Category Archives: Comics

And Then I Read: THE COMPLETE PEANUTS 1991-92

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Images © Peanuts Worldwide LLC.

By the time of this collection, Charles Schulz had been doing the Peanuts strip for 40 years. Hard to imagine how he kept going, and unlike many of his contemporaries, he did the entire strip himself: writing, drawing, lettering and inking. Yes, the strips are simple, but grinding them out incessantly for that long would seem to be impossible without losing the charm and humor you began with. Somehow, Schulz defied the odds. The lines in these strips are a little shakier, a slightly lower percentage made me smile or chuckle, but on the whole, they’re still terrific, full of the dry wit and slapstick humor, the characters we all recognize in ourselves, the whimsy of a dog who can be anything, and much more. Yes, there are some subjects that don’t work for me, like Snoopy’s brother Spike trying to deny his loneliness in the desert with fake friends, but plenty more are familiar and still funny.

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I don’t think any new characters show up in this volume, and some are only in it very briefly, like Rerun and Pigpen, as well as the annoying girl sitting behind Linus in school. The tit-for-tat humor of these Snoopy and Linus strips had me laughing out loud. As Schulz headed into his fifth decade, he was still warmly entertaining, and this volume is well worth your time.

Recommended.

And Then I Read: DOC SAVAGE 1

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Image © Conde Nast.

The concept of Doc Savage, the super-smart, super-strong, super-rich adventurer and his gang of odd but equally smart and talented sidekicks never worked for me in the comics versions I’ve read from Marvel and DC. I hasten to admit I haven’t sampled the original pulp adventures that spawned him either. In this effort, writer Chris Roberson gradually brought me around so that, by the end of the issue, I was involved and enjoying the main character. The plot involves some sort of invisible effect causing people in specific areas to act belligerent and crazy for a time, then all come to their senses at once, clearly under the influence of some outside force. Doc and his gang do a fine job of homing in on the problem and its source, but it takes courage to bring the perpetrator to justice. The art by Bilquis Evely did not impress me much, it has the uneven quality of an artist still finding his way with depictions of the human figure in the many different angles and situations required for comics. There are nice panels and pages, but others that pulled me out of the moment with dodgy anatomy or composition. In all, I enjoyed the issue and might read more in a collection, though I should add this issue is a complete story, a rarity in today’s comics.

Recommended.

And Then I Read: FRANKENSTEIN ALIVE, ALIVE! 3

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Image © Steve Niles and Bernie Wrightson.

I’ve loved Wrightson’s work since I first discovered it on the original SWAMP THING in the early 1970s, and I treasure his illustrated version of the Mary Shelley novel. This story is almost as impressive visually, and well written by Steve Niles, who brings all the tortured emotional complexity and moral agony of Shelley’s creature to life. The story so far is moving quite slowly, and has included some flashbacks, but with this issue seems to be getting into new territory, with the monster taking shelter from another mad scientist who has an agenda of his own, of course. The art is beautifully painted in warm grays and blacks, the technique is generally less detailed than the novel line art, but there are some impressive exceptions that will amaze you. The only thing wrong with this book in my eyes (aside from how difficult the cover is to scan!) is the fact that there isn’t more of it more often, but the work speaks of the time taken, so I understand why. The backup excerpt from the Shelley novel seems unnecessary, but I suppose works to fill out the issue’s 19 pages of story.

Recommended.

And Then I Read: GREEN LANTERN 32

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Image © DC Comics, Inc.

Part 3 of “Uprising” demonstrates the largest problem with villain team-ups: as soon as things seem to be going well, or even if they suddenly go wrong, the bad guys turn on each other. So it is with the Khund and the Durlans here, with the rebels led by Prixiam caught in the middle. Nicely written by Robert Venditti, well drawn by Billy Tan and Rob Hunter.

Recommended.

And Then I Read: SWAMP THING 32

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Image © DC Comics, Inc.

After kicking each other around in the swamp, Alec and Arthur take it to the deep sea, where a new threat to both of them has surfaced, a threat to sea life and a challenge to Swamp Thing’s mastery of The Green. While Alec struggles with the new monster, Arthur prepares to destroy both of them to protect the sea. It’s nicely done, well written, full of action and interesting ideas. It’s still a crossover story, but not a bad one. And more surprises at home for Alec when he returns. The art by Jesus Sais continues to be excellent.

Recommended.