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The ’90s Revisited: Action Comics #761

actioncomics761For a Thousand Years…

Writer: Joe Kelly
Penciler: German Garcia
Inker: Joe Rubinstein
Colorist: Glenn Whitmore
Seps: Wildstorm
Letterer: John Costanza
Associate Editor: Maureen McTigue
Editor: Edddie Berganza
Published by: DC Comics
Cover Price: $1.99
Cover Date: January, 2000

This is one of those fairly “one-off” issues, the sort I tend to quite enjoy, despite being one who thoroughly enjoys a rich “continuity.” While cover-dated as January 2000, this came out in 1999, and is one of the later issues of the ’90s run on the Superman titles that has really and truly stuck with me through the years.\

While there’s stuff with ongoing plot details, the heart of this issue is about Wonder Woman recruiting Superman to assist an ongoing battle of the gods. Unfortunately, the two find themselves stuck–they cannot return home until the war is over…and they learn that war can last for a very, very, very long time.

I quite like the cover of this issue…at least compared to the main interior art. The art isn’t bad, mind you–but it’s a bit less detailed and more cartooney than I remembered. Beyond that, I’m neither put off nor enamored by the art–it does what it should conveying visuals of the story, it just doesn’t blow me away in and of itself.

The story is what really makes this issue stand out in my memory, such that I had but to see the cover to know this was the issue the story was in, and recall the overall plot. This is the Superman I grew up on, and hold to be “my” Superman: the one who is great friends with Wonder Woman, but extremely sure of himself and his relationship with Lois. That what he had with Lois was essential to who he was, and not something casually set aside for some woman who also happened to be “more than mortal” or some such.

I like the epic-ness of the issue, though it’s a bit far-fetched in a lotta ways, especially in this “era” of Superman. At the same time, it fits–as there had already been hints–if only in Kamandi: At Earth’s End and the DC One Million stuff–that suggest Superman would go on to have an extremely long lifespan. I honestly don’t recall how much “fallout” there was from this issue–but there was some, I’m almost certain.

Despite plenty of attention given to the supporting cast, this issue is a fairly good stand-alone issue, if plucked by itself from a bargain bin. For me, it’s one of the stand-out issues of the 1990s-era Superman run, of all the ongoing titles, simply FOR its dealing with the Superman/Wonder Woman/Lois “triangle” and (to me) strongly affirming where the characters stand with each other.

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Amazing Spider-Man #611 [Review]

This Man, This [Expletive Deleted]

Writer: Joe Kelly
Artist: Eric Canete
Colorist: Andres Mossa
Letterer: VC’s Joe Caramagna
Asst. Editor: Tom Brennan
Editor: Stephen Wacker
Exec. Editor: Tom Brevoort
Publisher: Marvel Comics

I never expected to be reviewing–much less BUYING–an issue of this title given the current status quo. I’m one of those who has zero interest in the current Spider-Man post-One-More-Day. That I bought this issue at all is high praise to the draw of Deadpool. And, as I’d hoped…this felt more like a Deadpool title than Spider-Man.

The issue opens with Deadpool amidst a bunch of mostly recognizeable Marvel Women taking a phone call about a new job. Of course, this plays out in typical Deadpool-fashion and manages to reference/poke fun at a couple notable points of Spider-Man comics the last couple years. Even the “Previously Page” is given some hokiness, breaking the “fourth wall” having the Marvel EIC and other editors give the situation-so-far. We then quickly move into seeing Spider-Man in action against Lady Stilt-Man and all the ridiculousness one can imagine. Deadpool steps in and he and Spidey fight (though the fight devolves to juvenile “yo mamma” trade-offs). Finally, Deadpool attains his goal, and the scene shifts to show us the real purpose of Deadpool taking on Spidey, with a fairly major character now lying dead, as this title heads into something called “The Gauntlet.”

I’m not familiar with the artist…and honestly, this issue did absolute zero to make me want to get familiar. The style is rather stylistic…but really does not at all fit what I’d expect of something with Deadpool (or Spider-Man, for that matter). If I wasn’t 1. so stoked about Deadpool as written by Joe Kelly and/or 2. never bothered to look inside the issue before purchase, due to knowledge of Deadpool’s presence and the “regular” cover being the one I wanted*…I’d recommend against this for anyone but those already following and enjoying the title.

(* see how I’ll use the asterisk to note something? Sort like Deadpool and his “voices.” I specifically avoided a recent issue of Hulk that had Deadpool in it, due to the fact that the cover I wanted turned out to be a 1:200 or so ratioed-variant. I’d’ve avoided this issue had it been the same set-up.)

Where this issue succeeds is in feeling like a Deadpool story guest-starring Spider-Man. As I have zero interest in Spidey’s current status quo, this issue worked very well by not dealing with it in any focal manner. I recognize background characters–Madame Web, and Mattie in particular–and see how they provide a sort of “framing sequence” that marks this as a sort of “prologue” to The Gauntlet.

