The Bronze Age Cometh! The Amazing Adventures of Killraven

Amazing Adventures #18-39

Marvel Comics, 20-30 cents, 1973-76

#18-20

Hot on the heels of a fury of fantasy heroes such as Tarzan and Conan the Barbarian, Roy Thomas looked for further ways to expand this non-powered concept of heroes. Taking H.G. Wells’s noted novel War of the Worlds and morphing it into a post apocalyptic action series based on the Martians second visit to earth, they’ve totally subjugated mankind, made them slaves, as well as use humans in genetic experimentation to further their goals of dominance.

In the introduction, he creates Killraven, a spectacularly successful arena fighter who’s a rebel with a secret even he doesn’t know. He gives the adventure proceedings a new coat of paint as it were, unique from its fellow fantasy comics brethren.

The first issue, written by Thomas, has some good establishing art by Neal Adams. Good with depicting action and distinct likenesses, Adams immediately gives the series an oomph that would have been difficult for a lesser artist. He makes the first story very successful, establishing the cast and world in a visually exciting manner. Sadly, Adams isn’t available afterwards, but Howie Chaykin steps in admirably. While he isn’t the draftsman Adams is, his forte with fantasy based themes, as well as exotic costuming make this a still interesting read. Continuing in this schizophrenic creative vein, Gerry Conway and Marv Wolfman step in for scripting chores on the next two issues, keeping the action going from what I assume is Thomas skeleton for the series. Regardless, the proceedings are still on track, probably saying more about the method of Marvel comics production and its in-house talent pool at the time than anything else. Don McGregor takes over as the series regular writer next issue.

#21-24

The next four issues feature new regular artist Herb Trimpe. While McGregor’s prose displays an inspired attack, the strip goes more into irony and commentary on the human condition. Whether it’s deadlines, or budget(?), Trimpe’s art gets more and more rushed from the first issue, and by the last two, story content is reduced to 15 pages per issue, with golden age monster reprints filling the book(ugh!). While he’s not able to get past flat, stereotypical characters, the divorce from Marvel reality helps enormously, and the series becomes more a treatise on mankind according to McGregor’s philosophy. The mere 20 cent cover price makes it a bargain compared to the majority of Marvel’s output of super schmucks. Hope the new to comics Rich Buckler’s art next issue can elevate it…ooh, Klaus Jansen inks, too!

#25-28

Well, after the totally underwhelming run of Herb Trimpe on art, newcomer Rich Buckler does a fill in on issue 25, and the possibilities of the book begin to show a bit as it starts to evolve. While Buckler’s figure work is a bit wonky, his emulation of both Kirby and Neal Adams add an excitement to the proceedings that wasn’t there before. The next issue is another fill in by Gene Colan, of all people; he gives this episode a dark melancholy that helps demonstrate McGregor’s story emphasis. This schizophrenic approach to visuals,-(hey, who’s got time to do a Killraven issue?), and the continued use of a mere 15 pages to tell a one off, really hurt McGregor’s strengths in trying to make his point. On one hand, he’s got bigger fish to fry, but can’t do it in 15 pages AND perform the dynamics that Marvel comics demand (editorially, I assume).

Then in issue 27, Craig Russell arrives. Two things happen that make this story work so much better than than the entire previous run. One, Russell’s art is fully ensconced in the romantic and social depths that McGregor’s writing has desperately needed a visual partner for, and Russell’s chops are up to the task. Second, he is able to turn this into a two parter, utilizing 30 pages to tell the entire story, and give it the space and length it needs to be convincing. Killraven’s band here is also given the room necessary to develop their one dimensional depiction so far, and begins turning them into genuine people. The best story of the bunch thus far, both in writing and in physical depiction.

#29-34

McGregor and Russell totally fooled me here. While last issue provided a satisfactory end to the Death Birth Citadel story, this next issue picks up mere minutes from the end of the last, making this project not one of several short stories, but evolving into a continuing narrative, really without a concrete end from issue to issue. I notice as well that Russell not only does pencils and inks, but has been doing the coloring for the last two issues as well. If creators were trying to transform this into quite possibly the most ambitious workload as possible, this comic is able demonstration of it.

