Savage Enterprises Publishing
Mike Aragona - Freelance Writer / Editor

Off The Rack

One Man's Views — (August 1998) I picked up a lot (and I mean a LOT) of comics during the last couple of conventions I went to (mostly Independant). The ones I enjoyed are listed. The ones I didn't, aren't. Simple, no? (I'm sorry, but there are a lot of books out there which really shouldn't be out there and I don't see any value in my spending any kind of time reviewing them) 5 Stars is the highest grade. WARNING: The Spoilers Flag waves on in these reviews!

Iron Man: The Iron Age #1 (2 issue mini) (Marvel)
Kurt Busiek (w) Patrick Zircher (p) Bob McLeod (I) - $8.40 Rating: ****

As most of you already know, I've been looking forward to Kurt being on Iron Man since I first read his take on the character years ago. Well, this special 2 issue mini, pricey though it may be, is still worth its admission cost. In the first issue, we're introduced to Tony Stark prior to becoming the responsible industrialist we know and love. We see early life at Stark Industries through the eyes of Pepper Potts. We watch as Tony takes over after the death of his parents (whom we discover were murdered), to his final acceptance at being in charge. Some nice, defining moments of growth with appealing art make this book a good read. Plus, it's cool seeing the original Gold Armour (although streamlined). Kurt knows how to weave a good yarn.

Mythography #7 (Anthology) (Bardic Press)
Various - $5.25 Rating: ****

There are 10 stories in this anthology from various creators. I picked it up because of the first story from Craig (Wahoo Morris) Taillefer. Craig had a table at the Toronto Con and when I saw the original artwork, I was immediately captivated. I love the Conan-era theme stories and the artwork was great. So, how could I refuse a book with that story plus 9 other similar-themed ones? (smile) At the SmallPOX show, Craig was actually sitting right next to us, so I picked up the other issues he had with him and thoroughly enjoyed those as well. Sadly, though, he told me that the Publisher is packing it in after issue 8. That really is a shame because this series is a real gem. If you're a fan of the genre, you've gotta pick up some issues. With work by creators such as Craig, Trina Robbins, Tara Jenkins, Steve Bissette, and so many others (not to mention a really nice Elfquest story in #3), you're bound to be entertained!

Abductions (The Silent Invasion) #1 (Caliber)
Larry Hancock (w) Michael Cherkas (a) - $4.25 Rating: ***

"In late 1959, reporter Matt Sinkage attempted to kill the leading Democratic presidential hopeful, believing that the candidate was the pawn of a secret government organization that was about to allow an alien invasion of Earth. Phil Housley, an FBI agent assigned to the candidate's security detail, shot and apparently killed Sinkage. In the ensuing pandemonium, there was a power outage and when the lights came back on, Sinkage's body was gone. The body was never seen again. It is now 1965. This is Phil Housley's story..."

And thus begins the sequel to Micheal and Larry's Silent Invasion series (Caliber reprints readily available!). It's a crime book! It's a Private-Eye book! It's an X-File! The quirky, grim and gritty art style suits the book's mood to a "T" and allows us to really get into the characters and their lives. Here's the opening monologue: "It's been five years since I've had a good night's sleep... Every night he haunts my dreams. He claims I ruined his life... ...and now he's going to ruin mine. He blames me for killing him... ...I didn't want to... ...but I did." If that doesn't intrigue you to pick up this book, I don't know what will!

Superman For All Seasons #1 (DC)
Jeph Loeb (w) Tim Sale (a) Bjarne Hansen (colors) - $6.95 Rating: ****

When I first read the previews on this mini-series, I immediately decided I wanted to read it. Here was the early story of Clark Kent and his eventual growth into Superman. The whole premise seemed great and the idea of getting into Clark's young mind to see how he accepts being an alien and what causes him to decide to be Superman was too tempting for me. I picked up the issue and was immediately struck with the beauty of Bjarne's coloring! The issue looked like a European comic! And Tim's artwork definately helped in that illusion. And was the story all I expected it to be? Sure was. And more. Watching/ Reading Clark grow, how his powers began to manifest, what his life in Smallville really meant to him, his interactions with the folks there... Lovely. Real. A treat. And, nowadays, a treat is definately what I'm looking for in my comics reading. If the next 3 issues can keep this level, it'll make a great trade paperback collection and definately a great gift to anyone who loves the character and wants to see him treated with respect.

Aquaman Annual (Ghosts) (DC)
Peter David (w) Vince Giarrano (p) Jonathan Sibal (I) - $4.25 Rating: ****

I don't normally review annuals, mainly because they usually have nothing to say and/or don't contribute to the mythos of whichever character the book belongs to. I'm glad to say this isn't the case here. I think of this as Peter's swan song in his Aquaman run and what a run it's been. The plot element here is something we've all seen before (and most recently by Neil Gaiman in Babylon 5): - The dead rise for one night and interact with the living. The first one we meet is Arthur Junior. He comes to Aquaman as the King is reliving/ revisiting the events of The Atlantis Chronicles. Following him, we are brought into the mystery of how all the old Kings of Atlantis have risen and what they're trying to do. And it isn't just the Kings, it's common folks plus a surprise visitor. Along with the action of Aquaman and Orin the First trying to stop some of the other dead kings from waging war with the surface world, there are a lot of emotions played out as we see how emotionally difficult the life of our king is. The final good-bye Arthur shares with his son almost had me in tears. The power of the emotions in this issue really help elevate it in my eyes, which was needed as the art came across quite jarring in most panels. I'm definately gonna miss Peter David's touch on this title...

Arrow Anthology #1 (Arrow Comics)
Misc. (W/A) Randy Zimmerman (e) - $5.25 Rating: ***

Anthologies, as I've mentioned before, are a hard sell. When they work, they work. When they don't, they fall quite flat. The best anthology is only as good as its weakest story. In the case of this book, I couldn't really find one. 48 pages with5 stories (The Fool, Jabberwocky, Great Scott (yes, that's a hero), Night Streets, and Battle Bot). No 2 themes are alike, and each has a charm of its own. I enjoyed the "gritty" realism of the Night Streets story as much as I enjoyed the zaniness of The Fool. I had a small amount of trouble with Great Scott because of its name, though. Definately a different kind of anthology and next time I bump into Randy at a future convention, I'll make sure to pick up the other issues!

(Off The Rack (c) Mike Aragona. All rights reserved. No reproduction or retransmission of this article is granted without written permission of Mike Aragona)

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