Saturday, July 12, 2008

Comic Reviews!

Instead of hanging out at Steven Sanders' place with almost all of the Kansas City comics community, I'm stuck at home with kids, reading old comics through bleary eyes.

I thought I'd post some reviews of old comics I picked up in Chicago a couple of weeks ago. I loaded up on cheap seventies stuff, mainly, and thought I'd spit out some brief blurbs on a few of 'em.


FIRST ISSUE SPECIAL #5

Manhunter by Jack Kirby

So, First Issue Special was primarily a dumping ground for lousy concepts that had no prayer of being picked up, the one notable exception being Mike Grell's Warlord. James Robinson got some mileage out of the Starman character introduced near the end of the run. The book did feature a now classic Marty Pasko/Walt Simonson Dr. Fate story, and the Creeper and Metamorpho had showcases, but so did Lady Cop, the Dingbats, and the Green Team...

So, this is Jack Kirby reinventing his Golden Age Manhunter character, and it's better than you'd think it would be. Typical Kirby silliness opens the book, as the character waltzes into the "cave of Talking Heads" and battles a dude wearing a robe and a mask over his pinstripe suit. But from there Kirby sets up an interesting scenario...a society of manhunters, with the newest member being a young public defender who laments that society's "big fish" so often abuse the "little fish."

It's a fun little story, and I think it would have been a decent springboard for a book. Cool looking character, too.



FIRST ISSUE SPECIAL #10


The Outsiders by Joe Simon, Jerry Grandenetti and Craig Flessel

This book, on the other hand, is almost abstract in its awfulness. In a nutshell, a group of freakish looking characters have banded together (because they're all so ugly) to help other freaks.

The first freak rescued by the Outsiders in this issue is a baby with a GIGANTIC hard head, who speaks telepathically ("I'm Billy! Won't someone please help me?"). In this book, normal people react to freaks by attacking them with torches and clubs, you see. When Billy is set on fire, he uses his giant head to bash his way through a crowd and jump into a lake.

A trio of Golden Age creators must have thought this concept was out there enough to appeal to a new generation, but it's so laughably executed, it's hard to take it seriously as an attempt at crafting a hit. It's also highly enjoyable, thanks to the pure goofiness that drips off every page. I'm convinced the kind-of-keen Ernie Chan cover was designed the way it was so they didn't have to feature the completely ridiculous looking cast (which includes a scaly woman with flippers for hands and a twisted dwarf who drives around in his own funky bubble chair). Still, it must be read to be believed.