Thursday, October 20, 2016

On The Shelf: Of Pussycats & cavemen

Time to catch up on some new releases.

Josie & The Pussycats is the 4th "New Riverdale" book from Archie Comics, and completely reboots the band's beginnings, updating the story to the 21st century (of course). Melody's not as dim or naive as we remember, but instead, in this series, she & Josie are roomies, and Melody's gone through more boyfriends than most folks have used cars. Alexandra Cabot is the same jealous, scheming beyotch as before, but, as we've documented in discussing the TV show over at Saturday Morning Archives, she's also a witch, something she couldn't be on TV, and uses the simplest of spells to try to break the band up before it gets started. Alan M (ayberry), who was Josie's boyfriend/roadie/bodyguard in the cartoons, has been upgraded. He's now a record producer. Alexandra's twin brother, Alexander, hasn't shown up yet, and writer Marguerite Bennett (DC Comics' Bombshells) may bring him on board as early as issue 2.

However, the problem that exists is, in fact, the drama Alexandra tries creating. It's not so unique anymore, and the roots of her jealousy should be addressed within the first year of the series. If not, what's the point?

I don't need high school level drama among 20-somethings in this kind of series.

Rating: C.

Dark Horse has decided to publish a separate James Bond 007 miniseries concurrent with the ongoing monthly, which likely will take another hiatus after the current arc concludes in December. Hammerhead sneak-peeks in the pages of James Bond 007 9-10, the latter being a flip book for a slightly longer peek. Any way you slice it, it's normal Bond fare, and that's enough for me.

Rating: A.

The Flintstones---and for that matter, everyone in Bedrock---got a makeover from DC this summer. As we've noted, Fred, Barney, and even Mr. Slate have been buffed up, thanks to the character designs by Amanda Connor, and brought to life monthly by artist Steve Pugh. Pebbles & Bamm-Bamm are attending middle school, and the Great Gazoo, who debuted in issue 3, appears to have been stranded on Earth after some alien kids he was supposed to supervise got out of hand. Science teacher Sargon is modeled after Carl Sagan (Cosmos), in case you didn't know. Writer Mark Russell, whose last DC series, Prez, has been outright cancelled, as the 2nd miniseries won't be published, must've been a fan of both Cosmos and the old Flintstones. The Water Buffaloes still have the iconic headgear, but you can't call them Water Buffaloes anymore it seems. Their lodge is now the Veterans of Paleolithic Wars (VPW). I guess the idea is to differentiate this series from the original show's prototype, The Honeymooners, as much as possible. The appliances, which, amazingly, includes Dino, as of issue 2, can talk, but only when the humans aren't around.

However, the attempts at sending up more recent pop culture are undermined by Russell's heavy-handed scripts. There wasn't anything funny about the alien invasion in issue 3, as some Bedrock folks were---gasp--killed off. Like, permanent like. Never saw that in a Flintstones cartoon, did you now?

Rating: C.

Noteworthy news: DC is bringing back Kamandi, The Last Boy on Earth, the last of Jack Kirby's 1970's creations to get a 21st century relaunch. However, at the same time, the publisher is rebooting one of the oddest ideas of the 80's. The end result is the deluxe-sized Kamandi Challenge, launching in January. Throughout 2017, a series of writers and artists will pass the baton in completing this 12 issue limited series, a la the DC Challenge (circa 1987 or thereabouts). I guess the idea here is to test the waters for a possible Kamandi ongoing, which would launch in 2018. If memory serves, Kamandi would be marking his 45th anniversary either in 2017 or 2018.

In a case of the other shoe dropping, Archie Comics will publish a double-size 1-shot prequel of the forthcoming CW series, Riverdale. Both are due in January. Maligned writer-creative director Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa is writing the 1-shot, which means it'll likely be late arriving in stores. I've said enough about Aguirre-Sacasa's unwillingness to share his vision for the horror line with other writers. Date & time for Riverdale on CW haven't been confirmed as of this writing. A Riverdale ongoing, presumably also written by Aguirre-Sacasa, will likely follow.

I have a bone to pick with the editors of Entertainment Weekly.

In their latest issue, which showcases "The 50 Most Powerful Superheroes" (you can't miss it, with Benedict Cumberbatch as Dr. Strange on the cover), it isn't said list that bothers me all that much. They pretty much got most of it right, with Wonder Woman at the top of the list. Hey, it's corporate synergy at work, since EW is published by Time, Inc., a sister company to DC, but on the other hand, there is a legit case for the Amazing Amazon at #1. Marvel dominates the top 10, with Spider-Man ranking at #2, ahead of both The Batman & Superman. I'm cool with that.

However, it's the back page, The Bullseye, where I have an issue. Writer Marc Snetiker just HAD to poke fun at the Wonder Twins. I won't even repeat the lame joke he used with a random still shot, other than to say there seems to be a---wait for it---double entendre there somewhere. If you don't want to spend the money to buy the issue, it's available at your local library for free reading. It was bad enough 15+ years ago when the alleged cool guys at Wizard: The Guide To Comics dissed Zan & Jayna, following along with certain internet jerks like Seanbaby, but to go to that well again? As Jayna would say, spacey, Snetiker, real spacey.

The Bullseye gets a C. The rest of the issue is worth an A-.

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