Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Uncle Sam and the runaway photocopier

I like Uncle Sam and the Freedom Fighters. I do. I really really do. It's a well written book that can stand up to several readings but I'm about ready to pitch the current mini-series. Why? Crappy, lazy artwork. Yup, I said CRAPPY LAAAAZY ARTWORK!! I do like Renato Arlem, but this man either was under one hell of a deadline or he is the laziest artist since Keith Giffen. EXPLANATION: Why I called Keith Giffen lazy is due to his work on HEX back in the day. The man would draw one freaking eyeball in a panel of black and I was supposed to try to figure out what the hell was going on. BACK TO REGULAR POST I present the following for your perusal.

Here is a nice page from issue #1 but if you look at the Human Bomb in the 1st & 4th panel, he matches. So does the Red Bee in the 1st & 2nd. Doc Midnight in the 1st & 2nd has only an arm being different and the Ray in the 1st, 2nd, and 4th panel.

Take a look at Red Bee in panel 1 and 2, exactly the same except that it has been flipped.

Compare Black Condor in panel 4 and 5. How about Director Robbins in panel 1 and 6? And then you can compare Firebrand in panel five and a panel from the prior page.
Things got a lot worse in issue #2. Almost the whole book was photocopied. Here is page 2. Director Robbins in panel 1, 2, & 3. Phantom Lady's body position is the same in the 3 panels and the face and arms match in 2 & 4

Page 4 isn't any better. Half the page is exactly the same! I understand that the action takes place in a room, but there are better, more artistic ways to display that. Like maybe drawing the scene from a different angle? Or is that too much like work?
Let's head on to page 5. Let's marvel that someone got paid good money to do this. The lady in purple in panel 1 has been flipped and placed in panel 2. Phantom Lady is exactly the same in panels 1 & 2 as well as 3, 4, & 5.Let's go to the next page. Granted this page has 5 panels and for the most part you can't see anything similar...except for panels 2 & 4. Again the purple lady has been flipped. I won't carp about the podium being the exact same, we have already established that Arlem has no eye for cinema.Next page, Arlem shows the passage of time by giving us identical poses. However it makes me think the lady in the chair is dead.

Next we have a big fight. See if you can spot things that look alike in these three panelsAnd now my head explodes with anger at the closing pages. Let's make this easy. Howabout we find a panel that DOESN'T have artwork copied somewhere else? Hmm, let's see, panel 1 has the same Uncle Sam as panels 2, 6, & 7. Human Bomb is the same in panels 1, 4, 5, 6, flipped in 7. Dollman is the same in panel 1, 5, & 11. The lady in blue is the same in 1, 5, flipped in 7, and in 11. Stormy is the same in 1, 2, 4, 5, & 6 with only minor changes to the face or arms. Stormy in panel 7 matches 8 & 9. And Uncle Sam is the same in panels 11, 12, & 13 and Human Bomb is identical in 11 & 12. And to finish everything off lets' have the first and last panels be mirror images of each other. But wait, isn't panel 3 familiar? Well it will be when you flip the page and see the exact same face again. I would scan it for you, but why? It's identical.I'm sorry, DC, but if I'm gonna shell out $2.99 for a book, I would like a good story AND good art. If this happens in issue #3, I'm dropping the book and not buying anything that has Arlem's handiwork in it ever again.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Jonah Hex #30 "Birth of a Bounty Hunter!"

Jonah Hex #30 Nov. 1979
"Birth of a Bounty Hunter!"
Michael Fleisher, story - Luis Dominguez, art & cover
Jonah Hex strides down the street, folks run for cover, and a young dandy nearby questions a old-timer in a rocker as to why folks are fleeing. The old man explains who and what Jonah Hex is and who & why he will be killing the folks that need a good killing (in this case, the Cranston Boys down by the express depot (not to be confused with the Home Depot, but I digress within double parentheses yet!)). The young dandy is amazed that anyone would be come a bounty hunter and the old timer says that he has wondered about it as well, but wondering is one thing and walking up to Jonah Hex and asking is something entirely different.
Jonah continues his trek down the street, but he has overheard the two men talking and his mind races back to the Civil War where he is embroiled in a bloody fight. His platoon has managed to corner the Union boys and are winning the battle, but then Jonah rides off in order to scout out a suspected Union paymaster delivery that his platoon has been planning on raiding.

