Post by codystarbuck on Mar 14, 2021 23:18:29 GMT -5
ps Tom Lyle shows Skywolf picking up an AK-47, from the French position, when he goes to find and confront Von Tundra. The weapon existed but was not yet supplied to the Vietnamese. Their main automatic weapons included the German Stg-44 (the Sturmgewehr, or assault rifle) which the Russians had captured and provided, the Russian PPsh-41 submachine gum (the "burp gun", with wooden stock and often with a drum magazine) that was used by the Chinese Communists and North Koreans, Japanese Nambu Type 100 submachine guns and captured American, British and French weapons, plus Russian-supplied and captured Japanese light machine guns and captured weapons from the French and their allies.
Lyle (or Chuck, if he suggested it in the script), fell into the trap of imagery from the US involvement in the Vietnam War, rather than the French efforts in Indochina. On the other hand, he depicts the French defenders with correct weaponry and equipment, including US-supplied small arms and equipment, as well as French weapons and equipment, such as the French signature MAT-49 submachine gun.
I'm sure most don't care; but, Dixon & Lyle harkened back to the days of the classic DC war comics, where the artists, generally, did their research and tried to be accurate in the vehicles and weaponry (though they stuck with the same images of German soldiers with MP-40s in large numbers, where many would have carried carbines, and US soldiers with Thompsons, instead of M-1 rifles or carbines). Hollywood tends to do the same thing. One of the nice things in the Skywolf stories was attention to historical detail, which was an added bonus to history buffs, like myself. Anyone can do a western comic and have the characters using Colt Peacemakers, but you knew you were in extraordinary hands if you saw a Remington, or the earlier Army and Navy Colt ball-and-cap revolvers.
Post by codystarbuck on Mar 20, 2021 15:06:45 GMT -5
Strike vs Sgt Strike Special
Creative Team: Chuck Dixon-writer, Tom Lyle-art, Kurt Hathaway-letters, Don Gidley-colors, Fred Burke-editor
Synopsis: When we last left Dennis, he had been captured by the bug aliens and taken to their spacecraft, where they removed his power harness. They gave him a new protective suit, which was bulletproof and relayed to him their history, as a wandering people, attacked by a parasitic alien entity. The meteor that powers the harness is actually sperm to fertilize an egg for their race to reproduce (or thereabouts). They are interrupted by an attack by the parasites, who have a weapon, which Dennis recognizes as Sgt Strike.
Dennis convinces the bug aliens to return the harness and goes off to try to reach Sgt Strike. He is beamed aboard the parasite ship, where he comes into combat with the parasite warriors. He causes damage, though their weapons can hurt him. He jumps into a fluid vessel tube and transports to another part of the living ship, though he gets attacked by "anti-bodies" along the way. he turns up in a chamber, surrounded by the parasites.
Outside, a shuttle crew observes the space battle between the bugs and the parasites and radios Houston. They are out of their depth. Inside, Dennis disarms a warrior and uses its energy weapon to fight the others, learning the lesson of Sgt Strike that the harness makes for good defensive protection and augmentation; but, weapons are better for offense. He wipes out the squad, then gets hit by a powerful bolt. It is Sgt Strike, being manipulated by a parasite and using a larger scale weapon (like a light machine gun version of the raygun). Dennis is hurt, but he resists and fights back, eventually disarming Sgt Strike. He smashes the parasite controller in the carapace with the weapon, then stops on the bio-organism that controlled Sgt Strike and he collapses. Dennies continues fighting and dives into a horde of parasites.
Outside, the shuttle deploys a nuclear weapon, while the astronauts perform an EVA to arm it and activate the propulsion system to send it into the alien ship. Inside, Dennis battles through the crowd and enters another fluid vessel, ending up near the "brain." It speaks to him telepathically and recognizes the orb and tries to take it. dennis fights but is losing, until energy weapons destroy tendrils from the brain. It is a recovered and conscious Sgt Strike, who frees Dennis and they leave, via a teleportation platform. The nuke detonates and destroys both ships. Dennis and Sgt Strike materialize on Earth, where Sgt Strike turns his energy weapon on Dennis and tells him he wants the harness back...
The story is to be continued in the Total Eclipse crossover mini-series.
Thoughts: pretty much all action, as we get the conclusion to the alien storyline. My guess is this was supposed to be issue #7, but the series was cancelled, but they decided to do it as a special to lead into Total Eclipse.
Not much development, though Chuck does check back in with Bobby, who sees lights in the night sky, which is the alien battle and the nuclear explosion, which creates a brief mini-sun. We still don't know how Sgt Strike got on the parasite ship, or why he looks far younger than he should, though we can infer that he was abducted in the 50s (maybe 60s) and relativity has kept him young. The tail end emphasizes that he is a trained and experienced combat soldier, while Dennis is a rookie who has been lucky.
Tom Lyle's artwork is dynamic, if not quite a polished as at DC and Marvel. He did ink himself, though, which is an improvement over some that he has had. I liked the fact that he used sleeker, athletic builds on many of his characters, rather than the bulkier "steroid" physiques. It looks more natural. People tend to forget that Simon & Kirby and Kirby, later, drew Captain America like a gymnast or decathlete, rather than a linebacker or powerlifter. From the 80s onward, you got generation after generation of artists who thought they had to pile on muscles and bulk, following guys like John Byrne and later Kirby (Kirby was moving into abstract though and the bulk depended on the angle he was using in a panel) and the look of professional football players and pro wrestlers, as steroid use became the standard in those fields, with bigger, bulkier physiques the end result of heavy workouts designed for bulk and strength. Fans and laypeople also misconstrue what steroids do; they don't cause large muscles. Steroids allow muscle tissue to recover more rapidly, allowing a person to work out longer and recover more quickly, so they can work out more often. Thus, they get more out of their workout. The end results are dependent on the actual workout and diet. A high protein diet and a workout that emphasizes strength and bulk will result in the average pro wrestler look. A workout with lighter weights and more repetition will lead to sleeker, more defined muscles, like models and actors, who use steroids as fat burners and to allow them to work out constantly to maintain a defined physique. genetics play a certain part, as some people develop more quickly than others, and have natural lower body fat. That is the problem of putting Captain America's physique down to a super-steroid. For his body to grow, it needed protein, which kind of fits into the vita-ray treatment that Lee & Kirby added to the origin, in the 60s.
It's been about 20 years since I reread this material. Chuck has some good ideas, but, the series never really becomes that compelling and is mostly average superhero stuff. It's no wonder it was ignored on stands. However, the Sgt Strike character was a fun take on Captain America, with a slightly more bloodthirsty twist to it. He use in the Air Fighters Meet Sgt Strike and the Skywolf Korea story suggest that he was the real favorite of Chuck and Tim Truman. I had Tom Lyle sketch the character for me, when I met him, in 1989.
From here, we go to Total Eclipse, which I will summarize, as it affects the 4 Winds characters. There were others involved (including Miracleman); but, the main plot centered on the 4 Winds superheroes and Air Fighters.
Post by codystarbuck on Mar 20, 2021 15:36:00 GMT -5
Revenge of the Prowler #4
Creative Team: Tim Truman-story, John K Snyder III-art, Tim Harkins-letters, Don Gidley-colors, cat yronwode-editor
Synopsis: In Amarillo, at Amarillo College, a young student begs the professor for an extension on a term paper, knowing that she is a stickler for deadliens. The professor is looking at a newspaper and isn't really listening and surprises the student by granting the extension. She then calls Amtrak to reserve tickets and we see the headline about the Prowler and then a signed photo, to Geraldine, as in Geraldine Crane, ace reporter. Meanwhile, Leo and Scott have arrived in Stockholm, Sweden, sans guns, though Leo says Rackman has prepared something for them. Later, at a hotel, Leo buys firearms from a dealer, named Worldrec. He and Scott prepare to hunt for the Piranha. Scott complains about weirdos and Leo reminds them of why they are doing this...
That night, they scale a perimeter fence, outside a factory and then sneak in, only to be ambushed and caught, by the Piranha's men. he mocks Leo as being out of step with the times...
Scott is taken away to someone who Piranha says will deal with him and Leo is locked up in a cell. Leo meditates and tries to break through the door, with his fists, but it doesn't work. Scott is taken to some brute, named Bruno, who starts working him over, while Piranha films it. Leo continues meditating and finally establishes control over the guard, who unbolts the cell. Bruna has beaten Scott into a pulp and is ready for the kill, when his chest explodes. It's Leo, with a weapon, but Piranha grabs Scott and holds a gun to his head, forcing Leo to drop it and climb down to them. Leo and Scott prepare to die, when Piranha says it's a wrap and returns their costumes. he says Leo can't touch him and he sends them off to be comedic failures. However, after they have left the building, Leo has the last laugh...
There follows some spot pieces that fill in some of Leo's history, including Prowler cartoons, a run-in with HUAC, and more.
Thoughts: The ending is a bit anti-climactic, as the Piranha doesn't seem especially deadly, as much as smug. Scott gets pretty badly abused, but saved by Leo, then they are just let go. Leo being crafty fooled Piranha, but it doesn't feel earned. It really feels like last issue was the end and this was a quickie coda, like Tim ran out of ideas, but had committed to 4 issues.
We do get the announcement that there will be a Prowler one-shot, adapting the Bela Lugosi movie The White Zombie (which gave Rob Zombie's original band its name). Given how much has been cribbed from it, it only seems fitting.
Post by codystarbuck on Mar 21, 2021 22:58:09 GMT -5
Airboy heads to Afghanistan!
Remember when that was the Soviet Union's "Vietnam?"
That is a Stinger surface to air missile launcher that Davy is holding, which the CIA provided to the Afghan mujahadeen (the future Taliban and nucleus of Al Queda), to fight the Soviet Mil Mi-24 Hind helicopter gunships. (See Charlie Wilson's War, either the original book or film, for more information)
Creative Team: Chuck Dixon-writer, Stan Woch-pencils, Ricardo Villagran-inks, Tim Harkins-letters, Olyoptics-colors, cat yronwode-editor The Heap: Len Wein-script, Lou Mougin-story, Varmine Infantino-pencils, Mark Pacella-inks, Bill Pearson-letters, Olyoptics-colors, cat yronwode-editor
Also from Eclipse: Aces#2, Area 88 #26 & 27, Dreamery #10, Legend of Kamui #26 & 27, Mai the Psychic Girl #26 & 27, Miracleman Family #2, Scout: War Shaman #3, Tales of the Beanworld #10, Total Eclipse #2, Xenon #13 & 14, Zot #19 & 20. So, Eclipse was largely being carried by 4 Winds and Studio Proteus, both independent groups publishing their work under Eclipse's banner. Zot was appearing sporadically (absent for the entire year of 1986 and returning in 1987), while Dreamery was mostly maintaining a bi-monthly schedule. Miracleman Family is, again, reprints of the Mick Anglo stories, from the earlier UK comics. We were still waiting for issue #15 of the regular title, where Moore and Totleben unleashed Hell. It's a couple of months away.
At this point, I was a newly commissioned ensign, in the US Navy, reporting to my first command, after spending 16+ (17, if you counted kindergarten and nursery school) of my 21 years in school, which was 6 months of Supply Corps School, in Athens, GA. It's probably why, after a semester of classes after leaving the Navy, I was so burnt out on a classroom environment that I gave up on the idea of becoming a teacher (I was looking at about another 2-3 years of courses, at the rate I could afford to take them, before student teaching, to achieve a teacher's certification, in Illinois). That 6 months was a pretty good time, with a relatively easy course load, light duty, and a pretty good music scene in the town (both REM and the B-52s came out of Athens). Some darn good comics came out during that time.
