Tag: Nightwing

Brainiac On Banjo #090: Powers Roughly Equivalent of God’s

Brainiac On Banjo #090: Powers Roughly Equivalent of God’s

Deep in the dark / I don’t need the light / There’s a ghost inside me / It all belongs to the other side / We live, we love, we lie – “The Spectre” written by Gunnar Greve, Jesper Borgen, Tommy Laverdi, Marcus Arnbekk, Anders Froen, Alan Olav Walker, and Lars Kristian Rosness, 2018

The comment expressed in our headline above was made by the fabled Jules Feiffer in his groundbreaking 1965 book The Great Comic Book Heroes. It was groundbreaking because Feiffer was the first to take the history and craft of comic books seriously — so seriously, in fact, that it was excerpted in Playboy.

The Spectre was created by Jerry Siegel, and if truth be told it’s probably my favorite of his creations — including the Big Red S. Feiffer was right: it’s a bitch to write a series where the lead isn’t really a “hero” and yet has, as Jules noted, powers roughly equivalent of God’s. And we’re not talking about the New Testament’s cosmic muffin — this is the Old Testament’s hoary thunderer, and The Spectre is his personal instrument of vengeance. Yup, the after-life might not be as sweet as you’d hoped.

I don’t know if the kids who were reading comics at the every end of 1939 were ready for that. Within two years the series was lightened up by a bumbling guardian angel called “Percival Popp, the Super Cop.” Think Frank Capra, but stupid. The Spectre became a founding member of the Justice Society, but when World War II ended he was out of the group, out of More Fun, and living off of Officer Popp’s police pension.

Still, the character made an impression and when Julie Schwartz was looking for another golden age character to revive after The Flash, Green Lantern, The Atom, and Hawkman, he chose The Spectre. That was odd, but with the arguable exception of Zatanna (or, really, her dad Zatara), The Spectre was the first character he brought back that Julie hadn’t edited during the Golden Age. Despite some decent scripts from Gardner Fox and artwork from the always amazing Murphy Anderson, it just didn’t click. The series was handed over to a relative newcomer named Neal Adams, who did some truly wonderful artwork, but it also did not find success.

But the guy still remained in the hearts of DC’s creative community. Editor Joe Orlando needed a new lead for Adventure Comics, so he brought in Michael Fleisher and Jim Aparo and let them go nuts. The Spectre took this “vengeance of God” thing to a fundamentalist level, and he would kill the bad guys with such creative cruelty that they might have made EC artist “Ghastly” Graham Ingles genuflect at his porcelain throne. It was great. And it lasted 10 issues.

Since then The Spectre has been floating around the DC Universe in all its forms, incarnations, and mistakes. Lots — and I mean lots — of A-listers handled his adventures, including my buddies John Ostrander and Tom Mandrake. They enjoyed one of the longest runs.

So it was with absolutely no surprise whatsoever that I stumbled across a DC Digital First thing called Ghosts. At first I thought that odd — thus far they hadn’t done resurrections of their mystery anthologies in their new digital line. Then I saw “Ghosts” was just another way of saying “The Spectre” and then I noted it was written by Dan Jurgens.

I really like Dan’s work, both as an artist and a writer. We worked together on Green Arrow for a long time, and instead of just leaving the series to do something new, he told me he was making a play to do Superman and, if he got it, he’d be moving on. As much as I liked Dan’s stuff — he and Mike Grell made a great team — he certainly earned the right to take a shot at the Man of Steel. I successfully fought back my overwhelming desire to mindfuck him into staying, although I did think about it. Dan did some remarkable work with the brightest of DC’s corporate jewels. Right now he’s writing Nightwing, and is damn good.

Dan, along with artists Scott Eaton and Wayne Faucher, did a fine job on the story. I don’t know if Ghosts is a one-shot or a play to resurrect The Spectre again, this time without having to resort to paper and staples. They were somewhat restrained in their story… if you compare it to the Fleisher / Aparo run. Then again, a head-on collision between two 10-car passenger trains would seem equally restrained.

DC has done a number of very entertaining stories in their almost-daily Digital First line, unburdened by a continuity that mutates as often as amoebas commit mitosis. Seeing The Spectre pop up in this format evoked a response characters rarely have when they cross his path: I was pleasantly surprised.

