Wednesday, December 31, 2008
Sunday, December 28, 2008
Part One http://pulphero.blogspot.com/2008/12/star-spangled-war-stories-186-man-of.html
The first multi-part story from Michelinie/Talaoc begins in an Italian village called Monte Grande in the Apennine mountain range. The village is occupied by the Nazis, though the village itself does not actively support the Axis. At this time, the Nazis are battling Americans in the mountains, with villages like Monte Grande caught in the middle.
After the Nazis have captured an American soldier in the village, the Nazi commander Colonel Weile attempts to convince Father Memmoli, the village priest, to sway the villagers to fight the Americans. Father Memmoli refuses, as "war is not God's way."
Just then, a small unit of American soldiers intiates an escape for their comrade, running down and killing several innocent village children with their jeep. Father Memmoli, grief-stricken, finds himself ready to assist the Nazis. The villagers battle the Americans at a "bottleneck" in the Apennines, keeping the Allies off-balance while the Nazis fortify.
As reported to the Unknown Soldier by Intelligence, this village's efforts undermine the Allies, and thus must be stopped. The Soldier is directed to infiltrate the village as an "escaped" Leutnant named Aschermann, using one of his mask disguises. Once there, the Soldier must eliminate Father Memmoli.
In order to authenticate who he is, the Soldier as Aschermann uses a GI's .45 to wound his own left arm. Aschermann then stumbles to a villager unit, who take him to Colonel Weile.
Once at the village, Weile directs the only local doctor, Father Memmoli himself, to dress Aschermann's wound. Father Memmoli reveals his inner conflict over having been "forced" to choose between the Allies and Nazis. While Memmoli's back is turned, Aschermann is about to kill him when a young Nazi footsoldier named "Rico," a former orphan raised by Father Memmoli. While the two greet warmly, Aschermann learns why Memmoli has joined the Nazi cause. Aschermann is secretly incredulous however, as no Intelligence record of the rescue exists, as far as the Soldier knows.
Taking his leave, Aschermann finds a Nazi-guarded house, raising his suspicions. After dispatching the guards, Aschermann overhears two Nazi soldiers discussing why they are in hiding. Working for Colonel Weile, these men portrayed the "American soldiers" who raided the village and intentionally killed the village children, to sway Father Memmoli.
Aschermann executes the two and prepares to display their bodies in Father Memmoli's church, surreptitiously unveiling the deception. Preparing to drag the bodies, Aschermann is unaware of another Nazi soldier approaching with a knife, to kill him.
This issue is set up, and a lesser entry in the Unknown Soldier run. However, some nice character bits with the Soldier at the Intelligence HQ, and his jarring self-wounding, along with some Talaoc-rendered karate, keeps the story snappy and visually interesting.
Also of note, the events begun here will influence another conflict later in the run. Michelinie is already preparing to usurp the usual formulae of the "one and done" war story.
Friday, December 26, 2008
Tuesday, December 23, 2008
It hasn't been till recent times I've discovered the DC Comics of the 1970s. There was interesting things going on then. Some of it worked and some didn't. DC was competing with the runaway train of Marvel and trying new stuff, while trying to be the "down-home" comics tradition it had always been. Which didn't work, and ruined their one big coup (welcoming the greatest living artist and disgruntled primary creator of Marvel, Jack Kirby, into DC's ranks in 1970, ostensibly giving him control of his own books and then wresting that control away, alienating Kirby and driving him back to Marvel by 1975.) The sad thing is: DC could have competed. By 1981, according to stats from COMIC READER, DC's top seller, SUPERMAN at 195,000 sold, couldn't crack Marvel's Top Ten books, with AMAZING SPIDER-MAN nearly doubling DC's number one in sales. That's horrific.
Of course DC did finally reclaim a huge portion of that lost ground in the 1980s, but the worm has turned again. DC languishes far behind Marvel.
But what I've discovered in my aged years, the best of DC in the 1970s are some the best comics I've ever read, and speak to me more now than they ever could when I was a kid. Weird, that, considering Marvel's 1970s product supposedly targeted the college age, while DC retained their appeal to pre-teen readers. Yet I get more from the better DC comics of that era than from Marvel (well, barring MAN-THING or TOMB OF DRACULA.)
