Howard the Duck 2 (March 1976)

Howard the Duck #2

What an amazing comic. Gerber tells the story straight–so it’s this very simple tale of a talking duck, this girl he likes, this boy who likes the girl the talking duck likes and then the talking turnip who controls the boy who likes the girl who the talking duck likes.

The turnip and the duck don’t know each other. But they must do battle, as is the way of the world.

In the meantime, Gerber gives the boy this great overdone sci-fi space odyssey through his own mind as the turnip takes over. Gerber imaginatively–and not hostilely–snickers at sci-fi.

Of course, there’s also the talking duck. And his lady friend. They have a great relationship between Gerber never writes Howard as anything but a jerk yet Beverly always falls for it. She’s an optimist, clearly.

Great Brunner art–dirty Donald at times.

Very good comic.

CREDITS

Cry Turnip!; writer, Steve Gerber; pencillers, Jim Starlin and Frank Brunner; inker, Steve Leialoha; colorist, Michele Wolfman; letterer, Tom Orzechowski; editor, Marv Wolfman; publisher, Marvel Comics.

The Flash 296 (April 1981)

The Flash #296

What’s strange about the feature is how much better Bates writes Elongated Man and Sue Dibney than he does Barry and the Flash. There’s a lot of charm to his characterizations of the Dibneys and it breathes a lot of life into the story.

Of course, the story also has Carmine Infantino artwork and every page has one or two phenomenal panels; Infantino is able to turn anything the Flash does into a moment of comic gold, whether it’s a fight scene or just a costume change. It’s not just how much movement Infantino implies, it’s how he composes each panel to have a narrative flow to it.

It also doesn’t hurt the story’s a genuine surprise with a great reveal.

The Firestorm backup has Conway trying too hard to make the protagonist likable, but some ambitious artwork from Starlin. Rather unfortunately, the detail doesn’t live up to the composition.

B 

CREDITS

The Man Who Was Cursed to the Bone!; writer, Cary Bates; penciller, Carmine Infantino; inker, Bob Smith; colorist, Gene D’Angelo. Firestorm, Rain, Rain, Go Away… Come to Kill Us Another Day!; writer, Gerry Conway; penciller, Jim Starlin; inker, Bob Wiacek; colorist, Jerry Serpe. Letterer, John Costanza; editor, Len Wein; publisher, DC Comics.

The Flash 295 (March 1981)

The Flash #295

Heck gets lazy on the strangest stuff for the feature in this issue. It’s not the super gorillas or all the different locations in Bates’s script… no, it’s the people. Whenever Heck is drawing a person, it just doesn’t work out. It’s like he spent all his time on everything else and rushed through the faces.

The feature story has an odd structure too and it never quite recovers from it. Bates relies on deceiving the reader to get create drama at the end, but he also weighs down the front of the story. There are a couple lengthy action scenes as Grodd is brainwashing Flash and the good super gorilla; these scenes are quick and pointless and Bates gives them too much time.

He just moves too fast through the story, which is too slight anyway.

The Firestorm back-up has Conway suffering pacing problems too. And the art’s mediocre.

C 

CREDITS

In Grodd We Trust; writer, Cary Bates; artist, Don Heck; colorist, Gene D’Angelo. Firestorm, By the Sea, By the Sea, By the Dangerous Sea; writer, Gerry Conway; penciller, Jim Starlin; inker, Bob Wiacek; colorist, Jerry Serpe. Letterer, Ben Oda; editor, Len Wein; publisher, DC Comics.

The Flash 294 (February 1981)

The Flash #294

The super gorillas. I forgot about the super gorillas. If Bates likes writing anything more than strange applications of Flash’s powers, it’s got to be these super gorillas.

But the super gorillas aren’t interesting to talk about, because it’s just the overdone dialogue and the gorillas talking about their intelligence. The Flash’s powers and their applications? At least in those scenes Bates is trying something. It’s a decidedly not visual way to express the powers. Artist Heck doesn’t do anything special with these scenes either. The feature story’s visually unimaginative.

Luckily, Bates has a good plot. It’s multi-layered, it’s got a lot of neat plotting tricks. It works out well, even though Bates probably shouldn’t have started foreshadowing the cliffhanger so early in the book. Not so obviously.

The Firestorm backup has terrible art from Jim Starlin and Bob Wiacek. It’s impossible to ignore it and the story suffers.

B 

CREDITS

Fiend the World Forgot; writer, Cary Bates; artist, Don Heck; colorist, Gene D’Angelo. Firestorm, The Typhoon Is a Storm of the Soul; writer, Gerry Conway; penciller, Jim Starlin; inker, Bob Wiacek; colorist, Jerry Serpe. Letterer, John Costanza; editor, Len Wein; publisher, DC Comics.

Adventure Into Fear 12 (February 1973)

Adventure Into Fear #12

Gerber does the stupid second person narration, but not a lot of it. Most of the Man-Thing story he does a close third person for Man-Thing; it works a lot better. Especially he confirms Man-Thing has no mouth.

Instead, Man-Thing listens a lot. He makes a new friend, a black guy on the run from a racist white sheriff. Gerber doesn’t shy away from the race issues. Gerber even takes it further, working race preconceptions into the surprise ending. He’s also turning Man-Thing into a real character, even if he can’t talk and doesn’t get any thought balloons.

Jim Starlin has a really fun time on the pencils. There are some really emotive pages. Buckler inks him well enough.

The fifties back-up, from Stan Lee and Russ Heath, has an interesting visual style but Stan must have been trying to impress his editor with how many words he could use.

B 

CREDITS

Man-Thing, No Choice of Colors!; writer, Steve Gerber; penciller, Jim Starlin; inker, Rich Buckler; letterer, John Costanza. The Face of Horror; writer, Stan Lee; artist, Russ Heath. Editor, Roy Thomas; publisher, Marvel Comics.

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