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Welcome back to Longbox Junk, home of comic reviews nobody ever asked for!

I've admitted before that I'm not a very big fan of what many think of as traditional comic book superheroes. . .the "capes and tights" crowd, in other words.  I like my heroes to be a bit more "grounded", even if they ARE inhabiting a comic book world.  Lone Ranger, Zorro, Jonah Hex, Tarzan, Green Hornet, Rocketeer, The Spirit, Sgt. Rock, The Shadow. . .THOSE are the kind of heroes that I love.

BUT. . .

That's not to say I don't like more traditional comic superheroes at all.  A good story is a good story, as far as I'm concerned.  As a matter of fact, one of my all-time favorite comic characters in general happens to be of the "capes and tights" variety (well, tights anyway):  The one and only Star-Spangled Avenger. . .CAPTAIN AMERICA!

So. . .

This being July, why not wave the flag a bit here in Longbox Junk?  I have a pretty good handful of Captain America one-shots in my collection. . .let's take a look, shall we?  We shall!

Marvel/DC (1996)

SCRIPTS: John Byrne
PENCILS: John Byrne
COVER: John Byrne

What we have here is not only a Captain America team-up, but an intercompany Marvel/DC crossover with my OTHER favorite "traditional" superhero. . .the one and only Dark Knight Detective, BATMAN!  It's an out-of-continuity "Elseworlds" tale set in 1945 during the superhero-filled comic book version of WWII.  Let's take a look!

First, the cover.  There's our heroes front and center, and you can tell from their smiling faces that (despite being put out in the 90's) this isn't going to be some grim-n-gritty affair. . .there's gonna be some Nazi punchin'!  I really like this cover a lot.  Captain America is especially nice.  Moving on!

The Story goes like this:

Batman and Captain America cross paths in Gotham when Cap is pulled from the war in Europe and sent stateside for a secret mission. . .to find out if Bruce Wayne is behind attempts to steal a powerful new weapon code named "The Gotham Project".  After discovering each other's secret identities, the two heroes team up and track down the actual culprits. . .Joker and Red Skull, who are also working together.

In an action-packed finale in the skies over the Atlantic Ocean, Batman and Captain America fight to prevent Red Skull from dropping the world's first atomic bomb on Washington D.C., and with the unexpected help of The Joker, barely manage to save the day.

The End.

I have to say that I REALLY enjoyed this comic!  Not only does it star two of my favorite superheroes, but it's written in such a fun and engaging way that I had a big smile on my face reading it.

This is not the grim and driven "Is he a hero or is he a psychopath?" Batman.  This is not the sad and introspective "Can I still be a symbol of THIS America?" Captain America. You can find THOSE gloomy guys in new comics on the stands every Wednesday.  No. . .THIS is The Caped Crusader and The Star Spangled Avenger!

 This is a rollicking Silver Age throwback adventure where Batman calls Robin "Chum" and Captain America can't help smiling as he punches Nazis.  This is an adventure where Joker switches sides when he discovers he's actually working with Red Skull because Joker may be a Criminal Lunatic, but he's an AMERICAN Criminal Lunatic!

John Byrne knocks it out of the park in a big way on this one, walking the tightrope of making it Silver Age fun without making it Silver Age silly.  It's just a great story and most of all, it's FUN.  It's like a breath of fresh air after reading the gloomy and sad adventures of Captain America and Batman currently on the stands.

The art is as much a fun Silver Age throwback as the writing.  Byrne has truly outdone himself in perfectly merging art and story with comic full of bold and colorful action that's just as much fun to look at as it is to read.

A special mention goes to the fantastic, detailed full-pager of the 1940's Batcave!
Does it get any better than that?  In my humble opinion, I say no!


Bottom Line: If you are a fan of classic Captain America or Batman, you need to have this comic.  As I said above, it's like a breath of fresh air after reading the sad and gloomy adventures of Batman and Captain America currently on the stands.  It's FUN.  Sometimes you just want your comics to be fun.  John Byrne delivers on that in a big way. This comic is like a shining nugget of Longbox Junk gold and I highly recommend it.

BONUS: There's a Sgt. Rock and Easy Company/ Captain America crossover cameo in the first part of this comic before Cap is called to Gotham that's almost worth the price of admission alone!

A great start.  NEXT!

Marvel (2019)

SCRIPTS: Roy Thomas
PENCILS: Jerry Ordway
COVER: Jerry Ordway

So what we have here is another Captain America WWII team-up. This time out with the Golden Age Human Torch and Namor. . .but it's before they became the Invaders, and the "Team-up" is really more like "Crossing paths without realizing it", so actually this is sort of a Invaders"Prequel". It's set very early in Cap's career before America entered the comic book version of WWII and he was still punching Nazi spies and saboteurs  stateside.  It's nice FRESH Longbox Junk that just came out this month and is still on the shelves.  Let's take a look!

First, the cover.  Hmmm. . .it's. . .okay.  I like the whole "America, Hell Yeah!" feel of it, but the execution seems off.  Cap looks a little strange, especially in the face and legs, and looks more like he's posing than running through fire carrying Old Glory.  I see now. . .THAT'S the problem.  It's an action scene that has no feeling of motion.  It's okay. . .not good, not bad. . .just okay.  Moving on!

The Story goes like this:

March, 1941.  With the world at war and America trying to stay out of the fighting, the newly-created Captain America is detailed to safeguard President Roosevelt during a fishing trip to the Bahamas as his first major assignment. 

Little does Cap or his superiors know, but a German U-Boat carrying Baron Zemo and a squad of Nazi Stormtroopers is ALSO headed to the Bahamas, intending to kidnap the abdicated King of England (Edward, now Duke of Windsor and Governor of The Bahamas) in order to force him to sit on the throne of a defeated England as Hitler's puppet king.

Luckily for both Roosevelt (the fishing trip is a cover for a clandestine meeting between the President and Duke of Windsor) and Edward, not only is a disguised Captain America on the scene, but also ANOTHER disguised U.S. "Special Agent", Jim Hammond. . .otherwise known as the Human Torch.  

Working together without realizing it, Cap and the Torch defeat Zemo and send the remaining Nazi Stormtroopers into a hasty retreat aboard their U-Boat, only for them to encounter yet a THIRD agent that destroys the fleeing sub. . .the mysterious Namor, The Sub-Mariner!

The End.

Hmmm. . .okay.  A pretty simple story about Captain America foiling a Nazi plan with the help of some allies he's not really aware of (he suspects there's something going on with "seaman" Jim Hammond, but is completely ignorant of Namor).  It's not a bad little story at all.  Nothing spectacular or even very memorable about it, but it's a decently-written tale of the sort that gets read once then goes into the longbox to be forgotten.

The problem here is the art.  Jerry Ordway is much better known for his DC work, and I've always found his style to be very workmanlike and somewhat plain.  Unfortunately, this comic is no exception, and is possibly even a bit worse than what I would usually expect from Ordway.  For such an action-packed story, the art is pretty stiff and utterly unremarkable.  Like the cover, the action seems more posed than dynamic. . .

That and Cap just looks strange through the whole comic from cover to end.  Really the only time the art hits the somewhat high bar of "Good" is during Namor's underwater scenes, and even those look stiff. . .

This is out on the shelves right now and, in my humble opinion, if you are anything less than a Captain America completionist you can safely save yourself five bucks by skipping this one.  It has a forgettable story and stiff, workmanlike art.  Unless you pick up one of the variants, even the cover isn't worth it. It's not a BAD comic. . .but it's not really what I'd call good, either. It's certainly not worth the five bucks Marvel is asking for it.  If you're curious, grab it from the bargain bin where the unsold copies will inevitably land. Don't pay cover price.

A bit of a disappointment.  NEXT!

(Captain America Vol. 1 #635.1)
Marvel (2012)

SCRIPTS: Cullen Bunn
PENCILS: Will Conrad
COVER:  Stuart Immonen

What we have here is our third WWII Captain America team-up story in a row!  This time out, teaming up with Namor against the threat of some of that special brand of creepy Nazi Magic/Science that deserves plenty of  superheroic punching!  

This issue is actually part of the ongoing Captain America series at the time (Vol. 5), but came in at a time when there were TWO Captain Americas and Marvel was trying to decide what to do, so they split up the regular series into smaller, separately-titled arcs (Captain America and Bucky, Captain America and Hawkeye, Captain America and Black Widow, and so on) that were team-ups with other characters.  So this is a separate story (as are all the Captain America And [insert name here] stories of the time), even though it's got an issue number.  Got all that? Okay. . .let's do this!

First, the cover.  It's a great cover! I've always been skeptical about how overpowered Namor is, and especially cringe at his seemingly random ability to fly (Why the $%&@ should an underwater character be able to fly? WHY?), but this cover is so nicely done that I don't really mind it showcasing everything I dislike about Namor at all.  The colors, the composition, the details on that tank. . .all outstanding. Stuart Immonen does a great job on this one.  Moving along!

The story goes like this:

France, 1942.  Captain America encounters Namor after a botched parachute jump that lands Cap miles away from his own unit.  He joins forces with the Sub-Mariner against a unit of Hitler's Occult Specialists, The Thule Society. . .who are attempting to harness the destructive power of an ancient Lemurian artifact.

In flashbacks during the battle, we see that Namor was given the information about the Thule's plans by a mysterious organization calling itself "The Covenant".  He accepts their information, but declines their offer to join them.

After a brutal battle, Captain America and Namor emerge victorious.  Namor destroys the artifact that the Thule Society were using. . .letting Captain America know that it holds the power to win the war easily, but at the expense of the Atlantean people (their souls are used to power the artifact).

At the end, it is shown later that The Covenant has recovered the artifact and pieced it back together, and that they have imprisoned Atlantians that they intend to use to unlock its terrible power, as well as one of the Nazi Thule scientists Namor thought he had killed. . .

The End.

Not a bad story at all.  Not great, mind you. . .it's mostly an extended battle scene broken up with flashbacks. . .but it's well-written and moves along at a snappy pace.  

It's actually more of a Namor story than a Captain America story, but that's fine.  Namor is one of those characters that has the kind of overbearing attitude that can shine in the hands of a good writer. . .sort of like Doctor Doom.  This writer handles Namor well, having him throw dry-witted verbal burns on pretty much everyone who speaks to him.  Namor's dialogue is probably the best thing about this comic, and is really what elevates this one-shot beyond a simple "Nazi Punchin' Team-Up"

I really liked the art on this one as well.  Unlike the stiff and posed-looking Ordway art on the previous one-shot, the art here is dynamic and fluid, shown from interesting perspectives, and generally just making every page great to look at.  I like the more realistic and grounded modern comic interpretations of WWII Captain America we've gotten since the first Captain America movie, and this artist hits that perfect balance between super-hero and ground soldier that I like. . .


I mentioned in the intro to this comic that I'm not a huge fan of Namor in general because his power set just seems sort of random. . .especially his ability to fly.  That said, between the great dialogue from the writer and the detailed, powerful art, this one shot delivers a version of Namor that I liked a lot. Don't get me wrong. . . I'm still not a fan, but this story is definitely a winner.  And not for nothin' but Captain America in this issue hits all the great "WWII Nazi Bustin' Cap" points that I could want from a good wartime Captain America story too.  

Definitely pick this one up if you should spot it in the bargain bin.  

And last but (hopefully) not least. . .

Marvel (2001)

SCRIPTS: Peter Hogan
PENCILS: Leonardo Manco
COVER: Leonardo Manco

And here we have ANOTHER WWII Captain America team-up (I didn't plan it that way.  Just sort of happened), making this first one shot batch 4 for 4!  I don't mind, though.  I love seeing Cap back in his prime wartime Nazi-Punchin' days.  This time out, he's teaming up with Sgt. Fury and His Howling Commandos for a magic-filled adventure in the otherworldly realm of the Dread Dormammu!  Let's do it!

First, the cover.  Leonardo Manco is one of my favorite comic artists and he doesn't disappoint here!  I really like Cap's heroic face and stance compared to Fury's no-nonsense look.  Manco's Red Skull is about one of the nastiest (in a good way) versions I've seen.  The one thing I don't like is Cap's strange gloves (which are the same through the whole comic).  I like how Manco puts his own flavor onto familiar characters, but those gloves are pretty bad.  Moving along! 

