First, I love the Steranko Hulk homage on the cover!
In “The Black Cat,” Michael Kerr is a Washington lobbyist funneling auto-maker money to congressmen in return for legislation in their favor. As a reward, he’s given a prototype smart car, one that seems to anticipate his every destination and is ready to take him there in a flash. Before long, friction develops between man and car that does not end well. As Kerr is quite unlikeable, that was okay with me.
“The Gold Bug II” takes place in space, where an astronaut is depending on his robot servant to some important work. I liked the art on this one, but found the plot a bit hard to follow.
Hunt Emerson’s “Poe and the Black Cat” two-pager is easy to follow, and as funny as usual.
The climax of the previous 18 issues seems to be gathered here and in the next issue, which I am guessing is the last of this particular storyline. I like the way it’s drawn on so many elements from Neil Gaiman’s original run without anything feeling like a retread. The servants of Dream — the original Dream — are gathering once more to confront the current Dream Lord, Wan and his other, darker version, who Wan doesn’t even seem to know about. Lucien has recovered his mind and his story, and with him are Matthew, Cain and Abel and many others including Dora, the recent addition to the Dreaming cast. The ancient symbols and segments of Dream’s power have been gathered as well, and the confrontation and climax are impressive and enlightening so far, with more to come next time. Good work by all involved!
The contrast in approaches to the modern grim version of these characters on Earth Omega and the retro light-hearted version on Earth Alpha continues to make for an interesting comic. On Earth Omega, Dragonfly’s teen partner Stinger is trying to trick their computer into revealing secret info, while the villain Kaktus attacks Dragonfly himself. Kaktus’ costume and back-story are both unusual. On Earth Alpha, teen partner Stinger is instead helping Dragonflyman by throwing punches for him when the hero himself is unable to fight his criminal opponent The Devil, whose Temptatron rays can turn anyone evil. I’m not sure why exactly the contrast of the two is so effective, but I suppose it’s the polar opposites that attract, so to speak. Of the two worlds, I find Alpha more appealing. I wonder if there are some out there who like Omega better?
Here we are at issue 8 of this 12-issue series, and my reaction remains the same: I enjoy reading it, I find it funny and love the many nooks and crannies of the DC Universe it stumbles through and mocks, but I still find the overall story confusing. Jimmy himself is a hoot, fully embracing his own wackiness. He loves visiting Gorilla City, for example, as we see above. “I go there all the time!” he says.
The story is told in a series of short vignettes from one to several pages. Storylines weave in and out. All of them are amusing. The opening quartet of pages mimicking four versions of Superman from some years ago is quite good. But, who is the porcupine guy? Why is Jimmy’s brother closing down his fan club? Why does his successful playwright sister tag along with him? These and other questions remain, and I don’t mind. It’s all good.
This comic rides the fence between humor and horror, and I tend to find the funnier stories work better for me. The cover, for example, is pure humor with the addition of Batman TV-show sound effects. The lead story is a modern take on Poe’s “The Pit and the Pendulum,” with the victim a black CIA agent who is under constant suspicion by his bosses, and finally undergoes torture like that in the Poe story. No humor here, and I like the Poe version better.
The second story, a version of Poe’s “The Raven” by Linda Medley is more to my liking. Medley uses her skill with anthropomorphic animals to give us a raven who is an actor and offered the part of a tormenter of a certain poet, paid for by the father of a woman he’s courting. The only problem is it pays peanuts…literally.
Finally, the silent two-pager by Hunt Emerson of Poe vs. The Black Cat is as entertaining as ever.