Shout Outs! and Scream Ats!

by Matt

Welcome to another "Shout Out/Scream At!” column! where I take a look at what makes me a happy fanboy (Shout Outs!) and what frustrates me (Scream Ats!) about the comic industry. This column is all about the 90's! I will be covering Nomad, Guardians of the Galaxy, Savage Dragon, Psylocke and a few more 90's nuggets of joy!!

I admit that I love the 90's. While there was a lot of crap that was produced during this era, this era also produced a lot of fantastic and creative works. And it seems the comic industry is revisiting this era as well and I couldn't be more excited for some of it.

It makes me feel old when a book I have been collecting right from the start hits a major milestone. But I am proud that the Savage Dragon is hitting #150. If I was allowed only one comic to get regularly, I would take this title. You just have to admire Erik Larsen, like him or not, you should respect the guy for his passion and commitment. Why do I love this book so much? I have a ton of reasons and here are just a few.

-PASSION. Erik pours everything he has into this book. He has written and penciled (including covers) the book for 150 issues, at times he has colored it and lettered it on his own. He has stated that the Savage Dragon will be done when he dies and that this is what he wants to do until he dies. You can tell how much he loves the book and that, to me, enhances the enjoyment. He was sick in bed and still cranked out backup stories for his book.

-CREATIVITY. This is one of the few books where I cannot tell what is going to happen. No one is safe, not even the Dragon himself. This book really has it all. Clones? Check. Alternate universes? Check. Colorful characters? Check. Space invaders? Check. Deaths? Check. I could go on and on. His book also tries to stay within "real" time. Meaning, it has been over ten years since the first issue came out, so the Dragon has aged 10 years. I cannot think of any other book that does this. Erik also experiments with how to tell a story. One of my favorite comics is when he covered a whole year using single panels. Each panel covered a different day. Another memorable issue was "The Fly". One of Dragon's baddies transformed himself into a fly and pestered Dragon while he was recovering in the hospital. Erik is also not afraid to let his opinions show in the book. It could be regarding politics or the comic industry, he lets loose with it. He isn't afraid to change the status quo. Issue #75 comes to mind, Dragon makes a decision that he thinks is right by killing his enemy. Darklord (his enemy) warns him that it will be worse if he is killed and the Dragon doesn't believe him. So he kills him anyway and it changes everything! Remember when Image produced a Mars Attacks! series that showed the aliens invading the Image universe? Erik was the only one that worked that into his regular continuity. Some folks may not like continuity, personally, I love it. It makes a stronger book.

-ART. I know a lot of people are turned off by his art. I didn't like his art in the beginning when he was drawing Spider-Man but I got used to it. He may not be the greatest artist but his greatest strength is making the art kinetic.

Erik consistently puts out an entertaining product. It is chuck full of fun stuff. It can be serious and it can be laugh-out-loud funny. It is exactly what I want out of a comic book. Congrats Erik for hitting #150!

SHOUT OUT! The Original Guardians of the Galaxy return!
When the new Guardians of the Galaxy series was announced, I was so excited because I LOVED Jim Valentino's run on the book from the 90's. But I was sad because they were similar in name only. Until Major Victory and Starhawk appeared. And then this cover came out and I am all ga-ga! I love the concept of the original Guardians of the Galaxy and I am glad that they are being used again. And kudos to Marvel's trade program for putting out two classic Guardians of the Galaxy hardcovers reprinting their early appearances!

SHOUT OUT! Avengers/Invaders #12
What does this have to do with the 90's? I enjoy the Golden Age characters and during the 90's I picked up the series called "Saga of the Original Human Torch." This documentary-style comic retold the tales of the early Invaders and I really liked it. The original Human Torch was a neat character and I followed him through Avengers West Coast and Heroes for Hire, all the way till the New Invaders series (which was really underrated) when he was killed. I saw that Marvel was soliciting a new Torch series and I was looking forward to seeing Jim Hammond again. I was stoked when I heard that Jim Krueger and Alex Ross were writing this project. The first couple of issues were okay but the series started to lose some steam. I still collected the rest of the series but found myself barely reading it and filing it away with my collection. The last issue came out and I was thumbing through it and I was taken by total surprise.
I thought it would be Jim Hammond returning but it wasn't. It was another Golden Era hero that had "Torch" powers. This totally took me off guard. Surprises just don't happen very much anymore in comics. I am looking forward to reading this series in one sitting now that I have an ending that I know I like!