The story goes like this:

Sgt. Nick Fury and his Howling Commandos accidentally cross paths with Captain America and Bucky when they both gain information that a secret flight with a deadly new weapon is due to depart from a hidden airfield.  The stakes are raised when the Red Skull's involvement is revealed. 

Bucky and Cap disappear into a strange portal of light while chasing Red Skull and trying to capture the weapon, which is a mystic amulet stolen from Tibet. . .the Eye of Agamotto (of Dr. Strange fame a few decades in the future).  The Nazi's were also holding a priest, who is revealed to be The Ancient One.  He sends Fury and his team into the portal after Cap and Bucky.

On the other side of the portal is a strange, magical world unlike anything Cap or Fury has ever seen.  Captain America manages to grab the amulet from Red Skull, but during their escape, Bucky is wounded during a battle with gigantic creatures and Cap leaves him in a cave while he gets help.

Elsewhere, Fury and the Howlers make their way toward the sound of fighting, gaining directions and information from a village of strange, alien beings.  In the meantime, the ruler of the realm. . .none other than the Dread Dormammu. . .has struck an uneasy alliance with Red Skull in exchange for his assistance in gaining back the Amulet.

Red Skull takes Bucky captive and offers his life in exchange for the Amulet.  With the help of The Ancient One's magical trickery and some good bluffing on the part of Fury and Captain America, the heroes manage to escape Dormammu's realm with both Bucky and the Amulet.  Back on Earth, The Ancient One erases everyone's memories of the whole incident. . .leaving it as a forgotten chapter of WWII.

The End.

Well. . .Allrighty, then.  Captain America and Nick Fury in another dimension going up against the Dread Dormammu?  It actually reads better than it looks like it would.  As a matter of fact, I really liked this story!  Like the Captain America/ Namor one shot above, this is actually more of a Sgt. Fury story than a Captain America story. . .with just a dash of Dr. Strange thrown in for good measure.  

That said, like the Cap/Namor issue, I don't really mind Captain America being a secondary character here.  I'm not a big fan of Fury and The Howling Commandos in general.  When it comes to war comics, I've always been drawn more toward DC because of their more Anti-War stance.  Fury and The Howlers always seemed to glorify war in a very "Comic Booky" way.  But HERE (even though this is a jaunt through a very "comic booky" situation), the writer makes Fury and Company gritty and readable, without making them TOO dark.  I like this version of the characters a lot more than I normally would.

Captain America is pretty much there to heroically punch things and Bucky serves his usual Golden Age role of getting injured or captured (in this case, both).  So their roles are definitely second fiddle and not quite as well-written as Fury's.  That's not to say they're written badly.  They're just supporting characters in their own story.

Overall, this whole thing moves along at a very quick, very readable pace.  It's not the greatest comic story I've ever read by a long shot, but it's also a long way away from the worst.  It sort of sits in the middle of the scale as something that's not a particularly memorable story, but it IS a pretty fun story. . .so that gains it a few extra points in my book. 

BUT. . .

What REALLY takes this story up a notch is 63 glorious pages of fantastic Leonardo Manco artwork!  I mentioned above that Manco is one of my favorite artists and every single panel of every single page of this comic is feast for the eyes for a fan such as myself.  If you're NOT a fan of Manco's dark and gritty, sorta spiky art style, then you probably won't get as much out of this as I did, but to ME, the art alone is pretty much worth picking this one up.

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Welcome to another Longbox Junk Retro Review!  Every now and then, I like to take a step back from my usual Bargain Bin fare and shine a spotlight on some of the older or more "valuable" single issues in my collection. . .this is one of those times.  Enjoy!

To many "serious" collectors, the comic at hand isn't that old.  Likewise it isn't really too "valuable", either (about $20 in perfect condition). What this comic DOES have going for it is that it was part of DC's celebration of America's Bicentennial in 1976, and I was wanting to do something related to Independence Day for this entry.

Oddly enough it seems to be the only comic I have from 1976 marked as being part of America's Bicentennial Celebration.  I have other comics from 1976 in my collection, but none of them seem to care about the Bicentennial. For that matter, it seems to be the only comic in my collection that has anything to do with Independence Day in general (my daughter is out of town, so I didn't have a chance to dig through her boxes). I find that a bit strange, but there it is.

SO. . .

What we have here is my lone Independence Day-themed comic book.

It's one of the last issues of Our Army At War (which changed title to "Sgt. Rock"  and went from being an anthology to a Sgt. Rock-only comic with issue #301).  In my humble opinion, DC has always had hands-down the BEST war comics, and Our Army At War was right up there at the top of the list with great recurring characters like Sgt. Rock & Easy Company and Enemy Ace as well as talent like Robert Kanigher, Sam Glanzman, and my personal favorite all-time artist, the legendary Joe Kubert.

I think what I like best about Our Army At War (and DC's war comics in general) is that they never really glorify war.  Most of DC's war stories are ACTUALLY Anti-War stories!  In my humble opinion, Sgt. Rock is one of the greatest Anti-War characters ever written.

But enough introduction.  Let's take a look at this comic.

Oh. . .and Happy Independence Day from me to you!
Enjoy yourself and drive safely.

DC (1976)
COVER: Joe Kubert

Before we get inside, let's take a moment and look at the cover.  
And what a cover it is!

It's a simple character portrait of Sgt. Rock done by the great Joe Kubert, but in its simplicity there's a lot of power.  It's just Rock standing there, surrounded by the colors and symbols of the United States. Sgt. Rock is a grim and unheroic figure, weathered and weary of war. You can definitely see Kubert's intent to show the patriotism of America's Bicentennial contrasted with a representation of the tired soldiers that have fought for America through history.

This is a brilliant cover and definitely one of my all-time favorites.

Let's get into the comic!  

SCRIPT: Robert Kanigher
PENCILS: Frank Redondo

Sgt Rock and Easy Company are tasked with clearing a small town of any Nazi defenders so that an allied armor  unit can use it for a headquarters.  It's just another day in the war for Rock and the Easy veterans, but for a newly-arrived replacement, it's his baptism by fire when Easy Company loses several men to friendly mortar fire.

Rock is sickened by seeing yet another young man forced to witness the horror of war for the first time, and when the town is pacified after some brutal house to house fighting, he takes a walk to get some air and clear his head.

Outside of town, Rock is finally able to relax as he walks through a forest untouched by the war.  Unfortunately, on the shore of an idyllic pond, he is attacked by a German soldier.  A desperate hand to hand battle to the death ensues.  Rock finally wins, but as he looks around the forest. . .now disturbed by blood and battle. . .he realizes there's nowhere he can go to escape the war.

The End.

I have to say, this is a pretty powerful story.  It's well written by Robert Kanigher, and even though it's a bit heavy-handed, it packs a good emotional punch, especially in the beginning when Easy Company's new recruit gets his first taste of the horror of war and Sgt. Rock stoically tells him he's "joined the club". 

With that one single line, Kanigher tells us everything we need to know about Sgt. Rock.  He cares, but he's seen some stuff that can't be unseen.  He knows it's just the beginning for the new kid and there's nothing he can do about it except try to keep him alive. . .and there's no guarantees on that end.  

Once again, I maintain that DC had some of the best Anti-War /War Comics ever put on the stands, and the writing of people like Robert Kanigher was one of the things that made that possible. . .this short, simple story is a fine example.

The art in this story is pretty workmanlike.  Generally-speaking, it's good but not great.  It tells the story but doesn't try to be special.  That said, there are surprising splashes of brilliance here and there. . .the stoic expression of Rock as he tells the kid he's "Joined the club" on the page above, and this panel of Rock walking through the forest after the fight through the town. . .

In my humble opinion, the panel above completely captures the essence of Sgt. Rock in an almost perfect way!  I just wish the art in the rest of the story could have matched it throughout instead of just giving us flashes of greatness. That said, overall the art is pretty good.

Moving on!

ART: Sergio Aragones

Here we have a one page comedy interlude between the two actual stories of the comic.  To tell the truth, after the emotional punch of the opening story, it feels really weak and somewhat out of place.  Don't get me wrong, Sergio Aragones is a legend and I'm generally a fan of his work, but this really isn't one of his better efforts, and it's made a bit worse by coming in after such a great opener.

And finally. . .

SCRIPT & ART: Norman Maurer

Here we have an illustrated re-telling of the true tale of legendary WWI American hero and Medal of Honor Recipient,  Alvin York.

York was a Tennessee farmer who, when drafted into the army during WWI, initially refused to engage in any kind of violence against his fellow humans because of his extremely strong religious beliefs.  He eventually came to believe that violence in the name of protecting others and the greater good was acceptable.

In France, at the battle of the Argonne Forest, German machine gun fire had killed all the officers and most of the men in York's unit, leaving Corporal York in charge of the remaining soldiers. . .all seven of them.

Faced with THIRTY-FIVE German machine gun nests, York used the marksmanship he'd learned hunting in Tennessee to single-handedly take down TWELVE of them.  He then had his remaining men provide cover fire as he snuck behind the Germans to continue his one-man assault. . .taking down SIX more before encountering a German Major who surrendered the rest of his forces to York.

ONE HUNDRED TWENTY-EIGHT German soldiers and 4 officers surrendered to York and his handful of men that day.  For this amazing feat, York was awarded the Croix de Guerre (France's highest military honor) and the Medal of Honor.

The End.

This short re-telling of Alvin York's story hits the high points, but still falls a bit short of the full story of probably the most humble Bad@$$ Uncle Sam has ever handed a rifle to and sent to a foreign land.  Seriously, this guy was the real deal.  Read up on him.

The story itself is written well enough, it's pretty much a "this happened and then this happened" no frills narrative that skims York's tale decently enough for those who might not know about him.

The art is likewise no frills. . .average bordering on poor in places.  It helps tell the story at hand, but that's about all it does.  There's absolutely no effort toward making the art anything other than than it needs to be.  

Overall, this is a pretty minimal effort, using material you could get out of an encyclopedia and backed up by artwork that barely manages to hurdle the low bar of average.  It's interesting because of the subject, but other than that. . .not much to it.  


An almost perfect cover, a great opening story, a sorta "meh" one pager, and an average pre-Wikipedia true story info dump.  Overall, I give Our Army At War #295 a B- grade.  Where it's good, it's REALLY good.  The rest of it is just sort of. . .there.

The most disappointing thing about this comic for ME is that, despite that awesome cover, there's nothing in this comic about the Bicentennial or Independence Day in general, which really makes it a somewhat poor choice for an Independence Day Longbox Junk Special. . .but I've already written this much, so there it is.  I ain't a quitter, son!

All in all, I give this issue a recommendation for fans of war comics based on the main story alone.  It's a fine example of the War/Anti-War stories DC comics were so good at before the genre fizzled out.

Up Next. . .

Back to Longbox Junk business as usual. . .WITH advance apologies for inevitable summer delays.
Be there or be square!

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Apologies to readers of Longbox Junk for the delay between entries recently.  I work as the night manager of a hotel that gets EXTREMELY busy in the summer months, so I have less time to spend on comic books until school gets back in (I do these entries during my spare time at work).


Welcome to another Longbox Junk "Rescue Review"!  Those who have been reading a while know what this is about, for those who are new (WELCOME!), these are reviews I wrote under contract for a very well known comic site (that shall remain nameless) years ago. 

The site is less concerned with comics themselves and more with comic-related pop culture (mostly movies and T.V. shows) these days, so I've decided to "rescue" some of my work from their dusty archives and re-present them here at Longbox Junk (and to answer the question a few people have asked. . .yes, I got permission first.  They couldn't care less).


The comics at hand are sort of a strange thing.  They feature Huntress. . .a pretty popular supporting character in the "Batman Family" of comics (meaning comics that sort of orbit around Batman), but it's a version of Huntress that really hadn't been seen before or since. 

Huntress has always been an interesting character to me. . .sort of on the fringes of the Bat-Books as a slightly more violent member of the "family" than other, more familiar characters. . .but even so, Huntress still toed Batman's "Hero Line" of PG-13 "Kick 'em in the face, but no killing".

