Doc Savage #1 Review

It makes sense that Dynamite would eventually publish Doc Savage, one of the most famous old-timey adventure heroes from the pulp era of the ’30s and ’40s. The publisher have had success with creating comics showing new adventures of other characters from that time, such as Zorro, Green Hornet, and The Shadow.

It also makes sense that they’d get Chris Roberson to write the series, as he has an obvious respect for the era, with his previous work in novels, as well as his work on the 8 issues Masks series which sees the aforementioned heroes, and others, team up. (The collection of Masks is sitting on my bookshelf to be read, and I will, seeing as it has Alex Ross’ first interior artwork in years).

It’s a shame that Doc Savage hasn’t been in the forefront of pop culture for the last few decades really. much-maligned film in the ’70s, and an almost Arnie film, but now will become a blockbuster (hopefully) as long-time Savage fan, screenwriter and director Shane Black brings it to the big screen, after his massive success with Iron Man 3.

This first issue handles the complications of the character’s rich history ell, for a newcomer like myself. There’s not a lot of manly heroics here, so don’t expect the ripped, bronze physique of the shirt tearing Doc Savage here, but there’s enough of the supporting cast and the setting to encapsulate a sense of adventure. This debut tells the tale of a disgruntled scientist trying to prove that mankind are nothing but animals, with a device that sets of a specific radio frequency, turning people in 1930s metropolitan America in to crazed brutes who beat each other up.

Savage and his smart friends, who are summed up well with captions and dialogue, sort out the cause and solution rather quickly. To some, this may be an underwhelming issue, expecting more high stakes, glob trotting and machismo fisticuffs, but this is an entertaining and well-rounded intro to Savage’s world. Roberson’s script is text-heavy, complete with old-school inner thought speeches, but with talented newcomer Bilquis Evily’s artwork, it works.  Evily’s clean lines, yet somewhat scratchy approach remind me of Sean Murphy in a way and he fills the pages with spot-on details. The architecture, the fashion – it all looks like ’30s America.

Judging by the description for next month’s issue, this is a done-in-one tale, which means I’m looking forward to further issues and continuing adventures.

Check out a preview of this issue right here.

DocSavage01CovRoss

Thun’da #2 Review

At Broken Frontier you can find my review of the second issue of Dynamite’s new series, Thun’da, which is based on a classic series about a soldier who loses his memory but finds himself in a dangerous new world.

The Lone Ranger Vol. 4 Review

Now up at Broken Frontier is my review of the fourth and final collection of the previous The Lone Ranger series from Dynamite Entertainment. The new series launched last week.

I was pretty impressed with this Trade Paperback by creators Brett Matthews and Sergio Cariello. It was the first time I’ve read any Ranger comics and it was highly entertaining. Catch my review here and a preview here.

Flash Gordon: Zeitgeist #1 Review

I was a tad cautious about this new acquisition by Dynamite after several other classic heroes (Lone Ranger, Green Hornet,etc), as there’s already a Flash Gordon series from publisher Ardden, and has been for a while. (In fact, you can read their #0 and #1 issues for free.) However, this debut issue (at only $1!) is awesomely rousing with a great focus on action and drama.

Setting the story in 1934 (the year of the adventurer’s debut, courtesy of Alex Raymond) was a bold, but wise move. Not only does it set it apart from Ardden’s modernised take, it also gives Flash Gordon a unique flair for adventure, much like The Rocketeeer or Indiana Jones tales set roughly in the same era, do.

We first see Flash when he’s jumping from a burning plane, with cartographer Dale Arden in his arms. Handy captions introduce us to all the main players and Flash is instantly likeable due to that charming ’30s style and the fact that he’s a polo player once more. Flash and Dale are on a mission to find reclusive scientist Hans Zarkov. They do and he’s wonderfully crazy (well, at least a little bit). Zarkov believes there’s a way from our universe to others, and that inhabitants of said outer worlds have been visiting Earth for recruitment purposes. One dangerous space shuttle journey later and Flash and Dale see his point. On the last few pages three rebellious Mongo citizens visit Germany to hunt down Ming ally, Hitler. This was a pleasant surprise, adding one more layer to this daring tale.

