Category Archives: Comics

Neil Gaiman, Eternals

(2016-04-28 001)Title: Eternals

Author: created by Jack Kirby; Neil Gaiman, writer; John Romita, Jr., pencils

Publication Information: New York, NY: Published by Marvel Publishing, Inc., a subsidiary of of Marvel Entertainment, Inc., 2007

ISBN: 0-7851-2541-8 (978-0-785-12541-9)

Library of Congress Classification: PN6727.G35

Library of Congress Subject Headings:
Fantasy comic books, strips, etc.
Young adult fiction, English

Having collected all of Jack Kirby’s original Eternals title and just about every Eternals mini-series that Marvel Comics ever published, I am wary of where this graphic novel is going. It seems that Marvel, in the best imitation of DC Comics, wants to reconstitute the Eternals.

Originally, the Eternals were one of the races created by the Celestials, an omnipotent race that visited Earth thousands of years ago. The other two races were the Deviants, those whose physical forms varied because their DNA was completely unstable, and Humans, namely us. The Eternals were the beautiful ones, living for thousands of years, each with differing powers and the ability to fly. They came to live on the mountaintops; Humanity occupied Earth; the Deviants lived under the earth. Kirby intended the Eternals to having been mistaken by Humans as the ancient Greek gods. However, when Marvel originally folded the Eternals into the regular Marvel Universe, where the Greek gods–like the Norse–already existed, it was explained that Humans sometimes mistook the Eternals for their gods, but this was okay with Zeus; he had reached an agreement with Zuras, the head of the Eternals. The most prominent Eternals, besides Zuras, were Thena, Ikarus, Sersi, and Makkari.

Now Marvel wants to redefine who the Eternals are. Thena has had affairs with Ikarus, Makkari and other Eternals; she has a child which she bore to a Human male who was killed. She refuses to give up the child, and Zuras allows her to keep it, although he warns her about the trouble the child will cause. The affairs of Humans are of no concern to the Eternals; the previous relationships Ikarus and others had with them are gone. The Deviants, always a threat to the Eternals and, by extension, Humanity, are plotting another attempt to takeover the planet.

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Look What’s in the Warner Library!

Warner Library serves Tarrytown and Sleepy Hollow. There’s a big browsing section of new books added to the library collection.

(2016-07-08 001)Title: Whatever Happened to the World of Tomorrow?

Author: Brian Fies

Publication Information: New York: Abrams Comicarts, c2009

ISBN: 978-0-8109-9636-6

Library of Congress Classification: PN6727.F483

Library of Congress Subject Headings:
Technological innovations–Comic books, strips, etc.
Fathers and sons–Comic books, strips, etc.
Comic books, strips, etc.–United States

The book centers on a father and son. The timeline of father and son is distorted; the son and father age far slower than in the real world. The son is the narrator, and the book begins with them going to the New York World’s Fair in 1939 at Flushing Meadows in Queens. From here, the book walks through the decades of the 20th century, as we see the son (very slowly) growing up. He is a teenager in the 1950s through the 1970s.

What people of the time saw in terms of the advancement of science and technology–flying cars, living on other planets, super cities, etc.–would better life. It all started at the World’s Fair. Father and son, very close at that time, slowly grow apart as the 1950s give way to the 1960s and the distrust of government, which reaches a zenith with Watergate in the 1970s.

The abandonment of exploring space with the end of the Apollo Program was the most glaring error made by the United States. However, even by criticizing the Earth-centered Space Shuttle Program, author Fies reveals the advances in technology that happened from the experiments made on the shuttle missions: computers, cell phones, new appliances, medical advances, etc. So, even though the future did not look like what people in the 1930s envisioned, there have been great technological advances that subtly (or maybe not so subtly) changed our lives. None was as exciting as the flying car or living in houses in the sky a la The Jetsons, but technology nonetheless has had major impacts and has reshaped society–for better or worse.

