Sunday, November 28, 2010

All-American Comics #1

TITLE: All-American Comics #1


COVER DATE: May 1999


22 pages


It's been a while since I've read The Justice Society Returns! mini-series, but I've always assumed in the intervening years that this mini-series was instrumental in bringing the JSA series back. After re-reading this issue, I don't think that's the case. This would appear from all intents and purposes to be a standard throwback tale in the original Justice Society style, albeit this one stretched out over nine issues.

For those unfamiliar with the format, it goes a little something like this. The whole team is confronted by, or introduced to, a threat. They then split up into smaller groups to accomplish their individual tasks...finally, regrouping to take down the bad guy.

The format of this miniseries is the same, but instead of smaller chapters featuring the individual group members, they get a whole issue to themselves. The opening and closing issues are both written by James Robinson and David Goyer, which I'm sure is why I originally picked this up on the strength of Robinson's Golden Age which was a surprise hit for me.

So yeah, it doesn't really tie in directly to the JSA title that would start up later in the year, but I still remember enjoying it. Let's see how good my memory is.

Cold Heart
  • Writer: Ron Marz
  • Artist: Eduardo Barreto
  • Letterer: Kurt Hathaway
  • Colorist: Carla Feeny
  • Editors: Peter Tomasi and Dan Raspler
So here's the thing...I've been giving some thought about changing up how I do reviews. Do they always need to be blow-by-blow, page-by-page reviews? Not really, so I'll be messing with my style format on occasion when the mood hits me. They'll probably be shorter reveiws, which should allow me more time to get a few more up...but we'll see how that goes. In the meantime, let's get started.


During the waning days of WWII, the Justice Society is trying to defeat Stalker and his seven Disciples, who aim to end all wars on Earth by destroying all life on Earth. Green Lantern and Johnny Thunder are sent to stop one of the Disciples who seeks to disrupt the Yalta Conference. If you're unfamiliar with the finer points of WWII history, I'm sure this picture will ring a bell or two, ably reproduced by Eduardo Barreto.


Not really. The story is narrated by a GI soldier cum Iowa farmboy writing a letter to his family, who is suitably impressed by the arrival of our heroes.

Followed shortly thereafter by the nameless disciple, doing the bidding of the mad god Stalker, which was to kill all life on Earth in case you forgot.


Here's Green Lantern doing his thing...

...and Johnny Thunderbolt doing his...kind of...

Hmmm...I'm getting the feeling someone's going to learn a little bit about what it really means to be a hero.

Yikes, I guess he learned that the hard way.


Is that Churchill pushing the wheelchair bound FDR into the line of fire?

Luckily for Roosevelt, Johnny Thunder mans up--

--giving Green Lantern and the Thunderbolt time to finish the Disciple off.


Pretty much. The heroes succeed and are teleported away by Doctor Occult to continue the battle against Stalker, and the Yalta Conference happens just like it's said to have happened in the history books.

And never you mind about any of that nonsense with superheroes, demons, and mad gods that you just read about...that part never happened. Or at least it never happened if you believe everything your government tells you.

It's just another war story that our Iowa farmboy will take with him to the grave.


There's always more to history than what's written in the textbooks, just don't use a comic book to press your point. And you're just going to have to trust me on that one.

Ron Marz and Eduardo Barreto give us a pretty standard twenty-two pager. Nothing flashy or groundbreaking, but it tells a story and it tells it well. Both of these guys are pros, so you know at the very least you're getting a competant comic book. Unfortunately, that's about as much as we get.

As I mentioned in the previous post, the last decade has treated the Justice Society very, very well. On purely sentimental terms, I'd say that that time period has been the golden age of DCs' Golden Age heroes. It's through that prism of Robinson, Goyer, and Johns' vision that, unfortunately, this story is viewed. After all that they were able to do with the characters, this story just seems a little lightweight in comparison. I'd probably classify this mini-series as essential only for the Justice Society completists.

All characters and artwok reproduced are (c) DC Comics

Friday, November 26, 2010

Up next...All-American Comics #1

It's Black Friday, so I'm sure everyone is too busy waiting in lines trying to buy a flat screen t.v. for ten bucks or trying to track down whatever hunk of plastic the kids today have decided that they just can't live without.

With smart phones being what they are, however, I suppose you could still be checking in with your favorite random comic book blogs while you're standing in line. Taking that into consideration, here's a quick post to keep you entertained...and challenged.

