Friday, February 26, 2016

2016 Comic Challenge 109 Animal Man #89

TITLE-Animal Man #89
PUBLISHER-Vertigo imprint of DC Comics

After right at 8 years the amazing Animal Man comic comes to an end.While most fans if they have read any of the first volume of Animal Man have read the 26 issues that Grant Morrison wrote. And sure that run is great. The series managed to get even better after Morrison left.This is the final issue of Jerry Prosser's 10 issue run on the title. Fred Harper also ends his 10 issue run as penciler.

All the storylines that hadn't been resolved in the series get resolved with this issue. Buddy,Animal Man,manages to not only save his daughter from some evil entity,but also managed to get back into his human form. And it is in time to see his 3rd child being born.

I can see why the series ended here. Now I enjoyed Mr Prosser's run. But him coming on and replacing Jamie Delano,who is considered the second best writer on Animal Man,had caused  lots of people to drop the title.

Now I have read lots of Vertigo series. From the stuff that became part of the imprint once it started,like Swamp Thing,Sandman and of course Animal Man. To series like Fables,Exterminators and Scalped. But for me so far nothing has topped Animal Man. For 89 issues plus one annual I got a well written series that managed to work out answers to various questions I am sure most long time comic fans have thought about. Like how does a superhero make money? For lots of this series Buddy is trying to figure out a way to earn a living while also keeping up his superhero career.

Animal Man #89 gets a BUY!

2016 Comic Challenge 108 Popeye:King Educational Comics Giveaway E-12

TITLE-Popeye:King Educational Comics Giveaway E-12
PUBLISHER-King Features

Another giveaway comic I had no idea existed until sometime in 2008.For right at 5 years the first Thursday of the month was an auction in a town about 10 minutes from my home. Normally it was full of old tools,furniture and other stuff I have no interest in. I would usually show up 30 minutes before the auction started. Would go look at all the stuff the dealers had set out to auction. And if I found something I liked I would stay until it came up for auction. So I walk in and see a box that contained at least 40 copies of this comic. All of them still in the polybag they came in. I asked which dealer's table they were on. Found out it was a guy I had dealt with a few times. "Yeah I doubt you would want to buy them all. But as long you agree to buy 5 of them I can let them go at a buck a copy." I agreed and he ended up being the first person to auction stuff.

Written by Joe Gill and with Frank Roberge doing the interior art,George R Wildmon handles the cover art. This was part of a series that was given out at schools. In this one Popeye educates us on various personal service careers. Stuff like being a barber. The comic is pretty much crap. Missing even the stuff that is common in Popeye stories.

So I ended up spending $5 for 5 copies of a crappy comic. Sounds like a bad deal. Then one night in 2010 I was looking at Lonestar Comics online site. And saw that they were offering money or store credit for this comic.I contacted them and asked how much they offered for copies still in the polybag. Turns out they had never seen any copies in the polybag. And ended up offering me $10 a copy each in cash or $15 in store credit. I ended up sending them 4 copies and got store credit. Which was quickly used to get more comics.

Popeye:King Educational Comics Giveaway E-12 gets a PASS!

2016 Comic Challenge 107 Amazing Spider-man NACME #02

TITLE-Amazing Spider-Man NACME #02
PUBLISHER-Marvel Comics

Before I got this issue in the summer of 2008 I had never heard of it. NACME is the National Action Council for Minorities in Engineering. And they put out two of these comics starring Spidey.

So how did I end up with this oddball comic? Well right before my birthday in 2008 I started a job doing home health care. I would goto this old man's house at 8pm. And from 8pm until 8am I was there to help him. He could barely walk and had a few other issues. Most nights he was asleep by 10pm. And since he slept until 5am I had right at 7 hours a night where all I had to do was be there. Right after starting this job I had a death in my family. I went down to the coast for the services. And had two different cousins give me a few longboxes of comics. In one of those boxes was 2 copies of this comic. Which unlike most of the others in the box,was bagged and boarded and appeared to be mint.

