Sunday, February 28, 2021

Longbox Junk Retro Review - G-8 And His Battle Aces (1966)

Welcome to Longbox Junk, the place to find all the comic reviews you've never asked for!

It's been a while.  How about we crank up the paper time machine and take a little trip back in time for a Longbox Junk Retro Review?  Ready? 

*Puts on ridiculous steampunk goggles*

LET'S DO THIS! *Pulls gigantic lever*


And here we are. . .1966!  Watch your step when exiting the cabin.  

We've come to the sixties to take a look at the single issue Gold Key put out featuring a character called G-8 and his sidekicks, The Battle Aces.  I bought this comic as part of an auction lot several years ago and have absolutely no idea who G-8 is. . .but part of the fun of doing these Longbox Junk Retro Reviews is being able to educate myself a little bit through these older comics in my collection, and then passing that along.  So bear with me for a moment.

A bit of research shows me that G-8 is a character hailing from the pulp fiction era, with 110 (!) books featuring the character written by Robert J. Hogan between 1933 and 1944. . .meaning he wrote a full book roughly every month for ten years straight!  I can barely manage to get a blog post out every week, so I stand and give the man a round of well-deserved applause!

G-8 himself is an American adventurer, spy, and aviator operating in the thick of World War I.  There's not much representation of WWI in comics. . .the only thing that jumps to mind are the "Enemy Ace" stories. . .so the setting is definitely an interesting choice.  

G-8 seems to have been fairly popular, but without the staying power of pop culture stalwarts such as The Shadow, Green Hornet, Tarzan, Zorro, and The Lone Ranger. . .characters also hailing from the same period.  I'd say he's more on the level of a Doc Savage, The Spider, or The Avenger. . .pulp fiction characters that were very popular in their time, but faded from view as the years went by.

One of the interesting things about G-8 is that through all the stories written about him, his true identity was never revealed!  He was always just G-8.  I'm not sure if there's any other character that I know of that can claim the same thing.  So I give a nod of appreciation toward Robert J. Hogan for keeping the mystery going for so long.

I'm not sure exactly WHY this comic exists.  It seems a bit of a strange bird.  It doesn't adapt any of the published G-8 stories, and even though it was written 20 years after the last G-8 novel, it seems to assume that the reader knows everything about the character already.  

That tone of assumption is sort of interesting and makes me wonder where the demand for this story came from.  It doesn't look like any of the original stories were reprinted until the 1970's, when Doc Savage reprints started fueling a resurgence of interest in pulp fiction, so it's a bit of a mystery to me how this obscure character was even in mind for a comic book.  Maybe someone on the editorial staff was a fan of the G-8 stories when they were younger.


Enough of that.  Let's take a look at this comic and see what's going on.

GOLD KEY (1966)


SCRIPT: Leo Dorfman
PENCILS: George Evans
INKS: Mike Peppe
COVER: ??? (George Wilson)


There's no information out there on who painted this cover, but I'm going to hazard a guess of prolific Gold Key artist George Wilson, based on the resemblance of the main character to Wilson's version of Tarzan (and Korak, Son of Tarzan).  Wilson was also sort of fond of using dark orange as a background color.  So I'm fairly confident in my guess on this.  It's not exactly a burning question demanding an answer, but feel free to correct me if you have information otherwise. 


The cover itself is a glorious example of Gold Key's trademark painted covers.  I love the orange background, and the explosions are EPIC!  This is a cover packed full of motion and action brought to life by the painter.  It's not my favorite Gold Key cover (I'd say the King Kong one-shot from 1968 is my favorite I've seen so far), but it's definitely a great piece of eye-catching art.  Let's get inside and see what this is all about!


We begin our tale during World War I, deep behind the German lines, as G-8 parachutes through the darkness after his plane is shot from the sky. . .

Disguising himself as a woodcutter, G-8 makes his way to the German field headquarters at Feldhausen.  His mission: to gain solid information regarding rumors of a massive German offensive.

Once inside the base, G-8 trails a German Lieutenant he overhears saying that he works in the planning department.  At the Lieutenant's house, G-8 knocks him out and then skillfully disguises himself as the German.

The next morning, G-8, in disguise, goes to the planning department. He quickly discovers that he's too late and the plans for the offensive are already being delivered to the front lines!

