Category Archives: Flashback Friday

SuperHeroStuff - Shop Now!

Flashback Friday Review: The Life and Times of Martha Washington in the Twenty-First Century

MW1We all know someone who’s never seen Star Wars or doesn’t gets it when you say “We’re gonna need a bigger boat!,” it’s from Jaws by the way. Whenever I meet someone like that I let them know how they have a void in their life that needs filling. When it came to Frank Miller and Dave Gibbons Martha Washington I was the one who had a void to fill, but thanks to Dark Horse Comics for publishing The Life and Times of Martha Washington in the Twenty-First Century, this trade paperback collects every page of Our shero Martha Washington. My life is complete as I take a flashback to this visionary work from two of comics greatest storytellers.

The late 80’s- early 90’s saw a huge number of creators becoming so disenfranchised with the big comic companies that they struck of on their own or headed to smaller companies to form boutique labels. This new freedom allowed Miller the ability to further his critique on current events and society from the viewpoint of heroine Martha Washington.MW2

Woman, soldier, leader, weapon, protector, explorer, Earth Mother all attributes and details that give you a very broad description of Washington. This black woman born in the slums of Chicago’s infamous Cabrini–Green Homes housing project, a maximum security “home” in this story, becomes the most influential person in history, saving the US and Earth from enemies foreign and domestic. Again the most basic, lay explanation of this book I could think of because Miller and Gibbons create a world that hits a little too close to home with a parody of US international and domestic politics, thankfully Washington is there to help them survive.

MW6This edition collects every appearance of Martha, including the short black and white stories, now fully colored and remastering and has a great crossover with Miller’s other creation, Big Guy from Big Guy and Rusty. The trade is graced by a brief introduction from Miller but the true value is Gibbons insight for each stage of the various story arcs, backstory of the series publishing herstory in addition to pages of concept notes and design ideas.

MW5Sadly the importance of this book is I feel more relevant in today’s world of 45*, ecological disasters on the horizon, Hydra-Cap, the seduction of artificial intelligence and America at a critical juncture for its collective soul. You won’t be able to not compare timelines and you’ll wonder if her version of the 21st century is better than ours, if only Millers crystal ball of social comictary could comfort us in knowing that we’ll make it through the next four years with only minor bumps and bruises.

If you’ve never read it go fill that void in your life like I did.

 

George Carmona 3rd is an Artist/Writer, former Milestone Media Intern, former DC Comics paper pusher, current book lover, and lifelong comic geek. You can find his work at FistFullofArt.com or follow him on twitter at GCarmona3.

Friday Flashback Review: Habibi

With most of the world powers at odds today with their citizens, the ugly head of “nationalism”, has creeped its way into most of the world’s conscience. As it has become increasingly more difficult, to tell whether a person’s good intentions can be separated from their political ideology, the world now mostly has ignored those less fortunate. Where once the world’s most powerful countries, were asked more often, whether they should intervene, most earliest in anyone’s mind who is living now, is America was going to intervene in World War II, it was never a question, “if”, but a question “when”.  The harsh truth is that world lacks the most basic of human characteristics, empathy.

The current xenophobia plaguing the ecosphere truly disregards the words left under the feet of the Statue of Liberty and attempts to invalidate immigrants and their descendants. It also leaves those who are refugees that have been persecuted, hunted, maligned and invalidated by the countries they came from, as now most of the Western world, is no longer a place for safe harbor. This is the very reason, why especially the Western world, should at least try and understand why people leave their homeland and why those flee when living there becomes unbearable. So, when I heard about Craig Thompson‘s epic story of two former slaves, Habibi, I was not only drawn to the art and premise but found it to be necessary reading into today day ad time.

In this story, we meet Dodola and Zam, two refugee child slaves, in a world stuck in time, where harems still exist, slavery is a common as buying stocks and anyone who is a woman or who possesses melanin, are devalued and considered less than a man. We follow these characters from toddlers to young adults, as the suffer and fight through a life of hurt for both. When the world becomes too much, they find comfort in each other, alleviating each other’s pain and sacrificing for each other, at times, to their own detriment, for shelter and sustenance. By the end of this epic, your heart more than embraces these characters, you wish for their prosperity, as the life they have lived would break most people, but makes these two stronger.

