Thanks, that’s £20 that can be re-purposed in March 2018.
I’ve only read the first half, but I didn’t even like the art.
It seems like Maleev was trying something a little different but it just looks scratchy and unfinished to me when you put it next to his other work.
Finally, a publisher who understands the problem trade collectors face and is willing to do something about it…
Publicity droid Molch-R is very good at that stuff.
In fact I think other larger publishers should look at what he does (with the podcasts, videos and social media) and emulate it. You think of all the bad press that Marvel have had recently from poorly handled messaging.
Superboy and the Legion of Super-Heroes Volume One
I have mixed feelings about this book, in all respects.
First of all, I am obviously delighted that it exists at all, that five years after the last Archive Edition DC decided to continue their reprint programme, even if in different packaging. And I am genuinely astonished that they picked up the series seamlessly, so Archives Volume 13 ended with SLSH #233 and this volume begins with SLSH #234.
But, come on, DC, why have you left me with a shelf that now looks like this?
I mean, you already messed it up with the Volume 6 stupidity, but now you’ve totally destroyed my delicate collector’s sensibilities.
Trade dress aside, I have (again) mixed feelings about the general packaging. It’s a good quality hardback in a dustjacket, and at just over 300 pages it’s almost half as long again as the Archive volumes (though not significantly thicker, see photo above). The paper is decent quality with a dull finish that I like. It works well for colours that were designed for 1970s pulp-quality paper, unlike the glossy paper they used for the last few Archive volumes. There’s a small amount of backmatter—some of Paul Levitz’s original script notes, which are interesting—but in general I don’t like the interior design—the table of contents is poorly laid out and murkily printed (even the font is ugly!), and there’s no kind of introduction at all.
As for the contents: there are around 300 pages covering SLSH #234–240, and including the All-New Collectors’ Edition C-55. The table of contents doesn’t give original dates, but by my reckoning that covers December 1977–June 1978. These were all long comics (yes, kids, we used to get value for money in the 70s), hence the 300 pages from only eight issues. This is an era where I still have gaps in my collection (which was pieced together from scouring market stalls a decade later), so the content is very welcome.
How good is the content? Well, to be honest, it’s mixed. Paul Levitz is still finding his feet and not plotting the complex epics he become known for. It’s nice to see the early stages of his development of the Legionnaires’ individual personalities and relationships, but his plots were awfully melodramatic and bombastic. I think that plot-wise the 70s was the worst era for the Legion. Falling between the wild inventive SF of the 60s and the complex soap opera of the 80s, the stories flounder around looking for inspiration.
The art is a mixed bag, with several artists of variable quality passing through these issues. I know Mike Grell was a “hot” artist at the time, but I’ve never been a huge fan, and here on his last few Legion stories it looks like he wasn’t even trying. Rik Estrada and George Tuska are perfectly competent on their one story each, and I really like James Sherman on the three stories he does, but Howard Chayakin doesn’t impress me. Walter Simonson draws a 34-page that looks spectacular! Dynamic and dramatic, the action just leaps off the page. I think this Simonson guy will go far! My person favourite artist in this collection is Jim Starlin, though, who follows Simonson on another 34-page epic, which he also plots. Starlin’s Legion looks fantastic, his world looks futuristic, and his action is every bit as dynamic as Simonson’s. The best Legion artist since Cockrum, I would say, and I don’t think the Legion will look this good again until Keith Giffen comes on board.
So that’s it. Not the Legion’s best era, but one that definitely needed collecting. Would I recommend this collection? Don’t be silly, of course I would
Ok…You’ve convinced me. I’ll give it a shot.
Oh, God, Cosmic Boy’s bustier.
Alan Moore - Wild Worlds TPB
As part of my read through some of Moore’s less feted '90s Image and Wildstorm work, I picked up this collection. It’s fairly middling, especially for a writer of Moore’s reputation - there are some perfectly fine superhero comics here, but nothing really special or outstanding.
Collected first is the Spawn/WildCATS crossover four-parter, which is an interesting stab by Moore at a high-concept time-travelling apocalyptic superhero event in the style popularised by Image at the time: big muscle-bound men and scantily-clad buxom women, lots of action and gritted teeth, and vague demonic supernatural threats underpinning the whole thing.
It veers close to parody at times, although never fully steps into that mode in the way that (say) Moore’s Violator comics did. The story is actually not bad in terms of its bare bones, it’s just weighed down with a lot of cliché '90s conventions and padded, overstuffed scenes with lots of characters who are mostly fairly bland and interchangeable.
Scott Clark’s artwork is fine but very of its time. A lot of the action is overly posed and the faces and body language are pretty stiff, but it still impresses during the story’s biggest moments.
Next up is a Majestic one-shot that sees the character almost alone at the end of space and time, and ruminating on existence as the universe draws to a close. It’s the kind of thoughtful, poetic piece that Moore does very well, and Carlos D’Anda’s artwork is up to the task of rendering the story’s unusual ideas. It’s probably the best thing in this collection. I will definitely return to it again in future.
Voodoo, however, is probably the worst thing in this collection, and maybe one of the lowlights of Moore’s career. A miniseries about the eponymous stripper superhero trying to make a new home for herself in New Orleans - only to be beset by demonic and supernatural foes - it’s actually a lot less interesting than that description makes it sound. It’s only four issues but it took me three sittings to work my way through it as it was so un-compelling.
