Thursday, September 27, 2012


The Marvel Family #66 [December 1951] was one of a dwindling number
of super-hero comics still being published in my birth month.  The
title would run another two years, ending with issue #89 [January
1954].  This busy and wordy three-panel cover was penciled by the
legendary C.C. Beck and inked by Pete Costanza.

“The Miracle Stone” (18 pages) is divided into three chapters.  The
title object, as per the cover, can bring untold power to whoever
owns it.  Captains Marvel and Marvel Jr., along with Mary Marvel,
obviously don’t want it to fall into the wrong hands. 

Wendell Crowley was the editor of the title, but the Grand Comics
Database doesn’t have any credits for the Marvel Family story.  We
do know that Otto Binder wrote many Marvel Family stories in this
period and also that Kurt Schaffenberger drew some stories. 

Other comics features in the issue were Headline Harry (4 pages) by
writer/artist Howard Boughner and Fiddler's Folly (4 pages)by some
unidentified writer and artist.  I have no other information on either
of these back-up features.

While the current DC Comics brass is obviously and heavily invested
in their recent banal re-imaginings of Captain Marvel and his kin,
I think there would be a market for Showcase Presents editions of
the Marvel Family stories.  I’d buy them and I can’t say that about
too many DC products.

More vintage comic-book covers to come.


Bakuman has become one of my favorite manga series.  It’s the story
of manga creators Mashiro and Takagi, young men determined to rise
to the top of their field.  For Takagi, there is also another goal.
He wants to create a manga that becomes an anime starring Azuki, a
fledgling voice actress and the love of his life.  Takagi and Azuki
have vowed to remain apart until they each accomplish their goals.
The series is written by Tsugumi Ohba and drawn by Takeshi Obata,
the creators of Death Note.

As a comics creator, Bakuman’s portrayal of the manga industry is
fascinating to me.  I can’t speak to its accuracy, but the ongoing
story of these young creators, their rivals, and their editors is
as exciting as any battle manga. 

In Bakuman Volume 14 [Viz; $9.99], the series takes a surprising
turn with the introduction of its first true villain.  An intense
fan of Mashiro and Takagi’s work is determined to become the next
manga star.  He enters a manga contest and does well enough to be
offered a series.  But his work is driven not by his own creativity
but by the group-think of 50 manga fans he has gathered together
online.  It’s popular but soulless and, when his idols reject such
an approach, he determines to crush them.  Mashiro and Takagi are
just as determined to beat him in their magazine’s ratings.  It’s
a battle of creativity versus artifice.

A new volume of Bakuman comes out nearly every month.  The series
has ended in Japan, but there’s still plenty of volumes coming our
way before we catch up with that finale.  I recommend you give the
series a try.  It’s terrific.

ISBN 978-1-4215-4290-4


I usually manage to read several Archie Comics stories in any given
day and usually enjoy them.

Archie Double Digest #232 [$3.99] is notable for a brilliant Wilbur
tale by writer Frank Doyle with art by Dan DeCarlo and Rudy Lapick.
Wilbur actually made his debut before Archie, but he never achieved
the success of the Riverdale redhead.  In “The Wolf Man,” Wilbur’s
rival Alec tries to mess with Wilbur’s relationship with Laurie by
getting several other girls to pretend to know Wilbur and to have
engaged in steamy woo with him.  It’s a funny story with the sure
pacing and timing of which Doyle was a master. 

Archie #635 and #636 [$2.99] are a case of overreaching with good
intentions.  In the first, the “Occupy” movement comes to Riverdale
and, in the latter, gender differences are explored.  Neither tale
comes off well because neither subject can be easily portrayed in
this particular setting.  Resolutions come too easily in the first
story while the second goes for stereotypical gags.  I do applaud
Archie Comics taking such risks, but they didn’t pay off for them
in these issues.

Betty and Veronica #261 [$2.99] is the first part of a story spun
from the stuff of Twilight and Buffy the Vampire Slayer.  I found
the story a bit confusing, perhaps because of my unfamiliarity with
Twilight, and also thought some plot elements were added awkwardly
to prop up the story.  Hopefully, the continuing chapters will pull
the story together.

Jughead is taking a break for retooling and, I confess, I’m nervous
about what that means.  Jughead has always been my favorite Archie
character and I would hope that any new take on him would still be
recognizable.  Archie Comics are usually pretty good at this sort
of thing, so my fears are likely groundless, but, hey, who says a
comics fan has to be rational all the time?


Jeff Lemire reworked Kid Eternity for National Comics: Eternity #1
DC; $3.99] and I think his new version has potential.  The new hero
is a NYPD medical examiner.  After a near-death experience, which
experienced claimed the life of his father, he has the ability to
bring forth the spirit of a deceased person for 24 hours.  He tries
to use this power to solve murders.  Though it would probably get
compared to Tru Calling, Lemire’s Eternity could make an excellent
TV series. Detectives, especially quirky detectives, seem to be an
easy sell to TV networks and viewers.

The 40-page one-shot was drawn by Cully Hammer and Derec Donovan.
They did a fine job, but the too-dark coloring by Val Staples got
in the way of the storytelling on several pages.  I don’t know when
“mud” got to be the most popular computer color, but I really wish
it would be used more sparingly.

More Kid Eternity would be a good thing.

I’ll be back tomorrow with more stuff.

© 2012 Tony Isabella


  1. It would also get compared to PUSHING DASIES.

    The former had the morgue setting but it didn't involve bringing the dead back to life. It involved Tru Davies going back into the past to help the person who had died prevent his or her death. (So in that regard TRU CALLING was kind of like QUANTUM LEAP or EARLY EDITION.)

    PUSING DASIES involved the main character bringing the dead back to life to ask them questions about their death toward solving the mystery of their death.

    So in the "big concept pitch" it would be "TRU CALLING meets PUSHING DAISIES."

  2. That is a busy and wordy cover on Marvel Family #66. I see from looking at the GCD cover gallery that the series' covers were busier and wordier than I'd have expected around this time as a matter of course, but I still have to wonder if maybe a quick substitution of splash page was called for when the cover didn't work out.

  3. I always liked the Captain Marvel comics of the 40's and 50's. When C.C. Beck did a couple of issues in the revival in the early 70's, I was hoping there would be more 100 Page 50 cent reprints of the Marvel Family.

    The original stories were so much better. Forget the new material. I can see why C.C. Beck resisted the trend of over rendered art. According to an interview I read in the Comics Journal; C.C. was pressured to add characters and story lines to pump up sales.

    Comics need more light heart material like this. Captain Marvel and the Marvel Family didn't take themselves seriously. It was from a different time and era. However, I prefer to read them. They were much better than the "modern" re-boots.