Thursday, August 30, 2012

Review: Popeye #4

The fourth issue of POPEYE takes a step back from issue 3 (the best issue to date).  First, the cover.  In issue 3, a preview of the cover was published. It was by John Byrne, and when I saw it, I thought he really got Popeye perfect, in the blend of Segar and Fleischer I feel should be the standard.  But issue 4 doesn't have that cover.  The standard cover is a simple Bruce Ozella job, and the variant is a Hanna-Barbera looking Popeye by Seymour Chwast.

Roger Langridge's script, a political drama featuring King Blozo, as usual, is a blend of Segar and Sagendorf.  Once again, it is heavy on action and adventure, but light on humor.  Once again, I need to stress he needs to pick up on the humor, work in some Fleischer style laughs. The issue also has an overabundance of dialogue, taking up over half of the space in many panels.  The artwork by Vince Muscacchia is slick and fluid, and based on early Bud Sagendorf, rather than Segar.

There is a back up feature of Sappo and OG Watasnozzle by Langridge and Tom Neely that is well done and has more humor than the Popeye story.  This issue gets a C+.

Also, IDW has published a reprint of Dell's POPEYE #1 from 1948. They plan to make this an ongoing series, so we will have two Popeye comics a month, new and reprints.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

The DCnU- One Year Later

Since there is no chapter of Curse Of Shazam in JUSTICE LEAGUE #12, I thought I'd take this time to evaluate the DCnU one year after it debuted.

First, there is Captain Mar... er, Shazam.  While I am so far enjoying Curse Of Shazam, perhaps more than I thought I would, I still do not see it as the "definitive" take on Captain Marvel.  Too many changes to characters and plot to make it more trendy and cinematic.  For my money, outside the Fawcett originals, the "definitive" DC version is still a toss up between E. Nelson Bridwell's work in the late 1970s, and Alex Ross' version in Justice and Power Of Hope.

Then there is Batman.  The DCnU reboot has not been good to him at all.  DC pretty much continued Batman from the old continuity without rebooting him. So, we have a very convoluted version of the character that for the most part, is the same as the post-Zero Hour continuity, except for when its not.  Make sense? For my money, perhaps the most enjoyable run on Batman was in the 1980s, written by Gerry Conway, with art rotating between Gene Colan and Don Newton.  They had a serialized soap opera vibe going with a multitude of subplots, and still brought a lot of action and adventure, and was, in effect, a direct sequel to the all too brief, widely celebrated 1977-78 stint by Steve Englehart and Marshall Rogers. The DCnU Batman is just confusing, with all his various redundant sidekicks and replacement Robins and incoherent story lines.  I have really cut back on the number of Batman titles I buy since the DCnU began.  I am contemplating cutting back even more, or perhaps for the first time in my life, just stopping all together.

And then there is Superman.  Ironically, I am really liking the DCnU take on Superman. As with, Shazam, I don't consider it to be the "definitive" take, but I like it for what it is.  Mostly due to Grant Morrison, who has taken aspects of the character's original 1938 run, and incorporated it into a new vision. ACTION COMICS has been really solid, while SUPERMAN has been more hit and miss.  I don't know if I will stick with it once Morrison leaves, but for now, I'm enjoying the ride.

Finally, there is the Justice League. This, too has been interesting, although Geoff Johns seems to be essentially ripping off the movie version of  The Avengers, by making Steve Trevor the DC version of Nick Fury.  Green Lantern's characterization mirrors the awful performance by Ryan Reynolds in the dud Green Lantern movie. Efforts are made to turn Aquaman from a punchline to a real heavy hitter, with mixed results. With Superman being cast as more of a brooding loner, Batman ends up being more of a level headed leader, which is a detriment to the Batman character overall. In JUSTICE LEAGUE #12, Superman and Wonder Woman become a couple.  It seems obvious, but except for some brief teasers by John Byrne back in the 1980s, it never happened in mainstream continuity. We'll see how it plays out.

Overall, I have to give the DCnU a failing grade. Despite some bright spots with Captain... er, Shazam and Superman, I am still buying fewer DC comics than ever before, and generally just do not like the direction the continuity has taken (don't even get me started on how awful the re imagination of the Golden Age Earth-2 is).  Hopefully the next reboot will be soon, and will use Alex Ross' Justice as a foundation.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Trio of Monkees to tour

Some big news from Micheal Nesmith via his facebook page . "So the big news from here is that I made the most amazing gazpacho tonight . . . miracle gazpacho. A miracle because I have no idea how I did it and could never do it again. But the really big news . . . astounding . . . is that I suddenly understand that it is the red bell pepper that makes the gazpacho red . . . not the tomato . . . which is what I always thought. Amazing. Another jaw dropper was that the only cracker I had left . . . a very nice garlic and chive flat bread cracker . . . fell out of the bag it was in because I was inadvertently holding it upside down and it fell on the floor and broke into dozens of pieces. So just as I was about to eat the miracle gazpacho the only cracker I had was useless in pieces on the floor. Talk about drama . . . man it’s just so hard sometimes. But that’s all the news from here. Nothing else much to report. I see they put a car on Mars . . . that was kind of amusing of course. And Micky and Peter and I are going to do twelve concerts in November here in the States. That’s really all I’ve got. Going to bed now. I’ll post pictures of the cracker and the gazpacho tomorrow, maybe. Maybe not.”

Gazpacho aside, Micky Dolenz, Peter Tork, and Michael Nesmith will reunite as The Monkees for a short U.S. tour in November and December.  This is the first time Mike has toured with the Monkees since the "Justus" UK tour in 1997, and his first US tour with the group since 1969! This is also the first time the Micky-Mike-Peter line up has performed together since the first season episode "Alias Micky Dolenz", which Davy didn't appear in due to him visiting family in England.

Please, Rhino Entertainment, don't be asleep at the wheel for this. If Rhino does not have the sense to professionally film these concerts (like they stupidly did not for the 1997 UK tour), then please Monkees fans who will be attending these shows, get your HD microcameras ready to do what Rhino won't.

Rolling Stone posted a Q&A with Mike about his return, saying "I never really left. It is a part of my youth that is always active in my thought and part of my overall work as an artist. It stays in a special place, but like things in the past it fades in and out in relevance to activities that are current. Getting together with old friends and acquaintances can be very stimulating and fun and even inspiring to me. We did some good work together and I am always interested in the right time and the right place to reconnect and play... We are focusing around Headquarters – our first real sojourn as a band – but the setlist will include all the Monkees fans expect. There are songs of mine and Peter's that have not been performed that we will play. The three of us will play the Headquarters material as we did in the studio – but the shows backing band for the other material will be the same as the last tours – with the exception of the inclusion of my son Christian on guitar... I feel this is the start of the ending for me here – or more precisely, as Churchill had it – the end of the beginning. Now is the time."

Now may also be the time to revisit my post The Best Monkees Songs You've Never Heard.