Wednesday, March 4, 2020

Review: Laurel & Hardy Meet The Three Stooges

From American Mythology comes a crossover of two of the most loved comedy teams of all time. Historically, this is not the first time these two legendary teams have crossed paths. The 1934 MGM movie Hollywood Party featured an all star cast including the Stooges (with their original leader Ted Healy) and Stan and Ollie, although they did not share a scene together.  Healy and the Stooges, early in their film career, have a brief bit in the first half of the movie, while Stan and Ollie, at the peak of their popularity, get significant screen time in the film's third act.  This comic book extravaganza casts the Stooges as handymen and Stan and Ollie as movers, who end up working for the same client. The two teams meet on the job site and hilarity ensues. Writers SA Check and James Kuhoric get both teams characters down pat and put them in funny situations, however there is one scene when the two teams meet and there are several panels of them introducing themselves and shaking hands that just didn't work for me, as it came off as kind of pretentious.  Early in there is a nice Easter Egg referencing Larry Harmon and Ted Healy (although the latter's name was misspelled).  The art by Diego Tapie captures the Larry Harmon cartoon look for Stan and Ollie while also giving the Stooges a design in line with their looks from the cartoons produced by Cambria Studios. This issue earns a solid A.

Wednesday, February 26, 2020

Review: Shazam! #11

The latest issue opens with Billy giving us a recap of what has gone on via his thoughts.  Interesting here is that it appears like Billy and Captain Shazam are having separate thoughts within Billy's mind.  Billy overhears Wizard Shazam and C.C. talking and he's gets up to look to see his dad struck down by Wizard Shazam.  They argue about it which leads to Captain Shazam vs Wizard Shazam.  The onomonapia wakes up the rest of the house who watch the big fight going on in the backyard.  The rest of the Shazam Family join in to help the Captain. 

Interlude with the Vasquez's helping C.C., now stripped of his power.  He tells them he senses a great evil.  Meanwhile Wizard Shazam is getting ticked at the super-powered children.  Cut to the Monsterlands where Sivana and Mr Mind release the Monster Society of Evil...except for Superboy-Prime.  Back to C.C. who tells the Vasquez's he had a vision of Wizard Shazam as someone who is much more war-like than everyone was led to believe. 

Wizard Shazam attempts to strip all the Shazam Family members of their powers, but Captain Shazam and C.C. jump in to try to tag-team reason with him.  Wizard Shazam gets furious and is about to kill C.C. when Captain Shazam just out of nowhere, gets the ability to banish Wizard Shazam to the Rock of Eternity, and restore C.C.'s Daddy Shazam powers in the process.  But then Black Adam appears and starts choking Daddy Shazam, who casts a spell separating Black Adam's soul from his body.  This makes Captain Shazam suspicious that Daddy Shazam knew such a spell.
SPOILER ALERT
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Mr Mind has been using C.C. Batson as a host this whole time. The Monster Society arrives on Earth, and in the Magiclands, Superboy-Prime gets out of his cell and is coming for Billy Batson.

I have to give the devil his due, this was one of Geoff Johns' better scripts in this series.  Of course that isn't saying too much since the bar is set so low. He kept things moving and focused, and threw in quite a few plot swerves. Scott Kollins is the sole credited artist for this issue, and is par for the course- good but generic.  I really would have liked to see Mayo "Sen" Naito do the art for this issue as it really would have elevated it even more.  Even so, I'll be very generous and give this issue a B-.

Monday, February 3, 2020

Johnson Smith Company, RIP

In December 2019, after 105 years in business, the Johnson Smith Company closed its doors.  Johnson Smith ads were there on historic issues like Detective #27, and Action #1, and in the early 70s were starting a renewed comic book campaign. I discovered the company as a child and I remember buying their "Horror Record", which I thought was just as great as any Power Records offering.  I remember buying the Secret Pen Radio, which was a tiny crystal radio housed inside a large pen casing, and in 4th grade, my desk was next to a radiator and I remember bringing it to school and clipping the antenna to the radiator and listening to AM stations. Of course I also got all the typical items, like fake vomit, a joy buzzer, whoopee cushion, and the item simply known as "Oops", with the description "Bad shot... somebody missed" next to a drawing of a toilet with a dark object on the seat. I remember that for at least two birthdays in a row, most if not all my presents were from Johnson Smith.  I loved getting the latest Johnson Smith catalogs in the mail... it even rivaled Heroes World catalogs.  Although I stopped ordering regularly from them as I got into my 20s, I still requested and received catalogs til the end.  Back in the day I bought and still have a couple reproduction catalogs from the 1920s, and kept a few of my own catalogs from my childhood.  I also have the final catalog mailed out late in 2019. Goodbye Johnson Smith Company.  You will be missed.


Friday, January 31, 2020

Shazam 2 - the musical?

Shazam director David F. Sandberg has brought into the public consciousness the idea of making Shazam 2 a musical.

He recently tweeted that he has been getting comments from, presumably, kids and parents of kids asking for this.  Whether these are real comments, or something Sandberg himself had written, like the fake script page he leaked for the first movie, or perhaps even a concept being pushed by Asher Angel's management, Sandberg, by putting this out there, is probably considering this concept and sending out feelers for opinions.  If that is the case, the reaction to his tweet is evenly divided between those for and those against.

As for my opinion on this, if you read my review of the first movie, I made it clear.  The standard for bad ideas was established by choosing to base the film on Geoff Johns' New52 Shazam instead of Fawcett's original Captain Marvel, and choosing to use a (needless) Superman cameo where his face is cropped out of the shot.   Making the sequel a musical is no worse an idea than either of those two.  So more power to Sandberg if Shazam 2 is to be a musical.  And with the cast he has, they could pull it off nicely.

