Thursday, December 29, 2016

On The Shelf: Beware the pop culture ides of March!

News first, then reviews.

IDW is rolling the dice by bringing the two Ghostbusters teams together in a miniseries launching in March. No, the "Real" Ghostbusters aren't crossing paths with their Filmation counterparts, though if IDW can get the rights to that crew....! Instead, Peter, Ray, Egon, & Winston meet the women from this year's feature film "reimagining" of the franchise. Ghostbusters 101 brings the two teams together at last. Like, you knew it was inevitable, didn't you?

Over at Dynamite, James Bond 007 relaunches with a new #1 in March, with Benjamin Percy (Green Arrow, Teen Titans) taking over as series writer. Warren Ellis' run ended this week, but rather than just take two months off and resume with issue 13, the dimwits at Dynamite have fallen prey to the #1 syndrome, a la Marvel. It's one of three Bond books in March, as Andy Diggle's Hammerhead miniseries wraps, and Felix Leiter reaches the halfway point. Seeing some preview pages of the latter's first issue, I'm not feeling the vibe.

Also from Dynamite, the former WB series, Charmed, returns to comics. I wonder if this would foreshadow the rumored reboot of the series for television. Also, Dynamite has acquired the license for everyone's favorite teen sleuths, The Hardy Boys & Nancy Drew. They're reimagining the latter as a "femme fatale", which suggests that the kids are a little bit older here. The plot? Frank & Joe Hardy's dad, Bayport detective Fenton Hardy, is dead, and his sons have been accused of murder. To clear themselves, they need Nancy's help. Hmmmmm........

Meanwhile, Marvel is testing the waters with Man-Thing again, this time in a 5 part miniseries written by youth horror master R. L. Stine (Goosebumps, The Nightmare Room, The Haunting Hour), who also gets to write some original stories for the backups. An extra hook is that somehow, a previous writer---I think--has endowed Man-Thing with the ability to speak, all the more to copy DC's Swamp Thing further. This might actually be worth the $4 per issue, which is more than I can say for a lot of Marvel product lately.

As we noted last time, the duo of Art Baltazar & Franco are reimagining Little Archie as one of four 1-shots arriving from Archie in March. Franco is also co-authoring the Sabrina 1-shot, and he & Baltazar are also responsible for DC's new Super Powers miniseries, the first volume under that title in 31 years. I guess DC just wasn't comfortable jumping right in with a Justice League Action tie-in book, which, for all intents & purposes, is what this really is.
Time to hit the reading list.

After a 4 month delay, Harley's Little Black Book #5 finally hit stores, and the reason for the delay may just be artist Neal Adams, who was asked to draw the issue, a sort-of sequel to 1978's monumental Superman vs. Muhammad Ali treasury 1-shot, but with Harley Quinn subbing for the late boxing legend in the ring with the Man of Steel. Adams has kept busy doing variant covers for Green Arrow and Titans of late, and likely ran into deadline issues. The passing of Ali earlier this year might've been another factor, and the issue is dedicated in Ali's memory.

Anyway, the husband & wife team of Jimmy Palmiotti & Amanda Conner did their best to be faithful to Adams & Denny O'Neil's original concept, and Adams kept his end of the bargain, considering it's the 2nd Superman-related project he's worked on in as many years. Having never read the original story didn't matter. The odd couple dynamic between Supes & Harley was meant to be the biggest selling point. In cases like this, DC editorial can be forgiven for giving Harley that rouge white skin makeover (courtesy, of course, of the Joker), which actually makes her look hotter in a bikini.

Now, for their next trick, maybe Conner & Palmiotti can be, ah, persuaded to have Harley meet her spiritual cousins. You know, Bugs Bunny & Daffy Duck.

Rating: A.

Timed to coincide with the release of the "Suicide Squad" movie back in August, the Harley Quinn's Greatest Hits trade paperback collects material as diverse as Harl's comics debut in The Batman Adventures all the way back in 1993, and the New 52 launch of Suicide Squad in 2011, which has been reprinted at least twice previously already in the last 5 years, plus a chapter of Jeph (Ear) Loeb & Jim Lee's infamous "Hush" arc from Batman, and an issue of Gotham City Sirens, which, oh by the way, is reportedly being adapted into a feature film. A deliciously delirious mix of mirth & mayhem. Just not enough toon Harley.

Rating: B--.

The Flash was one of the first heroes reimagined at the dawn of the Silver Age in the late 50's, and even though some of those early tales have been reprinted at least once or twice, DC has seen fit to collect them in a new series of trade paperbacks. The Flash: The Silver Age, Volume 1 starts with the seminal issues of Showcase (1st series), leading to the relaunch of the original Flash Comics with a slightly altered title, but the numbering kept intact. It went monthly sometime in the late 70's and continued until the early 80's, stopping short, I believe of 400 issues before ending due to Crisis on Infinite Earths. John Broome & Carmine Infantino's original tales have a certain amount of simplicity to them, right down to Barry Allen being the eternally henpecked beau of reporter Iris West. It makes one wonder, though, why both TV Flashes have been dark haired (Barry was a blond in the books).......

Most of the Rogues you know and love are here, except for Heat Wave, The Top, & Captain Boomerang, likely to be saved for volume 2.

Rating: A.

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