Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Alex Ross Does Iron Man and the Falcon for Marvel's 75th


Doug: Below you'll find the two latest variant covers by Alex Ross as part of Marvel's 75th Anniversary celebration. I have always had a fondness for the "nose mask" ol' Shellhead wore in the 1970s, as that's the look he had when I started Avengering. I think the Iron Man effort is Ross's best to date. What a great homage to not only the '70s, but to artists like Don Heck, George Tuska, and George Perez. The Falcon image doesn't mean as much to me -- I have no investment in what's currently playing out in the pages of Captain America. I'd have preferred a more historical representation of the character, featuring his original look and then of course the red/white costume he's best known by.


 

Monday, August 25, 2014

Tales from Topographic Men: Marvel Presents 6 and 7


Marvel Presents #6 (August 1976)
"The Topographical Man"
Steve Gerber-Al Milgrom/Terry Austin

Karen: Today you're getting a "two for the price of one" deal. We realized the Guardians storyline we were reviewing didn't wrap up until issue 7, but we had only slotted out for issue 6, so we're going to cover both issues in one post. It may be a little more succinct than normal, but we'll still cover the salient points. Oh, and that scene on the cover? Never happens.

Doug: It is a bit of a grabber, though. From most of the interiors we've looked at so far, the depiction of Martinex is the best I've seen. I'm thinking that Joe Sinnott could work some magic on Marty's face.

Karen: The team has beamed back aboard the Captain America and is stuck watching the cosmic space frog devour a planet. They have no way of stopping it, as their weapons are ineffective against it. It's all too much for Nikki though, and she drops the hammer and heads straight for the creature in hyperdrive. Instead of being destroyed, the team passes through the thing's energy field and crashes onto the surface of ...something. Martinex suggests they go out to explore -that this may be what happened to Starhawk too. But Vance is once again in full-on fit mode, and retreats to his room. Nikki tries to apologize and lure him out, but Vance seemingly begins to crack up, saying they're all nothing but "motes," and then begins to proposition the young Mercurian. Charlie puts his head in the door and sees this and growls at Vance to leave her alone. The big Marine walks off with the girl, telling Vance to get his head together.

Doug: I remarked to Karen a week ago in an email that I really haven't enjoyed this set of posts. I really thought I had read some of these stories 40 years ago, but I certainly did not. Which I cannot figure, as I know I'd have wanted this series -- I loved the Guardians' appearance in the Defenders. But this is all too weird for me. I don't want to read stories where I hate one of the protagonists. And I hate (strong word, I know) Vance Astro. There is no redeeming quality about him. He is rude, crude, full of self-pity, and just a general wet blanket. And then we get this scene. They've known Nikki by now for what -- a couple of days? I believe I recall that Gerber made a point to say that Nikki was 18, but still. Charlie should have throttled Vance.

Karen: It really is hard to feel anything more than contempt for Vance at this point. But he also seems to be cracking up. There's no real other explanation for his behavior.  The Guardians, minus Vance, find themselves on a desert-like world. They soon come across aliens who live just like Bedouins, complete with camels and tents. They are attacked but  quickly overcome their foes. The chieftain introduces them to his son -Starhawk!

Doug: The influence of Jack Kirby's Skrull world where they were all gangsters lives on! Except these guys look like the long-lost relatives of Curt Connors. In the scene with the harem, why were all of the females humans? Man, outer space sure can be confusing!

Karen: We get another story with the "parallel culture" riff -boy, I really don't care for this! Why were the women human? I don't know, for eye candy purposes? I can't think of any other reason. Back on board the ship, a tiny version of the space frog has attacked Vance. He fights back with his psionic powers and eventually overcomes it. He takes it and looks at it under a microscope and discovers that it is essentially a grain of sand surrounded by an energy shell -it's possible every grain of sand on the planet could be like this. He heads toward the radio to warn his team-mates when an earth-tremor occurs. The Guardians also feel it and call Vance. Starhawk tells them to have Astro start the engines. Vance is incredulous, but does it. He blasts right through the soil and past it, coming out the other side, and soon discovers that it was no planet they were on, but a colossal, light-years long humanoid body, composed of mountains and deserts and oceans.

Doug: Do you suppose Gerber meant for Vance's rant about everyone being just a mote to tie into this
vignette with the mini-me of the space frog? Obviously Vance uses the term again, but what is the greater meaning? Perhaps Gerber was mocking man's insignificance in the scene with Vance and Nikki, and I suppose here, further into the story, he cements that by showing that even if man's life is insignificant, he is yet able to be felled by entities even more insignificant than he... Maybe I am over thinking it.

