About Me

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I'm the co-host of THIS IS ROCK 'N' ROLL RADIO with Dana & Carl (Sunday nights, 9 to Midnight Eastern, www.westcottradio.org).  As a freelance writer, I contributed to Goldmine magazine from 1986-2006, wrote liner notes for Rhino Records' compilation CD Poptopia!  Power Pop Classics Of The '90s, and for releases by The Flashcubes, The Finkers, Screen Test, 1.4.5., and Jack "Penetrator" Lipton.  I contributed to the books Bubblegum Music Is The Naked Truth, Shake Some Action, Lost In The Grooves, and MusicHound Rock, and to DISCoveries, Amazing Heroes, The Comics Buyer's Guide, Yeah Yeah Yeah, Comics Collector, The Buffalo News, and The Syracuse New Times.  I also wrote the liner notes for the four THIS IS ROCK 'N' ROLL RADIO compilation CDs, because, well, who could stop me?  My standing offer to write liner notes for a Bay City Rollers compilation has remained criminally ignored.  Still intend to write and sell a Batman story someday.

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

More Comics: ALL IN COLOR FOR 30 TO 40 DIMES! (Occasionally 50 or 60 Dimes....)

Figuring that this blog's comics coverage has been disproportionately fixated on the four-color funny books of days gone by, yesterday's exciting episode of Boppin' (Like The Hip Folks Do) cast its dim widdle spotlight on Captain Kid and Archie Meets Ramones, two forthcoming comics that I'm awaiting with great, gleeful anticipation.  Today, let's have a quick look at some really good current comics, and some cool comics of the recent past.

I mentioned in passing that the ongoing Archie series is one of my favorites.  Reboots don't always work, but this Mark Waid-written book presents a seemingly effortless--but intricately crafted--update on the familiar shenanigans of Archie and his gang in Riverdale. I also enjoy (albeit to a slightly lesser degree) the rebooted Jughead, and have been patiently awaiting the appearance of more books in this new Archie universe.

That wait ended today with the publication of Betty & Veronica# 1, and I may like this one even more than the regular Archie title.  Writer-artist Adam Hughes strikes just the right tone, the right balance of classic Archie and more modern comics melodrama.  The artwork is gorgeous--which means Betty, Veronica, and especially Midge are especially gorgeous--and the script serves up the perfect, irresistible mix of humor and soap opera.  I can't wait to read Betty & Veronica # 2.


DC Comics recently licensed the Hanna-Barbera cartoon characters for their own new rebooted line of comics.  A few of them seemed so ill-conceived that I didn't even bother to try 'em out:  there may be a market for a post-apocalyptic Wacky Races, or a version of Scooby-Doo with a hipster-looking Shaggy, but I am not among the demographic. I did try The Flintstones--which has kinda been recast as Stone Age Mad Men, believe it or not--but didn't care for it.

The only HB reboot title I was looking forward to reading was Future Quest, written by Jeff Parker and drawn in part by Evan Shaner.  Parker and Shaner previously teamed on a two-part Shazam! mini that was my favorite pair of comic books in 2015.  Now, they're applying their considerable magic to a book that gathers the characters from the Hanna-Barbera adventure 'toons, led by the unforgettable characters from Jonny Quest.  Man, is this ever a fun book.  My inner child circa 1966-67 is thrilled by the notion of a book teaming Jonny Quest and company with Space Ghost, Birdman, The Herculoids, and The Galaxy Trio, with Frankenstein, Jr., The Impossibles and Mightor all waiting in the wings.  My theoretically mature adult outer shell is just as giddy, cuz this book rocks.  We even get to see artist Steve Rude give us his guest rendition of Birdman--life is good!  I haven't yet completed the Saturday morning TV cartoon connection of reading this comic while eating a big ol' bowl of Sugar-Frosted Chocolate Sumpins, but that is the only thing missing so far.

Speaking of DC Comics: I guess they missed me, cuz they've been trying to lure me back into the fold.  I've been primarily a DC fan for most of my fifty years as a comics devotee, but I had felt increasingly disenfranchised by the company's lack of interest and investment in its own legacy, and its inept inability to retain my interest and avoid just pissing me off.  I started dropping DC titles, one by one, and I even stopped reading any/all of the in-continuity Batman books.  I started buying more and more Marvels, which I was generally finding to be more engaging than the DCs.

And then:  DC Universe: Rebirth!

DC's latest attempt to clean house and reset has been a breath of fresh air.  The single-issue DC Universe:  Rebirth # 1 served as an intriguing ground zero for the project, with The Flash taking point as the project's ongoing focal point.  Prior to Rebirth, my DC Universe series purchases were down to just Aquaman and two Justice League books, and one of those JLA titles would have been next on the chopping block. But Rebirth has re-engaged me with the DCU--hey, Batman doesn't seem to be a dick any more!--and has prompted me to add The Flash, Batman, Detective Comics, Superman, Action Comics, Green Arrow, Nightwing, and Wonder Woman to my subscription list at Comix Zone. Wonder Woman (written by Greg Rucka) has been the most pleasant individual surprise, but the whole thing's been a pleasant surprise, really.  It's so good to be a DC fan again!

Um...yeah.  One of the four images seen above is a fake.

(There were two DC titles outside of the DC Universe that I kept on buying even though my Great DC Purge:  the wonderful Vertigo book Astro City, and the Batman '66 franchise, which reprises the campy universe of the mid-'60s Batman TV show.  The regular Batman '66 series has been cancelled, but survives and thrives in a series of team-up mini-series, such as the recently-completed Batman '66 Meets The Man From U.N.C.L.E., and the current Batman '66 Meets Steed And Mrs. Peel.  If they don't get around to Batman '66 Meets The Monkees, I may haveta write it myself.)

But Marvel's not gonna let me go without a fight; let's face it, fights are what superhero comics do best!  I've had to cut back a little on my Marvel purchases so's I can afford all those additional DCs on my meager blogger's budget--we bid teary farewells to Black Widow, Sam Wilson: Captain America, Howard the Duck, Unbeatable Squirrel-Girl, Scarlet Witch, and Patsy Walker aka Hellcat--but I'm still more engaged with Marvel than I've been in...well, maybe ever.  Marvel's current Civil War II event has been fantastic, and I continue to dig Invincible Iron Man, International Iron Man, Amazing Spider-Man, Captain Marvel, Ms. Marvel, All-New All-Different Avengers, Astonishing Ant-Man, Doctor Strange, The Mighty Thor, and Mockingbird.  I've also been delighting in Marvel's Star Wars and Darth Vader books.

Hey, licensed titles!  Dark Horse has been...um, slaying with Buffy The Vampire Slayer Season 10, and Dynamite just finished up a rousing series starring Will Eisner's The Spirit.  I've also been picking up Dynamite's Lone Ranger Green Hornet and The Shadow:  The Death Of Margo Lane, but I've not yet decided whether to continue with them.

And that's a snapshot of my current comics buying habits.  Within the past year, I've gone from wondering why the comics industry seemed to have so little interest in retaining middle-aged fans, to just geeking out afresh over the bounty of cool comics available right now.  Face it, Tiger:  we've hit the jackpot!

Yeah. What MJ said!