being found by the Kents in Kansas and we return to the present day, where Superman vows never to forget Jor-El and Lara, or the destroyed world of Krypton.
 
The End.
 
THE REVIEW:
 
Okay then.  Finally we get to the meat of the story. . .the destruction of Krypton.  This issue is a little more tightly-focused than the other two.  There are still some seemingly random plot threads thrown in (the attempted Phantom Zone escape comes directly to mind) that look like they're there to pad the length out and add a little action to the story, but not nearly as many as in previous issues.
 
Because of the tighter focus and relative lack of digressions, this issue is probably the best of the bunch, story-wise.  It's a relentless countdown from the Science Council outlawing space research to the explosion of Krypton, shown to the reader in a single glorious splash page. . .
 

The actual ending of the story, with baby Kal-El being found and Superman reflecting on his parents' lives, seems a bit rushed.  But then again, what should I expect after a dramatic countdown to a planetary explosion?
 
Overall, I enjoyed this issue a lot.  Where the first two seemed a bit overwhelming as they piled on information and story digressions, this issue was tighter and more focused, delivering a page-turner of a story that kept me invested even though I already knew the ending.
 

CONCLUSION

 
While doing a bit of basic research to try and ease my confusion over Superman himself playing a supporting role in issue #2 of this series, I discovered that MOST of this series is actually supposed to tie together a series of 27 "Fabulous World of Krypton" back-up features that had appeared in Superman comics during the 70's.  This explains why seemingly random story digressions kept appearing throughout.  
 
I also learned that the overall story was originally supposed to appear in DC's "Showcase" series as part of the lead-in to the Superman movie in 1978.  But then the movie was delayed and Showcase was cancelled before that could happen, leading to this interesting experiment by DC to build a coherent continuity to Superman's past becoming the very first comic book limited series.
 
Knowing that this whole affair was actually built from barely-related story elements written over the course of about twenty years gave me a new perspective on things.  Where I did see it as a bit of a mess, but still a sort of fun read.  I now see it as a valiant attempt to make one story out of many, with the explosion of Krypton the established ending.
 
Even knowing the story behind the story, I'm still not sure they entirely succeeded.  I called the first issue a "Dagwood Sandwich" because of all the story points stacked inside a single comic.  I'm thinking that, reading this with the benefit of 40 years' worth of hindsight, the editors might have done the writer a disservice by trying to cram EVERYTHING that had been written about Krypton up to that point into a three issue story.  
 
The final issue sort of bears this out with its tighter focus on the inevitable end of Krypton.  If the writer had maintained that focus through the whole series instead of having to diverge to things like the tale of Krypton's automated Marriage Computer somehow developing feelings for Superman's mother (from issue #1, for one example), this strange little piece of comic book history MIGHT not be relegated to the bargain bin because the story would be a lot more readable than it is.
 
As it stands, World of Krypton (mostly the first two issues) is just overstuffed to the point that it's bursting with things that don't move the actual story along.  Don't get me wrong. . .it's not BAD.  It's actually well-written and the art is interesting, but the story jumps from place to place as it tries to incorporate story elements from almost 30 different sources.
 
At the end of the day, not being much of a Superman fan, I found this series to be interesting more for the story behind the story than the actual story at hand.  If you are a Superman fan and are interested in "Pre-Crisis" Superman continuity, you'll probably get more mileage out of the actual story itself than I did.  
 
I'd say that just for its place in comic book history as the first limited series, World of Krypton deserves to be read at least once.  If you spot it in the bargain bin, go ahead and give it a look.
 
Up Next. . .
 
It's July!  I'm a bit late off the starting line, but how about some Captain America?
 
Be there or be square!

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Longbox Junk Halloween - DCeased #1

5706 views • Oct 29, '19 • (0) Comments

Welcome back to Longbox Junk. . .the blog packed FULL of comic reviews nobody asked me for!

Even though the witching hour draws close, we're still having a bit of Halloween fun here at Longbox Junk by taking a look at some of the spooky stuff hiding in the dark corners of my (and my daughter's) comic collection.