As each decade is shown with the father-son interaction, there’s the evolution also taking place in a comic book–a comic book within a comic book (graphic novel): Space Age Adventures, starring Commander Cap Crater and Cosmic Boy. Changes in attitudes over time are mirrored here as well. For example, women begin as being visible with little or no power in a minor role and end up in important command positions.

Perhaps the most astounding–and thought-provoking–change in the comic book is the transformation that Cap and Cosmic Boy’s arch-enemy, Xandra, goes through. In the 1930s Xandra is the typical mad scientist out to conquer the world, By the early 21st century, Xandra accepts and becomes part of the status quo. In what was the final issue of Space Age Adventures, Cap confronts Xandra. Xandra tells Cap that he can become a capitalist, sell his inventions legitimately, make billions and take over the world. Infuriated, Cap tries to arrest him only to be stopped by his former allies in authority. Cap is told that Xandra has paid for his crimes and that no one who follows the law can be arrested. Even Cosmic Boy, now finding that he has groupies, decides to stay around on Earth. Demoralized, Cap returns to his Moon base. Food for thought in this world of runaway capitalism.

(2016-05-18 008)The book ends with a young girl being talked to by her grandfather–the former father–and her father–who was the son–about technology and the future. They do this from a city on the Moon.

An enjoyable book.

Bruce Eric Kaplan, Edmund and Rosemary go to Hell

(2016-04-28 001)Title: Edmund and Rosemary go to Hell

Author: Bruce Eric Kaplan

Publication Information: New York: Simon & Schuster, 2007

ISBN: 1-4165-4549-2 (978-1-4165-4549-1)

Library of Congress Classification: PS3561.A5534

Library of Congress Subject Headings:
Life–Comic books, strips, etc.
Hell–Comic books, strips, etc.
Life–Humor
Hell–Humor

This is brilliant.

Edmund and Rosemary are a married couple that decide to go for a walk one Sunday afternoon in Brooklyn. They come to the conclusion that the world is truly an ugly, unhappy place. People on cell phones, lousy movies, chain stores offering no health care, evil corporations, traffic everywhere–there was no respite. It is at this point that Edmund and Rosemary conclude that they are living in Hell.

Of course everyone assures them that they are not, in fact, living in Hell. They contact their governmental representatives and end up talking to a spineless, top governmental official in D.C. who confirms that they are, indeed, in Hell. Anyone who discovers that we live is Hell is given a huge lottery win as hush money. And so Edmund and Rosemary start their new lives, but find that they still aren’t happy.

This is a wonderful little book to read on those days when the world seems worse than usual. Edmund and Rosemary are those of us who just get fed up with the world and want a way to escape–but there is no escape, so what do we do to make ourselves feel better?

Read the book. The line drawings only add to the fun.

Dan Piraro, Bizarro Heroes

(2016-04-19 001)Title: Bizarro Heroes

Author: Dan Piraro

Publication Information: San Francisco, CA: Last Gasp, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-867-19756-3

Library of Congress Classification: PN6727.P47

Library of Congress Subject Headings:
Superheroes–Comic books, strips, etc.
Superheroes–Humor
American wit and humor, Pictorial

I found this book in P!Q in Grand Central Terminal on the way to work. I laughed my head off.

Cartoonist Dan Piraro draws a comic online called Bizarro. This book must be cartoons culled from the title. I had never heard of Bizarro, but the book has some great cartoons in it. One captioned “Spiderman Walking His Dog” (2016-04-19 002)shows an ordinary street scene with people walking down the street. Up in the right hand corner is a dog on a least who is choking. Apparently Spiderman doesn’t “walk” his dog but zips around on his webs, dragging poor Fido with him. In another, the Joker strikes again at the diner, where Batman and Robin are eating and Batman has discovered that the top of the salt shaker has been loosened.

I liked the book so much that I bought one for a friend of mine. This is just a fun book that will make you laugh.

Look What’s in the Warner Library!

