The Man-Thing 1 (January 1974)

The Man-Thing #1

At one point during the issue, the editor–or writer Steve Gerber–apologizes for the visual madness in Gerber’s script. This apology is for the reader. But given all the insanity Gerber throws together, which ranges from superheroes, Howard the Duck, wizards, barbarians, politicians in big cars and then army guys–not to mention castles, swamps and cosmic walkways–one has to wonder how artist Val Mayerik felt about it.

Ostensibly–and from the title, Man-Thing–this comic is about Man-Thing. But not really. Especially not since Gerber does a slight retcon on the character and removes its ability for maintaining thought. So, while the comic’s great and Gerber uses Man-Thing to good effect, it’s hard to say where he can take the comic.

But it certainly seems like it’ll be somewhere great. Part of Gerber’s charm is his unexpectedness.

It’s a brilliantly written comic book with these fantastic little moments. Gerber and Mayerik are awesome.

A 

CREDITS

Battle for the Palace of the Gods!; writer, Steve Gerber; penciller, Val Mayerik; inker, Sal Trapani; colorist, Dave Hunt; letterer, John Costanza; editor, Roy Thomas; publisher, Marvel Comics.

Star Trek: The City on the Edge of Forever 1 (June 2014)

Star Trek: Harlan Ellison's The City on the Edge of Forever: The Original Teleplay #1

I guess I didn’t realize–or care–how much Harlan Ellison’s original teleplay for the classic “Star Trek” episode The City on the Edge of Forever got changed.

From the first couple pages, it certainly seems like IDW is mounting an ambitious adaptation. Artist J.K. Woodward paints a mean Enterprise and writers Scott Tipton and David Tipton certainly set up the characters well. Not the principal cast, but the supporting characters.

Then the regular crew shows up and the problems start showing. Woodward spends too much time on likenesses, while the Tiptons’ script doesn’t do enough with the characters. As a comic, City on the Edge of Forever is way too dedicated to the source material. Adapting the original script, while an interesting project, is somewhat short sighted. There have been thousands of “Star Trek” stories since… something in them might synthesize well.

The coolest thing so far is Yeoman Rand’s inclusion.

C 

CREDITS

Writers, Harlan Ellison, Scott Tipton and David Tipton; artist, J.K. Woodward; letterer, Neil Uyetake; editor, Chris Ryall; publisher, IDW Publishing.

The Flash 293 (January 1981)

The Flash #293

Conway fills in on both stories–one where the Pied Piper comes up with a new plan to get rich, with Heck on art, and then the Firestorm team-up, with art from Perez and Rodin Rodriguez.

The Firestorm team-up is goofy, with Conway not giving Perez much to draw, though I suppose there’s an interesting deep action scene with events happening in three places. Conway also seems to be writing it to bring regular Flash into the regular Firestorm backup, given the characters don’t really mesh, and it’s an odd perspective.

The feature’s quite a bit of fun, however. Conway has a great time with the Flash figuring out the Pied Piper’s plan and then the plan itself. It’s sort of obvious, sort of not. There’s a lot of amusing dialogue too. It’s a shame the second story didn’t get any of these touches.

It’s definitely a mixed bag.

C+ 

CREDITS

The Pied Piper’s Paradox Peril!; artist, Don Heck; colorist, Gene D’Angelo; letterer, Gaspar Saladino. The Deadliest Man Alive!; pencillers, George Perez and Rodin Rodriguez; inker, Rodriguez; colorist, Jerry Serpe; letterer, Milt Snapinn. Writer, Gerry Conway; editor, Len Wein; publisher, DC Comics.

Dream Thief: Escape 1 (June 2014)

Dream Thief: Escape #1

You know, I’ve been talking about limited series spending too much time in their last issue setting up the sequel series but, dang, if Jai Nitz and Greg Smallwood don’t pull it off beautiful for Dream Thief: Escape.

Even though this series directly continues the previous one, Nitz gets to revamp his whole approach to the setup. He’s already explained the whole mystical mask and the protagonist being a vehicle for justifiably angry ghosts seeking vengeance. It’s also letting him develop the protagonist better, since he’s got a sidekick and sidekick chit-chat is great for exposition.

Most of the big action actually belongs to the protagonist’s father in a flashback. Doing the story of two dream thieves, one established, one establishing, is a nice touch too. Also, Nitz seems to enjoy doing eighties references and the flashback has a few good ones.

The end reads fast, but otherwise, Escape’s excellent.

B+ 

Writer, Jai Nitz; artist and letterer, Greg Smallwood; editors, Everett Patterson and Patrick Thorpe; publisher, Dark Horse Comics.

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