Synopsis: Davy and head of Nelson Aviation Corporate Services, Les Mansfield, (the son of the original Rackman) arrive in the Gulf state of Otar, which is two states before Qatar, in the alphabet. They are met by Ali Ben Saudi, Minister of National Security, who looks like he is president of the Grand Wizard's fan club...
(Ernie Roth, aka The Grand Wizard, manager of champions in the WWF, prior to the Hulk Hogan era)
They get into a stretch limo to head for their digs, where Ali offers them infidel liquor, in defiance of Islamic law, which may be why the limo is attacked by men who call him a heretic and demand his death, for the Faithful. The servant pouring the alcohol is in cahoots and tries to knife Ali, but Les blocks it and takes the blade in his left wrist and knocks the guy cold. The fanatics slap some C-4 plastic explosive onto the bulletproof windshield and place a detonator. It blows out the windshield and the limo comes to a fiery halt. The fanatics regroup to attack and Davy bursts out the door an unloads with an Uzi, while Les fires a Mauser C96 pistol. The fanatics flee in their truck and they revive the unconscious Ali. He says not to worry and they finish their journey to his family residence. They freshen up and then join Ali for dinner, further desecrating Allah with "pigs in a blanket," although, there might not be any actual pork in the cocktail franks.
Ali asks why avy has held up delivery of the Catspaw rockets they purchased and Davy wants his personal assurance they won't be passed on to third parties and will only be used to defend Otar. Ali gives him the assurance, but neither Davy or Les is that stupid. They are using this as an excuse to poke around in Otar to see what they are really up to. Later, they observe the shipment being loaded onto a C-130 cargo plane and Les says they could be across the country in under an hour and Davy decides to stow away on the aircraft.
They sneak on board and Les wakes up Davy and lets him know that Ali isn't selling the weapons to the PLO or Iraq. He shows Davy the Hindu Kush mountains and welcomes him to Afghanistan...
The Hercules is hugging the terrain, to avoid Soviet radar; but, they are still spotted and a Hind gunship moves into their 6 O' Clock position. les alerts Davy and they decide to open the shipment and take over the flight cabin. Davy opens the side hatch, attaches a gunner's belt and leans out with a shoulder-fired catspaw (Stinger, actually) missile, with expected results...
(unlike in Rambo, when Stallone fires a LAW rocket, inside a helicopter, Davy can actually fire this in an enclosed space, as there is no backblast)
Les learns that the weapons are bound for the Islamic Brotherhood, in Afghanistan, one of the mujahideen groups fighting the Soviets. They land and are met by Agha Babrak and his men, who questions their presence. One of the pilots speaks of how they downed the Hind gunship and sold the weapons and that they wanted to deliver them to a "just causes."
The C-130 is damaged from the fight and will take a day to repair. Agha Babrak invites them to dine with the Tiger of the Kush and they accept and the comun rides into the mountains to their hideout, where they meet the Tiger of the Kush...
who is a bit on the small side. meanwhile, at a Soviet base, a soldier delivers aerial reconnaissance photos to his commander, who hunts for the Tiger's base. It is Steelfox, the GRU operative who captured Valkyrie, to stand trial for war crimes (in the Valkyrie mini-series). he recognizes Davy from the photos of the crates being unloaded from the plane. He is very happy.
The Heap: We meet The Heaps great-grandson, Michael Von Emmelmann. Father Joachim and grandfather Karl workas aircraft designers for Nelson Aviation and they unveil a new, ultra-safe jetliner...
Young Michael has a little cocaine problem, which is unseen by his father. Heap is drawn from the Napa forests and comes to the testing airfield and slips onto the plane. The test flight is flown by Joachim, Michael onboard, along with his nose candy. An accident releases gas, knocking Joachim and the co-pilot unconscious. Michael is in a bathroom, snorting lines, when the plane suddenly dips. he gets to the cabin and finds his father unconscious and tries to right the aircraft, but his judgement is affected by the cocaine. The Heap bursts into the cabin and helps Michael level off the aircraft and bring it in for a landing. Michael thinks it is a hallucination, brought on by doing too much coke. The Heap leaves after the plane is safe, before anyone else sees him.
Thoughts: I'll start with the back-up. This is the most ludicrous of all of the Heap stories. We are given no reason for the release of "gas" in the cockpit, which knocks out Joachim. Michael's state suggests use of drugs other than cocaine, which is a stimulant, not a hallucinogen. However, cocaine was the drug of the 80s; so, there it is. The Heap stows away on a test flight and no one notices the extra weight, as test flights are usually done with specific fuel levels, and fuel consumption would be altered, though, given the size shown, maybe not enough to have a major effect. Whatever, the story is a bitt too cliched and convenient, with the short length not helping the story development. Quite frankly, these stories have been pretty mediocre and a real come down after the Skywolf back-ups.
Carmine's aircraft design is awfully wonky, mixing in a bit of the Concorde SST cockpit and body, with trapezoidal wings and twin tails. It kind of matches the angular style he had on Star Wars, though it doesn't look especially aerodynamic; but, then again, this story has a swamp monster.
Michael looks like a teenager in his first panel or two, and possibly in his early 20s in others. It is never stated how old he is; but, he contributed to the designs and seems to know how to fly. Again, just not developed enough to have an impact.
Airboy is treading on headlines again, as the US was supplying Stinger missiles to the mujahideen, via Pakistani intelligence and civilian front companies (see Charlie Wilson's War, again). The weapon was very effective against the Hind gunships, which were used to hunt the rebels in the mountainous regions and attack their camps. The helicopters were designed to be both troop transport, able to carry a squad into battle, while providing close air support, making then a true assault helicopter. Bu comparison, the UH-1 Huey could carry troops or be outfitted as a gunship, but it couldn't do both. It's armament included gatling guns,crew-manned machine guns, rockets, anti-tank missiles, mine dispersal pods and bombs. They could unleash a world of hurt on an enemy. However, their top speed was about 280 mph, which, though faster than an Apache gunship, was slow enough to be tracked by ground weapons, such as a handheld Stinger, which could target jets.
No explanation is given about Ali Ben Saudi's defiance of muslim tradition, which forbids alcohol and pork. My assumption is that Chuck knew this and deliberately depicted Ali as Western in attitude, to make him more colorful (matching it with his flamboyant Western clothes and high-fashion sunglasses). The turban is a typical mistake, as that is the signature of a sikh, more than most Arabic cultures. Blame Hollywood and Western popular literature (such as the Sinbad films and similar fare). Otar seems to be based on Qatar, especially the splash page notation that the average income is $300,000, for everyone over 18. This is in line with their average income, as Qatar mostly imports migrant labor to work in their industries, often under repressive circumstances.
Chuck's depiction of the mujahideen group seems in line with information coming via the media, though the name Islamic Brotherhood seems to be based on the Muslim Brotherhood, which operated in Egypt and parts of the Arab world. The Afghan resistance was a mixture of groups, both muslim and buddhist. The muslim Taliban emerged from the Soviet war as one of the strongest groups, leading to their victory in the Afghan Civil War that followed the Soviet withdrawal.
This storyline would pretty much drive a wedge between Chuck Dixon and cat yronwode, as she felt he was portraying the mujahideen as far too heroic and not balancing it with their fundamentalist ideology, as well as their involvement in opium smuggling to raise currency. He stayed until the end of the series; but, in a later interview, he said this was a sign that the book wasn't long for the world. Stan Woch will provide art for this story and ins on issue #45, before departing for good. He is in top form here and Ricardo Villagran works well with his pencils.
The story also gives us a hint about Les' hands, beyond his usual leather gloves, as Davy notices that a knife to the wrist didn't slow him down and he didn't bleed. He blows it off with a joke, but I suspect we will see more down the road. His father was Rackman, a hero of small stature who used special stilts to fight crime, and has been set up in the Airboy universe as a genius inventor who aided other hero/adventurers, like The Prowler and Captain Eagle.
Steelfox makes for a more colorful villain than we have seen, since Misery and Manic teamed up. He is a perfect pulp villain for a pulp adventure.
Next, back to Scout, as Scout, Victor and Tazhey encounter river pirates.
Post by codystarbuck on Mar 21, 2021 23:05:58 GMT -5
ps The James Bond movie, The Living Daylights, had come out the summer before this, with portions set in Afghanistan. Any bets that it influenced the story here? Rambo 3, also set in Afghanistan, was coming out about the same time as this comic.
Post by codystarbuck on Mar 24, 2021 14:17:39 GMT -5
Scout: War Shaman #3
Creative Team: Tim Truman-story & art, Tim Harkins-letters, Sam Parsons-colors, cat yronwode-editor Tim Harkins draws the Beau La Duke cartoons, seen on tv, in the issue.
Synopsis: Rosa and her daughter, Laura, and a formation of armor and infantry, try to negotiate with Padre Robillard, leader of a settlement of Doodyists, ina delta area of the Hassayampa River, in Arizona.
Padre Robillard isn't interested in joining the New America, though Rosa suggests they have no choice. Neither does she, as the food they grow and the water in the region are needed elsewhere. Meanwhile, Scout, Tahzey and Victor are on a ship, the Empress Jones, on the Hassayampa.
There, they see Doodyist pilgrims and New America propaganda cartoons, featuring Beau La Duke. We also hear the news, as there is a strike by Solidarity, in the Soviet lunar base, while the Chinese have offered to act as mediators, and the Consolidated Mediterranean Alliance, under premier Avner Glanzman, have offered non-military support to the strikers.
The captain of the ship takes a shine to Santana and his sons and has provided them a cabin, instead of a deck space and invites them to dinner. The ship is watched from the shore of the river, by a man in an eye patch, who murders a soldier, after he confirms that the ship is the Empress Jones. After dinner, the boys bed down for the night and the captain discusses underway refuelling, with Scout, keeping their "discussions" quiet, so as not to wake the boys.
Meanwhile, one of the Doodyists recognized Santana; and, after consulting the holy notes of their founder, Doody, the young man Scout saved from death and was brought back to life by Doody, at the Mt Fire complex, identifies Scout as"He-Who_Was-Dead."
Things are interrupted by an alarm bell, as there is a barrier across the river, manned by pirates, who drop 60 mm mortar rounds on the ship. The captain runs on deck (with a bridgecoat to cover the fact that she doesn't have her pants, as Tahzey notices). She receives demands from the pirates that all abandon ship and she refuses. Scout aids the ship by eliminating the mortar as a threat...
The pirates abandon the barrier and the captain orders full speed ahead, through the gap created, though Scout yells for her to back the ship into reverse course. The captain ignores him and presses forward and runs smack into the mines laid by the pirates. The ship is crippled and rests on a sand bar. The captain tells Scout that they have weapons in the hold, bound for an Army unit, in the Delta, which is the prates' target. They can use them to hold them off. Scout isn't quite so convinced, as the pirates man Zodiac boats and move in to attack the ship.
The remainder of the book features the first installment of Tim's illustrated adaptation of "The Slaying of the Monsters," telling the story of the Owl-Man-Giant and White-Painted-Woman, as Usen guides her to a place, where a waterfall will form, after rain, which will conceive a child with her, who will be Child-Of-Water. It also tells of "Slayer-of-WEnemies," who is too afraid to fight Owl-Man-Giant.