Continued After the Next Page #015: On the Passing of a Giant

Continued After the Next Page #015: On the Passing of a Giant

There are a lot of amazing people that make and have made great comic books. Some of the people who made the comics of my youth are now friends, if not, at least, acquaintances. There are however some people whose names are inscribed in the mythical pantheon of comic creators. Names like Kirby, Lee, Ditko, Toth, Raymond, Wood, Eisner, Adams, Buscema. Another name that is included in that list is O’Neil.

Dennis J. “Denny” O’Neil passed away last week. A couple of years ago, I got to meet Denny at the Baltimore Comic Con and spend some time with him. I want to share what I learned from him, but first I need to explain what he meant to me.

As a young student of comics, (I mean, I wrote the first research paper in my life about the history of comics when I was in seventh grade.) I learned about O’Neil and [Neal] Adams‘ critical run on Batman and later Green Lantern & Green Arrow. There was a level of realism that they brought to comics that seemed to counteract the turn that DC made towards camp in the 1960s. That realism mirrored what Lee, Kirby, and Ditko had done at Marvel, but was also quite unique.

I don’t want to call Denny’s writing dark or gritty. I kind of have the feeling that he wouldn’t like that. His characters were flawed, like all humans, and despite great wealth or power, they had to find solutions to problems like the rest of us. His characters were nuanced and multidimensional in a way that set them apart and inspired later creators.

The first book that I remember reading new from Denny was The Question. I had read some of his Iron Man earlier, but I wasn’t as aware of creators at that point. The Question, written by Denny with art by Denys Cowan, inks by Rick Magyar, colors by Tatjana Wood, letters by Gaspar Saladino and later Willie Shubert, and shepherded by Mike Gold, lit my hair on fire. It was a story full of mystery and pain and a struggling hero just trying to do what was right. My mind was opened by the complexity and brilliance of the art and the richness of the stories. It made me understand the vast breadth of storytelling that was possible in comics and it, along with Mike Grell‘s The Longbow Hunters, was the story that pushed me intellectually as a comic reader.

I think most of us have that time where we step away from comics. Whether it is intentional or not, there is a time as we hit adulthood that we stop buying new comics and focus on other things. That happened to me during college.

By mid 1990s I was married and had a job. You know. Adult stuff. One day in late 1995, I saw a comic book on a newsstand that caught my eye. It was Nightwing Volume #1 Issue #1. It was my favorite character in his very first solo series, and that Brian Stelfreeze cover was exquisite. I had to buy it. I loved it. It was written by Denny and immediately captivated my imagination. I remembered how much I loved comics and began to slowly start collecting and reading again. Denny brought me back to my passion. Continue reading “Continued After the Next Page #015: On the Passing of a Giant”

Continued After the Next Page #012: Finding a Stray When Missing Your Nightwing

Continued After the Next Page #012: Finding a Stray When Missing Your Nightwing

For many people, Robin, the Boy Wonder was the first super hero that they identified with. Whether it was from the Batman live-action TV show, or from Super-Friends cartoons, or on the pages of comic books, there was something enticing about the young sidekick to the cool and powerful superhero, Batman. I was very much that person.

Art by George Perez

My affinity for Robin became specific. I am a fan of Dick Grayson, the original Robin and also Nightwing.  As a pre-teen and teen, The New Teen Titans, by Marv Wolfman and George Pérez, was my jam, to use a term I am far too old to use. As Dick Grayson grew past the Teen Wonder persona in the comics, I was growing, and while other youngsters took up the mantle of Robin, I remained committed to my Grayson fandom.

Over the decades, my passion for the character only grew. Many of my comic creator friends, and anyone who has read previous episodes of this column, know how much Nightwing/Dick Grayson means to me. However, that character has been effectively removed from the current DC Comics Universe for the past eighteen months. Continue reading “Continued After the Next Page #012: Finding a Stray When Missing Your Nightwing”

Brainiac On Banjo #052: Sidekick Bastards

Brainiac On Banjo #052: Sidekick Bastards

Shortly after Hitler invaded Poland, the powers that were decided Batman needed a sidekick. Not to prop up sales – by all indications, those early issues of Detective Comics were doing fine. No, the good folks at National Comics decided the grim and gritty pointy-eared crusader with the cape needed a young sidekick, someone with whom their young readers could relate.