Who knows... perhaps #releasethesnydercut may by superseded by #makeshazam2amusical.

Wednesday, January 22, 2020

Review: Shazam! #10

Holy Moly.  Another issue released one month after the previous.  Is this a trend?  Issue 10 opens with King Kid.  Remember him?  He was very important in the early chapters then just sort of vanished.  He's back.  Kind of wish he would vanish again. He's terrorizing Philadelphia until the Shazam Family shows up.  At one point while they are saving people, Daddy Shazam refers to Captain Shazam as "Captain".  Oh, Geoff... you throw us fans such bones.  Cut to Mr Tawny, watching all this on TV... live news coverage.  Apparently, he's now the Vasquez's Alfred.  Back to the action where Captain Shazam halts everything by simply taking away King Kid's wishing stick, reverting all the invaders into toys, its original form.  Captain Shazam wants to cart the King off to Juvey, but Daddy Shazam tries to nurture King Kid instead.

Cut to Sivana and Mr Mind at the Rock of Eternity where they succeed in opening the door to the Monsterlands.  They enter to recruit what I'm guessing is going to be the New52 Monster Society of Evil.  Cut to the Vasquez home for a nice sit-com family dinner scene.  Billy takes a plate to (the potentially imposter) Wizard Shazam who is creepily lurking in Billy's bedroom.  Billy asks what he did with King Kid.  The Wizard replies he sent him back to the Funlands and freed all the adults who will decide what to do.  Cut back to Sivana and Mr Mind in the Monsterlands where Mr Mind lectures Sivana on the origins of the Monsterlands, the Rock of Eternity, and the Council of Wizards.  Kept prisoner there is Superboy-Prime who vows revenge against Billy Batson.  Cut back to Billy who suspects something is not quite right about the Wizard, who later that night neutralizes Daddy Shazam. Geoff Johns' script is slightly better than the previous issue, and the art by Scott Kolins and Dale Eaglesham is more consistent than the previous issue.  This issue earns a C.

Wednesday, December 18, 2019

Review: Shazam! #9

It's unprecedented!  It's apocalyptic! It's putrid!  The latest issue has been released a month after the previous issue! But after reading it, I kind of wish there was a longer gap between these issues.  This issue picks up with the newly created Daddy Shazam (although he's wearing Zazzo-Plus's costume) encountering his son, who he doesn't recognize as his son, Captain Shazam.  There's a long monologue recapping every thing that has gone on... like we really need to read about it all again.  Nice way of filling a perpetually delayed issue, Johns.  Captain Shazam, Daddy Shazam and Sexy Shazam team up to attack Black Adam, but he removes the power from Mary.  Daddy Shazam attempts to fly Mary to safety but she inadvertently takes his power.  The game of Hot Potato, Geoff Johns style.

The three retreat to the Wozenderlands (a name that gets more stupid every time I have to type it).  They are found by the Scarecrow.  No not that one, the one from the Wizard of Oz.  With the Munchkins, no less. They carry them off to see Dorothy. This is quickly turning into either bad fan-fic or a really bad acid trip. Mary's and the dad's powers keep going on and off.  Then Wizard Shazam (who was foreshadowed as being an imposter a few issues back) pops in with the other kids. Wizard tells Captain the reason the powers are going on the blink is that he must choose between his father and his foster family.  The dad and the kids all give their closing arguments.  And then Billy chooses (spoiler alert)......
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all of them.  Cut to the Rock of Eternity where Sivana and Mr Mind, observing all that has happened, plot their next move.   The artwork, by three different artists, unclear who did what, is in spots a notch above last issue's, but still generic.  Geoff Johns' script... he needs to lay off the LSD.  This issue earns a D.

Wednesday, November 27, 2019

Review: Shazam #8

After being postponed four months, issue 8 of Shazam! is finally released and could be the final issue of the troubled series. At least it is the last issue to be scheduled for the foreseeable future, and with a rumored "five generation" timeline reboot for DC continuity on the horizon, this whole series may end up being moot.

The issue starts in the Wozenderlands (don't ask) with a rabbit (Hoppy?), Eugene, Pedro and Wizard Shazam (who may be an imposter) around a campfire discussing how a seventh member for the Shazam Family needs to be found in order for all to fully realize their powers.  Cut to Billy's father... remember he came looking for Billy a few issues back.... as Mary and the Vasquezes cover for Billy who has, as Captain Shazam, gone to the Darklands.  As Billy's dad leaves, he is trailed by Sivana and Black Adam.  Meanwhile in the Darklands, Captain Shazam encounters a skeleton in a Captain Shazam costume, who explains he is the counterpart who defends the Darklands. Then it's back to Sivana, Mr Mind, and Black Adam trailing Billy's father.  They argue about their plan with Geoff Johns clearly implying Black Adam is really a good guy who gets put in bad situations by other people.  Then it's back to the Darklands where Captain Shazam and Skeleton Shazam are discussing making a deal when the skeletal remains of the "original" Marvel Family emerge from their graves.  They help Captain Shazam escape to rescue Freddy and Darla with Mr Tawny.  They get back to the Vasquez house just as Black Adam attempts to abduct Billy's father.  Captain Shazam arrives to fight Adam, but the 7 Deadly Sins abduct Billy's dad.  As he falls to certain death, Captain Shazam infuses him with power and spells out the name he is supposed to say.  The dad does and transforms into Daddy Shazam, the previously missing seventh member. (Or maybe it's Zazzo-Plus?)

Typical slightly below average script by Geoff Johns (with the advertised return of Captain Marvel utter BS), and generic art by Scott Kolins. Will there be another chapter to this overlong, drawn out story, or does it end here with the upcoming company wide "Five Generation" reboot wiping it all out of continuity?  Does anyone still care at this point?  Stay tuned.  This issue earns a C-.