Thursday, February 16, 2006

Recycling a post about black and white reprint comics

From CBR's Classic Comic Board, for all of you who might conceivably dying to read my opinion on the various classic comics I've been reading lately. Here's to you, theoretical niche audience!

Various Warren Spirit reprint magazines- I don't remember the issue numbers or the names, but boy, that Will Eisner guy sure could tell a ripping yarn while really pushing the limits of comics as a storytelling medium. Because I am both sick of this point and too young to be making it, I really shouldn't say this, but it is amazing how much more satisfying these 7 page stories are than the vast majority of comics published these days. And boy, could he draw women. He's right up there with John Romita Jr. and Jaime Hernandez in my book. I say all this having no idea how involved his assistants were in the creation of the stories I've been reading, but until I find a list that lays all that out, I'll stick with praising Eisner.

Essential Incredible Hulk- I bought this in the summer when I was on a real Kirby kick but barely read any of it, possibly because Essential Dr. Strange vol. 1 took up my Silver Age Marvel head space for most of last year. I picked it up again recently. I liked how often the status quo changed, since I always assumed that he spoke in the first person and said "Hulk smash" a lot from the beginning. I'm really fond of the Hulk in issues 4-6, who was like a meaner Ben Grimm who did the right thing pretty much by accident, made vague threats to Rick Jones and all of humanity, and did things like dress up as the abominable snowman to scare Chinese soldiers. I'd like to see more of him. Also, he fought the Circus of Crime in issue 3. I'm predisposed to liking anything with the Circus of Crime. I'm not too fond of the Tales to Astonish stories I've read; jerk Hulk is being fazed out, and I just don't find the 15 page stories that satisfying. I think I was spoiled by Ditko's Dr. Strange and Steranko's Nick Fury, which always entertained me in their allotted space.

Showcase Green Lantern- I don't want to mock Silver Age comics much, because it's easy and not very fair, and besides, other people do it better. But I found the interaction between Carol Feris and Hal Jordan in a particular issue hilariously over the top. The first few pages feature Hal taking Carol on a date and Carol relating a dream she had about marrying him to make Green Lantern jealous. Her plan is foiled when GL doesn't show up and she really does have to marry Hal, and she says something to the effect of "isn't that horrible." Jeez, after that, I'd buy Carol being such an amazing bitch as his motivation for going nuts and becoming Parallax. Even if it was a delayed reaction over 30 years. Anyway, the plots are fun, even and Gil Kane's art is always a thing to behold, but I can only read so much of this stuff at a time. Mainly because I want to yell at the characters for being so dumb after awhile, and that would be pretty awkward. Not to betray my Marvel allegiance in the never ending nerd wars, but I never have these problems with their Silver Age output.

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Anonymous Rohan said...

I LOVE the GL Showcase! If you prefer Marvel's Silver Age output, then it's only fair to at least aknowledge the massive impact that Broome's GL had on those Marvel stories... the idea of subplots that developed over a number of issues, and a super-heroic love triangle that actually seemed to go somewhere, originated here, I believe.
Basically, Silver Age GL is a mix of romantic soap opera and epic intergalactic storytelling, the exact same formula that Marvel was built on. Crucially, GL did it first.
And, most importantly, it's wildly creative, and Gil Kane's art is rocksome.

2/16/2006 01:54:00 AM  
Anonymous Rohan said...

Actually, while I'm here... you know how some people cite Lee and Kirby's 'Fantastic Four' run as the beginning of the graphic novel, because of the gradual unveiling of it's array of sci-fi wonders? By that definition, surely the introduction of the Guardians of the Universe in GL, parallelled with the development of the anti-matter universe, qualify Broome's 'Green Lantern' as the fore-runner of the 'graphic novel', if we have to use that pretentious term.

2/16/2006 02:12:00 AM  
Blogger MarkAndrew said...

I've never seen the Warren Spirit Magazines. I've got a bunch of the Kitchen Sink reprints, though, which have Eisner interviews in each 'n every issue. Good stuff.

(But I'd love to see the Spirit oversized.)

Agreed on the Hulk. The first few issues were fun, but then it just seemed to get boringer and boringer.

2/16/2006 02:26:00 AM  
Anonymous Miles said...

I picked up the Green Arrow Showcase last week, and its also pretty fun, if a little racist here and there(GA fights indians and the Japanese, plus we see a Japanese GA who uses a motorized ricksaw as an arrow car).

Actual quote from the book:

Red Dart:I wanted to help you catch Muggsy Miller. He's on bush patrol you know!

Speedy: What did he mean by bush patrol?

GA has some explaining to do...

2/16/2006 07:26:00 AM  
Blogger Adam said...

nice list. and i bought ESSENTIAL DOC STRANGE VOL. 1 just yesterday, am enjoying it thoroughly, and i actually agree with wath steven grant said about this being one of the first novelish comic book narrative. i bought the ESSENTIAL HULK VOL. 1 a couple of months ago, and that's another one that had a novelish feel (unlike, say, SPIDER-MAN, that was more like what the MARVEL WAY turned out to be), although HULK read like lee and kirby was on speed or something, the way the story segued into and out of several plots, all the while the Hulk learning from experience, and actually growing as a character. it also had a more satisfying ending than the X-MEN or SPIDER-MAN or DOC STRANGE essentials. the HULK's ending really had that feeling of it actually ending. am i making any sense?

2/16/2006 09:14:00 AM  
Anonymous thekamisama said...

Okay you say you never had the same "over the top" types of relationship drama in Silver Age Marvel?

I love the classic Stan and JAck Thor stories, but come on.. The relationship triangle of Thor, Jane Foster, and Donald Blake was the epitome of "over the top"!

2/16/2006 05:14:00 PM  
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