Friday, March 18, 2016

On The Shelf: Get ready to get Lost in Space again

Yes, you read that right, effendi. Lost in Space returns to comics this week in a brand new book from American Gothic Press, which is the current home of the former Warren publication Famous Monsters of Filmland.

This series adapts a pair of unproduced scripts that were intended for the show's 3rd & final season (1967-8), both of which had been written by prolific writer Carey Wilber. The first story arc focuses on John & Will Robinson and Major Don West, plus the Robot, dealing with an unknown menace. Given how campy Lost in Space became in its final season, you hope that editor Holly Interlandi, who is writing the adaptation, can avoid the pitfalls that ultimately doomed the series. Given that it's been more than 25 years since the last comic book version of the series, and that one was written for the most part by co-star Bill Mumy (Will), you wonder also if fans will embrace this book, coming as it does six months after the series' 50th anniversary.


Legends of Tomorrow has been renewed for a 2nd season by CW, but fans will be disappointed to find that DC's newly released miniseries shares just the name and one character. The company had said all along they weren't adapting the series---yet---but Firestorm would appear, in a story arc written by co-creator Gerry Conway. Jefferson "Jax" Jackson was created for television, so Ronnie Raymond, who was killed off on The Flash, is paired with Jason Rusch, who has also appeared on Flash, while Professor Martin Stein isn't part of the Firestorm Matrix. Try figuring that one out. The plus is that Conway, who introduced Firestorm nearly 40 years ago, is at the helm. Producer Greg Berlanti could use his help with Legends.

The back-up features are, like Firestorm, originally meant to be in their own stand-alone miniseries, but DC decided to cut their perceived losses by merging 4 books together into one. Sugar & Spike have been reimagined as adult private eyes in the vision of writer Keith Giffen, who, over the course of six issues, will have them meeting certain familiar faces, though we can't guarantee the big guns will be involved. Aaron Lopresti is behind the reboot of Metamorpho, both as writer & artist. Lopresti brings us in after Rex Mason has already been mutated into the Element Man, but Sapphire Stagg, Rex's long time honey, isn't in that role---yet. Java, Simon Stagg's henchman, is more than just a simple caveman now. Instead, he's been given intelligence by the elder Stagg, who supplies Java with medication to keep him from going berserk. The Metal Men are in the capable hands of Len Wein and Yindray Cinar, the latter of whom has redesigned the team with a more 21st century look, although I disagree with giving Gold more of a vain personality. Platinum still looks hot, but her armored body isn't silvery white anymore.

So why is DC rolling the dice by merging 4 books into 1? There isn't as much of a market for nostalgia for characters from the 60's & 70's anymore. For $8 an issue, you're buying into the exploitation of a hot television property. The hometown comics shop only ordered 10 copies, virtually all of them for subscribers. Were it not for Firestorm, folks would see this 80-page, $8 book, and turn it aside.

Sugar & Spike is the only feature that isn't a continuing story, just a series of done-in-one tales. Giffen has holes to fill with the characters, who haven't been seen since the end of their own series in the late 60's-early 70's. Give this a B+. The others are Incomplete, since we'll need a couple more months to properly gauge the story arcs.

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