Saturday, August 28, 2010

I didn't need another excuse to read a comic book, but I'll take it.

So if you believe everything the internet tells you, today is apparently the first annual Read Comics In Public Day. It's the brainchild of Brian Heater and Sarah Morean, and it's nothing more complicated than taking to the streets and reading your comic books loud and proud.

I've never been shy about reading my funny books in public, so this was a no-brainer for me. I'm actually working for the wife this weekend at the People's Art Festival in Detroit, but I did manage to sneak away for a moment or two to help the cause.

Even Mrs. Random Longbox found the time to enjoy one of her favorite books.

So now that you know what today is, what are you still doing reading this blog? Get up and head out into public with a stack of comics in tow!

As for me, it's back to work. I don't want the boss to see me slacking any more than I have already. I will, however, be back soon to announce the next random book to review (but the eagle-eyed readers out there among you probably already know what that book is).

Friday, August 27, 2010

DC Comics Presents #8

TITLE: DC Comics Presents #8


COVER DATE: April 1979


17 pages


I made a comment not too long ago about how there're very few characters or titles left where I'm actively trying to complete a collection, of which Superman is one of them. I also recently reached a point in my collecting with Action Comics and Superman where the majority of the holes that I have left now lie knee deep in the silver age or earlier. Needless to say, the higher price points have slowed down my collecting just a bit.

To help combat the Superman back-issue withdrawls, I set my sights on a lot of the secondary titles, with DC Comics Presents being the cream of the crop. About two years ago I found a complete collection of all 101 issues on ebay for a hundred bucks.

I've since read some here and there, but haven't gotten around to this one yet. So not only are we going in cold on this one, but this will also be the very first pre-"Alan Moore" Swamp Thing story I've ever read too!

Before we get into it, let's just take a moment to admire yet another awesome cover by one of my favorite Superman artists from this era...Jose Luis Garcia-Lopez! His Superman compliments what Curt Swan was doing at the time, but really amps up the athleticism and power of Superman without overdoing it. It's a very "Marvel" looking Superman.

So let's crack this thing open and see what we have in store for us.

"The Sixty Deaths of Solomon Grundy!"
  • Writer: Steve Englehart
  • Artist: Murphy Anderson
  • Letterer: Ben Oda
  • Colorist: Jerry Serpe
  • Editor: Juluis Schwartz
The story opens up in the sewers of Metropolis, as the Swamp Thing shambles through the underbelly of the city with a singular purpose. A recent newspaper article from the Daily Planet has led him here to search the sewers for Solomon Grundy. He's hoping that this "Marshland Monster" can provide some clue to his condition, and hopefully a way to reverse it.

It's worth noting at this point, that this issue is still relatively early in Swamp Thing's career. He debuted seven years earlier, but his series only lasted for twenty-four issues. This was also long before Alan Moore turned him into an elemental spirit of sorts, so what we have here reminds me a lot of The Incredible Hulk t.v. show...trapped in this savage form, he wanders the country using his scientific intellect to try to reverse the accident that made him a monster.

So now his travels have brought him to Metropolis, his hopes resting on finding Solomon Grundy, who recently gave Superman some trouble. Unfortunately for him, Superman has found him first.

Superman aims to capture Grundy once and for all, but Swamp Thing realizes that if he succeeds, then there goes his chance of finding a potential cure. He doesn't want to do it, but he must stop Superman from apprehending Grundy.

Superman could more than likely take each of these monsters out quite easily on their own, but together they manage to get the upper hand.

"Blum?" Here, let Grundy show you how you defeat Superman with a proper sound effect.

Leaving Superman alive but unconscious, the two brothers of the bog depart with Grundy following Swamp Thing like a lost puppy. Luckily for the Swamp Thing, they soon stumble upon an abandoned laboratory in the sewers. It's rudimentary, but should be adequate enough to analyze a skin sample of Grundy's. Metropolis was such a wonderful place in the 60's and 70's, as there was always an abandoned warehouse or laboratory around when you needed one.

Here, the two monsters practice for their way-off-Broadway revival of "The Odd Couple" musical.

Meanwhile, after regaining his consciousness, Superman heads to S.T.A.R. Labs with a sample of the sewer water from his recent battle for them to analyze. He needs to find out what is causing Solomon Grundy's recent reappearances.

While the scientists dash off to do the grunt work, it's time for Superman to lay the Kryptonian charm on Lois.

