This time on Heroes and Villains, we’ll be looking at a variety of comics out this week and last, from a variety of genres. Meet me after the jump for my thoughts on Captain Canuck #12, Spawn #276, Saban’s Go Go Power Rangers #1, Savage Dragon #225, Crosswind #2, and Fantomah #1… be warned, there may be spoilers…
Anyone who collects and loves comics knows that there are comics that trigger specific memories, are tied to events and times of the past. For me, just the mention of the name Captain Canuck takes me back to Thanksgiving of 1975. I would ride my bike to the store every day, even holidays, to get my father the newspaper, and most days I would also get a comic book. On that Thanksgiving Day, the book I picked up was one I had never seen before – Captain Canuck #2 from Comely Comix. At a five and ten store whose comics selection was mainly DC, a few Marvels, and the occasional Archie or Charlton, this was a find, and I didn’t even mind the high price of thirty-five cents, as it had more pages and was printed on a higher grade of paper.
I remember hiding the comic in my jacket when I got home, not wanting my visiting sister to see it. She was very much in the comics-will-rot-your-brain camp and was not pleased with the couple stacks I already had in my bedroom. All these things make the memory. I remember devouring the comic alone in the hour before dinner. There was so much in this book: a new superhero, espionage and action more realistic than I had previously seen in this format, a back with another new hero, letter pages (including a photo of a Captain Canuck AMC Pacer driving around Canada!), and editorial on the ill effects of television.
All that and more, and it was all the work of mostly one guy, Richard Comely. He was writer and artist, just like that guy Jack Kirby I was just starting to learn about, and everyone knew that Kirby guy was a genius. Under sharp supervision that comic was read and re-read by my friends (there were no more at the store), and I myself probably read twice as many times. Sadly rated poor by comic investors, I would call my copy ‘well loved.’ And my friends and I would also play Captain Canuck, fighting over who would be Kebec, Redcoat, and of course the Captain. Good times.
My local store several months later had a copy of Captain Canuck #3, which had lost of cool text pieces about the history of Canadian comics as a bonus, but it never showed up again, at least not in the 20th century. There have been murmurings of the hero making a comeback over the years, returns, reboots, and revivals, but I have to confess I never really took notice until the most recent endeavor by Chapterhouse Comics. Despite being off my radar, they have been guiding the adventures of Captain Canuck since 2015, and there has even been an animated webseries. Clearly I have to catch up, so why not start with their issue #12, also known as Captain Canuck Season 3 Issue 1.
The current Captain is a bit different from the one I fell in love with decades ago, in fact he’s one of three to claim the mantle, as happens when a character is passed around to different companies and reboots. But the hero is still there, gone back to its roots, as is the action and adventure. We open on the hero in self-exile, and with Toronto under attack by an alien monster, P.A.C.T. needs Captain Canuck and tries to pull him back in. A bit cliché, but I’m sure it will pay off once the Captain retakes the mantle. This is a reboot of the original concept, pulling in ideas from other versions as well, and it is a shining example of world-building. Chapterhouse is serious about their ‘Chapterverse,’ and I get a vibe similar to the early Valiant days where everything is connected.
No matter if you are an older fan like me, or new to the hero and his world, writer Kalman Andrasofszky and veteran artist Leonard Kirk are bringing this legend to new life, creating a mythos now that is as exciting and unique as the original series was when it first caught my eye during my golden age of comics as a child. I liked this a lot, and look forward to more of the new Captain Canuck. Recommended.
One of the quote unquote big stories coming out of San Diego Comic-Con last weekend was that a not only was a new Spawn movie in development, a reboot rather than a continuation, but that creator Todd McFarlane would be directing as well. This bit of news/not news might be taken with a grain of salt by many fans as this rumor has been floated for more than a decade in comics circles. Nevertheless, I took that as a que to read the latest issue of the dark hero from Hell, Spawn #276.
With McFarlane still in the driver’s seat somewhat as editor and main cover artist, this issue begins a new story arc, “Dark Horror.” One might think that a new story arc might be a good place to start fresh with a comic, but not so true here. There’s a lot of baggage to catch up on, but still it doesn’t hinder this tale of classic cinematic J-horror, kudos to storytellers Jason Sean Alexander and Darragh Savage. Moody and atmospheric, this is truly a ‘dark horror,’ and although I have never really been much of a Spawn fan, recommended. Maybe they can adapt this story for the movie should it manifest.
Whereas previous comics I’ve reviewed featuring the Power Rangers (here and here) have had a more serious slant toward the characters and the situations, and even continuing the saga from the vastly superior recent movie, this new ongoing series takes a look at the early days of the Power Rangers, and is much more reminiscent of the various TV series. It is also quite engaging, more geared to a younger audience without talking down to it, and most of all, fun. I enjoyed this a lot, recommended.
This 225th issue of Savage Dragon continues storylines from the trade I reviewed a few weeks back. This is more of the same, but one thing would have made me pick this one up off the stands, I am a sucker for nostalgia, and this issue’s cover is a mock-up of the old 100-Page Super-Spectaculars that DC used to do back in the 1970s that I absolutely loved. Whether I like Dragon or not, I would have scooped this comic up simply for the nostalgic value.
And this comic is indeed one hundred pages long, and celebrating the silver anniversary of the first Image Comics appearance of Savage Dragon. Not only do we get a wrap up of recent loose ends, a fight to the finish with the Darklord, but also the possible death of Dragon (you did heed that spoiler warning at the opening of this article, right?). Also featured are a handful of other stories, some with Dragon (father and son), the Freak Force, Battle Girl, Flash Mercury, the Ant, and the first Dragon story of all, presented for the first time in full color. Definitely worth a read, and the ten bucks.
The week that Crosswind #1, by fan favorite Gail Simone and Cat Staggs, came out, it was the book that everyone was talking about. I came to the party late (friend and fellow BiffBamPopper JP Fallavollita knew about Crosswind though, another reason to read The Wednesday Run every week), and after kicking myself, I made sure to read and review the second issue. Billed as Freaky Friday meets Goodfellas, this one deserves the hype.
A Chicago hitman and a Seattle housewife switch bodies, and while it sounds like the set up for a bad joke or an Adam Sandler movie, this is an intense, graphic thriller, and a domestic drama, and it’s just full of cinematic brilliance. As the housewife in the assassin’s body cleans up after a hit with the mad skills of domesticity, the assassin in the housewife’s body makes dinner for hubby’s boss and deals with stepson’s bully problems. I love this, and you will too. This is a definite buy, and if you haven’t already, get the first issue too – Crosswind promises to be a hell of a ride.
We started with Chapterhouse and we’ll end with a new comic from them as well, in this case, Fantomah #1. Shaping the supernatural side of the Chapterverse, it begins with the very real horror of a young woman, Paz Gallegos, who can’t find her younger twin sisters. Tracking down the men who took them, they kill her. Later a phantasm takes on the kidnappers and saves the girls. This has a very ‘spectral’ vibe, but with lots of other things going on as well. Paz has secrets, she has visions, and she is also a strong female protagonist, something we need more of in comics these days. I will be back for more of this one, worth a look.