Later, Jonah has taken up position on a cliff overlooking the road and spies the paymaster wagon, but he is discovered by two Union soldiers on patrol. They knock him out and take him back to camp for questioning. When Jonah comes to, he is tied to a tree and being doused with water. The Union captain asks Jonah where his outfit is, but Jonah only replies with his name, rank (Lt.), and serial number (according to the Geneva Convention, first adopted in 1863). One of the Union soldiers offers to 'soften him up' for more questioning, but the Captain declines. Just then several sticks of dynamite land in the camp, blowing four Union soldiers to hell and halfway back.

A Corporal comes running out of the carnage to report to the Captain that the Rebs have them surrounded and the remaining soldiers take cover behind the paymaster wagon, leaving Jonah tied to tree, watching the explosions and gunfire in the distance. Jonah is baffled, because his platoon didn't have that much firepower. Finally, Eddie Cantwell, one of Jonah's men, emerges from the brush and orders the Unions men to throw down their weapons and sit down against a nearby cliff. Eddie then unties Jonah and confesses to Hex that they are all alone. Eddie had gotten worried about Jonah not coming back and rounded up some dynamite and cartridges. He built several fires and tossed the dynamite & bullets into the fires to simulate random gunfire and cannons in order to trick the Union men. Eddie tells Jonah to grab his gear and Eddie will tend to the prisoners.

Jonah gets his jacket and gunbelt and is surprised to hear gunfire. Running around the paymaster wagon, Jonah is horrified to see Eddie using a Gatling gun to mow down the Union men! Jonah berates Eddie for killing prisoners of war, but Eddie says that there was no way that their platoon could effectively guard that many prisoners, besides, Eddie didn't want any witnesses to he and Jonah making off with the paymaster's chest, holding more than $100,000 ($2.1 million today) in gold coins.

Jonah protests that the money belongs to the Confederacy and Eddie says that he could shoot Jonah and take the money for himself. Jonah agrees with Eddie but then Eddie relents and they take the money to their superiors.

Then, on April 9, 1865 at Appomattox Courthouse (which is an entire town, not just a courthouse) in a house owned by Wilmer McLean, Lee surrendered to Grant, thus ending the war.

Two weeks later, on April 23, 1865, Jonah Hex and the 7th light cavalry, surrendered at the federal stockade in Lynchburg, Virginia. So how do we reconcile this with WWT #29 and the Fort Charlotte massacre? Is it possible that Jonah, having once joined the Confederacy, surrendering to the Union, then basically being made a scapegoat by the Union for the slaughter of his platoon, had enough anger at the Union behavior and decided to rejoin the Confederacy and then surrender once the war was over? Earlier stories with Turnbull (the man with the Eagle topped cane) never addressed why Turnbull's thirst for vengeance never surfaced prior to WWT #22 (or we just hadn't seen it prior to that issue). Anyway, I find it odd that the survivors of the massacre, who had also sworn vengeance on Jonah, never tried to to get their revenge during the remainder of the Civil War, prior to Turnbull's kangaroo court. Communication back then, obviously wasn't what it is today, and it could be that Jonah returned to the Confederacy, explained the massacre, was reinstated into the military, and the survivors either did not hear of the outcome or refused to believe it. Personally, I think it is a topic that needs to be handled and could make for some good story-telling by the current chroniclers of Jonah's exploits.

Back to the story! Jonah and the 7th surrender and he and Eddie part ways. There is a brief recap of Jonah being scarred by the Apache and then in the winter of 1866, Jonah is sitting in a saloon eating dinner. The sheriff comes bursting in, demanding that every man in the place join his posse because the Anderson boys just robbed the bank. Jonah keeps eating as everyone hits the door. Jonah explains to the sheriff that HE didn't have any money in the bank and it's not his fight. The sheriff calmly explains that Jonah will be stashing his brains in his boots if he doesn't get up & help them recover the money.

Needless to say, Jonah does help.

Several hours later finds the posse having cornered the crooks in Hampton's Bog. That means that the crooks can't get out, but it also means that since the crooks have their back to a cliff and bog full of dead trees in front of them, they can wait out the posse without fear of being charged or shot. The Sheriff decides to wait them out, should only take a week or so. Upon hearing that, Jonah gets hopping mad at the thought of being with the idiot posse for that long, grabs a rope and heads for the high ground. As he storms off, one of the deputies asks the sheriff if HE thinks Jonah knows that there is a $1,000 bounty on each of the crooks. The sheriff doubts it and decides not to tell Jonah.