Wait a minute...did I miss an issue or sixty somewhere between the beginning of the Bronze Age and the Modern Age?

Apparently I did.

Alas, the life of a superhero can never be this uncomplicated, as Solomon Grundy reappears right outside of S.T.A.R. Labs.

But isn't he down in the sewers with the Swamp Thing?

No time to worry about that just now...go get 'em, Superman!

Speaking of Swamp Thing, he's finally done with his makeshift genetic experiments with negative results. Since Grundy isn't truly alive, there's no connection between the two of them, and thus no hope for a cure just yet. Just as Swamp Thing is about to break the bad news to Grundy, they overhear a news broadcast about Superman's recent defeat of Solomon Grundy, which filters down through the sewer pipes.

Grrr! Sewer pipe only get one channel...Grundy kill!

Grundy heads to the surface to confront Superman as the one true Solomon Grundy, when Superman finally realizes that he has a bigger problem on his hands. And wouldn't you know it, Grundy has cock-blocked him once again!

Superman rushes back to S.T.A.R. Labs, where they have managed to synthesize a chemical from the sewer water that Superman can use to destroy the army of Grundy's that are ravaging Metropolis. Swamp Thing emerges from the sewer just as Superman flies off to destroy the marauding marsh monsters.

During their short time together, the Swamp Thing realized that even though the Grundy beasts are not truly "alive", they don't deserve to die either. But as we've already seen, it's too late. Besides, Superman's only a man...with manly desires...and he's going to do what it takes so that Grundy will not interrupt him and Lois again.

He's not completely heartless, however, as he does manage to give a parting thought for the Swamp Thing, musing that one day maybe he'll be able to help him too. Hopefully, it'll be help of a more compassionate kind than he gave Grundy.

Cue "The Lonely Man" by Joe Harnell


Apparantly Superman spent a lot of time in the sewers of Metropolis in the 70's, as the last time we reviewed one of his books from this era he was down there too. That one featured S.T.A.R. Labs also, which was also it's first appearance.

And here's another coincidence that just occured to me. That previous Superman/Swamp Monster/Sewer battle was written by none other than Len Wein, the creator of Swamp Thing, a full year before Swamp Thing's first appearance. Could that story have been an idea that stuck with Len Wein, eventually germinating into the Swamp Thing? Who knows, but the timing sure is freaky.

Anyway, we're here to talk about what we learned from this book, right?

Overall, there's not too much here that's really consequential to either Swamp Thing or Superman. It's a nice little done-in-one that pushes along both character's narratives, without really either deviating from what came before, or veering off into a new direction.

If you read this issue as an homage or a tribute to the work of Wein and Wrightson, then it's decent enough, if not a little on the light side. The artwork from Murphy Anderson is serviceable, but really doesn't aspire to give us anything other than the standard DC house style of the time. That's a bit of a shame, as the Swamp Thing is a character that definitely invites a little artistic experimentation.

All characters and artwork reproduced are (c) DC Comics

Monday, August 23, 2010

Oh shouldn't have!

So I'm drinking my coffee yesterday, plugging away at the New York Times crossword puzzle, while trying to come up with something new and exciting to talk about for today's preamble before we pick another random book to review. Nothing really moved me or was compelling enough this week that deserved a little spotlight, so I'm just about to give up and let the post ride for another day or two when I get to the clue for 56 Across...
"The lowest form of humor" per Samuel Johnson
SPOILER ALERT...the answer is PUN, as any lover of trivia, crossword puzzles, quotes, or paronomasia knows.

I happen to enjoy a little bit of wordplay, with the pun being a particular favorite, but I've never really been that adept at crafting them. I can, however, appreciate the effort that other people have.

So what the heck does this have to do with comics?

Well let me tell you.

Today is my birthday (number forty to be exact), and what book did the Randomizer happen to pick for me to review? Take it away Randomizer...

...and that book is DC Comics Presents #8 from April 1979, published by DC Comics!

You see it, right?

It's my birthday, and the Randomizer got me a present in the form of DC Comics Presents!

All right everybody, you can stop your groaning now, but when was the last time DC ever gave you a present for your birthday? I'll see you in a day or two for the review, and we'll find out exactly what Swamp Thing was up to in Metropolis.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Doom Patrol #56

TITLE: Doom Patrol #56


COVER DATE: June 1992


24 pages


So there are things that I strongly remember about this title during the 90's, and there are things that I have no recollection of.

