Friday, May 20, 2011

FCBD Comics: The Mis-Adventures of Adam West/Walter Koenig's Things To Come

I really don't like Free Comic Book Day "comic books" that are just samplers, offering snippets of two or three different upcoming books.  These aren't comic books, they're ad brochures.  They're nothing special. Comics publishers give these things away for free all year.  The idea of Free Comic Book Day is to give new readers an actual comic book for free.  You should give the readers a complete story. or at least a complete chapter of a story--a full issue, in other words.  It doesn't have to be a brand new issue, it can be a reprint, or a "special FCBD edition" if you prefer, but it should be an entire comic.  
With that critique in mind, let's look at one such ad flyer from Bluewater Comics, featuring previews of the upcoming series The Mis-Adventures of Adam West and Walter Koenig's Things To Come.
The few pages of Things To Come presented here aren't really enough to give me any idea what the book will be about or if it will be any good or not.  However, the fact that this isn't one of those deals where a celebrity will lend his name to a comic and let some hack or newcomer write it but is instead actually written by the actor Walter Koenig, best known as Star Trek's Pavel Chekov, does not give me much hope that the series will be worth reading, or even readable.  The examples of Mr. Koenig's writing that I have encountered in the past have been pretty dreadful.  Take, for example, the episode of the animated Trek entitled "The Infinite Vulcan" which involves a giant clone of Mr. Spock.  The episode is so bad that it actually makes "Spock's Brain" look like a literary masterpiece by comparison.   
On the other hand, it appears that the involvement of Adam West in The Mis-Adventures of Adam West is limited to collecting the licensing fees, and that's probably for the best.  The writer, Russell Dauterman, and the artist, Reed Lackey, are complete unknowns to me.  The few pages presented give enough for the reader to get a pretty good idea of what the series will be about, and maybe even want to pick up the full issue if they like what they see. 
The set-up involves aging actor Adam West unable to find work, or at least work that he's willing to take, in modern Hollywood and lamenting the dearth of "real" heroes in today's world.  He receives a package containing a mysterious amulet which magically makes him young and presumably gives him the power to become the kind of hero he feel the world is missing.   It's not a wildly original premise, but one that could make for a fun series.
I wish Bluewater had given us a few more pages of this story instead of wasting paper on Things To Come.  Maybe if I've got a couple of bucks to spare come July, I might just check out the entire first issue of Adam West.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

FCBD Comics: Super Dinosaur

The Saturday before last, as you're most likely aware, was Free Comic Book Day. I didn't write anything about Free Comic Book Day before it happened because I have a pretty good idea who my readers are.  I didn't think you needed to be told that the day was coming up or what it was all about.  Now that it has come and gone, I'm going to tell you about the comics I picked up. 
I've always looked at Free Comic Book Day as an opportunity to try something that I might otherwise leave on the racks at the comic shop.  On the first FCBD, I picked up Oni Press's offering, a reprint of the first issue of Hopeless Savages, which has since become one of my all time favorite comics.  So, I passed by the Marvel and DC offerings this year to grab some intriguing looking  books from other publishers. 
My favorite of these is the Super Dinosaur Origin Special published by Image and written by Robert Kirkman with art by Jason Howard.  The comic chronicles the adventures of boy genius Derek Dynamo, who lives in a secret base called the Dynamo Dome at the foot of a mountain, and his best friend, the Super Dinosaur of the book's title, a genetically altered talking Tyrannosaurus Rex outfitted with a special harness that extends his tiny little T-Rex arms and also comes equipped with high tech weaponry and other super-scientific gadgets and gizmos.  Together, they help Derek's father, the world famous scientist Dr. Dynamo, defend the hidden subteranean world of Inner Earth, a land where dinosaurs and only location of the revolutionary power source dubbed Dynore.  The threats to Inner Earth come mostly from villain Max Maximus, Dr. Dynamo's former friend and partner who co-discovered Inner Earth and Dynore and created Super Dinosaur. Maximus intended Super Dinosaur to be a prototype for an army of Super Dinosaurs with which he would take over the world.  He has also created half-human, half-dinosaur creatures called Dyno-Men to help him carry out his evil schemes.
At Packrat Comics last Saturday, a child who looked to be about ten or eleven asked one of the store's employees if Super Dinosaur was "kid friendly."  After reading the book, I would answer the precocious little tyke with a resounding "Hell, YEAH!"  This is a comic I would have loved when I was that kid's age, and I'm pretty darn fond of it now, too.  I have always been a big fan of Jonny Quest, and Super Dinosaur evokes the feel of JQ and similar late 1960's Saturday morning adventure cartoons perfectly, except that it's better animated.
According to the ad at the back of the book, Super Dinosaur #2 goes on sale today.  If you missed the free preview last Saturday, this is definitely a comic worth paying for. 

Saturday, May 14, 2011

The Failed Promise of Giant Size X-Men #1

The latest issue of liberal political journal The American Prospect offers up an essay on the history of minority representation in American super-hero comics.  Focusing mainly on Green Lantern and Captain America, two characters with big budget Hollywood blockbusters coming up in the next couple of months,  author Gene Demby traces the history of minority super-heroes from John Stewart to Milestone Media to the recent criticism by narrow minded fanboys of the late Dwayne McDuffie for his inclusion of minority characters in Justice League of America, touching on  Marvel's Luke Cage, and the rather embarrassing practice from the 1970's of giving all African-American heroes names with the word "Black" in them along the way.  
Despite a new movie on the horizon, Demby fails to mention the X-Men.  The "All-New, All-Different" Uncanny X-Men was a book that had the potential to be truly groundbreaking and history making in terms of diversity and minority representation in comics, but blew it pretty much right of the gate.  The new team as presented in Giant Size X-Men #1 was a much more diverse group than had ever been seen in comics up to that point.  The roster included a Japanese man (Sunfire), a Native American (Thunderbird) and a black woman (Storm).  In short order, their very next appearance in Uncanny #94, as a matter of fact, Sunfire quit and went home to Japan and Thunderbird was killed off.  The team still had the "international" flavor that  creator and writer of Giant Size X-Men #1,Len Wein, had envisioned, with a Canadian (Wolverine), an Irishman (Banshee), a German (Nightcrawler) and a Russian (Colossus) in the group.  Still, you were essentially left with a line-up consisting of a bunch of white guys (though Nightcrawler was actually blue) and Storm.
This is somewhat ironic, given how often longtime Uncanny writer Chris Claremont has been lauded for indirectly addressing racial issues by using anti-mutant prejudice as an allegory for racial bigotry.  It appears, however, that he, or perhaps his editors at Marvel, shied away from the chance to tackle the subject head on.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Star Trek Actor William Campbell Dead at Age 87

I was saddened to learn today that William Campbell, the actor best known, at least, I would wager, to readers of this blog, for roles in the original series Star Trek episodes "The Squire of Gothos" and "The Trouble With The Tribbles", died on Thursday.  He was 87 years old.
In "The Squire of Gothos," Campbell was Trelane, the titular Squire of the planet Gothos, a seemingly omnipotent being ultimately revealed to be just a petulant child.  In "Tribbles," he was flamboyant Klingon commander Koloth, a role he would reprise three decades later on Star Trek: Deep Space Nine.  
In addition to Trek, Campbell appeared in numerous movies and TV shows during his nearly fifty year career, including co-starring with Elvis Presley in the King's motion picture debut, Love Me Tender.  
According to his obit in the LA Times, Campbell was also briefly married to Judith Exner, a woman who would go on to have an affair with JFK.