Part of it is the cliché nature of the tale being told (interestingly there are quite a few parallels here with the later Neonomicon, but that series handles pretty much every element of the story much better), part of it is the gratuitous T&A element (with weirdly unsexy and mechanical art by Al Rio and Michael Lopez), part of it is the stereotypical nature of the magical voodoo practitioners, and part of it is the incredibly flat and two-dimensional lead characters.
There’s the occasional flourish - a cleverly written scene or a snappy bit of dialogue - but they’re few and far between. Adam Hughes’ covers are probably the best thing about it, and even then it’s not much more than well-done cheesecake.
A three-issue Deathblow mini with art by Jim Baikie follows, and it’s an interesting story with some slightly more showy - and overall better-quality - writing (including a long ‘silent’ section that opens the series). Ultimately though it feels a bit like a one-issue short-story (complete with twist ending) that’s been padded out to three. Some nice art though that’s quite striking in places. The early scenes had a bit of a Risso feel in places.
The final story collected here is an issue from Moore’s WildCATS run, with art by Travis Charest. I didn’t read it though, as it looks like it’s also the final story in the Moore WildCATS complete collection that I picked up at the same time as this book, and I’d rather read it in that context.
After the uneven quality of this book, though, I don’t feel in a great hurry to move on to that.
That I cannot believe.
I agree with you on pretty much all of that, Dave. Thankfully, his WildCATs run is more akin to that Majestic issue than Voodoo (she is, perhaps, my favourite CAT, and I was really looking forward to that mini, yet was terribly disappointed in how it turned out).
Read #21 (the first issue) in the run. It’s a great opening salvo, and a good barometer for how much you’ll enjoy the rest of his run.
Thanks, I’ll look forward to that more then.
Even if you don’t like Neonomicon (I do), I can’t believe anyone would argue that Voodoo is better.
I cannot imagine that anyone would argue that Neonomicon was better than anything either.
I will read Voodoo and report back
Don’t put yourself through it on my account.
Shh, we try not to mention it
I read Superman Secret Identity recently. The art is beautiful, it’s a very different Stuart Immonen than I’m accustomed to, but I liked it a lot. The big sprawling images of what this story’s Superman can see of the ground when he’s up in the sky really stuck in my mind, it’s a much more romantic and slow paced take on Superman’s flying than I usually see. I really wasn’t taken with the plot though. Nothing much happens, except a straight middle class American white guy lives a white picket fence fantasy of American life, with a little bit of Supermaning on the side. It was like a suburban conservative-with-a-small-c’s fantasy of a quiet life. Quite bizarre really, was there some point to it that I’ve missed? Your average episode of Countdown has more conflict than this.
You’ve answered your own question here.
Super quick round up of the books I read last week.
Karnak: The Flaw in All Things - Three different artists over one book isn’t a great start but overall I really enjoyed this. Karnak is painted as an unrepentant, single minded individual who follows through on his intentions with ruthless vigour. He is also painted as one of the most undefeatbale people in the MU.
Star Wars Outlander - So much better than anything Marvel have done with the licence. Dark Horse just seemed to ‘get it’ when it came to SW. Not focusing on the main characters was the key I think.
Captain America: Operation Rebirth - Cap is a character I generally can’t get behind. He looks stupid and for me the concept doesn’t work especially in a modern ‘real world’ setting. Go back in time though and look at the sillier books and I can be tempted to enjoy them. Man and Wolf is one example and this is another. I’ve also found that my opinion on Mark Waid has greatly gone down over the last few years. He’s just not as good as I once thought. (reread his Flash run and it’s generally the pits). However, whether it’s the Garney art or the outlandishness of the adventure, I thought this was great. Non-stop over the top action.
The Last Days of American Crime - Up there with Low as Remender’s best work. Although it doesn’t really do anything new to the heist genre, it is just the right length, has engaging characters, sumptuous art and a satisfying conclusion.
Astonishing X-Men: Ghost Boxes - Another great Ellis book that reads very much like Stormwatch. I’d say the only downside is the murky art by Bianchi who I’m not convinced is suited to sequential work.
Star Wars: Yoda’s Secret War - Wow, what a piece of junk!
Just for a change, many over at TFN Literature would agree with your assessment this time.
Now changing tack…
It may be, in due course, Books Etc bat this, but for now this is the best price I’ve found for six issues of Brubaker-Phillips brilliance:
Yeah, definitely. Focusing on the main characters between movies may be the big unit shifter, but it backs them into a corner where there’s severe limitations on what they can do with them, and the tension isn’t there because we all know how everything will end up. When they do stuff like Luke encountering Vader in the first couple of issues, it just feels wrong, because that confrontation in Empire is clearly Luke finally meeting Vader for the first time. Speaking of Vader, I don’t think comics can ever really get him right. It diminishes the mystery around him when you spend time with him; his OT screen time is really the perfect balance for his character to work. His costume is such that very few artists can make it work on the page without it looking awkward or silly, and without the voice, the breathing, and the music, he loses a hell of a lot.
I will say that I did quite enjoy Brian Wood’s Star Wars series for Dark Horse in the last days of them having the licence. He sent most of the main characters off on their own, and focused on smaller characters in the Rebellion who you’d recognise but they have room to be played with. He even did a pretty decent Vader story, where the main character was really an Imperial soldier who’d been drafted into working with Vader on a covert mission to go and kill some guys. The story is basically her tagging along and being absolutely terrified at this guy going nuts and scorching earth and pretty much having PTSD by the end of it.
For me the best Dark Horse series were Knights Of The Old Republic and Legacy; they went to times in the universe where they could do Star Wars but had completely free reign to set the status quo of the galaxy and introduce original characters as the major players. Free of the film baggage, but using the universe we love, was a real winner for me both times.