With the latter, one of the big mysteries is why I started reading this title in the first place. I'm pretty sure I had never read a Doom Patrol story before, nor had I ever read a Grant Morrison book prior to this one.

The only thing I can think is that I had just started reading Sandman the year before, which turned me on to comics of a more cerebral nature. It seems natural that this title, which had been getting its fair share of critical praise at the time, would be the next logical step.

What I do remember, however, is that this title turned me into a Doom Patrol fan to this day. I don't really have the budget to do much active collecting these days, but when I do there's still three titles that I look for -- Superman, Dr. Strange, and Doom Patrol.

This title also made me into a Grant Morrison and Richard Case fan. Both of these creators I still read to this day, although Case has been keeping a relatively low profile since Hunter: The Age of Magic wrapped up.

So what about this actual issue? It's funny, as I have fond memories of enjoying the heck out of this series when it was being released. When I think of good 90's comics, this one is always in the top ten. But I haven't ever re-read this run, and my memory of actual events that happened within it's pages have faded. Maybe I'm more sober now than I was in my mid-twenties, and the brain cells that got sacrificed were the Doom Patrol ones. I guess we'll never know, so let's just read this thing.

Down In The Well
  • Writer: Grant Morrison
  • Layouts: Richard Case
  • Finishes: Stan Woch
  • Colorist: Daniel Vozzo
  • Letterer: Jon Workman
  • Editor: Tom Peyer
So here's the thing...Grant Morrison is a very polarizing writer on the best of days. He tends to drive fans to one of two extremes, with readers falling into either the "love him" or "hate him" camp. I happen to fall into the love him category, but I appreciate the fact that his stuff is not for everybody. I also appreciate the fact there are two different styles of Grant Morrison books. There's the relatively mainstream and straightforward stuff like his JLA run and...well...I guess his JLA run. I guess if we're in a charitable mood, we can throw his Batman run in there too, at least up until the Zur En Arrh stuff.

The other style involves his experimental stuff where he tends to bend the rules of convention and reader expectations. The Doom Patrol definitely falls into the latter category, so I'm actually going to break the review up into two sections. First up is the safe for all audiences, Reader's Digest version. If you get to the end of that, and feel like experimenting a bit further, there'll be a more in depth review for your entertainment.

The issue opens up with Crazy Jane, who has gone missing from the Doom Patrol on a quest to confront her father who had abused her as a child. When we catch up with her, she is holed up in a cathedral in Metropolis and has gotten herself in trouble with the local police force. Using her powers, she bursts forth from hiding, laying waste to the assembled police blockade out front.

Back at DP headquarters, Robotman and Danny The Street talk about recent events. Danny is concerned about an evil presence he has felt in the recent past that has suddenly gone missing. Robotman takes that as a good thing, brushing aside Danny's concerns in favor of trying to find out what has happened to Crazy Jane.

During his investigation into Jane's disappearance, Robot Man consults with one of her old doctors and finds out that her father has been dead for ten years! She suggests that Cliff heads to Metropolis, as that is where her Crazy Jane persona first manifested itself. If she's gone off the deep end, it's a good place to start.

It's too late, of course, as Jane has already fled Metropolis after her battle with the police. Her next stop is her childhood home, which is nothing more than an abandoned farm these days.

The memories of her abuse, along with her multiple personalities, start cascading through her mind. The main image triggered is from a time when her father threw one of her stuffed animals down the well to punish her. One of her stronger personalities comes to the forefront and forces her down the well to find it, which she does.

With her animal finally safe, she has visions of being at her father's deathbed, telling the doctor's to turn off his life support. With his evil finally behind her, she emerges from the well to a vision of a fairytale landscape, complete with an enchanted castle in the distance.

See? That wasn't so bad, was it?

That's the end of the SFW part of the review as we now say goodbye to the feint of heart. We'll catch up with you in a day or two for another random book to review, but for the braver among you, let's dig a little deeper into this issue.

So when I started reading this issue, I didn't remember a whole lot of what happened. I have to say, however, that as soon as I got into a few pages it all started coming back to me, and this particular issue is kind of an important one for Morrison's run.

Going back to the beginning, we find Crazy Jane in Metropolis at the cathedral where she was raped in the past. That trauma led to the first onset of her multiple personalities, which eventually gives her super powers, as each of her personalities has a different super power.