Karen: No, I think you're onto something there. In general, Gerber's opinion of humanity seems to be pretty low, if his writing is any example. 

Doug: I was about to question the vegetation that must have been consumed in coming up with the look and even idea for the Topographical Man. But then I assumed Kirby was playing it straight when he created Ego, the Living Planet. 

Karen: Back on the "man-planet" Starhawk leads the others to a mountain where they enter a cave and go deep underground to discover a huge temple built in a cavern. He says it is the Convent of Living Fire. On board the Captain America, Vance, still stunned by the revelation of the gigantic humanoid, discovers that the being holds a star in either hand -and he's accelerating their growth towards supernova status, and fast. Vance calculates that they are smack dab in the hub of the galaxy, where the stars are most densely clustered. If those two stars explode, it will  start a chain reaction. But before he can do anything about it, his doppleganger shows up -it's a young Major Vance Astro, in his astronaut suit, prior to being put into his foil encasement. Vance immediately recognizes him as either an illusion or something similar. But this does him little good, as the creature strikes out with an energy-sapping tendril.

Doug: I struggled throughout to get in tune with Gerber's take on religion and religious conventions. I keep thinking he mocks it as a belief system as well as institutionally, yet he comes back to it often. Starhawk is often an edgy sort of Christ-like.

Karen: Vance is beyond flawed, but I suppose he's more "human" and perhaps supposed to be more relatable than Starhawk, who is enigmatic. Was the idea to set up two diametrically opposed personalities here? If so, it doesn't really work for me.  Before we get to the next issue, I want to say how much I loved Terry Austin's inks. Can the man do any wrong? He just elevates anything he works on. Fantastic inking job, and my favorite of all the inkers we've seen (including the next issue).

Doug: Agreed. This pushed Pablo Marcos into second place, and I continue to be impressed that I liked his work so much. But you're right -- Terry Austin is the gold standard.



Marvel Presents #7 (November 1976)
"Embrace the Void!"
Steve Gerber-Al Milgrom/Bob Wiacek

Karen: The Guardians enter the Convent of Living Fire and hear a loud wailing sound. The Mother Superior
explains that it is their prayer -a song of joy and anguish. The Guardians are baffled but walk further in, past what appear to be flaming sculptures of women. They soon discover these are actually live women -who quickly burn to ash! And Starhawk tells Nikki she must do this, to save the galaxy!

Doug: So Nikki had to do this because... why? She was the only woman they had on hand? She was a Mercurian? She was a virgin (although lord knows if Vance really wanted to change that last issue)? Additionally, although the Mother Superior had reptilian features, her markings were different from the males of the desert tribe we'd seen the previous issue. Were these nuns their "women"?

Karen: None of this is explained. There's so much left for the reader to try to figure out. Had the nuns been trying to do what Nikki does and failing for some time? A lot of this story felt rushed to me. Aboard the Captain America, Vance faces off against his younger duplicate, giving him the most potent psychic blast he's ever unleashed. Both beings fall to their knees -and then Vance falls to the floor!

Doug: I got a real Rocky II vibe out of this scene. I also wondered if somehow Vance's essence was transferred to his younger self and he'd be freed from the imprisonment inside his foil suit -- that maybe, just maybe, he would quit acting like such an ass.


Karen: We cut away from the actions swirling in and around the Topographical Man, and go instead to an asteroid base far away. The clear dome surrounding it has been cracked, and all atmosphere has been eliminated. No life is present. On a computer screen, the woman Aleta cries for her children, until at last the computer also malfunctions and explodes.

Doug: I've not read all the way to the conclusion of this series -- are those kids hers? They only seem to be referred to as the children.

Karen: Yeah, the kids are theirs. I actually like the Starhawk origin story better than this one! Back in the convent, Nikki is put into a gown and led to a chair for the ritual (this seemed awfully quick). The Mother Superior explains that the woman's body bursts into flame as her mind expands  across the universe. Most die soon after but some do return -only the strong willed. She emphasizes that Nikki will experience supreme ecstasy. Nikki insists she's not the martyr type, but Starhawk is emphatic that only a woman can do this. A switch is flipped and the process begins. At that very moment, Starhawk convulses in pain and takes off, imploring the others not to follow him. So of course Martinex does. They climb up out of the cave where Starhawk transforms into Aleta, shocking Marty. She says Starhawk abandoned the children to the reavers of Arcturus. While this is going on, Nikki slowly begins to ignite.