Overall, a story that affected me in the heartfelt of ways, as living in today’s climate, and being the son of immigrants, I hope and have been taught to be empathetic to those less fortunate, but as the book shows me, there is definite room for improvement. The story by Craig Thompson is masterfully told, meticulously detailed, and well-researched in Islam and Third world culture. The art by Craig Thompson is too much for words, as his sequential art is both beautiful and surreal, as there are times when it feels like a dream. Altogether, a book that proves necessary reading when love for your fellow man has become a rarity.

Story: Craig Thompson Art: Craig Thompson
Story: 10 Art:10 Overall: 10 Recommendation: Buy NOW!!!

Friday Flashback Review: Static Shock: Trial by Fire

StaticTBFFor my first installment to the GP Time Portal that is “Flashback Friday,” I’m going to go back to the 90’s for a re-read of Static Shock: Trial by Fire, originally Static issues #1-4, the name change came with wanting to capitalize on the cartoon from the WB.

This collection is the first appearance of our hero Virgil Hawkins aka Static, a superhero most of us could relate to, a scifi geek making it through high school, battling the bad guys while trying to get the girl and this is only a taste of what the Milestone crew brought to this series.

Co-written by Dwayne McDuffie and Robert L. Washington III, both gone too soon, you would think that something written over 20 years ago would be dated. The writing is able to balance humor and danger like phasers and photons. With the exception of one or two words, the pacing of the dialogue is a master class in writing teens, the issues our hero faces in and out of costume are sadly problems young kids still face today.

static-01-02And let’s not forget the art, the early work of then newcomer John Paul Leon is full of energy and I’m not just talking about Static’s power effect. From fighting to walking down the street, JPL infused a crazy amount of kinetic flow into the movement of the characters, but he doesn’t stop there. His character designs, based off of Denys Cowans work in the Milestone bible, Static is like a snapshot of today’s kids walking around being teenagers, minus the video chatting.

If by this point I haven’t persuaded you to run to your local store to track down this trade. I’ll put it to you this way, if you like Miles Morales and Riri Williams, you can thank Virgil for paving the way. Static is that super smart, geeky kid that shows us how anyone can be a hero and still be cool. This series was that it talked about bullying, dating, gangs and just about everything else a modern teenager faces today and not in a condescending manner, instead it did it in a way that makes you think about how these issues can be fixed.

For more of my money bring back Static, bring back Milestone.

 

George Carmona 3rd is an Artist/Writer, former Milestone Media Intern, former DC Comics paper pusher, current book lover, and lifelong comic geek. You can find his work at FistFullofArt.com or follow him on twitter at GCarmona3.

Flashback Friday Interview: Talking to Charles Soule Back at Baltimore Comic Con 2010

Today Charles Soule is one of the most prolific comic book writers having tackled top properties for both Marvel and DC Comics, and has had comics published by what seems like every major publisher. But Soule had to start somewhere and in this Retro Friday flashback we’re bringing back an interview with Soule from Baltimore Comic Con 2010 when he was just launching his breakout comic series 27 as well as the gem Strongman.

Flashback Friday Review: The New Warriors Vol. 1 #1

Nova, Namorita, Marvel Boy, Speedball, Firestar and the mysterious Night Thrasher are the New Warriors! New Warriors Vol. 1 #1 features the origin of the New Warriors and an incredible battle against the Fantastic Four’s enemy, Terrax and is a self-contained issue that’s pretty fun and holds up after 27 years!

It’s been 27 years since this issue was released and I don’t think I’ve ever read this issue. I vaguely remember it being released by a new team featuring characters I didn’t know didn’t really interest me at the time. Ironically I became a fan of the New Warriors decades later in some of their more recent incarnations that have been released.

This comic really is the origin of the group, not the characters. Written by Fabian Nicieza very little is explained as to who these characters are and why we should care about them. Instead, it mostly revolves around Night Trasher being a dick to recruit folks he thinks he needs to be a part of his attempt to “wage his war” against crime. It’s pretty basic in all of that and each character’s motivations to join him seems to consist of “I’ve got nothing to do” and “you’re an ass but…,” though none of that really makes sense. Night Trasher recruits Nova by throwing him off the roof (his powers were suppressed and that unlocked them). Marvel Boy is recruited when the Avengers say they don’t want them. Firestar is threatened over the phone. Speedball and Namorita join after the battle with Terrax and never really formally asked. It’s weird.