Thoughts: Excellent issue, as Truman takes the Santanas and us on a river boat ride into the next phase of the story. We see the Doodyists, the people who follow the teachings of Doody, a hybrid of the Bible and Lord of the Rings, first articulated by the mentally challenged Doody, the young ward of rev Deluxe, who Scout met when he came to Houston, early in the original series. Doody was captured and tortured by Ray Vaughn and the US government forces, until freed by Scout, who then killed President Jerry Grail. Doody was blinded, but something was awakened with him, during the torture and he began to display super-normal abilities, including a form of mental control, the ability to shift life energy, and precognition. Doody assembled a band of followers; and, after a propaganda campaign carried out by agents of Vice President Bill Loper, took over a military ICBM complex, at Mt Fire. It was there that Scout was mortally wounded and was saved by Doody, with the aid of Rosa Winter. Doody was shot and climbed into an ICBM and launched himself into space, where the detonation destroyed him; but, others took up his ministry.
Rosa is accompanied by her adult daughter Laura, the child of the King of Alaska, who was assassinated by Rosa nd her MOSSAD team. The truth was revealed to Laura, by the end of the New America mini-series, but she has stuck by Rosa, as the parent she has known most of her life, though she displays a petulant attitude. Rosa has continued her hard line against the scattered settlements in the Southwest, fractured by the Civil War. She intends to unite them by force, if necessary, for their own good. Doody told Rosa there would be a price for saving Scout and she has been paying it ever since, as she has sacrificed others and her own soul to free America from Loper and the Legion of man, and reunite and rebuild it. Rosa demonstrates that even the best intentions can corrupt one, where power and influence are involved. reason would not win the day and Rosa became as brutal and devious as her opponents. The ends justify the means. Sadly, this is too often the story of revolutions, as history is framed by the victors and the darker parts are hidden away or erased, justified by the righteousness of the cause, but rarely spoken about. Discussions of the American revolution tend to gloss over the fact that most of the initial violence that led to insurrection was perpetrated by the Patriots, not the British government; and, that the Intolerable Acts, as they were known in the Colonies, were enacted after Patriot violence and defiance of of tax laws, put in place to pay for defending the colonies, during the French & Indian War. It also ignores things like the much of the fighting in the South was between Patriots and Loyalists, rather than Patriots and regular British soldiers. Stories of Banastre Tarlton's alleged orders to murder prisoners (murders carried out by Loyalist militiamen) ignored reprisal murders by Patriot forces.
The ship's captain (never named, just called captain) makes for an interesting character, as she is attracted to Scout and shows him favor, something they haven't had in a long while. It is still relatively soon after the death of Santana's wife; but, he doesn't reject her overtures. It does make for a comical scene when she runs on deck, pulling on her bridgecoat, to hid her nakedness (which Tahzey remarks), when they run into the pirates.
Truman has fun with the pirates, making them into a sort of Mad Max version of traditional buccaneers, complete with eyepatches, cutlasses and modern firearms (well, a WW1 era- Mauser pistol and Lee-Enfield rifle and a Vietnam-era 60 mm mortar, if you want to call that "modern"). He even pulls out a "me hardies" in the dialogue. Shades of Robert Newton! Truman is really in his element, with this kind of stuff, as his work has always mixed pulp sensibilities, pirates, gunslingers and other colorful warriors, with gritty environments, either the city streets of Cynosure or Thanagar or the deserts of the American Southwest or even Tatooine. The Tales of the Apache segment lets him do more painted work, as the illios that accompany the text retelling of the "Slaying of the Monsters," lets him indulge that passion. Truman will continue in this kind of vein, beyond Scout, as he will follow it up with frontier tales of Simon Girty (Wilderness) and Tecumseh (adapting Alan Eckert's novel/bio).
Next: A look at Total Eclipse and how it affected the 4 Winds line of books.
Post by codystarbuck on Mar 24, 2021 17:12:19 GMT -5
Total Eclipse #1-5
Creative Team: Marv Wolfman-writer, Bo Hampton-pencils, Will Blyberg-inks, Bill pearson-letters, Sam Parsons-colors, cat yronwode-editor.
Now, there are additional features in the series and there were inking and other art assists by a host of people, including: Mark Johnson, Rick Bryant, Tom Yeates, Sam dela Rosa, Rome Tanghal, Jim Ritchie, BC Boyer, Trina Robbins, Terry Beatty, Mark Pacella, Larry Marder,. In some case they provide additional inking, in others they handle their own characters. There are also back-up stories handled by other writers and artists, which I will highlight below.
Total Eclipse was a celebration of Eclipse Comics' Tenth Anniversary and in no way was inspired by a similar 50th Anniversary at another company and the fact that Mav Wolfman was writing it was in now way related to crisis on Infinite Earths. Just like in no way was Nosferatu a copy of Bram Stoker's Dracula, with the names changed because the German studio didn't have the rights to film Dracula. Crisis was about the end of the Universe, being brought forth by a powerful being spawned in a cosmic event, while Total Eclipse tells the story of the death of a Universe, brought forth by a being born in an astronomical event. Se, totally unique and original story!
Issue Synopses and commentaries: If you look at Bill Sienkiewicz' cover to issue one, you will notice it features characters only from the 4 Winds books: specifically, Airboy, Strike! and The Prowler. These characters all existed in a shared 4 Winds Universe, though Scout was not a part of that. Truman did not own Airboy and was only producing the material for Eclipse; but, he and John K Snyder III co-owned Prowler and Chuck Dixon & Tom Lyle co-owned Strike! (according to the indicia).
Issue 1 begins at The Big Bang, as the universe is born and evolves, until their is a complete syzygy, create a total eclipse of the universe, during which a child is born.
Achild who would be known as Zzed. Zzed proves to be immortal and lives through the ages and the rise of various civilizations. He grows weary of life and hires assassin after assassin to try to kill him, with no success. he is plagued by dreams and he starts to pay attention to them..
Meanwhile, Strike and Sgt Strike continue their confrontation, from the last page of the Special...
Is Sgt Strike lying to regain the power harness or is it a corrupting influence?
Meanwhile, Scott Kida is in Baltimore and witnesses a group of men, with some high tech equipment attack Black Angel. She defends herself, but Scott, despite a wish to avoid trouble, ends up aiding her. The fight ends up taking out a transformer station and causes a blackout. Dennis, who is working out in a gym, witnesses the blackout and goes to see if there is an opportunity to use his powers and his friend, Bobby, notices changes in dennis and starts to think Sgt Strike is right about the harness.
Down in Georgia, a group of hired mercs demonstrates how immortal ZZed really is...
The mercs sign on to work for Zzed. meanwhile, Dennis intimidates his way past police line and gets involved in Scott's fight with the high tech goons. They succeed in rescuing the woman, who is injured and taken away in an ambulance. The police aren't happy with the vigilantes and tell Dennis to present himself at the station, for questioning. Sgt Strike turns up, sans costume, to try to intercede. The top cop isn't having it. Sgt Strike tries to reason with dennis and tells him he will come begging to him to take the harness.
We cut to Nelson Aviation, where a new fighter system is tested by Davy and Valkyrie, as they link up to F-14 Tomcats, in mid-flight and combine thrust....
...in a whole metaphor that seemed to pass cat by, though maybe not, given her involvement in the underground scene. After the demonstration, Val hits the locker room to shower and meets Black Angel; several of them, who attack her. Davy and Skywold help defeat the false Black Angels, while Zzed and his mercs steal the two prototype aircraft. The Air Fighters give chase, but the jets escape. Meanwhile, Misery observes all and elarns from a dead pilot that Zzed is behind the theft of the planes and seems to oppose Zzzed. Dennis, Sgt Strike and Scott visit the real Black Angel at the hospital. She doesn't know why or by whom she was attacked. the Air fighters turn up and it is Old Home Week for them and Sgt Strike, as well as Davy and Scott. Misery observes and see Tachyon, of the New Wave and the rest, battling giant monster crustaceans. He says they will fail against Zzzed, as will the Air fighters and that he must join with one he would destroy.
The main story is followed by a back-up, with the Prowler, which follows on the heels of the revenge of the Prowler story. Art is by Brent Anderson and Mike Dringenberg. Leo and Scott talk on the phone, aftert the attack on Black Angel. Leo yells at him for leaving and we see he is very ill and he is forced to drink the last of the "Dragon's Blood," an elixir given to him by the "devil doctor." It has kept him alive and there is only one dose, which he was saving for Scott. He starts to drink and is then attacked by an image of himself, from the Prowler movie serial poster. Then, a gorilla with a German steel helmet comes alive and bursts out of the wall (it was a mounted head) and attacks and Leo unloads with a tommy gun. Then, he sees no ape and no prowler, only his shot up apartment. He grabs keys and weapons and goes off to find Scott.
This first issue sets the scene, as Zzed, the immortal born in a universal eclipse, seeks to bring the end of all life, including his, in the recurrence, which is approaching, as he has seen in his dreams. The men who attack Black Angel and the multiple Black Angels who attack Valkyrie disappear, when beaten, suggesting they are linked. All of the 4 Winds characters are brought together, by the end (Leo is on his way) and even Misery is seeking an alliance with an enemy. We learn that the harness is much like the One Ring, with a corrupting influence over the wearer, even as it grants them power. Sgt Strike fought its influence, which suggests part of the reason he defied the government and refused to turn it over to them. It also explains some of Dennis' actions and thinking process, as his reactions have been more and more violent.
Issue #2 Leo arrives in Baltimore and meets with the Air Fighters and the Strikes. Sgt Strike and Skywolf know him, Valkyrie recognizes him from the Prowler movie, before the war. Leo seems to have an idea of what is going on. We see Zzed being manipulated by someone unseen, with access to advanced technology...
Misery continues to watch the New Wave's battle and then sends the Flying Dutchman to go to the Air Fighters and convince them to join sides, against Zzed. In Soho, Zzzed meets someone called Seraph, who goes off with him. Misery gathers the New Wave and transports them through a portal, where they meet the Air Fighters, Prowlers and Strikes, while Dutchman first visits Zzed's cave and gains clues to his designs, then appears and briefs the assembled heroes...
The group goes to stop Zzed from getting his hands on tech from the lab, after Davy and Val pick up the Liberty Project team, from prison. the Heap is transported by Misery to Mexico, to Tenochtitlan, where we see an old Aztec temple and the ruined altar at the top. The heroes fail to stop Zzed and we cut to the year 1518, as Aztec Ace visits and sees a large jewel being prepared to be placed on top of a temple. It was never there before and the time traveler senses a temporal glitch and returns to his time machine, stopping at focal points, where he finds other historical anomalies, including Ben Franklin electrocuted during his kite experiment. Meanwhile, Zzed sleeps, while his lieutenant is revealed to be acting for the manipulators and a fire appears suddenly before Miracleman, on Mt Olympus.
The back-up tale, from Doug Moench and Tim Sale, features Aztec Ace and his story, as he investigates the time anomalies and discovers alternate timelines creating new layer son reality, basically adding new worlds at each temporal juncture, rather than the 5 Worlds that Aztec Ace knew.
The 4 Winds characters are joined by the Eclipse superheroes, New Wave and the Liberty Project. New Wave helped launch Airboy, with the Heap preview, which led to the Airboy preview and the series. However, it never really caught on, though there was some nice art from Lee Weeks and Ty Templeton, as well as scripts from Mindy Newell. Liberty Project was from Kurt Busiek and James Fry, featuring former supervillains forced to work for the government, which sounds like Suicide Squad, which beat it to the punch. This bunch was more like super-juvenile delinquents, rather than outright villains, so there was a teen Titan element to it, too. It never really caught on, but was good while it lasted. These guys are basically here to help mark the various characters seen in eclipse's 10 years, just as the time travelling Aztec Ace is brought in, as well as Miracleman. Ironically, Miracleman still hadn't completed the Olympus storyline, due to John Totleben's vision issues and Alan Moore's issues with cat yronwode. It would soon reach its climax and then the issue #16 wrap-up, though that was a bit later.