We got the usually damn good Dwayne McDuffie writing it. And Alex Saviuk handling the pencils.Chris Ivy handles the inks.

The comics is your standard Spidey story for this timeframe. Full of Spidey wise cracking a bunch while fighting crime.Since the cover mentions a Riot at Robotworld. And which major Marvel supervillain works best with Robotworld? Ultron of course. I have always liked Ultron,and prefer the wise cracking Spidey to any other version of Spidey.

A few years back my cousin's two boys were getting into comics. So I wen through my collection and made them a longbox full of stuff I either didn't want or stuff I had more than one copy of. I had 2 copies of this comic. So threw one into their longbox. Recently both the boys kind of got out of comics. And trying to make a few extra bucks my cousin looked the comics up. Seems there is a decent amount of demand for this comic. She ended up getting $5 for it. Not bad for what I am sure was a giveaway comic.

Amazing Spider-Man NACME #02 gets a borrow.

2016 Comic Challenge 106 The Adventures of Chrissie Claus #02

TITLE-The Adventures of Chrissie Claus #02

This came out around X-mas 1993. But I didn't get my copy until 2010.Chrissie is the college age daughter of Santa Claus. But she wants to live a normal life. So she has left the North Pole and is enrolled in college. It is spring break and her and her friends go down to Florida. Where the run into all kinds of trouble and wacky mishaps

This is a comic I wouldn't look at twice,even if I found it in the 10 comics for a buck bin. And when I got it,was an Ebay auction for 10lbs of random comics,it went to the bottom of my reading pile.

I find the "for children of all ages" blurb on the cover to be pretty funny. While there is no nudity or foul language in the comic. It is full of cheesecake artwork. This came out during the mid 90s bad girls craze. And it feels like the publisher was trying to make an all ages bad girl/cheesecake art book.

The Adventures of Chrissie Claus #02 gets a pass.

2016 Comic Challenge 105 D.P.7 #32

TITLE-D.P.7 #32
PUBLISHER-New Universe an imprint of Marvel Comics

Cover dated June of 1989 this is the final issue of DP7.Sadly the New Universe experiment didn't even last 3 full years. I love how the cover claims "32 in a thirty-two issue limited series". 

By the time of this issue only 5 of the original 7 are left in the title. And all of them are now living in NYC. They hear about someone who claims they can "cure" paranormals of their abilities. And the issue is about our heroes/heroines trying to decide if they want to lose their abilities or not.

Mark Gruenwald wrote this issue like he did the rest of the series. And it shows how much he loved these characters. This is one of my favorite things the late Mr Gruenwald wrote. He took what started off as a slightly more realistic version of the X-men and made it into one of the better written comics coming out of Marvel in the mid to late 80s.

Paul Ryan does the pencils. And out of all the artists that worked on the series,I find Mr Ryan's pencils to best capture the energy Gruenwald was putting into the scripts.

With Blur,one of the original 7 who isn't in this issue,now a part of the revamped Squadron Supreme I got the craving for some classic DP7 stuff. So I dug the issue out of my New Universe longbox.I doubt it would happen but I would love to see someone come and write at least another issue of DP7 that happens after this one.

D.P.7 #32 gets a buy.

2016 Comic Challenge 104 Archie's Funhouse Comics Double Digest #18

TITLE-Archie's Funhouse Comics Double Digest #18
PUBLISHER-Archie Comics

Under this neat cover,by Tito Pena,Fernando Ruiz and Bob Smith,is a fun collection of old and new Archie comics. Archie's Funhouse seems to have replaced Pals N Gals in the Double Digest line up. In that Funhouse takes the focus off Archie and spotlights the other characters in Riverdale.

I am still trying to figure out who the piss yellow dog on the cover is suppose to be. I know it ain't Hotdog,since he is white and looks very different from the cover dog. And I don't think it is Archie's dog,who's name I can't remember right now. But that bright yellow dog stands out.