G-8 quickly pursues the German messengers in a stolen car.  He runs them off the road and steals the secret battle plans.  As he reviews them at a nearby inn, G-8 is baffled by a missing piece of information.  The plans call for a massive attack carried out by dozens of units. They are to strike after something first occurs. . .but that something is not described.

After making copies, G-8 heads to the front lines to deliver the plans to their original destination, to avoid suspicion.  While he is there, the allies attack.  G-8 uses the artillery fire as a distraction so that he can leave the German trenches and make his way across the dangerous stretch of no man's land in order to deliver the battle plans to the allied command.

Once across friendly lines, G-8 returns to his home base at Le Bourget Airfield, where he is reunited with his "Battle Aces" comrades. . .wingmen Nippy and Bull, and his manservant, Battle.  Reporting to Chief of Staff General Frazier, G-8 discusses the stolen battle plans and his concern over the missing information.  

Over G-8's protests, General Frazier decides to attack before dawn on the day of the planned German offensive, hoping to take them by surprise.  He orders G-8 and his men to take part in the attack.

The next morning, G-8 receives a frantic message from General Frazier.  It seems that G-8's fears of the missing information being part of some sort of German secret weapon have come true.  The allies are under attack and being decimated by an unknown force!

G-8 and his wingmen rush to the scene to find the allies in disarray as German forces move in to take over their abandoned positions.  G-8, Nippy, and Bull dive in on the attack!

A fierce battle against German fighter planes leads to G-8 being shot down over no man's land.  After making his way back to friendly lines, G-8 visits the field hospital in search of information about the attack. 

He discovers from terrified survivors that the weapon threw off showers of sparks and made a weird howling sound before massive explosions caused panic along the allied forces.

Wanting to learn more about the strange German weapon, G-8 once again disguises himself as a German soldier and infiltrates the units at the abandoned allied positions.  While there, he discovers a clue. . .a piece of metal in a bomb crater marked with the name of a manufacturing plant in the town of Steussel, behind enemy lines.

After evading suspicious German officers and killing a guard, G-8 escapes the German trenches and begins making his way toward Steussel to investigate the new information.

Once at Steussel, G-8 infiltrates the Rouse factory and witnesses trucks being loaded with crates of tiny aircraft engines.  Not sure what to make of it, he dodges guards and goes deeper. . .not realizing that the front lines have called the German Intelligence Director about a possible saboteur who killed a soldier on the front line and that might be headed toward Steussel.


G-8's companions, Nippy and Bull are flying patrol when they spot a German Fokker.  After shooting it down, the dying pilot deliriously mumbles directions.  Nippy and Bull quickly realize that they have just been given the information that G-8 is risking his life behind enemy lines trying to gain. . .the location of the German secret weapon!

Back at Stuessel, G-8 has taken over a truck, disguised himself as the driver, and is following a convoy of vehicles that he believes is heading for the location of the German secret weapon.

Overhead, Nippy and Bull, flying a captured German plane that had been stored at their airfield, are headed toward the same destination.

As G-8 follows the convoy, they arrive at a hidden mountain valley with a base carved into the cliffs.  G-8 finally spots the German secret weapon. . .a gigantic zeppelin, but also having the wings of a heavier than air craft, all done up to look like a huge eagle!

As G-8 investigates the huge hangar containing the hybrid zeppelin bomber, he discovers that the miniature engines are being fitted onto bombs to make a kind of guided missile.  He also discovers his wingman Nippy in disguise as a German officer.  

Nippy leads G-8 to where he and Bull have hidden their captured German plane and the three of them form a plan. . .attack with the German plane and drop down onto the zeppelin during the confusion and take it over, then use it and the guided bombs to attack the German front lines after destroying the base.

The plan to capture the hybrid zeppelin and destroy the hidden base goes as planned, with the bomber raining complete destruction down on the Germans, but before they can turn the weapon on to the front lines, a stray shot ignites the hydrogen gas.

Nippy and Bull manage to escape before the gigantic bomber explodes.  Afterward, as they survey the wreckage and consider the devastating guided bombs, G-8 knows that the Germans aren't done with their diabolical schemes, and this is just the beginning.

The End.


Hmmmm. . .okay.  Not bad.  Not great, mind you, but not too bad. 

What we have here is a decent little war story that remains very readable even 55 years later and me coming in with very little information on the main characters (just what was in a Wikipedia article).  