Cornered by the police, one of her personas moves to the forefront to deal with the situation. Consulting her wikipedia page, I'm guessing it's either Scarlet Harlot or Flaming Katy.

She leaves the assembled police force in ruins, which gives Cliff all sorts of headaches when he arrives in Metropolis to find her. For Jane, however, it's on to the next site of her trauma tour as she leaves Metropolis.

Before Cliff can begin his search, he has a little unfinished business with Danny The Street to take care. For those of you not in the know, Danny The Street is one of the stranger hero's in Morrison's Doom Patrol, which I guess you could say is the highest of compliments. True to his name, he's a street who happens to be sentient. His role in this story is limited to basically a harbinger of impending doom, as he tries to warn robot man of an evil presence that has gone m.i.a.

That's not the only foreshadowing of bad things to come, as we next find the irascible Willoughby Kipling being called to a meeting of the Knights Templar. He's late for the meeting, but is soon brought up to speed by the dentures of one of the older knights.

That's right, if the sentient hovering dentures of a templar knight tell you that Nostradamus' apocalypse is coming, you better listen. It's just Willoughby's luck that he's drawn the short straw and is tasked with helping the Doom Patrol deal with it.

We now get to the meat of the story, as Crazy Jane arrives at the farm that was her childhood home. Crazy Jane's story is a tragic one, and here is where it all started. When she was a little girl, she was molested by her father. As she walks in and around the crumbling farmhouse, the initial memories of that abuse start returning. One particularly painful memory was when her father punished her by throwing her stuffed lamb down the well.

Now that she's back at the farm, her multiple personalities struggle for control, eventually pushing her down the well to rescue her long lost stuffed animal.

Falling down the well, Crazy Jane spirals past multiple for every personality, I would presume. She eventually reaches the bottom of the well, where she does indeed find her long lost lamb, Harry.

Once reunited, Crazy Jane seems to find a new found peace. Perhaps it's the fact that she was able to do this for herself, without using one of her super-powered personalities. Her journey's not at an end just yet, however, as there is one more thing that needs tending to. With Harry safe and secure once again, it's time to bury the memory of her abusive father once and for all.

Her mind transports her to the vision of her father on his deathbed, stricken with cancer. She turns to the doctors in attendance and tells them to switch off his life support. With his memory truly and surely dead, there is just one final door at the bottom of the well that she must go through. Opening it, she finds a fairy tale world awaiting her, complete with enchanted castle.

It looks like there may be hope for Crazy Jane after all.

It's not all unicorns and rainbows for the rest of the Doom Patrol however, as the issue ends with Robotman returning to DP headquarters after failing to find Crazy Jane. What he does find is the dead body of Joshua Clay, a onetime member of the Doom Patrol who used to go by the name Tempest. He had retired from super-heroing but was here as the defacto team physician, a job which would ultimately lead to his rather grizzly death.

Who killed him? Let's check in with the last page for the cliffhanger ending...

That's's Niles Caulder, a.k.a. The Chief.


Come on in, the water's fine!

If you're going to jump right into Grant Morrison's Doom Patrol, you could do worse than pick this issue. Yeah, it's the culmination of a thirtysome issue long arc for Crazy Jane, but you really get everything you need to know with this issue.

The other high point, is that this issue sets up so many other storylines that really set the stage for Morrison's final arc. You get the death of a Doom Patrol member, the crazy Chief getting even crazier, Robotman in over his head...

I know I had a bit of fun with the blog posts leading up to this issue, but truth be told, this was surprisingly coherent and eerily straightforward. The big surprise was just how touching and heartfelt this issue was concerning Jane's journey. It started out incredibly depressing and morose with being forced to relive the beginning of her father's abuse. Throw in a raggedy stuffed lamb, and that just amped up the emotional investment. Luckily for Jane, and us, she finds the inner strength to deal with her trauma and come through stronger for it.

A big part of the effectiveness of this story belongs to Richard Case. There are a lot of artists that are lauded for their skills with making their characters act. Steve Dillon and Kevin Maguire are two that instantly pop to mind. I think Richard Case belongs right up there with the best of them, as there isn't a page in this issue that doesn't drive the emotional center of the story. And when all you have to work with for part of the story are a robot and a sentient street, that's saying something. It's too bad that Richard Case doesn't have a monthly book these days, as I'd definitely be on board for more of his visuals.