Russell’s art complements McGregor’s prose perfectly. While it can be argued McGregor bites off more than he can chew in his socially conscientious narrative, Russell’s art is equal to the task, providing the needed checks and balances, elevating a mere post apocalyptic tale into what can be said is as close to a work of art as Marvel could ever publish.

But commercial publication schedules will have their way, and this one provides more casualties than just McGregor and Russell, as issue 30 provides a frickin reprint of the Herb Trimpe story we just read a few issues ago, Killraven not an old enough property to have enough history of reprints to choose from, so this one is bookended by some character pages by Russell along with a couple of pages of the main villain reiterating what we pretty much knew. Whoop, wait, the character pages provide a couple of tidbits fleshing out some facts hereto unknown about the characters. But otherwise, ugh, pass.

Issues 31 and 32 get things going again, solidifying the continuous narrative McGregor is pursuing, with little advancement in plot, but it doesn’t seem to matter. At this point, Killraven’s story with his crew isn’t about the quest, but more about McGregor’s disillusionment with humanity and its self destructive path. One that the Martians have not only finished, but provide a inevitable exclamation point for. #32 emphasizes this, putting Killraven and his buds into a prewar amusement park that caters to the dreams of the freemen, showing in its conclusion the futility of man’s selfish goals in the first place. These nihilistic threads are balanced by Russell’s exquisite art, giving hope in the form of beautiful fantasies for the freemen. By this issue, he has mercifully given up coloring and handed over inks to the excellent Dan Adkins.

Of course, after two mere issues of overwhelming craft, we fall victim to another fill in. This one written not by McGregor, but Bill Mantlo and drawn by the ever present Herb Trimpe. This issue stands out as a sore thumb scheduled as a fill in, the editor knowing by now this will be the norm. However, astute readers will notice this one should have appeared after next issue. The story itself? Well, let’s just say this. While it was originally published in ‘75, it lands with a thud as perhaps the most graceless way to offer a sliver of continuity with a writer that had little idea of the narrative McGregor is working toward here. Also, even in 1975, this had to come off as fairly racist in its idea and execution. Now it seems little more than a horrible embarrassment in the annals of comic publishing history.

While #33 is pretty jarring in its near complete train wrecking of the series flow, with #34, our intrepid duo manage to right the ship again with perhaps the end(?) of the current storyline, and their ultimate battle with the toughest villain of the series. McGregor provides dramatic sacrifice for his characters, and Russell gives the proceedings a convincing display of an epic finish. War of the Worlds comes full circle here, transforming its narrative of basic action comic into something mainstream comics hadn’t seen before.

#35-39

And here you have it. The final five issues of Amazing Adventures featuring Killraven complete his saga, in a more or less satisfactory manner. The deadlines for the book have at this point convinced McGregor and Russell to limit themselves to more modest, single issue stories, or perhaps McGregor has decided that format suits his needs better. The aim of each issue seems better off for it, primarily since this was a bimonthly comic.

#35 features Jack Abel inks, perhaps the best work I’ve seen by him, no doubt guided by the tight pencil work of Russell. Sonny Trinidad embellishes #36, and #37 has Abel back again, all to satisfactory ends. Each issue’s themes work very well in the 18 page chunks, suggesting McGregor has a bit more of a handle on how to approach his stories. There’s also a nice balance between attempting to tell a story, with the metaphorical flourishes still there, just reigned in somewhat by conventional story standards, and perhaps the better for it. At last, the series, while not as ambitious now, has started to gel somewhat.

#38, being one of those shoehorned in fill ins, features for some strange reason another script by Bill Mantlo, I guess because he did the first fill in. While not as offensive as the first, retreads a theme McGregor has already covered, and is clunkily drawn by Keith Giffen (in his first published work?), whose Kirby influences only hurt his cause, both in terms of the utterly graceless figure drawing, and some pretty insufferable page layouts. Once again, you can pass on this one.

#39, the final issue, has McGregor and Russell depicting what they seem to know would be their last; they made sure they got it done in time for publication, with Russell inking his own work, but in a more simple, flowing style, showcasing what would later become his signature traits. McGregor, for his part, realizes there’s absolutely no way to tie up or finish his plot threads, and avoids them entirely. While visually looking a bit rushed, it’s nice they were at least able to go out on their own terms.