G-8 is an interesting character that reads like a WWI James Bond as he dons disguises, infiltrates the enemy, and makes narrow escapes by using misdirection and his own considerable wit.  Throw in some aerial combat in rickety WWI biplanes and you have a pretty exciting war story in an interesting setting.

Unfortunately, no comic is perfect and this comic is no exception.

While the main meat of the story is good, there are a couple of elements that fall flat.  The objective of G-8's efforts. . .the German secret weapon. . .is the worst offender.  There doesn't seem to be a clear reason as to why their gigantic hybrid airplane/airship has to be done up like an eagle.  It just seems silly and doesn't make sense except as a visual cue that the Germans are insane.  And really, it just seems like putting a hat on a hat when you consider that the rocket-powered bombs are the ACTUAL secret weapon.

The tone of assumption that the reader already knows everything about the character (that I mentioned above in the introduction) is the second most obvious stumbling block keeping this story at the level of "Pretty Good".  The comic reads less like something meant to introduce and interest readers in a new character and more like an issue of a comic in the middle of a long-running series.  There ARE small bits of exposition scattered here and there, but no more than a few sentences of it before heading back into the story.

That said, even with those two major missteps, the writing is good.  The dialogue is snappy.  The story moves along at a brisk pace from scene to scene.  It's not a bad little story at all. . .it just could have been better with a bit more attention from the editor.

On the art side of things. . .

It's a sad fact that although Gold Key had some of the greatest covers in comic history, the interior art can never come close to what is promised on the front.  This comic is no exception.

That said, the art in this comic is actually better than what's to be found in many Gold Key comics.  It follows a rigid and unimaginative panel structure, but the art itself is dark and moody.  Nicely-inked and surprisingly well-colored where a lot of Gold Key comics can be a bit sloppy and heavy-handed on the colors.  The scenes of aerial combat are particularly well-done.  It's not the best comic art I've ever seen, but it tells the story well without distracting from it. . .for the most part.

There IS one strange thing about the art that caught my eye and brought me out of the story a bit wherever it popped up.  If you scroll up and look at the scanned pages above, take note of the German helmets.  They look oddly different. . .like they were added later, possibly by the inker.  They just don't look right.

Other than the strange German helmets, the art in this comic is pretty solid.  


Overall, G-8 and His Battle Aces is a pretty good war story with an unusual WWI setting and featuring a main character that makes his way through the tale with an interesting mix of disguise, deception, and wit.

Assuming the reader knows everything about G-8 coming into the tale, as well as some pretty ridiculous visuals on the German secret weapon that is the main narrative drive, keep the story down at the level of "Pretty Good". But even with those couple of stumbles, this is still a decent read.

I got this comic as a random part of a comic lot at an estate sale auction, but I see that there are copies to be found for sale online for around twenty bucks.  If you are a fan of war comics and want something a little on the unusual side, then definitely keep an eye out for G-8 and His Battle Aces.

Up Next. . .

I don't think I'm quite done with one-shots yet. 
Let's take a look at another handful, shall we?  We shall!

Be there or be square.

Wednesday, February 17, 2021

Longbox Junk - One Shots (Part 2)

 Welcome to Longbox Junk, where the comics are cheap and nobody asked me to review them!

 After spending several months grinding through all sixty issues of Marc Spector: Moon Knight, I've decided to cleanse my palate a bit by returning to my favorite kind of comic. . .One shots!  Tight little packages of comic book goodness where the creative team is tasked with giving the reader a complete story in one and only one issue.   

With a single issue to work with, the creative team has nowhere to hide.  It's easy to fail, but when the team is up to the task, the results can be some of the best stories to be found in comics.  

In PART ONE , I was pleasantly surprised to find a handful of decent little stories, without a single stinker among them and a couple of them even being real nuggets of Longbox Junk gold.  How will this batch fare?  Let's find out!

ONE SHOTS (Part 2)

Dark Horse (1994)
Cover: Gary Gianni

Shrine of the Sea Devil
Reprinted from Dark Horse Comics (1992), Issues 3-6

SCRIPT: Gary Gianni
PENCILS: Gary Gianni


Indiana Jones is all about action and adventure, and this wonderful painted cover delivers exactly that! Indy clinging to wreckage with a sinking ship in the background and being menaced by a giant tentacle? THIS is the kind of cover that makes me want to get right inside and see what it's about, so let's do it!