Maybe. Batman had been a soloist for only one year, so we really don’t know. But we do know that Batman and Robin together were exceptionally popular. Therefore, Robin begat Speedy, Bucky, Toro, Sun Girl (who clearly was a young adult), Ebony White, Captain Marvel Jr., Kid Flash, Kid Terror, Aqualad, Supergirl, Mary Marvel, Dusty, Tiger, Wing, Sandy, Speedboy … I could go on and on, but I won’t because I like you. Well, most of you. Sidekicks became a real thing, an inseparable part of the American superhero myth for at least a half-century. Continue reading “Brainiac On Banjo #052: Sidekick Bastards”

Everything We Read This Week – 01/09/2019

Everything We Read This Week – 01/09/2019

Welcome back to Everything We Read This Week.  This is the place that we make our weekly trip through this week’s pull-list. It features mostly spoiler-free brief analysis and commentary of each book.

This is a great week for new comic books. There are some series that begin, some that end, some that get more interesting, and some that get crazy! We reviewed a bunch of them below. There are even more that we did not even have time to get to and review for you.  We say this often, but seriously, GO OUT AND FIND SOME COMICS TO READ!! They are good for you.

We reviewed books from DC, Marvel, Image, Black Crown, Abstract Studios, and Ahoy Comics. As always, we hope you might find what we say interesting enough to try some of these comics.

Marvel Comics tribute covers to Stan Lee continue this week. Also, it must be noted that Clayton Cowles seems to be the busiest letterer in the business based on the number of books he worked on this week. Fortunately, he is very good at what he does.

Also, Don’t forget to check our hotlist of new books debuting this month over here. You will see books that we were looking forward to with the designation Hot #1 by them. There are a few of them out this week and they are really good.

DISCLAIMER: 

There is a 4 star rating system. It is simple and not to be taken too seriously as everyone gets their own impressions of art. These ratings are just to give our readers an idea of what we thought of the book, and they will be on the generous side normally. So don’t expect to see a lot of 1 Stars. After all, it’s not often that you have a bad book on your pull-list.

The rating system is as follows:

Great

 Good

 OK

 Not Good

Also look for the book we deemed Favorite Book of the Week. It is the comic that we like the most this week. The criteria are difficult to pin down, but suffice to say it is a book that moved us.

And here are the books we read in alphabetical order:

Continue reading “Everything We Read This Week – 01/09/2019”

With Further Ado #022: The Bat and the Matt: Batbooks and the Holiday

With Further Ado #022: The Bat and the Matt: Batbooks and the Holiday

On several Christmases, Santa gifted me a plethora of Batman toys. My favorite Bat-gifts? Well, I especially loved the Trans-o-gram Batmobile.  My dad and I even built a cardboard Batcave for it!  (#BestDadEver) I always yearned for the Batman Captain Action set, but Santa could never find one. My (wonderful) mother ended up sewing one for me. (#BestMomEver) And I am pretty sure I looked quite dashing pedaling during rush hour in the living room, riding the Marx Batmobile.

(By the way, the commercial for that one is classic. Check it out here!)

After a few more Christmases, I still like Batman but I’d graduate from toys to books. The quintessential Bat-book for me is still Batman from the 30s to the 70s, a collection of stories wrapped up in that gorgeous Infantino & Anderson dustjacket.  But many subsequent Batbooks would follow on many subsequent Christmases. And now I really love giving Bat-books too. It’s never too early for brainwashing, after all.  Continue reading “With Further Ado #022: The Bat and the Matt: Batbooks and the Holiday”

Everything We Read This Week – 12/19/2018

Everything We Read This Week – 12/19/2018

Welcome back as we make our weekly trip through this week’s pull-list. It features mostly spoiler-free brief analysis and commentary of each book.

There are a lot of good books out this week. We reviewed a bunch of them below. We reviewed books from DC, Marvel, Image, Lion Forge, Albatross, and AHOY. Make sure you go find some comics to read.  Hopefully, you might find what we say interesting enough to try some of these comics. Keep in mind this big list is still not all the books we have on our list, just what we have read.

This week Marvel Comics did a tribute to Stan Lee  for all the covers of the week. There is minimal dressing on the cover and the opening two pages are black. They are followed by lovely Phil Noto portrait sketch of Stan. It is a touching effort to remember all that Stan did for Marvel.

Also, Don’t forget to check our hotlist of new books debuting this month over here. You will see books that we were looking forward to with the designation Hot #1 by them. There are a quite of few of them out this week and they are really good.

DISCLAIMER: 

There is a 4 star rating system. It is simple and not to be taken too seriously as everyone gets their own impressions of art. These ratings are just to give our readers an idea of what we thought of the book, and they will be on the generous side normally. So don’t expect to see a lot of 1 Stars. After all, it’s not often that you have a bad book on your pull-list.