Where this issue fails is in establishing anything to bring me back next issue. This felt like a one-off, and though I’m mildly intrigued by what was set up here…I’m still not at all interested in actually investing in the next arc.

Deadpool fan? This is well worth picking up, if you don’t mind the art. Regular reader of The Amazing Spider-Man? This’ll probably be right up your alley and have more significance for you than me (not having touched a Spider-Man comic in close to two years).

Final thought: The cover is great. And yet realy has nothing to do with the issue. This is the sort of image that would make a great ad in that regard…and I daresay I’d buy a poster if they made one of this image.

Story: 7/10
Art: 3/10
Whole: 5/10

Deadpool #900 [Review]

Issue Credits

Letterer: VC’s Joe Sabino
Covers: Dave Johnson
Assistant Editor: Jody Leheup
Editor: Axel Alonso
Publisher: Marvel Comics

For $4.99, this issue would have to do quite a bit in order to justify its cost. Thankfully, it more than delivered. While I was really hoping it would be all-original content, my only real frustration at there being a reprint in the back (Deadpool Team-Up featuring Deadpool and Widdle Wade) is that that was one of about a half-dozen Deadpool comics that I already own from the 90s–and which I’d spent several hours just last weekend digging through 18 longboxes to find.

As-is, this is far from the “typical” Deadpool comic–nothing here seems to be in-continuity in the sense of advancing either of the main plots for the first two Deadpool ongoings. However, this faux-anniversary issue is a great “primer” for new fans, and presumably quite a treat for old fans. There may not be any real throughline in the book, but we get seven short stories starring Deadpool, but different creative teams new and old that give the character a chance to shine.

And the number is a nice play on the recent re-numbering Marvel has done with its various titles (I do wonder if Deadpool himself might have appeared in 900 comics through the years, which would me nicely appropriate).  It definite fits the character to play with the numbering–and I surprisingly don’t mind for this one character, as it seems an obvious riff on things rather than a serious numbering bit.

I really enjoyed Liefeld’s art on the Joe Kelly story–there was just something to it, perhaps simply the knowledge that the art’s by the guy that created the character. My favorite story of the bunch was Swierczynski’s riff on a certain tv show about crime scene investigators. Having enjoyed these shorts as I did…if Marvel ever decides to move the Deadpool books to the $3.99 price point, I would hope they’d consider having new original content such as these included after a full-length “main” story.

As these stories are not part of any of the ongoing stuff, if you simply enjoy the Deadpool character or are curious, this is a fantastic single issue to pick up. The original content alone is really worth the cover price (particularly compared against Marvel’s standard-sized $3.99 books!), and you get a reprint of an issue from the 90s that you’d be lucky to find by itself for the price of this issue, these days.

Long-time fan, new fan, or just curious about who the heck Deadpool is…I highly recommend this issue!

Close Encounters of the @*#$ed-Up Kind
Writer: Jason Aaron
Penciler: Chris Staggs
Inker: Juan Vlasco
Colorist: Marte Gracia

This story sees Deadpool beamed onto an alien spacecraft, where he is subjected to the aliens’ probing. However…Deadpool being Deadpool, the tables are quickly turned with a chewed-off arm (his own) and turning the aliens’ machinery against them. Rather than simply delivering a carload of dead guys where he was headed…he delivers a bunch of dead guys and a ship of dead aliens.

This is definitely an over-the-top sorta Deadpool story–the bit with the arm I’m beginning to sense may be a running gag with the character. The art’s not my favorite depiction by any means, but definitely gets stuff across quite well in an indie-comics cartooney sort of way.

Silent But Deadly
Writer: Fred Van Lente
Artist: Dalibor Talajic

This story opens with a bang…or rather, if we get technical, a “Boom” as Deadpool’s caught in an explosion. Though his eardrums’re blown out by the explosion, it doesn’t take away from his ability to kick butt, facing 3…well, I actually thought of The Joker’s minions, but that’s a whole other sort of thing. They seem to have some sort of invulnerability, at least to Deadpool’s swords. Once he switches to guns…the fight’s basically over. The “punchline” of the story was rather amusing, and seems typical of the character as well.

The art’s not bad, but not what I typically associate with the character. Still, no complaint with it, really–in a quasi-“anthology” such as this issue, I don’t really expect a consistent visual style nor for every visual interpretation of a character to be my personal ideal.

Deadpool: Shrunken Master
Writer: Mike Benson
Artist: Damion Scott
Colorist: Lee Loughridge

With a couple of “light” stories out of the way, this one goes down a much darker path. Here we see Deadpool at a psychiatrist, having an apparently typical-for-Deadpool session. We see the smart-aleckiness of the character, and it’s actually quite interesting seeing him interacting with someone like this, being analyzed and even doing some self-analyzing. However, there’s a twist toward the end as we see that Deadpool’s motive is not to seek counciling, but rather see some justice done.

