Posts tagged ‘Jim Aparo’

alternate Action 642 – Green Lantern/Superman – Legend of the Green Flame

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I made an error earlier, I said this was intended for Action 635.  In fact, it was for 642.  I had assumed it was the earlier of the two crossover issues, simply based on the line-up that appears in the story – none of the post-635 series are included.  But the ending makes it clear that it was for the latter issue.

Neil Gaiman’s script was rejected by John Byrne.  At the time, it was a hard and fast rule that no one knew Superman’s identity, and Gaiman insisted on the characters meeting as Clark and Hal.  Neither would budge, and the script got set aside.  The story was finally published in 2001.

This special also has a large art team, divided chapter by chapter.  Eddie Campbell, Mark Buckingham, John Totleben, Jim Aparo, Kevin Nowlan, Jaosn Little, Michael Allred, Eric Shanower, Terry Austin and Arthur Adams.

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The story begins with a prologue in Berlin, shortly after the end of World War II.  Blackhawks Janos Prohaska and Weng Chan go rooting through rubble, searching for a lost weapon.  They come across the remains of the Justice Society of America, although they do not realize who these people are.  We see Sandman, and the remains of Hawkman’s wings, but it’s Alan Scott’s lantern that grabs Weng’s interest, and he takes it with him.

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Jumping to the present day, Hal is feeling lost and alone, and turns to Clark for a shoulder to cry on.  Lois Lane wrangles the two into attending a gallery opening that night.

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Catwoman makes a cameo, running into Hal.  But the catkin emerald she was interested in is not there, so Selina leaves.  Exploring the gallery, Hal comes across the lantern, on display.  He is fascinated.  It’s a Green Lantern lantern, but not one he recognizes.  He uses his ring to scan it.

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Bad idea.

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Deadman comes across the confused heroes, and tells them they are dead.  They aren’t.  Not quite.  But they have been pulled into the magical, somewhat sentient flame that powers Alan Scott’s lantern, and are between being alive and dead.

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The Flame’s burst of energy draws the attention of the Phantom Stranger.

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He convinces Hal that he does have the willpower to tame the wild magic of the flame, and get it back into its battery, dormant.

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The final page makes it clear that this was intended for issue 642.  The story printed there uses a similar marquee in its background.

Action 642 – Action Comics Weekly ends

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Action Comics Weekly comes to an end with issue 642, a full-length crossover story.  Superman, Green Lantern, Nightwing and Deadman are all involved, as well as Guy Gardner.

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Elliot S Maggin scripts this tale, which opens with a flashback to the death of Abin Sur, and his selection of Hal Jordan as successor.  In this version, we learn that Clark Kent was brought as a possible Lantern, but declined.

The art changes from chapter to chapter.  The various creative teams are: Gil Kane, Steve Ditko and Art Thibert, Jim Aparo and John Nyberg, Curt Swan and Ty Templeton, Jim Mooney with Ian Akin and Keith Garvey, and Carmine Infantino and Kevin Nowlan.

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Green Lantern is investigating an unusual military installation.  The man in charge wants no spying eyes, and shoots Hal right in the chest.  Hal lays dying, and his ring summons potential successors.  It might summon a doctor as well, but apparently has given up on Hal.

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Most of those chosen are not characters we know, have ever seen before, or will ever see again.  Clark Kent is brought again, as is Nightwing.

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Guy Gardner is selected as well, completely nonsensically.  He has removed his ring temporarily, and the story treats this as if it means he is no longer a Green Lantern the second he takes off the ring, despite the mental connection between the ring and its wearer.

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Deadman comes to see what all the fuss is about. This is all taking place in a millisecond.  Deadman is able to converse somewhat with Hal, which makes sense.  Superman can also communicate with Deadman, because he can sense this all happening at great speed.  That really doesn’t explain why he can see Deadman at this event, but not in normal situations.

You can tell from the way I am picking at it that I did not enjoy this story.  There was no likelihood that Hal was going to die, so the story was just pointless.  That might have been ok if it were a lot of fun on the road, but it’s not.  And so these weird errors, just sloppy writing by someone who can, and has done, better, annoy me.

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After a lot of “what if this guy became Green Lantern?” Hal revives, and everyone is returned to what they were doing before.

About the only touch I like is the theatre marquee being changed in the final panel, reading Action – closed for renovations.

Action Comics returns in a few months, with an second annual to launch its return to a regular format.

And there is still just enough room on this blog that I can do an entry on the Neil Gaiman Action Comics Weekly story that never was.

