Thursday, July 23, 2015

Comic Shop Comics: July 22

Archie Vs. Predator #4 (Archie Comics) It's the exciting conclusion of the least-expected crossover of the year! (Well, except for Archie Vs. Sharknado, maybe.) I can honestly say that I did not see anything in this issue coming, after about page 4, so props to write Alex de Campi for that.

The book opens with just Betty, Veronica and a wounded Archie left to face the Predator, and I would not have expected which of the three would be the first to die, or the girls to have their clothing shredded so thoroughly (Andrew Pepoy's generally sexier-than-the-interiors cover aside), or for that particular maiming, or for that particular rally or for that bizarre ending.

Probably the best part, though, was the Predator discovering scrunchies:

This is the fourth and final issue, and I still being surprised by de Campi and pencil artist Fernando Ruiz's unexpected call-backs to the first and best Predator film, in the dialogue ("You are one ugly melon farmer!"), the narration ("Veronica Lodge: Ain't got time... read.") and even the visuals (I'd show you, but it would be a spoiler; bottom panel of page 14, though).

This was an enormously entertaining comic, start to finish–and the finish here is a two-page Josie and The Pussycats/Finder crossover by de Campi and Calra Speed McNeil–and maybe the most fun I've had reading a comic that wasn't Transformers Vs. G.I. Joe this year.

I do hope they do a sequel, but not picking up where it left off; I want a read a story like the one suggested by some of the variants, like Faith Erin Hicks' for this issue. You know, where Predator moves to Riverdale and starts going to school there, and becomes Archie's archrival, and no one seems to notice that he's an alien monster other than Archie, and whenever he tries to point it out to someone, they accuse him of being jealous. Yes, that's the Archie Vs. Predator comic I want to read. This one was great too, though.

Batman '66 (DC Comics) Jeff Parker does have the advantage of improving an already extant character, I know, but it's still worth noting that "Holly Quinn" is a much better and more realistic name than "Harleen Quinzel," just as "Harlequin" is a better villain identity than "Harley Quinn" (which is, of course, why Robert Kanigher and Irwin Hasen used that particular identity for the Golden Age Green Lantern villain, DC's first Harlequin). In the lead story of this issue, Parker and artist Lukas Ketner introduces the '66 version of Harley, or, rather, finish introducing her, as she appeared as an Arkham Institute doctor in Batman '66 #11, who sacrificed her own sanity to save Gotham from "The Joker Wave" that the Clown Prince of Crime was using to drive the city as mad as he was.

As noted, this Harley goes by a slightly different moniker, but is otherwise pretty recognizable, right down to her color scheme. If she had appeared on the 1966 live-action TV show, this is more than likely how she would have looked and acted, and yet Parker still manages to write her as recognizably herself from the cartoon and comics, which is surely a more difficult feat than it may seem.

Ketner's art on this 10-pager is fine, his realistic take accentuating the absurdity in the saw that the live-action TV show managed by simply putting real people in those costumes (Still, I can't help but wish cover artist Mike Allred drew the interiors, the one problem with having him do covers; every single month I see Allred's version of the characters before opening up the book to find some other artist's work, which I must then compare to Allred's and generally find wanting, if only because Allred is one of my favorite artists). Ketner does a particularly fine job during a montage of Harley's crime spree and in costuming the would-be goons and thugs that show up for her gang try-outs, all of them wearing a mish-mash of the sorts of uniforms the various henchmen of the show would wear. (Nice touch with the match in Batman's disguise too; I guess this issue also features the debut of Matches Malone '66 then...?).

The back half of the book is devoted to a story written by Gabe Soria and drawn by Ty Templeton; entitled "Bad Men," it is a kinda sorta riff on TV's Mad Men, in which The Joker, The Penguin, the Gorshin Riddler and the Eartha Kitt Catwoman take an ad agency hostage in an attempt to force them to re-brand them. Luckily, Barbara Gordon is at the agency, working a temp job. Why isn't she at the library? So that they could do a Mad Men riff, obviously. I never saw the show, so I don't know how accurate this is, or if I missed a lot of gags and allusions, but it works A-OK as is.

