Doc’s Reviews for the Week of 11/30/2022 with Another Golden Age Deep Dive
CAT-MAN AND KITTEN #1 DYNAMITE ENTERTAINMENT
Starting with Crash Comics #4 in 1940, Catman made his spectactular debut. Billed as a cross between Batman and Tarzan, the unusual backstory for the hero as he was raised by a tigress in Burma after his parents died. By living with the tigers, he developed tiger like abilities including night vision, super strength and agility. Catman was created by legendary comic icon Irwin Hasen. In the following issue, Catman was given young ward Katie Conn who becomes Kitten. The characters would bounce back and forth between publishers until finally ending up in public domain. With Jeff Parker’s period piece of a story and Joseph Cooper’s art style, this is a wonderful piece of nostalgia totally worth reading. And with cameos by other Golden Age heroes, Skyman and Marvelo, we really get the full Golden Age flavor. With a mysterious stolen idol, a robbery distraction, a dead explorer and a hidden city, this story would also work as a great noir story if the heroes didn’t suit up. It’s good to see the return of good story telling based on the heroes of old. I give it an 8 out of 10 Grahams.
BOB PHANTOM #1 ARCHIE COMICS
One the more unusually named heroes to come out of 1939, Bob Phantom has the distinction of being the first published hero for MLJ Comics who would later become Archie Comics. First appearing in Blue Ribbon Comics #2 only two years after the appearance of Superman, there was more to Bob than having an actual first name to his secret identity. Initial drawn by another of the Golden Age icons, Irv Novak, gossip columnist Walt Whitney’s costumed identity had the ability to appear and disappear and survive gunfire. But these days, Bob is a down on his luck fluff reporter for a bottom of the barrel newspaper. He also lets his imagination get the better of him and that’s when the real Bob Phantom appears. With multiple cameos by some of Archie Comics best, James III’s story is truly worth reading and art by Richard Ortiz and Juan Bobillo bounce gracefully between real life and the world of the costumed vigilante. An interesting take tha earns itself an 8 out of 10 Grahams.
AVENGERS ASSEMBLE ALPHA #1 MARVEL COMICS
Even with a J. Scott Campbell cover, this is a prime example of what can happen when the multiverse is exploited for no good reason. It also reminds me of why I haven’t picked up an Avengers book for quite a while. First off, the regular Avengers crew seems to have almost as many Defenders as Avengers in the line-up. Prehistoric Avengers?! Multiversal Avengers?! Multiversal Masters of Evil?! This is just a chaotic crossover which boils down to alternate versions of Avengers (who now appear to have enlisted every Marvel hero into their hallowed ranks) battling alternate versions of villains. It reminds me a bit of DC’s most recent Justice League multiverse villiain fiasco. While I will admit that these are most definately not my Avengers, I was willing to take a look and I was not impressed. I give it a 4 out of 10 Grahams.
NUBIA & THE JUSTICE LEAGUE SPECIAL #1 DC COMICS
Ever since her first appearence in 1973’s Wonder Woman #204, the Don Heck/Robert Kanigher character has been one of the wonderful (no pun intended!) characters that DC refuses to abandon but never seems to know what to do with (much like a lot of the characters from the Wonder Woman title). Initially, her origin was a retrofit for continuity purposes, Nubia was shoe-horned into Wonder Woman’s inititial orgin when it is revealed that Hippolyta had actually created two clay babies that were brought to life. One made from white clay, the other from black clay (ahhh, those were simplier times!) Nubia was DC Comics first black woman superhero (Not Bumblebee who showed up 4 years later!) and even showed up in DC Comics’ Super Friends title based on the cartoon. And almost becoming a character on the Linda Carter live action television show to be played by actress Teresa Graves. She has been reinvisioned as a parallel universe version of Wonder Woman and a future incarnation of Wonder Woman. More recently, she has been much more active in the Wonder Woman titles becoming the new Queen of the Amazons.
Michael W. Conrad and Becky Cloonan’s script is a great throwback to Justice League stories from the 70’s and 80’s where heroes broke up into teams to defeat multiple threats. It also shows that these writers know their heroes characters and the way they interact. And while Black Canary and Hawkgirl come off a little too fan-girlish, it was lovely to see all the detail given to the various Justice League members. And with Amancay Nahuelpan’s art which goes from overtly detailed city scenes to siloetted giant text panels, this is definately worth reading. My only complaint is that this current version of the Justic League keeps breaking the 1970’s Legion code about multiple members having the same super-powers. While I would have no objection to having Nubia in the League, do we really need two Wonder Women? Plus, isn’t Nubia supposed to be ruling the Island? Who’s in charge while she’s gone? Doesn’t make a lot of sense. But it still earns a 9 out of 10 Grahams.
JUSTICE SOCIETY OF AMERICA #1 DC COMICS
With all of the hype and nostalgia from the earlier ventures into DC’s Golden Age (Stargirl and the Lost Children & the New Golden Age), it was hard not to have raised expectations for this new ongoing title. And while I thoroughly enjoyed it, it was not as Golden Age-y as the other books. Obviously, this is an on-going title and needs to start setting up future plot points. Geoff Johns story incorporates a lot of previous JSA lore and situations. A future JSA comprised mainly of former villains and their offspring, The Power Girl/Huntress team, and of course the evil machinations of time travelling despot Per Degaton.
What we are going to be seeing soon is a multi-time period story featuring many of the past versions of the JSA and that fills me with joy. I only have two minor complaints here. First, like most of the other titles in the current DC library, the focas here in on Batman and the bat family. While their return to the Golden Age world is unexpected and enjoyable, it’s just another DC book on the stands with Batman. Guys, do you understant the phrase ‘Beating a Dead Horse’? I haven’t seen this much product placement since Wolverine back in the day, jeez! My other complaint is that while making Per Degaton a player, he is almost omniscient. It’s rather depressing as he dispatches so many heroes so quickly. It almost seems like the good guys don’t have a chance. We’ll have to see. I give it a 9 out of 10 Grahams.