Looking back, I can easily see how this run turned me into a Grant Morrison and Doom Patrol fan. If I didn't have a "to read" stack that's sagging my bookshelf right now, I'd be back down in the longboxes pulling the remainder of Morrison's run to finish reading.

All characters and artwork reproduced are (c) DC Comics

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Who knew that Morrison's Doom Patrol was so conventional?

So I'm or two weeks behind on my review of Grant Morrison and Richard Case's Doom Patrol #56?

I thought I should at least pop up to let you know that I'm safe and have made it through the issue with no ill effects to my sanity or worldview. It was actually a rather straightforward issue, so I didn't even need to utilize my safeword. In fact, this issue may take the cake as the most mainstream and conventional super-hero comic book I've read for this blog yet. I'm probably exaggerating, but what other book have I read that allows me to post a pic like this one?

That's right, it's an honest-to-goodness superhero emerging from a telephone booth!

(Never you mind that the telephone booth is a method of communication for a sentient transvestite street who's actually a member of the Doom Patrol.)

In reality, I'm just recuperating from a very intense week and a half featuring a combination of day job responsibilities and helping Mrs. Random Longbox out at one of her outdoor art festivals. I didn't think it was possible, but I swear I have sweat off my body weight three times over during the recent heat wave that swept through the Midwest.

I'm taking another day or two off, but thanks for checking back during my sabbatical and I'll see you before the week's out for the long delayed Doom Patrol review.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Captain America...Renaissance Man?

A while back I flagged this pic, and posed the question "What couldn't that shield do?"

Now, I think I was giving too much credit to the shield and not enough to Cap himself, after I came across this pic in the recent Punisher issue we reviewed.

Who knew Captain America had so many talents. I know the super soldier serum transformed him into the perfect physical speciman of a human being, but I was not aware that it also turned him into a virtual renaissance man!

Maybe the question should be what the hell was Cap up to in the 80's? Or more appropriately phrased, what wasn't he up to in the 80's? It's like he's Marvel's Ronald McDonald.

Keep your eyes peeled, loyal Random Longbox reading audience, and shoot me an email if you should ever come across any other of Cap's secret hidden talents. In the meantime, let's get the Randomizer fired up to pick the next book to review. Take it away, Randomizer...

...and that book is Doom Patrol #56 from June 1992, published by DC Comics!

And here I thought that pic of Cap tap-dancing was unsettling, but I can't even begin to comprehend what's going on on this cover by Simon Bisley. Let's see...naked chick holding a lamb, thigh deep in water being navigated by a biker wearing a rotary dial phone hat. If I was you, naked lady on the cover, I think I'd let that particular phone call go to voice mail. It looks like you have your hands full already.

Coming back to reality, and it looks like we're in for a treat with this one as Grant Morrison makes his first appearance here at Random Longbox. This series was also my first introduction to the mad genius of Morrison.

I'll be back in a day or two with the review, but until then I want you all to make sure that you're caught up on your medications (both prescription and otherwise) and that you have your safe words updated...for once we go through the looking glass that is Morrison's Doom Patrol, I can't be held responsible for your personal safety and/or sanity.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Just Imagine Stan Lee with Jim Lee creating Wonder Woman #1

TITLE: Just Imagine Stan Lee with Jim Lee creating Wonder Woman #1


COVER DATE: August 2001


40 pages


There's not a whole lot I remember about this issue. In fact, I don't even recall if this was good, bad, or just plain mediocre. I never finished collecting the whole series, so I'm guessing it left me a little cold.

It does have Jim Lee doing the artwork, so I'm going to guess that it at least looks good. It's a long issue, so let's just get right to it.

Just Imagine Stan Lee's Wonder Woman
  • Writer: Stan Lee
  • Pencil Art: Jim Lee
  • Ink Art: Scott Williams
  • Letterer: Bill Oakley
  • Colorist & Separator: Alex Sinclair
  • Wonder Woman created by William Moulton Marston
  • "Just Imagine..." initiated by Michael Uslan
Right off the bat, and Stan Lee is throwing us for a curve. The story starts where...
Ages ago, there was a time of wonder, a time of mystery and miracles. Come back with us to such a time.
Sounds about right for the origin of Wonder Woman, eh? But then before we even leave the same panel, we find out we're not going to Themyscira, but to Lake Titicaca!

It would appear we've traded the Greek canon for one half a world away, as the son of the great Incan Sun God rises from the lake. He leaves to found the legendary city of Cuzco to honor his father. To complete his task, he has been given an enchanted staff of gold with which he will plunge into the earth at the fateful location.

