THE BEST OF DC WAR COMICS AMERICA AT WAR Edited by Michael Uslan
One of the great discoveries of 2018, in addition to me getting back into old back issue comics, and purchasing my first Golden and Atomic age comics, is my jumping into conflict or combat or war comics, with both feet.
The first conflict title that really grabbed me was OUR FIGHTING FORCES STARRING THE LOSERS. I have been reading comics for decades and somehow I managed to remain largely clueless to these comics. I mean I had seen war and western comics as a kid, and had no interest in them as most kids of my age at the time.
I think those books are very much something you have to grow to appreciate, much like the art of Jack Kirby.
But here many decades removed from that kid, this year I stumbled across the amazing run of Joe Kubert covers for OUR FIGHTING FORCES, and they just blew me away.
In an age where a lot of morons are using gimmicks like variant comics to sell multiple copies to a dwindling reader base , and publishers are playing into the gambling aspect of the speculators, who don’t even read the comics, they just oooh and ahhh over what amounts to pinups on the cover, rather than in the book where they used to be.
To the point where you have covers that are completely devoid of typography. Typography is part and parcel, of what makes s great, iconic cover. Another part of being iconic, is there being only one image, per issue, a popular shared point of reference that an entire public can reference.
If you say Amazing Fantasy 15, or X-men 94, or Hulk 181, what makes all those issues so iconic, is they bring up one agreed upon, and shared image in the minds of the audience.
Now covers have a minimum of 2 variants and often 10 times that many. At that point you have stopped selling stories, and are in the business of selling pin-ups. And if all you want is a pin-up, just download the damn cover images. Do not get me wrong there are some wonderful images being created for these ‘variant’ covers. But they are pin-ups or posters, they are not covers. They act against the very idea of a cover, which is a single, memorable image you can identify with that story. You weaken your own product, by dilluting and muddying the waters, with multiple covers, or multiple endings, or multiple versions. Plurality being the enemy of the iconic.
It is the reason modern comics are a speculator’s bubble, poised to burst. The whole market, much like the 90s, is built on speculation, and chasing the very transitory and ephemeral nature of what is hot. A lot of it is forced or manufactured rarity. Ooh this issue had a curse word in it, ooh this issue had a possibly risqué or controversial image.
It is completely manufactured market, based on very superficial minutiae, than in any way on content or quality.
DEATHSTROKE is consistently one of the best books DC comics is producing. Christopher Priest month in and month out delivering fantastic writing, with fantastic interior art.
Unfortunately all the speculator’s comment on is the cover variant.
While no doubt the creators are glad to have the numbers, having the readers is the real goal of this medium, and the real satisfaction of being a creator.
It is one reason that older comics, particularly from the Bronze Age, are getting so popular. The storytelling, the typography, the beauty, the singularity of vision, all stands out, especially in comparison to the lack of all of those things in most modern comic books.
Joe Kubert I really have grown such a HUGE appreciation for his story-telling, particularly his covers. He is such a master artist, and no-where is that more obvious than on his long and fruitful run in Conflict Comics.
Here without further ado are just a few of the must own LOSERS Joe Kubert covers (the complete essential run goes from OUR FIGHTING FORCES 123 TO 141. 19 issue run of AMAZING covers. And even though Kubert keeps doing the cover art till 151, I would say 141 is a good jumping off point for individual issues collectors. After 141 DC would go for a more conventional , less experimental style, and those later issues lend themselves to just picking up in a collected trade format.
The more boring covers seems to coincide with the switch of Editors from Joe Kubert to Archie Goodwin. And then it would quickly bounce to Jack Kirby and Finally Murray Boltinoff who would see the series to its demise at issue #181. The series at its strongest, and the individual issues worth collecting, are issues 123 to 141.
Buy your issues here:
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You heard it here first!!! Forget about paying a fortune for the first issue of new book BATMAN DAMNED, a flash in a pan overpriced at cover price, book. And get something with real staying power, Joe kubert’s 1970’s run on OUR FIGHTING FORCES issues #123 to141!!
Stan Lee and Roy Thomas, and their creations and stewardship of a small publishing house called MARVEL COMICS was very much a touchstone of my youth. So to see the two share this 1976 interview, on what is seemingly a local public access show, is just fantastic. And with current, sad talks of abuse against Stan, it is great to look back and see him in happier days. Also it is amazing how relevant the topics are and how prescient both men were of a future where comics sold outside of the monthly format, and instead in collected and hardcover formats.
