And Then I Read: FAITH Volume 1

Image © Valiant Enterrtainment.

Comics are full of handsome and beautiful heroes and heroines. Less perfect forms are often reserved for supporting characters or villains. Here’s an attempt to break that mold by offering a plus-size heroine, Faith Herbert, fighting crime as Zephyr. Formerly of the super-team The Renegades, she’s now on her own in Los Angeles.

Faith has found a job as Summer Smith, a blogger for a celebrity news site, and isn’t liking it much. Her boss is intimidating, her fellow employees cut-throat, and the subject matter sometimes off-putting, as when she’s expected to dish dirt on her ex-boyfriend. Despite her powers, Faith feels rather lost, and relies on her vivid fantasy-life imaginings, which we see depicted in a different art style, to get her through the day.

Faith’s first crime-fight is against puppy-nappers, but things soon turn more serious and deadly when she gets on the trail of a sinister group who is out to capture and drain power from other psiots (superheroes) like herself, who are perfectly willing to use their own agents as suicide bombers when necessary.

I enjoyed this collection of Faith’s first four issues that was given to me at Balticon. I admire the attempt to make the heroic field more inclusive, and wish writer Jody Houser and artists Francis Portela and Marguerite Sauvage well with the series.

Recommended.

Pulled From My Files #69: ELIMINATOR

This and all images © Marvel.

In 1994 I was asked by Jim Chadwick at Malibu Comics to design a logo for The Eliminator. Jim might have asked to see some metallic treatments, as the note on this first sketch suggests, and I provided them, using this first design. It’s a very plain vanilla design using squared-off block letters. Continue reading

And Then I Read: NEWSBOY LEGION – BOY COMMANDOS SPECIAL

Image © DC Comics.

I hadn’t been paying a lot of attention to who was working on these Jack Kirby 100th Anniversary specials, so it was a pleasant surprise to find this one written and illustrated by Howard Chaykin. I haven’t read any of his comics in a while, and it was good to get back into his world. Of course, it’s also Jack Kirby’s world, or in this case Joe Simon and Jack Kirby who created the two kid gang teams for DC (then National Comics) in the early 1940s. I have to admit I’ve never read any of those early stories. I am more familiar with the Newsboy Legion from their appearances in Kirby’s run on JIMMY OLSEN in the early 1970s. Both teams are full of caricatures, kids with very pronounced accents or styles of speaking, or ways of acting that give them shorthand memorable individuality. This story pits both gangs against subversive Nazi plots and agents, and of course their stories meet up eventually. Howard does a fine job with everything, though at times the frenetic plot trumps the character moments, and individual gang members got mixed in my mind, but in all it’s a fun romp through World War Two America and Europe, when the bad guys were easy to identify. Nice to see some new lettering by Ken Bruzenak, and that Howard still works with him when he can, as he has for decades. There’s also a reprint of an old Newsboy Legion story that looks like it might be fun, but…I didn’t read it.

Recommended.

And Then I Read: YSABEL by Guy Gavriel Kay

Cover art by Larry Rostant.

Ned Marriner is with his father Edward and a crew of assistants in Provence, France where Edward is doing photographs for a new book. He meets Kate Wenger in an old cathedral in Aix, another American in France as an exchange student, and the two of them have an eerie encounter with a man there, Phelan, who might be from the distant past. Forces are at work bringing a very old story of love and death from the distant pre-Roman past back into the present: two men, Phelan and Cadell, in love with an amazing woman, Ysabel. These three, and others around them return to a sort of life every so often to play out their story, but while the men return as themselves, the woman is reincarnated through a modern-day female. At first, Ned’s girlfriend Kate seems to be falling into the spell, but then his father’s personal assistant Melanie arrives and is captured instead.

Over the next few days, Ned and his friends and family must try to find Ysabel, who has gone into hiding somewhere in an ancient site in Provence, and do so before either Cadell or Phelan find her to have any hope of getting Melanie back. Ned soon finds his own place in the story when previously unknown abilities surface, handed down through his ancestors, and also evident in his Aunt Kim, who arrives to help. Encounters with spirit wolves, a malevolent Druid priest, a giant wild boar, and ghosts of ancient mighty battles complicate the search, putting everyone in danger. Will Ned find Ysabel in time?

I enjoyed this, but didn’t think it was as successful as the other Kay books I’ve read. Somehow the melding of ancient past to present seemed more forced than natural, and I thought there were too many instances where the main characters did not seem to have a clear picture of what was going on, therefore making it harder for me as a reader to get the big picture. Still, lots of fine writing and great characters.

Recommended.

THE DANNY CRESPI FILES Part 14

This and all images © Marvel.

Continuing my ongoing series about the cover lettering of Danny Crespi at Marvel Comics, mostly from 1974-1979. Photocopies of saved cover lettering from Danny’s files were compiled into a collection by letterer and friend Phil Felix during the 1980s when he worked with Danny on staff at Marvel, and Phil sent me copies. This time I’ll look at pages 53 to 56. Page 53, above, is all by Danny Crespi. Sources follow. Continue reading