Friday, March 24, 2017

GREEN LANTERN #87

Script: Denny O’Neil (story A) & Elliot Maggin (story B)
Art: Neal Adams | Inks: Dick Giordano (#87) | Editor: Julie Schwartz

“BEWARE MY POWER” | “WHAT CAN ONE MAN DO?”

Well, you learn something new every day, and for me today, it's this: until the very instant I looked at this issue’s cover before reading the stories inside, I never had any idea that John Stewart was created by Denny O’Neil and Neal Adams. For whatever reason, I thought he came along later and was perhaps the brainchild of Steve Englehart during his GREEN LANTERN CORPS run from the eighties.

Anyway – GREEN LANTERN (co-starring Green Arrow) #87 splits the title heroes into two separate solo stories. In the first, Earth’s backup Green Lantern, Guy Gardner, is injured during an earthquake and the Guardians choose architect John Stewart as his replacement. Hal Jordan spends the story training Stewart and even forces him to protect a bigoted senator at a presidential rally in order to test his devotion to the GL uniform. Stewart comes through, protecting the senator from an assassination attempt (which turns out to be a publicity stunt) and earning Hal’s respect.

I like John Stewart, though pretty much everything I know about the character comes from the JUSTICE LEAGUE cartoon series. Here, in his original incarnation, he's a bit rougher and more quippy than his animated counterpart, but he's still an entertaining character.

Monday, March 20, 2017

DAREDEVIL #169

"DEVILS"
Writer/Penciler: Frank Miller | Inker : Klaus Janson
Colorist: Glynis Wein | Letterer: Joe Rosen
Editor: Denny O’Neil | Editor-in-Chief: Jim Shooter

The Plot: Bullseye escapes from custody just before undergoing an operation to remove a brain tumor. Hallucinating, he has spells during which he believes everyone he sees is Daredevil. The real Daredevil begins a hunt for Bullseye, eventually catching up with him for a battle that heads underground to Manhattan’s subway tunnels. There, despite the cacophony of agonizing sounds assaulting his radar sense, Daredevil bests Bullseye and turns him over to the police.

Later, Bullseye’s surgery goes on as planned and the tumor is successfully removed.

Sub-Plots & Continuity Notes: As the issue opens, Matt Murdock is on a TV talk show called Good Evening, New York to discuss his role in “the controversial angel dust murders.” This seems to be a continuity glitch — said murders were to be the plot of the McKenzie/Miller Punisher story which was advertised a few issues back but never published. I guess Miller either figured at this point that the angel dust story would remain an unpublished, "untold" adventure, or it might run somewhere else somehow. But, as we'll see in a few months, the storyline will eventually see print near the end of Miller’s run as writer, appearing in "real time" continuity rather than as a flashback or something -- which means Murdock is in some kind of time loop here, where he's asked here about something that hasn't yet happened!

Detective Nick Manolis returns to fill Daredevil in on Bullseye’s escape. He must have a very broad mandate within the NYPD, not to mention an unusually huge jurisdiction — two issues ago he responded to an armed assault on Long Island, while here he's presiding over a multiple homicide in Manhattan!

Friday, March 17, 2017

GREEN LANTERN #85 – 86

”SNOWBIRDS DON’T FLY!” | “THEY SAY IT’LL KILL ME… BUT THEY WON’T SAY WHEN!”
Script: Denny O’Neil | Art: Neal Adams | Inks: Dick Giordano (#86)
Editor: Julie Schwartz

I think I said this up front when I began this review series, but it bears repeating as we begin a look at this, the best-known story from the O'Neil/Adams GREEN LANTERN/GREEN ARROW run: I don't, as a rule, object entirely to social messages in superhero comics. My objection tends to be more on a case-by-case basis. Look at it this way: when these stories were originally published in 1970-71, comics’ target market was still ostensibly children. And while I do believe children are more complex than we often give them credit for, with their own fears and issues, I don't believe it's the purview of a mainstream superhero comic to introduce them to the concepts of white guilt, overpopulation, or, errm… plastic cities.

But by the same token, I do believe that superhero comics should teach appreciation for all races and creeds, and they should certainly tackle problems which the children reading them might actually encounter. No child will give a second thought to overpopulation. It means nothing to them. But do a story about, say, bullying or drugs, and then you're sending a message which your target audience can comprehend and appreciate, and which may actually resonate with them.

Which brings us to GREEN LANTERN issues 85 and 86. The story follows our heroes as they chase down the junkies who mugged Green Arrow using a crossbow that fired one of his own shafts at him. This quest leads them to Arrow’s ward, Speedy, among the junkies. As the cover to part one implies, this story hinges largely on GA actually being a little ignorant — or at least blind — as he initially assumes Speedy is undercover and never once guesses the awful truth revealed on the final page (and totally spoiled by the cover): Speedy is a junkie himself!

Monday, March 13, 2017

DAREDEVIL #168

"ELEKTRA"
Artist and Writer : Frank Miller | Inker/Embellisher: Klaus Janson
Colorist: Dr. Martin | Letterer: Joe Rosen
Editor: Denny O’Neil | Editor-in-Chief: Jim Shooter

The Plot: In search of a thief under the protection of Eric Slaughter, Daredevil runs afoul of a bounty hunter whose voice he recognizes as that of Elektra, the woman he loved in college. Elektra knocks DD out and, while unconscious, he flashes back to their time together.

