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Uncle Scrooge (IDW) #1

unclescroogeidw001Editor: Sarah Gaydos
Interior Designer: Paul Hornschemeier
Archival Editor: David Gerstein
Cover: Giorgio Cavazzano
Published by: IDW
Cover Date: April 2015
Cover Price: $3.99 (48 pages)

Gigabeagle: King of the Robot Robbers

Writer: Rodolfo Cimino
Artist: Romano Scarpa
Inker: Giorgio Cavazzano
Colorist: Digikore Studios
Letterer: Tom B. Long
Translation and Dialogue: Jonathan H. Gray

This first feature goes with the cover, making it seem like the "core" of the issue. We find Scrooge going a bit crazy with stress and come to find out he’s stressing out over the fact that the Beagle Boys haven’t attacked his famous Money Bin in quite some time…which means they’ve gotta be up to SOMETHING. Turns out that what they’re up to is building a giant robotic Beagle Boy, that can physically TAKE the Money Bin…and take it the thing does, bypassing a ring of mines the ducks have put out to stop intrusion. Unfortunately for the Beagles, the AI malfunctions which leads to a tidy-ish ending of the story for Scrooge.

Given this is a new story I’d never read, it was interesting in itself. It’s been years since I’ve read anything Uncle Scrooge or Disney Ducks, so I was just happy to get a new (to me) story without going outta my way. As a story, though, it seemed rather ludicrous and in many ways far too "simple"…there also seemed to be something a bit "off" to the characters (something I can’t QUITE put my finger on). It’s possible I’ve just had years to build up expectation and for the likes of Don Rosa‘s Life and Times of Scrooge McDuck to settle in my head as an incredibly high standard.

The art is spot-on, though…characters looking perfectly familiar and sound quality.

Pure Viewing Satisfaction

Writer: Alberto Savini
Artist and Inker: Andrea Freccero
Colorist: Disney Italia with David Gorstein
Letterer: Tom B. Long
Translation and Dialogue: David Gerstein

I was surprised at the brevity of this feature. We basically see Scrooge sitting, staring at a new tv…and to summarize beyond that is to give away the "punchline" of the short. It’s amusing enough, fits the generic sense of Scrooge…though it felt odd to see Scrooge and a TV together…somehow I’m more used to (if only due to personal faulty memory) Scrooge and radios or such.

While I appreciate the short as a short, it’s nothing special and kinda seems like filler…yet it still works for me, at least visually. It seems a bit extreme and petty as a story…more like a fleshed-out anecdote than anything else…something a character might comment on in passing about Scrooge than something I’d care to actually see on-panel.

Still…it’s just a single page, a "gag strip," and actual content whose page otherwise could have been some sort of ad, so I’ll take it.

Tinker, Tailor, Scrooge and Sly

Writer: Romano Scarpa, Luca Boschi
Artist: Romano Scarpa
Inker: Sandro Del Conte
Colorist: Disney Italia with Digikore Studios
Letterer: Tom B. LOng
Translation: David Gerstein
Dialogue: Joe Torcivia

This second feature is a welcome element to the issue. When someone steals Scrooge’s jacket, he’s thrust into an adventure unbeknownst 10 years in the making. Seems that 10 years earlier, Scrooge had the thing in to a tailor to be repaired, but the tailor hid a map to a treasure in the lining to smuggle it out from under authorities. After twice rescuing his coat from the would-be thief, he takes it to a tailor in town to repair. Knowing she has a crush on him, he works the angle to get the work done for free…though  he doesn’t get to keep the treasure-find to himself.

The art on this story matches the first (which makes sense stylistically and in being the same artist!). Nothing to gripe about there.

There was something more familiar to this story that worked better for me…perhaps because it "felt" like it could be at home as a DuckTales episode or some such. I might’ve preferred this story as the lead, but its presence in the issue is welcome none the less and definitely worth the read.

Overall

I’d have to go back to revisit the Boom! Studios-published stuff from a few years ago but I don’t remember those issues being quite this thick. Getting two "feature length" stories and a "gag strip"/one-page short as a third thing is quite welcome. The lead is 28 pages, and the second feature is 15 pages…44 pages of content including the single-page piece!

And we get numerous panels per page with plenty of dialogue and such throughout so this is NOT a quick read the way many other comics are with half, full, and double-page splashes and pages of near "silence" to be sped through with no text to slow things down.

Combine those factors and you have one of the most fun comics out there for the $3.99 price point. That’s double (or MORE) the content of MOST $3.99 books.

My core complaint about this tends to be my usual: those doggone VARIANT covers. Given the issue is (as I understand) functionally "just" translated/reprint material previously published outside the U.S….throw a couple full-page images/"pinups" in the issue, use ’em as a watermark on the inside cover(s), put one on the back cover…but…enough with the perpetual variants already!

This issue is technically numbered #1 (405) as IDW is looking inconsistent–wanting to publish its OWN Uncle Scrooge #1, yet appease fans of the "legacy" numbering by doing this dual-numbering (yet, I believe they are simply going with the classic numbering for the forthcoming Walt Disney’s Comics and Stories title…so why they couldn’t simply preserve the "legacy" numbering on this as well is beyond me (and even if they numbered this #405 they could STILL have plastered a big #1 or 1st Issue or such on the thing… or gone with #405 (1) to track their own numbering within the "classic legacy" of the Disney books.

The Duck Books are fun, classic fare. Like Archie comics, they may look like they’re "just for kids" or juvenile, but they hold so much potential and there are some great bits, certainly quite enjoyable for an adult…particularly for the bit of nostalgia.

I’m assuming the pagecount is going to be "standard" for this series, and especially if it holds on that, you really won’t find much out there more fun and more worthy of a $3.99 price point.