1935. . .The South Pacific. Indiana Jones recovers a map leading to the legendary "Shrine of The Sea Devil".  Unaware that the crew of the ship he has hired is plotting mutiny based on rumors of a rich treasure to be found, Jones and his colleague, Professor Casper, steam toward the undersea location marked on the map.

Anchoring off the coast of an active volcanic island, Indiana Jones suits up to dive into the shark-infested waters.  While Jones explores the mysterious underwater ruins, the crew make their move!  A fight breaks out as they take over the ship.  

Unknown to either Jones or the mutinous crew above, Jones' exploration has awakened a gigantic squid.  It nearly kills Indiana Jones before turning its attention to the ship above.  Frantic crewmen desperately fight the creature's huge tentacles before the ringleader of the mutineers uses explosives in the ship's hold to drive off the giant monster. . .but in the process, he also sinks the ship!

Indiana Jones survives both the squid's attack and the sinking of the ship.  At the end, he is rescued by a passing plane piloted by none other than Amelia Earhart.

The End.


I'm a huge fan of the Indiana Jones movies.  I'll even take a beating trying to defend Indiana Jones and The Crystal Skull!  But I'm not very familiar with the comic adventures of Indy.  This is actually the first comic beyond Marvel's straightforward adaptation of Temple of Doom featuring Indiana Jones that I've read.

Unfortunately, my first impression of comic book Indy isn't as high as I'd like it to be.

It's not that the story is BAD.  It's not bad.  It's okay.  But I expect more than okay from a story featuring a character that literally personifies action and adventure.  This story really just wasn't very exciting at all.  I'd say that it was more interesting than anything.  Once again, not bad, but I wanted more.

As far as the art goes, I'm a fan of Gary Gianni and his gritty, sketchy, realistic style.  I REALLY like his painted cover. . .I think this might be the first time I've seen any of his painted work.  The interior art is a touch sketchier than I'm used to from Gianni, though.  It's nicely done, but looks just a little rushed in places.

Overall, this wasn't a BAD story, it's just that I was expecting a little more than what I got.  It's too bad that the first comic I've read featuring one of my favorite characters' adventures outside the movies was just "okay".


Marvel (2009)
COVER: Luke Ross

Kill The Kid!
Physical collection of Kid Colt (vol. 2 - 2009) digital comic Issues 1 - 5

SCRIPT: Tom DeFalco
PENCILS: Rick Burchett


A very nice action shot of the title character!  I love the sense of motion and the feeling of a moment frozen in time the artist gives us here.  What more can I say? It's simply a great western comic cover!


After helping a man during an unfairly-matched gunfight, Everett Hawkmore discovers that he's accidentally fallen in with the wanted criminal known as Kid Colt.  Hawkmore rides with Colt as he tries to clear his name by finding a witness to the gun battle where Kid Colt killed six men in self defense, but was labeled a murderer.

The vengeful Sheriff McGreeley, brother of one of the men killed by Colt, hires a notorious bounty hunter named Sherman Wilks to bring Colt in for a hanging.  During a confrontation with Colt and the Bounty hunter, a gang of brutal scavengers attack, forcing Kid Colt and Wilks to join forces to fight them off.

After the dust has cleared, Kid Colt gives Wilks his side of the story (re-telling the origin of Kid Colt), but Wilks is a man of his word and is still determined to bring Kid Colt in despite him saving his life.  It comes down to a quick-draw gunfight, with Kid Colt being the one to walk away alive.  

In the end, Hawkmore disguises himself as Wilks and uses Wilk's body to collect the bounty on Kid Colt, then rides out with Colt to accompany him as he continues to try and clear his name.

The End.


Okay. . .not a bad little story!  It's got action, adventure, likeable characters, and a couple of twists and turns along the way.  Not much more that I could ask for in a good western tale.  It's not a deep story.  At heart it's actually a pretty simple narrative.  But sometimes all I want in a comic is just a decent story that keeps me engaged without making me strain my brain too much.  This comic does exactly that.  There's not many western comics out there these days, so it's nice to find a good one.

As far as the art goes, I thought Rick Burchett's art from Impact's Black Hood (a severely-underrated nugget of Longbox Junk) was the best part of that series, but his cartoony and sort of exaggerated style isn't really a great match for a western story.  There's nothing wrong with the art and it tells the story nicely, but in my humble opinion something darker and grittier (like the cover) would have worked better.