That's right, it's time for another installment of What Did I See While I Was Out On The Road The Other Day! As long time readers are aware, my day job takes me in-and-around four different states in the Midwest on a semi-regular basis. On occasion, I've been known to spy something comic book related in my travels.

Normally, I'd give you a multiple choice selection and pop up with the photo a couple of days later, like we did over here, here and here. This time, however, we're going to switch it up.

For this round, you'll get the picture first and you have to tell me what the comic book connection is. Everyone got it? Good, then on with the picture.

Now I expect this one is going to be a bit challenging, so I'm going to give you a little clue.

You better hope you can summon all of your willpower from the last couple of months in order to guess this one.

I'll give you a couple of days to ponder it, and I'll be back before the weekend's out to give you the answer. If you know the significance of this building, or are just feeling lucky, drop your answer in the comments.

Until then, let's roll the Randomizer out of the storage unit and dust off the mothballs so that we can fire it up and get a new random book to review. Take it away randomizer...

...and that book is All-American Comics #1 from May 1999, published by DC Comics!

Ahhh...the Justice Society. Up until recently, there were always two things that you could count on without fail during the aughts. The first was that Ultimate Spider-Man was one of the most consistently perfect comic book runs going. The second, and perhaps more unlikely, was that JSA was just as good, if not better (like when Bendis insisted on bringing Ultimate Daredevil into storylines).

And it all started here, with the nine part The Justice Society Returns! storyline that ran through a number of one-shot titles that resurrected long cancelled golden age titles. The issue we'll be reviewing this time around features the golden age Green Lantern and Johnny Thunder, both of whom will be making their debut appearance here at the Random Longbox.

Along for the ride is Eduardo Barreto doing the art. We've had the pleasure of ogling a cover or two, but this will be the first time he's done interiors for one of our reviews.

And speaking of covers, I've always liked the design on this mini-series with the oversized logos and Dave Johnson character work.

See you in a day or two for the review.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Superman (Vol. 2) #65

I've been gone for a while, so why not open back up with a riddle.

What do you get when you combine three trade shows, multiple four state sales trips, vendor and sales meetings, and a new laptop that aims to thwart you at every turn?

All over the course of eight weeks?

The answer, it would seem, is a woefully unattended to and neglected blog.

So I apologize for the the spotty posting as of late, but my day job has been keeping me hopping. I think I'm finally through the crucible and ready to get back into the thick of it, so let's just get to it and revisit the long delayed review for Superman #65.

TITLE: Superman (Vol. 2) #65


COVER DATE: March 1992


22 pages


The big memory I have of this title from its original release is specifically of me not reading it. The cover was striking, and it caught my eye on the shelf, but at this point I was mostly a Marvel guy and I didn't read the Superman titles. So I remember picking it up and thumbing through it, but I ultimately putting it back on the racks.

Little did I know that in ten short months I would be well on my way to being a regular DC reader, with collecting the Superman titles becoming a specialty. For those of you not in the know, Superman #75 was the culmination of the Death of Superman storyline. That issue is often tagged as the beginning of the end of the speculator boom, and while it may have almost doomed the industry, I haven't missed a Superman issue since so it must have done something right.

That, however, is a topic for another day and another random pick. For now, let's see what all the panic is about.

Head Man
  • Designer/Shaper: Dan Jurgens
  • Forms: Brett Breeding
  • Data: Hues
  • Hues: Glenn Whitmore
  • Navigator: Dan Thorsland
  • Architect: Mike Carlin
  • Superman Creators: Siegel & Shuster
This particular issue is the second part of the Panic In The Sky storyline. In the first part, Brainiac's skull ship has arrived at Earth and is wreaking havoc on Metropolis. With the element of surprise on his side, he's able to bring Superman to his knees. Not without a surprise of his own, Superman is able to break free from Brainiac's psionic assault with the help of Cadmus Labs. That's pretty much all we need to know to bring us up to speed, so let's see what this issue brings.

In deep space, the mysterious Metron is drawn to the planet Almerac. What he sees there unsettles even his calm demeanor, as he is witness to a planet annihilated and a population subjugated. Knowing the unmistakable signature of Warworld, Metron sets forth to warn the remaining populated worlds in its path, lest they suffer the same fate.

Unfortunately for him, Brainiac has other plans. In full control of Warworld, and with Supergirl and Maxima under his influence, Brainiac easily brings Metron to his knees with a psychic attack.

With his last bit of consciousness, Metron sends out his mobius chair to warn Earth as he lies defeated.

And if you were a space-time travelling, artificially intelligent chair, who would you go seek help from?

