What I've been watching, hearing, reading, etc.
I probably shouldn't admit this, but much of what I know about World War II, I learned reading Roy Thomas comic books.
was a big fan of Marvel's "Invaders" in the 1970s and DC's "All-Star
Squadron" in the 1980s, both scripted by Thomas, and both featuring
iconic superheroes battling Axis troops and assorted Nazi baddies.
On both books, Thomas was a whiz at keeping the action
flowing, but also managed to work in a lot of history. Never breaking the flow of the story, but
adding richness to the period detail, he'd include little footnotes
about historical events; define military jargon, 40s slang and German
phrases, and share a wealth of information about Golden Age comics to
So, it's been fun revisiting some of those
stories over the past week or so via "The Complete Invaders," a recent
500-page paperback that collects the first chunk of Roy's run in
The reproduction is great and the stories
hold up well. With Captain America -- along with the Human Torch and
Sub-Mariner -- in their ranks, I'm sure the "Invaders" likely appeal to
fans of the first Cap movie and it's WWII setting.
no deep digging into character here, as compared to other 1970s Marvel
stories - just some routine squabbling amongst the key characters when
they aren't busy knocking Nazi's skulls together. But there are some
great plot twists and incidental characters, such as "Brain Drain" -
Nazi genius that's essentially a pair of floating eyes and disembodied
brain in a glass bottle - and the first appearances by Nazi vampire
Baron Blood and Brit superhero Union Jack.
well in collected form, too, with stories holding your interest and
building from issue to issue. It makes you recall how good Marvel was at
this sort of thing back in the Bronze Age, and how disjointed and
padded out most single-issue comics are today.
remember many fans taking issue with comic strip vet Frank Robbins' art
on this title, but I love it. His line is jagged and heavy. His figures
and faces are cartoony. And he takes liberties with dynamic
foreshortening that might give even Jack Kirby pause. But the art just
works. It has a 40s feel and Robbins' visual storytelling and flow of
action is superb.
A second volume rounding up the 1970s run is due out in December.
a fan of Kickstarter as a concept and have donated to a few projects
here and there, but I think Jeremy Kirby's new book about his
grandfather, Jack, is the first actual product I've received as a
"Jack Kirby: A Personal View" is just that - a
collection of family photos depicting America's most influential comic
book artist at home and relaxed. There's not a wealth of biographical
detail or Kirby artworks on display, but the photographs tell a story
remarkably talented, hardworking and family-loving man.
with the photos, there's the text of an original play/screenplay Kirby
wrote - a family melodrama, not a tale about superheroes or fantastical
gods. It's interesting to read Kirby's dialogue and see his plotting in
text. Much of the writing is quite good and the dialogue is more natural
that that used in his self-scripted works of the 1970s and 80s, though
the plot is not terribly strong.
The book should be of interest to the growing number of comics and Kirby scholars out there.