The rating system is as follows:

Great

 Good

 OK

 Not Good

And here are the books we read in alphabetical order:

Continue reading “Everything We Read This Week – 12/19/2018”

With Further Ado #: 2018 Holiday Gift Guide

It’s that time again!  Looking for that last minute gift? Or looking for a last minute gift to put on Santa’s list for you? Here’s some suggestions, some you’d expect from me and a few surprises.

THE LOST ART OF KREIGH COLLINS
Volume 1: The Complete Mitzi McCoy

Edited and restored by the artist’s grandson, Brian E. Collins, with an introduction by Eisner Award-winning author Frank M. Young.

If you listen to John Siuntres excellent Word Balloon Podcast, you may have just learned about this book. Siuntres interviewed the man behind it all, the artist’s grandson, Brian E. Collins.  You can give it a listen here, and I’d recommend every episode of this long-running podcast. 

I first stumbled across Kreigh Collins while researching at the Syracuse University Archives and I immediately became a fan.  Lost Art Books just launched the initial volume in a new series devoted to this underappreciated illustrator and comic artist collecting (for the first time) his syndicated Sunday strip Mitzi McCoy in its entirety.

Kreigh Collins (1908-74) had a wanderlust that led to a lifetime of adventures, whether it was leaving his humble midwestern roots to study the masters in the Louvre and hone his craft painting on the banks of the Seine or getting knifed in Morocco while boating and painting his way through North Africa. But equally strong was the draw of his adopted home in Michigan, which is where he launched and set his first syndicated newspaper strip, Mitzi McCoy, in 1948. It didn’t take long, though, for wanderlust to strike again, rendering Mitzi but a precursor to Collins’ eventual 20-year run on the picaresque adventure comic, Kevin the BoldLost Art Books celebrates these beautiful beginnings with this first-ever complete collection of Collins’ Mitzi McCoy.

Drawn as well as scripted by Collins, Mitzi McCoy showcased the artist’s skill as an illustrator and storyteller. His picturesque landscapes, lovely character designs, and thrilling action sequences brimmed with detail and charm, and the strip’s ensemble cast rotated in and out of the spotlight taking turns as protagonists in the dozen story arcs collected in this volume.

Available  for $34.95 at comic shops and directly from the publisher here.

 

EAGLEMOSS AND GIMCRACKS

I love reading about the origins of the modern Yuletide Season, and every year I trot out my copy of The Battle for Christmas by Stephen Nissenbaum. It’s a great read and seems to have spawned a mini-trend in holiday publishing. In this book, Nissenbaum talked a bit about about Gimcracks.  I’m still not sure what a Gimcrack is, but I think it’s meant to mean some sort of novelty or treasure.  And for modern equivalent, I kind of think of the amazing collectibles from Eaglemoss.  They really are miniature treasures.

Eaglemoss, an entrepreneurial UK company with a top-notch US team, has been on the leading edge of producing licensed merchandise for quite some time.  Here’s a few of their most impressive recent releases:

Star Trek

Maybe it’s because my desk is always so uncluttered (a-hem!), but I just love the model Star Trek starships that Eaglemoss has been producing for several years now.


From the new show, Star Trek: Discovery, comes the USS Buran. It’s the ship that the enigmatic Captain Lorca was on and like that character, it looks downright mean.   It  is $54.95 if you order directly from Eaglemoss and at fine comic shops nationwide

Eaglemoss’ new XL editions are 8 ½”  to 10 ½” inches long, which is oversized compared to the rest of their line.  My favorites are the USS Reliant (which also was essentially a “bad guy ship”) and a quintessential Star Trek vessel, the Enterprise 1701 A.   The XL editions list for $74.95 and are available from Eaglemoss here and here.

 

 

The Star Trek Shipyards book is a place to get lost for a few hours.  It’s a virtual encyclopedia of Star Trek vehicles.   It’s the type of book that’s tough to but down but easy to pick up, and you can do it out here. The book comes with a slipcase and a small starship model, all for $49.95.

ONE OF THOSE OTHER SPACE SHOWS

 

But in space, or the TV version of space, it’s not only about Star Trek!  Eaglemoss just launched their new Battlestar Galactica ships. The Viper, which always seemed liked the space versions of a WWII Corsair to me, was always a favorite. It’s usually $25, but for this holiday season Eaglemoss has it on sale here for just $21.21.