Overall, this one shot gives the reader a solid western story with lots of action and adventure.  It's not a GREAT story, but it's a GOOD story.  Sometimes you just want a good story.  If you're a fan of western comics, then this is one to keep your eye out for in the bargain bins because there's not many newer ones out there.  


Marvel (2011)
COVER: Steve McNiven
Originally from Marvel Knights 4 (2004) Issue 1

Wolf at the Door / A Day In the Life of the Fantastic Four

SCRIPT:  Paul Tobin (main) & Colleen Coover
PENCILS: Craig Rousseau (main) & Colleen Coover


A stunning portrait of Marvel's First Family with sharp details, a fluid sense of motion, and outstanding colors.  The characters almost seem to leap right off the page! Such a great cover.  Too bad McNiven didn't do the interiors.


The Fantastic Four leap into action when a giant robot runs amok in New York City, draining power and causing massive blackouts.  

As Mr. Fantastic, The Human Torch, and The Thing battle the rampaging robot, Sue Storm follows the trail of destruction back to its creator. . .The Wizard.  It turns out that the robot was never built for evil purposes, but somehow malfunctioned with an ever-growing hunger for energy.

As the battle continues in the streets of New York City, the robot senses a powerful energy source and sends a probe to investigate.  The energy source is none other than the Silver Surfer!  Following the probe back to Earth, the Surfer uses his Power Cosmic to overload and shut down the out-of-control robot.

The End.


So this one's a bit of an odd bird.  From a bit of research, I've found that it's a giveaway comic (hence the Taco Bell logo on the cover) and its "value" varies wildly (as in from $2.00 to $95.00!) enough for me to not really know exactly HOW much this strange little thing is "worth".  I bought mine for a dollar, so I guess I got a good deal.

But enough about that.  The comic itself is pretty thin, coming in at twelve pages long.  The story is just on the good side of okay.  It's obviously written for a younger audience, but it's not bad for what it is.  I liked that they didn't use Doctor Doom as the obvious villain choice, and the guest-starring role of Silver Surfer was also an interesting choice.

The art is light and a bit sketchy, but tells the story nicely.  The scenes with Silver Surfer were actually very well done and probably the most enjoyable part of the comic. . .which is interesting since this is supposed to be a Fantastic Four comic.

There's also a one-page "gag" story showing the individual members of the Fantastic Four fighting crime around the world, then gathering at the dinner table and talking about their day like it was nothing special.  It's a nice little addition that I got a small chuckle out of.

Overall, this is a decent little Fantastic Four story.  Not the best I've read. . .not the worst.  It's written for a younger audience, but is perfectly readable for adults as well.  It's actually more of a Silver Surfer story than anything else.  I'm not even a Fantastic Four fan and I found it pretty enjoyable.  


Dark Horse (2010)
COVER: Chris Scalf

The Hidden Blade

SCRIPT:  Haden Blackman
PENCILS: Chris Scalf


If you're a Star Wars fan, you don't need ME to tell you how great this cover is!  A dark, menacing portrait of the villain everyone loves to hate, set off perfectly by the brilliant glow of Vader's red lightsaber.  It's a simple cover, but the artist really captured the essence of Darth Vader here!


Set shortly after the events of Revenge of The Sith and in the aftermath of the Jedi Purge of Order 66, Darth Vader has been tasked by the Emperor to oversee the defense of a vital factory producing armored AT-AT walkers needed to continue the Emperor's brutal takeover of the Old Republic.

While fighting off repeated attacks by rebellious natives, Vader learns that they are led by a Jedi.  He leaves the base he was ordered to protect and goes on the hunt, first tracking down the Jedi's Padawan and defeating him, then barely winning a battle against a gigantic native creature before finally confronting the hidden Jedi.

After a short and vicious battle, Vader defeats the Jedi and returns to the base to find it destroyed in his absence.  He realizes the Jedi revealed himself on purpose to distract Vader and make him neglect command of the base's defense.  The Emperor arrives and is disappointed by Vader's failure.  He leaves his apprentice in the ruins of the factory to meditate on his mistake.

The End.


This short tale of Vader's early days as the Emperor's enforcer was a great read!  It had all the action I want from a Star Wars story, and the ending with the mighty Vader brought low by a simple trick of misdirection aimed squarely at his obsession with hunting the remaining Jedi was surprising and clever.  I was expecting Vader to come out on top in a Darth Vader comic, but having him defeated in such a small and easy way was really interesting!