The comic is entertaining though. There’s surprising little that feels weird today or has aged horribly (maybe some stilted dialogue). There’s some sexist comments, but from “kids” it doesn’t feel quite as bad. Speedball for example is interested in getting into the fight to meet “babes.” A male teenager saying that? Feels right. The battle with Terrax too is fun with good action and how he’s defeated feels original as two characters’ powers play off of each other well. The comic as a whole has good pacing, a good mix of action and humor and sets things up well for the future. By the time the comic is over you get a good sense of the team, though not of its individuals. Personalities are clear in how they’ll work together. Motivations have generally been set for the team as a whole as to their rivalry with older superhero teams and being “kids.” And their general dynamic is laid out well.

The most impressive thing to me is that this is all one issue. No one character an issue. No spreading it out over a trade. They all come together and do battle in one comic that you can pick up, enjoy, and not have to read anything else. It feels special in a weird way because of that. And that fact it’s a one and day may be the most dated thing about it.

The art by Mark Bagley with ink by Al Williamson and color by Michael Rockwitz is good and though looks of the time you can see Bagley’s style that I’ve come to love with his more recent work (I really got to know his art when he returned to Marvel in 2011). There’s some of the flow and character design that he still uses today, but styles have changed since this was published so while it’s familiar, Bagley’s work today is very different from this. Still, it’s great to look at and both the action sequences and more chill scenes all work well and flow.

27 years later, the comic is still entertaining and a solid read. It’s not too expensive to pick up either and it feels like the timing is right for these characters to be seeing a revival some time soon, so check it out before they become a “thing” again.

Story: Fabian Nicieza Art: Mark Bagley Ink: Al Williamson
Letter: Michael Hegler Color: Michael Rockwitz
Story: 8.35 Art: 8.35 Overall: 8.35 Recommendation: Buy

Flashback Friday Review: Old Man Logan

oldmanloganPublished in 2008 in Wolverine #66-72 and Old Man Logan Giant-Size, the story known as “Old Man Logan” would be one that would go on to impact the character known as Wolverine, and Marvel Comics, 9 years later. Written by Mark Millar with art by Steve McNiven, “Old Man Logan” fuses classic dystopian future X-Men tales like “Days of Future Past” with Mad Max, and western heroes made famous by the likes of Clint Eastwood.

“Old Man Logan” is a road trip story at its heart. A now blind Hawkeye enlists a retired Logan to help drive across the country to deliver a package. The United States is now a hellscape ruled by supervillains who have carved the country up into their own kingdoms after having banded together to defeats the world’s heroes.

It’s been 9 years since this story was first released and I remember picking it up in single issues and as a trade all these years later, it still holds up. Interestingly, the story beyond holds up, and definitely is a modern classic in many ways.

Millar doesn’t give us anything really new with the story, but how he packages it and its setting is what really makes it all stand out. We’re given a new Logan who is a pacifist, refusing to pop his claws or take part in any violence. He’ll take a beating instead of giving one. It’s a fascinating shift for the character who at one point was one of the most deadly superheroes out there. What caused him to be this way? That’s teased out through numerous issues getting to the emotional reveal that packs a punch. It’s not just a fall from grace for the character, but a reminder that deep down he’s an animal in many ways. Millar gives us humanity for a character who often is depicted as a killing machine.

Joining Logan is Hawkeye, Clint Barton, who is now blind and been up to some shady shit. Having to get a package across the country, out of the two, Barton is the badass letting arrows fly and talking up a storm.

The story is packed with winks and nods as we move across the country to see the devastation. From bones laying around to tokens of the villain victory, this is a comic that is full of Easter eggs for comic fans.

That’s delivered by Steve McNiven who’s backed up on inks and color by a team of individuals and the art is fantastic. McNiven is a talented artist who gives us both wide expanses and close up action scenes. There’s emotional moments and moments full of rage and destruction. With a sparse choice of colors that enhance the situation, the art will have you linger on every page looking at the details that tease the story within the story.