Her roots are in organized crime as the only survivor of a mafia family turned vigilante bent on taking down organized crime in Gotham.  I always saw her as sort of a female "Punisher-Lite", and that was pretty much how she was used in her own short-lived (19 issue) series. 

But in THIS series, DC fully embraced the darkest and most violent aspects of the character and went full-on "Mature Audiences" with a version of Huntress that is much less a fringe member of the Bat-Family and more of a deadly vigilante that would be right at home with Marvel's Punisher in his most violent moments. . .and then placed that unusual version of the character in a gritty, neo-noir crime story.

Let's take a look, shall we? We shall!


Gritted teeth! Belts and pouches! Internal narration! Gigantic weapons! It must be the 90's!

This mini seems to have been part of DC's effort to "grim and gritty" things up a bit during the 90's. This version of The Huntress is less "Birds of Prey" superhero and more "Punisher" violent antihero. I'm not sure where it fits into DC continuity, but it looks like it's fairly early in Huntress' career. . .almost like a "Year One" story.  Let's do this!

On a re-read, I pretty much agree with the original review, so except for some pictures, a new intro and conclusion, and a bit of polish, I haven't changed things much from when it was first written.

DC (1994)

SCRIPTS: Chuck Dixon
PENCILS: Michael Netzer
COVERS: Michael Netzer


I really liked this first issue. The writer really gets into Helena's head with first-person thought captions narrating the story as she begins to work her way toward "The Smiling Man", who was one of the men responsible for the death of her entire family.

Standout moments were Helena's base. . .an empty building in the city wired for sound so it seems to be occupied, and a brief scene where it shows her struggling to maintain her secret identity as a teacher while jumping at every sound and touch.

This is a pretty dark and brutal comic, compared to other versions of The Huntress I've seen.

The art is also dark and brutal. DC found a pretty good Frank Miller copycat to do this book. Sometimes the art is a little hard to follow, but it pretty well captures the chaotic nature of The Huntress.

One thing I didn't like was how DC thought they just HAD to throw in a supervillain (Redzone. An armored powerhouse mercenary). Almost like they didn't trust their new Lady Punisher's story to stand on its own against the human darkness of organized crime that is her true enemy here. Other than that, a very strong start.


Another great issue. If anything, more dark and brutal than the first. The Huntress' identity is compromised by a heartless cop and she finds herself pretty much forced to work with him in exchange for the identity of the man she's hunting.

There was a lot of what is the worst part of this series in this issue. . .the supervillain Redzone. Plus there's a side story about a small-time crook that breaks into Helena's base and is caught in a trap that doesn't seem to have much of a purpose beyond padding what is an extremely simple story about The Huntress working her way up a chain of lowlifes toward her target.

The art is still Miller-tastic in the way that only the 90's could be. As much as I don't think an armored supervillain belongs in this gritty organized crime story, at least the artist makes him look like a bad@$$.

Overall, a great second issue.  Fair Warning: Batman is featured on the cover, but is only on a couple of pages inside as part of a flashback to how Helena became The Huntress. . .


In the buildup to the final issue of what has been a pretty damn good mini, Huntress discovers that Redzone thinks she killed his brother. He has it all wrong, but doesn't give her time to tell him the truth.

Huntress also finds out that Holz (the crooked cop blackmailing her with her secret identity) has known where the "Smiling Man" she's been hunting has been the whole time and he's been using her like a chump to get closer to the big boss, Tony Bressi. The confrontation is some great neo-noir writing.

This issue was mostly fighting. . .with Redzone and with Bressi's thugs. There was some interesting scenes of Huntress on stakeout, but most of this one was setup for what is sure to be a dark and violent finish.

Didn't really like this one as much as the previous issues. Once again, the armored supervillain just doesn't belong in this simple story of revenge and betrayal.


Almost everybody dies. Nobody wins. No happy ending.

Redzone confronts Huntress and dies trying to get revenge on the wrong person. Holz saves Huntress from Redzone and dies for nothing. "The Smiling Man" is caught in the crossfire and dies, denying Huntress her revenge.

Like I said. . .nobody wins. Except the reader. The reader wins. I'm sort of sad that this gritty, neo-noir version of Huntress only lasted 4 issues.  I really think they were on to something good here.


Supervillain nonsense aside, I really wish DC had stayed with this gritty "Lady Punisher" version of The Huntress. It would have made a great Vertigo title, in my humble opinion.

I have to say that this is a great little hidden gem. It made me ask the question, "Why the hell is there a supervillain in my gritty crime story?", but other than that, a pretty damn good read.

BONUS: I didn't notice this before, but the covers together form one big picture. Nice!

Overall, I highly recommend this mini for anyone who might enjoy a dark superhero-flavored  neo noir crime story.  The art is a bit "love it or hate it", but in my humble opinion, this is probably the best Huntress story I've read.


On a re-read of this series while scanning covers etc. for this "Rescue" of the original review, I still stand by my original humble opinion of this being probably the best Huntress story I've read.  

It's somewhat surprising to me that this story exists at all.  It takes a pretty mainstream character and drops her WAY down into the darkness of addiction to violence and PTSD, and THEN Chuck Dixon breaks the superhero mold and gives us an ending where nobody wins.  The Huntress in this series is a mental wreck, and even when she finally has the chance for her revenge, nothing changes. 

Yeah, Huntress is wearing a purple bikini.  Yeah, Batman makes a cameo.  Yeah, there's an armored supervillian.  But underneath the trappings of superhero comic expectations, there's a dark and gritty neo-noir organized crime story about revenge, betrayal, and the emptiness in the heart of a broken woman.

I acknowledged the 90's-Tastic Frank Miller-inspired artwork in the original review as being a bit "love it or hate it" in nature, but on a re-read I think that this series wouldn't have the same feel without it, and that the dark, strange artwork is the perfect compliment to the dark and brutal nature of the story. 

 One thing that I noticed on the re-read that I DIDN'T acknowledge in the original review is the fantastic coloring!  I really have to give credit to Pat Garrahy on colors.  Take a look at even the few pages I scanned above. . .the pops of color against the dark, heavy inks and backgrounds REALLY bring the art to life.

Overall, I found this short series to be a surprisingly good read.  The art may be a little hard on the eyes for those who prefer more "traditional" comic art, but I really enjoyed the unusual version of The Huntress presented here and find it a shame that DC didn't keep going with it.

Up Next. . .

More Longbox Junk!

With an advance apology for the inevitable summertime delays. . .

Be there or be square!

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Welcome to another Longbox Junk Rescue Review!

These are older reviews I wrote under contract to a very popular (and still existing) comic site that shall not be named.  These days, they can be kindly described as a comic "related" site.  Most of these "Rescue Reviews" I've pulled from their hard to access and navigate archives.  THIS review is a little different in that it was a REJECTED review (for being too long and too negative), so it's basically pulled from my own archives.

This review has always sort of stuck with me because it was the beginning of the end of my writing comic reviews for pay.  To make a long story short, this review garnered me a rare phone call from one of the editors, who informed me that it was okay to write negative reviews about lower-tier publishers and fringe projects (such as First Wave), but in order for the site to keep getting exclusive previews and so on, going forward I needed to keep any reviews of "The Big Two" comics starring major characters positive. . .even with older material.

Needless to say, I didn't like being told to basically lie in order for the site to stay on the good side of comic publishers.  On the other hand, I WAS getting paid to read and write about comic books for a major comic site!  So I tossed this one in a hole and reluctantly toed the line for about another year until something else happened that  made me quit entirely.  But THAT'S another story!  

Enough about ME. Let's get into a bit of intro and background for the review at hand. . .

I really liked Oracle as a character. She was one of the more unusual mainstream comic characters out there. . .being a former superhero (Batgirl) that was paralyzed in a horrific attack by the Joker (in the classic Batman: The Killing Joke), but came to terms with her disability and became a behind-the-scenes information source, an incredible support for other heroes, and the leader of her own team (The Birds of Prey).

Oracle was a great representation of how being a hero doesn't necessarily mean wearing a costume and swinging from the rooftops, and was a great example to readers like my daughter of a powerful female character who didn't have to throw a single punch to be a complete bad@$$.

I won't get into it, for the sake of blowing this intro into something much longer than the review itself (and honestly, just thinking about it sort of makes me a little angry), but I feel that DC made a BIG mistake in taking such a great character as Oracle off their roster just to have Barbara Gordon being Batgirl again in the New 52.

BUT. . .

That doesn't have anything to do with this mini, which is pre-New 52.

It's a tie in to the "Battle For The Cowl" event, where the world thought Batman was dead after the events of the ironically-named "Final Crisis" and everyone was trying to figure out who was going to replace Batman, or if he even COULD be replaced or SHOULD be replaced.


Oddly enough, this mini has absolutely NOTHING to do with "Battle for The Cowl", and barely references it at all. It is ACTUALLY more of a follow up from Final Crisis itself, as the story picks up from events directly involving Final Crisis. . .namely, the Calculator's daughter being in the hospital on death's door and the Calculator trying to assemble a version of the "Anti-Life Equation" that was used by Darkseid in Final Crisis to save her.  

I'm not sure what the reasoning was behind having a Battle for The Cowl tie-in that's actually an epilogue to Final Crisis. . .an entirely different event. . .was, but I'm sure it's an interesting story.


What I'm trying to say is:  If you aren't familiar with the events of Final Crisis, then you will have a hard time understanding what is going on in this mini. The story directly references Final Crisis and it assumes you have knowledge of all the characters on deck. There is no real introduction to any of them and you are basically dumped right into the story. . .and it's not a very simple story.

In other words: Fair Warning. . .This mini is NOT for the casual comic reader. 

Let's do it!


Welcome to a "Battle For The Cowl" tie in that's ACTUALLY a "Final Crisis" epilogue.

Wait. . .What?

On a re-read for this review, I have the same opinion as I originally did, so except for some pictures, the new intro, and a bit of spit shine, I've left the review pretty much as first written.

DC (2009)

SCRIPTS: Kevin Vanhook
PENCILS: Julian Lopez & Fernando Pasarin
COVERS: Guillem March

Home Again, Home Again

Holy Rack-oly! How about that cover?
It's nicely done and eye-catching to say the least, but I'm not sure it's entirely safe for work. . .

But that's the cover.  Let's look inside and see what we've got here. . .

Honestly, it's a bit of a mess. Not only because it's basically an epilogue to Final Crisis when it's advertised as being part of Battle for The Cowl, but because it's just sort of a mess. 

It tries to mix the virtual world and the real world so that a character who spends most of her heroic moments behind a keyboard can be seen in her element. Unfortunately, scenes of people sitting around tapping keyboards aren't awesome, so they have to find ways to get Oracle out and about.

They do that by showing her undressing for a shower. . .and having angry bo stick practice in her sports bra. . .and how about that cover again?  And those are just the "highlights".  They REALLY make an effort to sexualize Oracle in this series. It's a bit distracting and frankly a bit uncomfortable to see such a strong character reduced to PG-13 shower scenes.

Why, DC?

That aside, the lack of needed background to the convoluted story of the Calculator trying to save his daughter by assembling a version of the Anti-Life Equation online and testing it on computer hackers until he gets it right makes this comic EXTREMELY new reader unfriendly. 

It all just makes one wonder why this mini exists in the first place. The art isn't bad, the writing isn't bad, but it just seems like there's no real justification for the existence of this story.

Was there a demand for a Final Crisis epilogue for The Calculator?  And why do it in a Battle for The Cowl tie in?  For that matter. . .if this is a Battle for The Cowl tie in, then why is it barely referenced at all beyond a couple of throwaway lines while Barbara has dinner with her father, Commissioner Gordon?

All in all, this mini confuses me. I like it because I like Oracle, but is this the Oracle I like?

Big Trouble In Hong Kong

If you thought the cover to issue one was a "bit exploitative", the cover to issue two definitely borders on NSFW.

And once again, the overt sexualization of Oracle continues inside. Okay. . .I like to look at pictures of sexy women just like any other normal guy. That said, they seem to be going out of their way here. Within the first few pages, Oracle is assaulted and threatened with rape. Shortly after, her new hacker buddies are commenting on her nice wet shirt look. Then there's that cover. . .and so on and so forth.

