Friday, November 17, 2017

Where Your Actions Bring You

Daredevil #28 (Marvel, December 2017, $3.99)
Having recently read a batch of older Daredevil back issues, let's see where the current series is—and how it compares to 40-plus years ago. This issue, written by Charles Soule, opens with Daredevil in China, where his soul has just been given to the Beast, which now owns Daredevil and finds him a "great enemy" of the Hand.

Ron Garney's artwork reminds me of John Romita, Jr., and Frank Miller's runs on the titles, and some of the panels and pages—including the borderless p. 4—are quite delightful. Despite his mother's philosophy ("Whatever you do does not matter, because the moment you do it, it is the past. All that matters is where your actions bring you.") the potential traitor Sam Chung—Blindspot—returns to rescue Daredevil, as does his mother Lu Wei. The end scene's commentary on immigration to the United States and political developments in New York City are timely and will lead to some interesting future story arcs.

The comic is worth reading! The Beast and Tongue of the Beast remind me of Daredevil going up against Blackheart and Mephisto, as well as the Dire Wraiths—which, incidentally, inspired the creation of the battle suit worn by the Daredevil villain the Torpedo. The martial arts and philosophizing remind me of Master of Kung Fu—not a bad thing.

Availability: You can buy this issue online. The start of Soule's run on the book is collected in Daredevil: Back in Black Vol. 1: Chinatown.

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Where the Gold Came From

Classic Popeye #63 (IDW, October 2017, $4.99)
Published in conjunction with Yoe Books and King Features Syndicate, this issue reprints Popeye #63, originally published in January-February 1962. Written and drawn by Bud Sagendorf, the reprint includes the main, longer story, as well as shorter pieces, including a one-page text piece, "Plowman," but no other editorial or advertising.

Originally published by Dell, Sagendorf's on Popeye was a wonderful outgrowth of E.C. Segar's original work, and helped cement the character's popularity in the '60s and '70s. In the shorts, Popeye endangers Swee'Pea by moving a mattress, helps Swee'Pea go fishing on a rainy day, goes hitchhiking, and inspects a hole dug by Swee'Pea.

The two longer stories are also fun and enjoyable, though more based on adventure and less on simple gags. In "Haunted Island," Popeye, Olive Oyl, Swee'Pea, and Wimpy wash up on an island, where they encounter a mysterious ghost. They build a multi-level treehouse and receive a rent bill before meeting the island's inhabitant.

In "Yellow Rock!" Popeye helps Swee'Pea find gold in the desert, only to raise his—and Wimpy's—expectations unrealistically. When they realize where the gold came from, they are disappointed.

Even though the Sagendorf Popeye material is a sight for sore eyes, the Professor O.G. Wotasnozzle backup story is priceless. In order to avoid traffic on their way to enjoy a picnic lunch with Sappo, the professor shows off several new inventions—only to end up in a police van. I cannot believe that Wotasnozzle never had his own series!

Availability: You can buy this issue online. Previous issues of this reprint series have been collected in Popeye Classics Volume 1Popeye Classics: Moon Goon and more!Popeye Classics: Witch Whistle and more!, and other volumes.

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Dark Streets and Mysterious Science

Daredevil #70 (Marvel, November 1970, 15 cents)
"The Tribune" Presenter: Stan Lee, Story: Gary Friedrich, Illustrators: Gene Colan and Syd Shores, Letterer: Sam Rosen.

On Hollywood Boulevard, movie star Buck Ralston gives a political speech that takes patriotism to an extreme before suggesting that now actress Karen is a communist—and that he and his friends need to "get rid" of "pinko crumbs." Back in New York, Daredevil goes to a protest at the Hilton, where the vice president becomes the target of a bombing.

Ralston reveals himself as the Tribune, a "new kind of judge... to decide who's a good American... and who's a rotten red." He sentences a draft dodger to "the living death" just before Daredevil—back in New York—almost stops another bombing, which leads to a young passerby being falsely accused. The Tribune's comments to his gang suggest that the coast-hopping will end next issue when the two plot lines are expected to intersect.

All in all, a solid issue. In the letter column, Martin Pasko writes in to say that Marvel's dialogue is more natural than DC's, and that he supports multi-issue story arcs. Neat to see his letter of comment!

Daredevil #78 (Marvel, July 1971, 15 cents)
"The Horns of the Bull!" Editor: Stan Lee, Writer: Gerry Conway, Artist: Gene Colan, Inker: Tom Palmer, Letterer: Sam Rosen.

Matt Murdock continues to pine over actress Karen Page, now in her first movie, A Tender Affair. He answers a cry for help and saves a young couple from being abducted for "an experiment of some sort," "for guinea pigs." At least he does the first time!

This is quite an issue. Dark streets, mysterious science, the introduction of a new villain, relationship challenges with Foggy and Karen, and innocents in danger. Where will it go?

Monday, November 13, 2017

Ancient Walls and Cross-Corridors

Brothers of the Spear #10 (Gold Key, September 1974, 25 cents)
"The Deadly Maze" Pencils: Jesse Santos, Inks: Jesse Santos"

Mysterious magicians entertain King Dan-El and his queen Tavane, then try to kill her with a flower of mystery. Sihamba, the queen's maid and herb-doctoress grabs the flower and runs. It is poison!

While hunting for medicinal herbs, Sihamba is kidnaped by Nyanga Imopo, leader of the magicians. Dan-El and Natongo track him and his baboon-like creatures to ancient walls and cross-corridors, a deadly maze. They evade capture to rescue Sihamba.

Santos's artwork isn't that remarkable—a little scribbly and sketchy for my tastes—but the concept of the hunters maze trap is excellent. The leopard-skin disguises are also interesting, if underutilized in the issue (one panel?).

Not as good as Russ Manning's work, but a fun read nonetheless.

Availability: This issue was reprinted in Portuguese. Russ Manning's work on the title was collected in Brothers of the Spear Archives Volume 1.

Mash Notes and Making Out

Archie's Jokebook Magazine #74 (Archie, October 1963, 12 cents)
Almost like Short Attention Span Theater for Archie fans, this comic series focused on half-page and page-long gag comics featuring the entire gang of characters: Betty and Veronica, Archie, Jughead, Moose, and Mr. Lodge. Topics and themes included surfing, relationships, food, household chores, going out on dates, clothing, the cost of living, fidelity, slang, and golf.