In hindsight, it seems inevitable this series wouldn’t make it commercially, as I can’t imagine the young male audience (for the most part, I presume), having the patience for the all over the place storytelling, and the artistic level set up by the creators here far too labor intensive and prose heavy to keep it them entertained, as well as on schedule. While Killraven never quite grabs you on a personal level (its characters being pretty much vehicles for McGregor’s main interests), the series remains a piece of Marvel Comics history that shows an experiment, that while never standing a chance under the systems it inhabited, at least a demonstration of what could be in commercial comic books.

A smoother read of this series would be pretty much the first couple of issues for set up (#18 & #19), skipping to #25 & #26, the semi successful fill ins, #27 is where Russell comes on board, skip 30 with the reprint, read #31 & #32, skipping the abominable issue #33 fill in, picking it up again at #34-37, skipping the sad issue #38 fill in, and end with the somber finish of #39. This order of experience will give you an uninterrupted, more pleasing read of the series, unencumbered by the commercial necessities of deadlines and interruption of mainstream hack work.

Scooby Apocalypse 2 (August 2016)

Scooby Apocalypse #2

It’s Aliens. Giffen and DeMatteis are doing “Serious Scooby-Doo Meets Aliens.” And it’s pretty good.

This issue has the gang trapped in an underground bunker where they have to crawl through the ceilings but avoid the monsters crawling through the ceilings. There’s a lot of emphasis on the humanity of the situation, but then there’s Porter’s art doing these exaggerated hero poses for the characters. What’s so strange is how little it has to do with Scooby-Doo. Giffen and DeMatteis have almost no interest in the dog (or his interactions with Shaggy). It’s not pop culture fulfillment, it’s a brand relaunch.

Hence the lack of Doo in the title?

It’s strongly plotted, great dialogue, excellent visual style. Scooby Apocalypse is great corporate product. It’s not sublime, but it’s great at what it’s trying to do. I just wonder how long Jim Lee, who’s credited with the concept, worked at it and whether or not he had help (or was filling a request from corporate).

CREDITS

Apocalypse Right Now!; writers, Keith Griffen and J.M. DeMatteis; artist, Howard Porter; colorist, Hi-Fi; letterer, Nick J. Napolitano; editors, Brittany Holzherr and Marie Javins; publisher, DC Comics.

Scooby Apocalypse 1 (July 2016)

Scooby: Apocalypse #1

I wouldn’t call Scooby: Apocalypse so much good as successful. It’s Keith Giffen and J.M. DeMatteis doing a “grown-up” version of Scooby Doo, which isn’t something I would’ve thought there’d be an audience for but now I’m not so sure. All of Giffen and DeMatteis’s instincts when it comes to the characters are spot on. They’re “grown-up” and modernized but still annoying in the same ways.

And Howard Porter’s art is an interesting choice. Velma and Scooby are the most successful, with Daphne and Fred being somewhere in the more obvious realm and Shaggy being a riff on eighties Mike Grell Green Arrow for whatever reason. In look, not characterization. As far as characterization, it remains to be seen if Giffen and DeMatteis have arcs for the characters or just a lot of solid banter.

The story’s fine–it’s the team’s origin story, Scooby is a failed Army super-dog experiment, Daphne and Fred are lame TV journalists, Shaggy is Scooby’s hopefully stoned handler. I didn’t notice any bud though. If Giffen and DeMatteis can get away making Shaggy and Scooby actual stoners… well, it’d be funny.

Even though Porter’s visualizations of characters are sometimes weird, his art’s totally competent. He puts work into it and he does get how to pace out the script’s jokes.

It’s not a great comic, but it’s not a bad one at all.

CREDITS

Waiting for the End of the World; writers, Keith Griffen and J.M. DeMatteis; artist, Howard Porter; colorist, Hi-Fi; letterer, Nick J. Napolitano; editors, Brittany Holzherr and Marie Javins; publisher, DC Comics.