As far as the art goes, I really enjoyed the moody, painted artwork!  It has a mysterious and hazy quality, with muted tones that are set off by occasional slashes of bright color to great effect.  Every panel on every page invites the eye to linger an extra moment.

Overall, this is a great read for Star Wars fans!  The story of Vader's defeat by a simple trick is engaging and interesting, and the moody painted art is a feast for the eyes.  This is definitely one to keep your eye out for in the bargain bin.  It's a certified nugget of Longbox Junk gold!


There you have it. . .another little handful of Longbox Junk one-shots.  All in all, not a bad bunch.  Not quite as good as the first batch, but still not bad.  The clear winner here for me was the Star Wars: Purge Darth Vader comic.  At the bottom of the bunch I'd have to say would be the Fantastic Four comic. . .just because it's such a slim story.  Once again, I'm pleased that there aren't any actual BAD one-shots in the bunch.  All of these are worth keeping an eye out for while Longbox Junkin' through the bargain bins.

Up Next. . .

It's been a while since I did a Longbox Junk Retro Review.

How about a little trip in the paper time machine back to 1966 for a look at Gold Key's G-8 and His Battle Aces?  It's Hun-Punchin' action and espionage in the trenches of World War I battlefields!

Be there or be square.

Monday, February 8, 2021

Longbox Junk - One-Shots (Part 1)

 Welcome to Longbox Junk, the place to find all the comic reviews you never asked for!

I've said it before and I'm gonna say it again.  Of all the different kinds of comic books out there, I'd have to say that my ultimate favorite is the one-shot.  To me, the one shot is a supreme test for a creative team. 

 By giving a team one and ONLY one issue to tell a complete tale, their storytelling ability is put to the test.  There's nowhere to hide.  No room for error.  To fail the test is easy, and actually pretty common.  There's PLENTY of bad one-shots haunting the bargain bins.  But when a team succeeds?  It's often pure Longbox Junk gold!

So let's take a look at a random handful of one-shot comics rescued from the bargain bin and given a moment in the Longbox Junk spotlight. Will they pass the test of giving the reader a good story in such a limited space?  Or will they fail to make the grade?

Let's find out!

ONE-SHOTS (Part 1)

Marvel (2016)

COVER: Tony Harris

The Phantom Limb

SCRIPT: James Robinson
PENCILS: Tony Harris


If you're a big Star Wars fan like me, I think you'll agree that this cover is one SWEET piece of art!  A simply fantastic painted portrait of C-3P0 with warm colors that grab the eye and don't let go.  I really like how Tony Harris left some of the brush marks visible on the painting, making it imperfect, yet perfect at the same time.  This is just a great Star Wars cover!  Let's get inside.


After their ship crash lands on a hostile planet, leaving no human survivors, C-3P0 and a motley group of droids (including a captured First Order protocol droid with vital information leading to the location of an important Resistance prisoner) must work together as they make their way across the dangerous world to a homing beacon that will lead the Resistance to their location.

During the journey, C-3P0's companions fall one by one to the creatures and natural hazards along the way, until there is only him and the First Order droid left.  Finally in sight of the homing beacon, but prevented from reaching it by a deadly acid rain, the First Order droid gives Threepio the information the Resistance needs, then sacrifices himself by going into the rain to activate the beacon.

When the Resistance shows up to rescue him, C-3P0 takes the only thing left of the First Order droid, his arm, and uses it to replace his own (which was torn off during a battle with a creature during their journey) as a way to pay tribute to the enemy that became his friend.


So there's a tiny moment in "The Force Awakens" when C-3P0 is first shown and he has a red arm and he points it out.  It's never mentioned again.  This is basically the story behind that 10 seconds of film.

Star Wars has always been a little strange about having to have a background for EVERY character and thing that shows up on screen, but despite this being created to fill in a tiny little detail that's never mentioned again, James Robinson delivers a really good story!

The scenes where Threepio and his First Order protocol counterpart discuss how their memories have been wiped so many times over the decades that the wipes no longer completely work and they have been left with vague memories of past lives is really interesting, and is something that made me think of the droid characters in Star Wars in sort of a whole new way.  Not bad for a one-shot comic meant to fill in a tiny plot hole that nobody really asked (as far as I know) to be filled.

As far as the art goes, Tony Harris does a stellar job! Get it? Stellar?  Never mind.  His thick inks, wonderful colors, and interesting, cinematic angles really bring this story to life!  I was a big fan of Harris' (And Robinson's) work on Starman, and this comic reminds me why.