Warner Library serves Tarrytown and Sleepy Hollow. There’s a big browsing section of what new books the library bought.

(2015-05-27 001)Authors: Howard Zinn, Mike Konopacki, Paul Buhle

Title: A People’s History of American Empire: a Graphic Adaptation

Publication Information: New York, N.Y.: Metropolitan Books/Henry Holt and Co., c2008; 1st ed.

ISBN: 978-0-8050-7779-7; 0-8050-7779-0; 978-0-8050-8744-4; 0-8050-8744-3

Library of Congress Classification: E183.7

Dewey Decimal Classification: 973

Library of Congress Subject Headings:
United States–Foreign relations–Comic books, strips, etc.
United States–Territorial expansion–Comic books, strips, etc.
Imperialism–History–Comic books, strips, etc.
United States–Social conditions–Comic books, strips, etc.
Social movements–United States–History–Comic books, strips, etc.
Zinn, Howard, 1922- –Comic books, strips, etc.
Historians–United States–Biography–Comic books, strips, etc.

This graphic novel is based on Howard Zinn’s book, The People’s History of the United States. As Paul Buhle states in the preface, “It is intended to present key insights in Howard Zinn’s marvelous volume in light of another art form …”

This isn’t the history you learned in grade school.

The graphic novel hits key points in U.S. history, led by Howard Zinn, who is portrayed as a speaker at an anti-Iraq War rally. Zinn starts at the end of the nineteenth century, with the massacre at Wounded Knee, then goes on to discuss the Spanish-American War, and the conquest of the Philippines. The socio-economic conditions in the country at the turn of the century and how the so-called “robber barons” exploited the masses. This led to the creation of labor unions–and how the U.S. government did everything in its power to assist the capitalists against the unions.

All activities of the U.S. government are for capitalism–the military-industrial complex that Eisenhower warned of in his farewell speech. Nothing here was of any great surprise to me. There were some “Ahhhhh” moments, such as the revelation that Woodrow Wilson, in an attempt to ensure that the Entente Powers could continue to buy American-made munitions even when bank credits could not cover the cost, allowed the Federal Reserve Banks to accept “bankers’ acceptances” from them. This, according to Zinn, amounted to an act of war (p. 84). Then there was the suggestion by Zinn that the U.S. dropped the atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki to quickly end the war before the Soviet Union could invade Japan. Thus, the Japanese surrendered to the U.S.

Then there’s the depressing antics of the Central Intelligence Agency in Latin America: El Salvadore, Nicaragua, etc. that merely created misery for the people in those countries. Neither the Democrats nor the Republicans differ on their foreign policy, which is done to create new markets. The Iran-Iraq War? We supplied both sides with armaments. Making money is the name of the game. Iran-Contra is covered, and the only man who went to jail (for four days) from it was sentenced for stealing a street sign (p. 230).

Perhaps the most bizarre chapter in the whole book is seven, “The Cool War.” In the 1950s, there was a concerted attempt to enforce conformity to prove that the “American way of life” was far superior to communism. However, war was declared on those who wore the “zoot suit,” a fashion statement that was seen as subversive during the war and after. There were attempts to keep apart Mexican Americans, African Americans, and White Americans as they listened to R&B and danced to it. Comic books came under fire as “subversive,” which led to self-censorship under the Comics Code Authority. “Loyalty oaths” were forced on workers in government and the private sector. It was in this atmosphere that Eugene McCarthy’s communist witch hunt thrived.

A very thought-provoking book. Zinn ends on a positive note. Things CAN be changed, as the end of the Vietnam War, segregation, and Solidarity’s eventual overthrow of the communist system in Poland, demonstrate. People can change the system for the better.