Doug: Gerber again used this scene for commentary of his own, referring to "the chair" and "the rap". Then his words had the Mother Superior equate marriage to an execution. And how about the Mother Superior explaining what will happen as the ultimate sensual experience? Seemed an odd description. I wonder why, if Starhawk is the One Who Knows, that he didn't ask Aleta to be the martyr? Hrmph -- some hero...

Karen: They all seem awfully willing to let Nikki hop up there and burn. On the ship, Vance has awoken -but he's inside the body of the dopplelganger! He's somewhat pleased to be out of his foil shell, but he can't stop to enjoy it, as the two suns in the Topographical Man's hands have started to go nova. As he tries to figure out what to do, his body becomes energy and is absorbed into the Topographical Man. Back at the Convent, as Vance's spirit enters the Topographical Man, Yondu senses that something has changed. He feels that Nikki's soul is in danger and tries to get to her but Charlie, not understanding, stops him. Moments later, all assembled see the shining white form of the girl's spirit ascend from her body and go off into space.

Doug: I gotta be honest -- what is going on in this scene totally escaped me when I read it the first time. However, on the second read I definitely got it.

Karen: Once in space, Nikki's spirit sees the Topographical Man and realizes what she must do. She
expands to equal his size, and then touches his face to awaken him. However, since the T.M. is the opposite of life, he cannot awaken, and so she has roused another spirit -Vance. The T.M.'s form takes on the appearance of Vance, although it is his-foil-suit-covered appearance. Got all this? The two of them together will work to destroy the T.M. The illustration shows Nikki embracing him.

Doug: Yeah, embracing him with her left leg curled around him. Good grief.

Karen: Back in the cavern, they are experiencing a major earthquake. The Mother Superior is pleased that the T.M. is being torn apart, and says to leave Nikki, she's done her job. But Yondu is having none of that. He picks her up and carries her out, despite the fact that she's still on fire. Charlie clears a path for them and Martinex and Aleta show up and transport them out, just in time to beam back to the ship. They get a look at the viewscreen to see that they were never on a planet...as the Topographical Man and Nikki's spirit are blown apart. Yondu explains for us that, "Nikki and Vance have brought it about the only way possible - by force of spirit alone - causing the demon to engage in an act of love -- an affirmation of its own opposite, which is life!" Well, OK then.

Doug: I got nuthin'.


Karen: Nikki and Vance both awaken and at first seem a bit caught in the afterglow. Martinex points out that there's a new star, right where the Topographical Man used to be. Vance says to Nikki that they felt the creation of it, and Aleta points out that they are holding hands, which makes Vance feel awkward, and he pulls his away. He walks off with Nikki telling him there's no reason to be shy about it...


Karen: OK, well, this is a pretty damned weird story, and although I read it when it came out, I can honestly say I thought it was pretty weird then too. The space frog is like a cut-rate Galactus, or perhaps Thanos, in that it seems to actually desire death. But the frog wasn't the actual enemy I guess, but the Topographical Man? I'm not sure, and I'm not going to re-read it either. Although nothing graphic is actually shown (it was still a Code-approved 1976 comic) the implication that Nikki and Vance had sex is there, and seems like the only reason for the story -there's just not much of a plot here.  The Starhawk story that follows is much better, in my opinion.

Doug: I've voiced here, and before, my doubts about Steve Gerber. And I think it's OK among our friends if I say maybe he's just not my cup of tea. But I will say this about the man -- as we focus on the Bronze Age around here, Gerber's about as Bronze Age as it gets. Karen mentioned the Code, and certainly we've discussed that by the mid-70s the Comics Code Authority had been relaxed or reformed. Gerber was on the edge of wherever that reform fell. And he was loving it. Tip of the hat to the man for that.


Saturday, August 23, 2014

All Kinds of Wrong Going on Here, Part Two


Doug: Back on July 5, we had a little fun with a pure 1990s Fantastic Four cover. Well, kids, the media and many comics fans aren't having fun with the image you see below on the left. Italian erotica artist Milo Manara was commissioned to do the variant cover to Spider-Woman #1. Hmmm... Seems to me you ask an erotica artist to do a piece for the company, there should be no surprise at what comes back. So is Marvel basking in the attention they are getting out of this? Remember this simple principle -- there is no such thing as bad advertising. And what of Spider-Woman? Why her? Oh yeah -- because it was Bendis who told us back in New Avengers that while being held by HYDRA, more than Jessica Drew's powers were augmented. You know what I'm saying.