It's been a pretty nice Halloween season here at Longbox Junk if I DO say so myself. So far we've seen Vampires (Vegetarian and otherwise), Killer Easter Bunnies,  A sci-fi take on Jekyll & Hyde, Werewolves, Frankenstein's Monster, Spirits of Vengeance, Prairie Witches, and some generally nasty people doing nasty things (like burying each other alive).  So what's missing here?

Zombies.  We need some zombies!

And so here's some zombies.

What we have here is a fresh chunk of Longbox Junk that's on the stands even as I write this.  I only have the first issue because I basically bought it for the extremely Halloween-y zombie Batman variant cover and somehow have kept missing the following issues.  I'm sure I'll spot the whole set eventually in a bargain bin, but for now I just have this first issue, so let's take a look at it!

DCEASED

ISSUE #1

DC (2019)

 
 
So I bought this thing for the cover. Let's take a look at the cover, shall we?  
 
*shudders* Now THAT's some creep-tastic cover art right there!  Fransesco Mattina outdoes himself with a nightmarish vision of one of DC's greatest heroes gone straight to zombie !  Just look at the detail in things like Batman's nasty teeth and jaundiced eyes.  This is NOT the Batman you want to meet in a dark alley.  Very well done!
 
That's the cover.  Let's get into the story.
 

GOING VIRAL

SCRIPT: Tom Taylor
PENCILS: Trevor Hairsine & Stefano Gaudiano (pgs. 1-6, 15-26)
                    James Harren (pgs. 7-14)
COVER: Francesco Mattina (Variant)
 
The story goes like this. . .
 
We begin with the Justice League defeating Darkseid and forcing him to leave after he invades Earth. But as he goes, Darkseid gives the League an ominous farewell that doesn't quite sit right with the heroes. . .
 
 
Indeed, all is not as it seems.  Darkseid's invasion was merely a distraction.  His true purpose was to capture the hero known as Cyborg. . .now held prisoner on Apokolips.  Darkseid's search for the Anti-Life Equation has led him to believe that the second half of the Equation rests in Cyborg's technology. . .
 
 
Darkseid's scientist, Desaad, informs his master that although the combining of the two halves of the Anti-Life Equation is possible, the Equation will be lost entirely if Cyborg dies in the process.  To ensure that Cyborg doesn't die, Darkseid summons Death and uses him to slightly alter the Anti-Life Equation to make sure Cyborg survives the process. . .
 
 
The change that Darkseid makes to the Anti-Life Equation has disastrous effects as the corrupted Equation combining the physical and technological drives Darkseid insane.  Desaad quickly transports Cyborg back to Earth to try and stop the spread of the Techo-Organic Virus, but he's too late.  An insane Darkseid destroys Apokolips. . .
 
 
 
Cyborg reappears on Earth in Metropolis, and his internal systems immediately connect him to the internet and all surrounding online devices.  Cyborg is horrified to see the Techno-Organic Virus he's infected with begin to quickly spread among the people nearby.  He is unable to do anything to stop the Virus as people begin to go insane and tear each other apart. . .
 
 
In the meantime, Superman is putting together a plan with Big Barda and Mister Miracle to rescue Cyborg from Apokolips, not knowing that Cyborg has already been sent back by Desaad.  He hears the screams of people from the street and sees the spreading insanity.  Realizing  that the situation is already out of hand and getting worse, Superman rushes to his wife and son. . .
 
 
While Superman is busy saving his family from the spreading madness, the scene shifts to the Batcave, where Batman is monitoring the situation on isolated systems safe from the Techno-Organic Virus. . .and the news isn't good.  
 
The computer estimates that there are ALREADY 600 million infected people, and at the current rate of spread BILLIONS will be infected in a matter of days.  This is definitely a problem Batman can't punch a solution to!
 
 
 
Batman quickly sets off an EMP pulse in Wayne Manor above, but he's too late.  As the Dark Knight heads upstairs to check on things, he is attacked by an infected Nightwing and Robin (Tim Drake)!
 
 
After a brutal battle with his infected partners, Batman orders Alfred to escape and we are left with a cliffhanger scene of Batman being bitten by Nightwing. . .
 
 
 
The End.
 