Issue 3 sees Miracleman investigate the fires and the surrounding confines of London, where he battles a dinosaur...
The stolen linked jets are used to launch satellites, while we see the stolen Aztec gem in place elsewhere. We also learn that the force manipulating Zzed is Nine Crocodile, the enemy of Aztec Ace.
Aztec Ace battles Nine crocodiles army, but has to retreat. The Air Fighters lick their wounds and Skywolf has been badly injured. prowler makes them face the fact they must ally with Misery. He sends the rest off to Mexico, while he takes Skywolf through a portal to the Airtomb, for Misery to heal Skywolf. There, we learn that Cocky, Judge and turtle made a deal with Misery to return Skywolf to life, after they were attacked over the Sea of Japan.
Aztec Ace stops at Beanworld and recruits Beanish to aid in the fight. Zzed's orbital weapons have destroyed asteroids and then affected the sun. Down in Mexico, his men have assembled the jewel atop the Aztec temple. The forces unleashed by the eclipsed sun are headed towards earth and when they hit the jewel, it will unleash a destructive force that will destroy the earth and Zzed, as well as the entire universe. Aztec Ace visits the other alternate timelines and recruits destroyer Duck, Miracleman and the Black Terror (who hadn't yet appeared in his own mini-series, making this his debut). The Liberty Project link up with Lupina, in Mexico, and we see people react to the eclipse, including The Masked Man, the California Girls, Ms Tree and Mr Monster. The groups all converge on Mexico as the energy strikes the lens, but tachyon, of the New wave intercepts the beam and it passes through him first, and he disappears, before it strikes Zzed, who survives and begins to change.
The back-up story features Tachyon, who is returned to his homeworld, a place he was cast out of, after his third eye was blinded by a shard, in combat, in a story by Steve Gerber and art by Cynthia Martin. This was supposed to lead to a new mini-series, but it never materialized. Liberty Project and the gang had their side story told in Total Eclipse: the Seraphim Objective, which wrapped up the threads from their series and their use here.
Issue 4 sees Zzed reborn, no longer immortal or destructive, but rechristened Dr Eclipse (terrible name, suggested by Beanish). They go to stop the satellites from destroying the Earth and realize that nine Crocodile is trying to destroy all time lines, except his own. the heroes are unable to battle through; but, they create enough problems for Croc that he makes a new allaiance with Misery, who was dissatisfied with his partners' rejection of his plans and was inevitable, because he is evil. They form a new alliance. Dennis gives up the harness, after nearly letting Scott plummet to his death. The New Wave learn Tachyon is alive and back at his home, where he was rejected again by his wife.
Back-up is Miracleman, from Neil Gaiman and Mark Buckingham, featuring Jason Oakey, the young boy who met Miracleman one day, before Bates was freed again. he was supposed to go to London, to meet a friend named Gary, but was sent off with his sister to stay with aunts, at the seaside. He hated that summer; bt it kept him from being in London, when Bates was unleashed and slaughtered the multitudes of London, before Miracleman forced him to shift bodies and crushed the human Johnny Bates' head. Jason saw the Kubrick documentary of the battle and the destruction after, including a figure impaled on a church steeple, who would make a howling noise as the wind blew through his body. it was Gary. Jason carried a survivor's guilt, but recognizes the miracle that saved him and the miracles of the world, since the coming of the Miracleman.
The main story is a mess and is coming apart, as Marv tries to duplicate the shift in Crisis, when Spectre saves the remaining world, fusing it into one, just before the final battle with the Anti-Monitor. Zzed is now acting to stop the destruction, having been turned into some kind of enlightened figure. Nine Crocodile and Misery join forces, with croc making a gift of Amelia Earhart. The only real saving grace to the book is the Miracleman back-up, which was Gaiman's debut on the character. It was later used in Miracleman Apocrypha, to a wider audience, but its presence here makes this the most valuable issue in the series, especially in the newsstand version, which is rarer, since it wasn't as widely distributed as the Direct Market version.
The back-up is inserted into the middle and the story resumes the battle against Nine crocodile, as Misery lures the heroes into an ambush. Dennis dies defeating an energy weapon and Sgt Strike vows to make them pay.
Issue 5 is the finale, with lots of fighting enemy grunts and wonder machines, double-crosses between Misery and Nine Crocodile and facing the death of Strike. The heroes win, of course, and the status quo returns. the back-up story is the epilogue, as Prowler takes the harness for safekeeping and Scoot ends up going off with him, even though he is at odds with leo's outlook. Sgt Strike is disgusted with the world, as nothing has seemed to have changed and he abandons his costume and weapons in a dumpster, after everyone leaves. The Air Fighters go off for a wake, after first meeting Bobby, who sneaks into Nelson Aviation, looking for answers to what has been going on. Skywolf takes him to tell Dennis' mother of his death. We end with his funeral and Sgt Strike, in civies, leaves the funeral and meets up with a young woman, who offers him a lifet and he sees that there may be some bright things in the modern world.
Thoughts: I bought and read this, at the time, and it starts find, then gets overly convoluted and kind of goes off the rails and ends up back where we started, except Strike is dead and Sgt Strike goes off to find a purpose in a world he left behind 30+ years ago. It doesn't really establish a new direction for Eclipse and isn't exactly a great celebration of their history,e xcept for a few cameos from those who were willing to let their characters appear; but not some key ones, like Mark Evanier & Will Meugniot's DNAgents, Crossfire, the Rocketeer or Coyote. Essentially, it is primarily the characters Eclipse owns or were currently publishing, with a few cameos tossed in. The story beats mimic Crisis, which is part of why this was dismissed in the fan press, at the time, as everything about it said "knockoff," right down to getting Marv Wolfman to ape his own story. Wolfman does try to match the tone of other writers, with their characters, mimicking Doug Moench on Aztec Ace and a poor attempt at Alan Moore (imagine the average John Wayne impression and you get the idea). The back-up pieces are the few really interesting elements.
This did prove to alter the course of eclipse; but, not in the way Crisis altered DC. Eclipse spent a lot of money on this and it didn't really pay off. That wasn't money they could easily toss around. The series was done in Prestige Format (aka Dark Knight Format), with square binding and cardstock covers. Marv Wolfman likely didn't come cheap (not after Crisis and New Teen Titans), though Bo Hampton had done several projects for Eclipse, including Lost Planet, Luger, and issues of Airboy. Eclipse also marketed this heavily and tried a newsstand version, which means higher print runs. Comico tried this, too, and both failed to penetrate the newsstand market, which wasn't really open to new comics and was steadily shrinking for DC and Marvel. The cash outflow did not create a cash inflow and didn't do anything to improve Eclipse's financial health. Following this, eclipse ecomes more and more erratic in their publishing, with longer delays between issues and fewer books, as a whole. They would steadily decline in the 90s, until they were bankrupt, by the middle of the decade.
None of this had any real bearing on the 4 Winds titles, except it wrapped up the threads from Strike!, providing an ending for that series. It was supposed to provide a new direction for new Wave, but even Eclipse realized the market didn't care. The one superhero they had that sold was Miracleman and that was because of Alan Moore, who was ending his run on it, handing it over to new superstar Neil Gaiman. Gaiman got some more mileage out of it, until he stopped working because Eclipse hadn't paid for work turned in, stopping the book cold, at the early stages of The Silver Age (which still hasn't been continued, despite various promises from Marvel for the last nearly 8 years.
First comics also tried a big crossover, with Crossroads; but, kept it contained to a stream of specific characters, who met characters from other books, linking to the next title, rather than some grand epic throwing everyone in. It didn't set the world on fire and Total Eclipse was a failure. Other companies would travel the same road with mixed results. Unity did good business for Valiant, but led to Shooter being pushed out. Deathmate, the crossover between Image and Valiant was a fiasco, due to unprofessionalism on the part of the Image camp, who failed to meet deadlines and had to be forced to accomplish the work promised. Malibu and Dark Horse tried a linked universe series of superhero titles, with minimal success. In the end, only DC and Marvel could really afford to do these stunts and make money with them; or, at least break even.
Post by codystarbuck on Mar 25, 2021 23:52:25 GMT -5
Davy & Les appear to be firing some pretty wonky AK-47s, but Agha Babrak is using a German Mg-42, from WW2. I supposed it isn't too far-fetched, as the Germans continued to use it in the Bundeswehr and there were plenty manufactured that could have made it onto the international arms market. Would have looked a little more credible if it was a Soviet RPD light machine gun. Variety, I guess, or Stan just likes drawing the German weapon.
Creative Team: Chuck Dixon-writer, Stan Woch-pencils, Ricardo Villagran-inks, Tim Harkins-letters, Olyoptics-colors, cat yronwode-editor
Also from Eclipse: Airboy vs the Air Maidens #1, Area 88 #28 & 29, Fast Fiction: She, Fusion #10, Legend of Kamui #28 & 29, Mai the Psychic Girl #28 (last issue), Merchants of Death #1, Miracleman Book 1 TPB, New York Year Zero #1, Scout: War Shaman #4, Valkyrie (Vol 2) #1, Xenon #15 & 16, Zorro TPB Vol 2. Merchants of Death and New York: Year zero both feature work from some of Jorge Zaffino & Ricardo Villagran's studiomates, in Argentina, as well as one or two Alex Toth Bravo for Adventure stories. Fast Fiction: She, is a reprint of a Golden Age comic adaptation of the H Rider Hagagrd novel, She, featuring the immortal Ayesha, his other big character, aside from Allen Quatermain (the pair teamed up, even). Mai the Psychic Girl ends her series, while Area 88, Legend of Kamui and Xenon continue. Legend of Kamui came to a story conclusion for the story they were adapting; but, there was more Japanese material available. However, Eclipse and Studio Proteus got into a legal battle over monies owed and SP broke off the relationship and continued independently as Viz (they were already using the name, with Eclipse). Zorro was the conclusion of the Alex Toth stories for Western/Dell (later reprinted for Western/Gold Key), which are fantastic. Miracleman is the first trade of Book 1, with the return of Miracleman and Johnny Bates. Others would follow, collecting each volume, up through and including The Golden Age. Last I heard, those were very pricey, unless they cooled off after the Marvel reprints (and a quick peak at Mile high's website suggests that is not the case with 3 of the 4 averaging $250 NM and Vol 3, Olympus, going for $750 NM!!). Meanwhile, Tom Lyle had just started working on Starman, at DC, with the second issue on the stands at the same time as this issue. The third issue of Skywolf was still to be released; but, I believe he had finished that material before starting work at DC. By the by, The Rocketeer Adventure Magazine's first issue came out from comico, this month, making it the first new story since the Eclipse special (aside from the additional material in the graphic novel). That would be a long wait for all three issues, crossing Comico's bankruptcy, Stevens' speed of producing the work (and the movie slow down) and finishing at Dark Horse.
Synopsis: Davy & Les Mansfield are in Afghanistan, following the trail of their rocket launchers from Otar. They just met up with the leader of a mujahideen group, who is a pint sized kid. Now, back to the action, as Steelfox kicks things off. He sees Davy's presence (from surveillance photos) as a chance to get revenge on Valkyrie, after his public humiliation, in her mini-series. He gives orders to crush the Tiger of the Kush (more of a Tiger Cub of the Kush) and take the foreign adventurers alive...
