Sunday, March 23, 2014

Seven takes on seven tales

So, in 2010, just before the "Nu52" reboot, when DC still had its laundry-detergent logo, they apparently put out a bunch of what would have been called specials or annuals back in the day and branded them as "One Shot" comics. Most of what I grabbed during my Spring Break Bargain Bin Bonanza came from this group of comics.

The first is a Justice Society 80-page Giant offering "7 Tales of the JSA" - so here are seven responses to the comic.

1. Comics have lost the practice of providing recaps for new readers. I don't read mainstream superhero comics regularly, and although I have been familiar with the DC Universe for 45 years or more, I was still lost much of the time I was reading this. There were no thumbnail histories of the characters to introduce each story - heck, in some stories the character aren't even called by name. If you don't know who they are, you'll never learn from the comic.

I mean, I am pretty sure Jesse Quick is Johnny Quick's kid (with Liberty Belle?). But Wildcat has a son who can turn into a half-cat/half-human? And I might guess that Sand, who looks like an updated Sandman, is Sandy the Golden Boy all grown up - but I'd be guessing.

And as for this Cyclone person:

She's supposed to remind us of the Wizard of Oz, right? 

I have no idea who that is. Sheesh.

2. This One-Shot seems like a "very special episode" collection of JSA stories. Here's the run-down of stars and "villains":

Obsidian: No villain except in flashback; the talks about his struggles with abuse and alcoholism as he applies to adopt a child with his same-sex partner.

Jesse Quick: Helps a woman escape from her abusive husband.

Mr. Terrific: Intervenes in the life of the drunk driver who killed his wife and who abuses his own wife.

Stargirl and Cyclone: Help prevent a teen suicide.

Sand: Kills a cop who is beating a woman, possibly his own wife.

Wildcat: Fights a sorcerer and along the way resolves some relationship issues with his son (whose name I never got).

Dr. Fate: Goes to the afterlife to help a man who commits suicide after his wife dies of cancer.

That the stories are used to comment on social issues and concerns is not in itself striking to me; that this focus is never mentioned anywhere in the magazine is.

3. Art sure is a matter of taste. This magazine had some stuff that I really dug, and some that just did not work for me. Here's some cool stuff:

I love how the reader's eye is lead along the speed lines in this sequence.

But taste aside, the art changes could be a bit jarring. Many of the stories began with no splash page or title panel, and they all began on the right-hand side of the spine, so it often seemed for a moment as if the one story was continuing, but with some weird change in the visuals.

4. Speaking of art: I really must be out of touch: most of the artists (and writers, for that matter) were unfamiliar names to me, and everybody reminded me of someone else.

5. This 80-page Giant had 70 pages of JSA stuff, a five-page Superman*Earth One preview, and a text page, for 76 pages total counting all that. To get to 80, you have to count the four pages of ads. But I just checked the 80-page JLA #48 from 1966 and they counted ad pages and the letter column in that, too, so I guess that's not new.

6. To account just for inflation, that 25-cent issue of JLA from 1966 should have cost $1.68 in 2010. The cover price was $5.99. I got it for a buck, so I guess I made out.

7. Overall: I'll give this a solid six out of seven.

1 comment:

  1. I dunno, it sounds to me like you're grading on a pretty generous curve. A comic like the one you're describing would get a five at best from me, perhaps along with a note to see me after class.