Not only did I somehow miss Iron Fist #22, but I still haven’t found the first two issues of Legend of the Blue Marvel. Still, a pretty big week:
- Booster Gold #18, by Dan Jurgens & Norm Rapmund (DC)
- Ex Machina Special #4, by Brian K. Vaughan & John Paul Leon (DC/Wildstorm)
- Fables #82, by Bill Willingham & David Hahn (DC/Vertigo)
- Sandman Mystery Theatre: The Mist and The Phantom of the Fair vol 7 TPB, by Matt Wagner, Steven T. Sagle & Guy Davis (DC/Vertigo)
- Top 10 Season Two #4, by Zander Cannon & Gene Ha (DC/Wildstorm)
- Adam: Legend of the Blue Marvel #5 of 5, by Kevin Grevioux, Mat Broome, Roberto Castro, Sean Parsons, Álvaro López & Lorenzo Ruggiero (Marvel)
- Guardians of the Galaxy #11, by Dan Abnett, Andy Lanning & Wes Craig (Marvel)
- The Immortal Iron Fist #23, by Duane Swierczynski, Travel Foreman, Tonci Zonjic, Timothy Green II, Tom Palmer & Mark Pennington (Marvel)
- B.P.R.D.: The Black Goddess #3 of 5, by Mike Mignola, John Arcudi & Guy Davis (Dark Horse)
- The Life and Times of Savior 28 #1 of 6, by J.M. DeMatteis & Mike Cavallaro (IDW)
The latest collection of Sandman Mystery Theatre features a lot of fun little bits for fans of Golden Age DC characters. “The Mist” involves a threat by the villain of the same name, but before he became the crime lord we’re familiar with; it also guest-stars Ted Knight, before he became Starman, when he was one of several scientists competing in a contest for government funding. Then “The Phantom of the Fair” has an appearance by the Crimson Avenger, and mention of Hourman and the Flash. Sandman at one point remarks with a little awe that he’s no longer the only masked man trying to bring justice to the pre-World War II American cities. It’s an effective touch reminding us that the world of 1939 is changing in more than one way in the DC Universe.
(“The Mist” is also referred to in the story “Sand and Stars” in James Robinson’s Starman series. It’s my favorite story of that series, and was recently reprinted, so it was neat to see where one element of that story came from, here.)
The stories are effective thrillers, as usual, drawing more from the inspiration of the pulps for their adventure and the British mystery novels for their character. They’re more adventure yarns than mysteries, though, which is occasionally disappointing, as if they’re not quite reaching their full potential. Still, it’s good stuff. Just be braced for some brutal scenes, especially in “The Phantom of The Fair”, in which a disturbed killer mutilates his victims – all homosexual men – before dumping them on the World’s Fair ground.
The stories also spend a considerable amount of time chronicling Wes’ relationship with Dian Belmont. Here Dian is fully aware of Wes’ extracurricular activities, and supports them and even helps him, but she’s still a little jealous that the Sandman has such a hold on him.
I’ve been thoroughly enjoying these collections of this series from the 1990s as they’ve been published this decade, having only read the first few issues when they came out. Fans of noir thrillers should enjoy them, too.
The Life and Times of Savior 28 is the latest superhero comic by J.M. DeMatteis, who’s been working the genre for over 30 years, with a fair amount of acclaim. Myself, I tend to find his stories overly wordy and expositive, with complicated set-ups and characters whose behavior and emotions never seem to quite ring true to me. I think my favorite thing of his is his abortive series Abadazad, but even it I thought had the same general flaws as the rest of his work.
In this series, Savior 28 is a hero who emerged just prior to World War II (don’t they all?) as part of some government experiments. The 28th subject, only one other survived – Savior 13, who became a twisted, evil, Bizarro-like figure. Both men lived through the 20th century until Savior 13 was finally killed. Some years later, having turned over a new leaf following the destruction of the World Trade Towers, Savior 28 is himself assassinated. The story of his life is narrated by his former sidekick, who like his mentor is long-lived, and the first issue ends with a surprising twist.
The story covers familiar ground, so I presume this issue is mainly set-up. The notion of an iconic superhero from the dawn of superheroes living to the present day and facing his end is hardly new (to pick one extremely obscure series which I enjoyed, there’s Magna-Man: The Last Super-Hero). That Savior 28 is more flawed than most such Superman analogues makes it a little stranger, but not (so far) very different. The issue follows the patterns of DeMatteis’ writing I described above: A complex set-up with a lot of exposition, but not a lot that resonates emotionally. I’m curious about where it’s going, but the first issue didn’t exactly work up my enthusiasm.
Mike Cavallaro’s art is okay. The anatomy often seems a little off. It’s very evocative of Jack Kirby, although like most art evoking Kirby it gets the trappings right but the soul of Kirby isn’t there. It’s not quite my sort of thing.
Greg Burgas (at Comics Should Be Good) is more of a DeMatteis fan than I am, and he likes the book a little better than I do. Marc-Oliver Frisch (at Comiks Debris) has an opinion similar to mine, although he enjoys DeMatteis’ work generally more than I do.