Davy and Les have dinner with the Tiger, who says his father was a businessman who supported the mujahideen and was killed and he had been a courier between groups and the city. They took him in and safeguarded him and he helped plan campaigns, based on experience at the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst, to which I cry shenanigans. You have to have had your GCSEs, which is given at age 15-16, or come from a university and this kid doesn't look older than 10 or 11, unless he has stunted growth. I think Chuck had Sandhurst and Eton mixed up. Dialogue between Les and Davy confirms the kid is a pre-teen.
Davy & Les carry out a philosophical discussion about Davy's wish that Nelson Aviation only sell arms to "the good guys" and Les illustrates how difficult it really is to prevent resale to someone less respectable.
Les also brings up that Davy didn't want the rockets to get into the hands of the PLO, but pointed out that Israeli actions, at that point in time, had some world opinions backing the PLO as the aggrieved party; so, the "good guys" depended very much on a point of view and politics. Davy concedes the point and just says he doesn't want them used against innocents.
At sunrise, the camp finds itself under attack by the Soviet Hind gunships, which carry Soviet troops, while the Afghan soldiers travel in a vehicle column, to reinforce after the Soviets have hit the camp.
The Hinds fire anti-tank rockets and missiles into the caves, where the group hides. Davy & Les run and join the defensive forces and use the Catspaw launchers and take out a gunship. They tell the fighters to grab more and aim for the helicopters, showing them how to aim and fire the weapon. Steelfox spots Davy and orders his men to take him alive. The fighters spot the ground forces advancing and return fire, then spot the helos coming in for another pass. Davy suggests they find a back way out. A gunship lands and offloads its squad, but they do not progress fast enough and Steelfox yells at their leader, then shoots him dead and assumes direct command.
Davy convinces the Tiger to hit the bricks and Agha provides cover for their withdrawal, dying in the fighting. Steelf ox presses his men forward. The Tiger and Davy & Les escape through the cave network, which taes back to the time of Alexander, as the Tiger remarks ont he foreign invaders who have come and gone in Afgghanistan. Well, some things never change.
Steelfox orders troops to search the surrounding hills for the outlet of the tunnels, to block the escape, while they pursue inside. Davy and the Tiger reach the exit and run into ground troops. Tiger directs a defense and orders his men to target the Soviet troops first, as the Afghans will fold without their leadership. A grenade is tossed in and Les dives for it and it explodes, leaving only Les now-revealed prosthetic arm behind.
A gunship swoops in to provide air support fro the ground troops and Davy & the Tiger are ordered to surrender, via the PA. They raise their hands and the Soviets gather their prisoners. Steelfox takes charge and manhandles the Tiger, dismissively, angering Davy, who Steelfox backhands into unconsciousness. They are taken away, but we get a peak that Les is still alive.
Back-up story is a Hillman reprint of Davy and Valkyrie, from Air Fighters Comics Vol2, No 2 (issue #14), from 1943. Art is by Fred Kida...
A squadron of BF-109s attacks Britain and is met by RAF Spitfires, but the Germans outfly the defenders and inflict damage. There are no signs of bombers, though. The German squadron lands at their base, in Occupied Europe and are revealed to be Valkyrie and her Air Maidens...
They do a bit of strutting about German superiority and Airboy swoops in, via Birdie and gives them a .50 cal middle finger from the US of A!
Valkyrie takes to the air, after faking out Airboy and they engage in a dogfight and Airboy gets above the plane and latches on. He then climbs out to open the cockpit and finds a girtl!
She pistol whips him for being a male chauvinist and Davy sees the rest of the squadron in the air, but won't shoot a woman, so he is taken prisoner, like a chump. He's hauled off the the "cooler" and, this being a pre-Code book, gets a whipping, from Valkyrie...
I wonder if this is when Davy fell in love with Valkyrie? If so....kinky!
Some of the Air Maidens are a bit squeamish and help Davy to escape. Yeah, go visit Dachau, why don't you. The commandant is awakened with news of the escape and reports of the Air Maidens moving through the base. He has them arrested and even Val is POed at them. They are taken away, but Val wants to save her squadron and searches for Airboy, based on where she thinks the others would hide him. She finds him and tries to convince him to help her fly Birdie to save her wingmates from the whip. Davy isn't buying it until she tries some sweet loving....
Valkyrie puts the moves on the oberst and gives him Airboy's hiding place, in exchange for freeing the Air Maidens. He sends in troops and then reneges on the deal. Valkyrie shoots him in the back and turns babyface, stealing Birdie to rescue Davy from a firing squad and the Air Maidens from the whipping post.
She unloads Birdies guns on the firing squad and lands and frees Davy and the girls. They then jump into their 109s and taxi them to bring guns to bear on the soldiers and let loose with their cannons. They then tak off and have to fight off a pursuit squadron, which they defeat with Airboy's help. Valkyrie is with Davy, in Birdie and gives him some more sweet loving, as they fly across the Channel. Teutonic Hussey!
Thoughts: The adventure in Afghanistan continues to be both timely (then) and exciting, while it also presents Davy's dilemma, if he wants to keep Nelson Aviation in the arms game. No matter what, they are making weapons; and, at some point, the wrong people will end up with them. They only sure way is to get out of the arms trade. I suspect that is where cat wanted this to go; but, probably not Chuck and Tim, as there has to be conflict. That said, Nelson Aviation could move more into commercial aviation and related manufacturing (which they already do, in part) and Davy could still come into conflicts, via his international business. It worked for Modesty Blaise, for decades, as she was retired from crime before her first adventure.
Chuck screwed up with Khalil, the tiger of the Kush, by making him too young. It made for a shocking revelation; but, it is too much to buy into and he couldn't have attended Sandhurst, yet. It's also a bit far-fetched, in that culture, for men to take orders from a boy. It might be a bit more plausible if he was 15 or 16 and had been about to attend Sandhurst, when the invasion came. Otherwise, he fits into a fine literary tradition of the heroic boy in an adventure story, like Jim Hawkins, in Treasure Island or Johnny Tremain or any number of heroes from Boys Own.
Stan is doing a great job with the action and the quiet moments and that splash page of the Soviets loading into the Hinds reminds me a lot of his mentor, Joe Kubert (he's another Kubert student, as well as the Pratt Institute).
The Hillman Airboy story is fairly typical of the period and is one of the really classic Airboy stories, introducing Valkyrie. Eclipse had reprinted some of these, in color, in association with Ken Pierce, who was doing reprints of Golden Age comics and British newspaper strips, including Modesty Blaise. Kida was fantastic on these. Hillman was less restrained than DC, so their stories could get a bit grisly, with the whipping and the bloodshed, though not as bad as Lev Gleason or Fiction House, who were noted for violence and copious amounts of bondage and sadistic imagery. Hillman didn't shy away from that either.
I like the reprints far more than the mediocre Heap stories; and, if I can't have Skywolf, I'll take this in a heartbeat. At the same time, eclipse was reprinting the early Air Fighters issues, in black & white, which included the adventures of the other folks, like Skywolf, Black Angel and Iron Knight, as well as The Flying Dutchman, before Misery got his bony fingers on him. I assume Chuck intends to tell that story soon, as I know Valkyrie's tale of falling under Misery's spell is coming up; but, it has been long enough I can't recall if Dutchman is covered in that.
The back cover is another anniversary image, with international characters, including Laser Eraser and Pressbutton, the Miracleman Family, Powerbolt (aka Power Man, the Nigerian hero, drawn by Dave Gibbons) and some of the manga heroes they published...
I don't have many visual sources for this one; but, picture a lot of women in skimpy outfits and guns and then their normal gear and guns and you pretty well have it.
Synopsis: On a privately owned island, an hour's flight from the North African coast, a Lebanese criminal, Nicodemus Alladad...
trafficker in heroin and human beings, has a private fortress. he is celebrating his birthday, which includes a special present of three women, who put on stripper outfits and then go out on stage and pull out Mac-10 Ingrams and shoot up the place, killing said criminal and the party goers.
The women are Valkyrie, Black Angel and Lupina. They have the element of surprise, which makes up for using short range weapons with limited accuracy and moving quickly in high heels. The bodyguards can't hit the broad side of a barn and the ladies emerge unscathed, chasing after survivors and even the outside sentries abandon their posts. The women wait by the shore and a helicopter eventually arrives, carrying one Rudolpho Falcone,, who has one of his men give clothes to the women, who stand there in a daze. Turns out, he lured Valkyrie to Europe for a fashion shoot, she brought Marissa (Lupina) and Holly (Black Angel) and he fed them drugs that make them highly suggestable. he then sent them to kill Alladad, who wouldn't fear women. He gives them orders to remain and ambush Alladad's allies, who will come and also orders that they continue to regularly consume wine, which carries the drug that controls them.
Later, Airboy & Marlene are flying in Birdie. Davy came to Paris and found Val gone (not seen, but covered in an exposition dump, by Marlene) and she and Davy head to the island, after Davy roughed up a fashion designer, who helped set her up. They spot a pair of boats off the shore of the island, who turn searchlights on them and open fire. Davy flies over and heads for the island and lands near the fortress and gets out with his trusty M-60. Marlene follows and they then find a trail fo dead bodies. Someone shoots at them and Davy tries to maneuver around to return fire and runs into Black Angel, who tries to kick and punch him and he is forced to take her down and knock her cold. then Val turns up and smooth talks Davy and then gets a rifle but to the head from Marissa. Marlene is left alone and finds the drugged champagne and drinks it. later, Davy is sitting in a cell, bound to a chair and Marissa turns up and swaps spit with Davy. Val turns up and decks her, calling her a slut and Davy is confused. Val slaps Davy around a bit and then sees the ring that belonged to Davy Sr, that he had intended to give to Val when he planned to ask her to marry him. Davy Jr has kept it and it breaks the spell over Valkyrie. She frees Davy and they go and colelct the others and snap them out of it. They fight off Alladad's comrades, the women firing on the ground, while Davy provides air support. They then go hunting for Falcone, while Davy takes Marlene back to London. They catch up with Falcone in Tunisia, in the desert, selling explosives to a terrorist. Val takes him out with one shot from a German G-3 rifle, with a telescopic sight, ending the story.
Thoughts: This reads like a bad 1970s exploitation film, ala The Doll Squad (which is actually a pretty good movie, in a trashy, cheesy sort of way), with girls in frillies firing machine guns. There are big gaps in the narrative that require exposition dumps, which suggests that there was a communication problem between Chuck and Enrique Villagran, starting with a language barrier (he is one of the Argentinians working with the 4 Winds group). Val and the other ladies seem to have come under Falcone's control rather easily, with a miracle drug that makes them do things against their nature. Like I said, exploitation film plotting. Chuck is usually better than this; but, both Air Maidens specials have been weaker than the other spin-offs, even compared to the Valkyrie mini-series. This is obviously pandering to the market; but, they weren't biting; so it seems more pathetic. Even in my younger days (I was in my early 20s when I read this), I didn't think much of it and time hasn't improved my view.
Villagran's art is fine, though his idea of Arabs is pretty stereotyped, as are his stagings of the action. Might have been better if it had been Ricardo Villagran.
This is the last spin-off title, aside from the second Valkyrie mini-series, which I will cover in a couple of postings. Not much else really worth discussing here. If you are a completist, don't pay too much for this; otherwise, it is available in Vol 5 of the Airboy Archives, which includes issues 41-50 of Airboy, the second Valkyrie mini, this and an unpublished Skywolf story.
Post by codystarbuck on Mar 28, 2021 21:08:09 GMT -5
Scout: War Shaman #4
Creative Team: Tim Truman-story & art, riverboat maintenance, Tim Harkins-letters and pirate repulsion, Sam Parson-colors & deck fixtures, cat yronwode-editor & boiler stoker
Synopsis: Scout, Tahzey and Victor are passengers on the Empress Jones, a riverboat under siege by pirates, one of whom looks rather like Dave Hill, of Slade, in the 80s...