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Archer & Armstrong: Archer #0 [Review]

archerandarmstrongarcher000Writer: Fred Van Lente
Artist: Pere Perez
Color Art: David Baron
Letters: Tom B. Long
Editor: Josh Johns
Executive Editor: Warren Simons
Published by: Valiant
Cover Price: $3.99

This issue was a welcome moment diving back into this title. Unfortunately, I’ve fallen a few months behind in my reading due to a misplaced issue, and have yet to ‘catch up’. Despite that, I didn’t mind jumping in here for the “origin” of Archer…and was kinda surprised at how much of an origin it proved to be!

I don’t know what I expected, exactly…but this origin perfectly fits what I know of the contemporary Valiant universe, and continues to show how things tie together even in titles that don’t normally mix. This issue introduces us to a young boy and his supposed benefactors, and follows what he goes through prior to being adopted by the Archers, and then the trials he faces leading us toward the status quo when we met him back in issue #1.

I greatly enjoyed the fact that this was functionally a one-shot issue. I don’t feel like I’m missing anything not having read recent issues, but I do feel like this has expanded my understanding of the character and his place in the Valiant universe. Though functionally a one-shot, the final scene and page set up the crossover between Archer & Armstrong and Bloodshot and H.A.R.D.Corps beginning next month…while obviously intentional, it doesn’t seem gratuitous, and leaves me looking forward to that.

The story and art in general for this issue are the usual quality I expect of the title, and nothing and no one looks particularly different or out of sorts to my eye. This was simply a solid issue with good story and art.

While not in a “the last issue I read said ‘To Be Continued!’ sense, just for its shedding light on Archer’s background, this is an eventual “must-read” for fans of the series. I doubt it’ll overly detract from one’s reading experience if this is skipped, but it’ll almost certainly be enhanced by this issue. I’d also venture that this issue makes a good bridgepoint or jumping-on point if one’s interested in checking things out with the title, except that half the ongoing title’s main cast is missing, the focus of this being only on Archer’s side.

I’m glad to have picked it up, and read it now rather than putting it off, as it does have me eager to get caught up on the book.

TMNT Villains Micro-Series #2: Baxter [Review]

tmntvillainsmicroseries002baxterScript: Erik Burnham
Art: Andy Kuhn
Colors: John Rauch
Letters: Tom B. Long
Editor: Bobby Curnow
Cover: Tyler Walpole
Published by: IDW
Cover Price: $3.99

I hate the $3.99 price point. I’ve said that before, and I’ll keep saying it until it finally drives me to actually, totally give up on new comics completely. Broken record that I am, hating the price point is something that’s there, even when I don’t point it out this redundantly, even when talking about comics I otherwise enjoy.

I’m thoroughly enjoying IDW‘s TMNT reboot. I do kinda miss the classic stuff…and yet, we’re getting the monthly TMNT Color Classics series, which kinda scratches that itch. This new iteration is bringing together the strengths of numerous incarnations of the property, and making even the ridiculous, stupid stuff relevant and workable (take Krang and the Neutrinos, for just two examples). And I wish there was more. Maintaining its level of quality I’d be thrilled to have new in-continuity, pushing-the-overall-events-of-things-forward basically weekly.

But since we have a monthly title, I highly enjoy the companion series–first the “good guys” micro-series, then we had the Secret History of the Foot Clan, and now we’re getting a Villains micro-series. So I’m relatively content with that.

All of the above to get to the point here: this is another great issue of TMNT from IDW. Officially a #2 of a series spotlighting villains (the first having spotlighted Krang) this is also “the” Baxter Stockman “one-shot” or “micro series.”

We get some definite insight into Baxter here–but it continues his ongoing “subplot” in this continuity, as he works on tech stuff, assisting in the building of the Technodrome, the infamous war machine fans of the 1980s’ cartoon series will know quite well. But while the genius works on it, we see that he’s not just some simpering lackey, but has purpose behind his actions, and he’s not some fool playing into the end of the world with any true belief that he’d get anything worthwhile out of his current deal with Krang.

We see moments of Baxter’s past, his dealings with his father–who was a profound influence on him–along with the developments of the “present” plot points. We have the signature mousers about him in his lab, and we get a new toy–a “Flyborg,” a mutant fly armed with cybernetics…the fly being an almost too-obvious (to me) “nod” at the ’80s cartoon (and one that led me to fear Baxter’s fate in this issue). By the end of the issue we see Baxter’s agenda advanced, and pieces on the board have shifted ever so slightly as the ongoing battle situates itself for the larger things yet to come.

The writing keeps to the overall continuity, presents some insight into the character, and reminds me that this is a very good character, and I like it far more than I do the version displayed in the current tv series. I find Baxter far more interesting in control of himself, an intelligent (if a bit mad-scientist-y) individual, clever and not just some whining lackey or mutated bug or bumbling fool.

The art’s not entirely to my liking, though it’s not horrible. It comes off a bit cartooney, if not slightly abstract, and is done a great disservice by the fantastic cover that plants the idea of what the interior OUGHT to be. The story is conveyed and I’m not left scratching my head over what’s going on, really…but this issue definitely is carried on the strength of the story over the art.

Of course, as I’ve also stated numerous times–the TMNT get a sort of “pass” from me on things I typically won’t put up with in any other comics; one of those things is the visuals, as I’m more used to numerous visual interpretations of the characters, even issue-to-issue, due to the simple history of the characters and so many artists working on ’em.

While this issue certainly works best in context of the ongoing continuity, you still get a core story in and of itself in one issue; and if you’re following the TMNT stuff in general, this is well worth snagging.

Finally: this cover would be an excellent poster image…or at least, I’d not be opposed to having a poster of this image on my wall.

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