Friday, July 20, 2018

THE COMIC-CON UPDATE

As promised not too long ago, it's time for a second skip-week in the ongoing James Bond newspaper strip project. Due to a number of factors, I've fallen behind on that reading -- and one reason for the problem is that I'm here in sunny San Diego this week for Comic-Con. The convention just started yesterday, but since I like to have something to go up on Fridays even if it's not my normally scheduled post, here's your (drum roll) Comic-Con Update (one day in)!

And... it’s not much. I went to one panel yesterday; the STAR WARS: THE CLONE WARS Tenth Anniversary retrospective. It was fun; series producer/co-creator Dave Filoni told some stories along with the other guests. They all lamented the series’ premature cancellation and showed some concept art to tease what would have come if the show hadn’t been yanked.

Then, to close things out, Filoni said that he had something to show the fans who had supported the show over the years. The lights went down and a trailer rolled. New footage appeared, along with the tagline “A war left unfinished... until now.” They has tricked us! This was no post-mort for a series cancelled before its time! It was an announcement that the show would be coming back next year!

The crowd went nuts. It was a really cool moment, and though it was, like I said, the only panel I went to yesterday, it was more than sufficient to allow me to call the day a win.

Next week: more James Bond, though I’m still way behind on my reading. This project may yet have further hiccups, but I guess we’ll find out together...

Monday, July 16, 2018

ACTION COMICS ANNUAL #1, SUPERMAN ANNUAL #1, & ADVENTURES OF SUPERMAN ANNUAL #1

“SKEETER!”
Written by: John Byrne | Penciled by: Art Adams | Inked by: Dick Giordano
Lettered by: Albert de Guzman | Colored by: Petra Scotese
Edited by: Michael Carlin

The Plot: Batman arrives in the small town of Fayerville, Louisiana, following the trail of a serial killer from Gotham City. But he quickly finds himself in over his head as he realizes he’s up against a vampire. The Caped Crusader calls the Daily Planet and asks Clark Kent to summon Superman for him. Soon after, the Man of Steel arrives in Fayerville and begins investigating the vampire as well, while Batman deduces the creature’s true identity as that of an apparently teenaged girl named Skeeter. When Skeeter attacks and nearly kills Superman, Batman finishes her off with a stake through the heart.

Sub-Plots & Continuity Notes: Batman uses the codeword “Magpie”, a reference to his and Superman’s first encounter in THE MAN OF STEEL, to authenticate himself to Clark.

When he fights Skeeter, Superman realizes her powers are magical in nature and therefore she is able to harm him. (He also mentions his “electro-chemical aura” not protecting his costume when she scratches his chest, reminding readers that Byrne is still one hundred percent behind that idea.)

Friday, July 13, 2018

JAMES BOND NEWSPAPER STRIPS PART 4

"GOLDFINGER" | "RISCIO"
October 3rd, 1960 - June 2th, 1961
Written by Henry Gammidge | Illustrated by John McLusky

GOLDFINGER, probably the most beloved and best-known James Bond film, is an interesting exercise in adaptation from the source material. Assuming, as usual, that the newspaper strip is a fairly faithful recreation of the novel, then the bigscreen version of GOLDFINGER follows the story almost precisely up to around the halfway point, at which it veers in a different (but superficially similar) direction.


But before we get there, first the commonalities: both the original and the movie begin with Bond in Miami following a mission, where he gets involved in determining how millionaire Auric Goldfinger has been cheating at cards. This seems to be something Bond likes to do in his spare time, as MOONRAKER began under similar circumstances. And there's another nice continuity touch here, as Bond is recognized in Miami by another player from the card table in CASINO ROYALE, which is how he's pulled into the Goldfinger situation. It's something the movie version could never have pulled off, since the prior adventure never happened in that continuity.

Bond returns to the U.K. after showing up Goldfinger, and, in a moment of total coincidence, is assigned by M to shadow the magnate and determine how he's been smuggling gold across Europe. MI6 believes Goldfinger to be the treasurer of SMERSH (a connection absent from the film, wherein the villain is affiliated with no organization other than his own), and busting his operation should cripple the Soviet agency. Bond plays a round of golf against Goldfinger in England, then shadows him to his factory in Switzerland, where he's captured, along with a young woman named Tilly Masterson who is after Goldfinger for revenge over her sister -- a girl Bond had dallied with in Miami and who Goldfinger had murdered for her indiscretion.

Monday, July 9, 2018

ADVENTURES OF SUPERMAN #434 & 435

“SHAMBLES”
Writer: Marv Wolfman | Artist: Jerry Ordway | Inker: José F. Marzan
Letterer: Albert de Guzman | Colorist: Anthony Tollin | Editor: Mike Carlin

The Plot: Superman intervenes in a mugging, but fails to stop a LexCorp security guard’s keys and ID card being stolen. Later, a mysterious individual receives the stolen goods and prepares a costume for himself. Meanwhile, Perry and Alice White pick up their son, Jerry, from jail on bail. At LexCorp, Luthor discovers his Project Synapse lab was trashed, and has the guard whose keys were stolen beaten for his incompetence.

