Featured Columns

July 29, 2011

From Friendly Ghosts To Gamma Rays: Classic Disney, Myth Adventure Muses and The Freedom Force!

You know, if we could open with a jingle we would have this whole cool weekly episode vibe to our column. I don’t have one, but if you have one reader and want to submit it to us, shoot me an e-mail and I will open the next column with it. However, until then I have to open up with this improv opening jingle which goes “From Friendly Ghosts To Gamma Rays, we’re gonna write a lot about comics and try to steal your pets!” Terrible? I agree! But that’s how it goes sometimes.

This week at Comic-Con a lot of cool things were announced. Some were crazy good, some left us scratching our heads, and some stuff we just plain knew about already; however, two items announced I deem worthy enough for me to press extra buttons on my keyboard this week to put in our column!

The first is about Spider-Ham, who we just love in this column. Last year during Marvel’s special one-shot and reprints of him (which made 2010’s top all-ages list with us) we said how we hoped Marvel would keep doing more with Peter Porker, and hopefully some revived interest in the 80s creation. The comic book gods smile sometimes, and at the panel for the upcoming Paul Dini-led animated series Ultimate Spider-Man, it was revealed with designs that Spider-Ham will be making an appearance during the episodes! Yeah, Marvel had a ton of movie and TV news, but to this writer Spider-Ham getting some long awaited treatment finally was the best part.

Now, where last year Archie Comics pretty much had a flawless and large line-up of cool stuff, it wasn’t as much this year. Megaman is doing well, they confirmed Sonic The Hedgehog is not going through a reboot and its change ups tied into continuity, Kevin Keller is going to get his own series as well as a gay wedding in the Life With Archie magazine, but the really cool thing Archie announced was with Kiss! Rock band Kiss, probably the only successful band who back in the day put their own blood into a vat to be mixed in with ink for their Marvel Comics debut, is having a cross-over where the band comes to Riverdale and helps the Archie gang fight monsters from another dimension. Team-up of 2012? I think so!

Out On Stands: Walt Disney’s Mickey Mouse Vol. 1: Race To Death Valley
Publisher: Fantagraphics
Writer/Art: Floyd Gottfredson

The coolest reprints of the year have hit the shelves as Fantagraphics tears it up by releasing Floyd Gottfredson’s run on the comic strip Walt Disney’s Mickey Mouse. To start with, this is a great edition of the material. It looks great, the black and white art is classically bold and pops right off the pages at you, and it’s over 200 pages and bound in a nice hardcover. Readers of this column and site know I can be a little judgmental about the quality of reprints, but there is no need for frowns here as they have done an A+ job. They even packaged it with essays on the strip and artists, and even gave us Mickey’s jungle adventure which ran in the strip before Gottfredson stepped aboard.

The content for anyone who has not read the classic Mickey strip matches the package. 1930s Mickey is an animal adventure strip at its best. Tales of Mickey reach from racing to find treasure in death valley, boxing matches, gypsy problems, to even a few classic plots like winning Minnie’s love (but ending up on the lam in typical adventure fashion). Each stroke of ink is perfect under Gottfredson’s direction, and the best years of the comic strip result entirely from the genius of his that lies in these pages. Disney knew what he was doing using Gottfredson: wanna look good? Surround yourself by good people and success comes.

Now, I have to give a disclaimer, because we’re the all-ages column and I HATE doing that. Fact is, though, the 1930s strips are from the 1930s, so there are things in these pages that might not be seen as fine these days for the kids. Gags with Mickey trying to kill himself over the loss of Minnie, although shocking to a housewife in 2011, was the funny black humor of the day, as presented in the best movies by people like Chaplin and Keaton. Mickey running around with weapons may also seem odd, but it is an adventure strip, and is it really different from any other cartoon using a weapon these days? Also, the way natives are portrayed in the jungle adventure may seem very much on the fence these days, but at the time period were normal. I applaud Fantagraphics and Disney for still reprinting these and not burying the strip in a vault. Sure, not all these things are “OK” today for some folks, but it’s a great museum showcase of sorts, and instead of burying something we can look at it and reflect on what’s good/bad and apply. All of that aside, the strips are hysterical and still funnier than a good bulk of humor strips out there today.

To sum it up, there is no reason why you should not buy this amazing collection, out now for your pleasure.

Out On Stands: The Myth Adventures of the Muses #1
Publisher: Blue Water Comics
Writer: C.W. Cooke
Art: Nacho Arranz Estevez

The first issue of The Myth Adventures of the Muses is out now. The series, which will follow the adventures of the nine muses of Greek Mythology as the evil Hera tries to stop them from sharing their gifts from Zeus, has a good start with a story that follows Terp, the muse of dance. After some adventures around Mount Olympus, where the Sirens try and steal her amulet from Zeus, Terp then ends up in the real world of 1940s Chicago. She meets the human Bobby, and through the magical moment shares her power of dance, transforming our world for the better. Then it’s back off to Olympus for a last encounter with Hera.

I liked this first tale overall. It took me a few pages to get into it, but by the end I was into this world and wanted to read the next issue already. It is on the fluffier side of all-ages comics, but not in a bad way in the least, and will appeal to both readers who like some the older Archie comics and those who like the whole cute-as-a-button chibi-shoujo manga stuff. I loved Nacho’s art. It was fun, the colors and images melting together with his page layouts work great, and most importantly feels to have the right amount of heart in it for this story. Writing by Cooke was good as well, however, my big complaint is the overuse of narration. Here and there would have been fine, but there were plenty of moments when it just felt like too much, and I kept asking myself why it was explaining what was so clearly drawn on the page.

All in all, a good start to this series. The Myth Adventures of the Muses #1 is out now.

Something To Watch: The Freedom Force

This week I have chosen for you a little TV gem from Filmation. It’s short (five episodes only), and it’s action packed. Shazam! fans can dig it because Isis is in it. It’s The Freedom Force. Back in 1978 on CBS, Filmation had a block called Tarzan and the Super 7, which The Freedom Force was one of the segments on. The Freedom Force follows the adventures of Isis (who first appeared on the Filmation live action TV show The Secrets of Isis), Hercules (who appeared on the really fun Filmation cartoon The Space Sentinels), Merlin, Sinbad (based off the classic literature hero), and Super Samurai (a Japanese boy Toshi who used magic to turn into a giant ronin warrior). The five of them live in the Valley of Time, a place outside time and space, where they have the ability to jump through time periods to save the day. The writing is great, and the highlight for me is the fifth and final episode, “The Robot,” where the Freedom Force deals with an inventor who travels through time with his giant robot, making it appear like he’s a hero in an attempt to swindle treasure; lots of fun here. The animation is Filmation for those who love their style, although the tone is darker here, with lots of browns and reds giving the visual of the series an almost Martian feel when put together with the 70s Star Trek-esque synth score. The Freedom Force was released complete on DVD, packaged together with the complete series of The Space Sentinels a few years back. BCI Eclipse who released it has since gone under, but the DVD can still widely be found on Amazon and such for the right price. Your something to watch this weekend is The Freedom Force!

That’s it for this week, see you next! Sending you kaiju-love from Europe!

Drew McCabe


One Comment

  1. […] portrayal of the Congolese people. It was a sign of the times that was reflected in everything from Mickey Mouse strips to the big screen, and author Herge later in life admitted this. Also like the Soviet story […]

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