The work is uncredited, so it's difficult for me to know who wrote and drew what. I particularly liked the art of "Champ Chump," "Utter Madness," "Decisions," "Car-Azy" (Harry Lucey?), "Weighty Problems," "Hip Shooters," and "Teen Talk"

Given the brief length of the gags, this is a frenetic, light read, over almost before you start.

Archie's Jokebook Magazine #97 (Archie, February 1966, 12 cents)
This issue's gag fodder includes bowling, telephone use, a student's workload (Rat Race Hal has potential as an ongoing character!), mash notes, alarm clocks, ice skating, golf, fashion, shopping, dating, making out, homework, toothpaste, mistletoe, and kissing.

There are fewer half-page gag strips in this issue, and even a two-page strip, but the overall sense is one of brevity and punchline humor. Uncredited art highlights include "Dress Mess," "The Grid Kid," "Date Wait," and "Girl Talk."

Availability: Older Jokebook gag material was collected in Archie's Joke Book Volume 1: A Celebration of Bob Montana Gags.

Betty's Misbehavior

Archie's Girls Betty and Veronica #147 (Archie, March 1968, 12 cents)
"Fair Play" Script: Frank Doyle, Pencils: Bob White and Dan DeCarlo, Inks: Rudy Lapick, Colors: Barry Grossman.
Veronica gets Betty in trouble at school several times, for ruining a fresh coat of plaster and for shrieking in the halls. After Miss Grundy informs Mr. Weatherbee that Betty's misbehavior is caused by her interest in Archie, rather than separate them, they team them up to help out at a children's fair. Veronica tricks Betty—and Archie, too, this time—so Veronica and Reggie can work at the fair instead. The assignment isn't what Veronica expected.

"Li'l Jinx: A Toast Boast!" Script: Joe Edwards, Pencils: Joe Edwards, Inks: Joe Edwards, Colors: Barry Grossman, Letters: Joe Edwards.
Li'l Jinx makes a heck of a lot of toast.

"Plain Folks" Script: Dick Malmgren, Pencils: Dan DeCarlo, Inks: Rudy Lapick, Colors: Barry Grossman, Letters: Bill Yoshida,
Mr. Lodge is running for city council. He arranges for some television people to produce a show about him and his family's home "to show the people how we really are in everyday life." Betty and Veronica decide to dress up, overly formal for "taking out the garbage" and coming over "to borrow a cup of sugar." (Incomplete story due to missing pages.)

"The Healers" Script: Frank Doyle, Pencils: Dan DeCarlo, Inks: Rudy Lapick, Colors: Barry Grossman, Letters: Bill Yoshida.
(Incomplete story due to missing pages.) Betty and Veronica are working in the Lodge Enterprises Infirmary, but not very well. They gas a doctor, dump a patient down a laundry chute, and wreak havoc in the halls with a wheelchair. In the end, the doctor agrees with Mr. Lodge that most of the patients were goldbricks and phonies who are better off on the job than in the clinic.

"The Knack" Script: Frank Doyle, Pencils: Dan DeCarlo, Colors: Barry Grossman, Letters: Bill Yoshida.
Veronica tricks Archie into chasing after Betty, who's afraid of someone mysterious chasing her. Moose punches Reggie.

This issue also featured a pin-up, an advice column, and several great ads, including promotions for the Davy Jones Fan Club, hair extensions, a Man from Uncle spy pen, and big-eye go-go dancer wall decals.

Availability: "Fair Play" was reprinted in Laugh Comics Digest #17 (July 1978). More than 400 pages of Betty and Veronica stories over 70 years have been collected in The Best of Betty and Veronica Book Two.

Archie, Pay Attention to Me

Archie's Girls Betty and Veronica #125 (Archie, May 1966, 12 cents)
"Snow Fun" Script: Frank Doyle, Pencils: Dan DeCarlo, Inks: Rudy Lapick, Letters: Bill Yoshida.
Veronica Lodge gets irritated when Archie Andrews, Betty Cooper, Moose, Reggie Mantle, Jughead Jones, Midge, her father and butler, even Dilton Doily engage in wintertime snowball fights. "What a childishly immature thing to do! ... I love maturity!" In the end, her anger gets the better of her.

"Redskin Revenge" Script: Frank Doyle, Pencils: Dan DeCarlo, Inks: Rudy Lapick, Letters: Bill Yoshida.
Veronica accidentally spills lemonade on Betty's dress before a date with Archie. She lends her another dress, but it tears on a small tree. Six children playing as Native Americans enlist Betty as their squaw. (Incomplete story due to missing pages.)

"Just My Size" Script: Jim Ruth, Pencils: Dan DeCarlo, Inks: Rudy Lapick, Letters: Bill Yoshida.
(Incomplete story due to missing pages.) Hunting with Archie and Jughead, Betty ventures into a bush to shoot a bear. It frightens them, and they run away. Betty's ears are cold in the car.

"Li'l Jinx: Spell 'n' Tell" Script: Joe Edwards, Pencils: Joe Edwards, Inks: Joe Edwards, Letters: Joe Edwards.
Lil' Jinx isn't able to read yet but spells words to her father as she—he—reads.

"Pony Tail Tale" Pencils: Dan DeCarlo, Inks: Rudy Lapick, Letters: Bill Yoshida.
Why does Betty wear a pony tail? "I remember that one day I saw Archie fooling with a girl that had a pony tail! So naturally I thought that if I had a pony tail Archie would pay some attention to me." As it gets longer, her pony tail becomes more unmanageable, hitting Archie in the face, tripping pedestrians, even lassoing Archie (similar to "Muffled Madness" in Archie #164).

This comic, while ostensibly focusing on Betty and Veronica specifically, isn't that different than an issue of Archie from the same time period. Case in point, Archie #164; every story in that issue features Betty and Veronica. This issue of Betty and Veronica also includes two pin-ups and a Statement of Ownership, which claims a print run for the September 1965 issue of ~650,000 copies, ~441,000 paid circulation.

Availability: More than 400 pages of Betty and Veronica stories over 70 years have been collected in The Best of Archie Comics Starring Betty & Veronica.

Good Girl Art and Square-Jawed Competence

Archie #164 (Archie, June 1966, 12 cents)
"Bells Are Ringing" Script: Frank Doyle, Pencils: Harry Lucey, Inks: Mario Acquaviva, Letters: Mario Acquaviva.
Archie offers to fix a short in the Lodge family doorbell for Veronica, who is not pleased that he is distracted from "our date fun and games." Mr. Lodge returns home and gets his finger stuck. Soon, everything is ringing.