Detective 724 – Davenport defends his building

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And we’re back to Aftershock with Detective 724 (Aug. 98).  Dixon, Aparo and Hodgkins pull off another great story in the ruins of Gotham.

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J Devlin Davenport, Bruce Wayne’s obnoxious neighbour, is causing problems all over the place in this story.  As Alfred and Harold, in disguise as workmen, try to cover up the hole exposing the Batcave, Davenport keeps coming by to complain about how the work messes up his VCR.

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Marion Grange gets a good scene, barking at reporters in a way most mayors would love to do.

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Davenport is also causing problems in downtown Gotham, refusing to allow the city to demolish his fallen building, claiming that it is still his property. With communication down, and so much disorganization, no one is around to countermand him.

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Batman takes things into his own hands, stealing a bulldozer and plowing right through the centre of the building.

It’s a victory of sorts, but just continues to show the sorry state of the city.

 

Detective 722 – Robin hunts for lost mother

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Detective 722 (June 1998) is part of Aftershock. Following the events of Cataclysm, Aftershock is not so much a storyline, as the overall title for a collections of stories, in the various Bat-books, that deal with the effects of the earthquake, and tie up some loose ends.  The fact that they did not try to weave it all into one story is likely what made Aftershock tales work so well.

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Chuck Dixon, Jim Aparo and James Hodgkins focus this story on a little girl who cannot find her mother in the devastation left by the earthquake.  Batman and Robin spot her, and feeling that she would respond better to Robin, he takes control of the situation.

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Robin gets little information out of her, and leaves the girl with Bullock and Montoya, while he begins his search.

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One page beautifully illustrates why even Batman finds getting around Gotham difficult now.

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The story also touches on Sarah Essen and Jim Gordon, who had not been in contact with each other since the earthquake struck.  Essen uses her authority to force a civil servant to do his job amid the chaos and lack of command.

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They do get in touch with each other, and re-unite towards the end of the story.

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The mother’s boyfriend is a small time hood, and Robin goes to see the Penguin at his new club, the Glacier Room.  The Penguin seems barely affected by the quake, and the story neatly reinforces the status he holds in Gotham.

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The Penguin gives Robin the information he needs to find the girl’s mother – only to find the mother has no interest at all in the girl, and was planning to abandon her anyway.  Robin picks up on the fact that there is money stashed in the girl’s doll.  Although not re-united with her mother, the girl winds up on a farm with loving grandparents, and a college fund unwittingly donated by her mother.

A great little story.

Detective 719 – bad news for Gotham

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Detective 719 (March 1998) is billed as a prologue to Cataclysm, but only the last couple of pages deal with that storyline.  For the rest of the issue, Chuck Dixon scripts a story that hearkens all the way back to the 1940s classic, The Three Racketeers.  Jim Aparo and Flint Henry share the pencilling, in a most effective way, with Mark Buckingham on inks.

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The story deals with some hoods being shipped over to Blackgate prison, telling each other of their encounters with Batman.  Aparo does the art on the realism part of the story.

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Flint Henry takes the art when it comes to showing how Batman was perceived by the crooks.

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The story thus neatly contrasts the actual events, with the version told by the criminal.

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As the issue reaches it’s end, the story shifts to introduce Jolene Relazzo, a seismologist who gets some frightening information.  She desperately tries to contact her employer – but no one is home at the Batcave.

 

Detective 642 – very much a middle chapter

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Alan Grant and Jim Aparo helm Detective 642 (March 1992), the middle chapter of a Ventriloquist and Scarface story, which began in the previous issue of Batman.

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The Ventriloquist and Scarface catch up with their old gang, who have been driven out of the drug trade by the Street Demonz gang.  When some are reluctant to go back to crime, Scarface simply kills them.

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Bruce has become jealous of Vicki Vale, and the amount of time she is spending with her friend Horton.  But she is none to thrilled with Bruce’s unexplained absences, and the two break up.  It’s a bit of a jolt, as she hasn’t really appeared in Detective, so this comes out of the blue, but their relationship had been progressing in the pages of Batman.

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Renee Montoya makes her first appearance in this book.  She had been introduced in the first part of this story, in Batman.  Along with Gordon and Harvey Bullock, she is dealing with the street drug trade.

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Vicki and Horton wind up at the wrong place at the wrong time, in the middle of the gang war.  While Vicki takes pictures, Horton gets shot.

The story concludes in the following issue of Batman.

Detective 641 – Destroyer concludes

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There was very little that I enjoyed in Detective Comics in 1991, which is why much of it has been jumped.  Little of significance happened in these pages until issue 641 (Feb. 92), which saw the end of the Destroyer crossover, which had begun in Batman, and had its second chapter in Legends of the Dark Knight.  Alan Grant, Jim Aparo and Mike DeCarlo conclude the story of the aesthetic bomber in this story.