“Old Man Logan” holds up and in some ways, I appreciate it more reading it in one sitting and really taking in the details. The story falls back on tropes a bit too many times with twists that are easy to see coming, but it’s still enjoyable and entertaining. A classic in every sense of the word and something that’s been copied, but yet to be improved upon.

Story: Mark Millar Art: Steve McNiven
Inkers: Dexter Vines, Mark Morales, Jay Leisten
Colorists: Morry Hollowell, Christina Strain, Justin Ponsor, Jason Keith, Nathan Fairbairn, Paul Mounts
Letterer: VC’s Cory Petit
Story: 9.5 Art: 9.5 Overall: 9.5 Recommendation: Buy

Flashback Friday Review: Wolverine: Rahne Of Terra

Wolverine_Rahne_of_Terra_Vol_1_1.jpgFirst published in August of 1991 (according to the legal bit in the back cover), the last time I read Wolverine: Rahne Of Terror must have been nearly twenty years ago in an old British reprint comic called Wolverine Unleashed (Issues #24-26), so when I found it for $3 at my LCS a couple weeks ago I jumped at the chance to read it again. You can’t really go wrong getting a 64-page story for three bucks, I thought, and I remembered enjoying it when I last read the story. Of course yesterday I saw the comic in the dollar bin, but what can you do?

Now despite this being labeled as a Wolverine comic, the story focuses more on Rhane Sinclair and the New Mutants than it does the title character. While it was probably a useful tactic aimed at pushing the New Mutants using Wolverine’s name at the time – though how successful it was at the time,  I’ll never know because I don’t care enough to research sales numbers from that time right now.

Aside from focusing on the New Mutants Rahne Of Terra positions Wolverine as the villain thanks to the age old mind control trick, and places him at the mercy of an evil wizard who has pulled Wolverine into an alternate dimension that echoes medieval Europe in order to murder a few people. The story isn’t one of Peter David‘s best, but it’s still an enjoyable diversion for a half hour or so. Andy Kubert‘s art holds up surprisingly well, although some of the hair styles and costume choices have a very 90’s feel, the alternate universe nature of the story mitigates the aesthetically aging moments.

Although this story doesn’t hold up as well as I’d hoped it would after twenty years, it’s still worth reading if you come across it in a dollar bin, but it may not be worth deliberately going out to look for it.

Story: Peter David Pencils/Inks: Andy Kubert
Colours: Sherilyn Van Vaulkenberg
Story: 6 Art: 7 Overall: 6.5 Recommendation: Read

Flashback Friday Review: Incredible Hulk #181

Incredible_Hulk_Vol_1_181.jpgIf you’re a Wolverine fan then you’ve probably read this comic in some form or another over the years, more than likely in one reprinted form or another – which is what I read for this review because I can’t afford an original copy. Specifically a 25th anniversary reprint edition of the story that also included Incredible Hulk #180 – Wolverine’s first appearance was on the final page in this comic, his full comic debut would come the following month in issue 181 – as well as a story featuring Hercules from Marvel Treasury Edition #26 that was largely forgettable, I can honestly say that The Incredible Hulk #181 was much better than I remember it being.

Having first read this story when I was twelve in a British reprint magazine (Wolverine Unleashed #16), I remember not really being all that impressed with the story. There was too much Hulk and not enough Wolverine for my twelve year old sensibilities, and it would be safe to say that a lot of the comic was lost on me back then.

While I don’t think I’ve grown up a whole lot since I was twelve – I literally just spent the last ten minutes posing an action figure – I may have matured somewhat in my understanding of story telling, and the themes of loneliness that Len Wein is exploring using the Hulk, because I don’t remember these threads running through the comic the The_Incredible_Hulk_and_Wolverine_Vol_1_1.jpgfirst time I read it, although to be I was probably more interested in the action at the time.