SHOUT OUT! Psylocke Series
I fall into the camp that prefers British Betsy. Betsy has always wanted to be a warrior so it made sense that she become a ninja but I was not a huge fan of her changing race. I was happy with the recent Uncanny X-Men storyline that brought Betsy back to the X-Men but was a little sad that it was not the British one. But I am excited for the new mini written by Christopher Yost and I hope that he brings this character some stability that she has lacked in years. I would love to see and am confident that Yost can pull this out and make me care about Betsy again.

SHOUT OUT! McKeever/Nomad
I didn't like the original Heroes Reborn. I sold the books more than five years ago and I don't miss it at all. I hated the redesigns, I hated that Jim Lee couldn't stay on the FF the whole time, I hate the eagle on Cap. Perhaps it would be easier if I listed what I liked about it. The only thing that I liked was the 13th issue of each series when they crossed over with Wildstorm. I tried the Return one-shots and I liked them even less than the original. Even though it was Liefeld and Loeb, I picked up the Onslaught Reborn series and that completed the Terrible Trilogy. But I did like the ending of that series, I liked that they moved the girl Bucky to our universe. And boy was I surprised when they whipped her out for Cap #600 and when it was announced that she would get a miniseries. I was going to pass but then I learned that Sean McKeever was returning to Marvel and writing the series! I allow myself one or two $3.99 books (Dark Avengers being the other one I get) and I just might pick this up. I am interested to see where Marvel and McKeever take the character.

SHOUT OUT! Clone Saga?
I hated the original Clone Saga. I was collecting the Amazing Spider-Man for 240 straight issues and I finally had enough of it and dropped it with Amazing Spider-Man #400. That issue being the only good thing that came out of the whole thing. I admit that in the beginning of the Clone Saga, I was curious to see where the story was going but it just got worse and worse and finally I bailed. I am glad that Marvel is at least recognizing the storyline instead of flat out ignoring it. My opinion on continuity is this, if you are a good writer you can make continuity work. Only lazy writers ignore it completely. I was surprised that Marvel wanted to revisit this storyline in this way though. Marvel brought back Howard Mackie and Tom DeFalco to tell the story they originally wanted to tell which makes it more of a morbid curiosity. But I am screaming at the $3.99 price tag. So thanks Marvel, I will wait for the trade.

SCREAM AT! Return of Britannic!
Just kidding! I needed something to scream about! I like Scott Lobdell and I enjoyed a lot of his run on the X-titles but his run on Excalibur was horrible. What really made me appreciate Warren Ellis as a writer was his run on Excalibur. He could have swept the whole Captain Britain/Britannic away but instead chose to work with it. He formed a cool story involving Cap seeing the future (because he was lost in time and came back as Britannic) and stripped Cap to just being Brian Braddock again. And then slowly brought back Captain Britain. Warren also demonstrated this when he took over Stormwatch as well and that instantly made me a fan of Ellis.

6 Shout Outs to one (1 and a half with the $3.99 pricing) Scream At? A lot better than last time!


Brandon said...

The power of positive thinking! I'm also a huge Savage Dragon fan, so kudos to Erik Larsen for his stellar accomplishment. It is quite an accomplishment to make it to 150 issues in today's comic market environment. It's not only amazing to make it that far, it's amazing that he has had constant involvement, not just input, at every level of the creative process. Savage Dragon just rocks!

Mr`Orange said...

I've picked up the odd Savage Dragon comic here and there, and even collected it for a while, but never really got into the series, but I do think you have just sold me on the series, and I'll keep my eye out for the trades.