When he comes around, Daredevil continues his search for the missing thief, and he and Elektra cross paths once more on the waterfront as Slaughter is about to send his charge away in a seaplane. Elektra realizes that Daredevil is Matt Murdock when he saves her life. He then leaves her on the pier as the police approach.

Sub-Plots & Continuity Notes: Daredevil’s search for the missing thief brings him into contact with Turk, who reminds DD and the readers of their last altercation on Coney Island in issue 161.Turk’s boss, Eric Slaughter, puts in an appearance here as well.

But more importantly, this issue features the debut of Elektra, possibly Frank Miller’s most iconic creation. We meet her first via a brief skirmish with Daredevil, and then her backstory is quickly filled in by way of an extended flashback to Matt Murdock’s college days. The short of it is that she was the daughter of the Greek ambassador, studying in the United States. She and Matt fell head over heels for one another very quickly, leading him to reveal his powers to her. But Elektra left school abruptly a year later when he father was killed by the police in a botched attempt to defuse a hostage situation.

Sunday, March 12, 2017

THE UNBOXING - MARCH 2017

Just two books this month, one from each of the "Big Two", and both are nice hardcovers.

The first, from Marvel, is the MASTER OF KUNG FU OMNIBUS volume 3, continuing the cult classic run from the seventies and eighties. I'll remind readers that volume 1 and volume 2 are both still available, but that it really seems as if this is a limited reprint deal, so once these books are gone, it's probably not likely (but don't hold me to this; I'm only try to read between the lines) that this material will ever be collected again in any format. There will be a fourth and final volume to close out the series, but as of yet it hasn't been solicited.


And from DC, it's BATMAN AND THE OUTSIDERS volume 1. This series, by Mike W. Barr and Jim Aparo (later replaced by Alan Davis), is one I've had interest in for some time, but until now the only reprint available was a black-and-white SHOWCASE PRESENTS volume from a few years back. Now, however, it's arrived in full color and I look forward to finally reading it. Hopefully this initial volume sells well enough to warrant enough follow-ups to collect the full series (or at least the full run of issues featuring Batman as the team's mentor). At the moment there are no further installments solicited, so time will tell...!

Friday, March 10, 2017

GREEN LANTERN #82 – 84

Script: Denny O’Neil | Art: Neal Adams | Editor: Julie Schwartz
Inks: Dick Giordano (#82-83) & Berni Wrightson (#82 assist & #84)

“HOW DO YOU FIGHT A NIGHTMARE?”

My theory last week that the "social relevance" angle was a six-issue experiment seems to be borne out by this installment, which is a simple, message-free superhero adventure featuring Sinestro using Green Arrow and Black Canary as bait to spring a trap for Green Lantern. The entire tale is set at night, giving it the moody atmosphere I most associate with the O'Neil/Adams team from their Batman stories, and that, combined with the presence of a genuine supervillain, makes this easily my favorite installment of the run so far.

A few observations: Apparently Sinestro has a sister, who aids him here in his scheme. No idea if this was her first appearance or not. Green Arrow notes that he “used to be rich”. I was well aware that the classic version of Oliver Queen was a wealthy playboy a la Bruce Wayne, and that by the eighties he had been stripped of his wealth, but I had no idea that aspect of his character had been done away with so much earlier. I always figured it was an invention of the Mike Grell/"Longbow Hunters" era of the character. And lastly, it suddenly occurs to me that Black Canary only ever uses judo against her enemies in these stories. I haven't seen her use her sonic scream at any point. I assume the character must have lacked that ability during this period, but I've no idea whether it was a power she’d once had and lost, or whether it simply hadn't been created yet.

Monday, March 6, 2017

DAREDEVIL #167

"THE MAULER!"
Writer : David Michelinie| Penciler: Frank Miller | Inker: Klaus Janson
Letterer: Joe Rosen | Colorist: Glynis Wein
Editor: Denny O’Neil | Editor-in-Chief: Jim Shooter

The Plot: Matt Murdock and Heather Glenn are at an exclusive country club soiree hosted by defense contractor Edwin Cord when the party is crashed by an armored figure called the Mauler, who has come for Cord. Matt changes to Daredevil and defends the CEO, but the Mauler escapes.

Later, DD confronts Cord at his estate and learns that the Mauler is a disgruntled former employee named Aaron Soames, who stole the armor when he was fired. The following night, Daredevil stakes out Cord’s Long Island factory, expecting the Mauler to strike again while Cord works late. Sure enough, Soames shows up and attacks once more. Soames reveals to DD that his pension was lost as a result of a computer glitch and Cord refused to fix it, leading him on the path to retribution.

Somes finally confronts Cord and Daredevil is surprised to see that all he wants is to destroy Cord’s ID and credit cards so that he won’t exist either. But Cord security arrives and blasts Soames, klling him. Daredevil knocks Cord unconscious and departs in disgust. He attends Soames’ funeral some time later.