And welcome back readers to your source for all-ages comics on the web, From Friendly Ghosts To Gamma Rays!!! We have a handful this week as we dig through piles like Mr. Driller from Dig-Dug, finding you some of the coolest comics as we approach the holiday season! Before we jump into it, next week is my favorite edition of the column we do once a year, where I’ll serve you up the top all-ages comics of the year, just in time for your holiday shopping, so make sure to check it out!!! Now, as Santo would say, let’s Vamos!!!!!!
As of late I have been digging a lot of things in the digest line from Archie Comics. Normally I’m not a huge fan of Jughead at all, although some of the Hotdog comics amuse me, and I’m fond of the Dipsy Doodle series where he paints a picture and a great gag happens. However, this issue of the digest opens with a really great comic with Jughead as Captain Hero. I honestly am unsure if Captain Hero is in the same universe as the other superhero versions of the gang with Pureheart and the Super Teens, but that doesn’t really matter much to me.
In this tale, Captain Hero is out to stop a villain named Rebound who boucnes all over the place, and Ethel, in love with both Jughead and Captain Hero (not knowing he’s one and the same, of course), gets some help from Dilton to become the Big E, where she grows into a giant hero. At first she hinders more than helps, but during a final showdown at a skateboard competition, Captain Hero and Big E work flawlessly together to save the day and stop Rebound.
I loved this tale, Jughead turning into Captain Hero had this almost Billy Baston becoming Captain Marvel feel, and I’m a sucker for Captain Marvel and Marvelman, as regulars of the column know. Tom Defalco gives us a classic superhero feeling script, and Ron Frenz does a great job with the art. I really wanted the whole digest to just be this rocking Captain Hero, but alas, maybe another day.
Saying that, the rest of the digest is fun, too, just the Captain Hero story jumped out at me and was awesome. Other highlights include a story where they build a Trojan Moose back in the day, a Robin Hood-esque tale, some cool reprints of That Wilken Boy, and a cool take on Twain’s Prince and the Pauper story, with Jughead and a young prince switching places. If you like the Archie unvierse, you’ll enjoy this latest edition of the digest.
As I mentioned in last week’s column, with the way distribution works these days, sometimes it’s hard to get all the issues of a Marvel or a DC mini-series, and so I’ve started waiting for the collected editions to come out. Again this week we have another fantastic collection published by Marvel that collects all the issues of their Ozma of Oz mini-series which was published earlier this year.
For those unfamiliar with Ozma of Oz, it tells the tale of Dorthy getting swept back to a magical world with her pet chicken Billina, this time, however, she ends up in the land of Ev, a neighboring land to Oz. After finding a new friend in the mechanical man Tik-Tok and dealing with the Wheelies, she is taken captive by Princess Langwidere and her collection of 100s of interchangeable heads. Ozma, the new ruler of Oz, comes to the kingdom, accompanied by her army, the Lion, Scarecrow, Tin-Man, and the hungry Tiger, and after striking a deal frees Dorthy and company. Turns out that the real royal family that is supposed to rule Ev has been turned into ornaments during a crooked deal by the evil Nome King, and so our huge group of heroes travel to the underground kingdom of the Nome King to see if they can save the day.
Ozma of Oz is a great adaptation of the novel, so hardcore Oz-fans will be pleased. Although we only get cameos of some of the new friends from the last tale Return To Oz, we still get to see a little bit of everyone. Most importantly we get the intro to the world of the Nome King, which to put into SAT Comic-fan terms, Green Goblin is to Spider-Man as Nome King is to Oz, so pretty cool deal there. As on their previous two Oz team-ups, Shanower does great writing/adapting here, and Young’s art compliments and gives us a cool visual world for these books. Ozma of Oz is one of those must own all-ages books in my final thought, and is out now for your enjoyment.
Papercutz releases the 8th collection in their Smurfs comic collection series titled The Smurf Apprentice, which collects three tales of smurfy goodness, “The Smurf Apprentice,” “Smurf Traps” (which includes work by Gos), and “The Smurfs and The Mole.”
“The Smurf Apprentice“ is a cute Smurf tale where a young Smurf wants to create spells and potions like Papa Smurf, and even tries to do everything from helping Papa Smurf to break into Papa Smurf’s house, to reading Papa’s spell book. After finally giving up, he decides to steal a page from Gargamel, which turns him into a lizard-smurf. Everyone gets freaked out by him, and after it seems not even Papa can find a cure, the lizard-smurf goes back to find a solution at Gargamel’s place, only to be captured and have to be rescued by the Smurfs. In “Smurf Traps,” Gargamel seems to finally have figured out the perfect trap for everyone, and picks off the Smurfs one by one until he has them all except Papa. This leaves Papa to save the day. Finally, in “The Smurfs and The Mole,” a mole accidentally digs its way into Smurf village disrupting them. Papa and the gang follow the mole to see what is going on, which leads them to, you guessed it, Gargamel’s place again, by accident. Now the Smurfs and the mole team-up to escape Gargamel and help get the mole a pair of glasses since he cannot see.
I enjoyed the 8th collection, although this one finally feels formulaic. The previous collections always gave us fresh and different stories with maybe one Smurfs vs. Gargamel tale per book. In this book, all the tales feel like Smurfs vs. Gargamel stories. Hopefully it’s just this volume and it goes back into a nice mix in the future; we will have to see. That aside, these stories still are great. They are fun, colorful, and entertain both children and adults. There is nothing not to love about Peyo’s creation here, and if you like the Smurfs even a little bit, this book won’t let you down.
And the final thing we are reviewing today is perhaps the coolest and a must buy for Super Dinosaur-lovers out there, presenting the Super Dinosaur Deluxe Coloring Book! That’s right, just like the great kids’ heroes of yesteryear, Super Dinosaur now has his own awesome 64-page coloring book for the little ones to rock out! This thing is just cool, and both Comicattack.net creator Andy Leigl and I have been geeking out over this. Like all coloring books it has page after page of pictures to color, but these are taken right from the comic artwork itself drawn by Super Dinosaur artist Jason Howard. Aside from that, like most coloring books it does include a few puzzles and finish-drawing-the-picture pages. I think this is a great idea! Super Dinosaur is one of the best all-ages titles this year, and I think by pushing for things like this it only helps broaden its appeal of awesomeness to a larger audience. Now if only we can get a line of action figures we will be set! There is no reason for either your kid or the kid in you, that you shouldn’t pick this up! Sooooooooo much fun!
That’s it for this week! See you next as we roll out our top 15 all-ages list!