He soon founds the legendary city and ushers in a glorious age of peace and prosperity, but that was then. Today, Cuzco has been ravaged by time and the once fabled city has fallen into ruin. It is here that we are introduced to Maria Mendoza as she bemoans the current state of the ancient city, being plundered by an unscrupulous archaeologist named Armando Guitez.

It is also here that she also meets Steve Trevor, and idealistic archaeologist working for Guitez, who is trying his hardest to make sure that the plundered treasures are actually being bought by museums. There conversation is cut short however, as they are forced to leave in a hurry as a rather ominous noise scares them off the dig.

Steve gives Maria a lift back to her nearby village, where her father is the local judge. She catches him between cases and confronts him once again about being on Guitez's payroll. Maria is nothing, if not a little headstrong, and she finally gets her father to tell her the whole truth about her birth and what happened to her mother.

On the night she was born, her parents were returning to their home when they were stopped by bandits. Disappointed that the couple had no money, a scuffle ensued and a shot rang out. Maria's mother was unfortunately shot dead. Moments later, the local policia arrive, but they too are looking for money in the form of a bribe before they catch the bandits. Disappointed that the farmer has no money, they take his truck, leaving the heartbroken man to bury his wife. He swears then and there that he will protect his daughter, even if it means making a pact with the devil.

That devil, of course, is Guitez who shows up right on cue. He's here to oversee a case that a local farmer is bringing against the policia. The farmer accuses the policia of being in Guitez's back pocket and doing nothing to help them. The villagers believe that a demon of some sort is attacking their farms, but the policia refuse to help.

Guitez gives the word, and the policia beat him to set an example for the villagers that Guitez has their best interests at heart, and it is best not to question his methods. It would also appear that Guitez is unhappy with Judge Mendosa's behavior of late, as he feels he has been too sympathetic to the locals. The policia leave, taking Judge Mendosa back to Guitez's compound.

Desperate to help her father, Maria tracks down Steve Trevor and enlists his help in getting into Guitez's compound. Once inside, Maria watches from the shadows as her father confronts Guitez about his lawlessness. He has finally seen enough and threatens to go to the local governor with everything that he knows. Guitez, not surprisingly, has other ideas.

Maria rushes to her father's side as he breathes his last breath. Guitez does a little gloating and boasts that Maria, as his new bride-to-be, is never going to leave his compound.

Remember when I said that Maria was a bit headstrong? Well a quick elbow to the face, followed by a knee to the groin, and she's soon running through Guitez's compound after leaving him doubled over in pain. As she rounds a corner, she's reunited with Trevor who convinces her that they must go to the dig as there's something there she has to see.

Trevor tells her of the legends of the city, and the fact that this is the site where the sun god imprisoned the evil spirits that threatened mankind. Guitez plans to harness those spirits to attain ultimate power. Trevor has been working behind the scenes to send key artifacts back to Los Angeles before Guitez can figure out what is going on.

Unfortunately for Trevor, Guitez now knows the truth and guns him down. As Trevor falls to the ground, he drops an artifact covered in runes that cracks when it hits the floor. Purple smoke starts seeping from the cracks, which soon coalesces into a huge purple demon. The thing of evil quickly dispatches the policia and turns toward Guitez when the two have a bit of a showdown

As the demon tries to absorb Guitez's soul, it finds that he will not be easy prey. In fact, it is Guitez who emerges the victor, now merged with the demon and possessing all of his power. More artifacts are crushed in the melee, and another newly released demon soon meets the same fate as the first, as Guitez absorbs it and becomes even more powerful.

Leaving Maria to her fate in the crumbling temple, Guitez heads out and makes for Los Angeles to retrieve the two missing artifacts and all of the extra power that they contain. As the building falls apart around her, she is surprised to hear voices that surround her talking about the chosen one and prophecies and such. A golden staff appears before her, and as she reaches out to touch it...a Wonder Woman is born.

This is the first time that we get a look at Jim Lee's redesign, so let's take a moment to break it down.

The first thing you notice is the color scheme. Gone are the red, white and blue, making way for a two-toned costume of white and gold. Seeing as how this Wonder Woman gets her powers from an Incan sun god, it's only natural that she have a bright and shiny costume. The gold is also a nice nod to the Incan heritage and legacy.

