Andy’s Read Pile: Space Ghost, Pack of Lies, and Inhumans

GhostAndy

IMG_4731Hey there, gang! It’s Andy Larson, back to give you the 411 on some of the comics that I’ve been reading lately out of my never ending read pile! So large is the stack of comics that I plan on reading and reviewing here on GotS, that I sincerely get overwhelmed by the notion that I’m never going to get all the books out there if I only do one review a week.

Therefore, on today’s blog, I’m going to try again an experiment that did a couple weeks back in which I’m going to try to do multiple books and be as concise and to the point as possible. Yep, I’m going limit each of the entries to no more than 600 words in hopes of giving all of you readers a good subsection of reading materials you can check out at your local comic book shop without chewing your ear off about them in the process. As my wife says when I start getting a little too verbose for her liking, less is sometimes more! 

So without further ado, here are a couple books I’ve been reading recently that you might wanna check out.

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Space Ghost

by: Joe Kelly and Ariel Olivetti

 

Synopsis:

Justice loving Peacekeeper agent, Thaddeus Bach , gets a rude awaking when he finds out that that the “Wrath” special ops force he has just been assigned to is just a bunch of bloodthirsty mercenaries instead of the protectors of law he was lead to believe. After rebelling against his former teammates, they kill Thad’s wife and unborn son, merciless beat him, and leave him for dead on dying planet.

Nursed back to health by genius weapon’s engineer, Salomon, Thad decides to use his newly found superior firepower to hunt down those responsible for his betrayal.

However, after meeting up with his future adopted children/sidekicks in the orphaned Jayce and Jan, and saving their planet from an invasion by the insectoid race of conquerors lead by the merciless Zorak, Thad returns to the side of law and order.

Space Ghost, champion of peace throughout the cosmos is born!

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Overall Thoughts:

I’ll be honest. I’m not a huge Space Ghost fan. Growing up I did watch some of the original shorts on Cartoon Network back in the networks infancy when all they did was rerun old Warner Brothers/Hanna-Barbera cartoons. However, I always preferred Bird Man to his more space farring masked counterpart. Even with GotS favorite, Space Ghost Coast to Coast, yes, I did enjoy that show quite a bit, but even that I preferred Aqua Teen Hunger Force over.

But I always thought Space Ghost had an insanely great look to him, thanks in large part to the classic Alex Toth design, so when I saw this trade on the shelf at my local comic shop on free comic book day for 5 bucks, I thought I’d give the character one last go in trying to impress on me why so many fans like him.

This dark somewhat depressing revenge tale turned redemption, is one I feel I’ve seen way too often and frankly better. It’s like they took Space Ghost and “Zack Synder”ed him all up, giving him a grim and gritty back story in order to make the character more adult, and less Saturday morning fare. But in doing so, they took any originality the character might have had, and some what shlocked him up into a Batman clone with a rocket ship.

There were some parts that I found somewhat cool, such as the almost “Judge Dredd” like obsession Thadeus had with justice and the law before he became Space Ghost as well as the character of Salomon from which he gets all his cool out of this world weapons. He had a believable penance style guilt after building the weapons that wiped out his civilization, and the scenes where they break rocks with a simple pick axe are definitely moving.

I even liked the take on frequent victim of random laser beam blasts, Zorak, in giving him a hive mind mentality, so that he was much more of credible threat.

But everything else just seemed tired and done before. As a result, I really struggled at times to finish this book as I found myself not really caring. Maybe that’s because I didn’t care to begin with about the character, but in my defense if the book had been stellar, maybe that would have gotten me juiced about Space Ghost and thought of him more than just an awesome looking character on those sweet Alex Ross covers!

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Andy’s Read Pile Grade: C-

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Pack of Lies

by: Mikey Wood, Byron Winton, M.I. Walker, Shawn Atkins, Darryl Wright, Scott Hedlund, Barry Linck, Jeremy Ray, Kristofer Smith, Loran Skinkis, Jon Towers, and Jason Bender

 

Synopsis:

When his foster brother/private detective, Danny, is found dead in his office, it’s up to Manny Lubbock, to assemble the pieces of a mystery surrounding Danny’s most recent case, before he and the other members of his foster family clan also end up pushing up the daisies!

(If it’s a little short on synopsis…it’s a mystery, folks! I don’t want to spoil this one!)

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Overall Thoughts:

I had the opportunity to meet the author, Mikey Wood, at a comic con this past summer, and let tell you, after the brief interview we had, I could tell that we were kindred spirits. I mean he immediately picked up on where the name “Ghosts of the Stratosphere” might have originally had its roots, which always gives you brownie points in my eyes.