Overall, this first one-shot knocks it right out of the park!  An emotional story with unusual characters backed up by some great artwork makes this comic something that any Star Wars fan should enjoy very much.  If you're not a Star Wars fan, you might not get as much mileage out of this, but as far as I'M concerned, this one is a pure nugget of Longbox Junk gold!


DC (2000)
COVER: Norm Breyfogle


SCRIPT: Alan Grant & Norm Breyfogle
PENCILS: Norm Breyfogle


A great painted cover with an interesting composition and some very nice, muted colors.  It's mysterious, moody, and makes me want to jump right into the story. This is the sort of thing I always keep my eye out for when digging for comics to take a turn up on my "Wall O' Covers" rotating display in my office at work.  I like this cover a lot!


Batman is drawn into a government conspiracy when he investigates the strange deaths of three scientists. The daughter of the last victim claims that her father told her that he had proof that aliens and the government were working together at a hidden base called Area 51.  

Batman discovers that all of the victims are tied together by a connection to a mysterious "Doctor Staines". Following leads to a former criminal recently released from Arkham Asylum with the power of mind control named Franklin Selly (alias The Kook), Batman discovers that he is working with the daughter of the murdered scientist to try and solve the same mystery.  Batman declines a team-up because, well. . . he's Batman.

We next find Batman in Nevada, infiltrating the high-security precautions of Area 51.  At the same time, the scientist's daughter and Selly are taking a more direct route into the base using Selly's mind control powers to go right through the front gate.  Their ruse is quickly discovered and they are taken prisoner.

As Batman makes his way through the base, he discovers that Dr. Staines is involved with a project to wipe people's minds and rebuild them into slaves.  He also discovers Selly and the Scientist's daughter, and his focus changes immediately to a rescue mission.

After letting himself be taken prisoner, Batman and Company escape and fight their way through Area 51 to a waiting off-road Batmobile hidden in the desert.  In the end, Batman leaks the information he downloaded at Area 51 to the media and government authorities, but it's treated like just another conspiracy theory and Doctor Staines goes unpunished.

The End.


This one was pretty average.  Not the best Batman story I've read. . .but not the worst.  Just sort of riding down the center line.  I found it a bit strange that in this story, Batman doesn't believe in aliens. . .but he regularly works with Martian Manhunter (not to mention Superman) on the Justice League.  

The Selly/ Scientist's Daughter team seemed unnecessary to the story.  It looked like padding to pump this one shot up to "Prestige Format" page count (and dollar count) and could have been cut completely to make this a leaner, tighter, solo Batman story.  That said, it's still a decent read.

As far as the art goes, Norm Breyfogle is always a reliable choice for good 90's/early 2000's Batman art.  I like his sleek lines, slightly exaggerated figures, and the way that Batman is always partly hidden in shadow.  He's not my number one Batman artist, but I know I'll at least be sure to enjoy the pictures when I see Breyfogle's name on a Batman story.  

Overall, Batman: Dreamland is a decent, but ultimately pretty forgettable, solo Batman tale that falters over some poor story choices that seem to be aimed at padding out the length. Even so, Dreamland is still a pretty good read with some nice, solid art.  


Dark Horse (1992)
COVER: Arthur (Art) Adams

Godzilla: King of the Monsters

SCRIPT: Arthur (Art) Adams & Randy Stradley
PENCILS: Arthur (Art) Adams, Gracine Tanaka & Steve Moncuse


I really like the "In your face!" composition of this cover. . .but for some reason, Godzilla doesn't look as menacing as he should.  It's a very nicely drawn portrait with some great colors, but it's just not hitting me the way I think the artist intended it to.  Maybe Godzilla looks a bit too "cartoony" here?  I can't put my finger on it.


Our story begins with a race against time as a unit of the special anti-Godzilla task force called "G-Force" speeds toward the small Japanese island of Kiryoku to warn the inhabitants, who have turned their backs on 20th Century technology, that Godzilla is approaching and to help them evacuate.

As the United States Navy desperately tries and fails to delay Godzilla, G-Force hastily assembles the residents of Kiryoku and tries to convince them to leave their home.  They refuse to go, and instead lead G-Force to a shrine with a giant statue of an ancient demon warrior they claim is actually the stone form of the warrior (named Gekido-Jin) held in place by the spirit of a monk until needed.