Infinity Man and the Forever People 2 (September 2014)

Infinity Man and the Forever People #2

I was having trouble keeping track of what happened this issue until I realized the problem–nothing happens this issue. Didio and Giffen aren’t good at the banter with the marooned New Gods–or are they New Gods on their pilgrimage to Earth; it doesn’t matter. The banter’s lame. Four of the five leads are lame. And the last one is apparently a werewolf with some Wolverine influences.

At least he’s not lame.

The story has the team going to investigate some crop problems. There, they have an uninteresting battle with some soldiers from Apokolips. Why are they on Earth? No idea; it’s not as important as giving the titular Infinity Man–who looks like a Tron reject–a dramatic entrance.

There’s nothing terrible about the comic and nothing good either. Tom Grummett and Scott Hanna’s art looks less Kirby influenced than Byrne; strange. It’s all painfully indistinct and unimpressive.

C 

CREDITS

Wake Unto Me; writers, Keith Giffen and Dan Didio; penciller, Tom Grummett; inker, Scott Hanna; colorist, Mike Atiyeh; letterer, Travis Lanham; editors, Kyle Andrukiewicz and Joey Cavalieri; publisher, DC Comics.

Infinity Man and the Forever People 1 (August 2014)

Infinity Man and the Forever People #1

It’s hard to get excited about Infinity Man and the Forever People because there’s only so much enthusiasm from creators Dan Didio and Keith Giffen. Giffen does a thoroughly competent job with the artwork; it looks and feels like a Kirby homage should look and feel. Didio even gets away with a blatant Kirby homage, just because it’s a readable “New 52” comic and deserves a lot of slack.

But it’s just The Forever People. Even if Didio’s apparently mixing it with “Melrose Place.” He doesn’t actually have any great ideas or even excited, problematic ones. It’s a safe comic.

About the most engaging thing is the lead-up to the cliffhanger just because things are moving. Equating the Highfather to Hitler isn’t moving, it’s exposition and boringly expressed. Didio does better other places, once the New Gods’ Earth guide shows up.

It’s a likable, but undercooked proposition so far.

B- 

CREDITS

Planet of the Humans; writers, Keith Giffen and Dan Didio; penciller, Giffen; inker, Scott Koblish; colorist, Hi-Fi; letterer, Travis Lanham; editors, Kyle Andrukiewicz and Joey Cavalieri; publisher, DC Comics.

Atari Force 13 (January 1985)

Atari Force #13

So for his last issue, Conway sort of destroys the world. At least, he destroys the world of Atari Force he has been establishing for twelve issues. And he lets Joey Cavalieri write the script for it. Eduardo Barreto takes over the pencils and does a great job with everything except full page spreads. He can’t do those for whatever reason.

Cavalieri manages a few decent moments, mostly with the supporting cast, as Martin–the series’s lead at this point–dukes it out with the big villain. Lousy fight dialogue on that one. Luckily those other scenes make up for it somewhat.

The ending might have more gravity if it weren’t just thirteen issues into the series. It’s hard to care too much about it, even at a macro level. Cavalieri (and Conway) don’t earn the concern.

There is a nice backup from Paul Kupperberg, Dave Manak and Giffen, however.

C- 

CREDITS

The End; writers, Gerry Conway and Joey Cavalieri; penciller, Eduardo Barreto; inker, Ricardo Villagran; colorist, Tom Ziuko; letterer, Bob Lappan; editor, Andy Helfer; publisher, DC Comics.

Atari Force 12 (December 1984)

Atari Force #12

I think the problem is simpler than I would have thought–by problem I mean why Conway’s not as on the ball with the series anymore. He’s not even taking the time to script, just plot. Andy Helfer’s got the inglorious task of scripting. It’s hard to hold the issue against Helfer, the series’s breaking.

Atari Force works when it’s about the characters and García-Lopez’s approach to sci-fi. There’s a lot of villain stuff–it’s just Bond villainy at an intergalactic level. Maybe with some Road Warrior thrown in. Boring.

Worse, the character stuff this issue is tepid. Dart being patient with Blackjak isn’t engaging, especially not with Helfer’s very calm, almost feminist approach to his betrayal. And surfer boy’s trial scene is really weak.

