Posts Tagged ‘Dale Eaglesham’

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Near as I can tell, 2017 looks like it’s gonna be a pretty rough year — what with an insane, mouth-foaming lunatic in the White House and everything — but on the plus side, it’s also the 100th anniversary of the birth of the greatest genius to ever grace the comic book medium with the fruits of his imagination, the one and only Jack Kirby. From all appearances, Marvel appears to be doing fuck-all to honor the man who created 90-plus% of the characters they’ve built a multi-billion-dollar empire off, but at least DC seems to be willing, perhaps even downright eager, to give “The King” his due, so kudos to them for that. First item up in the year-long celebration? Kamandi Challenge, a 12-part “round-robin”-style series that revives the old DC Challenge conceit of having a different creative team solve the “pickle” left for them by the previous one.

Truth be told, though, the rules of the DC Challenge were considerably more difficult — back then, writers and artists would lay down subplots and cliffhangers that the next folks had to solve using entirely different characters, while this time out, it’s strictly a cliffhanger-only affair and, of course, The Last Boy On Earth is the star of each and every issue. So, I mean, yeah — as far as “challenges” go, this one’s pretty easy. But that doesn’t mean that it can’t still be a hell of a lot of fun.

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DC co-head honcho Dan DiDio and veteran artist Keith Giffen get the ball rolling in this extra-sized first issue with a “prelude”-type story that sets the ground rules and provides a reasonably decent introduction of sorts to the characters, but before you all head for the hills, let’s remember that, for all his numerous and obvious flaws, DiDio is a massive Kirby fan and he and Giffen teamed up for an OMAC series in the early days of the “New 52” that was one of the best offerings that now-concluded (I guess?) revamp had to offer. DiDio also has at least a decent surface-level grasp of Kirby’s writing style and can turn in a respectable approximation of his absolutely unique dialogue, and Giffen, for his part, knows how to impart his illustrations with a certain amount of Kirby-esque dynamism and flair without being slavishly beholden to the idea of aping his style outright. All in all, then, the two of ’em do a more than adequate job of laying out the particulars here and then getting out of the way and letting post-catastrophe Earth take center stage.

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Enter scribe Dan Abnett, artist Dale Eaglesham, and colorist Hi-Fi, who bring us a brightly-hued, dare-I-say-magnificently flowing action spectacle that pits all the characters fans of the series love — Kamandi, Prince Tuftan, Doctor Canus, King Caesar, etc. — against all that the future world of intelligent animals and danger lurking around every corner has to offer, beginning with a fight to the finish against the giant ape, Tiny, and racing at breakneck pace from there to a less-than-imaginative, but staggeringly appropriate in its simplicity, “countdown clock” cliffhanger. Abnett’s dialogue is more than a  bit overly-expository by contemporary standards, but that’s all part of the fun as far as I’m concerned, and “fun” is definitely the operative word of the day here — a point driven home nearly relentlessly by Eaglesham’s gorgeously fluid art, which Abnett wisely allows to do the bulk of the storytelling. Does it “look like Kirby”? Hell no, but it fits Kirby’s world nicely, and besides, if straight-up homage is your bag, there’s always Bruce Timm’s splendid cover to make you (probably more than) happy. In short, I think that if “The King” himself took a look at this book, he’d be downright pleased to see what these guys have done with his characters and concepts.

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What if you’re a “Kamandi Virgin,” though? Hmmm — good question. I’ll be perfectly honest — longtime fans are probably bound to get much more enjoyment from this comic than newbies, but my best guess is that anyone and everyone, regardless of “experience level,” will find more than enough here to make the five bucks they plunked down for it seem like a fair trade. If “high adventure in a world gone mad” is a premise still capable of entertaining you, then Kamandi Challenge #1 is more or less stone-cold certain to be up your alley. It’s got highly likable characters in far-out and far-flung situations, cool monsters, and amazingly illustrated action, so I don’t care who you are — this is a comic that damn near forces a smile onto your face, and then dares you not to keep it there. Whether it can continue doing so is up to the creators that will be stepping up to the plate to handle future installments, but given that Peter J. Tomasi and Neal Adams are up next, something tells me it’s safe to assume that we’ll be in very good hands indeed.

So — how much did I love Kamandi Challenge #1? I’ll put it to you this way : Jack Kirby’s original Kamandi is quite possibly my favorite series of all time, and while this has absolutely no hope of supplanting of superseding that, it feels like a very worthy successor. Strap in for the duration, then — this promises to be an exhilarating ride.

