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Peanuts (2011 Series) #2

March 16, 2012 Leave a comment

February 18, 2012

Title: Snowball’s Chance and other stories

Writers: Justin Thompson, Vicki Scott, Shane Houghton, Charles M. Schulz
Art:
Justin Thompson, Vickie Scott, Paige Braddock, Bob Scott, Matt Whitlock, Charles M. Schulz
Colors:
Paige Braddock, Alexis E. Fajardo, Lisa Moore
Cover Art:
Vicki Scott
Editor:
Matt Gagnon
Publisher:
Boom! Studios/kaboom!

Lucy Van Pelt is planning the ultimate winter vendetta – a barrage of snowballs – and Charlie Brown turns up as the perfect victim. But Lucy’s plan is dependent on her ability to throw, and fans of Charlie Brown’s baseball team can tell you, that isn’t her strong suit.

Justin Thompson’s “Snowball’s Chance” is just the first story in this collection, but it’s not bad. For a moment, it feels as though he may be drifting a little too far away from the usual Peanuts formula (important in that it would betray the characters themselves), but he redeems himself in an entertaining way in the end. Vicki Scott’s “Avalanche” is next, a mostly-wordless story about Charlie Brown’s attempt to feed Snoopy. “Heart Attack,” meanwhile, is a charming little story about Charlie Brown’s effort to create a Valentine’s Day card worthy of the Little Red-Haired Girl… a quest that’s doomed to failure. Finally, we have “Umbrella Fella,” a story of the Van Pelt siblings and their efforts to stay dry on a particularly rainy day.

Combined with a few classic Peanuts comics by Charles Schulz himself, this book is finding its voice as a place for stories that, although short, are basically extended versions of the sort of thing Schulz himself would do in the newspaper strip. There’s no epic tales of the Peanuts gang traveling the world, no ill-fated attempts to make them superheroes, no long-term story arcs about Charlie Brown’s neverending quest for love. We get brief tales with funny climaxes and mini-climaxes throughout, for a mixture of original Peanuts material and new stuff that fits in with the classics rather well. While I do wish that there was a bit more unity among the stories – not that I want longer stories, I just wish there was some sort of connectivity that explains why these particular tales are grouped together – I think kaboom! has found its niche with the Peanuts crew, and I’m ready to simply enjoy the stories they bring to us.

Rating: 7/10

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Walt Disney’s Comics and Stories #720

July 15, 2011 Leave a comment

June 30, 2011

Title: The Treasure of Marco Topo Part Two & Of Mice and Manners

Writers: Romano Scarpa, Ted Osborne
Translation:
David Gerstein, Joe Torcivia
Pencils:
Romano Scarpa, Floyd Gottfredson
Inks:
Ted Thwaites
Colorist:
Egmont, Digikore Studios
Letterer:
David Gerstein
Cover:
Casty
Editor:
Christopher Meyer         
Publisher:
Boom! Studios/kaboom!

The two-art Treasure of Marco Topo comes to a conclusion this issue (having started in Mickey Mouse #309. Mickey is leading a group of friends and foes, including Minnie, Goofy, Pluto, Uncle Scrooge, Brigitta MacBridge, Peg-Leg Pete and Trudy Van Tubb off to Italy, hoping to find the treasure left behind by Mickey’s ancestor. Unbeknownst to Mickey, his most vicious foe, the Phantom Blot, is also hot on his trail.

Like I mentioned in the Mickey Mouse #309 review, this still feels like an odd sort of team for Mickey. Pete and Trudy are oddballs, but justified in that Marco Topo’s prophecy said that friends and foes alike would be joining in. Scrooge and Brigitta seem less logical, but at least serve a purpose in the story (if only for comedic purposes). All in all, though, Romana Scarpa delivered on a good little treasure hunt story, which is the kind of thing that Mickey and company really do well.

We also get a two-page back-up, “Of Mice and Manners” culled from Mickey’s old newspaper strip. It’s basically Mickey trying to teach Pluto etiquette and failing in a comedic fashion. Funny, but not amazing.

This was an okay little issue. Not the best of Mickey’s adventures, but a good one, and I’ll take that.

Rating: 7/10

Mickey Mouse #309

July 11, 2011 Leave a comment

June 24, 2011

Title: The Treasure of Marco Topo Part One

Writer: Romano Scarpa
|Art:
Romano Scarpa
Colorist:
Egmont
Translation:
David Gerstein & Joe Torcivia
Letterer:
David Gerstein
Cover:
Marco Rota & Jake Myler
Editor:
Christopher Burns           
Publisher:
Boom! Studios/kaboom!

Mickey Mouse is summoned to a mysterious house to pick up an inheritance from a distant relative. What he finds inside, though, sends him on a treasure hunt along with his friends and foes alike.