One of the first things I noticed was the style of the narration throughout the book as Wein filled in details that weren’t always covered by the art. While in today’s comics the reader should be “reading” the art as well as the words, that was less of a requirement here, which had the end result of feeling as though there was a lot more story included within the comic, and a greater insight into the Hulk’s thought process – such that it is. While I won’t claim to prefer this method over the modern, or vice versa, it is an interesting way to tell a story in a comic book, and as I read more older comics for these retro reviews it’s something I’m excited to see more of.

As I said, when I first sat down with (a reprint of) The Incredible Hulk #181 I didn’t actually expect to enjoy it, let alone for it to be as good as it is. Despite being more than thirty years old, this comic still holds up to this day; the story is still relevant and the artwork is still vibrant and exciting (and not at all dated); reading this today was one hell of a pleasant surprise, and if yu can track down a copy to read, I’d highly recommend you do so. Especially if  you’re a Wolverine fan.

Story: Len Wein: Penciller: Herb Trimpe
Inker: Jack Abel Colourist: Glynis Wein
Story: 8.75 Art: 8.25 Overall: 8.5 Recommendation: Buy (a reprint).

Flashback Friday Review: Wolverine: Doombringer

wolverine_doombringer_vol_1_1In November of 1997, Wolverine: Doombringer was released. A one shot graphic novel written by Doug Moench with Michel Dutkiewicz providing the pencils, and Jimmy Palmiotti on inks. The team are joined by colourists Mark McNabb, Dennis Calero and Atomic Paintbrush. 

Clocking in at 48 pages, the comic is set during the period of time after Mariko Yashida canceled her wedding to Logan in order to atone for the sins of her father and her final appearance in Wolverine #57, a comic published five years before the publication date of Doombringer. The story itself starts a millennium ago with one group of mystics trying to end the world by summoning the Doombringer, and another group trying to prevent them by freezing time using an intricately detailed piece of magic.

Fast forward a thousand years and the conflict between the two opposing mystic groups has been relegated to myth when one of those impacted by the spell is awoken and goes to seek aid from the modern descendants of his clan. Events transpire, and eventually, Wolverine gets involved.

Once that happens we get a pretty standard late 90’s Wolverine tale that won’t set your world on fire, but is the equivalent to a PG-13 popcorn action movie; an enjoyable, if unspectacular, comic that has all the action you’d expect with very little damage to Wolverine beyond his torn costume.

While I still enjoyed the comic, at the end of the day it wasn’t as good as I remembered – and that’s a bigger disappointment for me than anything else.

Story: Doug Moench Pencils: Michael Dutkiewicz Inks: Jimmy Palmiotti
Colours: Mark McNabb, Dennis Calero and Atomic Paintbrush
Story: 6.75 Art: 7 Overall: 7.0 Recommendation: Read 

Flashback Friday Review: The Incredible Hulk #404

incredible_hulk_vol_1_404Another dollar bin find a couple of weeks ago, I picked up this comic purely because of the cover. I’ve always been partial to the Juggernaut, so the thought of seeing him with the Hulk smashing some stuff around seemed too good to pass up for the lowly price of $1 (for those curious, the cover price was $1.25 when it was released in April 1993).

Written by Peter David, with pencils by Gary Frank, and inks by Cam Smith and colours by Glynis OliverThe Incredible Hulk #404 was a great read for the price I paid for it. The story picks up with the Hulk seemingly under some form of mind control as he attacks the Avengers (most of whom I don’t recognize) at the Juggernaut’s behest.

The issue takes place at some point in the middle of an arc, which meant that while I had no idea how or why things had evolved to the point they were at, but the nature of the comic – and the fight with – meant that I could enjoy it all the same. There’s also a subplot with Betty Banner, Doc Samson and (I presume) Rick Jones, but it didn’t really make a whole lot of sense to me – probably because I haven’t read any of the previous issues.

Artistically, I was a fan. This sort of style is how I remembered comics being when I fist started getting into them (ironic seeing as how it’s from the same era, eh?), so there was a nice throwback for me personally there, but your mileage may vary.

Overall, this issue hasn’t aged too badly; it probably wasn’t a great story when it was initially released, and while it still isn’t great, it was enjoyable.

Story: Peter David Pencils: Gary Frank Inks: Cam Smith Colours: Glynis Oliver
Story: 6.5 Art: 7 Overall: 6.75 Recommendation: Read

« Older Entries