I renewed my membership in the American Civil Liberties Union. So,
like Michael Douglas’ character in The American President, I am a
card-carrying member of the ACLU.
Going through my wallet and not counting credit cards, I am also a
card-carrying member of two supermarket “advantage” clubs, the AAA
Ohio Auto Club, Kaiser Permanente, a Hallmark “preferred customer,”
the Staples Rewards Club, the Medina County District Library, the
Comic Book Legal Defense Fund, and, as soon as the card arrives,
Hero Initiative. If I thought I could get away with it, I’d issue
membership cards for my First Church of Godzilla, may he continue
to guide and protect us with his fiery atomic love.
What’s in your wallet?
I love the cover of Betty and Veronica #254 [Archie; $2.99] shown
above. Jeff Schultz did such a great job with this crowded cover
that I still can’t find Waldo.
Inside the issue we get two funny stories by Craig Boldman, one of
my all-time favorite Archie writers, with art by Schultz and Jim
Amash. “Party Smarties” is a familiar theme filled with wonderful
slapstick action while “Disinterested Parties” has Betty trying to
master being sneaky, something that is hilariously out of her wheel
house. Good stuff.
Betty and Veronica #255 has a nice pin-up kind of cover by Fernando
Ruiz. Inside the issue, writer Paul Kupperberg offers a new twist
on the Betty/Veronica rivalry, George Gladir gives us memories of
the girls’ friendship, and Boldman introduces a brilliant sculptor
with a major problem. More fun stories with the usual terrific art
by the Schultz/Amash team.
Perhaps as a farewell nod to the old DC Universe, DC published 18
issues of DC Retroactive: three each for Batman, the Flash, Green
Lantern, Justice League, Superman, and Wonder Woman featuring two
stories - one new, one reprint - in the styles of the 1970s, 1980s,
and 1990s. I don’t know how today’s DC readers reacted to this odd
idea, but it intrigued me and I decided I would read them all. I
started with the Batman issues.
DC Retroactive: Batman The ’70s #1 [$4.99] was written by Len Wein
with art by Tom Mandrake (new story) and John Calnan/Dick Giordano
(old story). The new story featured a new version of the Terrible
Trio of the Fox, the Shark, and the Vulture. It was entertaining,
but marred by a revelation that was already a cliche in the 1970s.
I can’t blame Len too much. I probably used the bit myself back in
the day, though I can’t pinpoint where. The Mandrake art was very
nice, so much more appealing than the art-on-steroids so typical of
modern super-hero comic books.
“Dark Messenger of Mercy” - the reprint - had Batman trying to save
some homeless people from a murderous predator who believes he is
helping to end their pains. Wein’s homeless supporting characters
are an interesting if unrealistic bunch. But, again, this was an
entertaining story. If there were more Batman comics like this, I
would buy more Batman comics.
Fellow Buckeye Mike W. Barr authored the stories in DC Retroactive:
Batman The ’80s #1 [$4.99]. “The Revenge of the Reaper” featured a
new Reaper and reunited Barr with Jerry Bingham, the artist of his
groundbreaking Son of the Demon graphic novel. The tale gives the
readers a fair chance at sussing out the identity of the new Reaper
before Batman reveals all. I got part of it right, but both Barr
and Batman are smarter than I am.
The reprint is the first chapter of Batman Year Two by Barr and the
great Alan Davis. Batman Year One gets all the glory, but Year Two
was a terrific comics series as well.
Writer Alan Grant and artist Norm Breyfogle represent the 1990s in
DC Retroactive: Batman The ’90s #1 [$4.99]. “One Night in the Rest
of My Life” has some familiar themes, but, amidst the gangland fury
and a horror from beyond the grave, it has a far more hopeful tone
than many Batman stories then and now.
“Trash” - the reprint - might not be as uplifting as the new tale,
but it’s a well-crafted tale with fine characterization. I liked
it a lot. I’d be more excited about the likes of Wein, Mandrake,
Barr, Bingham, Davis, Grant, and Breyfogle doing new Batman comic
books than the currently assigned writers and artists. These so-
called retroactive comic books feature a much more interesting and
rounded Batman than most of the modern comics.
I’ll be back tomorrow with more stuff.
© 2011 Tony Isabella