And more books

I’m not sure a writer as associated with horror as Psycho-scripter Robert Bloch could get away with publishing a low-brow comedy such as IT’S ALL IN YOUR MIND these days. The plot involves a mechanical tool for psychoanalysis causing a nerdy collegian to manifest his inner conflicts such as sex drive (he can teleport women’s clothes off), primal instincts (he becomes an ape) and the death urge (vampirism!). Fun, though hardly P.G. Wodehouse.
THE BATMAN CHRONICLES Volume Nine runs through the spring and summer of 1943. During this period, we get a couple of so-so Joker stories, a fair Penguin story, some topical tales (a battle against pirates preying on fishing boats emphasizes that fish provide vitamins our soldiers need to stay strong!) and two notable debut. One is Crime Doctor Matthew Thorne, a surgeon and criminal thrill-junkie (easily the best of several Moriarty-like crime planners they used in the early 1940s) and the other, Alfred, Bruce Wayne’s new butler and amateur detective. If not the best of Batman, this is still a fun era.
THE FOREVER PEOPLE trade paperback collects the weakest of Jack Kirby’s “fourth world” series from the early 1970s, the story of a quirky band of “hippies” from New Genesis (I wondered at first why everyone saw their super-hero style outfits as hippie chic, then I remembered that to have shoulder-length male hair in that era screamed “counter culture”) battling Darkseid’s schemes to get the Anti-Life Equation and reduce all living things to slaves (this series spelled out explicitly that life is making choices and exercising free will; if you lose or give that up, you become part of Anti-Life). The first eight issues strike me as an arc to that effect (culminating in Darkseid’s near success), followed, unfortunately, by two issues attempting (at DC’s insistence) to reboot the super-hero Deadman (didn’t work for either Deadman or the Forever People) and then a final issue. Even the opening arc is weaker than Mr. Miracle or New Gods, without their more focused narrative (we get a whole issue of time travel that comes off as pure filler). And why would inhabitants of New Genesis recognize Abe Lincoln or read 1984?
I will, however, give Kirby credit for having young free spirits as his protagonists: For most comics creators of his generation, youth culture (and hippies, and leftists) was something to wag fingers over, not celebrate. Not to mention that Kirby’s energy can infuse even a battle with Mantis (Spider-Man’s foe Electro with delusions of grandeur) and make it feel larger than life.

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3 Comments

Filed under Comics, Reading

3 responses to “And more books

  1. Pingback: Nor battle to the strong « Fraser Sherman's Blog

  2. Pingback: On rereading Jack Kirby’s Fourth World, post the first (#SFWApro) | Fraser Sherman's Blog

  3. Pingback: Kirby’s Fourth World, post the second (#SFWApro) | Fraser Sherman's Blog

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