Okay then.  There it is.  It's not a "Dead Rising Up And Slowly Wantin' To Eat Your Braaaaaains" sort of zombie apocalypse.  More of a "Virus Driving People Insane Enough To Kill You, So RUN!" sort of thing.  Despite the unique connection to the DC Universe by having the virus originate as a corrupted form of the Anti-Life Equation, it's still. . .well. . .it's just another zombie apocalypse.
 
Don't get me wrong.  It's not bad.  It's actually pretty good and makes me want to pick up the next issue.  The idea of a zombie apocalypse in the DC Universe IS an interesting one.  It's just that, do we REALLY need more zombies?  Okay, sure.  There's superheroes in this zombie story.  But really, hasn't that also been done before?
 
There's going to be inevitable comparisons between this and Marvel Zombies. . .but from what I've read of Marvel Zombies (which admittedly isn't very much, just a few issues here and there), they are two different things.  Sort of like how there's a definite difference between a Corvette and a Pickup Truck even though at the heart of it, they're both basically automobiles.  So despite what you may think, DCeased is NOT a copy of Marvel Zombies. 
 
The writer does a fine job.  I want to see what happens next.  There's nothing wrong with the writing.  The art is good, but not great.  I actually enjoyed the chunkier, darker look of the art during the Apokolips sections. . .it reminds me of the artist everyone else hated on the recent X-Force series that I liked (Dylan Burnett) enough that I pulled out an X-Force issue to see if it was the same guy.  I guess I just like that chunky, dark sort of style.
 
So nothing wrong with the writing or art.  It's just. . .zombies, I guess.  Maybe they could have told the story of a Techno-Organic Virus destroying the world without zombies? Maybe? I think they could have.  
 

CONCLUSION

 
What we have here is a well-written story with a DC Universe-specific angle on the extremely well-worn framework of a zombie apocalypse backed up with some good art.  It's interesting enough for me to want to get the next issue, but not interesting enough to make me want to order it if my local shop doesn't have the next one sitting there.
 
If you're a fan of zombie stories, then definitely pick this one up.  If you're getting a bit tired of zombies then this isn't really something you'll miss out on if you don't read it.  If you don't like zombie stories in the first place, then this won't change your mind one bit.
 
Up Next. . .
 
I think there's still time for at least one more piece of Longbox Junk Halloween fun!
 
Be there or be square.

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Sorry this is dropping a bit later than usual.  I took a few vacation days from work.  Because I deserve it.

But here we are now, right?  Let's go!

Welcome back to my unnecessary renumbering and reboot of the Longbox Junk blog!  To celebrate my 175th comic review that nobody ever asked me for, I'm taking a look at some individual #175 issues lurking in my (and my daughter's) collection.  This time out, I've pulled Superman #175 from my daughter's longboxes.

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Lobo is one of those characters I really like. . .but only in small doses.  

Some of my favorite mini's and one shots of my entire collection are Lobo.  With a great creative team and done right, Lobo is one of the most hilarious characters out there.  Unfortunately, the character never really seemed able to sustain a regular series.  I guess it's hard to keep the right level of comedy and brutality going long term.

The series at hand is NOT Lobo as you might know him.  It's a highly-controversial reboot of the character done during DC's New 52 days that seems to be pretty much hated by. . .well. . .everyone.

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Longbox Junk - A Death In The Family

8375 views • Dec 6, '17 • (0) Comments

"A Death In The Family" is a four issue "event" that, although it's pretty much considered a standalone story, ran in the regular ongoing Batman series in late 1988, early 1989 (Issues #426-429).  If you skip around the internet a bit, you're going to run across the story on just about any "Top (insert number here) Batman Stories" list you find. 

But is it really any good when a hard look is taken at it?  Or are people just knee-jerking it onto "Best Story" lists because of the impact on comic book history of the death of a major supporting character (SPOILER: Jason Todd Robin)?  Does the story itself hold up under scrutiny, or is it coasting along on the noteriety gained by having comic fans actually call a 900 number (anyone remember those?) and decide if Robin died or not?


Let's find out!

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Longbox Junk - World's Finest (Vol. 4)

6549 views • Jan 24, '17 • (0) Comments

It's a mini-series with a giant Batman/Superman robot AND Robin body shaming Batgirl!

What more could one ask for?

WORLD'S FINEST

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