A great way to spend about 28 minutes. And here is wishing improved fortune for Stan Lee, and continued great fortune for Roy Thomas.
This is, despite some misfires, a golden age of TV. With just about every broadcast, cable or streaming channel producing quality shows.
CW after spearheading the SuperHero explosion on television, with its ARROW show, leading into a veritable universe of comic related shows, has unfortunately become a victim of its own success. Other channels buoyed by ARROW’s initial ground breaking success have followed suit, and quite frankly have surpassed what is coming out of CW. The action and fight choreography of DAREDEVIL making the once jaw dropping ARROW fight scenes, look gimmicky and sub-par by comparison.
FLASH while filled with likable characters, gets increasingly less inspired stories each season. SUPER-GIRL after an initial strong first season, follows it up with a weak syrupy second season, that spent too much time on her Sister’s Lesbianism, which I really could not care any less about, and introducing other uninteresting characters. SUPERNATURAL jumped the shark over 5 seasons ago, and hasn’t had an engaging season since (as every season,simply plays out as watered down ou can definitely add BLACK LIGHTNING to the mix.. variations of that, And LEGENDS OF TOMORROW is just bad on every level. Shows such as LEGION and RUNAWAYS making the CW shows look like the 60s BATMAN or GREATEST AMERICAN HERO show, by comparison.
Only IZOMBIE, currently on hiatus, has been consistently entertaining to date.
Now after five episodes you can add BLACK LIGHTNING to that list. It has the freshness and energy and charisma and captivating stories, that the other CW shows largely lack. With a great lead, excellent costars, vicious enemies, and mysteries abounding. It from top to bottom isn’t just an exciting and addictive and fun show, but also a needed one. If ARROW five years ago was the show we needed then, BLACK LIGHTNING very much, is the show we need now. Five episodes in I’m hooked, I love it. Grade: B+.
And while the show can b e released and enjoyed anytime, I do appreciate it being released during Black History Month/Year. It touches with a deft hand on issues that still resound.
These three podcasts all had long runs that unfortunately came to an end, and while there have been no end of new podcasts since ( and I’ll cover some of those new discoveries next installment), the niche these three podcasts filled, and the personalities thst filled them… remain unduplicated and sorely missed.
They are INDIE SPINNER RACK and SIDEBAR and HORROR ETC.
The first was a 2 man New York show that covered all things Comics Indie related, with style and panache and good natured, quirky humor. The third was a 3 man Atlanta show that sported some of the best interviews with illustrators, painters, comic pencillers, etc; and the last was a 2 person Canadian show covering Horror films, tv shows, books, comics. All 3 of those excellent shows have given up the ghost, but it is a testament to how good each one was, they remain… sorely missed, and the episodes… particularly SIDEBAR, important.
If you have the opportunity to download any of these podcast’s old episodes ( check the search engines) , get them. They are the real thing… they are pure.
THE VOID by director/writing team of Jeremy Gillespie and Steven Kosanski is the calling card of filmmakers to watch.
I loved the trailer for this film, and it was one of the films I was most hyped to catch on Netflix this year. Finally watched it does deliver the goods, a throwback to the visceral, and gooey practical affects of the best of 80s Body Horror, films such as John Carpenter’s THE THING. THE VOID is a deeply off-center film, and an uncomfortable one, and while doing everything right, feels off-kilter enough not to be a home-run.
You couldn’t ask anything more of a horror movie than this film delivers, and yet it leaves you slightly unsatisfied. Again, it is everything you can want in a horror film, but there is something about it that feels, strange and cold and empty in the center. Maybe that’s an earned feeling, or something about how referential it is to well known films in the genre, whatever it is, I do like this film, and I think it deserves more than one viewing.
I hestitate to call it a great film the way I would unreservedly say of DEVOURED or IT FOLLOWS or A GIRL WALKS HOME ALONE AT NIGHT or III: RITUAL, but it is a solid very good film, and is worth owning on Blu-ray or DVD. Grade:B+.
POWER The acclaimed Curtis ’50 CENT’ Jackson produced STARZ series finally makes itself available on HULU, and man was it well worth the wait. Showrunner/Creator Courtney Kemp Agboh’s POWER is the very definition of binge worthy television.
From opening credits to final fade to black, the show is FANTASTIC!! Omari Hardwick helms a powerhouse cast, in an exquistely photographed, compulsively paced stunner of a show.