Monday, May 7, 2018

Retro reads: Superman & Bugs Bunny (2000)

At the turn of the millenium, before things started to go cuckoo for Cocoa Puffs for comics fans (anyone who's been reading comics regularly for the last 7 years or more knows what I'm talking about), DC embarked on a little experiment, bringing together various heroes with some icons of a different variety.

Veteran TV & comics writer Mark Evanier, who first cut his teeth at DC answering letters for Jack Kirby's 4th World family of books in the 70's, produced the righteously hilarious Superman & Bugs Bunny miniseries in 2000, 4 issues of high end mirth and adventure. Thanks to the machinations of the Do-do ("Porky in Wackyland") and Superman's 5th dimensional foe (and sometimes friend in the 90's), Mr. Mxyzptlk, Supes briefly loses his powers, which end up with Elmer Fudd. Daffy Duck becomes the Duck Knight, and so on. Michigan J. Frog ends up in the hands of Green Arrow (Connor Hawke in this case, not Oliver Queen), while the Flash (Wally West instead of Barry Allen) is out run by Speedy Gonzales & the Road Runner. Joe Staton, at last check drawing another iconic hero in Dick Tracy, handles the art chores here, with some assistance.

Last August, after DC produced a new set of 1-shot team-ups of DCU heroes and Looney Tunes characters, the company reissued Superman & Bugs Bunny as an affordable 100 page 1-shot reprint volume, rather than reissue it as a trade paperback, which had been done before, as memory serves me. It's still one of my favorite stories of all time.

Rating: A+.

On Saturday, I spent Free Comic Book Day gathering some of this year's best offerings. Quite an eclectic bunch, but there are some zonks, as they say on Let's Make a Deal, mixed in.

Archie Comics' Riverdale offering, "Chock'lit Shoppe of Horrors", borrows the title from an episode of 1999's Archie's Weird Mysteries animated series, but the plot is completely different. Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa has been hammered in this space repeatedly, and rightfully so, for refusing to share his nightmarish vision for two of the company's horror books with other writers. Being chief creative officer doesn't give him the right to shirk his responsibilities as far as the printed page is concerned. Anyway, he crafts a disturbing backstory for Terrence "Pop" Tate, one of the supporting characters that have been flipped to African-American for the sake of the series. I honestly think Tate should get together with Daniel Webster, if you get the drift.

Rating: B-.

If you've got little kiddo's and they're up before dawn, chances are they've seen Miraculous: The Adventures of Ladybug & Cat Noir as part of Sinclair's KidsClick block, which airs daily (check listings). Action Lab has obtained a license to bring the comics version of this French series to American audiences, but the sampler they offered for FCBD is a bit of a cheat, as Marinette, aka Ladybug, never appears in costume in either of the two stories, and Cat Noir, her partner and prospective boyfriend, is MIA. The day-glo-esque artwork might be able to attract little kids, but it's a detriment to older readers.

Rating: C-.

Disney Comics, in its current incarnation, is a unit of IDW (Idea & Design Works). Their Disney Princesses entry showcases The Little Mermaid, but the pages are to be read sideways. Haven't seen that in several years. Ariel is as adorable as ever, and that is a selling point for all ages.

Rating: A-.

Meanwhile, Marvel doesn't have a monopoly on the Star Wars franchise. IDW has Star Wars Adventures, for example, and the FCBD offering features a younger Han Solo & Chewbacca, in anticipation of a Han Solo movie coming from Disney in a few weeks. Derek Charm, formerly the artist on Jughead, gets the call here, and if he's not locked down to an exclusive contract, I'd recommend DC hire him to do a new, DCAU style Batman or Justice League book. He actually gets Han right.

Rating: A-.

Marvel is putting their hype machine in overdrive for their "Fresh Start" initiative with the debut of Marvel Universe magazine. More hype than substance, not much in the way of story content, as opposed to their competition (see below), but then again, Marvel likes to try to keep things close to the vest as much as possible to avoid spoilers. Meh.

Rating: B.

Speaking of DC, which we really weren't, they got the jump on FCBD with the debut of DC Nation, their new hype magazine, after the attempt at reviving an old brand, Direct Currents, died a quick death a couple of years ago. All they're doing is giving readers a sample of forthcoming plotlines in Justice League, Batman, & Superman, the latter under the direction of Brian Michael Bendis. Meanwhile, the company now has its own Previews book as an insert in the monthly catalogue from Diamond Distributors. Marvel's been doing that for a while now, but the first issue of DC Previews offers a preview of the cover to Batman 50, out July 4, as the Dark Knight, or, I should say, Bruce Wayne, marries Selina "Catwoman" Kyle. The 2nd biggest social event of the season, after a certain royal wedding later this month.

Rating for both: A.

We'll have more FCBD reviews later this week.

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