"What Price Archie?" Script: Frank Doyle, Pencils: Harry Lucey, Inks: Mario Acquaviva, Letters: Mario Acquaviva.
Employees of the Acme Protective Service pick Archie up to have tea with Veronica. Upset that she would would act like she owns him, Archie storms off. Veronica then tries to show that everyone—even Archie—has a price. She succeeds, and he goes fishing on her yacht at sunset while Betty stews on shore.

"Muffled Madness" Script: Frank Doyle, Pencils: Harry Lucey, Inks: Mario Acquaviva, Letters: Mario Acquaviva.
Veronica makes Archie a scarf, and it is very large. Archie accidentally chokes and trips the principal, Mr. Weatherbee, with it, as well as Miss Grundy. Archie and Betty use it to escape out a window.

"Li'l Jinx: Speed Up" Script: Joe Edwards, Pencils: Joe Edwards, Inks: Joe Edwards, Letters: Joe Edwards.
Li'l Jinx helps her father paint a banister more quickly, surprising him.

"The Bouncer" Pencils: Harry Lucey, Inks: Marty Epp.
Reggie tricks Archie with two rubber balls.

Early Archie artwork borders on good girl art! When I was younger, I didn't realize how prominent Betty and Veronica's breasts, hips, and rumps were, or the dominant role that clothing and fashion played in what I considered simple, silly humor comics. In this issue, Veronica is absolutely beautiful—like a cartoony Barbara Steele—and of the two artist pairings, I prefer Marty Epps's inking of Harry Lucey's pencils. His Reggie is wonderful!

I was also struck by the square-jawed competence of Lucey's men: Veronica's father, the clerk at the sporting goods store. The humor—despite the occasional ill intent of Veronica and Reggie—is gentle and loving, and the periodic canoodling between Archie and one of his girls is affectionate and innocent (p. 2 of "Muffler Madness").

This issue's Statement of Ownership indicates that the September 1965 issue had a press run of almost 1 million, with 585,000-plus of that in paid circulation. A subscription offer ad featured a free, all-weather raincoat as an incentive for new subscribers. Wonder how many children that pushed over the edge to subscribing!

Availability: Stories from this issue have been reprinted in digest comics several times. Some of the best Archie stories of this decade were collected in Archie Americana Series Best of the Sixties Vol. 1.

Thursday, November 09, 2017

A Solidly Serious Hero

Daredevil #28 (Marvel, May 1967, 12 cents)
"Thou Shalt Not Covet Thy Neighbor's Planet!" Writer: Stan Lee, Artist: Gene Colan, Inker: Dick Ayers, Letterer: Sam Rosen.

When Matt Murdock's identity as Daredevil is compromised in the previous issue, the best he could come up with at the time was that he's not really Matt, but Matt's brother Mike, a bit of a goofball who is, in fact and all actuality, Daredevil. But not Matt. Um... OK.

Murdock maintains the ruse to throw off Karen Page and Foggy Nelson, who is strongly crushing on Karen. Then he continues to Carter College, where the attorney is scheduled to lecture on the possible legal rights of aliens, should there turn out to be UFOs. Professor Tom Brewster, who contends he's previously encountered aliens, does so again—attracting the attention of Daredevil.

As goofy as the Matt/Mike aspect is, the alien threat is very real, and they plan to steal the sight of everyone on the planet. Luckily, Daredevil's already blind. Kind of a strange, "monster of the week" issue, but enjoyable all the same.

Read Also: Daredevil #27

Daredevil #29 (Marvel, June 1967, 12 cents)
"Unmasked!" Writer: Stan Lee, Artist: Gene Colan, Inker: J. Tartaglione, Letterer: Sam Rosen.

Murdock intends to propose to Karen—but can't decide whether to do so as Matt or the erstwhile Mike. (Just how long does this dual identity play out?) The Boss assumes leadership of the mob formerly led by the Marauder—which then kidnaps Karen.

I am confused why Daredevil arrives pretending to be Murdock pretending to be Daredevil, before escaping only to return and fight both gangs as Daredevil proper. The whole forced dual identity thing is just too goofy. There's a sketchbook-like page that comments on consciously deciding not to include sound effects and thought balloons, a Stan Lee cameo, and a crazy Not Brand Ecch-like panel: "Snap! Snap! Va-Voom! I feel as giddy as a guppy in a goblet!"

Daredevil as comedian? Hmm...

Wednesday, November 08, 2017

Comics Culture Clash!

U.S.Avengers #11 (Marvel, December 2017, $3.99)
I don't usually read this comic book, but I was intrigued by the cover, which portrays former New Mutant Cannonball in an Archie Comics-like setting. Talk about comics culture clash!

Apparently taken prisoner by someone somehow, Cannonball finds himself in Glenbrook with a new career in eduction, teaching residents as a "100% real Earth-grown American human." Ritchie Redwood, also known as "your majesty," is Glenbrook's Archie Andrews. Paco Diaz's Redwood is more inspired by the recent Archie TV show than older comics, but the idea is still fun. That said, I kind of wish the interior art had been more inspired by Dan DeCarlo, like the cover.

The U.S.Avengers locate Cannonball and mount a rescue mission but are attacked by... Little Rico and his mob goons driving antique automobiles that can fly through space? Now it all makes sense. If these are the Skrulls of Kral IV, first seen in Fantastic Four #91, then perhaps Glenbrook is a Skrull enclave, too?

What a fun idea. However, as cool as the concept is—kudos, Al Ewing—I have been trying (and not that hard!) to not read comics featuring Squirrel Girl. Chtt chut! As part of the Legacy event, this comic also includes a Marvel Value Stamp, as well as a three-page backup story by Robbie Thompson and Daniel Acunas, whose artwork is awesome.

Availability: You can buy this issue online from Marvel. U.S.Avengers Vol. 1: American Intelligence Mechanics collects U.S.Avengers #1-6. U.S.Avengers Vol. 2: Cannonball Run, expected in February 2018, will collect #7-12—including this issue. Fantastic Four #91 was reprinted in The Fantastic Four Omnibus Volume 3.

Tuesday, November 07, 2017

Concerned Citizens

The Shadow Vol. 3 #3 (Dynamite, 2017, $3.99)
While searching for Myra Reldon, Mary Jerez finds herself in a bad neighborhood where she is hassled by a group of racist hoodlums dressed in the garb of the Shadow. "Stick on a hat and a cloak—get out there and tidy up the neighborhood." Then a group of older residents intervenes, concerned citizens.