Doug: So what's going on here? Is this the over-sexualization of women in general, or is this specific to this one cover? Is it truly Marvel just trying to grab headlines, or did they really err here on the public's sensibilities? And what of Disney Co.? And why did I picture Spider-Man to the lower right? Because Jazzy Johnny Romita could do the same pose, albeit on a dude, and keep everything classy. That's why.


Friday, August 22, 2014

Blue Ribbon Digest -- Spider-Man in the Bronze Age

Doug: Back again with another opportunity for readers to put together their very own Blue Ribbon Digest featuring a Bronze Age mag. Previously we've had a bit of fun with the Avengers, the X-Men, and Captain America. This time around, though, I'm going to open it up a bit and feature a character that appeared in multiple magazines during the Bronze Age. Yep, Spidey could be found in multiple slots on the ol' spinner rack some 35-40 years ago. So today it's all fair game: Amazing Spider-Man, Peter Parker, the Spectacular Spider-Man, Marvel Team-Up... shoot, if you so desire, you can choose an issue of Spidey Super Stories!

Doug: This is quite challenging, as it forces us almost to consider specific eras that center around storylines or creators we loved. In the past, the only real run I voted for was the Magneto/Savage Land epic for the All-New, All-Different X-Men. But for the most part, we've jumped around and chosen our issues from across the ages (and included Annuals, too!). The Spider-Man juggernaut that was rolling in the 70s and 80s certainly gives us a whole lot of fodder, doesn't it?

Doug: So I'm going to cop out here at the beginning, and largely defer to our readers. However, I'll picture a favorite story that introduced (to the mainstream, at least) a favorite character. And isn't this a great cover? Have fun today!



Thursday, August 21, 2014

A Simple Question about Rock and Roll Front Men


Karen: Who is/was the best front man (or woman) in all of rock and roll? And what qualities set him/her above the rest?

























 






















Monday, August 18, 2014

Soapbox Steve and Underground Al Bring You -- Marvel Presents 5


Marvel Presents #5 (June 1976)
"Planet of the Absurd!"
Steve Gerber-Al Milgrom/Howard Chaykin

Doug: You want "absurd"? You've come to the right comic, friend! I remarked at the end of last week's review that while not totally sold on what Gerber was doing with characterization, etc. in this series, he at least had me intrigued enough to read on. Well, as I write this I am on my second read of this story. My first one was near the beginning of my 10-day trek to Washington DC a month ago and I admittedly put the book down somewhat disgustedly. But after two weeks of Karen's (and our readers') comments, as well as some off-line conversations with my partner, I'm seeing this with new eyes. So let's see what sort of mood I'm in by the bottom of this write-up.

Karen: This is one of those rare occasions where you and I differ in our opinions on a book. I'll admit I'm looking at this with a sheen of nostalgia over my eyes. Even so, I can say I'd only give it a B- or so -it's certainly not in the top ranks of favorites, but I've enjoyed revisiting it.

Doug: If you'll backtrack in your brains seven days, you might remember that after the Guardians did battle with the giant space frog the beastie not only ate Starhawk, but also infected the Captain America with some sort of virus. With the ship's life support on the fritz, Martinex orders his mates down to the nearest planet -- which hopefully has a favorable environment! So Vance, Charlie, Nikki, and Yondu "beam down" to some place they know nothing of. And what a sphere it is! Martinex thinks he's dropping them into a city, yet they end up in a forest. Or do they? Yondu gets in tune with Mother Nature right away, and senses that all is not good with the flora. Suddenly a humanoid appears, toting a double-barreled shotgun. He tells our assemblage of wanderers that he's the gardener, and his main job is to keep pests off the private property. And then everyone moves toward a door. A rooftop door. They were in a huge urban garden all along -- which sort of gave me a vibe from Daredevil #s 142-143, where DD had to fight the Cobra and Mr. Hyde in a rooftop jungle.

Karen: The 'gardener' looks like the Heap! But he sounds like a redneck. Uh oh. I'm not real fond of "parallel cultures"...