I liked this story quite a bit. The opening scenes, with Mickey and Goofy going through what first appears to be a Haunted House, seem to be a little silly just for the sake of being silly, but once you get past that things kick into gear. Most of this issue is set-up with Mickey and friends (and foes) learning about a treasure left behind by one of Mickey’s ancestors. Romano Scarpa does have to stretch credulity a little to work in Uncle Scrooge and Brigitta MacBridge into this gathering of “Mickey’s Friends.” Minnie, Pluto, sure those are easy. Pete and the Phantom Blot? Two of Mickey’s most dastardly foes. That all works.

The adventure of Mickey’s ancestor, Marco Topo, takes up most of the second half of this issue. It’s not bad, but not quite as engaging as the contemporary stuff – I find that often happens when Disney comics switch to stories featuring identical ancestors of our heroes. The connection is gone and I start to lose interest.

Overall, I really liked this part one of the story, and I look forward to part two.

Rating: 7/10

Darkwing Duck (2010 Series) #12

June 5, 2011 Leave a comment

May 31, 2011

Title: FOWL Disposition Part Four

Writer: Ian Brill
Art:
James Silvani
Colorist:
Lisa Moore
Letterer:
Deron Bennett
Cover:
James Silvani & Amy Mebberson
Editor:
Christopher Burns           
Publisher:
Boom! Studios/Kaboom!

With Duckthulhu rising, Darkwing Duck and his family must join forces with a mysterious double agent to save the world from F.O.W.L.’s most dastardly scheme of all time. This issue really delivers – lots of action and gags, yes, but some serious depth here as well. The scenes where DW sees a different world, a different possible world for himself and his family picks into the psyche of the characters in a way that lesser writers never attempt. What’s more, this issue brings us the fulfillment of a bit of dark foreshadowing from the last story arc, when it was hinted that Darkwing was going to lose somebody close to him. The way it happens, there were really only two candidates all along, and throughout the issue we feel like one or the other could fall at any time. Of course, this is still a Disney book – there’s a very good chance that the character in question will eventually return. That doesn’t diminish the real hopelessness and agony we see in Darkwing as he realizes just what his insistence on going it alone this time has cost him. He’s made a terrible mistake and it’s cost him dearly, and that’s way more than we expect from a book of this nature. And that, friends, is all to the good. Darkwing Duck is smart, funny, and action-packed. It’s the best book being published for young readers right now, and it’s one of the best superhero comics period.

Rating: 8/10

DuckTales (2011 Series) #1

June 1, 2011 Leave a comment

May 31, 2011

Title: Rightful Owners Part 1: Many Happy Returns

Writer: Warren Spector
Art:
Leonel Castellani, Jose Massaroli & Magic Eye Studios
Letterer:
Deron Bennett
Cover:
Leonel Castellani (Cover A); Jonathan Gray & Lisa Moore (Cover B)
Editor:
Christopher Burns                           
Publisher:
Boom! Studios/Kaboom!

With the Disney Afternoon experiencing a Renaissance at Kaboom!, the next logical property to give a book to is DuckTales, the one that kicked off the whole phenomenon in the 80s. In this first issue, writer Warren Spector brings back the characters with a sort of absurd new mission. Scrooge gives a tour of some of his prize trophies to the kids, prompting Webby to ask the question of why Scrooge has taken so many artifacts from people… and shouldn’t he give them back?

Aaaaaand, that’s where you’ve lost me.

Spector has the voices of the characters down, and the art team here is top notch. The book looks fantastic and the characters are as sharp as ever. But the basic premise here is irretrievably flawed. Webby’ s assertion that Scrooge has taken all of these artifacts like a common thief doesn’t hold up to the slightest scrutiny, which makes it even more ridiculous when he gets into a competition with John Rockerduck to give them back. For example, she brings up the matter of a peppermint-striped gem he got in a trade for actual candy with the chief of an old tribe. Webby says that he didn’t offer a fair deal, but that’s simply not true. If you look back at the episode of the cartoon this is based on, Scrooge does try to offer valuables for the gem, but the Chief isn’t interested. He wants the ultimate status symbol of his people, a big belly, and that’s where the candy trade comes in. Then there’s the case of the Eskimo family that allegedly struggled to make it through the winter when Scrooge dug up the famous Goose Egg Gold Nugget in the Klondike. This is a story that’s been told and re-told over and over again – it’s the Disney equivalent of the murder of Bruce Wayne’s parents – and not once have I ever seen a version of this story that featured a struggling Eskimo family that Scrooge beat to the punch. This is something Spector conjured up out of whole cloth that makes Scrooge seem like some sort of robber baron (which in itself doesn’t even work, since at the time he found the nugget Scrooge was dirt-poor). The only thing that Webby has even a small point about is the dinosaur egg that Scrooge took from its mother, although one could easily make the argument that, in the name of science, he should have taken both mother and egg rather than just the egg.

I love these characters and I love the art. I really want to love this comic book. But the very premise of the opening story arc is so fundamentally flawed that I find it impossible to recommend.

Rating: 5/10