Later, Metropolis’ new vigilante, Gangbuster, accosts some criminals in their hideout and learns that Max Carter, second-in-command to mobster Jay Falk, has been arming the city’s youth. Superman, having somehow deduced that Jose Delgado broke into LexCorp, visits his apartment but finds him gone. He follows clues to a warehouse where the latest group of the city’s troubled teens are being armed, to find Gangbuster already there fighting the punks. Superman joins the fray, as does Jerry White, and the angry youths are routed.

The next day, Jay Falk is arrested for his role in the gang war, and Superman sends Luthor an instant message informing him that he knows the corrupt billionaire was pulling Falk’s strings.

Friday, July 6, 2018

HAPPY INDEPENDENCE DAY

Hey, folks! Let's take a break from our coverage of the adventures of Britain's premiere secret agent to celebrate that time the United States broke away from Britain to become its own country. Or, to put it another way, I'm a bit behind on my Bond reading, so I'm taking a skip week and I'm using this past Wednesday, Independence Day, as my flimsy excuse to do so.

Bond will continue next week, but until then, here's a picture I drew of Captain America a year or so back, and if you're feeling especially patriotic, you can check out some of my past musings on Marvel's very own Sentinel of Liberty:

Comic Reviews:
CAPTAIN AMERICA BY ROGER STERN & JOHN BYRNE
CAPTAIN AMERICA #247 | CAPTAIN AMERICA #248 | CAPTAIN AMERICA #249
CAPTAIN AMERICA #250 | CAPTAIN AMERICA #251 | CAPTAIN AMERICA #252
CAPTAIN AMERICA #253 | CAPTAIN AMERICA #254 | CAPTAIN AMERICA #255

CAPTAIN AMERICA: WHITE (mini-series by Loeb & Sale)

Thoughts on a couple movies:
CAPTAIN AMERICA: THE WINTER SOLDIER
CAPTAIN AMERICA: CIVIL WAR

Back next week with more Bond, though I should warn you that I do foresee probably one more skip week before that project is done.

Monday, July 2, 2018

ADVENTURES OF SUPERMAN #433 & SUPERMAN #11

“GANGWAR PART TWO: A TRAGEDY IN FIVE ACTS”
Dramatized and Choreographed by: Marv Wolfman and Jerry Ordway
Inked by: Bob Smith | Lettered by: Albert de Guzman | Colored by: Anthony Tollin
Edited by: Mike Carlin

The Plot: A series of vignettes follows Jimmy Olson, Lois Lane, Perry White, Jose Delgado, and Lex Luthor though their interactions with Jerry White. First, Jimmy is inside a convenience store when it’s robbed by a gang including Jerry. Superman catches most of the group, but Jerry gets away. Later, Lois visits Jose to find him arguing with Jerry. Jerry leaves to go warn “the boss”, a portly older man, that Lois was spying, but Superman interrupts their meeting before the boss can have Jerry beaten.

Later still, Lois presents a story to Perry White which includes reference to Jerry as a member of the gangs that have recently plagued Metropolis. Perry goes to visit his son in prison, but Jerry gives him the could shoulder. After being escorted to a darkened room, Jerry is harassed by a gang of inmates, but Superman appears and saves him—however, at some point after the Man of Steel departs, Jerry is beaten anyway.

As Lex Luthor receives a humanitarian award, Jose Delgado accosts him. Luthor’s private security catches up with Jose and prepares to kill him, but Superman intervenes. Later, Luthor meets with one of his scientists about Project Synapse, a plan to create a “super soldier” to challenge Superman, but declares the project a failure when only one of the test subjects survives.

Friday, June 29, 2018

JAMES BOND NEWSPAPER STRIPS PART 3

“FROM RUSSIA WITH LOVE” | “DR. NO”
February 1st, 1960 - October 1st, 1960
Written by Peter O'Donnell & Henry Gammidge | Illustrated by John McLusky

James Bond's fifth and sixth adventures were adapted into the film series' second and first movies, respectively -- and as a result, the big screen versions of DR. NO and FROM RUSSIA WITH LOVE may be the most faithful of all the entries in the series.

There are differences, certainly -- both movies feature the organization SPECTRE in some form or another, while SPECTRE does not yet exist in the novel/comic strip source material. The movie version of DR. NO also introduces Felix Leiter, who is nowhere to be seen in the book, and who Bond had actually already met three times previously in the original continuity(CASINO ROYALE, LIVE AND LET DIE, and DIAMONDS ARE FOREVER). There are also additional "conquests" for Bond and an extra action set-piece or two in the movies -- but aside from all these relatively minor discrepancies, and aside from the flipped order, the film versions of both stories match up very cleanly with the originals.


In FROM RUSSIA WITH LOVE, the Russian intelligence agency SMERSH decides to demonstrate its power by killing a British secret agent, and settles on Bond, using a secretary named Tania Romanova as bait. Romanova states that she will defect in Turkey and will bring the Soviet cipher device, the SPEKTOR, with her -- but she will surrender herself only to Bond, with whom she's fallen in love via his dossier. Admittedly, the setup to the film version is different -- where here, it's SMERSH alone after Bond, partly due to his foiling some of their prior operations, in the movie it's SPECTRE manipulating SMERSH so they themselves can steal the cipher device (known in the movie as the LEKTOR rather than the SPEKTOR for obvious reasons).