Our friends over at Dynamite Entertainment have a fun announcement to make at Emerald City Comicon. On the first day of ECCC, it was announced that comic book writer Van Jensen (The Green Lantern Corps, The Flash) will write a new wrinkle in the Six Million Dollar Man franchise with his all-new series, “The Six Million Dollar Man: Fall of Man,” with the first issue set for release July 13th.
If you are looking for a nice hit of pulp-noir, then you’ll want to try this mashup, “Grendel vs. The Shadow,” which throws in some time travelin’ in the bargain. Written and drawn by legendary Grendel creator Matt Wagner, this ode to gangsters and molls is sure to please. For readers new to Grendel and The Shadow, this is a great starting point. Let Matt Wagner, who refined The Shadow character at Dynamite Entertainment and brings, Grendel, an iconic Dark Horse favorite back in the ring, be your guide.
Vampirella, created by Forrest J. Ackerman and Trina Robbins, back in 1969 for Warren Publishing, has a nice place in pop culture history as a vampire pin-up in an amazing sling nearly-naked suit. It is definitely iconic and definitely sexy fun. What I’ve always maintained is that, while you can have all the sexy fun you want in comics, don’t try to pretend it is anything more than exploitation if your actual story hangs by a thread and you are, in fact, only selling T&A. If you want to sell T&A, then have the balls to be honest about it.
In the case of Vampirella, this puts Dynamite Entertainment in an interesting position, since they’ve taken over the rights to the character in 2010. Dynamite’s reboot began with a story by Eric Trautmann, an Xbox games writer. Vampi is covered up in some rugged, very unrevealing gear, helps out a homeless guy, and is very earnest and boring. I say this sort of tongue-in-cheek. I appreciate that Dynamite continues to explore possibilities for the sexy vampire. And that brings us to this one-shot story written by Mark Rahner, known for mixing political commentary with zombies in his series, “Rotten,” and illustrated by Cezar Razek, a Dynamite favorite (“Hack/Slash,” “Red Sonja”).
So, what do you get when you mix a terribly self-conscious sex symbol with a writer who revels in exposing the right wing agenda? Well, interestingly enough, you get Vampi right back into that bombshell bikini, no apologies. That is fine and Cezar Razek can draw the hell out of that assignment. I would just remind Mr. Rahner that the right wing, while repressed, enjoys cheesecake just as much, if not more so than liberals (since the right is supposed to be so repressed. Ha ha.) But that fact is not lost on this writer. As is his want, he takes things as far as he can go: the great menace in this issue is a bunch of demonic Pilgrims out to subdue lust by bludgeoning any fornicators in its sights, particularly teenaged fornicators! Down with the teenaged fornicators!
Hey, that could be the title to a forthcoming one-shot: “Vampirella and the Teenaged Fornicators!” I could write that one for you, Dynamite. Seriously, I can see Vampirella taking on more satire and just chucking away a lot, if not all, of the earnest crime fighter crap that just doesn’t go anywhere. Well, I’m sorry, but there is a lot of truth to what I’m saying. Yes, writing, good writing, matters. In Mr. Rahner’s case, he does something different, and interesting, here.
As far as this being a biting satire on Buffy The Vampier Slayer, I could take it or leave it. Overall, it comes across a bit too heavy-handed for my taste. If you really want to take on Joss Whedon, then you have to go about it more like a friendly rival and not just mock like poking fun at his use of pop culture references. These are references made by his characters within a larger context. If you really want to poke fun, it would involve more of the look and feel of the characters as in their tendency to be emo. Anyway, I don’t have much more to say on this other than this one-shot offers something different and it is worth considering as new paths are charted for the scantily-clad vampire.
This was a special Halloween release so you can already find it on the shelves or seek it out online. Visit Dynamite Entertainment.
Newspapers are dying. They will never be the same again. Our two biggest superheroes, Spider-Man and Superman, must deal with change at The Daily Bugle and The Daily Planet. In both titles, the venerable buildings that were home to these papers have been blown up! We see Peter Parker and Clark Kent embracing one tech gadget after another. All this is very symbolic of change but we rarely, if ever, get much of a sense of what’s it’s really like to work in the news business, from either Spidey or Supes, much less take a serious look at any of the issues that newspeople grapple with. What if a veteran reporter, with a lot to say, were to give us a firsthand look inside the newsroom? That’s what we get in “GREEN HORNET ANNUAL #2,” written by former Seattle Times reporter, Mark Rahner.
The inside look we get at The Daily Sentinel made me think of “Page One: Inside The New York Times,” a 2010 documentary mixing fly-on-the-wall observations with interviews. Much like this doc, we get a taste, a very bitter taste, of how under the gun newspapers are today. Rahner does a great job of filling out Britt Ried, the newspaperman by day/Green Hornet by night, and the intense pressure he’s under to keep his paper relevant. As “Page One” makes clear, the downward spiral has been many years in the making, way before the assumed culprit, the internet. The source of the shift to a lower status for newspapers began with Gannet Publishing in the late ‘70s and its USA Today that set the standard for soft, easily digestible, news as opposed to challenging, deeper, hard news. Well, that’s exactly what Britt is battling. He demands that his newspaper get back to creating work they can be proud of instead of vanity pieces in hopes of winning news industry awards.
With the pressure of attempting to live up to his father’s legacy as head of a major newspaper and as the Green Hornet, Britt Reid is mad as hell. His mentor, Kato, has no problem with stoking the fires. Kato is there to put a even finer point on the mess: newspapers have essentially given up and taken to parroting whatever corporate and government interests want to promote. It was different back when Britt’s dad and Kato ruled the night. But all Britt can seem to do at first is let his anger get the better of him. At the start of our story, Britt confronts a couple of brutes in a bar who were making fun of the demise of The Daily Sentinel. Given that these crude fellas were even bothering to discuss media, it seems like Britt could have at least tried to engage them in conversation. Instead, he beats the crap out of them.
What propels the action is the discovery by Britt, during a newsroom meeting, that there’s at least one truly compelling story that’s being worked on, an expose on human trafficking. But the story is being worked on by “Baron” a prima donna who seeks perfection and so it will be weeks, maybe months, before that series of articles will see print. This becomes the catalyst for Britt to return to the ideals of his father: make the newspaper work to get information on the all the corruption and wrongdoing to make the Green Hornet’s job that much more efficient. The story runs at a quick pace and is served well with bold artwork by Ronan Cliquet. He certainly has a good sense for capturing the various facial expressions of someone who could really benefit from some anger management.
“Green Hornet Annual #2” gives us an angrier and grittier Green Hornet ready to get the job done. Rahner’s take on the Green Hornet gives us a more realistic crime fighter that makes for a thrilling story. Here’s to seeing more of Rahner’s Green Hornet. Published by Dynamite Entertainment. Script by Mark Rahner. Pencils by Ronan Cliquet. Colors by Impacto Studios. Letters by Marshall Dillon. Cover by Phil Hester. 42 pages, $4.99. Visit Dynamite Entertainment.