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Continuing the cliffhanger from the previous chapter, the bomber is set to blow up the police headquarters.  Gordon gets alerted, and gets his people out, but the building gets destroyed.

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Batman uses his Bruce Wayne self to set a trap for the bomber, announcing that he is going to have the historic Wayne Building torn down, but that he will be spending the night there alone, before the demolition.  Sarah Essen, already suspicious, finds this too convenient, and is all but convinced that Bruce is Batman.

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The trap works, luring the bomber, and Batman takes him down.  Alfred fakes Bruce’s voice, when Sarah Essen calls, after Batman tells her that Bruce had not been in the building at all, and she gives up on her suspicions.

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The Destroyer storyline is not a great story, but it’s goal was to reshape the appearance of Gotham, bringing it in line with the visuals from Tim Burton’s movie.  And it succeeded at that goal.

Detective 628 – Abattoir returns

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Wolfman, Aparo and DeCarlo bring back Abattior in Detective 628 (April 1991).

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In this story, Abattoir is far less concerned with his ancestry, and more into eating human hearts.  And getting petty vengeance.  He attacks the eyrie where the Penguin’s doves are being stores, killing the guard, as well as all the birds.

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Batman informs the Penguin of the deaths of the birds, and we see that Abattoir is in a nearby cell.  Because he is imprisoned, it takes Batman a while to realize that Abattior is the killer.

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But once the evidence becomes compelling, Batman finds the guard who has been letting him out, and learns of his big plans, to explode a bridge and derail a train in order to harvest the remains.  The explosion happens, but Batman stops the train in time, and captures Abattoir.

Detective 627 – The Case of the Chemical Syndicate x4

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There was a decent idea behind Detective 627 (March 1991), which celebrates Batman’s 600th appearance in the book.  It reprints his first story, The Case of the Chemical Syndicate, as well as the re-write from the anniversary issue in the late 60s, The Cry of the Night is Kill.  Following those two stories, it presents two more, new, versions of the same story.

In reality, what this means is that one reads the same story four times in the same book.  Not as much fun as intended.

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Wolfman, Aparo and DeCarlo handle the first of the two new re-tellings.

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Their version ups the gore factor, as the killer uses a dissolving spray on the victims, of which there are more than in the original tale.

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Wolfman also places this telling in current continuity, having Detective Hanrahan in charge of the police.

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The murderer’s gender is changed, as it becomes the grandaughter of the “mastermind,” rather than just his goon assistant.  And a far more elaborate backstory is added, making this a tale of vengeance rather than of greed.

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The killer still dies falling into a pit of chemicals, but Batman is saddened by this, instead of callous, as in the original.

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Then it’s Alan Grant, Norm Breyfogle and Steve Mitchell who get to tell the story for the fourth time.

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Their version sticks more closely to the original, which might have been a better choice if it did not come fourth in the issue.  Commissioner Gordon is in this one.  The son is made a criminal, if not the killer.

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It’s hard to stay focussed on a story when one knows everything that will happen, but Breyfogle’s art keeps it readable.

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And the killer falls into the pit again, signalling the end of the tale.

A good idea, but not such a good issue.

Detective 626 – The Electrocutioner returns

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Marv Wolfman, Jim Aparo and Mike DeCarlo revive the Electrocutioner in Detective 627 (Feb. 91), a villain introduced a decade earlier in the pages of Batman, who had gone on to be a major player in the Vigilante series.

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The story takes place just after Commissioner Gordon’s heart attack, which occurred in the pages of Batman.  He is watched over by Sarah Essen, who was introduced in Batman: Year One, and recently brought back in the pages of Batman, while his duties are taken over by Detective Hanrahan, recently introduced in the pages of…do I need to finish that sentence?

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The Electrocutioner looks nothing like the character used to, and now uses an electrified whip.

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Batman recalls the earlier villain, in his much better costume, and the fact that he was reported killed (which occurred in Vigilante).

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When Batman manages to confront him, the Electrocutioner is happy to explain that he is not the same man, just using his name.  And while the original Electrocutioner was a misguided vigilante, the new one is just a killer.

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Batman figures out that his goal is killing Commissioner Gordon, and the big final fight occurs in the hospital room.  Sarah Essen helps Batman defeat him.

The Electrocutioner would return from time to time, though the person using that name would change.  In fact, rarely would the reader learn the identities of the men who adopt that alias.  And fortunately, all later Electrocutioners return to the better costume.

 

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