Retro Comics are Awesome

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Dominic
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Re: Retro Comics are Awesome

Post by Dominic »

Thanos Final Threat:
This is a reprint of the 1977 "Avengers" and "Marvel 2 in 1" annuals, and the coda to Starlin's origional run with Warlock and related characters. It is fair to say that this story is defining and bordering on iconic. I only wish that it was better.

Some of the problems are functions of when the comic was published. In the late 70s, big blocks of self-referential text (both as dialogue and narration) were still common and acceptable. However, that problem is made worse by a few sequences where word balloons and thought bubbles are apparently confused. (More than once, one character is shown thinking thoughts that apprently flow directly from, or in response to, another character's thoughts. It reads very badly.) This was likely the fault of the letteror or editor more than Starlin. Regardless, it looks and reads like shit.

The second part of the story, (reprinted from "Marvel 2 in 1"), is painfully contrived. For some reason, Spider-Man is the only hero to hear and heed Moon Dragon's distress call. And, he only thinks to enlist the aid of Ben Grimm. Neither of them apparently consider contacting.....the rest of the FF or Doctor Strange or..... Yeah. That is kind of a problem. On a semi-related note, Starlin's dialogue works much better for characters like Thanos or Warlock than it does for Spider-Man.

Funny aside:i Warlock's grave stone lists him as having lived between 1967 and 1977, which establishes on the page that 616 had 10 years of history in context. Somewhere, somebody needs to be working on a solution to that problem.

Grade: D


Dom
-really wanted to give this one a higher grade....

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Re: Retro Comics are Awesome

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Why am I pretty much the only one posting in this thread? (This is really ironic given that this thread was intended to be a respite from discussion of modern comics, and I am one of the more vocal boostes of modern comics on this forum.)


Age of the Sentry (Parker/Dragotta/Rosanas):
"Age of the Sentry" is an amazing and sense shatteringly retro riff on Marvel's sense shattering Silver-Age. While the series has an over-all impression of innocence, it can be appreciated on the same level as DC's series about the hellion Lord Havok and his always aggressive Extremists. This series even has a fun, and possibly fruit, filled homage to the old fashioned Hostess pastry ads.

"The Age of the Sentry" has a fabulous framing sequence featuring Franklin Richards enjoying a bed time story as related by his Fantasic father, Reed Richards. The idea of the "unreliable narrator" is ever present in these pages. As depicted in the devious "Dark Avengers" series, Rob Reynolds recieved his powers by plundering a research laboratory and sucking down a mysterious serum. That dodgy deed is glossed over here and given a more innocent spin. "Age of the Sentry" subverts Silver-Age standards of innocence less through with a lesser degree of lampooning than one might expect. (Seriously. Parker writes a few scenes that are intentionally blood curdling, and made all the more so by the fact that they really would not be terribly out of place in an actual Silver Age comic.)

While fun on the surface, this tale has an impressive amount of forshadowing about the fearsome fate (and origin) of Marvel's back-written Golden Guardian. There are plenty of hints about the true nature of the Sentry and his probability straining powers. The art, tone and content of the stories change over the course of the 6 chapters. The stories not only get longer, but they get darker and more complex. (The first few read like typical early 60s Lee slop, while the last chapter has a definite late 70s Gerber or Starlin vibe.) There is an impressive amount of continuity packed in to "Age of the Sentry", with plot threads from "years" earlier coming in to play at the end.

Grade: A+


Dom
-striking that tone was harder than expected.

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Re: Retro Comics are Awesome

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I vaguely remember Crystar, in that I was aware of it, but did watch/read/have the toys.

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Re: Retro Comics are Awesome

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Dominic wrote:Why am I pretty much the only one posting in this thread? (This is really ironic given that this thread was intended to be a respite from discussion of modern comics, and I am one of the more vocal boostes of modern comics on this forum.)