One difference I noticed with this digest,which is one of the first digests I have gotten in a few years,is that now all the stories except for the 1 page gag strips contain credits. For years the Archie comics had no credits. So fans had to get good and knowing the various artists' styles. A thing I have never been good at.

I love how now Archie's various Double Digests are only a buck more than most comics. When they contain right at 250 pages of comics. And your average comic has maybe 22 pages. Too bad more companies aren't doing digests.Back in the 70s and 80s both Marvel and DC published digests. But since the mid 90s neither company has bothered with this format.

Archie's Funhouse Comics Double Digest #18 gets a buy.

2016 Comics Challenge 103 Classics Illustrated #04 Last of the Mohicans

TITLE-Classics Illustrated #04 Last of the Mohicans
PUBLISHER-Gilberton Comics

Growing up I heard about Classics Illustrated from my parents and their siblings. From the fall of 1941 until spring 1969,Gilberton published a total of 166 issues.  Most of which went thru many many print runs. My copy of issue 4 is a 14th or later printing.

From what I have been told kids used these comics like how people my age used Cliff's Notes. Instead of reading the book you got assigned in school you could pay 10 to 15 cents and get a comic book version of it.Now I have never read the novel this comic is based on,but from what I can find seems like this comic book adaptation follows the book fairly closely.

The cover on this issue has some great artwork. I do wish I knew who did it. It is much much better than the interior artwork.As you can see from the picture my copy isn't in the best shape. Hell the cover isn't even attached to the comic any more.

So how did I get this comic that came out at least 20 years before I was born? A few years back I met a guy who collected VHS. Mostly wanting horror,science fiction and cartoons on VHS. One of my neighbors had been given a bunch of VHS by their kids. And I got told to come over and grab whatever I wanted. So I ended up trading a stack of VHS for right at 20 issues of Classic Illustrated. All of them were a bit beat up. But that doesn't matter to me. Finally after right at 40 years of hearing about these comics I got to read a bunch of them.

Classic Illustrated #04 Last of the Mohicans gets a borrow.

2016 Comic Challenge 102 Proof #01

TITLE-Proof #01

Back a few years ago a guy I know from a comic forum came up with a neat way to not only get rid of comics he didn't want ,but also a way to make a bit of money. He started up Cheap-o-comics. Where for $5 plus $3 for shipping he sent you 5 random comics. It was in one of these random lots that I got Proof.

Created by Alexander Grecian and Riley Rossmo,Proof is a series about an X-files like group. They work for the government. And John "Proof"Prufrock is a Sasquatch. Who works for this team. They mostly track down cryptids.

The story in this issue is a nice balance of drama and comedy. The artwork looks great and fits the mood of the story very well. And after reading this issue I now want to track down the rest of the series.

Proof #01 gets a buy.

2016 Comic Challenge 101 Sin City The Babe wore Red

TITLE-Sin City The Babe Wore Red
PUBLISHER-Dark Horse Comics

Published in fall of 1994,this one shot collected 3  of the Sin City shorts that had appeared in odd places. And as always with Sin City Frank Miller is the writer and artist.

"And Behind Door Number Three..." is the first story. Someone has been killing the hookers in Old Town. The story is only 4 pages long. One of the hookers,I think it is Goldie,has a john at her place. She realizes there is something wrong with him. So yells for Gail to come help her. Seems he is the guy that has been killing the hookers. So Gail and Goldie tie him up then the story ends as Miho enters the room. And if you have seen the films or read the comics you know that Miho will make sure this slimeball gets what is coming to him.

"The Customer is always Right" is the second story in this collection.It is also the first Sin City story to be filmed. We get three pages.Our nameless hitman has been hired to kill a woman that crossed the wrong people. He meets her out on a balcony. During a rainstorm. He kills her. And we find out she hired him herself. Cause he would give her a more peaceful death than whoever it is she crossed.