Horrifyingly Mad

(2014-03-23 001)Title: Horrifyingly Mad

Publication Information: New York: Fall River Press, 2011

ISBN: 978-1-4351-3743-1

Library of Congress Classification: NC1428.M23

Library of Congress Subject Headings:
United States—Civilization—Humor
Motion pictures—United States—Humor
Popular culture—United States—Humor
United States—Civilization—Comic books, strips, etc.
Motion pictures—United States—Comic books, strips, etc.
Popular culture—United States—Comic books, strips, etc.

When my brother and I were growing up, getting an issue of Mad, or Cracked (which I preferred), was a real treat. The silly, satiric commentaries on life resonated with our views on what was going on around us. Making fun of movies, television shows, advertisements, anything and everything really settled well. In retrospect, many of the commentaries were quite good.

This collection of horror-themed comics are fun, but like any typical issue of Mad and Cracked, the entries are uneven. Some are excellent, some are okay, some completely miss the mark, and others leave you wondering, “Huh?” Nonetheless, they bring back some nostalgia for me. Since all of these are collections of already-published issues, some come from the time I was actually reading Mad and Cracked.

If you are looking for something that can bring back good feelings from the past and still entertain, this is for you.

Scott Lobdell, Teen Titans: Volume 3: Death of the Family

(2014-03-23 006)Title: Teen Titans: Volume 3, Death of the Family

Author: Scott Lobdell, Fabian Nicieza, Brett Booth, writers; Greg Capullo, Brett Booth, Greg Capullo, Jonathan Glapion, Tyler Kirkham, Batt, Norm Rapmund, Jon Sibal, Timothy Green II, Wayne Faucher, Eddy Barrows, Eber Ferreira, artists

Series: New 52

Publication Information: New York, NY: DC Comics, 2013

ISBN: 978-14-0124321-0

Library of Congress Classification: PN6728.T34

Dewey Decimal Classification: 741.5/973

Library of Congress Subject Headings:
Teen Titans (Fictitious characters)—Comic books, strips, etc.
Joker (Fictitious character)—Comic books, strips, etc.
Superheroes—Comic books, strips, etc.
Teenagers—Comic books, strips, etc.
Science fiction comic books, strips, etc.
Graphic novels—United States

“Death of the Family will go down as one of the best Joker stories in history”–Craveonline

This quote is from the cover. Is it one of the best Joker stories? More on that in a minute.

 The Death of the Family is part of DC’s “New 52” which has recreated the DC Universe yet again. I followed the first re-imaging, The Crisis on Infinite Earths. This means that all the stories that have come before on all the DC characters no longer exist; the slate is wiped clean. It’s a new universe where the characters are re-introduced, and everything starts over again but with different twists.

One of my favorite Batman stories of all time is The Killing Joke, which was one of the first graphic novels. In it, the Joker destroys the crimefighting career of Barbara Gordon who, as Batgirl, fought alongside Batman. Her back is broken, thereby changing her entire life. That was a very disturbing story. The Death in the Family may be even more upsetting.

The Joker, more horribly scarred than he was in his last incarnation, kidnaps Batgirl, Red Robin and Red Hood–Barbara Gordon, Tim Drake and Jason Todd. In the last universe, Jason Todd was the new Robin after Dick Grayson left to become Nightwing. In yet another disturbing story, the Joker kills Todd after it was left up to the readers to decide his fate. This is when Drake joined Batman as his sidekick. In this current incarnation, Todd never died and had a falling out with Batman; Drake became Red Robin and took his place.

I became a fan of the Teen Titans when they were introduced as the New Teen Titans, drawn originally by George Pérez. Drake also is the leader of the Teen Titans even though they really don’t know his true identity although he knows theirs. We get Drake’s origin story that parallels Grayson’s. However, it’s hard to swallow Drake’s reasons for wanting to join Batman. I found it absurd.

The story quickly turns into a Batman story as the Titans fail to find their leader or Batgirl. The Joker has set this up to bring Batman to him, which works. The argument between Batman and the Joker is quite intense, as is what the Joker shows Batman he did to his young protégées.

Is this one of the best Joker stories ever? Definitely. It’s quite disturbing.