(that's Dave in the top hat and black coat)
The pirates are a-boardin this-here vessel and scarin the wee little lubbers....
...until Poppa Santana gives a pirate a rifle butt to the face and shoves the business end under his jaw and tells Yuma to back off. Yuma demonstrates his own marksmanship by shooting the captured pirate in the head and then sheds a few tears for him. Captain Mary gives in and takes the pirates to the hold and we learn that the Doodyists were in cahoots with the scurvy dogs...
They made a bargain with Yuma to intercept the weapons and keep them out of the hands of the Army, who are threatening their settlement. Yuma appears to be double-crossing the brethren. Meanhwile, Rosa continues to make a show of force outside the settlement, but won't attack until she has her arms shipment, as she doesn't have enough fuel and ammo to both take the town and hold it against a counter-attack.
The pirates let the bulk of the passengers go, after stripping them of their possessions. The Doodyists are tied to stakes at the waterline and Captain Mary and Scout are held at other stakes. Tahzey and Victor are taken off in leashes, their father figuring that he is marked as a dead man, after some fun. captain Mary makes threats about the boys being harmed and Yuma rips off her hoop earring to make a counter-argument. Scout is forced to fight one of the pirates and he doesn't bother with Marques of Queensbury rules, since Bulto, the pirate, has a flame thrower. he avoids a bust of flame and hits Bulto in the goolies, then applies a leglock and goes for the throat; but, Bulto isn't out for the count yet. He lifts Scout up in a gorilla slam and Santana grabs the feed line for flame thrower's fuel tank and rips it off, dousing Bulto and then shoving the burner against it, setting him on fire. Bulto runs off screaming smack into the ammunition crates, setting off an explosion. In the chaos, Scout decks Yuma and frees Mary, who gives Yuma a few shots, herself. Santana gets the drop on Yuma, but two of his men take aim. Yuma seems to be in the driver's seat, until the cavalry arrives, from an unlikely source...
Yuma withdraws to fight another day and Mary goes to meet with the soldiers. Scout frees the Doodyists. In the morning, they art company with Mary and turn to head East. Padre Breccia, leader of the Doodyists, tells Scout that those weapons were headed to Rosa Winter, to destroy his people and moves off.
Tales of the Apache continues the story of White-Painted-Woman and the birth of Child-Of-Water, who will slay the Four Monsters. She protects her child from Owl-Man-Giant, until he can grow old enough to use a bow. The story concludes with the young boy demonstrating his power and preparing to fight Owl-Man-Giant.
Thoughts: The letters page contains praise from letterhacks TM Maple and Malcolm Bourne, who both like the different feel of the series, compared to the original, as an evolution, rather than some commercial stunt. I agree. This issue gets kind of nasty; but, a pulp tale of pirates, in a post-apocalyptic alternative future isn't likely to be a quiet thing. This is very Mad Max and Yuma comes across much like The Toecutter, in the original film, both menacing and oddly emotional. His band of pirates are very much like the motorcycle gang that kills Max's family and who are then hunted by him, inn revenge. Only one missing is an analog to Johnny the Boy (and Bubba Zanetti). Same kind of psychotic violence, same kind of bizarre behavior. There are also elements of John Carpenter's Escape From New York, as the fight between Scout and Bulto is very similar to that of Snake Plissken and Slag (pro wrestler Ox Baker), in the latter part of that film. Not direct copies; but a lot of similar elements.
The presence of Tahzey and Victor greatly changes how Santana handles these situations, as he has to safeguard his sons, which hampers his ability to fight back, though makes his resolve to fight that much stronger. The Doodyists make him uncomfortable, as he is reminded of the truth of their gospel, that Doody did lead a takeover of the missile base, at Mt Fire and nearly caused a nuclear event, dying in the explosion of a missile that he launched. He also know that Doody had a paranormal ability and did save him from death. He sees that the fanaticism of his followers is a dangerous thing, making them likely to die as martyrs, regardless of who dies with them. He wants his sons as far away from them as possible; but, at the same time, he sees he has created a situation that brings potential destruction on the settlement and he still has his honor about such things.
Tim is at his best with these kinds of gritty fights, as pulp pirates are a favorite of his. He adds all kinds of flamboyant touches, like "coolie hats", pieces of armor, leather jackets with elbow pads, swords and firearms, face paint, scars, tattoos and other decorations. He started this kind of thing in Grimjack and goes to town here, too.
Rosa continues to be a hovering menace, orbiting Scout's world. Obviously, Truman is going to bring the two of them together; question is, when?
The Tales of the Apache illustrated pieces continue to showcase Truman's painted art, while presenting the Apache legends in a fashion similar to oral tellings of the stories. It reads rather like he was sitting by a bonfire, jotting down the words of a speaker, as he relates the story to the gathered tribe. Truman's respect to Native American traditions and cultures is a high watermark of the series and comics and does much to set it apart from things like Red Wolf and Tonto and other stereotypes seen in comics and other media. Truman crafts a new tale; but, he steeps it in real history and culture, which gives it great depth.
Almost forgot, Padre breccia is a nod to Argentinian artist Alberto Breccia, who worked on such classics as Mort Cinder, Ernie Pike and the revised Eternaut, with Hector Oesterheld. Oesterheld also produced a graphic novel biography of Che Guevera and his politics got him in trouble with the military government, who banned the Guevera book and attacked him for a critical biography of Evita & Juan Peron. He disappeared in 1976 and was believed to have been murdered by the Junta, in 1978. His 4 daughters were also arrested and never seen again, along with thousands of other desparecidos (The Disappeared).
Post by codystarbuck on Mar 29, 2021 21:39:39 GMT -5
I'm gonna break my unspoken rule of following the release schedule, as Skywolf #3 was waaaaaaaay late and I wanna wrap up the Airboy spinoffs, as we are nearing the end of the series. I am also going to cover the second Valyrie mini in one post, as I don't have much visual reference for it and it wasn't at the level of the first one. too much of a good thing and all that.
Creative Team: Chuck Dixon-writer, Tom Lyle-pencils, Ricardo Villagran-inks, Mindy Eisman-letters, Sam & Sally Parsons-colors, cat yronwode-editor
Synopsis: When we left them, Sky Wolf and Baron Von Tundra were forced to put aside the death battle to fight the attacking Viet Minh, as they make an all-out assault on their defensive position. One of the enemy soldiers is about to stick a bayonet into the down Skywolf, when Jack Gatling opens up with a BAR. He gets to Skywolf and helps him up, as they retreat to a better position....
Sky, Jack and the Legion abandon Eliane 2 and make it to safety, as the Legionnaires detonate the munitions stored under it, destroying the Viet Minh who have over-run it. Von Tundra is still alive and once again tells Skwolf that they are alike, which ticks off Sky to no end and Von Tundra tells him to either kill him or move on. Sky moves on, because, deep down, he knows they both are addicted to combat and survival. Sky and Jack go into the command bunker and hear Col Breton's request for artillery brushed aside and see that there is no hope, as they are ordered to stand and fight. he is also ordered to destroy the radio, so it doesn't fall into enemy hands. Then, the Viet Minh come across the radio telling them they have a song from Uncle Ho and the Col does not react well to it...
It is "Chant des Partisans,"a Resistance song, from WW2. Sky and Jack go off to get some chow and hear the dark jokes of the Legionnaires, as they face death. Sky goes off on Jack for getting him into this mess and storms off. Jack tells one of the Legionnaires that he has a point.
Outside, Sky and other hear the sound of digging,a s the Viet Minh have resorted to trench warfare, digging approach trenches to attack the French positions. next, a barrage of artillery rockets hit the command bunker and destroy it, knocking Skywolf to the ground. When he recovers, he runs inside and finds Jack dead. Von tundra tells him they called the Stalin's Organs, on the Eastern Front. He speaks of the Battle of Kursk and tosses Sky an MAT-49 submachine gun, as they prepare for the infantry assault that is sure to come. It comes and they are situated on the high ground, with the surrounding mud slowing the Viet Minh. They fire until they are out of ammo and Skywolf uses his empty weapon to beat an enemy soldier and take his Russian Ppsh-41 burp gun away and starts firing with it, for Jack and everyone else.
The Viet Minh outflank the defenders and cross the wire and Von Tundra fights, singing "Ich Hab' Mich Ergeben," a German patriotic song, by Hans Ferdinand Massman, written in 1820.
When he runs out of ammo, he pulls the pin from a grenade and holds on to it. After the explosion, we see his prosthetic arm fall to the ground. Sky keeps fighting; but, a pistol shot takes him down, seemingly forever. The next morning, he is awakened to find a bayonet about to stick him, when he yells his surrender. He is forced to his feet and marched to where other prisoners are gathered. An Aussie tells him that they are separating them in groups of 50 and some of the wounded have already been packed off. The men ar force marched and made to act as bearers for the supplies. Sky talks to the Aussie and incurs the wrath of a guard, who slams his weapon into his gut. the Aussie tries to protect him and is shot dead. Sky gets to his feet and continues marching. For 20 days they are marched, with a bit of rice once a day and some peanuts every 10 days. Stragglers fall and are left to die. Sky starts to hallucinate his dead comrades urging him forward, until he arrives at a "reprisal camp," after 29 days. Over time, he is beaten and indoctrinated, but he refuses to join the Communists. He is told he will die; but he is still alive after 72 days in captivity. Finally, a peace accord is signed and Sky and the others are evacuated by the Red Cross. He says he will be back.
Chuck notes that more French forces died on the forced marches after Dien Bien Phu than during the battles of the war. 30 days after the armistice, the US government sent its first military advisors (well, overtly) to Saigon to aid the Republic of Vietnam.
Thoughts: Pretty much the ending you would expect, as the French are overwhelmed and Dien Bien Phu falls, but as Von Tundra says, Sky is a survivor. Jack Gatling, the Bald eagle, is dead, as is Skywolf's arch nemesis, Baron Von tundra, who first appeared in Air Fighters Comics #2, in Skywolf's debut story.
On May 1, 1954, the Viet Minh launched an all-out attack on Eliane 2, after a barrage from Katyusha artillery rockets ("Stalin 's Organs"). The French fought the first wave off with accurate artillery; but, later in the night, the Viet Minh detonated a mine under the French position, which devastated the position. The last radio transmission said they were about to destroy everything and "Vive La France!" An attempted breakout succeeded in getting through the lines; but not out of the valley. The Viet Minh captured over 11,000 prisoners, over a third of which were wounded. They were separated into groups and force marched over 600 km, to detention camps. Peace talks began in Geneva the day after the battle and concluded in July, with the partitioning of the country into North and South Vietnam (officially, the Democratic Republic of Vietnam and The Republic of Vietnam, respectively). French and French colonial prisoners (North Africans and other French colonies, aside from the Vietnamese who fought for France) were repatriated, but a large number did not survive the death macrhes and disease in the camps. France would face another insurrection in Algeria, almost immediately, as revolutionaries, emboldened by the French defeat at Dien Bien Phu, went into open revolt in November, 1954, launching attacks throughout the country on November 1, on a day known as Toussaint Rouge, (Red All-Saint's Day). The National Liberation Front launched a bombing campaign in the city of Algiers, which led to occupation by the 10th Parachute Regiment, who carried out a counter-terrorism campaign that was noted for torture and brutality, but proved effective. Many veterans of Indochina served in Regiment. Some of this is dramatized in the Film "Lost Command," starring Anthony Quinn and Alain Delon. The battle between the FLN and the 10th Parachute Regiment was dramatized in Costa Gravas' "The Battle of Algiers."
