Wednesday, February 1, 2017

POBB January 25, 2017

Pick of the Brown Bag
January 25, 2017
Ray Tate

Welcome to the Pick of the Brown Bag, in this weekly blog I review the best and worst of comic books.  This time around it’s a team-up bonanza including Batman and the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Batman and Wonder Woman, Future Quest, Scooby-Doo Team-Up and Wonder Woman and the Bionic Woman.

Jan 22,1940-January 25, 2017

Always, remember.  He was the Doctor.

Events progress rapidly in Future Quest.  Writer Jeff Parker hops us from a gun battle against FEAR... the resurrection of Frankenstein Jr.

Parker introduced Frankie as a large but not kaiju sized robot.  He served as Buzz's combination babysitter and security guard.  Like Race Bannon only metal.  In this issue of Future Quest, Parker conjectures an interesting origin story for the bot and boy partnership.  It's a very cool twist that answers the important question of why.

Meanwhile the Impossibles speed to Space Ghost's rescue, away from the giant monster that's the cause of all this turmoil.  Similar to what happened in 2014's Godzilla, the feel good movie of the summer, the heroes discover their troubles have doubled.

This leads to some appealing moments fans of Hanna-Barbera cartoons couldn't have even dreamed of that include mash-ups involving deputization, reunified science forces, a clever escape from another dimension, a combined force assault and a surprising yet foreshadowed turn at the cliffhanger.

In Scooby-Doo Team-Up the Gang attend a rock concert starring the singing Impossibles.  

Can the crimefighting Impossibles be far behind? Not when there’s an amok Frankenstein Jr. about ripping apart the stadium and terrorizing innocent teenyboppers.  

I realize that for some, even comic book aficionados, I’m speaking gibberish.  So click on the link to wikipedia for a primer.  I’ll wait for you.  Back? Good. 

Scholly Fish and Dave Alvarez create a mostly amusing mash up in which the Impossibles find an opponent that they cannot beat.

Scooby and the gang however are mostly witnesses.  The solution requires no clever deductions or sleuthing.  They do however provide a unique purpose to the plot.  

The Meddling Kids ironically become the adults to convince kid genius Buzz Conroy that he must sacrifice Frankenstein Jr. for the greater good.  Ultimately, this unusual element combined with mostly strong model-adherent artwork and the groovy demonstration of the Impossibles’ powers makes Scooby-Doo Team-Up a worthwhile purchase.

Batman tracked down escaped Arkham Asylum criminals to a parallel earth protected by the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.  The Dark Knight called in Robin who brought Batgirl and off the Batman Family went to retrieve Gotham’s most dangerous.

The Turtles at first mistook the Batman Family for monsters, which is fair.  That's exactly why Batman dresses as a giant bat.  Since then, they buried the hatchet and combined force to fight Snakeweed, a giant plant creature from the Turtles’ Rogues Gallery controlled by Poison Ivy. 

The fight serves as the centerpiece, and it’s a good one with superb Batman the Animated Series stylization courtesy of John Sommariva and Sean Parsons.

The dialogue between Turtles and Batman Family generates lots of humor, as does the further exploration of Turtle mythology specifically by Batgirl.

When Batman takes over and splits the groups into away teams, the comedy continues in unexpected avenues.  In addition, there’s a definite uptick to the threat-level facing the Turtles.  The writers cast our our favorite half-shell heroes as innocents.  The Turtles never encountered foes like Batman's enemies.  The comic book exemplifies how deadly these maniacs can be.  

The latest issue of Batman 66 begins with Catwoman stealing a valuable book from a private collection.  Pay attention to the scene because there's perfect communication between writers Jeff parker and Marc Andreyko with artist David Hahn.

Foiled by Batman, Catwoman makes a deal that directly involves her sly actions.  With clue in hand, Batman returns to the Batcave.  Here, the time of this book's setting becomes important.

The lion's share of the story takes place when young Bruce Wayne attended the charity auction held by his parents.  There Bruce meets Talia and her father Ra's Al Ghul.

Hahn's depiction of children is excellent, and the personality he gives to Bruce and Talia heralds the man and woman they'll become.  There's furthermore much to be said for allowing characters to age in this series.  The element creates an intrinsic logic.  Bruce and Talia encountering each other as children establishes their historical attraction.  

Bruce being a child in the World War II era grants Batman greater depth because it implies a lived twenty-two years.  Whenever you reboot a character, no matter how strong a reboot, the character's past still becomes ambiguous.  History then can be considered a constant with respect to the plot.  In addition the mortality of the main characters fosters a purely fictional conceit.  Immortality.

Bruce first encounters Wonder Woman as a child.  A superb depiction of Lynda Carter by Hahn.  Wonder Woman is on hand to stop the Nazis from getting their hands on the books.   The Axis believes these treasures will allow them to secure ancient knowledge that will win them the war.  

Although this rationale may seem far-fetched, Hitler actually did collect artifacts and tomes from all around the world.  He even orchestrated numerous archaeological digs that any Raiders of the Ark fan will recognize.  Hitler's goals were in no way laudable.  The mass murderer sponsored expeditions to find proof that the legacy of the Aryans first proposed long ago by Victorian charlatan Madame Blavatsky flowed in German blood.

Our familiar Washington colleagues are on hand to prevent the Nazis from obtaining the books and so by pure chance, why even coinky-dink is Wonder Woman.

Not only does Batman 66 give us the Wonder Woman from 77 but also the Wonder Woman from the 1940s.  This is indeed a pleasant and apropos treat. 

In the second issue of Wonder Woman's and the Bionic Woman's team-up, writer Any Mangels ends Joe Atkinson, the mostly useless head of IADC.  Thus, he gives an unofficial explanation for Atkinson's absence from season three of Wonder Woman.  At the service, Wonder Woman and the Bionic Woman meet again, and Jaime tries to get her to level with her.

The ladies' partnership immediately becomes effective when Steve seems to be unconsciously cluing into Diana's closeness to Wonder Woman.

Steve isn't so much a dullard as he is a recipient of Amazon persuasion.  In the first episode of Wonder Woman's second season, a descendent of the original Steve Trevor washes ashore on Paradise Island.  

The Amazons heal his body and mind.  They also use hypnosis either magical or scientifically advanced to convince Steve that Diana and Wonder Woman could not possibly be the same woman.  It's incidentally not brainwashing.  Brainwashing is a system of torture involving drugs, starvation and physical abuse to make the victim compliant.  The Amazons would find such crime abhorrent.

After this fun little exchange livens up an exposition filled meeting, Jaime and Diana attend their rendezvous where Jaime learns another very cool secret about Wonder Woman.

And Wow to Judit Tondera's artwork as well as the pastel look of Richard Pilcz's colors.  Totally fitting with the tone of the comic book.  More comedic observation and an appreciation of cool toys leads to a fan-favorite move from Wonder Woman.

Every fan of the television series loves Wonder Woman's aquatic look.  This is the only time when it's acceptable to give Wonder Woman a costume with pants.

In addition to these fine factors, Wonder Woman and the Bionic Woman harbors fugitives, expected and unexpected, from the Wonder Woman and Bionic Woman television series.  This includes a character introduced on Wonder Woman and transmogrified into a bona fide Wonder Woman comic book nemesis.  Who will Dr. Solano's henchwench Gloria become?

Portrayed by Jessica Walter



The New Dr. Cyber

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