"The Babe wore Red" is the final story. And the longest in the collection. It also is the first time in a Sin City comic that we got a color that isn't black or white. It is the red that the titular babe wore.Dwight gets a call late at night. And when he arrives the guy who called him is dead. But he meets a woman there. A gorgeous woman. Who just wants to settle somethings before she can move on with her life. With help from Dwight her issues are solved. And at the end we find out the titular woman is actually a nun.

While this isn't the best issue of Sin City,the first story is way too short.It is worth checking out. I am sure it is reprinted in one of the many trades/hardcovers Dark Horse has put out since the first film was such a big hit.

Sin City The babe wore red gets a BUY!

2016 Comic Challenge 100 Sin City Just another Saturday Night

TITLE-Sin City Just Another Saturday Night
PUBLISHER-Dark Horse Comics

Yep my very battered copy of one of the many Sin City one-shots.The lady on the cover is the stripper Jessica "I have no acting talent" Alba played in the two films.

As you should know this being Sin City,Frank Miller writes and draws this crime drama comic. Usually with Sin City each story was many many issues long. But every once in awhile Miller would put out one shots. This was the final Sin City comic I bought before the first film came out. It was new comic day. I had just walked into the comic shop,when the owner says "Hey I had no idea you worked on Sin City." I looked at him with a puzzled look. Until he opened it up and I see someone with my name is listed for book design.

The story is all about Marv. Starting on a Saturday night. He comes to and has no clue where he is. And why he is there. So he searches his pockets for clues. All of which lead him all over the city. And with it being Marv that means a bunch of people are gonna get beat the hell up. And the story ends pretty much how it began. Marv comes too after blacking out and has no clue where he is.

Marv is my second favorite of all the Sin City characters. And sure sometimes Miller makes him way more powerful than a human should be. But that also happened in the noir films that Miller took his inspiration from.

Sin City Just Another Saturday Night gets a Buy!

2016 Comic Challenge 099 Oceanverse

PUBLISHER-self published thru Ka-Blam digital printing

Out of every 100 comics I add to my listing at the online comic database I use,there is usually at least 2 or 3 they don't have. Mostly it happens with 70s era Archie and Gold Key stuff. This is the only modern comic that I own that isn't in that database.

So what is Oceanverse? It is 12 pages of what feels like the pitch for a daily action comic strip. You have to turn the comic sideways to read this book. Created by Michael Schwartz,who was inspired by the podcast Comic Geek Speak. At one time he was putting up a new strip in this series every few days. I think he has long since stopped doing it. And I have no idea how many of this collection of the first 20 or so strips got printed.

The inside front cover indicates this issue was passed out at the big CGS episode 300 celebration. I couldn't attend it. But not long afterwards I was mailed my prizes for beating CGS's then resident trivia guy. And as an bonus he threw in this comic.

Oceanverse is about a new experimental submarine. And the mission it's crew is sent on. In the 12 pages we get lots of world building is going on. Which does what it should do. In that it makes me want to read more Oceanverse.The art isn't bad. But I do wonder how it would look with pro-inks and colors.

Oceanverse gets a borrow.

2016 Comic Challenge 098 Monica's Story

TITLE-Monica's Story
PUBLISHER-Alternative Comics

Yep there is a comic book version of the Monica/Bill Clinton scandal. This came out in either late 98 or early 99.Written by Jon Lewis,with an assist from the Starr Report,and with semi famous artist James Kochalka.

We get to see stuff like the first time Monica showed Bill her whaletail.
We see how their relationship slowly built. And while the comic never gets super graphic in showing what happened. You do get scenes were it is obvious that Clinton is getting some oral in the Oval Office.