Artist Alex Ross (Kingdom Come) has long been a fan of the character and an interview with him even shows up on the DVD of the 1980 film. His love is evident here in his character designs and art direction, a role (as well as variant cover artist) that has kept him busy with numerous series over the last few years at Dynamite. Not as outlandish as his designs for the Jack Kirby inspired titles, they evoke classic sci-fi trappings much like the rockets and alien thrones do. Throwing Ming’s snivelly right hand man Klytus from the film was a nice surprise too, and Ming really lives up to his Merciless title, with his disdain for pretty much everyone, including his slave girls and the entirety of the human race it would seem. More of  a nuanced character and not at all a stereotype, Ming is like Darth Vader in Episode IV. We don’t see much of him, but we see enough to know that he’s a calculating despot.

Daniel Indro’s art is a perfect fit. Similar to Ross’ pencils, but with a dynamism all his own, he skimps no detail. The script asks him to create aliens, Zarkov’s busy lab and high drama fuelled emotion, and he does it all splendidly. In particular, the escape in Zarkov’s experimental shuttle is a very well crafted sequence. I’m looking forward to seeing more of his work and it looks like we’ll be witnessing both Earth and Mongo scenes. Excellent.

Writer Eric Trautman (who plots with Ross) does well to craft an entertaining story, with just as entertaining central characters, despite there being several of them. It’s a fast ride and there are no dull moments. From Flash’s take charge attitude, Dale’s far from damsel in distress attitude, and Zarkov’s crazed brilliance, he captures the essence of these well known characters in a superb fashion.

Hitler is no surprise, as he’s shown on the cover, and is hinted that he’s a Ming supporter. If done well, this concept could work, with a nice history/fantasy blend, though I’d imagine there may be some that would cringe with the very idea, but it’s too early to tell just yet.

Those familiar with the awesomely cheesy 1980 film (with the great Queen theme song) will fondly recall the opening lines here and it’s obvious that the creators are well aware of Flash’s vast history. This is no duty old reboot that sits awkwardly with today’s superheroes. This is a new Flash Gordon. He’s almost the same as the old one, but better. He’s a hero for today, and he’s highly entertaining.

Some Recent Recommended Reads

Star Wars Invasion: Revelations #2. The latest issue of the third arc in Tom Taylor and Colin Wilson’s Invasion series packs a whollop. Most surprises in comics these days are to do with which superhero is now (temporarily) dead, but I gotta say Taylor pulls two linked shocks in the latter half of this issue that come from nowhere. Of course, I may very well have missed some well placed clues in previous issues, amongst the multitude of comics I read each week, but this was a pleasant surprise, and with this arc only just beginning, the stakes and expectations are now high.

To create another intriguing family in the huge Star Wars mythos is no easy feat, but Taylor has done it with the Galfridians. Of course, Wilson’s art is as fluid and crisp as ever, and this pic makes me admire him even more.

More violent and intense than previous issues, there’s also a heap of Stormtroopers, AT-AT Walkers, a Star Destroyer, and some foolhardy choices by arrogant Empire officers. Yes, this issue does have it all.

Check out a great preview here.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #1. Another much loved property finds a home at IDW and joins their Star Trek, Transformers, Doctor Who, etc line-up. Turtles co-creator Kevin Eastman provides the story and layouts, while Tom Waltz and Dan Duncan handle the script and art respectively. Closer to the original early ’80s comic rather than the cartoon, purists will be pleased with the foursome wearing red bandanas, and April O’Neill showing up as a lab assistant, rather than being a reporter.

It starts with a fight against mad cat Old Hob, who, as Splinter’s narration suggests, is a common foe. The three Turtles take on the eyepatched feline and his goons and win, before Old Hob jumps over a fence, making a quick mention of Raphael’s absence. A flashback to 18 months previous shows O’Neill working alongside Chet Allen (who annoyingly “um’s a lot) at Stock Gen Research. The four turtles are kept in a glass cage and a rat roams free in the lab. We then meet their boss Baxter Stockman who is talking to an unseen General Krang, who is eager to get the results he wants from his experimentation on the animals, including the super soldier mutagen. There is a war waiting, after all.