 Barbara Gordon being sexy is okay.  It's okay to say that just because someone is in a wheelchair, that doesn't mean they can't still be attractive. But do we really need to be constantly hit on the head with it?

Oracle is supposed to be saving people from a virtual threat reaching out into the real world. . .Is how sexy she is really important to the story at all? It's really starting to look like fan service of the wrong kind.


The glaringly overt sexualization of the main character aside, this issue suffers from the same problems as the first. The main problem being that it's an epilogue to a different "event" than the one advertised on the cover and it isn't really explained what exactly the Calculator is trying to do, how he's trying to do it, or why he thinks it will work.

Short Version: He's making a virtual recreation of the Anti-Life Equation and testing it online on hackers he is luring before cutting crystals to the specification he discovers in order to re-create the Equation in the real world.

It doesn't help that the story is very convoluted and it's never really explained how the Calculator can reach out from the internet to kill people in the real world.

Just. . .reasons?

The writing and art are still good. . .an interesting paradox. . .how can the separate parts be good, but the combination be bad? Of note is a fantastic double page spread of Oracle's avatar moving through the virtual lattice framework of the internet. It's just an awesome piece of art! 

Now THAT'S the Oracle I want to see more of. Not Barbara Gordon laying in a Hong Kong Alley being threatened by leering would-be rapists.  I'm glad that Oracle finally got a solo series, but the character deserves better than this.


A Matter of Anti-Life or Death

The good news is they toned down the cover a bit from "borderline NSFW". 
The bad news is that they toned it down to "Busty pulp damsel in distress".

Thank God this mini was only 3 issues. The ending is basically a "to be continued" setup for further events in the DCU, and the journey through the rest of the issue to get to that weak ending is a hot mess.

Oracle confronts the Calculator in cyberspace and defeats him. . .then confronts him in the real world and it's shown that the effects of their avatars battling on the internet has affected the Calculator in real life. How? Nobody knows! Anti-Life Equation. . .reasons!

The ending was a real downer. No happy ending here. Calculator was just trying to help his daughter. He ends up in prison. His daughter ends up paralyzed. Oracle has this mini hanging around her neck like a sexy albatross. Calculator doesn't win.  Oracle doesn't win. The reader doesn't win.

Nobody wins.

Okay, okay. . .it wasn't ALL bad. 

They toned down the sexualization in this issue and showed Oracle as a hero fighting in her own element. The characterization was better this time around.  Oracle is depicted as a hero on her own terms. No Birds of Prey. . .no Bat-Family. I also liked that it touched in several places on the events of "Killing Joke", where she was shot and paralyzed years before, giving some nice continuity.


A convoluted story, awkward sexualization of Oracle, a downer ending based on unexplained powers suddenly showing up, and a basic lack of justification for the existence of this mini at all overshadow the few good points present.

I wouldn't really suggest this mini to anybody new to comics or new to the character of Oracle as any sort of introduction. It's definitely "in-crowd" only on this one.  For that matter, I won't even recommend it for the "in-crowd".

At the end of it all, it's just a confusing mess that really shouldn't exist.  For a fan of Oracle such as myself, it's a wasted opportunity for a great character and a damn shame.

Next up. . .

Travel with me back to 1994 and remember the wonderful world of anger, crossbows, and clenched teeth that USED to be The Huntress when she was DC's answer to The Punisher! DC's The Huntress 4 issue mini.
 Be there or be square!
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Welcome to another "Retro Review" special edition of Longbox Junk!

On occasion, I like to step back away from my usual bargain bin fare to shine the spotlight on some of the older and more "valuable" comics in my collection.  The comic at hand for this "Retro Review" is an extra-sized (68 pages) Gold Key one shot from 1968 featuring the one and only King of Skull Island. . .KONG!

Unless you've been completely isolated from pop culture for the past EIGHTY-FIVE years, you MUST have at least a passing knowledge of the giant ape known as King Kong.

When I decided to do a Retro Review on this comic, it struck me (for the first time that I even really thought about it) as odd that the admittedly somewhat thin tale of a gigantic gorilla has survived that many years. . .especially considering the media-saturated culture of today.

A story about a giant ape doesn't really seem to have the sort of cultural impact to still even be a thing people remember 85 years down the road.  But the fact remains that if you say "King Kong" to someone today, most people will basically know what you're talking about.

So I read the comic and did a bit of research, finding out that it's based more on the original 1933 novel than on the better-known movie (due to a tangled web of copyright disputes lasting to this very day).

So then I read the original novel online (only place I could find it) and found myself enjoying a great, fast-paced little piece of pulp fiction that is still very readable to a modern audience (and much better than the original movie).  But my main takeaway from the King Kong novel is that it isn't REALLY about a giant ape!  It's ACTUALLY about colonialism and cultural appropriation. . .

Wait.  What?

Of course, you can just read the novel (and this comic) as a classic pulp adventure story, but I personally found the subtext to be an interesting reflection on how it's in the nature of man that when something new is discovered, the IMMEDIATE reaction is usually a consideration of how to profit from it.  We as a species seem to be incapable of just leaving something alone if there's ANY chance to somehow exploit it for gain.

THAT'S the real story of King Kong.  It's an uncomfortable look in the mirror at mankind's compulsion to exploit EVERYTHING!  All hidden in the background  of a pretty good adventure story about a giant ape.

Or maybe I'm just overthinking a pretty good adventure story about a giant ape.  You decide.

Let's get into this comic!

Gold Key (1968)

SCRIPTS: Gary Poole
PENCILS: Giovanni Ticci
INKS: Alberto Giolitti
COVER: George Wilson

Let's take a look at the cover first before we get into the story. . .and what a cover it is!

I think I mentioned a while back on one of my other Retro Reviews that I paid more than I should have for a box of "Collector Comics" at an estate sale auction a couple of years back just because I wanted this comic book.

There were more "valuable" comics in there (Including a few E.C. Weird Science comics in decent shape, and each "worth" more individually than what I paid for the whole box) but THIS cover was the one that caught my eye and made me bid on the lot.

I mean. . .just LOOK at it!

The bold colors, the details on the planes, Kong's raging face, the positioning of all the elements, the sense of height, scale and movement. . .there's NOTHING I don't like about this cover.  NOTHING!  The cover on this comic is worth the price of admission alone.  Gold Key has some of the hands-down BEST painted covers of their time, and this is one of their best, in my extremely humble opinion.

Moving along. . .

The story goes like this:

We open in the 1930's on a New York dock aboard the steamer, Wanderer (Venture in the movies), where we are introduced to Jack Driscoll (First Mate) and Carl Denham (obsessive movie maker) as Denham's agent refuses to have anything to do with his crazy idea to sail into parts unknown in order to make "The Greatest Movie Ever Seen".

Undeterred by his agent abandoning him, Denham wanders the streets of New York and finds the perfect girl for his film. . .Ann Darrow, who is homeless and starving on the streets of the city.  She agrees to take a leap of faith, and the next morning the Wanderer sets sail. . .

During the long voyage through the Panama Canal, across the Pacific, and into the Indian Ocean, Driscoll and Ann fall in love.  Finally, Denham informs Captain Englehorn of their destination. . .an uncharted island with a gigantic rock in the shape of a skull and with a huge wall across it to protect the natives from "something" called. . .Kong.

Captain Englehorn is skeptical about the existence of such a large island not on any charts, but soon enough the skull-shaped mountain is spotted and the crew puts ashore on the "Isle of Kong" (Skull Island in the movie).    

On the beach, the crew hear loud drums and are afraid that the natives have spotted them and are readying to attack.  Denham claims to have heard similar drums before. . .not as war drums, but as part of a ceremony.  

The crew decide to follow the sound of the drums deeper into the jungle and discover a gigantic wall and a tribe of natives engaged in a ceremony. . .

The natives become immediately hostile when the crew of the Wanderer interrupt their ceremony.  After a tense standoff where the chief demands the strangers give up Ann (or "The Woman of Gold) as a gift for "Kong" to pay for their intrusion, the crew manage to talk their way out of the situation without violence and make their way back to the ship. . .

That night, as Driscoll, Denham, and the Captain discuss what to do next, natives sneak aboard the Wanderer and kidnap Ann!  Driscoll notices her missing and realizes what's happened.  He hastily gathers the crew of the ship to head to the island and rescue her.

In the meantime, the natives have brought Ann to the wall, where they tie her to an altar and call upon "Kong" to receive his sacrifice.  Ann is horrified to discover that "Kong" is a gigantic ape that tears her from the altar just as Driscoll and the Wanderer's crew arrive and begin shooting at Kong. . .

Unharmed by their shots, Kong heads into the jungle, taking Ann with him.  Driscoll immediately gathers a team of volunteers to pursue the beast. . .

While following Kong's trail, the rescue party is suddenly attacked by a strange creature from another time. . .a Stegosaurus!  The stunned crewmen are unable to harm the prehistoric monster, but Denham has brought some gas bombs that are able to bring the rampaging dinosaur down.

After their battle with the Stegosaurus, the rescue party continue their pursuit of Kong, only to find their way blocked by a deep river.  They hastily construct a raft, but as they cross the river they are attacked by a gigantic serpent that destroys the raft and forces the men to swim for safety, leaving them weaponless. . .

Despite their losses, Driscoll is relentless in his pursuit of Kong and they quickly catch up to the giant ape, who is in battle with a pair of Triceratops.  Kong emerges victorious and continues deeper into the jungle with Ann, followed by Driscoll and his team. . .

The rescue party comes to a steep ravine that the men are forced to cross on a huge fallen log.  As they do so, a Triceratops threatens them from one end while Kong reappears from the jungle and picks up the other end of the log, shaking the men clinging to it into the chasm below.  Only Denham and Driscoll survive by swinging on vines to the sides of the ravine.  

Since Denham is on the wrong side of the ravine to continue the pursuit, Driscoll tells him to go back and get help while he keeps following Kong. . .

With Driscoll now the sole pursuer of Kong, he watches as the giant ape barely defeats a deadly tyrannosaurus rex in a brutal battle, then continues to follow Kong as he heads toward the skull-shaped mountain with Ann. . .

At the base of Skull Mountain, Kong battles yet another gigantic creature in order to protect his prize.  This time, a huge serpent!  After defeating the snake, Kong climbs to his lair at the top of Skull Mountain, still followed by Driscoll. . .

Even in Kong's lair, he has to fight to keep his prize!  Atop Skull Mountain, Kong is attacked by a pterodactyl.  It's a fight the giant ape easily wins, but it distracts him long enough for Driscoll to make his move.  

He grabs Ann and the two of them dive off the cliff and into the pool below, with Kong in hot pursuit.  The strong current pulls Ann and Driscoll underwater and through a cave before throwing them over a waterfall and free of Kong. . .

As Driscoll and Ann float downriver to safety, finally arriving at the wall where Denham has gathered the rest of the crew, Kong crashes through the jungle, heading in the same direction.  Denham has realized that Kong is much more valuable than any movie he could make, so he concocts a hasty and dangerous plan to capture the beast.

Kong attacks the wall and rampages through the native village with berserk fury.  Denham lures Kong toward the beach, using Ann as bait, then ambushes the beast with the remaining gas bombs.  After a few tense moments the mighty Kong falls, helpless.  

Denham declares that they're going to make millions displaying King Kong. . .the Eighth Wonder of The World!

The story then moves to New York City and the crowds gathering in Times Square for the gala opening night where King Kong will be put on public display for the first time.   There's tension backstage as Driscoll and Ann try to downplay the heroic roles Denham is building up for them in front of the gathered press.

As Kong is revealed to the waiting crowd, the flashing light of the reporters cameras and the sight of Driscoll with his arm around Ann drive the giant creature into a frenzy.  Kong breaks his chains and escapes the cage he is imprisoned in, then rampages through the theater.  Driscoll tries to hide Ann, but Kong quickly finds her hiding place and once again takes her captive.

Kong evades the pursuing police as he rampages through the streets of New York City, until finally, with nowhere else to go,  he begins to climb the Empire State Building with Ann still his captive.

