Month: November 2010

100 Days, 100 Comics #94: ‘Captain America: Man Out of Time’ #1

Posted by – November 7, 2010

You know those montage pages at the end of DC books like Superboy #1 this week that foreshadow a couple of storyarcs worth of major events? That’s sort what this $3.99 first issue of Captain America: Man Out of Time from Mark Waid and artist Jorge Molina felt like. Waid’s dialogue was in great form throughout, and although I don’t mind having my expectations toyed with from a miniseries that I was expecting to be a straight-up “Year One”-style Cap tale, I got out of this issue mostly scratching my head over whether each individual section I’d just read was A) a hallucination being experienced by Steve Rogers B) a real Marvel U history flashback C) a ret-con of something that previously existed as history in the Marvel U or D) something I must have missed in a previous Cap arc.

The other problem that comes with this fractured series of vignettes is the $3.99 tag on the cover here. I bought three fewer books this week than I would have if the books I did buy had been priced at $2.99 instead, and I feel like kicking a mini off in this way is basically asking me to take another chance on issue #2 to see if I like the story that hasn’t been clearly introduced yet. Depending on what comes out the week “Man Out of Time” #2 hits, I’m not sure I’m willing to roll the dice with four more dollars to take that chance. I may wait for reactions and reevaluate after it’s out, but right now I think I’m going to be a little wallet-shy about picking it up.

100 Days, 100 Comics #93: ‘Superboy’ #1

Posted by – November 7, 2010

DC’s new Jeff Lemire-scripted Superboy series has been one of their most anticipated launches of the year, and after reading through issue #1, you’ll probably see the common ingredients it shares with Grant Morrison’s All Star Superman and Smallville and immediately understand exactly why that is. That’s not to take anything away from the original work Lemire is doing here with artwork by Pier Gallo, but the central story is about Conner Kent living in Smallville, going to Smallvile High School and doing many of the things Clark Kent did, only within a different continuity than the TV show and obviously as Conner, not Clark.

Gallo’s art curves and puffs in a manner very similar to Frank Quitely’s with clean line work that looks a bit like Cliff Chiang from time to time. Combined with Lemire’s well-rationed plot twisting and odd character entrances (I don’t want to spoil those for anyone who hasn’t picked the issue up yet), Superboy clearly emerges from the the shadow of ASS, even within the confines of the DCU, and that much alone keeps a subtle crackle of tension alive from page to page.

24 pages in, Lemire hasn’t created a series that’s going to establish itself on ASS‘s level of accomplishment just yet; in fact, the whole setting and combination of characters may be a bit disorienting for anyone who hasn’t kept up with Conner since he moved back in to the Kent household, but continuity ignorance shouldn’t be a roadblock to hitting the ground running for casual readers. There’s a lot going on already, though, and if the first arc maintains the pace being set here, this should be one of the strongest new efforts to hit hero comics in 2010.

100 Days, 100 Comics #92: ‘Beetle Bailey: The Daily and Sunday Strips, 1965’

Posted by – November 7, 2010

Beetle Bailey eclipsed the 1,000-newspaper mark with its circulation in 1965 and was only the second comic to do so after Blondie. For a year marked by Lyndon B. Johnson’s “Great Society” declaration, conflict in Vietnam, and marches in Selma, Alabama, Beetle Bailey: The Daily and Sunday Strips, 1965 from Titan Books presents a artifact from popular entertainment that year that showcases Mort Walker’s talent, as well as how he reacted to and reflected what was going on in the world. Titan sent me a review copy of this recent effort, and overall it resisted a passive read-through.

The renewed trends in comic strip archive publishing haven’t been lost on me, though beyond The Complete Far Side and The Complete Peanuts, only a few efforts have really captured my interest as a reader. As has been the case with Fantagraphics’ Peanuts volumes, however, this Beetle Bailey tome does a tremendous job of presenting its content in context and establishing the comic’s place during the glory days of printed strip publication, as well as how Walker rubbed the U.S. military brass the wrong way, earning a ban from the Tokyo Stars and Stripes.

Walker’s mastery of shapes and lines really shines through in this volume. Yes, there are countless flat punchlines and moments where you’ll find yourself wondering if a line of dialogue was supposed to be a joke or not, but scenes like Beetle discovering Sarge’s postcard from Vietnam and Cosmo reading about a possible end to the draft anchor what you’re reading in the events of the time. This book is best absorbed as a whole and for experiencing a broad sampling of Walker’s visual vocabulary of shorthand illustration techniques — from bubble helmets and facial features, to postures and trees. Even if the comic never really appealed to you, those aspects may still save this book on your pull list for the perspective it offers.