Cutting to the present, we see a hoodie wearing Raphael looking for food in an alley dumpster, and not being impressed at a “Cowabunga” shirt he finds. He then happens upon a father beating his son. His son called Casey.  Filled with nice nods to previous Turtles continuity, and leaving a few intriguing questions hanging, this is a very welcome return for the shelltacular heroes.

IDW are also releasing the TMNT Ultimate Collection which collects the first 7 issues, plus the Raphael one-shot from Kevin Eastman and Peter Laird. It’s over 300 black and white pages and is out on October 1.

The Bionic Man #1. I suppose six million dollars doesn’t buy as much cybernetics as it did in the ’70s, so this comic based on The Six Million Dollar Man TV series (which ran from 1974-78) gets a new name and other updates in keeping with the times. Based on an unproduced Kevin Smith screenplay, like his Green Hornet comics are, this also reunites the filmmaker with his Hornet team of publisher Dynamite, co-writer Phil Hester and artist Jonathan Lau. I liked Smith’s Hornet comics better than the eventual film so had high hopes for this debut and it met them. I also remember watching reruns of the Lee Majors-led TV show, with that awesome intro, which, by the way, taught me how to raise one eyebrow as a kid as I imitated Mr Majors.

Colonel Steve Austin is a test pilot, and Smith wisely sets him apart from comics’ other test pilot Hal Jordan, by making him a confident, well rounded man about to retire early, who’s engaged to schoolteacher Jamie. Jaime, as you may recall is the name of  the TV spinoff, Bionic Woman, who married Austin.

Testing the experimental stealth bomber Daedalus Five for combat readiness, things obviously don’t go as planned. Parallel to Austin’s tale is a robbery of a lab, in which a swordsman steals a sub-fusion chip and prototype robotic arm. Expect these two plots to collide next issue. This is a great re-entry (pun intended) to this well remembered franchise and the team has done a marvellous job of updating the story to today’s audience. Well paced, with tantalising hooks hinting at future tragedies and a kinetic visual style, this is another entertaining win for Dynamite.

See a preview of this ish right here.

Teen Titans #100. A fitting, and fond farewell to the Teen Titans before next month’s relaunch is this extra-sized issue. I’m only a casual reader of the Titans, but it’s always good to see Nicola Scott  drawing them, or any superheroes really, and J.T Krul has written many of their recent adventures, and will scribe Green Arrow, and Captain Atom in the relaunch. It opens with the evil Superboy Prime battling the teen heroes near the Golden Gate Bridge. Armed with clones of Superboy in his past costumes, and a bunch of villains unfamiliar to me, the battle involves a host of Titans.

Robin goes nuts with a kryptonite dagger and the team gang up on Superboy Prime in a cool page filled with “T” shaped panels. Weirdly they do discuss not killing Prime after doing so to his clones, but I guess clones aren’t real. There’s also some simple, but well written emotional moments between Superboy and Ravager, and Beast Boy and Raven. Finishing with an 8 page gallery from various artists such as Rob Liefeld and Karl Kerschl showing the various iterations of the team over the decades, it’s a nice close before the new series by Scott Lobdell and Brett Booth begins in September.

Total Recall – Now In Comics

Seeing the cover below in the latest Previews catalogue brought back memories from the classic Arnie film in my youth. Great special effects for its day and witty dialogue like, “You’ve got a lot of nerve showing your afce around here.” Plus, Arnie as a woman, with an exploding head and a robot taxi driver. Oh, and an acrobatic Sharon Stone. Classic! Now Dynamite are continuing the film’s story. I guess they didn’t want the rights to the original Philip K. Dick novel, but that makes sense as the film’s probably more well known. I wonder if any of this will be seen in the upcoming remake, starring Colin Farrell.

Text-free preview pages of the debut issue below, which is out in May but can be ordered now.