Mary then returns to the hospital, where she injects the mysterious burn victim with epinephrine. A flashback to 1944 suggests that the concerned citizens might be supporters of the Shadow, "older than we look."

Si Spurrier and Dan Watters's writing does justice to the long-running pulp character as a franchise, and I'm curious where this burn victim in the modern day plot line will go. Daniel HDR's artwork is adequate, if not overly representational. I picked up on some style in the flashback sequence, but not much otherwise.

If you are a fan of the Shadow, chances are you'll enjoy this comic.

Availability: You can order this issue directly from Dynamite. Previous volumes have been collected, such as The Shadow, Vol. 1: The Fires Of Creation.

Monday, November 06, 2017

Whack and Wallop

Grrl Scouts: Magic Socks #5 (Image, September 2017, $3.99)
Jim Mahfood's frenetic adventure series is absolutely fascinating visually. His artwork is a combination of Jamie Hewlett, Evan Dorkin, David Choe, Ralph Steadman (look for the Hunter S. Thompson appearance in this issue), graffiti, and anime stylings. The writing, at times, is funny, but more often than not, the comic's plot-driven dialogue, jokes, and commentary don't do much on their own beyond explaining what's happening in the artwork (which can be necessary) or advancing the plot. Mahfood's writing isn't literature, but his artwork is: pop culture-infused fine art to the extreme. A lot of fun, and sometimes substance.

In this issue, the Grrl Scouts are being accosted by followers of Josie Sanchez, who desires the titular magic socks, which seem to be locked up somewhere. The gathered masses use their mobile phones to whack and wallop the Scouts. Daphne Sanchez finds herself elsewhere, revisiting bad actions of her past, experiencing rare remorse, and seeking the aid of Mictlantecuhtli. The story arc should be resolved in the next issue.

While Mahfood's page design can be jagged occasionally, the lack of a general page borders and full color bleed works really well visually. The storyline with Daphne is adequately set off from that of Josie with a different palette entirely, and it is clear that Mahfood appreciates the female form.

The letter column is mostly composed of correspondence from people who met Mahfood at a convention, and who smoke pot. Folks also send in their fan art, which is fun to see. Mahfood's soundtrack for this issue included the Dead Kennedys, Danzig, Madlib, the Minutemen, and Van Halen. Man, I love back matter like that!

Availability: Mahfood's previous Grrl Scouts comics have been collected in Grrl Scouts Volume 1 and Grrl Scouts Volume 2: Work Sucks.

Friday, November 03, 2017

A Love of the Fun of Comics

The Charlton Arrow Vol. 2 #1 (Charlton Neo, 2017, $7.99)
When I was younger, before I really became interested in the Marvel superhero and wave of independent comics of the '80s, the province of younger comics readers was Harvey, Whitman/Gold Key, Archie, or Charlton—as well as the Modern reprints. Harvey and Archie trafficked in cartoony child and teen fare like Richie Rich and, well, Archie. Whitman and Gold Key published a hodgepodge of licensed comic strip and TV comics. And Charlton was weird! Haunted, Doctor Graves, E-Man, and a wide array of other genre comics of all kinds. E-Man became one of my favorite '80s indies at First Comics and later Comico, both much, much missed.

So a new Charlton anthology book helmed by Mort Todd, former editor in chief of Cracked magazine; featuring new E-Man material by Nicola Cuti and Joe Staton; and co-published by AC Comics, publisher of public domain reprint editions such as Crypt of Horror and Men of Mystery? Worthy of a read, for sure.

While not necessarily entirely the Charlton I knew given the titles I read and limited exposure to previous Charlton anthology books such as Charlton Bullseye, the Arrow is a fun and playful comic offering much promise. The new E-Man material, which drew me in, is very well done, written by Cuti and drawn by Staton. Michael Mauser—once featured in his own comic, as well as a joint with Ms. Tree—gets married, and E-Man and Nova Kane travel to Hawleyville, where Nova makes amends with her sister, who works for Samuel Boar. Nothing good will come of that!

Other stories feature Paul Kupperberg's Colonel Whiteshroud, Monster Hunter; Roger McKenzie and Steven Butler's Ditko-esque Mr. Mixit; Kupperberg's Edison Corliss's Industrual Steam and Ironworks; and McKenzie's Frank Miller-hued Dead Reckoning. The comics remind me of Chris Ecker and the Big Bang Comics a little—more the self-publishing aspect (Megaton, Ramm, etc.) than the retro superhero homage. There's a solid group of friends and like-minded creators involved in this project. The love—and fun—shows.

My one criticism of the comic might be that the heavier stock glossy paper and bright color palette makes for an occasionally glaring read. Matte paper and a softer, more nuanced palette might be easier on the eyes—at least mine—and perhaps still hew true to the title's precursors.

Availability: For this issue, check your local comic shop. Nurses, Monsters and Hotrodders #1: Charlton Comics Silver Age Classic Cover Gallery is also available, as are issues from the first volume: #1, #2, #3, #4, #5, and #6Charlton Arrow Vol. 1 is also available online via Comixology.

Thursday, November 02, 2017

A Beauty to Behold

The Dirty Duck Book #1 (Cocoanut Comix, 1971, 50 cents)
Bobby London did the whole thing, and this black-and-white beauty is a doozy. London, whose Dirty Duck comic strips later appeared in National Lampoon and Playboy magazines, has a very fine ink line, and his early comics—though underground and countercultural in nature—are highly influenced by George Herriman's Krazy Kat, and perhaps E.C. Segar's Popeye. (Interestingly, London actually did the Popeye comic strip in the '80s.) The original art must be a beauty to behold.

Incorporating impressionistic backgrounds and settings a la Herriman, Dirty Duck makes his way through London's world—going to see the Grateful Dead, accidentally injuring a police officer, recognizing famine, hiding from the law (a glorious page perhaps inspired by the Keystone Cops), wrecking a car, seeking privacy, wooing a dowager, and playing croquet.

The comic is somewhat text heavy—though not text dense—and you can read it at multiple levels. I'll have to return to reread the comic to further explore the text as text, As wonderfully and artistically drawn as the comic is—downright elegant for the undergrounds—there's more going on than can be seen on the surface.

Given that this was drawn in the early '70s, I'm wondering what comic strip reprints were available at the time. London was clearly well versed in the the visual language of the early art form, as well as on contemporary undergrounds.