There’s a lovely Keith Giffen backup with surfer boy’s pet though, just lovely. It’s kind of a parable.

Hopefully the series will improve.

C+ 

CREDITS

Revelations!; writers, Gerry Conway and Andy Helfer; penciller, José Luis García-López; inker, Bob Smith; colorist, Tom Ziuko; letterer, Bob Lappan; editor, Helfer; publisher, DC Comics.

Justice League 3000 1 (February 2014)

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Being insincere and not funny are two things Justice League 3000 can’t handle. It’s a dumb idea–in the future, the Wonder Twins clone the Justice League so they can save the galaxy. Only there are problems. For example, Superman is a lot like the Giffen/DeMatteis Guy Gardner, only with some Ultimate Captain America thrown in. He and Batman threaten to kill each other every few panels. Then Batman quips about kryptonite.

3000 isn’t just not funny, it’s desperately not funny.

Keith Giffen gets a plotting credit, so he isn’t as responsible as J.M. DeMatteis, who scripts this terrible dialogue. He’s trying to surprise with the clones, which just makes things worse. Except not as bad as the Wonder Twins banter. Nothing is as bad as the Wonder Twins banter.

The Howard Porter art doesn’t fit the story and isn’t an original future design; clearly no one cares.

F 

CREDITS

Yesterday Lives!; writers, Keith Giffen and J.M. DeMatteis; artist, Howard Porter; colorist, Hi-Fi Colour Design; letterer, Sal Cipriano; editors, Kyle Andrukiewicz and Joey Cavalieri; publisher, DC Comics.

Drax the Destroyer 4 (February 2006)

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Giffen does manage a couple nice plot twists for the last issue, but since he’s ending this series as a prologue to some other series… there’s not much closure. In fact, the lack of closure just points out what a strange book Drax has been. The human inhabitants–turned into slave labor–are dismissible. Giffen made two of them sympathetic.

He also doesn’t work to make Drax sympathetic. Instead, the Skrull comes off as more likable. The Skrull has a very nice finish in the series (though apparently not enough to make it to the cliffhanger). There’s a strange coda with Cammi’s mother and her sidekick, like Giffen remembered it later.

The first half of the issue, even without the nice Skrull moments, reads better. Giffen isn’t rushing things for it.

Still, he wrote an amusing comic. Not successful, but definitely amusing. Shame the Skrull couldn’t have been the lead.

CREDITS

Hard Penance; writer, Keith Giffen; artist, Mitch Breitweiser; colorist, Brian Reber; letterer, Cory Petit; editors, Molly Lazer, Aubrey Sitterson and Andy Schmidt; publisher, Marvel Comics.

Drax the Destroyer 3 (January 2006)

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Cute Doctor Who reference.

Giffen also has a nice little moment where the “reality” of the Marvel Universe comes into play. There’s no way to call for help in a rural area to report an alien attack.

The issue opens with the girl bantering with the Skrull, which is a fun scene, especially since Giffen has the girl outwit the space thugs. The good banter distracts from the lack of actual content; there are a number of well-written scenes, but nothing with much heft.

For the issue’s last act–I use the term loosely as Giffen doesn’t really work towards a first or second act–Drax returns. Thanks to alien physiology, it’s the first time the reader gets to meet him. It’s also the first time Giffen gives him much to say.

It’s fun–Giffen writes Drax well against Cammi, the girl–but the comic’s running out of steam.

CREDITS

From the Ashes; writer, Keith Giffen; artist, Mitch Breitweiser; colorist, Brian Reber; letterer, Cory Petit; editors, Molly Lazer, Aubrey Sitterson and Andy Schmidt; publisher, Marvel Comics.

Drax the Destroyer 2 (December 2005)

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Giffen continues to impress on Drax. Besides having the two thug aliens for humor, there’s also the Skrull. The Skrull–and his dimwit sidekick–are very funny. Giffen goes beyond the humor though. He’s got some fantastic plot twists.

The first one involves the girl, Cammi–actually, so does the second one. Giffen writes teenage girls well, apparently. Anyway, the first twist is the aliens leaving her alive. She doesn’t quite stand them down, but she points out living in the Marvel Universe, aliens aren’t exactly exciting anymore.