On top of the world's tallest building, King Kong roars his defiance.  Below, the authorities call on the army to send planes to shoot the beast down.  The army planes quickly arrive and go on the attack.  Kong gently places Ann out of danger, then turns to defend her from the strange flying things.

During the brutal battle, Jack climbs to the top of the building and manages to rescue Ann.  Kong can only watch as Ann is taken away from him yet again.  With a last scream of defiance, Kong is finally weakened enough by the machine guns to lose his balance and fall from the building to the street below.

As the crowds gather around the defeated Kong, Denham declares that it wasn't the planes that killed King Kong. . .as always, it was beauty that killed the beast.

The End.

Okay then. . .there it is.  The comic book version of King Kong.  Let's break it on down!

Overall, it's a pretty straightforward and no frills retelling of the story.  If you've seen the original movie or read the original novel, then there's really nothing new here beyond it being an illustrated version of the same thing.

That's good in a way. . .and also sort of bad.  

It's good because in 1968 they didn't have DVD, Netflix, On Demand, and what have you that lets us today just decide to go ahead and watch King Kong whenever we feel the need to watch King Kong.  It was only re-released a few times in theaters (the last time in 1956) and after that, shown on T.V. rarely. . .with each re-release resulting in a more heavily-edited version.  This was a chance for people who might never have seen the original movie to get some King Kong.

This comic was also an opportunity for Merian C. Cooper to keep the ORIGINAL version of King Kong in the public eye even as Toho Studios released strange Japanese knockoff Kong movies that he really couldn't do anything about, due to Cooper's rights being restricted to published material during that time (note on the cover that this comic is specifically authorized and copyrighted by Cooper) and Toho's rights (as well as others) preventing further theater re-releases of the original movie. 

 The whole King Kong "rights" saga was (and still is) a real mess and makes for some interesting reading, but I won't go more into it than to say that this comic was partly an effort to preserve the original King Kong. . .which is a good thing.

It's also good because it DOES take the original source material (for the most part, but we'll talk about that below) seriously, presenting it to a new audience without trying to modernize or embellish it to match the times (as with the 1976 movie version of King Kong, which is SO 70's-Tastic that all it's missing is a disco soundtrack).  King Kong is a classic pulp adventure and this comic gives you that classic adventure straight up with no mixer.

BUT. . .

Being based on the original novel, this comic misses a pretty big opportunity to include parts of that novel that didn't make it into the original movie or were censored out in subsequent releases, and that's a bad thing, in my extremely humble opinion.  

Gold Key was one of the VERY few major comic publishers in the 60's that never displayed the Comics Code Authority seal of approval on their covers.  That put them in a position where it was entirely possible for them to include scenes such as the infamous "Spider Pit" where the men thrown from the log over the ravine by Kong didn't just fall to their deaths, but were devoured by giant spiders, worms, and other insects at the bottom of the ravine (easily one of the best and most horrific scenes in the 2005 movie version of King Kong).

The novel this comic was based on is a more violent and brutal version of King Kong than any movie version prior to the 2005 release.  The "Spider Pit" scene is the biggest missed opportunity for Gold Key to take advantage of with their not complying with the CCA, but there are about a half-dozen other, smaller scenes that could have made this a TRUE adaptation of the source material.


The good here outweighs the bad.  A few absent scenes and missed opportunities doesn't prevent this comic from being a fast-paced, no-nonsense classic..
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Welcome to another Longbox Junk "Rescue Review"!  

I'm blowing the dust off of some older reviews I wrote for a very well known comic site that isn't really focused on comics as much as they once were.  Why let these go to waste hidden in a hard to navigate archive when they can still be relevant to bargain bin diggin' comic fans such as you and me?

This time out, I'm putting a bit of spit shine on a Marvel miniseries featuring one of my least favorite superhero teams. . .The Fantastic Four.  

Now before you get out the torches and pitchforks, don't get me wrong.  I don't HATE the FF, but like I say in my original intro below, I just prefer more "grounded" superheroes (Like Zorro and The Spirit) and sort of don't like superhero "Team" books in general.  

But that's what's great about comics. . .there's something for everyone!  If YOU like Fantastic Four, get down with some Fantastic Four!  I'll be over here with a big cheesy grin reading Green Hornet.

That said, the whole point of Longbox Junk is to present things that people might otherwise pass over . . .and that goes for ME as well.  So even though I'm not a fan of Fantastic Four, does that mean I'm just going to wave off some Fantastic Four comics in my collection like they're not worthy of my attention?  HELL NO!  Let's do this!



Let me get this out right up front. I'm not a huge fan of most "mainstream" superheroes. That's not to say I don't like superheroes at all. . .it's just that I prefer the more "street level" or realistic (as realistic as comics can be anyway) heroes. 

About the only "Traditional" or "Mainstream" superheroes I follow on a regular basis are Batman and Captain America. . .both relatively low power when it comes to comics. I like heroes like Daredevil, Zorro, The Rocketeer, Green Hornet, The Spirit, and so on and so forth.

The point is that except for this mini and a giant-size Marvel from the 70's (The Fabulous Fantastic Four), and a random issue here and there, I don't read or collect Fantastic Four, and I don't even really like them. I don't HATE them, it's just that  I can be perfectly fine as a comic fan without ever buying a single issue of Fantastic Four.

That said, I'm willing to give ANY comic a fair shake.  Let's do it!


Marvel (2006)

SCRIPTS:  Joe Casey
PENCILS: Chris Weston
COVERS: Chris Weston


I REALLY enjoyed this first issue! 

I was very surprised to find myself enjoying it so much. For starters, the art is fantastic. . .the cover in particular, with Johnny Storm giving Reed Richards the bunny ears in a group photo. Other standout art moments are of Reed Richards and Ben Grimm shortly after their definitely NOT approved test flight and cosmic irradiation when they were still under government quarantine. Very nicely done! It really gave an image of just how unusual these people appeared to others. 

The writing was stellar as well. . .I could feel Ben Grimm's heartbreak when his girlfriend rejected him and ran away. For a comic to make me feel something like that is truly unusual. Very well done on this first issue!

But can the creative team keep it up? It's only 6 issues. My fingers are crossed. . .


Okay. . .so after a stellar introduction, it starts getting a bit "super-hero-y" as the FF fight together as a team for the first time against an escapee from the same detention facility where they are being held. They fail pretty hard because they still aren't used to their powers or how to work together. 

We start to see tension straining at them as Reed wants them to be one big happy family and the others aren't so sure. To make matters worse, Reed has another detainee in his head. . .a psionic psychotic who used their battle as a distraction to escape.

Plus the "team" goes on their first mission (mostly unseen, except for their report afterwards) for the government to Monster Island to fight The Mole Man.  It's a 60's-Tastic callback to their original origin story!

The art is still great, with the exception of Sue Storm. 
There are places where her face just looks. . .weird. 

I can't believe this mini is dipping on the SECOND issue. 
What started as an excellent introduction and updated origin story is turning into a punch-em-up.


This issue was half and half for me. . .I liked that they got back to the more personal side of people who just had their whole lives changed and how they deal with it. I didn't like the punchfest battle with a giant lizard in the streets of New York. 

Ben Grimm goes back to one of his old hangouts and finds out there's no way he can go back to his old friends and ways. Johnny Storm does the same thing and finds himself being treated like a hometown hero. I loved the opposition of the two stories!

 Reed Richards and Sue Storm also find themselves at odds because Reed wants to concentrate on the new team and Sue wants to try to continue with their plans to get married. Not as good as the other stories, but I still liked it.

Overall, this issue was superior to the second one, but not as good as the first. The art is still outstanding, once again the exception being Sue Storm's face. It seems the artist can't get a handle on her for some reason. . .


I really liked this issue for its lack of punching and having some great story content.

Reed Richards sees both his team and his life falling apart. Ben Grimm refuses to accept what he's become. Johnny Storm lets his newfound fame go to his head. Sue Storm is totally pissed that Reed cares more about the idea of being a superhero than about her. 

There's a real feeling of tension in this issue. And then there's the psychotic guy who keeps invading Reed's thoughts who finally decides that he's done trying to get Reed to see things his way and declares that he is now their enemy.

Not a bad issue at all. You really get the feeling of a team/family on the edge of breaking up. 

The art seems to be slipping a bit for some reason.  The team is still the same, but there's a slightly different look.  Unfortunately, the artist still can't draw Sue Storm consistently. On page 5 there's 3 views of her face and none of them look like the same woman, except for the blonde hair. The one at the bottom is really bad. But oddly enough, everything else looks great, especially like the fire effect on Johnny Storm.

"COLD, HARD. . ."

Okay, NOW we go off the rails.

In the run-up to the final issue, there's some decent story moments. . .Johnny Storm letting fame go to his head and almost killing some thieves in his overconfidence. . .Sue Storm having lonely woman rage over her fiancee not paying attention to her. . . Reed giving up on the team and going to confront their new enemy on his own. . . The rest of them realizing they totally suck on their own and going after Reed to help him.

But aside from those story moments, the rest is a confusing mess as Reed joins in psychic battle inside a cosmic radiation-infused crystal that a rapidly-mutating psycho that's been in Reed's head wants to blow up and radiate thousands of people.

 He also turns the guards at the base where the crystal is at into superhuman mutated monstrosities to fight the other three members of the FF in the real world as they fly into battle in what must be the lamest superhero vehicle in comic book history. 

Okay. . .did you get all that? I guess the origin is done and it's time to punch things.


The final issue is a hot mess. 

It's split between the mental battle of Richards vs. Stahl in the radioactive crystal, where Reed proves it's not his stretchy limbs that make him awesome, but his big brain. . .and in the real world where the others take on extremely punchable monsters and prove that teamwork is the way to go! 

After the battle is won, Reed uses his big brain to realize his fiancee is unhappy and gives her a shiny ring to distract from her misery. And THAT's why they call him Mister Fantastic!

At the end of the story, it's all smiles as they fly in to battle yet ANOTHER giant monster in New York in their awesome new official uniforms and the world's worst-looking flying machine. 

Seriously. . .even Orion in his stupid Astro-Harness is laughing at the Fantasti-car.


And there it is. . .Fantastic Four: First Family. The tale of 4 people coming together as a team and ignoring the laughter of a college kid on a Segway as they fly overhead in the lamest vehicle in New York City.

It came to a  pretty weak ending after a strong start, but I have to say that overall I liked most of this series. I wasn't a fan of the Fantastic Four coming in, and this didn't change my mind, but it had some really good story moments before they decided it HAD to end with a big battle. The artwork through the series was outstanding, except for a bit of trouble with Sue Storm's face.

 All in all, I'd definitely suggest this book to fans of Fantastic Four or to someone wanting to know about the Fantastic Four without wading through 50 years worth of comic history.  If I were interested in The Fantastic Four, I'd probably call this a pretty good starting point.


Although I generally agree with the review as originally written, on a second reading I see that I MIGHT have been a bit harsh on some of the later issues.  They're still a mess, but not really as bad a mess as I originally thought.  

Yes, the ending is still weak. . .as if after coming in strong on the back of updating the FF's original origin story, the writer couldn't really get a good handle on where to go from there when adding original material.  Yes, the art swerves in quality from "WOW!" to "What?", sometimes in the same issue.

BUT. . .

As a standalone introduction to the Fantastic Four, I don't really think you could do much better than this.  There are some REALLY good story moments to be found before it all collapses into punching things, and when the artist is hitting the mark, he REALLY hits the mark.  

Up Next. . .

More superhero action as we switch over to Marvel's Distinguished Competition! 
DC's Oracle: The Cure 3 issue mini.
Be there or be square!
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Welcome to the second part of my "Rescue Review" of BOOM! Studios' 16 issue Planet of The Apes series!  In the first half of this series, I discovered a surprisingly good political/war story that took a deep dive into some dark and uncomfortable social issues backed up by some fantastic art.

No long intro this time.  Let's get into the second half!

On a re-read, I still stand by what I put in the original review.  So except for a bit of polish, some pictures, and creator credits, this is pretty much as originally written. . .



Er. . .spoiler alert?

PART 2: ISSUES 9 - 16
BOOM! Studios (2011 - 2012)


SCRIPTS: Daryl Gregory
PENCILS: Carlos Magno
COVER: Sam Kennedy

Okay. . .I get it now.