Then we get to X-mas Eve. And Monica sees that someone has sent the President a box of cigars.Which as most of y'all should know leads up to the most infamous part of the entire Starr Report. A scene that the artist does a neat way of showing it without going into full on porn territory.
Yep they used the Presidental seal to cover up Monica's vagina. So the comic starts moving forward in time. And of course all of us old enough to remember when this was all over the news,has to remember the famous stain Monica had on an old dress. And of course the comic has to show us this scene also.
Oh that wacky Monica thinking it is spinach dip.And our 33 page story,they use the inside back cover for the last page,ends with Monica thinking all is good.

I remember when I saw the advance order for this comic thinking "Ok if this wasn't from James Kochalka I wouldn't order it." And the comic shop I went to ended up only ordering 3 copies. My copy,one for the owner and one for the wall.

I do like how they managed to stick to the official story without going to far in showing graphic sex. The choice of James as the artist was damn good. His style is a bit cartoony with a dash of realism.

Monica's Story gets a buy. But only if you find it for under $5.

2016 Comic Challenge 097 Archie's Pals n Gals Double Digest #121

TITLE-Archie's Pals n Gals Double Digest #121
PUBLISHER-Archie Comics

One of the few things better than an Archie digest is an Archie Double Digest. At a bit over two times the size the double digests are great deals. Pretty sure all Archie puts out now is Double Digests.

Since Dilton is on the cover I figured he might get the spotlight in this issue. Pals N Gals tended to focus on people outside Archie's big four,who are Archie,Jughead,Veronica and Betty. This issue has a couple of really good Dilton stories. And a few one page gag strips with Riverdale's resident head nerd.Plus you get a handful of stories where Cheryl Blossom is in the lead. First appearing a long time ago,Cheryl was kind of forgotten. Then Archie did their first big storyline "Love Showdown" and brought her back.Then the last third of the digest is all Lil Archie stories. With lots of Lil Reggie stories in this section.

Back when I was buying lots of Archie digests. I was getting them cause my job at the time gave me 7 to 8 hours of down time each shift. And a double digest would help kill a few of those hours.

Archie's Pals N Gals #121 gets a buy.

2016 Comic Challenge 096 Reggie and me #126

TITLE-Reggie and me #126
PUBLISHER-Archie Comics

Coming out sometime in the summer of 1980 this is the last issue of the long running Reggie solo series from Archie. Now while Reggie didn't appear in the first few Archie stories,once he appeared he has been a constant member of the various Archie titles.

I have no clue where I got this comic. Over the past 15 years I have gotten into the habit of picking up any Archie comic I find that is a buck or less. I doubt I have even read this issue before. And look at that cover.It has the same trade dress that almost all the Archie titles used for years. From sometime in the early 70s until at least the early 90s.So I open it up and what do I see on the inside front cover?
Yep it's a Hostess Fruit Pie ad starring Josie. I love these ads. And see lots of the DC and Marvel ones uploaded online. But rarely see the Archie and Harvey ones.

Really it is kind of hard to review these Archie comics. Most of the stories follow one of 8 or so plots. And usually the art looks the same no matter who is drawing it.This issue has 4 stories. All of which are at least 4 pages. Plus something I think is missing from modern comics. It has an activity page.
And it is a very easy activity page. You start at the top and follow the line while writing down each letter. Which then gives you the message.

Another thing that stood out in this comic is how few of the pages are for ads. There is 4 pages,not including the inside front and back covers,that contain ads. I am sure in Marvel/DC comics at the time had more ads than that.

Reggie and me #126 is a fairly standard late 70s/early 80s Archie comic. You get 2 new stories and then 2 reprints.Who knows with this Riverdale live action pilot getting greenlit,Luke Perry has been cast as Archie's father,maybe it will bring more people back into reading Archie.

Reggie and me #126 gets a borrow.

