Category Archives: 2012
Every other week, Jason Shayer will highlight an issue or a run of issues pulled from the horde of comic book long boxes that occupy more room in his house than his wife can tolerate. Each of these reviews will delve into what made that issue or run significant as well as discuss the creative personalities behind the work. “Long Box” refers to the lengthy, white cardboard boxes most comics find themselves stored within – bagged, alphabetized and numerically ordered.
The creative team of Marv Wolfman and Gene Colan were no strangers to a “weird world of terror” as they had collaborated on their successful 70-issue run on Marvel Comics’ The Tomb of Dracula, which was the longest running comic book horror series of all time (although I believe that honour now falls on Robert Kirkman’s The Walking Dead).
I’ll admit from the start that I never read this series when it came out. My 11-year-old comic book budget didn’t allow me to push beyond my staples of the Amazing Spider-Man, the Uncanny X-Men, and the New Teen Titans.
What impressed me from a writing point-of-a-view was how Marv Wolfman, who was also writing the New Teen Titans book, could change gears and write a very different book that was not only a completely different genre, but a radically different cast of characters. What was also refreshing was that it was a clear shift from the superhero world. The cast of characters were everyday people who have had brushes with the supernatural or were gifted with paranormal abilities.
The story centered around the mysterious Baron Winters and his attempts to stave off an even more mysterious threat. From Wintergate Manor, Baron Winters would manipulate events and even use the time travelling powers of the manor to affect current events.
The cast of characters for their first outing was tabloid news reporter Jack Gold, granddaughter of Dracula’s nemesis Vanessa Van Helsing, and parapsychologist Donavan Cain. Cain worked for the United States government, trying to find a way to harness satanic forces for their own purposes which was a supernatural arms race with the Soviet Union. Vanessa turned out to a psychic focal point for these satanic forces and Donavan’s research quickly moved from helping the government to helping Vanessa and keeping her alive and sane. The stakes dramatically increase as Vanessa is abducted by the Soviets with their own designs of using her and kicks her teammates into motion to rescue her.
The idea behind the Night Force was that it would be rotating cast of characters the Baron would put together to deal with a supernatural threat. Unfortunately, the first story arc lasted 7.5 issues and was a bit too long as it didn’t allow the readers to see the concept they had in mind in action. Another significant problem was the lack of any kind of sympathy for Baron Winters. I felt his mysterious nature and master manipulator role worked against him. On the other hand, I did enjoy his side trips into the past as well as the hints at his immortality and the suggestion that there were other incarnations of the Night Force.
Night Force was cancelled due to falling sales with issue #14. In that issue’s letter column, Wolfman advertized that the series would continue as a four issue mini-series, published on a yearly basis. Unfortunately, Night Force wouldn’t get another chance until 1996 and despite that incarnation and one in 2012, the series just hasn’t been able to gain the foothold it needed to be successful. I can’t help but wonder if the title had started as a series of four issue story arcs, it would have fared better.
Jason Shayer has been trying his best not to grow up for that last 30 years and comics books are one of the best ways to keep him young at heart. He’s also known as the Marvel 1980s guy and has probably forgotten more than you’d ever want to know about that wonderfully creative era. Check out his blogs at: marvel1980s.blogspot.com and dc1980s.blogspot.com
“The Walking Dead” will be back on AMC this Sunday night. My bottle of antacids by my side, I will give a quick review of Part One of Season 3, which introduced us to new characters and sadly, took some away.
Held to the edge of our seats, by each week’s heart pounding episode, we watched as Rick (Andrew Lincoln) and the group took over and secured a prison facility, while battling walkers every inch of the way. In the process, Hershel (Scott Wilson) was bitten and his leg amputated to keep him alive. Rick uneasily accepted the criminals that were living inside the prison, only to kill several of them later on, leaving Axil (Lew Temple) and Oscar (Vincent Ward) as the only surviving convicts, which Rick and the group grudgingly tolerate. Meet me after the jump.