Sensation Comics Featuring Wonder Woman #12 (DC) There are two stories in this month's print issue, a 20-page lead issue and a 10-page back-up. Of the two, the lead is probably the stronger, but then, it does have more room to breathe. On pre-Flashpoint Themyscira, Wonder Woman and Hippolyta find an unexpected guest in the form of Poison Ivy. The two super-people decide to team-up to take on a threat to both the island and the world, the monster Typhon. You won't be at all surprised to learn that they do so.

It's an extremely straightforward story by writer Derek Fridolfs, featuring pretty great art by Tom Fowler. I thought Poison Ivy's Swamp Thing-inspired tree bark armor (complete with vegetation "wings" like Swampy sported during Scott Snyder's run on the title) was a little much, as was the intimation that Wonder Woman and Poison Ivy flew straight down for four days to get to Tartarus (without food, water or having to go to the bathroom? Is Ivy so plant-like and Wondy so magic they don't need any of that stuff, or what?).

That's followed by a piece written by Matthew K. Manning and drawn by Georges Jeanty (with Karl Story and Dexter vines inking). Set during the Watchtower-on-the-moon Era, it finds Batman calling Wonder Woman to help take down Doctor Destiny. She's upset by the crime scene, and Batman knows exactly what she needs to relax: To punch someone in the face.

It's a rather weird story, really, but the art is nice, and I suppose it's short enough that by the time one might start questioning aspects of it, it's already over.

A pretty mediocre issue all together then; nothing sensational, but, on the other hand, nothing that bad either.

Walt Disney's Comics and Stories #721 (IDW Publishing) Okay, yes, I probably should have just trade-waited this (the first collection is already on the schedule), but I bought and read the first issue of all the other IDW/Disney comics, so I figured I'd at least try this one out too. I'm not a particular fan of Mickey and Goofy, except for how they may relate to Donald Duck, but this issue is devoted to the opening of a 12-part epic art from 1990, one that will involve Mickey, Goofy, Donald, Uncle Scrooge and, based on the cover, Minnie, Pluto, Gladstone, Grandma Duck, Huey, Dewey and Louie, Magica de Spell, Pete and some other characters I don't know. And the Phantom Blot?

So yeah, that looks big and exciting. In this installment, there aren't any ducks, though.

That excellent cover is by...Jonathan H. Gray? But he's the translator! I didn't know he was also an amazing artist! But I really like this cover quite a bit, from the little hairs on Goofy's ears, to Donald's action pose, to, most especially, the look on Uncle Scrooge's face.
Damn, that is an awesome Scrooge. Why isn't that on our twenty dollar bill?

This issue also does a better job than the previous IDW/Disney books of contextualizing the stories, with the credits for each of the four including where they originally appeared (two from European comics, one from a U.S. Sunday newspaper strip and the fourth from a Golden Age issue of this very title) and when (1990, 1982, 1933 and 1943). The first issues of Uncle Scrooge, Donald Duck and Mickey Mouse did not this, and I think this is a great improvement, as that's something I'm always curious about when reading Disney comics. (Part of that likely comes from being trained to expect some degree of context by all of those excellent Fantagraphics' collections, and part of it is just being interested in where comics come from.)

These shorter back-ups include reprints of a Silly Symphonies strip, a Donald and his nephews story and a short Gremlin two-pager by someone named...let's see... Walt Kelly. He seems like a pretty great cartoonist; I wonder whatever became of him after his 1943 short subject...?


Or wait, should I trade-wait this series? Walt Disney TPB Vol. 1 is scheduled for November, according to an ad in this book, but that will only be four or five issues into the run, so it will likely include all of these back-ups, rather than just "The Search for the Zodiac Stone." Hmmm...Well, I guess I've got another month to figure out if I want to read this monthly until that storyline is over, or wait for the trades.


Anyway, 42-pages of ad-free comics for $4 is a pretty decent value. And thanks for including the credits about the original sources of the stories in this issue, IDW.

1 comment:

David said...

I was a little lukewarm on AvP up until the ending - so out-of-left-field, but so fitting, it made the series for me.