This was another story that to me comes across as what I can only really describe as “indie”–it’s not typical/mainstream super-hero fare…or at least, none that I’m used to associating with such. Yet, it really carries the mood quite well, and does exactly what it should. Again, not my favorite depiction, but for very well-suited to this particular story.

Pinky Swear
Writer: Joe Kelly
Artist: Rob Liefeld

This was the story I was most looking forward to for this issue, after having read the Marvel Spotlight: Deadpool issue last week. We find Deadpool in the midst of a battle, with a pretty woman hanging on for dear life. We have some…questionable (but fitting) inner dialogue from Deadpool’s voices. Before long, Deadpool is reminded of a date he’s gotta keep–with an old friend from his school days. The boys had a bet over whether his friend would marry someone in particular by a certain time, and mid-battle (with the battle following him) Deadpool finds the guy, and the bet is settled.

I normally don’t care all that much for Liefeld’s art, but it worked quite well here–likely for nostalgia, knowing this is Deadpool as visualized by the character’s creator. The story itself seems to really fit the character–that even in the middle of a gun battle and with an attractive woman at his side trying to stay alive, Deadpool would keep some childhood promise where other ‘dates’ may not be kept. The bet itself really makes it work, as it seems so trivial, and yet Deadpool makes it into this huge thing.

What Happens in Vegas…
Writer: Duane Swierczynski
Artist: Shawn Crystal
Colorist: Lee Loughridge

This story quickly becomes a rather obvious riff on the tv show CSI. Deadpool’s very much aware here of the “real world,” and the formula of the tv show. The fact that anyone would pronounce him dead and yet he’s cognitive–both of his surroundings and of where the reader might be looking–is an interesting use of narrative further illustrating the character’s nature. As it turns out, the story itself is Deadpool trying to get a particular reaction from one of the investigators–inserting himself into the “mythology” of the show, given the typical, cheesey one-liners. And of course, not getting the intended reaction, Deadpool reacts violently, before explaining to the reader what he was going for.

Not all that thrilled with the art on this one, but it fits the story. The investigator characters are pretty much recognizeable, knowing who they’re supposed to be…without being actual likenesses of the tv actors/actres. As said earlier, this was my favorite story in this issue…it took me by surprise, but the fact that I’m aware of the show and the bit Deadpool’s going for…I just really enjoyed it. All the more because of the pun Deadpool’s going for being right up my own alley humour-wise (though of course I do not condone the violence!).

Great Balls of Thunder on the Deep Blue Sea
Writer: Victor Gischler
Penciler: Sanford Greene
Inker: Nathan Massengill
Colorist: Dave McCaig

This was a rather amusing short. Basically, Deadpool’s on vacation on a cruise ship, and his typical, violent nature is most assuredly NOT compatible with the typical vacationer. Unfortunately for Deadpool…Dr. Octopus is also present, and does not take kindly to the mercenary’s presence. Deadpool suggests some “vacation code” (typical that he’d have something like that in mind, whether or not anyone else even KNOWS of it or recognizes it). The ending’s darkly amusing, playing with scene transition in a way that works very well in this medium.

The art is very cartooney, but that works well for this story. This actually may be one of the least-violent Deadpool stories I’ve read, and it looks entirely possible that–while severely inconvenienced–no one in the story actually dies. Really just an entertaining story.

One Down
Writer: Charlie Huston
Artist: Kyle Baker

This story has a bit of typical Deadpool as the character ultimately continues to break the “fourth wall” since he’s fully aware that he is a comic character. It also serves as some strong commentary on the current/contemporary nature of comic characters, especially from Marvel and DC. There’s also a hint of Jay & Silent Bob here at the story’s ending…or at least, I thought of that film with the way it ended compared to this.

We see Deadpool conversing with the voices in his head as he gets up and around for the day, going through all the stuff he needs to in order to reach a particular target. The identity of the target is what brings the whole story together. Once again, a rather dark place for the story to go…quite morbid, actually. And yet, it puts a certain depth and seriousness to Deadpool that I think I’d actually be very interested in seeing explored.

I’m not all that familiar with Baker’s art, though he’s one of the view names I recognize amongst the artists for this issue. The style works very well for the story. The visual and written aspects work very well in a way that really wouldn’t work in anything BUT a comic, even while this piece itself comments on comics.

This one wasn’t as “fun” as the CSI riff…but next to that, I think this was my other favorite of the issue.

Deadpool and Widdle Wade

Well…actually, this is a whole separate issue, deserving of its own review. Its inclusion here obviously beefs up Deadpool #900, especially as it was already a special by itself.

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