This Wonder Woman is very much a warrior, similar to how our Wonder Woman has been played within DC's trinity in the last ten years. Gone is the lasso, replaced with a shield and the enchanted glowing staff that was used by the Incan sun god himself.

Finally, Jim Lee adds a Captain Marvel-esque style cape which adds a touch of regalia to top the whole thing off. I really like this design, and it's a shame that this was pretty much the only appearance of this Wonder Woman, and her costume, that we ever got.

Back to the story, we find that Wonder Woman has used her powers to lift Steve Trevor from he crumbling ruins to the safety of a nearby hillside. It's too late for him, however, as with his dying breath he tells her that she has completed the prophecy. She is the chosen of the sun god, and the protectress of the Earth.

The Wonder Woman visage fades, leaving an exhausted Maria to contemplate another death at her feet. The only rational explanation is that she is insane, and she breaks down crying.

The voices soon return, reassuring her that she is not insane. And really, who better to tell you you're not crazy than the voices in your head! The voice soon tells her how to control her new powers, as she sets out to catch Guitez and stop his reign of evil.

Arriving in Los Angeles, Guitez is now more monster than man, consumed by the lust for the power contained in the remaining artifacts. As his private plane crashes, he is photographed by one of the local paparazzi. Now rampaging through the city, Wonder Woman finally arrives to subdue him.

The two tussle for a bit, when Wonder Woman instinctively uses her shield to block some flying rubble that Guitez has thrown at her. Shards of energy burst forth from the shield and disintegrate the boulder. She then twists the shards of energy into an interwoven, glowing cable. Wonder Woman finally has her magic lariat.

Wrapping Guitez tight with her lasso, Wonder Woman takes to the skies where she has the advantage. Guitez still struggles, now climbing the rope as she flies ever higher. Just as Guitez is about to reach Wonder Woman, she lets go of the rope and Guitez falls to his death as he is impaled on the lightning rod of a nearby building.

Victorious, but exhausted, Wonder Woman collapses on the hillside underneath the Hollywood sign. She awakes the next morning and decides to make this town her new home, as there is nothing left for her back in Peru.

In a bit of inspiration, and a nod to the Clark/Lois/Superman triangle, Maria heads to the office of the National Exposure magazine. There she applies for the job of assistant for the reporter who had witnessed the battle the night before. Her day job will now be to help the man who is trying to uncover her secret identity.


When this book got picked, I was kinda disappointed as I didn't have too many fond memories of this series. In fact, I only ever picked up three of the dozen issues that they released. I realize that Stan Lee is one of the guiding figures and living legends of comic books, but he had pretty much finished writing for good when I started reading comics.

Thinking back, I probably morphed my memories of this series in with Ravage 2099, which was my first experience with reading a new Stan Lee series. Needless to say, Ravage 2099 didn't necessarily set the comic book world on fire, and my experience there probably negatively affected my enjoyment here.

Now, ten years later, I couldn't be happier that the Randomizer picked this issue to review as I had a heck of a lot of fun reading this. So much so, in fact, that I found myself googling the rest of the series to see what I had missed out on. Stan Lee, Dave Gibbons, and Green Lantern?! What the hell was I thinking not picking that up?

What we get in this issue, is 40 pages of pure fun. Stan Lee appears right at home working with a modern master like Jim Lee, and if anything, it seemed like he was almost restrained in his usual bombasticness (no Hyperbole Meter needed this time around, sorry). He takes the warrior aspect of Wonder Woman and supplants it in a completely different mythos, freeing her from the patriotic garb and theme that always seemed a little out of place once you take her out of the World War II era in which she was created.

It probably took a little too long to get Maria transformed into Wonder Woman, as it didn't leave too many pages left for the big fight scene at the end. But if you're going to have a bunch of new characters talking for twenty pages, you could do worse than have them illustrated by Jim Lee. This issue is classic Jim Lee, doing what he does best, putting an effort in that rivals his work on Batman: Hush. It was clean, smooth, and expertly paced. When the action did pick up, the visuals never let up for a second.

I realize that it may seem like I'm doing nothing but heaping platitudes on top of platitudes, but the only downside I see with this issue is that we never did get anymore of this version of Wonder Woman once this series wrapped up.

All characters and artwork reproduced are (c) DC Comics

Monday, August 2, 2010

Tired of waiting for All-Star Wonder Woman?