Tom Lyle's pencils look sketchy in some parts, which makes me wonder if he didn't do more breakdowns on this issue, as he was working at DC, though he could have turned in the art sooner, given Eclipse's printing problems (not sure if they were as severe, yet). The emotion and drama are well captured, plus the futility of the fighting, most emphasized in the scenes in the command bunker, as a soldier destroys a cake to demonstrate the point that they were just bait to draw out the Viet Minh, to destroy them, but the high command had vastly under-estimated the strength of the enemy, as well as their fighting ability.
This is pretty much it for Skywolf, other than one more back-up story, in Airboy. Airboy, itself, only had a few more issues to go, though stretched over a year, as there were big gaps between issues 48 and 49 and 49 and 50. each taking 4 months to appear after the previous one.
I'm kind of sad to let Skywolf go, again, as I was back in the day. chuck did some fine writing in these and explored a lot of history that was barely known to many Americans, even outside of comics. In the late 1980s, the only discussion of Korea was in reruns of MASH, which was never really about the Korean War, but about Vietnam and the general stupidity of war. Vietnam was just beginning to be a topic of conversation, with much revision of how the war was lost, politically and militarily, and more veterans sharing their experiences. You had to be a real history buff to explore the Chinese Civil War, the US Occupation of Japan, the actual fighting in Korea, the days of Pancho Villa, French Indochina, the Middle East of the early 1950s and the post-WW2 America, through less nostalgic eyes. The closest thing to follow on these heels was Howard Chaykin and David Tischman's American Century, at DC, as well as Martin Pasko's short-lived follow up to Howard Chaykin's Blackhawk mini-series and Mike Grell's Blackhawk story, in Action Comics Weekly (which put them into a Steve Canyon-style story, which set up how Pasko approached the series, mixing both takes on the characters).
Synopsis: Issue #1-Val is in New York, doing some modeling work and runs into an old friend, Dana Oliver, a former model, who is returning to work after a bad marriage. After a few days, Val is unable to get ahold of Dana and starts checking around, which leads her to another talent agency, where she had an appointment. A sign saying "No Auditions Today" has her suspicious and she barges in and finds an earring that belonged to Dana. She overhears someone on the phone and then interrupts him, then kicks the crap out of him and two goons who come when he sets off an alarm. She finds out her friend is the victim of what was once known as "white slavery," but today is called the more accurate "human trafficking." She is on a ship bound for Macao, which will stop in Urugruay, to take on cargo. Val jets down there and infiltrates the ship and locates a cell with Dana and other women. She is interrupted and all hell breaks loose, including a motorcycle chase...
She wipes out on the bike and finds her weapons blocked from her reach by Cowgirl, the ex-partner of the late Manic. Val is collected and dumped in the cell with the other women. We cut to Macao, where arrangements are being made for a caravan that will take the women into the Himalayas, to a fortress owned by a man named Mordecai, who speaks of immortality and suggests that when he tires of the women, they will be tiger food.
Issue 2: The women are transferred to a holding cell in Macao, beneath the house of Sir Rodney Simpson Fescue, the pimp in all of this and also an arms dealing, drug trader and whatever other legal or illegal goods you might want. Val organizes a break out and cons a guard into entering the cell, to be clobbered by a brick they pried out of the wall (using a hidden blade from Val's boot). Val takes his weapon and covers the women while they escape to the American embassy and ends up in a running gunfight with Cowgirl, which ends up hand-t-hand, before they crash into a pool and are captured by guards. Cowgirl gets a surprise as she is going to make up for the loss of the women as one of the consignment, along with Val. They are loaded into a cargo plane and flown to the mainland and the Himalayas, then told to don quilted suits and put on parachutes, then chucked out the door to parachute into a mountain pass, where armed men await their arrival. They are loaded onto ponies and taken up to the fortress of Mordecai. He meets them and is a little POed about the missing women. Cowgirl gets in his face and he grabs her arm and seems to manipulate the temperature until her skin is frozen. The two women are taken away and Cowgirl's cold burn is bandaged. Later, they are told to don some frillies and someone will come to collect them. Cowgirl isn't having it and when an older manservant appears, she hogties him with the lingerie and they escape out into the corridors outside their fur-lined cell. They then run smack into the tigers, to which Mordecai has been alerted.
Issue 3: Mordecai watches on monitors as Val uses a high pitched whistle to try to confuse the tigers and discovers that loud sonics are used to keep them out of certain areas, as they are recaptured by Mordecai's men. Mordecai is especially interested in Val, after hearing Cowgirl call her Valkyrie. he has her brought to him and questions her about having flown with the Luftwaffe, in the war. Val slips her hand behind her, to a desk and scoops up a letter opener and tries to stick it into Mordecai, and finds no blood coming out. He disarms her and sends her to the library to amuse herself, while he attends to business. he has an affinity to her, since he knows she is time displaced, as is he, after a fashion. meanwhile, Cowgirl fashions a lariat out of the silk material from the lingerie, in their room and plots to get her hands on her Colt Peacemakers. In the library, Val finds Mordecai's journal, from an expedition in 1857, where they went to the Arctic to find the river of Life, a Volcanic warm water current that was the source of Aleut and Eskimo myth. he fell into a fissure and was found frozen in a flow, some 40 years later (sound familiar). He found that his body was altered, immortal, but unable to take warm climates. He has dabbled in investments until he was quite wealthy, , 100 years later. he then reveals the abducted women are not fed to the tigers but given a million dollars and sent on their way and tries to romance Val, who isn't feeling romantic. Mordecai thinks Valis immortal, like him, but the fight reveals otherwise and he apologizes. Meanwhile, Cowgirl lassos the manservant, again, trusses him up and takes the revolver he brought, this time and forces him to lead her to her weapons. Mordecai and Val are still at it when Cowgirl turns up and shoots him, which doesn't kill him. Val grabs a saber and they run. They run into guards and Cowgirl shoots two of them dead and Val defeats the other in a fencing dual, then kills him when he tries to throw a knife into her. Cowgirl shoots Mordecai between the eyes, which doesn't kill him; but, sends him into the Rover of Life and he ends up frozen again. Val and Cowgirl end up leaving in nelson-manufactured snowmobiles.
Thoughts: A serviceable story, with enough intrigue to make it interesting and another supernatural villain. The opening plot was a standard of men's adventure pulps of the era, such as the Executioner novels and his copycats. Anything with women as sex objects and damsels in distress, while he-man, gun-toting heroes come to the rescue and sex. This is just missing the gun-toting heroes, and the sex. Val and Cowgirl make a decent duo and Mordecai's mystery is interesting enough, though even he doesn't know the source of his immortality, which is augmented by a cryo-suit that aids in his temperature control.
Mordecai's original expedition sounds like the idea was cribbed from several works, including those of HP Lovecraft, the novel the Lost Ones, which was the basis for the Disney film The Island at the Top of the World and similar fare. The freezing in ice for 40s years sound like Captain America.
The art by Brent Anderson isn't completely up to the standards he had at Marvel or the earlier Pacific Comics mini Somerset Holmes, though it is good. Enrique Villagran isn't quite up to the moodiness of Anderson's work, which was always in the vein of Gene Colan. Anderson proves pretty capable of drawing the exotic and the mundane, including the snowmobiles and firearms, as well as the Himalayan fortress and Mordecai's Baroque outfit.
This is it for the Airboy spin-offs, as Eclipse seems to start cooling on Airboy. This also coincides with the real beginnings of financial trouble for them, as many of their projects start experiencing big delays, due to cash flow issues. they also start farm out more books, as they have a deal with Acme Press, a UK publisher, to print some material (including the Avengers mini, Steed & Mrs Peel, with Grant Morrison and Mike Grell's james Bond mini), as well as some of the Argentine work (Merchants of Death). Tim Truman starts to scale back to Scout and his other projects, such as Wilderness and Tecumseh, though 4 Winds does produce some other work, in the interim.
This is a decent mini-series, light years ahead of the Air Maidens specials or the pointless crossover with the ARBBH. We now turn back to the bread and butter of the 4 Winds line, with the last run of isses of Airboy and the remainder of Scout: War Shaman.
Post by codystarbuck on Apr 9, 2021 18:27:03 GMT -5
Creative Team: Chuck Dixon-writer, Stan Woch-pencils, Ricardo Villagran-inks, Wayne Truman-letters, Olyoptics-colors, cat yronwode-editor
Skywolf: Chuck-writer, Alberto Maldanado-art, Bill Pearson-letters, Olyoptics-colors, cat-editor
Skywolf returns for one last batch of stories; so, freeze what I said at the end of the mini-series wrap up and place it for two issues from now. After that, there will be more Hillman reprints, until the end of the series.
Synopsis: Davy, Les mansfield and the mujahiden have been hit by Soviet troops, under the command of Steelfox. We see the pieces of Les' body, strewn about....
We then get a glimpse of the real body of Les...
Les sheds his full size suit and arms himself and finds warmer clothing for after sundown. He sees the slaughter but confirms that Davy is not among the dead and moves out.
Davy awakens in a cell, with Khalil, who is crying over the death of his men, feeling he caused their death. Davy comforts him and they are interrupted by Steelfox. They come to interrogate Khalil and Davy tries to block and gets rifle buts to the head. The Tiger is dragged off.
Elsewhere, Les finds a shepherd and trades a gold Rolex watch for a quilted jacket, to keep him warm. What was a waist-length jacket on the Afghan is a greatcoat on Les..
Khalil is given truth drugs and Steelfox asks him about the locations of weapons caches and receives answers. Elsewhere, Les entertains Aghan children with slight-of-hand tricks and runs into someone who thinks he is looking for The Tiger and offers help.
Back at the Soviet base, Davy is subjected to interrogation by Steelfox...
It comes out that Steelfox was consigned to Afghanistan after his failure with Valkyrie and he sees this as an opportunity to get back in the good graces of the government. He leaves Davy to stew. His men move out to the location that Khalil gave up and enter a dwelling, where arms are stored...
The weapons are destroyed and the soldiers go up with them,. Steelfox has Davy dragged before him. He has his men hold Davy as he places a pistol to the sedated Khalil's head, saying that 5 insurgents die for every Soviet soldier killed, starting with Khalil. Steelfox doesn't get to pull the trigger, as there is an interruption...
Les holds off the Russians, while davy picks up Khalil and they escape. Les has friends waiting. he fills in Davy about the truth of Rackman. Les' father was an electronics genius who was also a dwarf. He developed the exo-suits they wore, Rackman's to fight crime, Les to just live a normal life. They meet up with the Afghans and mount horse to make good their escape, and run smack into Soviet armor, with Steelfox in command!
Skywolf: October, 1954, in a San Diego Veterans Hospital. Lawrence Wolfe, aka Skywolf, wakes up after yet another nightmare of torture and interrogation.
He hits on the nurse, but he is in rough shape. Later, he plays cards with other veterans, including a survivor of Belleau Wood (ask any Marine). A younger sailor gives him crap and says get on with the game and Sky tells him to button his lip. A nurse interrupts and tells Sky he has a female visitor. at first he thinks it is Riot, but the nurse informs him it is Laverne. She was alerted by Davy Nelson (the original Airboy). Sky thinks Davy never visited, but Laverne says he did, while Sky was in a coma (over several weeks). Sky is weak from a tropical disease and he tells his mother how he ended up in Indochina, Jack Gatling's death and how Riot had walked out on him. He talks to her about coming home and recuperating, until something else comes along. Laverne delivers a surprise...
