Today I only had enough energy to read three comic books:
WORLDS OF ASPEN 2011 #1 — This FCBD comic from two years ago was just dreadful. A series of badly drawn, badly written excerpts from uninteresting upcoming titles, all of which have presumably been cancelled by now if the quality of the previews is any indication.
ASTONISHING TALES #3 — This Marvel comic from 1970 features a Ka-Zar story with art by Barry Smith (not Windsor-Smith yet) and a Dr. Doom story with art by Wally Wood. Neither story is particularly exciting in terms of the plot or characterization, but both stories have fascinating artwork. The BWS story is clearly from his early period, prior to Conan #24 or so, when he was mostly a Kirby clone, but the storytelling shows flashes of brilliance, especially in the action sequences. The Dr. Doom story is just masterful. Woody’s artwork is powerful and elegantly simple. He took a rather boring story by Larry Lieber and turned it into a science fiction epic. In general, this run of Astonishing Tales was a showcase for some fascinating artwork (later issues featured Inhumans stories by Neal Adams) although it was never particularly well-written.
THE BRAVE AND THE BOLD #114 – The trouble with these 100-page giants is that they take forever to read (which for me is not a good thing given my short attention span) and that, because of the perfect binding, they have a tendency to fall apart while being read. Luckily this one was in good enough condition to survive reading.
This issue features one original story and three reprints. The new story is a Batman/Aquaman team-up by Haney and Aparo, which, as one would expect, is exciting and funny but also rather bizarre. There are two entirely separate plots — one involving a Mafia informant and the other involving a hydrogen bomb planted by Turkish (excuse me, “Karatolian”) drug smugglers — which are connected to each other only by coincidence, as the informant and the bomb are both on the same airplane. Aquaman also claims at one point that the U.S. government is trying to kill him due to his opposition to the use of dolphins in warfare. This is never mentioned again. The artwork in this story is fantastic; Jim Aparo was a veteran Aquaman artist by this time and he does a great job of drawing undersea combat.
The first reprinted story is from Teen Titans #5, which I already have. I remembered this story as being one of Haney and Cardy’s less interesting Titans stories, but as I reread it, I found it surprisingly compelling, even though Cardy’s artwork is not as gorgeous as usual. (Incidentally, I think Nick Cardy may be the greatest living comic book artist from the ’60s or earlier.) The second reprinted story is the first Brave and the Bold teamup, featuring Green Arrow and Martian Manhunter. Again, the story, also by Bob Haney, is exciting and produces a genuine feeling of tension, even though George Roussos’s artwork is rather boring and Green Arrow and Speedy are indistinguishable from Batman and Robin. The final reprinted story, an Aquaman story from Adventure Comics, is not particularly interesting.