As Godzilla begins rampaging across the island, the priestess performs the ritual to rouse Gekido-Jin from his stone slumber, and to G-Force's surprise, the statue comes to life and attacks Godzilla!  A brutal battle between the two giant titans ensues, but Godzilla is ultimately victorious.  

In the end, Godzilla heads back to the ocean, leaving the island in peace because of the fierceness of their ancient protector.

The End.


Hmmmm. . .okay.  Interesting.  A little research shows me that Dark Horse had a whole Godzilla continuity I never knew about, which is probably why this one-shot seems to start in the middle of an ongoing story and ends a bit abruptly.  

It's well-written and is actually a pretty good read, but I was a bit lost on the G-Force characters that the writers expected me to know about already.  I prefer a one-shot to tell a complete story that doesn't rely much on being connected to continuity, so this one didn't really hit the mark. 

That said, when you boil it down to the broth, this is basically an extended fight scene between two giant monsters.  And for THAT, it's not bad at all.  At the end of the day, the story doesn't seem to matter as much as this one-shot being a showcase for the fantastic artwork of Art Adams. . .and a fine showcase it is!

Adam's finely-detailed linework has a great sense of motion.  The cinematic angles and interesting staging of the action make the figures almost seem to move across the page as they battle!  The story may be a bit iffy, but the fantastic artwork is the REAL star of the show here.

Overall, this one-shot is a bit too connected to ongoing continuity to stand on its own.  But taken just as a fight between two giant monsters with some really great comic book artwork, it's not bad at all.


Marvel (2019)
COVER: Esad Ribic


SCRIPT: Esad Ribic
PENCILS: Esad Ribic


A fantastic painted cover in Ribic's signature "Sorta Frazetta" style!  I really like the sense of a moment of action frozen in time here, but as much as I generally enjoy Ribic's art,  he never really seems to get human faces right.  Maybe it's just me.  In any case, this is a really good comic cover that tells a story before you even open the book.


A young Conan sets forth from Cimmeria for the first time to see the world.  Along the way, he encounters savage wolves, mountain lions, and a giant bear.  Sometimes fighting, sometimes running for his life.

Once he has left the Cimmerian wilderness and begins to encounter inhabited lands, the young barbarian quickly learns that his fellow man are the most savage creatures to be found on his journey as he is taken prisoner and left for dead, hanging beside the road to a castle as a warning to thieves.

Conan manages to escape and kill the nobleman who sentenced him to death, then continues on his journey, now well aware that the dangers of the wilderness are nothing compared with the dangers of civilization.

The End.


As a huge Conan fan, I really enjoyed this tale of young Conan leaving home and encountering the dangers of civilized lands for the first time!  It's completely silent (except for a sparse handful of dialogue balloons written in undecipherable runes), leaning on Esad Ribic's painted art to tell the story.

In the hands of a lesser artist, this could have gone badly, but luckily Ribic's art has the expressive nature and cinematic ability to allow the reader to understand the flow of a story without words.  

That said, it ain't perfect.  Like I said in the look at the cover, above, Ribic is an extremely talented artist, but he's always had a bit of a problem with human faces and expressions.  That problem is amplified in a story that relies on expressions to help tell a story.  Fortunately, there are only a few places it's REALLY bad.  

One other small thing that nags me about this story is that it is supposedly a tale of fifteen year old Conan on his first journey outside of Cimmeria. . .but through the comic, Conan is depicted as burly and mature. Look at the page scanned below. Does that look like a teenager?  Once again, it's just an effect of Ribic's art style, but it did take me out of the story a bit.

Overall, this is a fantastic one-shot tale of young Conan discovering the dangers of civilization.  It's told completely through art, and each page is a feast for the eyes.  There are a few problems with facial expressions and Conan being drawn older than he should be, but other than those couple of bumps, this one-shot is a nugget of Longbox Junk gold.  


All in all, a pretty fine handful of one-shot comics!  Not a single stinker in the bunch, and all of them worth keeping an eye out for in the bargain bins.  I'd say that Star Wars: C-3P0 was probably my favorite, with Godzilla coming in last (just because it has in-continuity elements that don't stand alone very well), but overall, I'm happy with each comic in this batch of one-shots.

Up Next. . .

How about some more one-shots?  

Kid Colt, Fantastic Four, Indiana Jones, and Star Wars!

Be there or be square.