Monday, February 28, 2011

Rayboy's Review: The Northern Guard #2 (Moonstone)

Thanks to Tommy Hancock over at Moonstone, I got an early look at another interesting title from their fine stable of books.

It's 2029 and most of the world has been without electricity for a year due to the actions of a renegade Russian scientist named Dimitri Tomkin, who attempted to render all nuclear stockpiles inert using updated Tesla technology. Tomkin’s alias is based on a heroic golden age character from Canada called The Red Rogue. The powerful energy beam that was unleashed worldwide did not effect nuclear material at all, but the conductivity of Earth’s metals was rendered inert.

A sole surviving zone, five hundred miles wide and three thousand miles long, stretching from Siberia across Alaska to Long Island, New York retains electricity. At the time of this great blackout, some people (and animals) inside this zone received bizarre abilities and many have organized under the leadership of genius scientist, Johnny Canuck as The Northern Guard.

Issue #2 is written by Ty Templeton (w/Sam Agro) and illustrated by David J. Cutler, whose art-style suits an all-ages sensibility. The story is both fun and well paced. Having not seen the previous issue, I’m not sure who all of the characters are by name, but there are a couple of standouts. Inuit goddess, Nanook Iluak is both powerful and somewhat at odds with the human woman she shares her form with. As Anne Knight, she is the romantic interest of Johnny Canuck, and there is a set-up for a romantic triangle with another hero called Freelance. He seems determined to put the moves on Nanook, despite the tension this creates with the other members of the team.

It is heavily suggested that Dimitri Tomkin’s (aka The Red Rogue) current efforts are in response to guilt over his previous actions, making him much more than a simple one-note villain. As a bonus feature, this issue includes a neat golden age reprint of the original Red Rogue.

If much of what passes for big universe heroics leaves you a bit cold these days, give The Northern Guard #2 a try. It is produced very much in the spirit of old school superheroics and that ain't a bad thing. Recommended!

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Science Fiction/Double Feature Presents: "The Secret of the Crater-Men" (Ziff-Davis;1951)

Our run of thrilling tales from Amazing Adventures #5 (Oct-Nov. 1951); originally published by Ziff-Davis, continues today with "The Secret of the Crater-Men" illustrated by Al Carreno. Don't forget to laugh along with today's humorous second feature from this very issue, "Cosmic Creeps". Enjoy!

Friday, February 25, 2011

"Gal" Friday! Emily Browning

Twenty-two year old Australian actress Emily Browning seems to be making a career out of stepping into roles vacated by other name talents. She first gained notice in the film adaptation of Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events, in which she played Violet Baudelaire. During filming, Browning was terrified of being fired for breaking character to laugh at co-star Jim Carrey's jokes. She was later cast as "Baby Doll" in Zack Snyder's upcoming action film Sucker Punch as a replacement for Amanda Seyfried, who dropped out due to scheduling conflicts. Browning has also recently signed on to play the lead in director Julia Leigh's upcoming Australian/independent film Sleeping Beauty, replacing her friend and fellow young Australian actress Mia Wasikowska, who was already committed to a Jane Eyre remake.

Browning herself earlier passed on what may have been a very lucrative role when she declined the part of "Bella" in the Twilight film franchise, despite an endorsement from original series author Stephenie Meyer. Sucker Punch is a blend of diverse genre tropes, sexy chicks, big guns and explosions. Toss in zeppelins, Nazi's, zombies and samurai and you have all the makings for one of this years wildest cinematic rides. It helps to have a smoking hot Aussie on hand too, so Ms. Browning easily earns the nod as this weeks "Gal" Friday selection.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Tabu, Wizard of the Jungle in “The Savage Ceremony” (Fiction House;1940)

Here is the golden age story post that was originally intended for yesterday. Tabu, Wizard of the Jungle appears in an untitled adventure that I've dubbed “The Savage Ceremony” from Jungle Comics #6 (June 1940); originally published by Fiction House. ["Robert Lewis"] is credited on the page, but Charles Sultan is the actual artist of record (per GCD).

The Catacombs is grateful to Don "Zu-Gogo" Falkos for providing the scans for this story. Note: The copyright for this issue, its contents and artwork belong to the original publisher and/or creators and is reproduced here solely for entertainment purposes.


Tuesday, February 22, 2011

In Memorium: Dwayne McDuffie

Comic book and television writer Dwayne McDuffie has passed away today due to complications from a surgical procedure yesterday. He was forty-nine years old. McDuffie’s notable works include creating the animated series Static Shock, writing and producing the animated series Justice League Unlimited, and co-founding the comic book company Milestone Media in 1992.

