Tag Archive: Adventure Comics

Review by C.J. Bunce

What do a submarine, a space shuttle, dinosaurs, sea creatures from 20,000 leagues, flying saucers, and a female Tarzan have in common?  They’re all part of Frank Cho’s Jungle Girl.

Frank Cho is one of our favorite artists and he’s also a great guy, always eager to chat at the next comic convention.  He’s a double threat–his artwork is second to none, but many don’t know how humorous his writing can be, as illustrated in his University² series of comic strips and his Liberty Meadows series.  He’s also a great all-around writer, and so it’s no surprise that he combined his trademark jungle women art with his love of dinosaurs and spun them into a series that he plotted and handed over to other writers and artists to execute.  That 15-issue comic book series coming your way this month in the Jungle Girl Complete Omnibus, a giant 392-page trade paperback edition from Dynamite Entertainment.  With stunning visuals and a female Tarzan named Jana born into Earth’s distant past, the only things that would make the book even better would be if Cho wrote and illustrated more than the cover art for it.

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This past February we reported writer/artist Stan Sakai would be bringing his world of the swordsrabbit Miyamoto Usagi to IDW Publishing with stories old and new.  That begins tomorrow with the first issue of the new three-part, full-color series–yep, the black and white comic will be in full color for the first time, written, drawn, and lettered by comics legend Sakai with colors by Tom Luth (Groo the Wanderer).  Readers will catch up with Usagi caught-up in his own new drama set during the Edo period of 17th century Japan.  The first story, titled “Bunraku,” a word for Japanese puppetry, captures many elements that make the world of Usagi Yojimbo unique: adventure filled with culture, folklore, and history.  IDW also plans to bring all 35 years of Sakai’s Usagi Yojimbo stories into new collected editions.  So Issue #1 of Usagi Yojimbo: Bunraku is only the beginning.

First published in 1984, Usagi Yojimbo garnered five Eisner Awards for Sakai, the 2014 Inkwell Award, 2007 Harvey Award, 2002 National Cartoonists Society Comic Book Division Awards, and the Cultural Ambassador Award from the Japanese American Museum.  Haven’t checked out Usagi Yojimbo yet?  The humor is similar to Mike Norton’s Battlepug, or Mike Wieringo’s Tellos, full of action, classic Conan, Tarzan, John Carter-level adventure, with the epic feel of Akira Kurosawa and Hayao Miyazaki.  Note: Another book is now available for pre-order from Sakai’s earlier publisher.  Last week Dark Horse Comics announced Usagi Yojimbo: 35 Years of Covers, a complete hardcover collection of Sakai’s greatest covers (you can pre-order it now here at Amazon).

Usagi Yojimbo #1 will be released in a main cover by Sakai, plus variants by Daniel Warren Johnson–1:10 retailer incentive, Kevin Eastman–1:50 retailer incentive, comics legend Walt Simonson–1:25 retailer incentive, and a two-part Sakai cover that connects with Ragnarok: The Breaking of Helheim, Issue #1, plus store exclusives from Buzz (500, Legends), Maria Caligari (500, AOD Collectables), J. Scott Campbell (color or B&W, Comics & Ponies), Mike Choi (logo–600, virgin–200, Collector’s Paradise, Knowhere), Chris Johnson (1,000, Brave New World), Alex Kotkin (Excelsior), Linh Nguyen (Incredible Con), Ian Nichols (w/Tick, 500, New England), Tessa Rose (1,000, Jak’s), blank cover from Sakai for use with watercolors, another Sakai cover (500, Other Realms), Julie Sakai (500, Dogū), Mike Vasquez (500, Frankie’s Comics), and the great Charles Vess (color–750, B&W–500, HeroesCon).

Here’s a preview of Usagi Yojimbo–Bunraku, Issue #1, plus previews of the covers for Issues #2 and #3, and all 24 variants for Issue #1, courtesy of IDW Publishing:

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Review by C.J. Bunce

Every twenty years or so, some intrepid editor or assistant editor rummages through the files at DCHQ only to stumble upon an old comic book featuring the H-Dial.  And with a loud poof it becomes another attempt to revive a strange and cartoonish concept, a dial with symbols or letters and numbers.  When the finder dials the right order of symbols or letters, the dial transforms the dialler into a superhero–usually a strange superhero we’re never encountered anywhere before.

First seen the House of Mystery and later featured as secondary stories throughout Adventure Comics and other titles and featured as its own title starting in 2003 that lasted 22 issues, titled H.E.R.O., the H-Dial is a short story writer’s dream.  What Quantum Leap did with Sam Beckett, only the holder of the H-Dial gets powers to help solve an immediate problem (usually).  The result should be an unlimited source of stories for short-lived superheroes and their powers.

Like the headpiece to the Staff of Ra, the H-Dial carries its own brand of mystery.  We have never learned the story behind its origin, or how many H-Dials are circulating the past and present of this or any parallel Earths.

Clever gimmicks have often accompanied the H-Dial.  In Adventure Comics in the 1980s, Marv Wolfman and Carmine Infantino created a way for readers to create new heroes to appear in issues of the comic book–an early interactive way of engaging readers.

The longest user of the dialler was Robby Reed.  He has appeared from the 1960s to the past decade in full stories and cameos with the dial.  In the New 52 series titled simply Dial H, we find in Issue #1 the new finder of the H-Dial is a young guy named Nelson, who, visually, seems a bit like Hurley from the TV series Lost.  Nelson finds the dial and uses it to try to help his friend, creating two superheroes with the device: Boy Chimney, who can travel on smoke and do who knows what that a… um… chimney and smoke would do to stop bad guys, and Captain Lachyrmose, who makes people sad and gets more powerful through other people’s sadness.

These two first uses of the H-Dial sort of fall with a thud.  The ideas are bizarre, which can be a good thing when done the right way.  But first-time comic book writer China Mieville’s dialogue is clunky.  We cannot tell what accent his friend has–is he suppoed to have some accent or does he intentionally speak a little strangely?  If he is supposed to be of some ethnic group, then artist Mateus Santolouco isn’t clear enough of what we’re supposed to think.  It doesn’t matter to the story, but it’s just a bit difficult to understand what these friends are saying to each other.  Example: “Please excuse me while screw you… just damn luck there was no damage this time.”

That said, for the most part, Santolouco does a very good job of creating bizarre images to fit Mieville’s story.  His characters are creepy and this book does fall into the “Dark” line of DC’s New 52 series.  It’s just unortunate the story is difficult to follow.

As a fan of the concept and a reader of the Adventure Comics issues featuring the H-Dial and the 2003 H.E.R.O. series, I will give Dial H a few more issues to hook me.

I’ll take a tangent for a minute and mention what DC Comics didn’t do on this round that I think would be more fun.  In this world of reality TV, as DC featured as a device in the first issues of the New 52 Green Arrow series, Dial H is the perfect venue to try some new things.  Why not have readers submit stories on some type of Dial H blog?  Why not have DC Comics’ whole pantheon of writers and artists each get a crack at developing a story within the pages of Dial H, much like Top Cow did with the Eisner nominated mini-series Common Grounds?  I’ll stop there because I’m not a fan of people reviewing what they want to see instead of what is offered by a creator.  But I do think there are unlimited stories to be told with a device like the H-Dial, and I hope Mieville, once he gets his sea legs in his new medium, takes full advantage of the opportunity.

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