2016 Comic Challenge 095 Q-Unit Ashcan edition

TITLE-Q-Unit ashcan
PUBLISHER-Harris Comics

Back in the early 90s Harris looked like a break out company. They started off by bringing back Vampirella. Which was a huge hit. So they tried to expand their line of comics.Starting in fall of 93 all the various comic book zines started having 1 and 2 page ads for Q-Unit. Which from all the promotion it was getting I expected it to be a huge hit. Then I kind of got out of comics and forgot about Q-Unit.

Skip ahead to 1998. I now have a great local comic shop,Lynn's Comics in Nederland TX. He had a neat way of getting rid of comics/magazines he didn't want anymore. For every 20 bucks you spent you got to go pick out 2 comics or one magazine off this one series of shelves.Having had read and enjoy Hero Illustrated back in the early 90s I would grab an issues of it off the shelf. I opened up one of the bagged issues and had this Q-Unit ashcan fall out. I looked at it and remembered all the press Q-Unit got before it came out. And looked it up. Q-Unit lasted for 1 issue! Yeah they spend huges amount of cash promoting a series that lasted 1 issue LOLOLOL.

The ashcan has what I am assuming is the first 7 pages of the 1 and only issue. After which we get a bunch of pages of info on the various members of the team. Once I read all of this I realized Q-Unit was very much a clone of the much better and longer lasting Alien Legion. Sure the art on Q-Unit is pretty,Karl Altstaetter does it. But the story is nothing you haven't read before.

Now I am really curious why this series died so fast. Seems pretty much everything Harris did that wasn't Vampirella died a quick death.

Q-Unit ashcan gets a borrow.

2016 Comic Challenge 094 Pitt Hero Illustrated Premiere Edition Ashcan #10

TITLE-Pitt Hero Illustrated Premiere Edition Ashcan #10
PUBLISHER-Image Comics/Hero Illustrated

Ok who out there remembers Pitt? Now how many people remember Hero Illustrated? Yeah not many. Pitt was Dale "The Incredible Hulk" Keown's comic for the short time he was at Image. Hero Illustrated was the same company that published Electronic Gaming Monthly's answer to Wizard. The first year or so of Hero came with ashcan comics. Which is what the above is.

So how is the comic? Well there isn't much here. It is smaller than your average comic. But a bit bigger than a digest comic. It is hard to make out in the picture,but the cover has a red foil border and the title logo is in red foil.I flip the comic open and the inside front cover has the credits. Seems this is from Pitt #3. Dale Keown gets credit for "pencils & words".And someone named Brian Hotton also gets credit for "words". We get what I am guessing is the first 6 pages of Pitt #03. They are in black and white. Which works really good with Dale's artwork. A truck full of people are out hunting and end up running into Pitt. Yeah that is pretty much all that happens. After our six pages of story the next section is 9 pages titled The Pitt Gallery.Which has sketches,alternative pages,unused covers and other rare Pitt artwork from Mr Keown.

I actually read Pitt back when it started.But like lots of the early Image stuff there was sometimes many many months between issues. Which caused me to lose interest. And from looking at the covers I gave up on the series by issue 4.

I have no clue how hard it would be to get this issue. When I do find back issues of Hero Illustrated they never cost more than 3 bucks. And that is for issues that are still in the polybag. Really besides the nice foil cover there isn't much to this issue that makes it worth picking up.

Pitt Hero Illustrated Premiere Edition Ashcan #10 gets a pass.

2016 Comic Challenge 093 Dark Knight III The Master Race #03

TITLE-Dark Knight III The Master Race #03

With the one escaped Kandorian taking over the world,Carrie and Bruce goto the Fortress of Solitude to awaken Superman.

And on the other side we see Superman and Wonder Woman's daughter turning to the dark side.

Really this is more of a set up issue than anything else. The backstory with Hal Jordan is meh.

Honestly I should have just waited till this series was over and grabbed the trade. but DKR is one of my favorite series. And I loved the sequel,yeah I know I am one of the few,so I was gonna read this as it came out even if it was a dumb idea. And this issue with was. Nothing here was worth what I paid.

Dark Knight III #03 gets a borrow.