From his views on comic books to the role of heroes in those books, from his love of lucha libre to the nostalgic praise of pulp characters from the 30s and 40s, I definitely felt like I got this guy, and as a result I was going to dig his work immensely.  So when I got an opportunity to read one of this books available on Amazon, I jumped at the chance.

Pack of Lies is a terrific little murder mystery in the vein of a Raymond Chandler novel, and Mikey excels at recreating the hyper stylish Hollywood crime dramas of the late 40s and 50s in a style that celebrates the unique hard-boiled view on life that permeates this genre right down to the whiskey infused dialogue. Plus as a bonus there’s a terrific analysis of pulp characters and the roots of these types of stories at the end of book which made me wish that we could have a talent like this write regular articles here on GotS!

I will say my only gripe with the book was actually the changing art style. Although I appreciate the notion of this being an attempt to mirror the more serialized story telling of the original pulp roots of stories like this, I honestly found the changing art style jarring, to the point that it got in the way of the narrative.

It’s an in depth plot with a lot of characters and a lot of twists and turns as is the norm with Film noir type pieces. So that demands a lot of the readers attention, and the fact that visual way that story is being told changes sometimes pretty drastically from chapter to chapter, can distract you from getting more engaged in the plot. I found myself reading certain portions several times attempting to just focus on the text vs. the art just so I could not get distracted.

That being said, my preferred style other than Mikey’s art itself was with Chapter 13 by Loran Skinkis. I really felt like that style matched the tone of the story the best with a Manny interpretation that looked both capable yet somewhat disheveled, draped in a 50s postmodern vibe that fit the tale well.

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Still though if you are a fan of gumshoes, femme fatales, hard drinking/two fisted mysteries in the vein of Robert Mitchum or Humphrey Bogart, then definitely pick up this book on Amazon today!

Andy’s Read Pile Grade: B-

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Marvel Masterworks: The Inhumans Vol. 1

by: Stan Lee, Jack Kirby, Neil Adams, Roy Thomas, Gerry Conway, and more!

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Synopsis:

Before the Eternals. Before the New Gods. There was Jack Kirby’s original cosmic spin off of the human race in the Inhumans!

In this collection of the earliest issues from the Inhumans solo books following multiple appearances in the Fantastic Four series, the Inhuman royal family of Black Bolt, Medusa, Gorgon, Trition, Karnak, and Lockjaw face off against a variety of threats such as the Wizard’s Frightful Four, the Mandarin, Thor & the Avengers, and Black Blot’s devious brother, Maximus the Mad.

Featuring additional art by comic legend Neil Adams after Kirby leaves the book, it’s an interesting look into another of Marvel’s super teams that although may not have been as long lasting as the FF, X-men, or Avengers, still sowed the seeds for ideas that would be later perfected in other comic books, such as the notion of a super group of humans touched by ancient aliens into becoming something greater than the general populace. Plus, the origins of Black Bolt are explored in greater detail which does add some much needed exposition to a character who can sometimes be forgotten about due to the fact that he does speak.

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Overall Thoughts:

Although it seems that since the failed ABC television series “Inhumans”, these characters have lost a bit of their luster, I never watched that particular program or prescribed to the hype that Marvel was building that these were the replacements for the X-men’s mutants. To me they were always just a bunch of side characters mainly in the FF/Avengers Mythology, that sported classic Kirby costume designed and once and a while told decent enough stories.

However, now that it seems Marvel is set to duplicate the same mistakes with the Eternals as they did with the Inhumans in unnecessarily blowing them out of proportion to sell movie tickets, I thought it might be a chance to finally revisit the original Inhumans to see where all this hub bub started.

What I found was a pretty interesting origin story of where the Inhumans first came from as Kree experiments, the first of them exposed to Terregen Mists, and the very strange origin of Black Bolt as a severely genetically altered baby. Of all of these stories, I did find the origin of Black Bolt the most fascinating just based on the fact that his parents are complete and total douche bags and condemned their son to a life of silent misery due to their monkey business with his generic code.

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As for the rest of the book though, the stories though are your atypical silver age fare so there’s not much to write home about from that perspective. In fact, the very best part was the art as it’s a terrific treat anytime you get Kirby followed by Neil Adams on the same book.

In particular the Neil Adams issues are fantastic and capture that same vibe that I saw on his X-men run with Roy Thomas which is by far one of my favorites of all comic books. It’s a shame it only lasts for 4 issues though, despite getting a terrific drawn confrontation between Black Bolt and Thor, which is the true highlight of this collection.

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Andy’s Read Pile Grade: C

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