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If you’ve followed my reviews regularly — or even semi-regularly — around these parts, two things are readily apparent : first, you need something better to do with your time, and second, I’m not terribly fond of DC’s “New 52” reboot.  By this point — nearly three years in — I was hoping it would have grown on me somewhat, I guess, or that I’d be at least so resigned to its inevitability that I’d just shut up and move on, but unfortunately neither of those things have happened, and I still feel the need to bitch about it for whatever reason, —even if it’s just tilting at windmills. Sorry, but I can be stubborn like that.

And DC’s being stubborn, too, aren’t they? I mean, a series that deviated from the norm a little bit would be welcome relief to those of us who like their characters but are bored to tears by how homogenized their universe has become, but so far they don’t seem too interested in catering to us in the least. We can take the stuff they’re putting out or leave it, but they’re not going to change.

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Oh, sure — by and large it’s fair to say that I’ve walked away from the entire enterprise (apart from Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo’s Batman, which is terrific stuff), but every now and again I find myself with nothing better to do with three bucks (I really should consider crack addiction at this point as a viable alternative) and pop my head in at some random spot to see if things have improved. Such was the case just like week, in fact, when I took a flier on the first issue of the new Sinestro monthly series written by Cullen Bunn and illustrated by Dale Eaglesham.

I can’t profess any particular love for this character, or for the entire “Green Lantern Universe” (or whatever you want to call it) as a whole, but Bunn seems to be a talent worth keeping an eye on if his work on Marvel’s Magneto is any indication (he seems to be drawing the short straw at both of the “Big Two” publishers and landing assignments on the villain books), so I figured what the heck? And I’ve heard that crack can be hazardous to your health, anyway.

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Unfortunately, I think even a low-grade crack rock (and I’m assuming that’s all three dollars would get me) would probably give my brain cells more to do than Sienstro #1 did, because this book sucks all the way across the board. It suffers from the acute lack of personality that seems to be the calling card for the “New 52” in general, and while I’m sure the creators put a fair amount of sweat into this thing, the heavy editorial dictates that they’re forced to comply with in order to get a paycheck have resulted in making this yet another completely interchangeable, mass-produced, cookie-cutter offering.

The plot, near as I could be bothered to remember it, goes thusly : Sinestro is holed up on some barren rock floating around in space, determined to lead a life of solitude and contemplation, when his old ally/adversary (depending on the situation), Lyssa Drak, shows up and convinces him to don his tights again and fight to free the few people of his homeworld who are still alive. So he does, since he thought they’d all been wiped out. And the first person he’s called upon to save in his one-man cosmic rescue mission is — well, that would be telling. But that’s all that happens, and that’s where the story ends, so trust me when I say I’m not skimping on any details here.

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As I said earlier, Bunn can write. but his talents are wasted on this drivel. This is a story that literally seems to have been born in an editorial meeting and then farmed out to freelancers to do the actual dirty work. The prose is stiff, the dialogue even stiffer, and the wretchedly formulaic nature of what DC has in mind for the character in the long haul oozes from every panel. Get ready for more of the same here, people.

Likewise, I’m willing to be that Eaglesham can draw pretty well, but you’d never guess it from the stale, derivative style he’s tasked with undertaking here. His Sinestro looks like the same guy we’ve always seen plus about 20 pounds of steroid-induced muscle growth, and the overall look of the book is, as with the “New 52” in general, that of a mid-’90s WildStorm comic that just happens to feature DC characters. Yeah, I know, I’ve made that exact same complaint before, but DC keeps putting out comics that have the exact same problem, so I’m just gonna keep it up until they either produce something even marginally different or I finally give up. Whichever comes first.

In any case, the end result here is a book you’ve already seen a thousand times before, even if it was called Green Lantern #20, Justice League #16, or Flash #9. DC either doesn’t care about letting their creators do anything unique these days, or has flat-out forgotten how to get out of the way and allow them that sort of freedom. Doug Mahnke’s variant cover (pictured above, underneath Eaglesham’s main one) comes as close to looking a little bit out of the bog-standard ordinary as anything we’re like to see from this series, but that’s about it as far as breaking loose from the assembly line goes.

Hmmmm  — if I have a few extra dollars left after picking up my usual stuff at the LCS this week, I think maybe I’ll track down that crack dealer after all.