Sunday, December 08, 2019

Three Tie-In Titles

Jonny Quest #2 (Comico, July 1986, $1.50)
"Enter Race Bannon" Writer: William F. Messner-Loebs, Penciller: Wendy Pini, Inker: Joe Staton, Letter: Joe Pinana, Colorist: Rick Taylor, Editor: Diana Schutz.

Be sure to take a look at that credit line again. I found the creative team of this issue to be mind-blowingly spectacular, and if that group of three doesn't make up some kind of independent comics power trio, I don't know who would. This Hanna-Barbera cartoon tie-in comic was written and drawn by some of the more impressive independent comics creators of that era. Thank you, Diana Schutz, for bringing those creators together!

In her editorial, Schutz says a little about the intent behind the issue: "In the original run of Jonny Quest, ... we never did learn how Race Bannon came to be a part of the Quest team -- nor was mention ever made of Jonny's mother." Messner-Loebs's stort amends those gaps.

Jonny's mother is introduced as a lively counterbalance to his more sober and studious father. She becomes ill and lapses into a coma, and Bannon is an agent assigned to protect the family from terrorists. There are several extremely touching scenes in the comic focusing on Judith Waterston and her relationship with her husband and son, particularly pages 7, 11, and 17. Bannon's first impression, then, though heroic, is as sympathetic and comical as it is strong or powerful in its intent (p. 19).

For the most part, Pini and Staton's artwork stays true to the cartoon character designs and overall style, but occasional glimpses of their other work pops through here and there. This isn't Elfquest or E-Man, but I love that those two creators had their hands at this series.

The issue also includes a pinup by Adam Kubert and a two-page letter column containing seven letters of comment. One of those letters was penned by T.M. Maple.

Availability: This comic has not been collected. We also recommend the original cartoon.

Logan's Run #2 (Adventure Comics, July 1990, $2.25)
Plot and art: Barry Blair, Script: Tom Mason and Chris Ulm, Letters: Patrick Owsley, Cover Illustration: Ron Randall, Cover Coloring: Paul Mounts, Publisher: Dave Olbrich, Editor-in-Chief: Chris Ulm, Editorial Assistants: Mickie Villa and Dan Danko, Creative Director: Tom Mason.

For the record, this is not a comics adaptation of the 1976 movie, but an adaptation of the 1967 novel by William F. Nolan and George Clayton Johnson. Readers are informed of this on the front cover, as well as on the inside front cover, and this reader, for one, found the choice of source material to be important.

While I haven't yet read the novel, I imagine there are differences between the book and the movie, and I'm curious how that shows up in the comic. Similarly, by basing the comic on the book, the creators are freed from trying to replicate the visuals of the movie -- perhaps a welcome freedom given the loose cartoony artwork of Blair, who also drew Samurai for Malibu's Aircel imprint. (Adventure is also an imprint of Malibu,)

In this issue, Logan-3 contacts Lilith 4 in his search for Sanctuary and accompanies her to a party. There, they change into skintight bodysuits and go forth with black light cameras as peepers. The game is illegal, but the pair evade capture and secure footage of "the rub of skin on skin" and "pure peeping" of "fresh prey." Logan eventually succumbs to the Truthtell drug that doped his Scotch, and Lilith instructs him to go to his next contact, Doc, who almost kills the runner because he's a sandman.

Logan joins up with Jessica to go to Sanctuary, where they meet Billy and a "howling group of cub scouts."

Randall's cover is more realistic and perhaps appropriate for a science-fiction adventure like this, but somehow Blair's work works. Rather than focusing on detailed visualization of the dystopian future, the reader can fill in the gaps themselves and focus on the feelings and meaning rather than the setting.

In fact, the comic makes me want to read the book, rather than see the movie again. This issue also includes a one-page back issue listing of Malibu titles. I don't remember Malibu much before the Ultraverse and its connection to Image, but the list indicates a wide range of genre and tie-in comics, including Captain Harlock, Charlie Chan, Lensman, Planet of the Apes, Robotech, Tom Corbett, and more. Might be worth further exploring Malibu generally.

Availability: This comic has not been collected. We recommend the novel.

The Super Friends Vol. 3 #10 (DC, February/March 1978, 35 cents)
"The Monster Menace" Story: E. Nelson Bridwell, Art: Ramona Fradon and Bob Smith, Lettering: Ben Oda, Color: A. Tollin, Editor: Larry Hama.

The third licensed or tie-in comic to round out this group of reviews is a little more self-reflective than the other two. Letter writer Ross Gerry puts it this way in his letter of comment: "I've always put down this comic as juvenile. If it is, I'm discovering it's for a purpose. ... I'm not saying that I've come to like the cartoonish style, much less the concept of a comic adapting a television cartoon version of another comic. ... I don't consider Super Friends to be just another name for the Justice League."

But that's basically what this is -- a tie-in comic for a Saturday morning cartoon intended to draw younger readers into comics. I don't know how many DC titles rated the DC TV comic cover logo, but this is more similar to Marvel's Electric Company tie-in comic Spidey Super Stories -- or more recent tie-in comics such as Batman Adventures -- than the main continuity of comics.

In this self-contained issue, the recently introduced Wonder Twins rescue a young woman being chased by a group of monsters that seem straight from the Universal movies. The Twins call the Super Friends, who investigate inside Black Caverns.

Long story short, neither the monsters nor the woman are who they seem to be, and in the end, all wrongs are righted. There's even an educational message to that effect in the last panel: "We all learned something -- never to judge by appearances!"

Sure, it's goofy. Sure, it's for younger readers. But that's the point -- as correspondent Gerry realized. Cartoon tie-in comics are intended to resonate with cartoon fans who might become comics readers. Sometimes, they will work well as comics. In all instances, though, they translate the TV medium to the printed page and help teach comics literacy: how comics work, who's who in the character library, and what are the key aspects of the character and stories over time.

This Super Friends comic comes a little closer to "real comic" than Marvel's tie-in series did.  That's OK -- they're aimed at different age groups and reading levels. Interestingly enough, reading this doesn't make me want to watch Super Friends, but to read more Super Friends to see what other issues are like. Even 40 years later, perhaps that was the desired outcome,

This issue also includes a comic-strip ad for Hostess Fruit Pies featuring the Joker; ads for Grit and Sea-Monkeys; and a one-page letter column including three letters of comment.

Read Also: Green Lantern #1.

Availability: This comic has not been collected. We recommend the cartoon, as well as The Ultimate Super Friends Companion: Volume 1, The 1970s.

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