I guess I should have thought of it before, but new ARC doesn't really mean new STORY in this age of TPB collections of series. . .it just means a cliffhanger to encourage buying the next TPB for those not reading the series issue by issue.

So my lower rating of issue #8 (the last issue of Part 1 of this series review) for not resolving the end of the story wasn't entirely justified, because things pick up right where they left off in this issue.

The insurgency is in full swing, using terrorist tactics to strike against the superior numbers and firepower of the apes. The parallels to the Holocaust become more evident as the remaining humans are branded with numbers and forced to work as slaves living in ghettos or deported to concentration camps. The apes conduct brutal door to door searches for insurgents right out of what we see from the Middle East.

 It's a very dark and deliberate reflection on real-world issues. . .mixing the Holocaust with today's war against terror to great effect. I don't know where it's going, but I can tell there aren't going to be any happy endings here. . .


SCRIPTS: Daryl Gregory
PENCILS: Carlos Magno
COVER: Mitch Gerads

This issue was particularly brutal and dark. It's told mostly in flashback and gives us the tale of how the leader of the humans (Mayor Sully) and the leader of the apes (voice Alaya) became friends when young, united through the tragedy of them both seeing their families killed on the same day during a battle at the end of the human war of independence. They are the "Children of Fire" in the title of this arc.

The artwork on this series is still stunning! Of particular note is the battle mentioned above, even better is a centerfold 2 page spread with three thin panels stacked on top of each other of when the apes and humans finally meet each other in full battle.  There's a LOT of detail in just those 3 panels!

The writing remains great, but the art is really the star of the show in this issue. . .


SCRIPTS: Daryl Gregory
PENCILS: Carlos Magno
COVER: Damian Couceiro

And now Planet of The Apes hits a very dark note that should be obvious to even the most oblivious reader, even if they've missed the others. The insurgents hijack an ape airship and crash it into the highest building in the city with devastating effects. The parallels to 9/11 and the War on Terror couldn't get any more clear.

BUT. . .

One little thing bothers me. The tower they crash into (known as the "City Tree") is obviously a run-down Eiffel Tower. But this series takes place in a city called Mak, which is to the WEST of the ape capital of Ape City (the same city in the original movie). This is shown on a map that the apes look at in a previous issue while they try to find where the insurgents are at.

From Issue 9

If (as seen on the map and in the original movie) Ape City is near the East Coast (with the iconic "THEY BLEW IT UP!" Statue of Liberty ending), then how is Mak's central building the Eiffel Tower?

Generally speaking, this issue was great.  It has a very strong story backed up by some fantastic artwork. It just jarred my sense of comic book disbelief a bit with the Eiffel Tower being in North America.


SCRIPTS: Daryl Gregory
PENCILS: Carlos Magno
COVER: Damian Couceiro

Holy time jump, Batman! About midpoint of this issue, they jump the story ahead by TEN YEARS!

Before that, we see the City Tree in flames in a fantastic opening panel (It's still obviously the Eiffel Tower in North America for some reason, but it's one SWEET picture!)

Voice Alaya steals Sully's newborn son, and Bako (the main human insurgent leader) meets his end, then. . . BAM! It's Ten Years Later!

Sully is now the leader of the insurgent forces, Alaya is now the Lawgiver (the Ape that er. . .gives the Law), and her former right hand man (ape) is part of the human resistance. Oh. . .and Sully's son is a spoiled 10 year old raised as a wealthy ape and hating humans.

I found the sudden time jump a bit strange but the writing and art remain extremely strong.


SCRIPTS: Daryl Gregory
PENCILS: Carlos Magno
COVER: Damian Couceiro

Damn it. I knew it couldn't last.

With the time jump of last issue and the beginning of the  final story arc, BOOM! Studio's fantastic take on Planet of The Apes finally goes off the rails.  It was a long time coming, but when it happened it happened quick.  One issue. . .THIS issue.

Trying to find weapons for her insurgent forces, Sully is taken to a huge Oriental-style ship on the Atlantic ocean and meets "The Golden Khan" and Princess Wengchen. The Khan is a shaved Gorilla.

Why the hell are there shaved Oriental Gorilla Pirate Kings sailing the Atlantic Ocean? WHY?

It's a testament to Carlos Magno's art skills that he can make even this ridiculous turn of events look awesome, but the direction the story is now heading is right off the rails and over the cliff.  A damn shame because this series lasted a LOT longer than any other I've ever reviewed without a single bad issue.


SCRIPT: Daryl Gregory
PENCILS: Carlos Magno
COVER: Carlos Magno

In this issue, we learn the uncomfortable origin of The Golden Khan (shaved oriental gorilla Pirate King) and Princess Wengchen (Human woman). I guess it was only a matter of time for a Planet of The Apes story to touch on inter-species love.

It's pretty plain that at this point, the series was winding down and heading for a big finish.  Aside from the ridiculous Shaved Oriental Gorilla Pirate King/Bestiality sub-plot, the story here is actually pretty engaging as the pieces move into place for the final issues.  Lawgiver Alaya is the target of a coup and Sully gets the weapons she needs for an attack on the city. Looks like things are going to end on a violent note. . .


SCRIPTS: Daryl Gregory
PENCILS: Carlos Magno
COVER: Damian Couceiro

After the uncomfortable shaved oriental gorilla Pirate King nonsense of the past couple issues, this one was pretty darn good. In the run-up to the final issue, Sully is reunited with her son and discovers he hates her.  Lawgiver Alaya stumbles into a full-on coup, and the insurgents prepare to take down the concentration camps to bolster their forces for an attack on the city. All illustrated with Magno's fantastic, detailed art.

Thank God there aren't any shaved Gorilla pirates waving their cutlasses about.



SCRIPTS: Daryl Gregory
PENCILS: Carlos Magno
COVER: Damian Couceiro

I was disappointed with the end of this series, to say the least. 

Not only are we treated to more Shaved Oriental Gorilla Pirates. . .a LOT more. . .turns out there's a whole armada of them, thousands, as the Golden Khan puts it. A giant Armada of Oriental ships filled with shaved Gorilla Pirates? WHY? WHYYYYYYYYYYYY? But that's just left hanging.

That's the REAL problem with this "Finale". . . EVERYTHING is left hanging.
It all ends abruptly with NO resolution. Everything! Nothing! Why?

There's partial resolution in that we learn that Brother Kale was behind EVERYTHING in the series (He's one of the creepy atomic bomb cultists seen in "Beneath The Planet Of The Apes" who's been sort of hanging around the edges of this story from the beginning) and when things are to his liking, some more of the cult shows up with a nuke. But THAT'S left hanging as well! We see the insurgency take down the concentration camps, but what happens after that? Who knows? Left hanging!

This HAS to be one of the worst endings for a series I've seen. It's not even an ending!

I suspect there was supposed to be more, but the series was cancelled. I have the Annual, but it doesn't continue the story. The annual is a collection of short stories from various periods of the "Apes" timeline. And doesn't really have much to do with the ongoing story in the series.

This is no way to end a series! I can't believe that such a great series completely jumped the rails in the final story arc and then failed to stick the landing on the finale by just leaving everything hanging!

All in all, I really enjoyed this series, except for the final 4 issues. Consistently fantastic writing and art, touching on unexpected subjects for a book about intelligent apes including The Holocaust, Terrorism, racial discrimination, class warfare, and even (I guess) mixed race relationships. It dives deep into the darkness and shines a spotlight on a lot of the current issues facing our own society.

Overall, I'd say that if you are looking for a good political/war comic, then Planet of The Apes is definitely worth a read. Just be prepared to be disappointed at the end of it. . .in that there ISN'T an end of it!  Fortunately, the journey to that non-ending is one of the best I've seen in comics in a long time.

I just feel sad now. It was so damn GOOD and ended so damn BAD!


In the years since I wrote this review, I've discovered that there IS a conclusion to the story that was just left hanging unfinished in the final issue of this series.  It's a Planet of The Apes "Special" that came out 7 months after the ongoing series ended.  I haven't read it, but I keep my eye out for it in the bargain bins where I'm sure I'll come across it some day.  

I'm not sure what happened with the extremely abrupt "ending" of this series and then the "real" ending coming out almost a year later, but whatever their reasons, BOOM! Studios definitely hit a foul ball on the ending of this series.


Putting the ending aside for a moment, this version of Planet of The Apes is truly one of the all-time BEST comic series I've ever read!  And believe me. . .I've read a lot of comics.  You can take THAT check to the bank and cash it.  

This is an extremely dark story. . .a cracked mirror held up to current events in our own world and played out on a stage filled with fully-drawn and interesting characters trapped in a storm of political intrigue and violence completely out of their control. 

 Beyond the engaging political/war narrative. . .from issue one to issue last, EVERY PAGE of this series is filled with stunning, detailed artwork that perfectly compliments the story being told and raises the bar of quality FAR above my expectations for a licensed property comic from a second (maybe third?) tier publisher.

Overall, despite the disappointing ending, BOOM! Studios' Planet of The Apes is a true hidden Longbox Junk gem.  If you are a fan of Planet of The Apes or a fan of military/political drama in general, I HIGHLY recommend this series.  Trust me on this one, son. 

Up Next. . .

To tell the truth.  Not really sure right now.
Maybe another "Rescue Review".  I still have about 25 more.
Maybe something new and give the "Rescue Reviews" a break.
I must ponder.
In any case. . .be there or be square!
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Welcome back to another Longbox Junk "Rescue Review"!

Don't worry, I'll get back to doing some of my more recent stuff soon.  I just feel that I need to keep these older reviews from gathering dust in a forgotten archive on a comic site that doesn't really have much to do with comic books any more.  Just bear with me for a little while longer on this.

Besides. . .like I say all the time about old comics I pull from the bargain bin:  
If I haven't read it, then it's new to me.  Just think of these rescue reviews in the same light.  


Like I said in the original intro to this series review below, I love Planet of The Apes. No. . .wait.  It's more like I LOVE Planet of The Apes!  It's one of my favorite fiction franchises of them all.  All you have to do is put Planet of The Apes on something and good or bad. . .I'm there.

Unfortunately (and it makes me a bit sad to say this), Planet of The Apes comic books have always been a bit disappointing.  They generally aren't BAD, but for some reason comic books haven't really been able to nail Planet of The Apes to my satisfaction.

BOOM! Studios' 2011 version of Planet of The Apes takes things in a bit of a different direction in that it tells a story set about 600 years from now between the recent "Rise of The Planet of The Apes" movie trilogy set in the present day and the original Planet of The Apes movies set almost 2000 years in the future.  It tells of a time when humans and apes lived together in a fragile peace that threatened to break at any time.  Can this unusual setting break the chain of so-so Planet of The Apes comics?

Let's find out!


I love Planet of The Apes. 

I have a confession to make that may or may not earn me any nerd points. . .you know that Tim Burton Planet of The Apes movie that everyone despises? I even love THAT movie! I think everyone hates it because they were expecting a remake and instead got a total re-imagining. 

But that's beside the point. The point is that I love all things Planet of The Apes when it comes to movies. But Planet of The Apes comics have been hit or miss. . .

So is BOOM! Studios' version of Planet of The Apes a hit or a miss? Read on!

On a re-read, I still stand by what I put in the original review.  So except for a bit of polish, some pictures, and creator credits, this is pretty much as originally written. . .

Part 1: Issues 1-8
BOOM! Studios (2011 - 2012)


SCRIPTS: Daryl Gregory
PENCILS: Carlos Magno
COVER: Carlos Magno

The first issue is a hit! It's a FANTASTIC and very strong opening issue to this series. It's set about 1,200 years before the first movie, and about 600 years after the nuclear war that devastated the earth. Apes and humans live together in a Steampunk society. 

Humans aren't the mute animals they will become yet, but are looked down on and segregated into their own slums. . .working at manual labor and in factories while apes live in relative wealth and luxury. I can already tell this is going to have a lot to do with race relations and class warfare in our own society.

Except for an assassination that starts the issue off with a literal bang, there's very little action to be had in this first issue. Instead, it focuses on introductions, world-building, and politics. But it's still so well-written that I didn't mind the lack of action at all. It paints a picture of a city on the boiling point and dangles quite a few plot threads.