Availability: An IDW/Top Shelf Dirty Duck collection is scheduled for July 2018. London's Popeye work has been collected in Popeye: The Classic Newspaper Comics by Bobby London Volume 1 (1986-1989) and Popeye: The Classic Newspaper Comics by Bobby London Volume 2 (1989-1992).

Wednesday, November 01, 2017

Far from a Romance

Night Nurse #1 (Marvel, July 2015, $7.99)
Writers: Jean Thomas, Linda Fite, and Brian Michael Bendis; Artists: Winslow Mortimer and Alex Maleev; Colorists: George Roussos, Andrea Hunt, and Dave Stewart; Letterers: John Costanza, Charlotte Jetter, and VC's Randy Gentile; Assistant Editor: Cory Sedlmeier; Editors: Roy Thomas and Axel Alonso; Cover Artist: Siya Oum.

I can almost hardly believe that this series was originally published. By the time Marvel published the original Night Nurse series in 1972-1973, most publishers no longer published romance or "women's" comics. (I qualify that term because women can make and read any kind of comic, even if publishers have long tried to market specific kinds of comics to women.) Even in the early '70s, Night Nurse was an anomaly and far from a romance or teen drama comic. This wonderful budget reprint volume collects #1-4 of the original series, as well as a 2006 appearance in Daredevil Vol. 2, #80 (whole number #460) that contains a Night Nurse cameo and establishes her in the Marvel Knights neighborhood of the Marvel Universe.

The original four-issue series brings together three young student nurses: a wealthy redhead estranged from her father, an inner-city African-American woman, and a comparatively unremarkable blonde. As roommates, their backgrounds couldn't be much more different, but their shared experiences in nursing classes end up bringing them together as friends.

Each issue focuses on a challenge the new friends need to overcome, alone or together. Political radicals plan to bomb the hospital to protest rolling brown outs in poor sections of the city. An addict surgeon tries to cover up a death caused by his negligence—while romancing one of the students. An injured mafia kingpin becomes a target while under care at the hospital. And at a remote mansion, an invalid poses a threat to a visiting nurse.

Night Nurse is more similar to the horror and mystery comics of the '70s than earlier "women-oriented" comics such as the romance comics, teen comics like Archie, or even Marvel's Patsy Walker and related comics. Winslow Mortimer's artwork is realistic and dramatic—suitable for a dark action comic. The comic could have even inspired a TV show at the time; think Emergency! meets The Incredible Hulk.

The 2006 cameo in Daredevil recontextualizes Night Nurse from its student nurse origins to a character in the mainstream Marvel Universe treating injured superheroes in the deep, desperate dark of night. In that issue, she tends to Daredevil's wounds while Elektra, the Black Widow, Iron Fist, and Power Man take on the Hand. The recontextualization works, and she could easily find a new place in comics today. This volume is an excellent book ending of the old and the new.

Availability: Night Nurse #1 is available as a back issue.

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Putting Together the Pieces

Jessica Jones: Alias Vol. 2 (Marvel, 2015, $19.99)
Vol. 1 of the collected Alias was good enough that I saw fit to pick up the second volume in rather short order. This volume collects #11-15, originally published as part of Marvel's Max comics line in 2002-2003 and featuring writing by Brian Michael Bendis, art by Michael Gaydos, covers and additional art by David Mack, and additional art by Mark Bagley and Rodney Ramos.

Jones travels to Lago, New York, to investigate a missing persons case. The dialogue pacing and wordless storyboard-like panel sequences are TV ready, and it is the pacing and weight of the comic that makes this such an enjoyable read. Jones, over the course of the arc, solves a mystery—something we don't often see in mainstream comics. She interviews suspects and witnesses. She discovers clues. And she puts together the pieces... all while living a relatively flawed and challenging life at the same time.

The anti-mutant bigotry that plays a role in this arc—and was alluded to in the previous volume—is particularly relevant given the current climate of insensitivity and less-than-veiled hatred of the other, be it related to race, religion, gender identity, or sexual preference.

I don't know what the rest of the Max comics line was like—I've always thought it was grittier Daredevil and Punisher comics—but if they're anything like Alias, it's good stuff. Maybe even like the newer Hard Case Crime comics such as Normandy Gold, only with occasional panties and capes.

Availability: Jessica Jones: Alias Vol. 2 is currently available.

Monday, October 30, 2017

Soldiers Are Never Alone

Bloodshot's Day Off #1 (Valiant, July 2017, $3.99)
I've never read many Valiant comics but remember when the line was first introduced in 1989. I've been intrigued by the universe and characters but never really explored them until recently, with the recent renaissance of titles.

I'm sure this one shot and lead in to the forthcoming Bloodshot Salvation series (this issue includes a five-page sneak preview) isn't your usual Bloodshot comic, but it is a fun read all the same.

Bloodshot is a kind of near-invincible super soldier. There's more than one, and they're drawn from different eras, despite their similar appearance. Tank Man, for example, comes from World War II, while Viet Man was created during... you guessed it!

This one shot's gambit is that the two fore-named Bloodshots are both given furlough days. Despite their different background and experiences, they end up spending their days in very similar ways: revisiting the past of their families, tying off loose ends, and in the end, remembering that soldiers are never alone.

It's a worthy sentiment, and Eliot Rahal's writing and Khari Evans's artwork carry the message well. Similarly, the sneak preview written by Jeff Lemire and drawn by Lewis LaRosa bodes well for the new series. Be sure to check it out—Valiant seems to be on the upswing.

Availability: You can order this online from Comixology. Bloodshot U.S.A. collects Lemire's previous Bloodshot series.

Friday, October 27, 2017

Space Pirates

The Black Sable #1 (Zenescope, September 2017, $3.99)
This was an impulse purchase. I haven't read any other Zenescope books such as Grimm Fairy Tales, Van Helsing, or Robyn Hood, but this space pirate series written by Joe Brusha and drawn by Sergio Arino attracted me with its dual-mooned, swashbuckling, scene-setting cover.

The story is pretty standard space adventure. Pirates led by the Black Sable, a female captain, vie for fortune in the space ways against the Corporation. After freeing some slaves and sending them home, the crew heads to the Oasis for some rest and relaxation. There, Sable meets Blake, an old lover and foil.

As a first issue, this edition largely establishes the framework for the series: the world and how it works, the main characters, and the various groups competing for fame and fortune in that setting. I'm not sure it'll hold my interest, but it was a solid introduction to the new series—and a good first exposure to this publishing company.

Availability: You can order this issue direct from Zenescope or online via Comixology.

