Well, that’s another year gone by. DC’s comics in 1980 were a bit of a mixed bag. Stuff like Batman, Legion, and JLA had some cool storylines and great art, foreshadowing even better stuff to come. Other comics (Superman especially) seem stuck in the Silver Age, giving us goofy aliens and imaginary stories that don’t mean anything for the characters. Now that Marv Wolfman is writing Action and Green Lantern, and Gerry Conway looks like he’s getting a bit more serious on Wonder Woman and JLA, maybe those titles will get better. The following is my preview for the comics I’ll be reviewing from 1981. As usual, I’ll divide them into the groups they’ll appear in during my reviews, some of which I’ve re-arranged from the 1980 pattern. Continue reading “1981 Preview”
Stan Lee died today and the tributes are pouring in. There’s not much I can add; Stan co-created so many of Marvel’s characters that his legacy will probably never go away. The way we think of characters like the FF, Thor, the X-Men, the Avengers, Hulk, Sub-Mariner, and (my favourite) Spider-Man–their personalities, their essence, really–is because of the way Stan wrote them. And he was so in love with comics that his enthusiasm was infectious, leaving a veritable vocabulary of his own making. I know I’ve channeled him in my own writing plenty of times, and I’m sure countless others have too.
So, as Stan might have said: Face Front True Believers, and Excelsior!
Gulliver is sad today because Koko, the famous sign-language gorilla, has died at the age of 46. She was one of a kind 😦
I don’t usually shill for people on my blog, but I’m making an exception in this case. Ron Randall is doing a Kickstarter campaign to bring his latest Trekker adventure to print. I’ve already donated, and he’s getting close to his target, so I thought I’d spread the word. Trekker is a cool sci-fi story about interstellar bounty hunter Mercy St. Clair, who’s trying to make her way in a dangerous world while learning some hard truths. The art is great and the characters are compelling, so check it out.
Okay, sales pitch over!
Welcome to the wrap-up for 1978, which also marks the end of my first year of blogging. The end of the year is traditionally a time for looking back (as with this olde-tyme photo of Gulliver), but I’d also like to look ahead. 1978 has been fun and there were some pretty cool stories, but I’m looking forward to reviewing some 1979 comics. Because of the DC Implosion in late ’78, DC canceled a bunch of titles and cut the page counts of their existing comics drastically. So 1979 is a pretty stable year, at least for my purposes; I’ll be reviewing thirteen titles, all but one of which were monthly (the sole exception being Detective Comics, which was bi-monthly, but mega-sized). I’ll be reviewing three comics per post (except for the posts with Detective Comics, where there’ll be four), so it’ll be easier to keep track of when your favourites will be reviewed. As for specifics, keep reading. Continue reading “Year End (P)review”
Apparently, long-time comics writer Len Wein has died at the age of 69. I’ve read a lot of Wein’s stuff over the years and most of it was pretty good. Of course, he’s probably best known for co-creating Swamp Thing and the All New X-Men, but I remember some of his other work fondly: JLA (he’s the one who brought back the Seven Soldiers of Victory); Batman (with some classic villains); Amazing Spider-Man (where he used plenty of classic baddies like Molten Man, Shocker, Hammerhead, Doc Ock, Silvermane and brought in some new ones, like Will o’ the Wisp and the third Green Goblin). He had fairly long runs on Incredible Hulk, Thor, Deadman (in Adventure), Green Lantern, and wrote all of the first Blue Beetle series. He also wrote the Legends miniseries, which helped redefine the DCU after the Crisis.
I haven’t read all his stuff, but what I have read I generally like. Wein respected history, but wasn’t afraid to give long-established characters new personality traits. I’ll be reviewing his late 70s/early 80s Batman run next year and I’m looking forward to re-reading those issues; I seem to recall liking them. Len Wein will be missed.
Okay, I know it’s not actually a new year calendar-wise, but blog-wise I’ve finished 1977 and I’m ready to move on to 1978. There were some pretty good stories in ’77 and I think ’78 promises to have even more. Here’s a quick preview of what I’ll be covering for 1978. Basically, I’ll be reviewing the same titles as I did for 1977, with a couple of additions.
Batman, Detective, Brave and the Bold: Bats will be facing some classic villains this year, including Joker (in the famous “Laughing Fish” story), Scarecrow, Mad Hatter, and a new, more deadly version of Clayface.
Superman, Action, DC Presents: Supes takes on some heavy hitters like Brainiac, Parasite, Solomon Grundy, and Amazo. I’m adding DC Comics Presents to my reviews. I read it on and off as a kid and always considered it to be “Superman Team-up” much as B&B is “Batman Team-up”. Only four issues came out in ’78, but it became a monthly by the end of the year.
JLA, LSH, All-Star Comics: In JLA we get the end of Englehart’s run and the beginning of Gerry Conway’s long (five and a half years!) unbroken run as writer. Some cool stories too, with the debut of Ultraa, a Dr. Destiny tale, a JSA team-up versus Lord of Time (with some historical guest stars), and Zatanna joining the League. The Legion deals with the Earth War against the Khunds and Dark Circle, and we say goodbye to the JSA, since All-Star is canceled. More on that in a bit.
Flash, Wonder Woman, Green Lantern: As I mentioned in my 1977 preview, none of these comics was ever a big favourite of mine, but they have their good points. Flash will be taking on Black Hand, Golden Glider, and Heat Wave, among others. GL goes on the road and meets some interesting people, and we finally get back to Earth-1 Wonder Woman stories.
Warlord, Jonah Hex, Black Lightning, Firestorm: What can I say about these three? Travis Morgan continues his quest to return to Shamballah (and Tara), Jonah Hex continues trying to clear his name, and Black Lightning continues the fight against Tobias Whale and the 100. Unfortunately, Black Lightning is also canceled this year.
And I decided to add Firestorm to the list too. I’ve never been a huge fan, but this blog is about reading comics that I’m unfamiliar with, so I figured I may as well check those early issues out. When I (someday) get to the early 80s, I’ll be adding that ongoing Firestorm series to my list, so I guess I should read this one first, as it introduces the character, along with important villains like Killer Frost, Multiplex, and Hyena. It’s by Gerry Conway and Al Milgrom, both of whom I generally like, and it’s only five issues, so what the hell.
Why did Firestorm run only five issues? Well, DC was trying to expand in 1978, but they kind of overextended themselves and were undercut by Marvel. That led to the infamous “DC Implosion”, an ironic nickname given in jest at their earlier “DC Explosion” promotion. So, a bunch of titles, including All-Star Comics, Black Lightning, and Firestorm were canceled. Al Milgrom ended up losing his editorial job too, though he kept providing art (including some really good covers). You can tell by the number of reprints that year that things were a bit chaotic behind the scenes at DC. In fact, Detective Comics was actually supposed to be canceled, but was saved at the last minute by merging it with Batman Family. So from Detective #481 (at the end of 1978) through #495, each issue has at least five different stories. Which means more work for me, I guess.
But I enjoyed reviewing the 1977 comics and I’m thinking I’ll like 1978 even more. There are a lot of cool-looking stories coming up, many of which I’ve never read, so I’m really looking forward to checking them out. As you can see, even Gulliver is excited, though I suspect he’s just anxious to see Titano, the Super-Ape. I hope you’ll join us for the 1978 DC comics reviews, starting Friday … it should be a blast!