Sunday, March 15, 2020

On The Shelf: A mixed bag of the old and new

Marvel Comics has expanded upon what originally was a stand-alone miniseries several years back, Marvels. While that's been reprinted and reissued a couple of times, and there are sequels out there, a series of 1-shots, under the umbrella title, Marvels Snapshots, have hit the stands.

The opener showcases a post-World War II Sub-Mariner. Let's pause for a moment and consider that creator Bill Everett did give Prince Namor a human companion in the Golden Age, one Betty Dean, a police detective who fell in love with Sub-Mariner. Alan Brennert and Jerry Ordway's tale addresses the fact that Namor, a product of a mixed marriage between a human and an Atlantean, does have human feelings after all. Nearly 40 years after his debut at DC, Ordway still delivers the goods. We need more from him, sooner rather than later.

Rating: A.
To coincide with the relaunch of Strange Adventures as a 12 issue series, DC issued a facsimile edition of an issue of Mystery in Space in which Adam Strange teamed with the Justice League. It's a sequel to an early issue of Justice League of America involving the alien dictator Kanjar Ro. At the time, Kanjar was one of these cookie cutter villains that you knew would be defeated by the end of the issue, because villains back then were often more flawed than they realized. Good reading.

Rating: A-.

After being ousted from Batman, Tom King follows up his epic Mister Miracle series with the aforementioned Strange Adventures, working once again with artist Mitch Gerads, and they're joined by Evan "Doc" Shaner, an expert on Silver Age art if there ever was one. Adam and his Rannian wife, Alanna, have settled on Earth to raise their daughter, but there are issues when Adam is signing copies of a memoir, and it goes from there. King inserted a quote from artist Carmine Infantino, who drew most of Strange's earlier stories, in the script. This will make you think.

Rating: Incomplete.
We've all read the oft-reprinted story from Detective Comics 38, marking the debut of Robin, 80 years ago. As part of the "birthday" celebration, DC has issued a facsimile edition of this issue as well, which allows us to sample backup features such as Speed Saunders, Slam Bradley, & Crimson Avenger, plus some lesser known characters that we'll look at another time. The late Bill Finger is credited with creating Robin, with Bob Kane and Jerry Robinson developing the visual look that would remain for decades to come. The origin would later be adapted in a more modern context more than 50 years later on Batman: The Animated Series. We'll also discuss Speed, Slam, & the Crimson another day.

Rating: B.
Spinning out of last year's Event Leviathan, Brian Bendis & Alex Maleev's next chapter is a 1-shot, Leviathan Dawn, which sets up an all-new CheckMate limited series. The roster includes Green Arrow, Lois Lane, and Manhunter (Kate Spencer). One wonders if Bendis didn't develop this as a veiled manifesto against a certain President.

Rating: B.

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