Doug: Once inside the building, we're treated to a cast that looks like they jumped ship from a Dick Tracy strip. Planet of the absurd, indeed. The dudes in the room appear to be some sort of mobsters, and they think the Guardians are hit men assigned by some rival boss. After the godfather of this troop, a Mr. Slech, tries to get fresh with Nikki, Charlie takes exception. Well, OK -- he bodily threatens Slech. And of course, all hell breaks loose. But the thugs are no match for the Guardians' powers, and with Slech in tow, the displaced heroes make it out and onto an elevator. They head for the ground floor to be greeted by more weirdos, and then the kicker -- the planet (or at least this part of it) is made up to resemble Times Square, circa 1980! Vance contacts Martinex, who says he's really having trouble getting the ship running. He rattles off some device that he needs, which Vance recognizes as basically a transistor. So, ordering Charlie and Nikki to stay put, Vance and Yondu head off in search of such a thing.

Karen: If Milgrom wanted to make this pseudo-New York look as unappealing as possible, he succeeded. It was almost as if you could feel the slime oozing out of the pages.


Doug: Vance tells Yondu that he's along for the ride because he's basically too innocent to survive by himself. Before Yondu can really muster a protest, the two enter what amounts to a pawn shop. Vance asks if the proprietor has what they need, which he does, but doesn't seem so willing to part with. So they begin to dicker over the price, how will Vance pay, etc. With no resources on him, Vance offers up one of Yondu's arrows. Yondu protests, but to no avail. The deal cut, Vance hurries his buddy out the door. But Yondu's going to stand up for himself, and rips Vance's stealing of an arrow that was not his to give. And in his soliloquy, Yondu shows Vance how his whistle makes the yaka arrow react -- and it basically comes right to Yondu's hand. And in a moment of mid-70s political incorrectness, Gerber has Vance call Yondu an "Indian giver". The two run like thieves, and split up in case the cops trail them.

Karen: Once again, Vance acts like a jerk. It is kind of hard to like the guy.

Doug: It seems that Gerber feels most comfortable using that tried and true super-team method of dividing the players and then telling short vignettes about each group. We check in next on Charlie and Nikki -- right away, this looks like it's going to play out as a big brother/little sister relationship, doesn't it? They come across an arcade, and Nikki remarks right away about the cacophony that greets them upon entrance. Well, that, and the gang of local teens hanging out. The leader of the pack tries to hit on Nikki, and as we saw in the gang leader's board room earlier, Charlie is having none of it. The toughs pile on, but you know they're no match for Charlie's mass. He shrugs them off easily, until the cops show up and hit him with some tear gas. Nikki bolts, her fire-like tresses blending in with the rest of the weirdos in the crowd.

Karen: You know, I didn't think of the "brother/sister" thing at all, so it was interesting to read that and then go back and read that scene again. I can see how it could be interpreted that way. I think I always felt Charlie was a bit of a white knight, living by his own code of honor -perhaps influenced by his military background?


Doug: Gerber saves his most in-your-face bit of satire/political criticism for the next scene, where Yondu wanders into the midst of a crowd watching a candidate stumping for the presidency. As fate would have it, this nation on the planet of the absurd is also celebrating its bicentennial. Who'd have thought? We present the entire page for your perusal -- no subtleties here, no sir! Note Yondu's line at the bottom of the page, about post-Watergate Americans -- "They are... to be pitied."

Karen: Did you notice the "WIN" button on the presidents' collar? Who here does not remember "whip inflation now"? Boy that sure was a great slogan. Yeesh. Yes, this was as subtle as using a cannon to hit a mosquito.

Doug: Vance, in his effort to avoid the cops after the what's-now-a-theft from the pawn shop, wanders into some sort of hippie gathering. I'll give Al Milgrom credit in this issue -- I don't know that he duplicated any of the "creatures" on this planet of the absurd. At least to my eye as I move through this tale, they all look different. Perhaps that's by design, intentional -- maybe that's Gerber's way of saying that conformity and/or sameness is part of the problem in the society in which he was writing. Either Milgrom felt the same way, or at least took Steve's instructions and filled them to the letter! Anyway, a young lady who I swear looks like a character in the Inhumans mag published at about this same time, wants Vance to tune in, turn on, and drop out. Vance says that maybe he's not ready for that sort of therapy and hightails it past this group.


Karen: I felt this scene in many ways duplicated the scene from issue 3, with the bar dancer, in as far as showing Vance's discomfort with physicality. Was it necessary to give this to us again so soon? Then again, this was a bimonthly book, so maybe Gerber felt he had to reiterate major themes, like Vance's isolation.