The art here really steals the show, though. I'm not familiar with Carlos Magno, but his art is extremely detailed. Each panel is a true work of art! The colorist also deserves credit. This is one brilliant-looking book.

BOOM! Studios' Planet of The Apes is off to an extremely strong start. But a lot of comics start strong and finish weak. Hopefully this is one of the exceptions. It was a fairly short run with only 16 issues, so here's hoping the quality is maintained to the end.


SCRIPTS: Daryl Gregory
PENCILS: Carlos Magno
COVER: Karl Richardson

Another great issue! Things are about to get real as the apes blockade the human slums during their search for an assassin. Still introducing characters and world-building. Not much action until the end, when riots begin to break out, but again, I didn't mind a bit. 

The writing is still strong, as is the art. In particular, the scenes in a pawnshop filled with ancient junk are so full of detail I lingered over them for a while. Very nicely done!

 Nothing bad to say about this issue at all.


SCRIPTS: Daryl Gregory
PENCILS: Carlos Magno
COVER: Karl Richardson

As I read this first arc, I'm thinking that THIS should be a Planet of The Apes movie. It has a very cinematic feel to it, thanks to the fantastic artwork. The scenes of a failed assassination of Speaker Alaya in the pouring rain are unbelievable in a very good way! 

So far the quality of the opening issue has been well maintained. . .but should I get my hopes up? I've seen plenty of runs begin to break down after their first arc.


SCRIPTS: Daryl Gregory
PENCILS: Carlos Magno
COVER: Karl Richardson

The first arc ends with a literal bang as a suicide bomber ignites the spark of war that began with the assassination in the first issue. . .

So now the tale delves not only into issues of racial tension and class warfare, but into terrorism and insurgency. That's a pretty deep dive into current topics for a story about a world ruled by intelligent apes!

 I really didn't expect the quality of this book to be so high. 4 issues in and nothing bad to say yet. Let's hope the next arc is as good as the first. . .


SCRIPTS: Daryl Gregory
PENCILS: Carlos Magno
COVER: Scott Keating

The second arc starts off strong. The same team remains on the book, which is a good thing. I see it often where comic companies (and they're ALL guilty of this particular crappy move) have a fantastic team on the first arc to hook you in then, once they have their subscribers, they roll in the B team for the next arc. This is not the case here. Same fantastic writing, same fantastic art.

The second arc looks like it's going down a pretty dark path as humans are rounded up and packed into railroad cars to be taken to "Happy Valley Retraining Camp" after Alaya promises plenty of free labor for ape factories. 

Shades of The Holocaust in addition to the other politically-uncomfortable subjects this title has been touching on. Who knew the story would reach THIS deep in a Planet of The Apes comic? So far I haven't had a bad thing to say about this run. I think it's the FIRST time I can say that 5 issues in. . .


SCRIPTS: Daryl Gregory
PENCILS: Carlos Magno
COVER: Damien Couceiro

As humans are rounded up into concentration camps to be used as slave labor, there is a growing insurgency. I can see that this won't end well. . .

Another great issue with a fantastic flashback scene to the fall of the independent human nation that really adds a lot of cinematic power to this issue, along with a final panel of the insurgent humans blowing up an ape airship. This comic went from a political comic to a war comic quick!

I still have nothing bad to say 6 issues in. I think that MUST be a record for me!


SCRIPTS: Daryl Gregory
PENCILS: Carlos Magno
COVER: Carlos Magno

All hell's about to break loose as some humans escape a concentration camp and decide the truth has to be told, the leader of the apes delivers a very Hitler-like speech to justify extermination of humans, and the insurgency decides whether or not to declare independence. 

As far as I'm concerned, these 7 issues would make a great Planet of The Apes movie! From the tight story to the fantastic, cinematic artwork, I can't think of enough good things to say about this run so far!


SCRIPTS: Daryl Gregory
PENCILS: Carlos Magno
COVER: Scott Keating

So FINALLY at the end of the second arc, I find myself a bit disappointed. 

This was pretty much an all-out action issue, but it didn't really resolve much. All it did was set up the new status quo for the next arc. One resistance leader captured, the humans fleeing the city to hide in the swamps, and the other resistance leader joining up with another rag-tag resistance group. 

Of course, when I say I'm disappointed, it's just with the lack of resolution. The writing and art on this title remain well above my expectations for a licensed property. A below par issue here is STILL better than a good issue of many other comics.


I didn't originally write a conclusion for the first half of this series.  I saved my final thoughts for the second part.  But on re-reading these first 8 issues while getting page scans and such, I feel that I need to take a moment to make a strong recommendation for this series.

From the deep dive into uncomfortable social issues as a framework for a compelling story of a fragile way of life coming to a violent end, to the fantastically detailed and cinematic artwork, this series was a real surprise to me in just HOW good it is.  In my extremely humble opinion, BOOM! Studios' Planet of The Apes is a true hidden gem of comic art.  

Up Next. . .

Part 2 with issues 9 - 16.  
So far, so good. . .but can BOOM! Studios stick the landing?

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Welcome back to another Longbox Junk "Rescue Review"!  I'm blowing the dust off of some older reviews of mine that I did for a very well-known comic site that doesn't really care much about actual comics any more and putting them back in the sight of people that still LIKE comic books right here at Longbox Junk.

This review is one I was REALLY interested in revisiting.  I have a real love of comic heroes that are more on the human side of the equation.  Less SUPER-Hero and more Super-HERO as it were.

The Shadow. . .Captain America. . .Green Hornet. . .Zorro. . .Tarzan. . .Conan. . .Punisher. . .Black Widow. . .Lone Ranger. . .The Question. . .Sgt. Rock. . .The Spirit, and Batman (among others).  The last two characters are major stars in the comics at hand, which were the initial offerings from DC in a short-lived effort to create a new "pulp" comic universe with more "grounded" heroes such as those I mentioned above.  Given my love of more human superheroes, one would THINK that "First Wave" (DC's name for their new universe) would be just what the doctor ordered.

BUT. . .

Yeah.  Unfortunately, there's almost always a "But".

Although I REALLY liked the Spirit ongoing series that came out of First Wave (possibly coming to Longbox Junk at some point), there wasn't much else to it.  The aforementioned Spirit series (17 issues), a Doc Savage series (also 17 issues) and the following First Wave 6 issue mini and Batman/ Doc Savage Special.  Only 41 comics over one single year and then the First Wave Universe just sort of went away without anybody really noticing, and hasn't been revisited since.

I'm not sure exactly what happened, since I can find very little information on First Wave on the internet beyond a bit of sketchy outline. . .mostly having to do with the Spirit and Doc Savage series.  The IDEA was solid.  There was a LOT of premium talent on board.  It SHOULD have worked.  But First Wave came and went with barely a blip on comic history's radar.

So like I said above. . .this was an older review that I really wanted to re-visit.  I was pretty harsh on New Wave at the time.  On reading the review again, I now wonder if I was a little TOO harsh.  Once again, this was a review I wrote at a time when I was becoming disillusioned at working for a major comic site and I sort of can see some of that bitterness coming through many of the reviews I wrote during that time.

The thing is that I absolutely LOVE the idea of a 1930's - style gun-toting detective Batman and The Spirit sharing space in a comic.  I still have all these issues, so I gave them a re-read when I shined up this old review a bit.  Except for a few changes, I've left the original review alone.  I'll let you know what I thought about the re-read in the conclusion.  Is this really as bad as I originally thought it was?

Let's find out!


Welcome to the 1950's. . .where they have cell phones, laptops, and dirigibles! Welcome to DC's failed and forgotten attempt to start a new pulp-influenced universe. Welcome to FIRST WAVE!

DC (2010)

SCRIPTS: Brian Azzarello
PENCILS: Phil Noto

So what we have here is the one shot Preview for what was supposed to have been a new DC pulp-influenced universe. From what I understand, DC had the license for some of the pulp characters for a short while (with the glaring exclusion of The Shadow. . .who was already a DC character in the past. A shame) and were trying to figure out what to do with them.

Coming into this I knew some basics, but I wasn't very familiar with Doc Savage. He is (according to the helpful notes in the back of the issue) supposed to be this universe's "Superman". Despite the notes, this one shot doesn't help much with introducing Doc Savage to the uninitiated. Batman (or, in THIS universe, Bat-Man) is based on the original 1930's gun-toting detective version instead of the later superhero caped crusader. I REALLY liked this version of Batman!

Azzarello gives us a decent (if somewhat thin) tale of Bat Man trying to track down an organization called the Golden Tree, getting wrongly accused of murder, and Doc Savage coming to Gotham to take him down. They end up as. . .not friends, but not enemies at the end of it all.

 The art by Noto was pretty good for this story, but not as good as Noto art normally is.  Backgrounds are practically non-existent (but that's normal for Noto) and Noto's normally-sharp lines are missing.  Faces in particular suffer from time to time through the whole issue.  It all just looks a little off when compared to what I'm used to from Phil Noto.

All in all, I don't think this was a great introduction to the First Wave universe. The only character I got a good handle on was the pulp version of Batman, which I really liked. That said, it wasn't bad at all.  The extra material in the back detailing the new characters coming into the First Wave Universe really interested me in what was coming.  As far as THIS issue goes, it's a decent story, but not really the great introduction it was meant to be.

An additional 2019 note:  I suggest not reading the following First Wave mini without first reading the additional character information in the Preview Special (or the internet, I suppose).  Oddly enough, according to the page I scanned above, it looks like Black Canary was also supposed to be part of First Wave, but she isn't found in any of the comics. . .another example of the unfulfilled promise of First Wave.

DC (2010 - 2011)

SCRIPTS: Brian Azzarello
PENCILS: Rags Morales


The one shot introduction to the DC First Wave pulp alternative universe didn't do a great job.  Unfortunately this first  issue of the universe's "official" rollout didn't do much better.

Once again, Doc Savage is barely sketched out. The Spirit fares a little better, but not by much. Now, I'm not going to say that I love repeated origin stories every time a character gets a new series, but I'm thinking a LITTLE more origin might have been nice here for readers unfamiliar with these older characters being introduced to a modern audience.

 I'm a big fan of The Spirit and so the lack of information on just who this crazy guy in the blue suit sleeping in an open grave and making coffee with a mask on was didn't really bother ME. . .but I'm a little vague on Doc Savage, and the extremely helpful notes from the Doc Savage/Bat Man special were missing here.

 I can only imagine what someone coming in with absolutely no knowledge of these characters would have thought. No wonder this new universe didn't last long. . .

To make the lack of introduction a bit more confusing, this First Wave universe seems to occupy a strange corner of reality where high tech exists in a late 1940's/early 1950's world. Cell phones, robots, and jet planes exist alongside dirigibles and autogyros.

What it REALLY reminds me of is the universe that Batman The Animated Series was set in. That's definitely not a bad thing in MY book, but once again. . .for new readers, this might be a hard thing to get a handle on.


The story is mostly pretty thin introduction and world-building. Some sequences away from Doc Savage and The Spirit set in South America made absolutely no sense, but look like setup to another forgotten pulp hero (heroine, that is), Rima the Jungle Girl. The Blackhawks also make a last panel appearance, so it looks like this series will have a pretty big cast of characters.

All in all, it was a decent read. I won't call it great, but I won't call it bad. It rides right down the middle of the road. I might think different if I came in without any knowledge of the characters.  For some readers this would probably be pretty confusing, to say the least.

Finally, the art looks very nice.  Rags Morales puts in a great effort on this job, and the art definitely kicks up my enjoyment of this issue a notch. This could have gone VERY wrong in the hands of another artist.


Another issue of thin introductions and world-building. We meet The Spirit's friend and helper, Ebony White. . .transformed in this new universe from a racial stereotype man into a racial stereotype woman. I'm thinking maybe Ebony White should just be left in the past. . .

We also are introduced to the First Wave version of The Blackhawks. Quite a bit more brutal and mercenary than usual. Looks like Azzarello took a bit of inspiration from Howard Chaykin's Blackhawks, although Janos hasn't shown up yet.