Up on top of the cliff overlooking the Anderson gang, Jonah fixes a rope to a dead tree and decides to slide down and surprise the gang. But Jonah, obviously having not heard of Positive Confession, thinks that the tree doesn't look to sturdy and it swiftly breaks, dashing Jonah to the ground. The seven Andersons hear the crash, but before they can collect their thoughts, Jonah is on his feet and has the drop on them. Three of them draw on Hex and he mows them down like ripe wheat, causing the remaining four to surrender.

Jonah brings them back to the sheriff, who promptly strings them up from the nearest cottonwood. Jonah asks why there isn't a trial and the sheriff explains that everyone there saw them steal the money, they have the money on them and what is the town supposed to do, support all of the crooks for 8 months waiting for a judge to ride through? After the hanging, the sheriff tells Jonah that there wasn't any reward, otherwise he would have cut Jonah in for 10%, but would Jonah like a deputy job for $30 bucks a month ($381)?
Jonah declines and the sheriff doesn't blame him one bit. The sheriff does tell Jonah that there is money to be made in bounty hunting, matter of fact, the sheriff has a wanted poster with him that has big money. He pulls it out and hands it to Jonah. The poster is for $10,000 ($127,000) for the murderer and bank robber named.... Edward Cantwell!

Statistics for this issue
Men killed by Jonah - We see Jonah shooting a Union soldier in battle and then killing the three Andersons. Total - 4
Running total - 240
Jonah's Injuries - Knocked out by a rifle butt and falls off a cliff.
Timeline - I'm not sure WHEN this story starts, but the flashback does cover prior to April 1865, 1865 for sure, and the winter of 1866 (with a recap of Jonah's scarring also in 1866).

I did enjoy the story, seeing more of Jonah's past and his old acquaintances. It was pretty bothersome (alright, downright jarring) to try to reconcile this story with the Fort Charlotte massacre. I do think that there is a story that needs to be told placed between the massacre and this tale. I can only assume that the massacre took place prior to this story, otherwise Eddie would have died in the massacre or swore vengeance upon Hex.

But honestly, my favorite part of the book HAS to be the cover. It has everything... Guns, people running scared,

a subtle reflection of Jonah going for his gun, and cheesecake!!

Next Issue - Jonah is chased outta town, old friends meet, and Arbee Stoneham teaches Jonah a lesson he'll never forget.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Pitchman-A-Go-Go #20

The wacky Pitchman turns 20 and is proving that size does matter. But amazingly enough, back in 1981, guys were concerned with how TALL they were, not how big other parts of them were. So here for your reading pleasure is an ad for the Height Report, telling you how to stretch your way to height & babes (too bad the one on the right is missing a chin!)

William A. Reldnas is ready to share ALL of his secrets, including the special way to ride a bicycle! I don't think the pirate shirt, sideburns, mullet and porn mustache were included in the kit, though. Just remember guys,

"Yes! 2 to 4 inches CAN make all the difference in the world"

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Jonah Hex #29 "The Innocent"

Jonah Hex #29 Oct 1979
"The Innocent"
Michael Fleisher, story - ER Cruz, art - Luis Dominguez, cover

Jonah is a pallbearer at a funeral for Bob Jensen. After the funeral, Jonah is talking to Bob's brother, George, and is introduced to Bob's 11 year old daughter, Melissa, and Bob's second wife, Ruth. Jonah and Bob were friends years ago hunting buffalo for the Army. Jonah asks how Bob died and George explains that Bob fell off Hanson's cliff when the edge gave way, spooking his horse and throwing him over the edge.

Nearby, the Curly Wilson gang is hunting Jonah down. Ominous!

Later that evening, Jonah is finishing up dinner with the Jensen family and then he retires to his room. Much later, Melissa sneaks into Jonah's room and tries to wake him up but finds just a bedroll under the covers. Jonah tries to send her back to bed but she starts crying, asking if Jonah really knew her dad. She then tells Jonah that her dad was murdered, he was such a good horseman, there was no way he could have been thrown. Jonah starts questioning her, but Ruth comes down the hall and tells Melissa to get into bed.

Shortly thereafter, Ruth meets George outside and relates that she heard Melissa talking to Jonah. They are concerned that Jonah may learn the truth, but then the Curly Wilson gang shows up and having overheard the concern regarding Jonah, Curly offers to kill Jonah Hex for the tidy sum of $10,000. George agrees to pay it.

The next morning, Jonah goes to inspect the cliff that Bob fell off of. The edge is solid rock and Jonah cannot find any evidence of it giving way. Later that night, Jonah end up exhuming Bob's body, making mention that it's a good thing that they bury folks shallow in this area due to the underground rivers (important point for later!) and finds that Bob is sporting a bullet hole in the middle of his forehead. Just then, the Curly Wilson gang shows up, cracks Jonah upside the head with a pistol and then they toss him in the casket with Bob and bury both of them.