Doug: Back to Charlie, now cooling his heels in the city lock-up -- and Gerber uses it for another platform, this time his views on our judicial and penal systems. Charlie's cellmate tells the Jovian that he's in for grand theft auto -- been in the clink for many years. But while he narrates his sad, sad story, a fellow from down the block walks by, paroled... for murder. Gerber takes a shot at parole boards through his cipher, but Charlie doesn't have time for this -- gotta run. As only Charlie can. Right through the wall! Outside, Nikki is accosted by a woman who wants her to hear a message of salvation. Obviously Gerber is seguing into a bashing of organized religion, cults, salvation messages, messiah complexes, you name it. And he does -- actually gets quite a few rip jobs into only eight panels! The man certainly made use of the space he had to work with. In the end, Nikki ticks off the entire "congregation" and has to run for her life, accused of blasphemy. And you know what the penalty for that is... Leaping outside, she encounters Charlie -- also running from the law and anyone else who wants a piece of his hide. So the two make tracks together, attempting to hook back up with Vance and Yondu.


Karen: Of course, it was also the time of the so-called "Jesus Freaks," "Moonies," and a zillion small cults; even in my small town, we ha people handing out flyers on street corners, proclaiming their leader to be the glorious incarnation of God, or whatever. Gerber captures this lunacy and magnifies it here.  

Doug: We've had cults in our area. One notable group was known as "His Community"; I think it was in 1977 or '78 that the cult left town in the middle of the night, families split apart as one parent took the children, and stuff like that. To this day, long-time residents of our county recall that.

Doug: As Charlie and Nikki run, they come face-to-face with Yondu! He's about to fire an arrow into the crowd, which cause Nikki to question his sanity. But the yaka arrow does its thing in response to Yondu's whistle, and throws the mob off its collective game. This gives the now-three Guardians a chance to catch their breath. Not too far away is Vance Astro, communicating with Martinex. Marty tells him to hurry and find the others, and they'll communicate again. Just then, Yondu's arrow sails by -- Vance has his troops back. They gather, but before they have time to relate all that's gone on, a ship appears in the sky. Charlie says there's no way these chumps on this planet could have built something like the space shuttle now hovering above. And -- as you might guess -- a tractor beam lifts the Guardians up and aboard.

Karen: Really enjoyed the two panels with Vance watching Yondu's arrow go by -that was a nice comedic bit, well done.

Doug: The Guardians are brought aboard the craft and greeted by a Dr. Pazz-ko and his associate, Dr. Roh-ma. They are the custodians of the planet below, a place they call "Asylum". You see, it's for all the crazies they've collected from 50 planets in the area, all loosely confederated. Astro asks about the parallels to the Earth of his time, and Pazz-ko tells him that he and Roh-ma made no designs or promptings. What was created below is the result of the will and desire of the asylum's... inmates. They live in what they want to live in. The story ends with the team reunited aboard the Captain America, Martinex having been given the components he needed for repair. And then Gerber leaves us with his final political treatise: when asked by Martinex if he's still up for saving the galaxy, Vance replies, "Why not? It's a mission for a crazy man if ever I've heard of one."

Karen: Yeah, parallel culture development. Like I said at the beginning, not my cup of tea. Tie that to the idea that modern humans are completely crazy, and this issue gets a big yawn from me.


Doug: As I said at the top, I was going to try to read this with a different attitude, and I think I was successful. I decided this time that rather than react to Gerber's promptings/rantings/warnings -- whatever you want to call them... I was instead going to just let them come to me and approach them with a more reflective mindset. After all, I wasn't in my 30s in 1976, didn't live in New York City, and overall was not that much affected by the Vietnam and Watergate eras. I was simply too young through all of those events and happenings to have understood. But reading this now, as an adult with a penchant for wanting to learn about history, I sort of appreciate Gerber's thoughts. I still feel it's a bit heavy-handed to do this in a mainstream superhero comic, and I'd love to know what "tweens" who read this off the shelf thought of it -- probably that it was just weird. But I'm sure some older high school-aged kids and college students would have "gotten" what Gerber was trying to say. And how about the art? First off, I thought Howard Chaykin's inks were terrible. Very heavy at times, generally uneven, and really didn't help Milgrom (whose pencils weren't terrible). After three issues, I'm still voting for Pablo Marcos as "best inker".

Karen: So far, I agree, Marcos was the best. I completely agree with you about Chaykin. But next time we get -Terry Austin!

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