I've added some great Christmas-themed covers from the 1970s and slightly beyond, which bespeak of DC's bizarre approach to the Holidays. No garish Treasury Edition Holiday Specials for DC: the subtle implications of Christmas, in most cases, was supposed to clue you in. It's too bad we don't get these neat little zingers much anymore!
Friday, December 19, 2008
http://www.spacebooger.com/ brings the cucumber to the facial!
Wednesday, December 17, 2008
Tuesday, December 16, 2008
As described here http://www.comicbookresources.com/?page=article&id=19180 Brubaker points out INCOGNITO is the flipside to the very good SLEEPER from a few years back.
SLEEPER displayed a world where superhuman individuals took the inevitable steps in their moral and ethical paths toward compromising their humanity. Like anyone working for a massive intelligence/organization, there's the distinct probability of betrayal and espionage, which SLEEPER delved into heavily. The only problem I had with SLEEPER was incorporating "WildStorm" characters (which is a DC imprint blah blah I don't care) into the story, seemingly out of nowhere and to no real purpose, even if indeed the story takes place in that universe. I just didn't care about the context. But the initial half of the series concerning just the hardass protagonist Holden Carver and his criminal cohorts like Miss Misery, Genocide Jones (loved him) and Peter Grimm is the meat I most enjoyed. I guess this portion was referred to as "Season One", for some reason. Which is fine, because the series was great. Both "Seasons" of it.
As mentioned in the above article, INCOGNITO concerns what happens when a supervillain type has to live like a schlub, just like everybody else. He has to, or he's a dead man, because he ratted out this guy, The Black Death...yeh, I'd hide too
Sean Phillips is one of my favorite artists these days. He's got that gritty Dave Mazzuchelli thing going and his action scenes are crisp and clear. He and Brubaker also get on together quite well. They're a cute couple. We should all be so lucky to have talent on talent like these gents. Brubaker, for his part, is still knocking out fantastic espionage-heavy CAPTAIN AMERICA comics with the hero of the book still dead, two years after the fact. If, like me, when you read a lot of modern superhero comics you feel like you've been drinking out of the toilet, try out CAP. I haven't even begun to read his DAREDEVIL stuff but I've heard it's wang chung.
INCOGNITO will be skull crushing you and me just after the new year. Can't wait!
Sunday, December 14, 2008
3D Man sez: "This here's my kind of gentleman...I have to tell you the time me and the Zombie took on the flaming apes of Mora Tau. We had a blast. The best part was smoking cigars in Panama Fattie's and Simon kept eating his, fire and all. The locals loved the guy."
After this, the Amulet of Damballah worn by Gyps ends up in the possession of Donna Garth, as she senses a connection through it to her father. Donna influences the Zombie to follow her, without her knowledge, all the way to Port-au-Prince in Haiti where she is seeking information about her father's disappearance (not realizing he is dead, natch.) The Zombie instinctually finds one of his oldest friends in life, Anton Cartier, who vows to help Garth return to human life. It's here that Garth exhibits enough intellect to actually communicate with Cartier, convincing Cartier the soulless Zombie is not so soulless after all.
Friday, December 12, 2008
Thursday, December 11, 2008
This may be the greatest unknown Christmas cover ever. Not only for its pedigree (the infinity man Neal Adams and the great Dick Giordano,) before you even get to the image itself: a 1970s blond secret agent/private dick trying to help a broken-legged Rita Farr lookalike while a crazed evil Santa in a hopped-up sleigh/dragster is about to turn them into potted meat.
Actually, this could qualify for All-Time Great Cover status the more I look at it. I even dig that the lighting effect on the two targets from the Dragsleigh's headlights creates a "mask" for the agent/dick, so he comes off a little like the Question, one of my favorite characters ever:
All in all, what you want in your covers is a scene that demands, utterly, for you to read its interiors. This does that for me, "Hot Wheels" tie-in or not. I was more of a Matchbox man myself.
Tuesday, December 9, 2008
Sunday, December 7, 2008
Apparently ish 38 was the intro to the world of Robin, resulting in questions ranging from Batman's sexual preference to time issues like "how can Robin still be a kid after four decades?" Robin opened up all kinds of cans and worms, not to mention spear-heading Fred Werthem's witch-hunt against comics in the 1950s. Plus, Batman shows off his white Bat-suit here, presumably for Antartic action.