Laverne walks off and runs into an administrator. he tells her that Sky isn't a member of the armed forces and not eligible for care at a veterans hospital. Only the intervention of a man named Lacey (from previous adventures), at the CIA, has kept them there this long. He will have to go to a civilian hospital and he then tells her how bad his health is, from malaria and multiple bouts of pneumonia, to parasites that were flushed out, lost teeth, broken bones, and related issues. he may recover, but will never be as strong. Laverne returns to her son and takes him home, though she doesn't tell him the truth, only threatening to kick him out if he makes one crack about her cooking!
Thoughts: The main story introduces the modern readers to Rackman. Les' father was Craig Mansfield, aka Rackman, a dwarf who fought crime with the aid of mechanical stilts he developed. Chuck has taken this to the next step, as a complete exo-suit. We saw Rackman aiding The Prowler with equipment, in revenge of the Prowler. This explains why Les always wore gloves and why a knife stuck in his arm didn't produce blood or injury. Les is pretty darn resourceful, without it, as we see him trade and charm his way into position to rescue Davy, though they aren't out of the woods yet. This has been the best part of the Afghanistan adventure, as it has helped to flesh Les out as a character.
Stan Woch continues doing a great job on the art and Chuck plays with expectations, as Steelfox does not physically abuse Khalil, only using truth serums. However, he was about to kill the boy, after being embarrassed by the trap he set for the Soviets.
The Skywolf back up gives an epilogue to the mini-series, as we see the extent of the damage done to Sky, while in captivity. He is a mess. We also see that the government considers him an inconvenient embarrassment and wants him gone, with only his past CIA associate, Lacey, intervening for him. Skywolf was, basically, a mercenary soldier, though his status in WW2 is a bit murky. The China adventure was still under US control, until he aided Link Thorne, which led to his "assassination," which killed his wingmen, but he survived. From there, he worked on his own or for Lacey, in Korea. After Korea, he was on his own again. If Skywolf was a member of the US Armed forces, during WW2, he is entitled to treatment at a veterans hospital and would carry veterans status. However, even if that were true, he was declared dead, after the ambush over the Sea of Japan. His luck is still holding out.
We get a glimpse of a veterans hospital and see what is hidden from the public; the aftermath of war on those who survived it. Chester, the WW1 vet, has been dealing with issues since 1918 and the battle of Belleau Wood, where the Marines repulsed and attacked 5 German divisions, with fighting often turning to bayonet and hand-to-hand. it was one of the bloodiest battles fought by the US military and that of the Marine Corps. It is spoken of with reverence by the Marines, as part of their history. The US Navy named both a light carrier (CVL-24) and an amphibious helicopter assault ship (LHA-3) in honor of the men who fought and died in the battle. Sky is now paying the price of his adventures, though, as the main Airboy stories reveal, he continued fighting. The recent Heap back-up stories revealed that Skywolf would return to Vietnam with the American military and we have seen him in combat, alongside Airboy, with his Apache gunship and various small arms. I suspect chuck would have continued Sky's adventures, had not the die been cast about the series, starting with arguments about the Afghanistan storyline. Chuck has said he could see that the series wasn't long for the stands and he was already doing work for Marvel, on top of his Eclipse work.
Post by codystarbuck on Apr 10, 2021 21:02:07 GMT -5
Scout: War Shaman #5
Creative Team: Tim Truman-story & art, Tim Harkins-letters, Sam Parsons-colors, cat yronwode-editor Special thank you to Larry Marder (Beanworld) for research assistance.
Synopsis: Scout, Victor and Tahzey, along with Padre Breccia and the Doodyist pilgrims have arrived at what is left of their village...
Scout identifies tank tracks as Israeli and notes that they could have levelled the buildings but didn't. They will return. He leads Padre Breccia into the village to recon, then says he will be leaving. They look for signs of life but find only messages of death, and warnings from Rosa, such as "Join or Die!" Breccia remarks to Santana that he knew Rosa. Scout replies he knew Rosa; but not the person who did this. Santana urges them to leave immediately; but, breccia insists on burying the dead and praying. Scout warns them that whoever did this will do it to them, if they catch them. Breccia is staying.
The village has observers...
Scout helps and the task takes until nightfall. Santana puts Tahzey to bed, who asks his father to never leave him alone. Scout promises that he will try.
Breccia and Scout speak and Scout says he will help them one more day and then leave. Breccia has heard this before...
Scout goes to walk the perimeter and then Tahzey is awakened and drawn to music...
They try to entice Tahzey to come to them, the Scout shows up and attacks. Scout shoots one of them and a green fluid spurts out. He tells Tahzey to run and pulls the pin from a grenade. Then, someone a bit more normal looking calls out to the ghosts and scolds them...
The man, Walker, is Hopi and he and his people sheltered Father Robillard and others, in their "world." Professor La-La is the human of the bunch of ghosts, but the others are android creations of La-La, but it seems La-La is a bit psycho. Nothing is settled before Rosa is spotted, with her troops...
Tales of the Apache continues the story of Child of Water, as he slays the Owl man Giant.
The issue ends with a page devoted to the winners of the Beau La Duke Real Man Contest.
Thoughts: This is a pretty darn spooky issue, especially the robot ghosts and the flute scenes. It reminds me of a Gatchaman/Battle of the Planets episode, set around an amusement park, with a Native American statue that hides a mecha and involved hypnotic flute playing.
Walker speaks of "insights" and we will see more of psychic phenomena, as we progress.
Lot of death in this one. Tim could have done some wicked horror stories, in House of Mystery or at Warren, had he arrived ont he scene about a decade earlier. As it was, he used horror well in Grimjack, Scout and other work.
Post by codystarbuck on Apr 14, 2021 16:22:46 GMT -5
I have no idea what kind of helicopter Mark Johnson has drawn there. Maybe it's a Nelson Aviation FH-21 Figment (of his imagination).
Creative Team: Chuck Dixon-writer, Stan Woch-pencils, Ricardo Villagran-inks, Wayne Truman-letters, Olyoptics-colors, cat yronwode-editor Skywolf: Chuck Dixon-writer, Alberto Moldonado-art, Bill Pearson-letters, Olyoptics-colors, cat-editor
Also from Eclipse: Forgot it last time; so here is what came out with Airboy #42: Area 88 #30 & 31, Dreamery #11 & 12, Legend of Kamui #30 & 31, Miracleman #15, New York Year Zero #2 & 3, Scout: War Shaman #5 & 6, Valkyrie Vol2 #2 & 3, Xenon #17 & 18.
This month, with Airboy #43: Appleseed #1, Area 88 #32 & 33, Dishman #1, Fusion #11, Legend of Kamui #32 & 33, Merchants of Death #2, Sabre 10th Anniversary SC, Xenon #19 & 20.
Miracleman is the infamous bloodbath in London, as Johnny Bates has slaughtered thousands of people, before Miracleman finds a solution to defeating someone as powerful 9if not more, given he wielded his powers longer and more often and understood their full potential). Manga continues to be strong for Eclipse, with Masamune Shirow's Appleseed joinging the line. Appleseed features the story of two police officers, in the utopian city Olympus; a female, Deunan Knute, and a cyborg, Briareos Hecatonchires, in the 22nd Century. Shirow is probably best known for ghost in the Shell, but also created the series Orion, Dominion and Black Magic.
Synopsis: Les' rescue part, with Davy and Khalil in tow, have run into Soviet armor. Les has a little surprise; a Catspaw missile launcher strapped to his horse...
Davy and Les head back into the Soviet camp, figuring they stand a better chance than flee over open country. they swipe a Hind gunship, which Davy flies. Steelfox has survived the missile hit on his tank and is informed of the theft of the gunship. He is not a happy camper!
Davy strafes the other helos, on the ground and then they head out, with Steelfox cursing them (Told you he wasn't a happy camper!) He then strafes the Soviet column chasing the mujahiden, allowing them to escape. They start heading for the border, when they are hit. they look out and see Steelfox in a jet-propelled and weaponized hang glider...
Steelfox is more agile, but Davy has the firepower. Steelfox makes another pass and Les uses the doorgun to make him veer off. Davy heads down into one of the canyons to try to limit Steelfox's maneuverability. After another near-miss, Davy tries a desperate move. As Steelfox goes into a dive for attack, Davy hauls back on the stick and raises the rotors towards Steelfox and he collides and ends up like the demonstration of a Ronco Kitchen Magician commercial...
The collision destroys the rotors and the helo crashes, though the trio survive and make their way on foot, to the Pakistani border. Chuck then makes his compromise with cat regarding the mujahiden and the future Taliban...
They flag down a truck and hitch a ride, as cat puts words into Chuck's story and a rift starts growing.
Skywolf is in Texas, recovering from malaria and flying a crop duster, with Link Thorne...
Sky gripes about being bored, though he is healthier than he was. Some Texas Rangers (the gun-toting kind, not the baseball playing ones) show up and ask to use the aircraft to tryo to spot some bank robbers on the run, headed for the border. Sky agrees immediately, though Link fears Laverne's wrath if anything happens to the biplane.
They are sworn in and go hunting, then Sky spots to criminals in their red convertible. Sky swoops in for a closer look and one of the gang opens up with a 12 gage double barrel and hits the engine. Sky makes a hard landing and the plane rotates the starboard wings into the ground. Sky walks away, but the Ranger has a broken leg. Sky splints his leg, then grabs a pump-action shotgun to go after the criminals. The Ranger thinks he is nuts, but Sky says they are less fierce than Laverne...
Thoughts: The Afghanistan adventure comes to a close, as does Steelfox. In the Airboy Archives, Chuck said he saw the writing on the wall for the series when he started butting heads with cat yronwode, over this story. She didn't see the mujahiden as "heroes," based on groups like the Taliban, who wanted to return to more restrictive Sunni law. Although she has a point, she kind of ignores the fact that the Soviets committed a lot of atrocities in efforts to pacify the region. It led to an ethical debate over driving out the Soviets and a moderate government vs a repressive, but anti-Communist government. For the most part, Chuck has been writing old fashioned pulp adventure, in a modern setting, with more modern sensibilities. His political leanings were more on the conservative side; but, more or less, he kept things fairly middle of the rode, despite what some letter writers felt. He acknowledged that the US had long been a backer of repressive governments in Latin America and he presented a fairly nuanced look at the Chinese Civil War and Korea, in the Skywolf stories. For the most part, everything worked; but, cat was becoming more strident about things. It's probably no coincidence that Eclipse started publishing more purely political work around this time, including Brought to Light, with Alan Moore and Bill Sienkiewicz, as well as some of their trading card sets that would soon follow (The Bush League, Friendly Dictators). It seemed that cat was no longer enthused by a para-military adventure series, given current events and her personal view of them,. There may have been more to it, as Eclipse spent a lot of money promoting their Tenth Anniversary, to little fanfare. Airboy's sales were not what they had once been and Eclipse was starting to run into deeper financial issues, though they would play out over the next 6 years.
The basic story was pretty good, though many moments felt like they came out of a Rambo movie, just with less mumbling. This was Stan Woch's last storyline and he is greatly missed after, as they go through a succession of artists, though we have Ernie Colon and Adam Kubert to look forward to. Skywolf gets one more installment, before he flies off into the sunset. I just read that there had been a story plotted that put Sky into the Cuban Revolution, on Castro's side. That would have been awesome, though probably would have led to more letters accusing them of being Communists.
The Skywolf story is a nice beginning, though it looks like the meat is to come next issue. Ricardo Mantonaldo is one of the Argentines from Ricardo Villagran's studio and has a similar classic line. It fits the period well.