Eh, I did read The Dark Knight Returns and All-Star Superman recently, I could post something on them sometime (spoilers: They're good comics!). Otherwise, it's mostly a case of me not reading too many 'old' comics due to having to keep up on *way* too much media as it is (do you KNOW how many TV shows I watch?). I know I need to get around to reading that Freedom Fighters trade you sent me, that could be fun to rip on, but man, I barely have time to read *good* comics.
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Re: Retro Comics are Awesome

Post by Onslaught Six »

Yeah, I'm just too depressed and poor to buy anything new that's old, so...yeah.
BWprowl wrote:The internet having this many different words to describe nerdy folks is akin to the whole eskimos/ice situation, I would presume.
People spend so much time worrying about whether a figure is "mint" or not that they never stop to consider other flavours.
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Re: Retro Comics are Awesome

Post by Dominic »

I hear you there.

In the next year, much of my retro reviewing is going to be from the pile of stuff I have not read yet. (As some of you know, I went on a few binges these last few years.) By this time next year, I may well have at least started those 2099 reviews.


Dom
-next week is going to be slow all around.

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Re: Retro Comics are Awesome

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With Thanksgiving in a few days, this is likely to be a light week for comics, (even though at least one TF book is shipping tomorrow). And, most of use are going to have more time than normal over the weekend. Am I the only one who is going to be catching up on comics?

Here is a list of what I might end up reading, and/or suggestions of old comics to read.

-Crisis on Infinite Earths: The first, and arguably most extensive, "big event" and reboot/reset comic ever. This book set precedents that the industry still holds to now, albeit in a debased form.

-Whatever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow: The last Silver Age Superman story. Moore wrote this as if Superman's never ending battle for truth, justice and the American way had come to an end.

-The Return of Barry Allen: This was Mark Waid's argument for why Barry Allen needed to stay dead. It holds up as well now as it did then.

-Death of Captain Marvel: This is one of the few deaths in comics that matters by virtue of being one of the few that has actually stuck. Marvel has made a tradition of teasing his return over the years. But, as tedious as that gets, it is comforting to know that Mar-Vell is dead and staying that way.

-Byrne's run on "Superman" from the 80s.

-Death of Gwen Stacy: As much as I am not a fan of Silver Age Marvel, the death of Gwen Stacy is one of the defining moments in Spider-Man's 50 year history.

-O'Neil/Adams on "Green Lantern and Green Arrow": I am not a fan of overly politicized comics, but this run of books from nearly 40 years ago defined both characters right up until "Flashpoint" and includes some of the most famous moments and images of both characters. And, people still reference it today.

-A Death in the Family: This story was flawed. It was contrived, and the most important plot point was an early example of fan pandering. But, 25 years later, it still matters. "A Death in the Family" defined a generation of "Batman" comics and delivered on the promise and credibility of post-Crisis DC.

-Kraven's Last Hunt: Yes, Kraven came back from the dead. And, yes, it is stupid. But, "Kraven's Last Hunt" is regarded as a smartly written story and is an example that proves Marvel can do dark without going emo.

-DC's "Crisis Trilogy" ("Identity Crisis", "Infinite Crisis", and "Final Crisis"): DC undid "Crisis on Infinite Earths" with this one.

-52: I took a harsh view of this book when it first came out. But, over time, I have come to appreciate just how good it was and just how much went in to making a weekly comic that was largely focused and well-paced.

-Armor Wars: This is arguably the high point of Michelinie's defining run on "Iron Man".

-Or, just about any of Peter David's, Walter Simonson's, Louise Simonson's, John Byrne's or Mark Gruenwald's substantive runs on just about any book they were known for.

-Marvel 2099: For all the jokes about "90s Marvel", these books were not all bad. "2099" was essentially a self-contained "capes and tights" setting and the story progressed over time. (I have been meaning to read these for a few years.)



-late edit: I added a few items to address Prowl's comment below, along with "Armor Wars", which was a defining story where nobody died. But, most defining/iconic comics involve characters dying and staying dead.


Dom
-or others?
Last edited by Dominic on Tue Nov 20, 2012 11:08 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Retro Comics are Awesome

Post by BWprowl »

Go with any of the ones that you aren't praising mainly on the virtue of "They killed a character and that character stayed dead for substantially longer than dead characters in comic books usually do". Surely there are other metrics by which comic books can be measured as good, right?

-BW "Yeah, I'm feeling a bit snarky today, dunno why" prowl
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Re: Retro Comics are Awesome

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Kraven's Last Hunt (DeMatteis/Zeck):
Ah, defining 80s Marvel. I read some of this 20+ years back while flipping through a reprint in the local comic shop. And, as a long time comics reader, I have both heard and read no small amount of discussion about "Kraven's Last Hunt". How does it hold up?