The second one has her setting Drax up to fight for her. It leads into the end twist. Giffen’s bucking the convention with this character; she’s not the nice human child who befriends an alien.

The last twist–besides that cliffhanger–is the aliens’ plan. They want slave labor to repair their ship. It’s like a fifties b movie. It’s great stuff.

CREDITS

Illegal Aliens; writer, Keith Giffen; artist, Mitch Breitweiser; colorist, Brian Reber; letterer, Cory Petit; editors, Molly Lazer, Aubrey Sitterson and Andy Schmidt; publisher, Marvel Comics.

Drax the Destroyer 1 (November 2005)

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There’s so much sci-fi mumbo jumbo in this issue. So, so much. The first five pages or so are just Keith Giffen writing sci-fi babble for his alien characters. Then the comic starts. The sci-fi babble comes back a little later, but the comic’s strong enough it doesn’t annoy.

It’s a great setup. An intergalactic prison ship crashes on Earth (in Alaska). Will the surviving aliens come across the precious teenagers from the nearby town and will it be trouble? Of course. But Giffen writes the characters well–there’s the tough girl and the dorky guy. And the stuff with the aliens bickering… Giffen does fine with it too.

Where Drax has problems is the art. Mitch Breitweiser has a lot of problems keeping the figures consistent, not to mention the dimensions of heads. Lots of problems there. And the action’s not great.

But the writing’s strong.

CREDITS

Earthfall; writer, Keith Giffen; artist, Mitch Breitweiser; colorist, Brian Reber; letterer, Cory Petit; editors, Molly Lazer, Aubrey Sitterson and Andy Schmidt; publisher, Marvel Comics.

Hero Squared X-tra Sized Special 1 (January 2005)

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Hero Squared is not high concept. Keith Giffen and J.M. DeMatteis’s approach to it, however, is high concept. The plot’s simple–a Superman (and Captain Marvel) analog ends up in an alternate universe where Earth has no heroes (I think it’s Earth-3, pre-Crisis) and has to deal with his powerless alter ego. Oh, and the hero? He’s just a comic book hero on this Earth.

Except his powerless alter ego is a floundering, feckless twenty-something incapable of adult emotion. And the superhero? His entire universe has just been destroyed and he’s dealing with those events while trying to maintain the hero thing.

It’s excellent stuff. It’s a little awkward, pacing wise, since it’s a one shot, but Giffen and DeMatteis write fantastic dialogue; they establish their characters in two lines. Outstanding writing.

Joe Abraham’s art is mostly quite good, it’s sometimes off a little. But mostly good.

O.M.A.C. 3 (January 2012)

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It’s the first all-action issue of O.M.A.C. and everyone–meaning Giffen and Koblish–does fine. There’s one great moment when O.M.A.C. “smashes,” which I assume was a Hulk reference.

But the issue introduces the first original villain, a very silly Psi-fi Man, who has a distended brain stem because he’s so smart and psychic.

It shouldn’t work, it really shouldn’t.

But like everything else in O.M.A.C., it does. Psi-fi Man works. Heck, after the send-off the issue gives him, I wish he’d get a one shot.

The book still manages not to be silly, even though… you know, it’s silly. Now Didio and Giffen are introducing (or reintroducing into the new DC Universe) Checkmate. Only they have these light show weapons out of Tron and whatnot. They’re after O.M.A.C., who’s zapping around the country, with Brother Eye setting him up for trouble.

O.M.A.C.‘s a constant joy.

CREDITS

Offensive Meetings, Antagonistic Communications; writers, Dan Didio and Keith Giffen; penciller, Giffen; inker, Scott Koblish; colorist, Hi-Fi; letterer, Travis Lanham; editors, Harvey Richards; publisher, DC Comics.

Green Arrow 3 (January 2012)

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If you illegally download, you want to watch psychopaths murder people. Krul makes the world so simple. I was shocked Ollie didn’t break the fourth wall to tell any comic book downloaders they were killing him.

Then the comic ends with this lame “growing up” speech. Krul forgot to make Ollie Steve Jobs and turned it into the Iron Man movie.

