Markley’s Fevered Brain: Something New and Somethings Old

Wayne Markley

Wayne Markley


by Wayne Markley

This time it is a mixed bag of collections of ‘80s and ‘90s material from DC Comics and a brand new graphic novel from Dark Horse with great art by Jerry Ordway. DC releases a lot of collections every month, mostly of more recent material. Fortunately for us there is an occasional collection of vintage material, particularly DCs Silver Age and Golden Age collections, which are similar to Marvel’s Epic Collections, and collect classic DC material. DC also has been collecting various writer’s work into collections and there are two of them that I am going to review this time. The first is the final volume of Mark Millar’s Swamp Thing and the other is the first volume John Ostrander’s excellent Suicide Squad (which to be honest I am pretty sure DC is releasing due to the upcoming movie more than Ostrander’s great writing.)

Swamp Thing: Trial by Fire

Swamp Thing: Trial by Fire


The final volume of Mark Millar’s Swamp Thing is called Trial by Fire and it collects the end of the second run of Swamp Thing, issues #161-171. Once again Millar is joined by artists Phil Hester and Kim DeMulder and there is a special fill in issue by Curt Swan. The covers are beautifully drawn by John Totleben. In these stories there are numerous guest stars including the Phantom Stranger, Sargon the Sorcerer, Stalker, Constantine, Nightmaster and others and they all play part in Millar’s largest tapestry of a story he had attempted at this point. It is a vast and sweeping story that find Swamp Thing gaining god-like powers and planning to wipe out humans. Tefe, who is not human, even though she is his daughter, is Swamp Things secret weapon is this massive arc. Also Millar introduces the character the Word, who is equivalent to the Specter. Millar also brings back Chester Williams in a story that reflects today’s right wing political world very accurately (frighteningly so).

The final story called Trial by Fire and is a five part story leading to the end of Swamp Thing and the re-setting his world. This is the big payoff that Millar is building towards throughout his run. The end is good, but not as riveting as I think Millar was going for. But I have to give him credit for trying. Also it should be noted that Abby also returns and plays a big part is these final stories.

Overall I really enjoyed this conclusion to Swamp Thing. I do not think it went too far as he did in the previous volume, and the art is still not my favorite style, but it was nice to see Curt Swan (which may have been his last professionally published work) but I would recommend this to anyone who enjoyed the first two volumes or is looking for an epic supernatural thriller.

Semiautomagic

Semiautomagic


Semiautomagic is an original graphic novel collecting the chapters from Dark Horse Presents written by Alex De Campi with just amazing art by Jerry Ordway (why is he not drawing a monthly book?). There are also amazing colors by Marissa Louise which really add to the art and greatly enhance it. The story is about Alice Creed who is a college professor, a monster hunter and sort of a supernatural detective. This is definitely a horror story with lots of Lovecraftian monsters and overtones mixed with modern technology, plus lots of creepy crawlers. But be forewarned it is very violent and not for kids. Overall it is a solid and entertaining read but again the art makes it a must read.

Suicide Squad Vol. 1: Trial by Fire

Suicide Squad Vol. 1: Trial by Fire


Suicide Squad Vol. 1: Trial by Fire collects the Secret Origins issue (#14) with the origins of the group and the first eight issues of their ongoing book. Let me first be clear; this is the 1980s version of the team, not the current version of the team and the stars of the soon-to-be released movie. The team is part of Task Force X (from the 1960s Brave and the Bold stories) and is headed by Amanda Waller and the team is led by Rick Flagg. The rest of the cast changes from story to story depending on the needs. Most stories include Deadshot, Bronze Tiger, Enchantress, Capt. Boomerang, and others. All of these stories are written by John Ostrander and they are great. He does an amazing job of weaving together stories from throughout DCs history to make this team seem like they were designed to be together even though his source material varies over the prior fifty years and really had little to no connection to the origin story he created in Secret Origins. It is really a thing of beauty to read. The art is by Luke McDonnell and Karl Kesel (and later Bob Lewis takes over the inks.) The art is typical for mid ‘80s DC; not bad but nor particularly great. The stories are sort of like Mission Impossible as different villains are sent out on impossible missions with the promise to have their jail sentences reduced if they succeed and behave. What I loved is how well these stories are written. There is intrigue and betrayal all over the place and characters from around the DCU keeping popping up when you least expect it. A little side note, the team first appeared as the Suicide Squad in the DC miniseries Legends by Ostrander, Len Wein, and John Byrne which was also recently collected into a special 30th anniversary edition (and is also quite good). If you are a fan of the current Suicide Squad or the movie, this book may not be for you as it is far tamer and far less violent than the current version of the characters (and there is no Joker). Personally, I had forgotten how great these stories were, and I was thrilled to rediscover them. Fortunately for me there are currently three more volumes of Ostrander’s Suicide Squad for me to enjoy.

Well, that wraps it up for this time. A mix of two very different collections from DC Comics and an original graphic novel with fantastic art by Jerry Ordway. Everything written here is my opinion and in no way reflects the thoughts or opinions of Westfield Comics or their employees. I would love to know if you have read these books and what you thoughts? Did you enjoy them? Hate them? What are you reading these days? I would like to know. I can be reached at MFBWAY@aol.com or on Facebook at Wayne Markley. As always,

Thank you.

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