From Friendly Ghosts To Gamma Rays, No.89: Time For Laffy Taffy
Welcome back to another weekly edition of your favorite all-ages comics column. As I was in the middle of reading the material this week, I stopped and decided I was going about this the wrong way. Surely sometimes there is only one way to enjoy all ages goodness, and that’s a first class ticket back to the 4th grade, via buying a bunch of cherry Laffy Taffy, Pop Rocks, and soda to get sugar high on as you read over the funny pages. Now my digestive system isn’t what it used to be, and so the stomach ache, about four Laffy Taffys in, struck me, however, that didn’t hinder me from enjoying the items I was sent this week, so let’s check it out.
This comic reeked of the 1990s, and I mean that in the most loving way someone who grew up in the 90s could mean that. The first thing you need to do is ignore the front cover which cries out “You’ve heard of reality TV…here’s the world’s first reality comic book!” If you’re like me, you read this and instantly wept for the better days of Stan Lee, long gone into the beyond, leaving us with a senile version, who’d like to think of himself as an Osamu Tezuka. To some extent, that’s the right idea, Stan Lee is the God of American comic book writing, however, I can’t imagine Tezuka writing a tag-line like that (although like Marvel gave us Spider-Ham, Tezuka did give us Astro Cat, but that’s another column).
Then something happens if you ignore that tag-line. You look at the art on the cover. ‘Kay, it looks like X-Men meets Legion of Superheroes, but there’s something sooooooo….well, lost in time about how these characters look when compared to today’s superhero books. Then I opened it up and BAM!, we get an epic 1990s-esque Marvel Comics battle on a space ship, filled with folks with super powers, trying to kick the crap out of each other. Blastok is a super-powered vigilante, but two Star Marshals (also with powers, of course) show up to finally put an end to him trying to be the “law outside of the law.” It’s laser beams, flying women, strong men smashing, the good stuff we like in superhero books.
Now in the mean time, we come to Earth in our “reality” (this is where that terrible tag-line on the front cover came in) and we find old Stan Lee, comic book writer of legend, finding himself almost happy that he is going to Archie Comics to write a few books. However, publisher Jon Goldwater (also the real life publisher of Archie) isn’t too thrilled with old Stan. Goldwater was hoping he’d come in with a new flock of superheroes for him, not pitches for Betty and Veronica. Lee admits he just doesn’t have it in him to write another new superhero book and drives off to the desert. We go back to the spaceship where Blastok has been confined by the Star Marshals he was duking it out with at the book’s start, and pulls a prison break with the group he is imprisoned with. This leads to another clash, causing the ship’s control panel to break and plummet towards Earth, which will lead them to cross paths with, you guessed it, Stan Lee himself.
Stan Lee’s Mighty 7 was a big surprise. I have not liked Lee’s superhero books in years, I usually pass on reviewing them, but not here. If this is Stan Lee’s last hurrah into superhero books, than it’s already a good one and I hope it hits one last home run for the guy. The “reality” concept didn’t bother me once I saw how everything was fitting together, and the writers actually give Lee himself a lot of depth as the character of an aging artist who just can’t do the same old crap anymore. The superheroes in the book were some of the best ones Lee has created since his days at Marvel, and so thus far are great to read in this first issue. The concept of the book isn’t what hooked me, though; the writing and art is really where beauty got this beast. I grew up in the 1990s as mentioned, and for all intents and purposes, this is the lost Marvel comic of the 90s. It sounds like one, it flows like one, and most importantly: it looks like one.
Stan Lee’s Mighty 7 was just released this week and is off to a great start, and here’s hoping Stan-the man-Lee can keep the pace going on this series, ’nuff said.
Disney Fairies Vol.7: Tinker Bell: The Perfect Fairy
Writing: Paola Mulazzi, Cortney Faye Powell (English translation)
Art: Andrea Greppi, Antonello Dalena, Manuela Razzi, and Caterina Giorgetti
For the unfamiliar, there is one place where Disney comics on Earth have never waned in popularity, and that is Italy. Long after the American output of Mickey and friends declined, the Italians pumped them out producing new stories endlessly, and a majority of the new Disney comics we have seen on our shores for the past four years have been translations from these unseen European gems. The latest volume of Disney Fairies is a handful of stories from Italy, but don’t let that deter you, the same Disney magic, innocence, and splendor is all here.
Volume 7 contains four adventures for Tinker Bell and company. “The Fairy Fashion Show,” as you can guess by the title, is the fairies of Fairy Haven putting on a fashion show with Tinker Bell as the judge, under pressure to decide which of her friends should win. It’s charming in a very Betty and Veronica way, and we get to see all sorts of fun designs with the fairies in multiple costumes. In “Vidia Turns Nice,” Vidia, who is usually our bad attitude, snotty fairy, gets bumped on the head and turns nice, throwing everybody off. “Tink, the Perfect Fairy” spins us a tale where the fairies find a Nevercharm Pearl, which Tinker Bell is exposed to, causing her to be perfect. This at first comes as a nice surprise, until it quickly annoys everyone and they realize they liked Tink better with her flaws. The strongest out of the bunch is “No Need For Words,” which deals with the friendship between Tinker Bell and male fairy Terence. As she grows closer to him there are things she never mentioned from her past, like her history with Peter Pan, whom she hasn’t talked to since he took off with Wendy. This causes them to go find him, and Tink finally comes face-to-face with Peter after all this time. It’s a story with a lot of heart.
The artwork is good on these stories, the characters looking exactly like their animated versions, and the colors are very carefully chosen, with a lot of sparkles and colorful hazes (but hey, what else would you expect Fairy Haven to look like). As mentioned, the story with Peter Pan is a nostalgia trip in itself and gives long time Disney Peter Pan fans a nice bonus of seeing him, since he hasn’t appeared in the Disney Fairies comics up until this point. For those thrown off by Tinker Bell and friends actually talking, she’s been talking since the direct to DVD movies a while back, so it’s been established for some time in the Disney-universe that we can hear her speak. Some hardcores may take issue with this, but I doubt they are the ones the book is aimed at.
Disney fans and fans of the Disney Fairies movies will eat up this book, out now from Papercutz.
That’s it for this week, see you next! Until then, get your kaiju game on!