Some time later, Jonah wakes up in the casket and realizes his predicament. He tries to pry the lid open with his knife and ends up having to finish the job by kicking the lid open, coincidentally just as a local drunk wanders through the cemetery, with hilarious results. (I told you the shallow grave was important!)

Back at the Jensen house, the Curly Wilson gang is ransacking the house and terrifying George and Ruth. Jonah walks in and shoots all three men in the gang and then demands to know why they murdered Bob. George & Ruth explain that it wasn't them. Then Melissa walks in holding a pistol and tells Jonah that she killed Bob.

She did it because Bob took another wife after Melissa's mom died. Jonah asks Melissa snuck into his room that night. She says that she wanted someone to punish her but now she has changed her mind. Now she is going to shoot Jonah, George and Ruth. She pulls the trigger and barely wings Jonah. Hex grabs the pistol and smacks the little girl a good one.

George explains that they didn't want to turn Melissa over to the sheriff and have her end up in an asylum. Besides, George & Ruth are working as her jailers. Melissa apologizes to Jonah and asks if Jonah is mad at her. Jonah states that he isn't and then rides off into the night.

Statistics for this issue Men Killed by Jonah - 3
Running Total -236
Jonah's Injuries - Knocked out and shot in left shoulder
Timeline - Here are the clues as to when this takes place. Looking at the headstone of Bob's first wife:

We see that she died in 1870. George says that Melissa is 11 and Penelope died when Melissa was 6, therefore it is now 5 years later of 1875. Surprised? Of course you are.

This was a real yawner of a story that I could never really get behind. Not a whole lot happened and I actually stretched out the narrative on this one as long as I could. I would probably only read it in order to say that I have read every Jonah Hex story. Otherwise, I would pass on it.

Next Issue - Jonah in the Civil War, Michael Fleisher appears to forget a major past storyline and we get to see the birth of a bounty hunter.

Monday, November 05, 2007

Booster Gold & Jonah

Okay, I only pick up my comics once a month or so, therefore my posts about 'recent' comics can be a few weeks old, but I make up for my lateness with incredible in-depth analysis. Everyone cool with that? Onward.

Booster Gold #3. I have never liked Booster Gold. Didn't like the idea when it came out, never cared for the character, didn't read 52, not reading Countdown, but, dang, they put Jonah Hex on the cover I had to drop a couple of $$ to read it.

Rip Hunter tells Booster that they are going to the mid 1800's to Kansas City. "mid 1800's" is an odd, squishy term for a time traveler to use, but if we divide up the 1800's into "early", "mid", and "late" they would be 1800 - 1833, 1834 - 1867, and 1868 - 1899 respectively and since I'm not a scholar (but I AM a thinker!) I'll give some leeway a year on each side of those dates. That means, since we are focusing on "mid-1800's", that our story will plant Booster Gold in Kansas City, at the latest, in 1868 and, at the earliest, 1866 (because that was when Jonah was scarred).

Good. What did Kansas City look like in 1866-1868? If you're talking about Kansas City, Mo, Wikipedia sez:
After the Civil War, the City of Kansas grew rapidly. The selection of the city over Leavenworth, Kansas, for the Hannibal & St. Joseph Railroad bridge over the Missouri River brought about significant growth. The population exploded after 1869, when the Hannibal Bridge, designed by Octave Chanute, opened. The boom prompted a name change to Kansas City in 1889

Hmmmm, that doesn't look like THAT will fit. What about Kansas City, Kansas, old dear Wiki?
Kansas City, Kansas dates back to the middle of the 1800s. Kansas City, Kansas (KCK) formed in 1868 and incorporated in October of 1872.

Good, and the population for Kansas City, Kansas in 1800 was 3,200, so that appears to be about correct for the town depicted in Booster Gold #4. We have the place, now how about the man?
I have to admit, the depiction of Jonah Hex was pretty straight on. He guns a man down for asking too many questions (obviously not for a bounty, even though he could have been a bounty hunter by that time), ends up having Booster buy him drinks and then knocks out a man gunning for him.

Good job here.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Happy Birthday to you, happy birthday to you...

Happy Birthday, dear Jonaaaaaahhhhh, Happy Birthday to you!!!!!

From Jonah Hex #50
Now make a wish & shoot out the candles.