A Cartoon Bombshell

Fritzi Ritz Comics #6 (United Feature Syndicate, 1949, 10 cents)
Fritzi Ritz is the beautiful and leggy aunt of Ernie Bushmiller's comic strip creation Nancy. This comic largely collects single-page gag strips (reformatted newspaper comics) featuring Fritzi, her boyfriend Phil Fumble, and other characters—with a center section of six one-page Abbie an' Slats strips by Raeburn Van Buren.

The humor focuses on Phil's affection for Fritzi and her attention from other suitors, Phil giving the eye to other gals, the giving of gifts, taking a long time to dress for a date, the need for exercise, and other gentle cleverness. One strip even includes a single-panel Nancy cameo.

Bushmiller's art and writing is just crackerjack. The jokes are loving and positive, and his artwork is great. While Nancy and Sluggo are simple and cartoony, his attention to Fritzi and the other good-girl characters in these strips is more attentive to detail, the fine line of various fashions, and the female form. Fritzi is kind of a cartoon bombshell.

The section of Abbie an' Slats is an excellent counterpoint. The strip is more of an adventure story, with more realistic artwork. Groggins heads to Boomistan to spend a found attic trove of "droopees," only to remember how he acquired them and realize he's not welcome in the country. It's a promising story—and a strip with which I was not familiar. Van Buren's art reminded me a little of Milton Caniff by way of Al Capp.

What a great comic this was. It was refreshing to see Fritzi away from Nancy—and strongly shows that comic strips can attract varying age groups—as well as support multiple levels of storylines.

Availability: While the Fritzi Ritz comic strip—which actually predated Nancy—is not currently in print, you might find back issues. Nancy comic strips are available in several volumes, including Nancy Is Happy: Complete Dailies 1943-1945 (Vol. 1)Nancy Likes Christmas: Complete Dailies 1946-1948 (Vol. 2), and Nancy Loves Sluggo: Complete Dailies 1949-1951. Ken Pierce Books's Abbie an' Slats reprint volume is still available.

Thursday, October 26, 2017

Learning to Cope

Black Hammer #10, 12 (Dark Horse, June and August 2017, $3.99)
Winner of the 2017 Eisner Award for Best New Series, Black Hammer is a wonderful comic written by Jeff Lemire and drawn by Dean Ormston or David Rubin. It's a slightly retro take on superheroes, somewhat in the style of Alan Moore, if not the tone. The general gist of the series is a group of superheroes is trapped in a pocket universe or dimension and learning how to cope with their new day-to-day existence, shades of a Twilight Zone episode.

Abraham Slam remembers an ill-fated new uniform back in his Spiral City days. His new girlfriend Tammy has a run in with her jealous ex-husband. Barbalien misinterprets a friend's intentions (or doesn't).

In #12, Black Hammer's daughter becomes old enough to be entrusted with access to her father's secret hideout. Rubin's artwork serves this flashback well, and I look forward to seeing how it ties into the rest of the story.

I'm not surprised this comic won the Eisner. Lemire is one of the better comics writers active today, and the characters in this series are just astounding. The back-and-forth storytelling showing the connections between past and present is quite effective. And the overall tone is one of memory and mystery—each issue eagerly awaited to see what happens next as the heroes lost in time and space try to return home... and conspire against each other so doing.

Availability: Black Hammer #10 will be reprinted in Black Hammer Volume 2: The Event, expected in January 2018. Otherwise, #10 and 12 are available online.

The Expected Return of the Green Goblin

Amazing Spider-Man #27, 29-32 (Marvel, July-November 2017, $3.99)
Over the course of my life as a comics reader—and some back issues in my collection suggest that I was reading comics at the age of 4—the Amazing Spider-Man has remained my favorite superhero, with this title perhaps my favorite superhero title. The current run has maintained my interest and preference, and some really interesting things continue to happen in the series.

Written by Dan Slott, with art by Stuart Immonen or Greg Smallwood and inks by Wade von Grawbadger or Smallwood, these issues feature covers by Alex Ross—a treat for this character and series. While some creative pairings handle Spider-Man in a cartoony and flip manner, this artistic team brings an excellent seriousness to the title.

Norman Osborn is back, aiding a revolution in Symkaria. Spider-Man is there with the Silver Sable and her new Wild Pack to protect the civilians and end the struggle. In several Secret Empire (which I've yet to read) tie-in issues, Spider-Man finds that Parker Industries has been infiltrated by Hydra, led by the returned Doctor Octopus, who actually engineered the rise and success of the company while the Superior Spider-Man.

Parker declines to give up his company and travels to Shanghai to seek assistance from the branch there, only to draw Doc Ock's attention again. How Spider-Man defeats Ock is quite surprising and delightful.

We end this review set with #32, a standalone transitional issue that moves us from the return of Norman Osborn toward the expected return of the Green Goblin. Smallwood's art is of a similarly serious stye as Immonen, lending a welcome darkness to this moody issue. Similar to Doctor Strange's origin story, Osborn looks for a way to return to the Goblin, traveling to the Temple with No Name. How Slott handled the issue's unfolding and revelations was very enjoyable. This was an excellent, excellent issue.

Availability: Amazing Spider-Man #27 was reprinted in Amazing Spider-Man: Worldwide Vol. 6.

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

The Value and Power of Monuments

All-Star Batman #9 (DC, 2017, $4.99)
I usually don't read this series, but a relatively recent issue reference in another Batman title inspired the completist in me to pick it up. With heavier cover stock, a higher cover price, and writing by Scott Snyder, and art and cover—an awesome cover!—by Jock, All-Star Batman is a prestige format comic that makes good on its promise.

Batman, the Blackhawks, and Ra's Al Ghul collide in our nation's capital. The combat between Al Ghul and Bruce Wayne with a bayoneted musket rifle is a clever use of old weaponry. Al Ghul's commentary on the metaphorical value and power of monuments, and his using the Washington Monument as a broadcast antenna are also innovative ideas.

This issue also features a backup story written by Snyder that features the art of Francesco Francavilla, Dynamite Comics's favorite Italian. The story serves as a lead in to Dark Days: The Forge.

Availability: All-Star Batman #9 was reprinted in All-Star Batman Vol. 2: Ends of the Earth.