His comic book series work for Marvel, DC, Milestone & Archie included such titles as Damage Control, What’s New Scooby Doo?, Justice League, Fantastic Four, Blood Syndicate, Hardware and many others. His career writing efforts also earned him the Humanitas Prize for Children’s Animation, Comic Con Internationals Inkpot Award and both Emmy & Writers Guild of America nominations.

The Catacombs expresses its sincerest condolences to his family, friends and fans. Illustration (right) by Denys Cowan.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Science Fiction/Double Feature Presents: Mission to Malooka (Ziff-Davis;1951)

Commander Martin Hawkins finds himself caught between a rock and a hard place in "Mission to Malooka" from Amazing Adventures #5 (Oct-Nov.1951); originally published by Ziff-Davis and wonderfully illustrated by the legendary silver age great, Murphy Anderson.

Cmdr. Hawkins has earned an exemplary record during his tenure with the Perimeter Patrol, but his superior officer holds a grudge from the days when he served with Hawkins father, a strict martinet towards subordinates. Sent out on a mission, Cmdr. Hawkins is forced to divert from those duties in order to save his vengeful Commandants son (who was sent along on the same mission). Exiled onto a harsh planet for his display of mercy, Cmdr. Hawkins is ultimately rescued by a surprising ally.

The bonus feature today is the terrific front cover painting for this sci-fi series next to last issue by Allen Anderson. Enjoy!

Friday, February 18, 2011

"Gal" Friday! Adrianne Palicki

Producer David E. Kelley is set to launch a new NBC television series based on DC Comics iconic golden age heroine, Wonder Woman, and actor Adrianne Palicki has been chosen to star as the series lead character.

She is certainly an attractive young lady, plus she has earned high critical acclaim for her three season turn on the high school drama series, Friday Night Lights; but the most glaring thing about her casting that stands out for me as a comic book fan, is that Kelley must have a strikingly different "idea" of who Wonder Woman actually is. How an Amazon warrior princess from a Greek mythological setting translates into an All-American blond, girl-next-door corporate type is frankly beyond me.

Palicki previously appeared on Supernatural as Jessica Moore, Sam Winchester's doomed girlfriend in its pilot episode. Palicki also appeared as Judy Robinson in John Woo's unsold TV pilot, The Robinson's: Lost in Space, and was also cast in another potential DC Comics spin-off from "Smallville", Aquaman, which failed to go to series. Palicki starred in the 2010 apocalyptic-action film, Legion ,and she will be in the remake of the 1980s film Red Dawn. Of course, at this point nobody knows how this version will ultimately play out, either as a genuine homage to the celebrated original character or like Smallville, a mishmash of established characters and elements that have been strip mined and then force fed through a modern, politically correct sieve.

I will have to reserve judgement for the time being, but I am only allowing the slimmest length of rope on this one. Miss Palicki gets the nod this week for notoriety alone!

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Check out this terrific cover for Wonder Woman #611 (DC Comics)

I love this alternate cover for the May 2011 issue of Wonder Woman #611 by artist Alex Garner, but I don't buy books solely for the cover. That's too bad! If Garner was doing the interiors, this cover would have sold me on the book, no question.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

The Red Panther in "The Pitch-Blend Idol" & "The Ant Woman" (Fiction House;1940)

The Red Panther strikes twice today in back-to-back stories from Jungle Comics #4 (Apr. 1940) and Jungle Comics #5 (May 1940); originally published by Fiction House. The stories are credited to ["Taylor Martin"] on the splash pages, but Arthur Peddy is the actual artist on both of these short adventure tales. Neither had an official title, so I've christened them appropriately enough.

Admittedly, this is pretty standard stuff from the golden age, but it's still fun in and of itself. The Catacombs is grateful to Don "Zu-Gogo" Falkos for providing the scans for these stories. Note: The copyright for both issues, all contents and artwork belong to the original publisher and/or the creators and are reproduced here solely for entertainment purposes.


Saturday, February 12, 2011

Science Fiction/Double Feature Presents: Asteroid Treasure (Ziff-Davis;1951)

This week we close out issue #4 of Amazing Adventures (Jul-Aug 1951); originally published by Ziff-Davis. Captain Bright and his old pal, Gaffy, save a damsel in distress and then jet off in search of a little "Asteroid Treasure" in a finely rendered tale at least partially illustrated by Mort Meskin (credited as inker in the GCD). The second nifty feature today is the single page filler piece "Moon Theory." Come on back next Saturday for the penultimate issue of this fun silver age series. Enjoy!