Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Quick Hits: 3/29/11

Four more comic reviews on tap for tonight, as well as a rare perfect score! Let's get to 'em!

Captain America Comics #1:

Summary: This comic was a full reprint(with new coloring!) of the very first Captain America comic book from WAAAAAY back in Nineteen Hundred and Forty-One. You get four Captain America mini-stories(as well as one non-illustrated story), a Hurricane story and a Tuk the Caveboy tale.

Thoughts: First things first, it must have been AWESOME to be a comic fan back in the 40's, because they REALLY put a whole MESS of content in these old books! I mean this comic was chock full of goodness! This comic was, in a word, perfect. I mean it literally took me a good 20 minutes to read it from cover to cover, as opposed to the 5 minutes of so it takes me to read a modern comic. Besides that, we get the first appearance of Steve Rogers, Bucky Barnes, the Red Skull(kind of...) and yes, Tuk the Caveboy!!! I'd only ever read the Red Skull story out of this comic, so almost all of this was new to me. Granted, I've KNOWN Captain America's origin since I was like 10, but I think this was the first time I actually read it. So that was really cool. Joe Simon could write some fantastic comic stories, the dialogue was magnificently done, and Jack Kirby IS The King, so you KNOW I was loving the artwork here. I mean, this WAS perfection. If you're a comic book fan, you should read this reprint. If you're a Marvel fan, you owe it to yourself to read this reprint. And if you're a Captain America fan, you HAVE to read this reprint!

Score: 10 out of 10. This was one of the easiest perfect scores I've ever given.Here it is, the FIRST Captain America/Red Skull meeting!

Venom #1:

Summary: Venom(Flash Thompson) gets deployed to some Eastern European country to capture a mad scientist who had managed to weaponize Vibranium. Unfortunately for Venom, Jack O' Lantern is also there for the scientist, since Jack O' Lantern's mysterious benefactor wanted to get his hands on the scientist as well. Venom runs around acting heroically(at the expense of the mission at times), while Jack runs amok, killing people indiscriminately. Eventually Jack reaches the scientist, and is ready to leave town with him, but is halted by the timely arrival of Venom. The two battle, and Jack manages to hurt Flash, which allows the Venom symbiote to gain some control. Before Venom could go into full, “We're going to eat your brains!!!” mode, Flash manages to regain control, and shove a grenade into Jack O' Lantern's mask, blowing up the lower part of his jaw(OUCH!). Something as inconsequential as a detached jaw can't stop Jack, as he grabs the scientist and tries to get away on his flying broomstick, but Venom manages to snag the scientist's head with some webbing and pulls back, breaking the scientist's neck, leaving Jack with a useless corpse. With that Venom heads home, where he is scolded by his superior officer for failing the mission(since the US wanted the scientist alive), as well as almost losing control on the field. Bummed out, Flash heads to the apartment of his girlfriend Betty Brant, who is pissed with him since he was six hours late for their date. With that, Flash leaves her place and that's basically it.

Thoughts: Well, that was a rather inauspicious start... I didn't like the main story with the scientist since, for whatever reason, it just never clicked for me. I did really like Jack O' Lantern though... He was the one real bright spot in this comic, although him not only surviving, but trying to get away after having his FACE blown up was a bit over the top... I mean how the hell does he remain alive, let alone conscious after THAT?! As for Venom, I still like the concept of Flash Thompson's as our new Venom, although everything that happened here basically happened in the recent Amazing Spider-Man point-one issue. Not the best start, but I'll definitely give this series at least two full storylines before I make a final judgment.

Score: 5 out of 10.Say what you will, but Jack O' Lantern is one dedicated villain!

X-23 #7:

Summary: X-23 and Gambit are on their way to Madripoor to look for Malcolm Colcord, but first stop off to help an old friend of Gambit's in Singapore. It seems Gambit's friend is a police officer in Singapore and one of his undercover agents went missing. The cop suspects pirates captured the agent, which is where Gambit and X-23 step in. The two track the pirates back to their base where they find the pirate boss torturing the agent. X-23 leaps into the fray(against Gambit's advice) and takes on the head pirate, while Gambit is stuck battling the rest of the pirates. The pirate boss stabs X-23 with his sword as X-23 stabs him, and the two go tumbling into the waters, where the pirate boss dies, and X-23 is attacked by sharks. Gambit also falls into the water after getting conked on the head by the pirates, and is saved from the sharks by X-23. Upon resurfacing, the duo realize that the agent had bled out and was dead. With that, Gambit's cop friend lends them a boat and they continue their journey to Madripoor.

Thoughts: In a word, this comic was very “meh”. It was the very definition of a space-holder issue. We just ended the Sinister storyline, and we're about to start the Daken/X-23 x-over, so this comic really meant nothing in the grand scheme of things. If you like Gambit, pirates and sharks, then this was the comic for you! If not, well then you can safely skip this one.