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

The Worst of Human Nature

Action Comics #985-987 (DC, October-November 2017, $2.99-$3.99)
DC's issue numbers, just like Marvel's, have all gone to heck with the recent rash of reboots and renumbering (New 52, Rebirth, etc.). Not long ago, however, select titles—including Action Comics—have returned to their original numbering as they approach #1000. Personally, I think that's a good thing. Regardless of whether a publisher frequently reboots or renumbers, I encourage all publishers to keep track of and make explicit the ongoing whole number of a title. Or, be more honest about volume numbers and keep that apace with the reboots. Keeping track of titles based on year of reboot is confusing and unnecessary.

Written by Rob Williams (#985-986) and Dan Jurgens (#987) and drawn by Guillem March (#985-986) and Viktor Bogdanovic (#987), these three issues include parts of two story arcs: "Only Human" and "The Oz Effect." In "Only Human," around the world, people and animals are being controlled by the Machinist using technology appropriated from Lexcorp. The militarized elephants and tigers are a fun concept, as is the combat between a power-suited (Apokoliptan tech!) Lex Luther—under the thrall of the Machinist—and Supes.

#987, then, with its unnecessary lenticular cover—can we please stop with the lenticular covers?—apparently draws to a head an ongoing plot thread that I'm just now exposed to: Mr. Oz. Having missed the teasers and build up, I don't want to give too much away, so suffice to say that Mr. Oz is a mysterious costumed figure wielding a scythe of sorts who seems intent on drawing out the worst of human nature in an attempt to persuade Superman that the human race isn't worth protecting. This issue reveals who Mr. Oz actually is, and if you read any of the comics leading up to this, you might be shocked or surprised. Personally, I'm confused and intrigued, so I look forward to next issue's secret origin.

It's quite fun to see Hallie Bulleit, Bill Florio, Mikey Erg, and other members of the house band for The Chris Gethard Show in ads for the TruTV series. The faux vintage covers featuring Harley Quinn to celebrate 25 years of that character is nice work by Ryan Sook. But a crossover series featuring Harley Quinn and Poison Ivy meeting Archie Comics's Betty and Veronica? Whoah.

Availability: Action Comics #985, 986, and 987 have yet to be collected. (You can buy them online or as back issues, however.) Mr. Oz's appearance in DC Universe: Rebirth #1 has been collected in Rebirth Omnibus, Vol. 1.

Monday, October 23, 2017

Noir Gravity

Jessica Jones: Alias Vol. 1 (Marvel, 2015, $24.99)
I am just getting around to watching the now not-so-new-anymore Marvel shows on Netflix, starting with Jessica Jones. I'm starting with this program—rather than Daredevil or Luke Cagebecause, while it was the second series aired by Netflix, it was a character I wasn't familiar with; and because of the actress Krysten Ritter, whose role on Breaking Bad, while short-lived, was excellent.

After an episode or two of the series, I was intrigued enough to go to the comics, so here I am reading Jessica Jones: Alias Vol. 1, which collects #1-9 of Alias, originally published by Marvel as part of its Max Comics. Truth be told, this is also my first exposure to Max, which I initially avoided entirely because I didn't really need to read "mature" comics published by Marvel. (There are already plenty of mature comics already available!) And I didn't feel the need to explore the seamier side of Marvel's street-level heroes. Boy, did I miss out at the time!

Featuring writing by Brian Michael Bendis, art by Michael Gaydos, covers by David Mack (Kabuki!), and additional art by Bill Sienkiewicz, the comic series is more Max Allan Collins-like noir adventure than superhero fare, regardless of ones's previous heroism as Jewel and membership in the Avengers.

Having seen the show before reading the comic, I couldn't help but look for continuity parallels while reading. While it's clear that the series draws on the comics, its plot has already taken on a life of its own, which makes for better reading and viewing.

As a comic, the book holds together very well. The superhero cameos—even if merely in memento photographs or on TV—grounds the story in the Marvel Universe, and the mysteries Jones endeavors to solve often don't rely on her past superhero work. That said, the appearance of Matt Murdock as her attorney and Carol Danvers as her friend are pleasant character-development moments. Bendis's writing is excellent. Sections have the rapid-fire patter of the dialogue of a police procedural TV program, and the quieter, slower sequences have a thoughtfulness and weight to them that helps maintain the noir gravity of the book.

This is a serious comic. There are serious crimes, serious risk, serious violence, serious relationship issues, serious life problems—including Jones's alcoholism. Bendis's treatment of Jones's drinking is respectful and true to life. This isn't the slurring swagger of a bewhiskered Tony Stark, this is daily functional alcoholism. Jones drinks too much, makes bad decisions—including sleeping with the main character of another Netflix series—and carries the weight of her hangover to work the next day.

As the comic continues, hopefully we'll learn why she drinks so much—but for now, it's background noise and traveling music that only makes an already difficult life more difficult.

Availability: Jessica Jones: Alias Vol. 1 is currently available.

Friday, October 20, 2017

An All-New Direction

Namor, the Sub-Mariner #1 (Marvel, April 1990, $1)
"Purpose!" Written and drawn: John Byrne, Inked: Bob Wiacek, Colors: Glynis Oliver, Letters: Ken Lopez, Editor: Terry Kavanagh, Editor in Chief: Tom DeFalco.

Prince Namor the Sub-Mariner ranks among the earliest of the current Marvel superheroes, dating back to 1939 and Marvel Comics #1 (as well as an earlier free pamphlet distributed at movie theaters!). This series was "an all-new direction" for the character and pulled out all the stops with John Byrne writing and drawing.

Carrie Alexander and her father, Caleb, are somewhere in the South Pacific when they encounter Namor, thought to be dead—and unable to keep his thoughts straight. He interrupts some natives, a cargo cult, perhaps, before meeting the Alexanders, who take him to their boat and help him recover. In turn, he asks for their help starting an environmental protection organization. At the end of the issue, Desmond and Phoebe Marrs are introduced. Wealthy and dissolute business people, the siblings are sure to become foils as the series develops.

Byrne's writing and artwork is well done, and he draws a straight line to the character's history by recounting Namor's origin story. There are also blood rage-fueled cameos by Lady Dorma and Marrina. On the whole, a respectable reintroduction of a storied historic hero.

References: Fantastic Four Annual #1.

Namor, the Sub-Mariner #2 (Marvel, May 1990, $1)
"Eagle's Wing and Lion's Claw" Written and penciled: John Byrne, Inked: Bob Wiacek, Colored: Brad Vancata, Lettered: Ken Lopez, Edited: Terry Kavanagh, Editor in Chief: Tom DeFalco.

After the reintroduction of Namor in the previous issue, this edition is a bit of a letdown. A lot seems to have happened between issues, but not much actually happens in this issue.