Hey everybody, I'm still working my way through the Just Imagine Stan Lee with Jim Lee Creating Wonder Woman #1 book for the next review. It's a little oversized, but I still hope to have it knocked out by Wednesday.

In the meantime, enjoy this alternate cover that was printed on the back cover by none other than Adam Hughes!

The way the All-Star line of books has been mismanaged, this may be as close as we're ever going to get to an All-Star Wonder Woman title by Adam Hughes.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Soapbox update and Stan Lee loose in the DCU

It's not everyday that I use this blog with an agenda in mind. Normally, I just let the Randomizer lead me blindly through my longboxes one issue at a time. You can rest easy though, as today is not one of those rare occasions, but before we pick the next random book to review I thought it might be interesting to check back in on a couple of my more recent soapbox blog posts to see how things are progressing.

Most recently, I had blogged about the sorry state of comic book prices these days. It's been close to two months now, so have I crossed the line in the sand that is four bucks for a twenty-two page comic book?

Nope. Seven weeks in, and I'm still holding firm. The first major test was with the Avengers relaunch, as I was planning on picking up three of the four new titles. I bailed on the New/Bendis era after the third issue, so I was really looking forward to getting back into one of my all-time favorite franchises.

There have been around a baker's dozen worth of Avengers issues in that time, and I left 'em all on the shelf. It's Marvel's loss though, as from the word of mouth I've heard, I'm in no hurry to pick up the trades either.

As it stands, I'm probably dropping Marvel alltogether sooner, rather than later. What do they have...Two? Maybe three issues a week that are still three bucks? I'm down to only two titles that I still pull, S.H.I.E.L.D. and Hawkeye and Mockingbird. The former is relatively self-contained, while the latter gives a mild reprieve to the overall Avengers disappointment.

I thought I heard, however, that H&M was going to be crossing over with another title? Thunderbolts, maybe? I guess I'll be down to one title when that happens. I'm sorry, but I like a shared universe. I like reading a wide selection of titles that all inhabit the same space. With Marvel embracing the four dollar price point, they are making that decision for me. It's all right though, don't cry too many tears for me as I'll always have my longboxes.

And lest you think this is a gang up on Marvel post, I also have to say goodbye to my favorite current title with this month's issue of American Vampire. I'm not the world's biggest vampire fan by any means, but Scott Snyder has put a nice little twist on the genre and wrote some compelling stories to boot. That Stephen King fella ain't no slouch either, but his pages are gone with the next issue while the higher price point remains.

I'm also going to be leaving a Green Lantern book on the racks when Emerald Warriors debuts. I think I have picked up every new Green Lantern book since Rebirth started. Geoff Johns has made me a devotee of the Corps, where there was little to no interest prior. Four bucks for an issue of the new title is too rich for me, and signals the beginning of the end.

In hindsight, it's actually been quite liberating. I buy less on a weekly basis, which leaves more time for both rereading the good stuff that I do get every week, and for spending more time on the blog.

The other big issue that got my dander up was the seemingly endless creative team shuffle in the Superman titles. We've only had a handful of issues come out with Paul Cornell and Pete Woods on Action Comics and J. Michael Straczynski and Eddy Barrows on Superman, so there's still plenty of time for Superman editorial to disappoint me yet again. And when they do, it's going to be especially frustrating as Cornell's Action issues have been nothing less than awesome.

So anyways...what are we here for again? Oh yeah, it's time to pick another completely random book to review. Take it away, Randomizer...

...and that book is Just Imagine Stan Lee with Jim Lee Creating Wonder Woman #1 from August 2001, published by DC Comics!

Well damn if that isn't the longest comic book title I've seen in a while.

And hey, it's Jim Lee redesigning Wonder Woman's costume! I'm getting this vague sense of deja vu.

When the Randomizer picked this title, I literally smacked my forehead with my palm. Jim Lee tried his darnedest to re-crack the internet in half last month with his pantsing of Wonder Woman, and here he had already done that exact same thing a decade previous.

After studying both of the redesigns (I'm going to refrain from re-posting the new image again for fear of drifting over into stalker territory with how often I've referenced it lately), I have to say that I dig 'em both. Yeah, there are little things I'd change, but there's a lot to like. I'm also beginning to wonder what's up with Jim Lee and undersized accessories (the jacket for the new design and the wrist shield for the old one).

I think the moral of this story is that maybe Wonder Woman's costume hasn't changed enough over the last 68 years.

See you in a day or two for the review.