Sunday, June 3, 2018

On The Shelf: DC meets Hanna-Barbera, round 2

The 2nd wave of DC Universe-Hanna-Barbera 1-shots hit the stands on Wednesday, focusing this time on H-B icons of the 70's.

When Joe Ruby & Ken Spears returned to H-B in 1976 after four years away, time spent at DePatie-Freleng & 20th Century Fox (they were consultants on Planet of the Apes), they brought with them Jabberjaw & Dynomutt, while also developing components of the Krofft Supershow, all for ABC. Dynomutt's teaming with the present day Super Sons was not available for review at press time, but the meeting of Jabberjaw with Aquaman is, and leads off our review.

It was established on his show that Jabber and his band, the Neptunes, existed in the late 21st century, 100 years after their creation, if ya will. Instead of traveling through time to the present, which cuts the time difference down considerably to 58 years, Jabber is crossing dimensions. On his world, Aquaman is also a TV star, as he was initially in 1967 with another studio (Filmation). Comics fans know that Ocean Master is Aquaman's half-brother, but the version they used here comes from Jabberjaw instead. With both DC & H-B under the WB umbrella, that takes care of any legal imbroglios. Dan Abnett & Paul Pelletier created a surprisingly entertaining adventure.

However, the backup feature showcases another Ruby-Spears creation, Captain Caveman, under the watchful eyes of the wizard Shazam and The Spectre. It appears that the Teen Angels aren't teens anymore, having all grown up. Same ol' Cavey, though.

Overall rating: B-.

Black Lightning is totally hot right now, between his hit CW series and a recent DC miniseries written by his creator, fellow blogger Tony Isabella. Bryan Hill, though, was entrusted with pairing Black Lightning with Hong Kong Phooey in another interesting pairing. As Hill and penciller Denys Cowan see it, Penrod Pooch, aka Hong Kong Phooey, wasn't a bumbling police janitor, but rather served in Vietnam, and Rosemary, the love-struck police receptionist, is now a disciple of sensei Phooey, who's more assertive than ever. Penry and Jefferson "Black Lightning" Pierce appear to be old friends, and encounter villains common to both men. This was the one I wanted all along, and I wasn't disappointed.

On the other hand, the handling of Funky Phantom does little more than provide lip service to fans of the 1971 series. Jonathan Muddlemore is now a literal spiritual advisor to the military, but the story's too short.

Overall rating: A.

The Flash, in this case Wally West, circa the post-Crisis on Infinite Earths era of the late 80's, is paired with Speed Buggy, but it's not the Speedy you remember. Scott Lobdell concocts a story that has a scientist experimenting with the speed force and his dune buggy. The end result is the vehicle gaining sentience at the expense of the professor having to pretend he's died. You see, one of Speedy's mechanics in this reality, Debbie, is the professor's daughter. Watch for the homage to the late entertainer Mel Blanc, the original voice of Speed Buggy and a bazillion other characters, and also a match race that aspires to be on a par with the Superman-Flash races of the Silver Age. Surprisingly good.

Lobdell and artists Brett Booth & Norm Rapmund are also working on one of the DC-Looney Tunes 1-shots, due in August.

Rating: A-.

Meanwhile, DC is ending Hal Jordan & The Green Lantern Corps (with issue 50) and Batwoman (#16) in August, although there's a chance both books could be rebooted at a future point, especially with news that Batwoman will be added to Arrow this fall.

Current WWE World champ AJ Styles will make his comics writing debut on one of the WWE-sanctioned books coming from Boom! Studios. Styles is teaming with Headlocked creator Mike Kingston to offer his side of things leading to his WWE debut at the 2016 Royal Rumble. Should be fun.

Finally, DC's Justice League: No Justice miniseries has wrapped, leading to yet another relaunch of Justice League, plus a pair of new series, debuting in July. The script, a collaboration between Scott Snyder, Joshua Williamson, & James Tynion IV, purports to have the League join forces with the likes of Lobo, Brainiac (!), and Starro the Conqueror against a common threat. Superman's arch-nemesis, Lex Luthor, has been with the League for a while, but this is a means of spinning him out of it. I wasn't fond of the effort to make the artwork have a uniform look. The facials didn't look right in a lot of places. A new Justice League ongoing launches this week, but I don't think I'm sticking around.

Rating: B---.

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