Carrie is pensive about Namor's affection before the Griffin, "some kind of flying creature," abducts her. Namorita informs Namor, who uses the TV news and geometry to locate the kidnaped Carrie... at the Statue of Liberty of all places. The Griffin proves a formidable opponent. The Marrs siblings make an appearance, as does a mysterious, pale-skinned, bespectacled woman.

Regardless, the issue is predominantly chase and fight scene, an odd pacing choice so soon after #1.

Availability: Namor, the Sub-Mariner #1-2 are reprinted in Namor Visionaries—John Byrne, Vol. 1.

Men Sculpted into Monsters

Master of Kung Fu #110 (Marvel, March 1982, 60 cents)
"Perilous Reign" Script/Plot: Doug Moench, Pencils/Plot: Gene Day, Inker: Jack Abel, Letterer: Jim Novak, Colorist: C. Scheele, Editor: Ralph Macchio, Editor in Chief: Jim Shooter.

During a rain storm at Nayland Smith's Stormhaven Castle in England, Shang-Chi and Leiko Wu spar in more ways than one. Smith, Soviet defector Mia Lessing (the Dark Angel blurbed at the end of #106; #107-109 might contain her introductory story arc) discuss a new threat with Black Jack Tarr and Clive Reston. A Russian trained in the Chinese martial art style Naked Kill called the Ghost Maker plans to procure "a new and extremely deadly weapon" from a secret base in the Sussex moors. While Mia and Clive engage in some hanky panky, Shang-Chi, Leiko, and Black Jack aim to stop him.

This issue is dense in text; Moench's story expounds on balancing Eastern and Western philosophies, respecting your fully by fully engaging with them when you spend time together, the Ghost Maker's back story, as well as his motivations. But it works. It is exactly the right amount of tet.

Day's artwork and page design—inked by Jack Abel—accommodates the writing well. In addition to the dominant imagery, page anchors, and motion through panels noticed in previous issues, Day also employs book ending to position characters against each other. He also incorporates the yin-yang symbol to further represent duality, borders a panel in blood, and frames a panel in the word "danger." When it rains, it rains hard, and when things go vertical, you can feel the vertiginous heights. Quite innovative!

The lettercol "Missives to the Master" includes another letter from T.M. Maple, as well as a postal service statement of ownership. In September 1981, Marvel printed almost 250,000 copies of that given issue.

Master of Kung Fu #117 (Marvel, October 1982, 60 cents)
"Devil Deeds Done in Darkness" Scripter: Doug Moench, Penciler and Inker: Gene Day, Colorist: Christie Scheele, Letterer: Janice Chang, Editor: Ralph Macchio, Editor in Chief: Jim Shooter.

This issue is a doozy. Not only is Fu Manchu himself prominently featured, but Day's artwork really rocks. Highlights include a two-page spread of an M.C. Escher-like maze of stairs and statues, panels within a panel as Shang-Chi and Death-Dealer plummet in the flooding crypt, and an excellent page in which Shang-Chi navigates additional stairs and encounters three laboratory-spawned creatures, "men sculpted into monsters." Day also book ends a scene change on a two-page spread and throws in a fun ballet form as Dark Angel fights Shang-Chi.

The plot entails Shang-Chi escaping from his father with the help of hungry rats, the destruction of Clive Reston's home, and Nayland Smith's abduction. What a wonderful comic series. I am glad I finally actually read some issues! I will have to read more.

Availability: Master of Kung Fu #110 and #117 are reprinted in Shang-Chi: Master of Kung-Fu Omnibus Vol. 4.

Thursday, October 19, 2017

An Entire House of Assassins

Master of Kung Fu #105 (Marvel, October 1981, 50 cents)
"The Razor-Fist Connection" Writer: Doug Moench, Artist: Gene Day, Colors: C. Scheele, Letters: Jim Novak, Editors: Denny O'Neil and Jim Shooter.

The hero of the comic book is one Shang-Chi, son of Dr. Fu Manchu, and the series features supporting characters created by Sax Rohmer, who wrote 13 Fu Manchu novels between 1913 and 1959. This might be the first issue of this series that I've read despite having several in my collection. For some reason, I'd neglected it as a Bruce Lee knockoff and didn't know about the Rohmer connection. That connection is important. This title's pulp fiction lineage mught make it one of the longest-running tie-in or licensed comics, among Conan the BarbarianRom, and Star Wars.

The highlight of the issue is Gene Day's artwork. His line is quite fine; he can pack a lot into a panel without making it overly dense. But it is Day's sense of motion that impresses. Be it a person walking around another over the course of several panels, Shang-Chi jumping over a wall or his enemy Razor-Fist in combat, or Razor-Fist's blade slicing through air, Day's artwork is cinematic in style. He also knows how to anchor a page: the reflection of an anguished face, Pavane centered on an explosion, or Juliette sitting in a wicker (rattan?) chair. Day's figures move through the panels, and the panels move through the page.

As for story, Razor-Fist, working for the reportedly dead Carlton Velcro, search for Shen Kuei, Pavane, and Shang-Chi. He leaves Hong Kong for London, where he finds the latter two, as well as Leiko Wu. There are also parallel subplots detailing the background of Velcro and Razor-Fist, and an exchange between former MI-6 operative Nayland Smith and Fah Lo Suee, daughter of Fu Manchu.

The story is solid, even dropping in at #105, and Day's artwork is wonderful. The letter column features a note from T.M. Maple, whose comments are among the best in fan activity.

Master of Kung Fu #106 (Marvel, November 1981, 50 cents)
"The Assassin Master" Writer: Doug Moench, Artist: Gene Day, Inker: Armando Gil, Colorist: C. Scheele, Letter: Jim Novak, Editor: Denny O'Neil, Editor in Chief: Jim Shooter.

Another excellent issue featuring the artwork of Gene Day, this time with Armando Gil inks, a worthy combination.

After questioning Razor-Fist with Pavane, Shang-Chi and Leiko Wu continue to the Marquesas in search of Carlton Velcro's island base, "an entire house of assassins." They reach the mansion and take on Velcro's guards, then face another Razor-Fist (!!!) and Velcro himself, who proves himself a most disappointing employer.

Day's hallmark fluid motion throughout the page and dominant page anchors are wonderful, and the story resolves well.

Availability: Master of Kung Fu #105-106 are reprinted in Shang-Chi: Master of Kung-Fu Omnibus Vol. 4.