Top Five Comic Books of 2012:
- Daredevil (Mark Waid and Paolo Rivera) – Mark Waid pushed aside the grim and gritty tone that has been with Daredevil since the 1980s and went back to the swashbuckling fun of the original character concept. Rivera’s smooth art, which is very reminiscent of David Mazzucchelli, compliments Waid’s efforts and really puts this book on everyone’s To Read pile.
- Saga (Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples) – I picked up this comic because it looked like something different and that’s exactly what I got. It’s one of those fun comic book experiences in that it goes beyond the mainstream and does something totally off-the-wall. I tried to describe it to my friend and fell short, coming up with something like it’s a “sci-fi fantasy with elements of Romeo & Juliet”.
- Batman (Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo) – To me, Snyder’s Batman is the big book that drove the new DC 52. His take captures everything you want in a Batman book and delivers a smart, emotional, and respectful story for such an iconic character. I was also impressed by Capullo’s efforts on this book, as I had always seen him more as a cartoonist, but he’s definitely taken his work to a higher level on this book.
- Wonder Woman (Brian Azzarello and Cliff Chiang) – Azzarello, who I normally find difficult to “get”, has done a great job on the reboot of this classic character along with artist Cliff Chiang. And what impressed me the most with Chiang’s art was the subtlety that he could communicate with what seemed to be such a simple art style. A fun super hero book with its roots in mythology that isn’t afraid of shaking things up a bit to tell a damn good story.
- Aquaman (Geoff John and Ivan Reis) - I’m just as surprised as you that Aquaman made it onto my Top Five list. While there’s a lot of attention for DC’s flagship book, Justice League, Geoff Johns has done incredible things with the King of the Seven Seas. He’s given Aquaman a solid background, grounding him a bit more in his humanity, a great expanded secondary cast, and along with Ivan Reis has produced one of the finest ongoing comic books of the year. Read the rest of this entry
I don’t watch a lot of TV and if I’m not with my grandchildren, I’m either ghost hunting or writing paranormal stories. When I do watch, I like stories that deal with the supernatural, science fiction, or horror, so it was really hard to come up with just five favorites. “The Walking Dead” is my #1 favorite and my reviews of this brilliant show can be found here at Biff Bam Pop! I’m also a fan of “Doctor Who” and “Firefly,” but I will save my reviews of these two for another time. So let’s begin with my Top Five after the jump.
Everybody at Biff Bam Pop! is talking about Top Fives, so I guess it’s my turn. Put on your seat belts, because as the regular readers around here know already, my tastes are not normal. I liked Santa Claus and hated Dark Knight. It’s going to be a bumpy ride. Next, after the jump, my top fives in film, music, television, and comic books. Look out.
I don’t know if it’s a champagne hangover I’m currently sporting or if it’s one brought on by comic books.
Between Christmas gifts and Boxing Day sales, I’ve been reading a lot of sequential art in my free time over the last seven days. Perhaps you have too! But Wednesday, January 2, 2013 is the first “new comics” release date of the brand new year and, like every other Wednesday, there’s something that has me raising a quizzical eye and more than a little excited at storytelling possibilities.
And yeah, you need to get it NOW!
If you know me, you know I love TV. Choosing my Top Five favourite shows of 2012 was an impossible task for me and it was a list that has been changed and edited countless times. I have finally chosen the five shows that stood out for me the most in 2012. These five shows were the ones that consumed my life and kept me up at night. Please be careful when you read on as there may be some spoilers for those shows you have yet to watch. Don’t say I didn’t warn you!!
Biff Bam Pop has been sharing Top 5 Album lists each year for five years now. It’s a bit of crazy thought that we’ve ben doing it for so long, but we do love our music and we do love to share it with our friends.
The great thing about coming up with these sorts of catalogues is the discussion it stimulates with other music lovers. Andy Burns, BBP’s Editor-in-Chief, generally has a distinctly different compilation than what I put together at the end of every year. 2012 was no exception. You can read his thoroughly rockin’ list here.
When listening to music, and deeming it “best of” – I have one criteria that rates above all others: it’s got to be music that stays with me, an album that plays on repeat all throughout the year. It’s got to be something that stands the test of a sound bite as well as a second single: a musicianship that lasts a full album, a sound that entices, surprises and elicits emotion.
Here then, are my top 5 albums of 2012.