Friday, January 18, 2013
THE BLOOM OF DOOM
in my birth month of December 1951. The character was created for
the 1941 serial Jungle Girl, said to have been based on the Edgar
Rice Burroughs novel of the same name. Except the novel doesn’t
have a character named Nyoka or any character like Nyoka. Besides
ERB, the serial credits six other writers. Republic Studios may
have liked the name Jungle Girl and the distant connection to ERB’s
Tarzan more than the novel itself.
Fawcett licensed the character, publishing a Jungle Girl one-shot
in 1942. It launched Nyoka the Jungle Girl in 1945 and published
76 issues of the title. Charlton took over the license in 1955 and
published nine more issues.
The Grand Comics Database has incomplete information on this issue.
The actress on this photo cover is unidentified by the GCD. She
might be Frances Gifford, who played Nyoka in the 1941 serial, or
she might be Kay Aldridge, who played the role in the 1942 sequel
Perils of Nyoka. Hopefully, one of my readers will ameliorate my
shocking lack of knowledge ere long.
What the GCD does say is that “The Bloom of Doom” was an 18-page,
three-chapter adventure starring Nyoka. I’m guessing it involved
deadly plants of some kind. There are no creative credits for this
story, but artists known to have worked on the title around this
time include Alvin Hollingsworth, Henry Kiefer and Maurice Whitman.
An assortment of humor features, gag pages and a text story round
out the issue.
Keep watching this blog for more vintage comic-book covers from my
birth month. I can pretty much guarantee that those covers will be
more interesting than this one.
On to the reviews...
Life With Archie is still one of the best comics out there. Each
magazine-sized issue features two stories, one following the life
of an adult Archie married to Veronica and the other following an
adult Archie married to Betty. Writer Paul Kupperberg is doing the
best work of his career on this title. The art is also excellent:
Fernando Ruiz with inker Bob Smith handle the Archie/Veronica story
while Pat and Tim Kennedy with inker Jim Amash do the honors on the
Archie/Betty one. It’s a solid comic on all levels. That said...
In Life With Archie #26 [$3.95], the soap opera elements in both of
the stories are getting out of hand. Several of the cast members
are making very bad choices and all of these little dramas compete
for attention. We’re starting to get short-cut plot developments
instead of the more nuanced and effective human stories which the
title has been featuring.
In Archie/Veronica, Veronica has apparently forgotten much of what
she learned working for her father as she launches her own company
and doesn’t recognizing that she needs a staff. Kevin Keller kicks
off his campaign for Senate so badly that one wonders what happened
to the competent guy we’ve been cheering since he was introduced as
a teen in the standard-size Archie comic books. Reggie and Moose
seem to have lost a few steps as well. People do make mistakes in
their lives and things to do wrong, but all these uh-oh story lines
at the same time are too much.
In Archie/Betty, the couple’s married life is being challenged by
their too-busy schedules. After nearly three decades of marriage,
I can relate to that. What I’m having a problem with is that this
storyline hinges on Betty acting enough out of character that it’s
jarring. In addition, there are three other story lines competing
for attention. All of them are interesting, but they get in each
other’s way. Perhaps some of them need to get resolved or pushed
aside for a time.
I don’t mean to be overly critical here. I love this comic book.
But, based on how terrific it’s been for over two years now, I also
expect more from it than I do from lesser series. If I had a top
ten list, Life With Archie would be on it.
In the category of things I had no idea existed, Papercutz sent me
Lego Ninjago #5: Kingdom of the Snakes by Greg Farshtey and Jolyon
Yates [$6.99]. Here’s what I subsequently learned from Wikipedia:
Lego Ninjago: Masters of Spinjitzu is an action comedy family
animated TV series that centers around the adventures of four
ninjas. The series is based on the Lego toy series of the same
name. The show is set in the fictional world of Ninjago, a place
inspired by Chinese and Japanese myths and culture.
Though that information wasn’t spelled out in Farshtey’s script, I
didn’t have any real problem following the story, even though this
particular story was actually set in an alternate universe version
of Ninjago. I feel good about the concept of alternate universes
being something young readers can grasp.
Jay, one of these Lego ninjas - and, yes, they do look like beings
made of rounded-off Legos - is transported to an alternate Ninjago
where his counterpart didn’t join the other ninjas with the result
that evil forces now dominate that world. He finds himself at odds
with heroes who are his friends in his own universe, even as those
heroes must enter into alliances with one of their enemies. It’s
fairly complicated storytelling, but it’s presented in a manner I
think all but the youngest readers will be able to follow.
The story has action, suspense, good characterization and lessons
about responsibility and redemption. It’s not something I’d seek
out for myself, but, if I knew a young person who liked these toys,
I’d definitely give him or her this graphic album. It’s the kind
of comic that might lead a young reader to other comic books...and
that, as always, would be a good thing.
I’m taking a few days off to take care of some odds and ends that
demand my attention. Look for the return of this bloggy thing as
soon as possible. Stay well, my friends.
© 2013 Tony Isabella