Thursday, April 26, 2012

On The Shelf: Cold War: The Damocles Contract (2011)

When I came out of retirement to resume collecting comics last fall, I placed some personal restrictions so I would not over-indulge, as I had in the past. That having been said, there was a miniseries from Idea & Design Works (IDW) that caught my fancy, and I resolved to wait until it was reissued in a trade paperback.

"The Damocles Contract" is the first of what is proposed to be a series of miniseries under the umbrella title, Cold War, written & illustrated by comics icon John Byrne, best known for his work at DC, Charlton, Dark Horse, & Marvel dating all the way back to the mid-70's. What Byrne has conjured up this time is a maverick secret agent in Michael Swann, who doesn't exactly do things by the book, but then again, neither does James Bond, and Swann is designed to look as if casting directors had chosen George Clooney instead of Daniel Craig to be the current 007. Swann isn't exactly a Clooney lookalike, but the attitude suggests the snarky take Clooney put into playing the Batman in "Batman & Robin" in 1997 (and, oh, was that ever a dud).

In "The Damocles Contract", Swann pretends to defect, along with a prominent scientist, in order to prevent some secrets from falling into the wrong hands. However, the professor's daughter is in fact defecting, and just comes off as very anti-Bond Girl. Byrne hits all the right buttons in terms of plot & pacing, and this has the feel of potentially being adapted into a movie down the road, one that maybe could draw the attention of Clooney, for one.

Byrne's most successful creation for Dark Horse, the Next Men, were revived last year, also at IDW, as part of the deal, and if you read that series originally, it may be a welcome return. Right now, I'll settle for the trades to get caught up.

Rating for Cold War: A.

Also available:

Perhaps the most famous pulp hero of all time, The Shadow has returned to comics. This time, Dynamite Publishing has the license, and brought in British writer Garth Ennis to script the series. Cognizant of the mistakes DC made in resetting the series in the present day in the late 80's, Ennis takes the Shadow back to the Golden Age. In stark, sharp contrast to the Shadow's 1st run at DC in the 70's, there's much more blood to be had, and it's worth every penny spent. The Shadow merits an A+.

IDW has acquired a license to adapt Popeye into a 4-issue miniseries, the first issue of which hits shops this week. A review is coming soon.......

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