But I still appreciate Green Arrow as one of the new DC’s less offensive bad comics. It’s simple-minded and Krul’s not willing to commit to much (oh, the people watching Green Arrow get killed on the Internet aren’t bad… they’re just lonely), but the art’s competent superhero art.

Jurgens and Perez continue to make Arrow look like a book from the nineties. It’s like a book people tell you to read; you do and you’re perplexed. Then they say, “Oh, I meant the back issues, it’s crap now.”

CREDITS

Green Arrow’s Last Stand; writer, J.T. Krul; pencillers, Dan Jurgens, George Pérez and Ray McCarthy; inkers, Pérez and McCarthy; colorists, Tanya Horie and Richard Horie; letterer, Rob Leigh; editors, Sean Mackiewicz and Pat McCallum; publisher, DC Comics.

O.M.A.C. 2 (December 2011)

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The second issue of O.M.A.C. is even better than the first, as Didio and Giffen embrace all their wackiness. Even when the wackiness is forced, it works great. Like the secret reveal at the end–it’s kind of obvious, but with Giffen’s Kirby-homage approach to the character, it works.

Didio and Giffen continue their Hulk approach with the O.M.A.C. guy moving around a desert town and getting into trouble because Brother Eye has some plans for him. But when they bring in an actual emotional need, they get away with it. Some of their dialogue is weak, but mostly just the guy talking to himself. Everything else works.

What works really well is the narration. It’s so intensely serious, it’s funny, which sums up half the book. The other half is the goofiness of the O.M.A.C. guy.

Didio and Giffen’s O.M.A.C. is perhaps the most singular title in DC’s relaunch.

CREDITS

Odd Meals Assure Confrontation; writers, Dan Didio and Keith Giffen; penciller, Giffen; inker, Scott Koblish; colorist, Hi-Fi; letterer, Travis Lanham; editor, Harvey Richards; publisher, DC Comics.

O.M.A.C. 1 (November 2011)

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They had me until the last page. I mean, OMAC is a terrible idea for DC’s relaunch. It’s a big Kirby homage when the line is supposed to be geared at people who don’t know or care about Jack Kirby.

But it’s also Keith Giffen letting loose. Apparently, he can be freewheeling when he’s got the president of the company as his co-writer (or whatever Dan Didio’s position’s called). Because the story’s so straightforward and enthusiastic, they could practically get away with anything in terms of dialogue. But it’s still good dialogue. Giffen always had an ear for conversation.

The only problem–besides the last page (which might even be in the original Kirby continuity, I don’t care)–is Scott Koblish’s inks. He controls Giffen, making the lines thin and tight. For a better Kirby homage, it should’ve just been Giffen.

Maybe Koblish is supposed to make it accessible….

CREDITS

Office Management Amidst Chaos; writers, Dan Didio and Keith Giffen; penciller, Giffen; inker, Scott Koblish; colorist, Hi-Fi; letterer, Travis Lanham; editor, Harvey Richards; publisher, DC Comics.

DC Retroactive: Justice League America – The ’90s 1 (October 2011)

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Bringing Giffen, DeMatteis and Maguire back for a “final” return to their Justice League works quite well. Even though DC’s historically challenged calling them an nineties team–weren’t they the quintessential eighties team?

The issue’s incredibly complex and layered–everyone gets a subplot, except Martian Manhunter, who just gets the unintentionally funny lines. Giffen and DeMatteis plot it like a sitcom episode. They have a couple running jokes; both work well. They’re even able to get all the foreshadowing the ominous future events to be amusing.

Maguire’s best work, besides being able to fit so many characters into panels, is his rendition of the drunken parademon whose presence kicks everything off. There’s just something stunning about a somewhat mystical character so realistically rendered.

All the dialogue is great, all the jokes connect. It’d be the best Retroactive title but its pedigree is too high to compare to the other ones.

CREDITS

Apokolips No!; writers, Keith Giffen and J.M. DeMatteis; artist, Kevin Maguire; colorist, Rosemary Cheetham; letterer, Carlos M. Mangual; editors, Chynna Clugston Flores and Jim Chadwick; publisher, DC Comics.

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