Campy comics, Greek gods and superhumans: comic-book stuff

In HERO-A-GO-GO: Campy Comic Books, Crimefighters & Culture of the Swinging Sixties, author Michael Eury claims the 1960s were the “Camp Age” more than comics’ Silver Age … but his definition of “Camp” seems to be “whatever I want to write about”; B’Wana Beast certainly ain’t the Lee/Ditko Spider-Man, but I don’t think he’s particularly campy, for instance. And Eury admits that some of what he’s covering, such as TV series The Prisoner and I Spy, isn’t campy at all. This is particularly notable in the first chapter on campy comics which runs randomly from Eclipso to the 1960s Captain Marvel.

That said, Eury does do a good job bouncing between topics including super-hero parodies (Super LBJ and the G.R.E.A.T. Society!), Saturday morning cartoon superheroes, Bond knockoffs (including Archie’s turn as The Man From R.I.V.E.R.D.A.L.E.), Beatles knockoffs (including DC’s swinging super-cool guitarist Super-Hip, below) and the Batman TV show. So worth a look if you’re into 1960s pop culture.

THE OLYMPIANS: Zeus, Father of the Gods by George O’Connor does a good job taking the assorted myths of the Titans, the creation of the world and the birth and childhood of Zeus and shaping them into a coherent narrative without losing the raw mythic quality. I’d heard O’Connor was good, and this confirms it.

MONSTRESS: Haven by Marjorie Liu and Sana Takada has Maika Halfwolf arrive in a port city where she must cope with treachery, schemes by the world’s various warring factions (as in the first two graphic novels, I can’t keep the sides straight) and the growing power of the demon inside her. Beautifully drawn (though a bit confusing in some of the action scenes) but this series still doesn’t engage me enough to keep buying (but I’m happy to read the library copies).

BLOOD ECHO: A Burning Girl Novel by Christopher Rice (son of Anne) is a novel, but with a superhero hook: Charlotte, the protagonist, having been raised by the serial killers who murdered her mother, now hunts the predators using a drug that gives her temporary super-powers. Given my fondness for off-beat superhumans like The Talented Ribkins, I thought this might be fun, but this is more of a literary character study, with lots of dialog and discussion and entire chapter devoted to the humdrum life of Charlotte’s cop boyfriend. Plus it’s written in present tense, which is usually a turn off. And one of the early chapters gave us the serial killer’s POV and I never like those — serial killers make good enough villains but their innermost thoughts are never anything but cliches.

#SFWApro. Cover by Carl Burgos and Bob Oksner (bottom), all rights remain with current holder.

 

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