 

 

 

 

 

DC COMIC HEROES

Speaking of WWII, the Bombshell Wonder Woman figure channels the classic “We Can Do It’ pose from J. Howard Miller’s classic patriotic poster. This one has been reduced to $17.95 so get it while you can now!

 

Eaglemoss also offers gorgeous busts. Their DC line is professional, spot-on and bring a a sense of fun to it all. The standouts are for me are their busts for Nightwing and Harley Quinn.  Each are usually about $25 bucks, but they are on sale for $21.21 here and here.

 

 


PULP REPRINTS for the BATMAN FAN IN YOUR LIFE

Do you need something for a Batman fan who has everything already? You know the type.  Maybe you are the type.  You never know what to get them because they already have it.

Here’s a suggestion that I bet will be new to them: The Black Bat reprints from Anthony Tollin’s Sanctum Books.  I just started reading one (“The Black Bat’s Crusade” in #4) and it is way too much fun.  This adventure is a little bit Batman, a little bit Daredevil and a little bit of The Shadow. Each issue reprints two vintage adventures and they are all available at Adventure House.

MODERN PULP from AIRSHIP 27 –

THE ADVENTURES OF CAPTAIN GRAVES  by Thomas McNulty

Airship27 publishes many modern pulp thrillers each year. This one features Captain Elliot Graves and his ship, The Reaper’s Scythe sailing the exotic waters of the South Pacific.  But the mystery starts in 1944, as Captain Graves has disappeared without a trace, his ship supposedly sinking off the coast of Australia with all hands lost. Eight years later, reporter Bill Harrison finds Graves living in Honolulu and manages to persuade him to recount the events of his last and greatest adventure. The legendary sea captain then reveals for the first time what actually happened on a remote South Sea island that changed his life forever.

Writer Thomas McNulty spins a fast-paced tale of two-fisted men, beautiful women and lush island paradises where both heaven and hell await. My Uncle Mike just read it too and even he said he liked it!  Available for just $16.99 here

 

 

* * *


And remember, it’s not all about stuff either.  I always like to suggest OXFAM as a choice to consider for pulp culture geeks – they do great work and their origin story seems like it’s right out a comic. Learn more here.  And in the meantime, I hope you and yours have a blessed Yuletide Season.

Everything We Read This Week – 12/5/2018

Everything We Read This Week – 12/5/2018

Welcome back as we make our weekly trip through this week’s pull-list. It features mostly spoiler-free brief analysis and commentary of each book.

There are a ton of really good books out this week. We reviewed nineteen of them below. We reviewed books from DC, Marvel, Image, Dark Horse, Titan, AHOY, Aftershock, and Albatross Funny Books. Make sure you go find some comics to read.  Hopefully, you might find what we say interesting enough to try some of these comics. This is a big list again this week but still not all that we have on our list.

Also, Don’t forget to check our hotlist of new books debuting this month over here. You will see books that we were looking forward to with the designation Hot #1 by them. There are a quite of few of them out this week and they are really good.

DISCLAIMER: 

There is a 4 star rating system. It is simple and not to be taken too seriously as everyone gets their own impressions of art. These ratings are just to give our readers an idea of what we thought of the book, and they will be on the generous side normally. So don’t expect to see a lot of 1 Stars. After all, it’s not often that you have a bad book on your pull-list.

The rating system is as follows:

Great

 Good

 OK

 Not Good

And here are the books we read in alphabetical order:

Continue reading “Everything We Read This Week – 12/5/2018”

Everything We Read This Week – 11/7/2018

Everything We Read This Week – 11/7/2018

Welcome back as we make our weekly trip through this week’s pull-list. It features mostly spoiler-free brief analysis and commentary of each book.

Following that last couple of weeks, there is a ton of books out this week. Make sure you go find some. There are few really good number ones out this week. Hopefully, you might find what we say interesting enough to try some of these comics. This is a big list again this week as we continue to catch up on our unwieldy pull-list.

DISCLAIMER: 

There is a 4 star rating system. It is simple and not to be taken too seriously as everyone gets their own impressions of art. These ratings are just to give our readers an idea of what we thought of the book, and they will be on the generous side normally. So don’t expect to see a lot of 1 Stars. After all, it’s not often that you have a bad book on your pull-list.

The rating system is as follows:

Great

 Good

 OK

 Not Good

And here are the books we read in alphabetical order:

Continue reading “Everything We Read This Week – 11/7/2018”