Score: 5 out of 10.Gambit: Damsel in Distress.

Zatanna #10:

Summary: Zatanna takes Oscar Hampel to her magical mansion to see if there was any way she could undo the spell her father put on Oscar which transformed him into a puppet. Before she goes through with any attempt at reversing the spell though, Zatanna wants to know if Oscar was truly unfairly punished by her old man, so she forces the puppet to touch a crystal which compels him to tell the truth. It turns out Oscar was a terrible person, killing several innocents, as well as nearly killing Zatanna as a child before her father stepped in and turned him into a puppet. Zatanna is incensed by Oscar's duplicity, and tells him she'd never reverse the spell now. Upon hearing that, Oscar freaks out and throws the crystal at Zatanna's head, dazing her. Oscar runs around the room and grabs a few magical artifacts and begins wishing that he wasn't a puppet anymore. Before Zatanna can stop him, everything fades to black, and when Zatanna comes to, it appears Oscar has been returned to his human self, while Zatanna has been transformed into a puppet.

Thoughts: Man, puppets freak me out... Seriously... Besides that though, this was a very solid comic. It wasn't great, it didn't suck, it was, as they say, a perfectly acceptable comic book. The reveal that Oscar was always a scumbag really didn't surprise me, because I doubt Zatanna's father would have turned him into a puppet unless he was sure Oscar deserved it. The ending was a bit confusing, as I didn't get how Zatanna and Oscar traded places, or how(or why!) Oscar managed to become a famous puppeteer again. I guess the answer would be, “It's magic! It doesn't need to make sense, stupid!”

Score: 6 1/2 out of 10.Damned, creepy puppet...


  1. Dude, WTF is up with Zatanna and the phallic crystal? Anyway that sucks ya didn't enjoy Venom that much, I liked it a lot and yeah Jack O'Lantern was too damn tough but I didn't know much about him prior to this so I just assumes he was some type of freak or something that can withstand a hell of a lot of pain.

  2. The first issue of Captain America Comics is one of the very best of the Golden Age, so I'm glad you had a chance to read it. It was very rare for one artist to draw an entire issue back when comics were so massive, but Kirby insisted on doing ALL the artwork for that comic. The result was an artistic tour-de-force I don't think was matched by anyone in comics until Kirby himself would do it again in the 1960s.

    Sorry to hear you were a bit let down by Venom. I really liked it, personally, and thought it was a good start to the series. Still haven't read that Spider-Man Point One issue, though, so that could be why I didn't feel like it was rehashing anything.

  3. I always thought Jack O' Lantern was just a regular guy in a pumpkin suit, but through the years that very well could have changed. There might have been a Jack with some Goblin serum in him, so who knows... As for Zatanna and the crystal, there was an even creepier page from this comic where it looked like the puppet was stroking the crystal, so yeah, that was quite weird...

    After reading it Marc, I totally agree. I mean for anybody who wonder why Jack Kirby is now and forever will be The King, look no further than this comic. It was so full of stories, and good stories too that I was totally blown away. And I am a sucker for that 40's style dialogue too!

    I don't know what it was, but this issue of Venom just never clicked with me... It's not like I'm gonna drop it anytime soon, but I was expecting something more. Oh well, there's alays the next issue.

  4. Joe Simon told a story once about how insane Kirby was in deciding to tackle that issue all by himself. It was almost unheard of for one artist to be doing more than one story in an issue, and it seemed absolutely crazy for one artist to do the whole thing! Kirby apparently believed in Captain America so much that he wanted to do the whole thing all by himself. He had obviously done good work before, but I really think that comic is the moment where it becomes clear what a talent he truly is.

    I wasn't bothered by Jack losing half his face and still being able to escape, because I just assume that whenever people like him are up to no good, they're hopped up on all kinds of drugs -- adrenaline-boosters, painkillers, all kinds of performance-enhancing stuff, most of which I doubt is legal!

  5. *Sigh* Is it just me or is Zatanna another one of those comics that I lost the spark of really enjoying to read. It's like she's getting put up against some "interesting" rogues, if you can even call them that. I mean the puppet idea seemed cool, they creep me out as well, but I want someone to come and give her a challenge and I feel puts up a really good fight. I don't know...maybe things will turn around. Although this isn't as bad as WW's run is turning, but I really wish something exciting would happen.

    Anyways, enough of my blabbering, nice review, you always get right to the point when talking about Z. Lol. Love it.

  6. Yeah, Jack Kirby IS The King, hands down, end of discussion. He was such a visionary in the comic book medium. Venom used that same excuse for Jack O' Lantern, Marc, but I'm sorry, if somebody had a grenade blown up in their face, which resulted on their jaw half falling off, I don't care WHAT they're on, they should probably be out of the fight! :P

    On the plus side here, Falisha, it looks like Brother Night is making his return, since some stuff with him happened in this issue. Hopefully he'll put up more of a fight this time around.