CONTINUING WHERE THE MOVIE LEFT OFF, TOTAL RECALL #1 HITS STORES THIS MAY!

Shipping this May, Dynamite Comics, inspired by the hit 1990 science fiction movie TOTAL RECALL starring Arnold Schwarzenegger, presents the story of what happens next in its new comic series: TOTAL RECALL.

The series begins with the death of the Mars mining colony chief, Cohaagen, and the creation of an atmosphere for the planet. Douglas Quaid, the undercover agent known as Hauser, and the man responsible for releasing the colony from the grips of Cohaagen, simply wants to live happily ever after with Melina the woman of his dreams.  But with Mars in chaos, new enemies invading the red planet, and a mysterious stranger in their midst, will Quaid have his happily ever after? Check out issue TOTAL RECALL #1 to find out!

“Being given the opportunity to create a sequel to one of the coolest action films of the 1990s was too great pass up,” says first time comics writer Vincent S. Moore.  “Resonating with one of the themes of the original movie, this is a dream come true and a great benefit for me.  In order to fulfill my dream, I simply had to turn around and make the happy ending for Douglas Quaid on Mars into a new nightmare and show him to be the hero once again.  It was easy and tons of fun.  I threw everything I could think at Quaid, keeping with the flavor of the movie.  I hope all of the readers enjoy the ride. My thanks to the folks at Dynamite for giving me this chance.  And to all those fans of the original film, I hope you like what we came up with enough to give it a shot.  Just remember: get your asses to Mars!”

Total Recall is an original Sci-Fi Carolco Pictures thriller, released in 1990.  The film stars Arnold Schwarzenegger and Sharon Stone and is based on the Philip K. Dick short story “We Can Remember It for You Wholesale.” Directed by Paul Verhoeven and written by Ronald Shusett, Dan O’Bannon, Jon Povill, and Gary Goldman, TOTAL RECALL won a Special Achievement Academy Award for its visual effects. The Jerry Goldsmith soundtrack earned the BMI Film Music Award. The rights to publish a TOTAL RECALL comic book series were obtained from StudioCanal S.A. under a licensing agreement negotiated by The Licensing Group Ltd.

The story line is centered on an unsophisticated construction worker, Douglas Quaid (Schwarzenegger), and the aftermath of his visit to REKALL, a company offering vacations for the mind. The Rekall vacation triggers a mind plant in Quaid’s brain, leading him to discover that he is a freedom fighter from Mars who has been relocated to Earth. Quaid attempts to restore order, and reverse the corrupt influence of commercial powers, despite multiple challenges, not the least of which are his wife’s multiple attempts to kill him, attacks from thugs who want him dead; and his own confusion as to who he really is. Quaid conquers the corrupt hold of the Mars based mining company restoring order to the Mars community.

To find a comic shop near you, call 1-888-comicbook

For art and more information, please visit:

www.dynamite.net

Extra Sequential Podcast Episode Seventeen

Because WE demanded it! Two podcast episodes in one week! Actually, we’re just changing the day on which we record our show, so we can have more time to properly digest new comics.

49 mins. After our sweet sixteenth episode, comes our sour seventeenth episode. It’s not that sour really, but we do run the gamut of topics as usual. Apart from comics, films and manga news and reviews, we also discuss Mladen’s dodgy pronunciation of “news,” the Back to the Future game and unfunny Ricky Gervais films.

LISTEN TO IT BELOW, DOWNLOAD IT HERE, ON ITUNES OR MIXCLOUD.

2:25 NEWS

Pretty boy actor Matthew Goode as a possible Clark Kent/CGI Superman, the Locke and Key TV series based on the hugely popular horror comic, San Diego Comic-Con online registration crashes again and the film based on Daniel Clowes’ Wilson.

11:40 WHAT WE’VE BEEN READING

Manga Ooku by Viz Media set in feudal Japan, Call of Duty: Black Ops,  Star Trek II and III, El Borbah by Charles Burns, the fun, time travelling Rift Raiders OGN, Dynamite’s relaunch of Vampirella and Firebreather Vol.3 #1 from Image Comics.

45:38 CONCLUSION



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