Friday, November 20, 2015

On the Shelf: A larger than life biography

Idea & Design Works (IDW) has come up with the perfect Christmas gift for the discriminating wrestling fan.

Andre The Giant: Closer To Heaven is a moving biography of the "Eighth Wonder of the World", from his beginnings in France to eventually beginning a long association with the then-World Wide Wrestling Federation (today's WWE). It also covers his forays into acting, appearing on The Six Million Dollar Man in the 70's, and the now-iconic late 80's fantasy, "The Princess Bride", as well as his legendary preference for beer. Stone Cold Steve Austin has nothing on Andre when it comes to the suds, let me tell you. Andre's extraordinary metabolism allowed him to consume far more beers in one sitting than most humans should be allowed.

Too bad they couldn't get WWE Hall of Famer Jerry Lawler to draw a cover. No shade on the artist on this book, but Lawler's detailed depiction of Andre on the cover would've been an even stronger selling point, especially if WWE were even bothered to promote the book on the air, and so far, insofar as I know, they haven't. Their loss. If you thought you knew Andre, think again.

Rating: A-.

Now, let's check back with Chip Zdarsky & Erica Henderson's revamp of Jughead.

So far, the events in this book haven't crossed over into Archie, and the next issue of that book is out next week, in time for Thanksgiving, so that means each book seemingly has its own continuity to start. In the case of the Jugster, that's not good.

After Principal Waldo Weatherbee had been forced to retire in the first issue, more changes are afoot at Riverdale High, as Coach Harry Clayton (Chuck's dad) has been dismissed, replaced with an ex-Marine, Coach Eng, whose ultra-strict program threatens Jughead's surprisingly clean record. There's something shady going on, and a mid-story dream sequence recalling the short-lived 1990 series, Jughead's Time Police, is actually a distraction. I'd not be surprised at all if Zdarsky continues with Jug's Walter Mitty-esque fantasies to do a call-back to Jug's 60's alter-ego, Captain Hero. However, I'm finding the same flaws in Zdarsky's writing that I did on his first Howard the Duck series for Marvel. The dream sequence distractions suggest that Zdarsky doesn't have a completely coherent idea of where he's going with this story arc. He's gone from a commentary on PC-driven changes in the school lunch program to RHS being overrun by an unnecessary shift in faculty, to the point of some conspiracy at its heart. I hate Coach Eng already, that's how bad it is. We'll see how far this goes, given the next issue comes after Christmas.

Rating: B-, down from last month.

Well, we knew DC couldn't stick with Jim Gordon as Batman for very long, and, in February, the skids start getting greased for the return of Bruce Wayne to his iconic alter-ego. However, local artist Greg Capullo is going on vacation, and Yanick Paquette gets to draw the game-changing issue. Now, if we can get Dan DiDio and friends to promise not to mess with their iconic characters for the sake of a quick fix ever again, we'll be happy.

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