Why Superman, of course.

Still rebuilding from the previous encounter with Brainiac's ship, Superman is helping Cadmus dig out from the rubble when the chair suddenly appears. Barely do Superman, Dubbilex, and Guardian have time ponder it's arrival when Orion and Lightray come bursting through the wall.

With Motherbox as their guide, they're looking for Metron and are drawn here when his chair reappears. Superman explains that Brainiac is now in control of Warworld, and more than likely has Metron as his prisoner.

Ever the bastion of calmness and reason, Orion listens quietly and patiently as Superman and Dubbilex plan their next move.

Yeah, not so much. Barely do they hear about what has befallen Metron, and Orion and Lightray summon a boomtube to Warworld. As reckless and careless as their "plan" is, at least they're acting in character. If you can read the carryover dialogue box at the top of the panel from Superman, you can see that his great plan for defeating Warworld is to see how Orion and Lightray fare first.

Real heroic there, Superman.

So yeah, Orion and Lightray begin to lay waste to Warworld when they are stopped dead in their tracks by Supergirl and Maxima. Under Brainiac's control, and with the power of Warworld behind them, the two powerhouse heroines quickly subdue both of the new gods. Brainiac then begins to taunt Superman with another psychic attack. This time, using the image of his defeated friends to taunt him, Superman is driven to action once again.

Realizing that he needs to assemble his own strike force to take the battle to space, there's only one man who has the resources to get his team outfitted in time to intercept Warwold...Lex Luthor!

Sidebar time here...Not to derail things too much, but let's take a moment to appreciate the current state of the Superman books. Yeah, Superman may be well nigh unreadable, pandering to the lowest common denominator of ham-fisted emotional blackmail under the guidance of JMS...but at least we have Paul Cornell's awesome Lex Luthor in the pages of Action Comics. Back when I first started reading the Superman books, this was my Lex Luthor.

That's right...he was a bearded, well coiffed, philanthropist Australian clone of the original Lex Luthor. G'day indeed.

Being the good "mate" that he is, Luthor agrees to help and Superman begins assembling his team. First on his list?

Deathstroke The Terminator!

It's actually not as crazy as it sounds, for back in this time period Deathstroke had his own title and was played as more of a reluctant anti-hero rather than out-and-out psychotic villain. Still, I might have given Batman a call first. At least give him the first right of refusal.

Next up on the recruitment drive are two of the JLA heavy-hitters in Wonder Woman and Aquaman.

Although I'm not even sure that Luthor is going to be prepared enough to have two dolphin sized space-suits for Aquaman's friends. One maybe, but two? That's seriously pushing my suspension of disbelief.

After a few more pages Superman has most of his team assembled, which you can see pictured over here in all of their glory.

Proving that he will not be outsmarted, Brainiac strikes again before Superman's team has time to formulate a plan of attack. Waiting underneath the waves of Metropolis harbor, Brainiac's skull ship ambushes Aquaman as he swims into town for the big meet-up. Ensnaring him in tentacles (which I'm sure Aquaman has never had any experience with avoiding in all of his time underwater amongst the cephalopods of the deep), Brainiac's ship rises to the surface ready to lay waste to the rest of the assembled heroes.


First and foremost? Never decide to take a week off of posting on your blog, as a week turns to two, which turns to three, and before you know it two months have gone by.

As for what did we learn from this issue? Let's start with a reminder to not let Superman organize your next outer space strike force, as he's got an odd sense of which heroes work well in that environment.

Secondly, Dan Jurgens had been on Superman proper for a little under a year so far by this point, but he's already hit his stride and is defining the look of Superman that would dominate much of the 90's. I have a real soft spot for Dan and Superman, so I can't be sure that my opinions aren't overly biased, but reading through this issue makes me want to grab my Death and Return of Superman Omnibus off the bookshelf and start reading. Seeing as how I'm supposed to be getting this blog back on track, I'll leave the 800 page tome alone for now.

I've mentioned it previously here and here, but Deathstroke had one of the under-rated series of the early 90's, so it was a real treat seeing Dan's rendition of the character pop up in this issue.

Finally, Brainiac is one of my favorite Superman villains, so any story with him in any of his incarnations (yes, even the sideshow mentalist Milton Fine version) is a winner for me.

So to recap...there's too many things I like about this book that are completely subjective. Your mileage may very.

All characters and artwork reproduced are (c) DC Comics.

Related links for your surfing pleasure...
  • You can find a nice recap of the entire Panic In The Sky storyline here.