All things considered, "Kraven's Last Hunt" is worth reading. It was very much in line with how comics were written in the 80s. The characters, (heroic and otherwise), were not mildly eccentric do-gooders and ne'er-do-wells. Most, if not all, of them were deeply disturbed individuals. DeMatteis's Kraven is not simply a big game hunter turned hitman. He is a big game hunter turned serial killer. When Kraven takes out Spider-Man, he attempts to "become the spider". There are some legitimately disturbing scenes that show just how unbalanced Kraven actually is. At the end, it becomes apparent that much of the narration is effectively Kraven's suicide note.

For whatever reason, DeMatteis falls in to the (common) trap of quoting literature in an attempt to give his work credibility. The William Blake quotes ("Tyger, Tyger" becomes "Spyder, Spyder", ohohohohohohoho) add nothing to "Kraven's Last Hunt" and come across as forced. And, Kraven is among the many characters whose meaningful deaths have been undone in recent years by writers and editors who cannot recognize a bad or lazy idea.

Over all, this is the first 616 Spider-Man comic that I have read and liked in ~20 years. It is far from perfect, but well worth reading.
Grade: B/C



Whatever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow (Moore/Swan/Gibbons):
I read the hardcover edition that included the title story along with content from two of the last pre-Crisis annuals. Put simply, I am not a fan of Moore. He is a spoiled brat. But, to be fair, he did a good job here.

One of the most striking things about all of the stories in this volume was the technical skill of the page composition.

Up in to the early 90s, it was common for writers and artists to crame panels on to pages in order to "make them fit". Abrupt and non-sensical shifts in scene and tone were common and accepted. Guys like Moore pioneered things like competent page layout that we now consider to be standard today. Additionally, Moore's scripts do not waste space and words. While Moore's dialogue and narration are dense, (and his scripts reportedly even more so), the words (and the space they appear in) are not wasted. There are no panels that include a vaguely illustrated scene, a cumbersome dialogue box explaining things about that scene and a character jabbering and explicating about that same scene. Regardless of what one might think of Moore, or how little one might care about comics that were over-written almost immediately after being published, "Whatever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow" is worth reading in order to appreciate the technical standard to which it was written, at a time when few readers would have expected such a standard.
Grade: A



Dom
-waiting for Prowl to review that second volume of "Uncle Sam and the Freedom Fighters".

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Re: Retro Comics are Awesome

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Space Knights:
This is arguably a double-dip on the retro-meter. "Space Knights" was a licensed book from the 1970s that ended up getting integrated in to 616 Marvel. And, it became a text book example of why companies should be wary of including characters and ideas that they do not own in their main books. Thanks to licensing issues, Marvel lost the rights to the visual appearances and (in some cases) the names of what had become important characters. Some characters were redesigned and ended up taking alternative names. But, that was an obvious work-around.

In the early years of the previous decade, Marvel tried to relaunch the part of the "Space Knights" franchise that they did own. In this series, the Knights were successors, (and in two cases descendants) of the original (and since departed) Knights. The series shows the first real crisis dealt with by the team, an invasion by the Dire Wraiths (the bad guys from the old series). Some stuff happens. The Knights prevail. Yadda yadda.

For whatever reason, Marvel saw fit to reprint this series this past fall, apparently as a tie-in with "Annihilation". I dunno. The third issue of the repint series includes the lead in for "Annihilation", and the Knights who do appear end up dead, (actualy, they are revealed to have been killed before the series actually starts). I am not sure how "dying in the opening issue to prove that the threat in the current event story is totally for real" warrants a reprint of a failed relaunch from 10+ years ago. I am also now sure how, or even if, Marvel is reconciling the passage of time. In the relauch from 10 years ago, enough time was shown to have passed since the end of the origional "Rom and the Space Knights" series and the relaunch for Rom to have sired two sons who had time to grow to adulthood. If anything, that would be close to real time. But, the current "Annihilation" story features Space Knights interacting with main-stream Marvel characters. I dunno.

Grade: C/D


Dom
-not likely to get to the comic shop this week.....

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