We get to learn a bit more about the man running through the jungle from the first issue. A scientist working on some sort of project in a high-tech floating city called Neolantis who stole some information. Rima The Jungle Girl is still little more than a lurking presence. 

Also introduced is another pulp character I'm vague on and am again thankful for the additional  information at the end of the Batman/Doc Savage Special. . .The Avenger. A of master of disguise and private detective.  Once again, I feel a bit sorry for readers coming into this who didn't pick up the First Wave Special and who don't have access to the additional information.


I'm really liking The Spirit's part in this (He takes an epic nut kick from one of the Blackhawks, and still cracks a joke when he wakes up!) So at least on The Spirit, Azzarello is hitting the mark quite nicely.

As far as the other characters, they're barely sketches, so far.  And 2 issues in without Batman?  He's on the covers.  He's in the hype text.  Well. . .at least this is shaping up to be a decent Spirit story, anyway.

Overall, I liked this issue. . .but mainly because of The Spirit. Hopefully, some of these threads will begin to weave together and start to form the bigger picture that keeps being promised.


Halfway into this series and Azzarello is STILL making introductions. This time out, Bat-Man joins the game. Like I said in my review of the Preview to the First Wave universe (Batman/ Doc Savage Special, above), this version of Batman is based on the original 1930's detective-style crimefighter. . .not the later superhero. He carries guns and isn't afraid to use them OR kill criminals. He's younger, more reckless, and a lot more dangerous than the Batman most readers are used to. Personally, I like this version of the character a LOT.

I see that 2 regular series came out of First Wave. . .Doc Savage and The Spirit. I would have REALLY liked to see a regular with this version of Batman as well. But then again, that might have been confusing to have ANOTHER bat book on the stands. But hey. . .I'M not the one who wanted to start a new pulp universe and then just sort of left it hanging. Just saying. It might have been good.  It might have actually carried the First Wave universe a bit longer. . .sort of like how Spider Man 2099 carried the 2099 Universe over at Marvel.


Unfortunately, Bat-Man is barely sketched out. Why is he dressing up as a bat? What is his motivation to risk everything he has fighting crime? So on and so forth. None of it is given a bit of explanation. And so far, that is this series (and by extension, this universe) biggest problem: They rushed right into the adventure and never properly introduced the characters beyond some additional information at the end of the Batman/Doc Savage Special. I keep saying it, but I feel sorry for anyone who picked this up who wasn't able to refer to that. . .


Well, it took a while and it was a bit convoluted, but Azzarello finally got his cast of characters in one place. . .the South American nation of Hidalgo and the floating city of Neolantis. We hardly know anything about any of these people, but here they are!

Once again, the lack of proper introduction or world building blunts the story. Why should we care about any of these "heroes"? Especially since half of them seem to be just as nasty as the "villains".

Okay, I realize that pulp and noir are supposed to be about the grey areas, but really. . .I'm having trouble seeing much wrong with the villain's plan.  A gathering of wealth to help rebuild the world with advanced technology 5 years after a devastating world war?

Is there something wrong with that which a rag-tag group of unheroic heroes need to take notice of and stop? Okay. . .so there's some big money connections to organized crime, but it's in the cause of world peace through technology. Whatever.  Bat-Man's gotta be Bat-Man no matter what universe, I guess.

BUT I DIGRESS (again)!

All in all, this issue was a bit confusing. I think that so far Azzarello has spent more of his effort figuring out just how the hell he's going to get a bunch of (mostly) city-based back alley and rooftop heroes into the jungle than he has worrying about what they were going to actually DO once the gang was all in one place. And only two more issues to go. I hope he gets it figured out quick, or this isn't gonna end well. . .


This issue is a mess.

Like I said in my review of last issue, Azzarello seems to have spent  so much time figuring out how to get a bunch of (mostly) city-based crimefighters into the jungle that he's just sort of winging it once they get there. And to make matters worse, the ONE actual jungle-based character. . .Rima the Jungle Girl. . .might as well not even be in the story for all the attention she's given. 

I had high hopes for this series (and REALLY liked the Spirit series that came out of it), but it has been plagued by poor characterization and a weak villain with a vague (and oddly beneficial) plot that probably doesn't even need to be stopped.

This issue is a crazy quilt of epic proportions. Everything from giant lizards to human experiments (on hobos imported from cities when there's a whole damn jungle full of natives), to Doc Savage running around Tarzan-style in a loincloth punching Uzi-toting redshirts.

At least the art is still very nice, and the parts with Bat-Man and The Spirit are good.
As for the rest. . .Ever since the gang got together in the jungle, this series has officially gone off the rails.

A pretty sweet Jim Lee Variant cover on the 6th issue

Well. . .it started off pretty good, but didn't end well.  The ending of this mini is a convoluted, confusing mess that tries to tie up loose ends and STILL introduce new things at the same time.

 Azzarello tried to cram ALL the new DC pulp characters and ideas into ONE mini without a clear mission or a worthy villain and wound up at the end of it all with an overcrowded mess. Most of the characters were out of their element, and without a proper introduction to any of them, there was no reason to worry about their fate. It seems like such a waste of talent and time. A damn shame.


This could have been the beginning of something great if only Azzarello had narrowed his focus instead of trying to force epic onto street-level characters. I'm not sure about the Doc Savage series that came out of this because I never read an issue of it, but the Spirit series successfully lowered its gaze back to the street where it belonged.

ONE simple phrase in Azzarello's mind COULD have saved this from becoming a mess:
Bat-Man doesn't belong in the jungle.

It's not just Bat-Man, but most of these characters don't belong in the jungle. I can only shake my head and wonder why? Why did it have to go that direction? Was it because of Rima the Jungle Girl? Maybe Azzarello couldn't figure out how to get her to the city, so he brought the other characters to the jungle. But if that was the case, why did he barely use her?

I'm not sure what happened. I REALLY wanted to like this series, but now I don't even care.

Thanks, Obama.

And there it is. First Wave. A series where epic was forced on street-level heroes and failure followed close behind. A damn shame and a LOT of wasted potential, given the talent that was put into this project.  I don't know what happened, but it went from "Pretty Good" to "What The Hell?" really fast.


I was pretty harsh on this series when I originally reviewed it.  I can see my bitterness in the fact that I didn't even do a proper story synopsis for each issue, but just jumped right into what I didn't like about it.  I found very few bright spots (the art, the Spirit and Bat-Man were about it), and really that says just as much about my own state of mind at the time as it does the wasted potential of First Wave.  I just REALLY didn't like writing reviews of new comics and not being able to tell the whole truth, and that shows up in my "side" reviews (Like First Wave) as well.

BUT. . .

I'm in a different place now.  I review what I want and can tell it like I see it.  You can agree or disagree with my humble opinion, but at least my frustration at being paid to lie is gone. And no. . .I'm NOT going to do "Rescue Reviews" on the new (at the time) comics I was reviewing.


This isn't about me.  It's about First Wave and what I think about it on another read-through.  Okay then. . .if I had to describe this mini (and one shot) in one word, that word would be: Disappointing.

Yeah. . .sadly, even though I don't find it to be as bad as I originally thought, I still find First Wave to be a disappointing waste of talent and potential.  And there's a LOT of wasted talent and potential here.

First, let's talk about the good things.  The art is great, no complaints there.  The parts of the story featuring Bat-Man and The Spirit are the best parts of First Wave, and make me want more.

Unfortunately, my original assessment still stands regarding rushed (or practically..
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Welcome to another Longbox Junk "Rescue Review"!  This time out, I blow the dust off of a great little Star Wars mini (as I recall, it was one of the first that came out when Marvel got the Star Wars license back).   I haven't made too many changes to this one, so except for some pictures and creator credits, so it's pretty much exactly the way that I wrote it a few years back.  I did do a re-read, but I'm still right on board with everything I said then, so no big changes needed on this one.

Enough (new) introduction, then. Enjoy!


Can it really be called Longbox Junk if there's a $250 variant cover?
I only have the regular covers, so in my case. . .yes.  Let's do it!


MARVEL ( 2015)
SCRIPTS: Mark Waid
PENCILS: Terry Dodson
COVERS: Terry Dodson


After the events of the first Star Wars movie, the rebels are pulling out of their base and scattering until they can find a new one. Princess Leia is frustrated because she wants to be part of the action instead of being treated like a delicate Princess. Against everyone's wishes, she leaves with R2-D2 and a female pilot named Evaan to seek out and preserve the remaining people and bits of culture from her destroyed home planet.

This issue starts off at the exact moment Star Wars ended. . .the rebel award ceremony. Dodsen's art doesn't exactly capture the likenesses of the movies's stars, but his style does serve the story well.  He's another one of those "Love it or hate it" sort of artists.  I'm sort of in the middle, but no real complaints about the art.  Overall, this is a GREAT opening! I really liked the way it is literally a direct continuation of the original movie.

The rest of the issue is just as good, introducing new character and fellow Alderaan survivor, Evaan, along with plenty of cameos from the rest of the Star Wars crew.  All in all, a very enjoyable read for a huge Star Wars fan like myself.  I declare this first issue a winner. And after the bad taste X-Files/30 Days of Night left, I need to read a winner.


First stop for Leia and Evaan is Naboo, where Leia wants to rescue an Alderaanian singing group. Along the way, she is betrayed by Lord Junn, and old friend of her family and narrowly escapes with the group. . .not knowing that one of them is in contact with her sister, an Imperial officer.

I'm really liking this series. The story is nicely done, although it seems like Leia is a little out of character and taking a few too many foolish chances. . .almost like she's a female Han Solo. That said, I liked the flashback scenes with young Leia and Bail Organa, which pull back from the action and bring some emotional weight of loss and remembrance to the story.

The art is also improved a bit from the first issue.  Now that Dodson has moved away from the more familiar Star Wars faces and into the meat of the story with new characters, his inability to capture the likenesses of the movie's stars isn't nearly as noticeable as it was in the introductory issue.


Princess Leia and Evaan head to Sullust, where they plan on rescuing an enclave of Alderaanians.

When they arrive, they find the enclave to be paranoid and secretive. They are convinced that Leia is an imperial spy, and when the Imperials attack (guided by the unwitting information given to her sister by Tula on board Leia's ship), Leia comes under attack as well. An Ex Machina rescue by R2-D2 leads to a teamup victory that convinces the Alderaanians to leave with Princess Leia.

Not as good as the previous 2 issues. This series is beginning to fall into a "Trap of the month" feel. The art is still fantastic, but hopefully Leia won't fall into a trap and narrowly escape next issue. . .


Leia discovers that Tula is the unwitting spy on her ship. In a bad attempt at turning the tables, her sister Tace is taken prisoner and Leia agrees to turn herself over to the Empire in exchange for her freedom. During the exchange, the rebel fleet shows up for what will surely be a big 'ol trademark Star Wars space battle fiesta in the final issue.

I really liked this issue, but the sub-plot about a failed diplomatic effort to bring in some half-breed Alderaanians because of racism sort of dragged it down a bit. Still, a nice setup for the final issue.


And it's time for the big finish!

Leia turns the tables on Commander Dreed and escapes. A Star Destroyer shows up to take out the gathered fleet of Alderaanian survivors, but she makes a "We can do it. . .TOGETHER!" speech and they pull off the big win. Okay, the ending was a bit predictable, but it was still very nicely done. 

All in all, a strong ending for a great little mini!


Overall, I really liked this whole series. There were a couple of issues where it looked like things were slipping off course a bit, but Mark Waid kept a steady hand on the wheel and gave us a very nice little piece of Star Wars focused less on space battles and dark Jedi drama and more on how do you keep a people together when they no longer have a home. 

The bigger picture of Leia bringing together the remaining Alderaanians reflects the smaller picture (as shown silently at the end when Leia returns to the rebellion) of the group of heroes in the original films coming together as a team. Nicely done.

I have to say that this was a great read and I heartily recommend it to Star Wars fans, or to comic readers who want a taste of Star Wars from a bit of a different angle than what's in the movies.

Up Next. . .

Another Rescue Review!

Join me as I take a look at the practically-forgotten (and pretty much failed) DC effort to start a new pulp-influenced side universe.  DC's First Wave 6-issue mini PLUS the First Wave Batman/ Doc Savage one shot special.

Be there or be square!
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