Jetpacks, Hulk and Supergirl: books read

As a kid, it seemed as inevitable we’d be flying to work on jetpacks by the 21st century, just like we’d have a lunar colony. Thus I was thrilled to order JETPACK DREAMS: One Man’s Up and Down Search (But Mostly Down) For the Greatest Invention That Never Was by Mac Montandon … and much less thrilled to read it. While this covers the history of jetpack as real-world tech adequately enough, along with appearance in TV, comics and movies from Gilligan’s Island to Thunderball to The Rocketeer, Montandon devotes far too much of the book to talking about himself.  How it was inspired by a mid-thirties crisis, his family’s experiences at a jet pack convention, his road trips to talk to jet-pack designers (people are still hopeful) …

This works in a book like Catch and Kill where the work to get the story becomes part of the story, but here it’s just tedious. And he makes one sloppy error, referring EE Smith’s The Skylark of Space as a person, not a spaceship (minor in the context of this topic, but still annoying). I wish he’d written more about the problems with jetpacks — while he covers the big ones (a pack with enough fuel for a long flight is heavy), one former pilot mentions in passing the problems with avoiding mid-air collisions — more on that would have helped. As is, a pretty feeble book that I’ll give away soon (not the first time I’ve regretted an impulse purchase).

IMMORTAL HULK: Or Is He Both? by Al Ewing and Joe Bennett opens some time after Hawkeye killed Bruce Banner in a crossover event (unlike so many TPBs that leave me guessing about this stuff, the ending includes the relevant backstory); now he’s somehow alive, wandering the country and trying to only hulk out when there’s someone who needs smashing. But there are things about the Hulk that Bruce has never fully understood, like the reasons he can never die forever …

When I read V3 of this run I wasn’t impressed, but V8 worked a lot better for me, so I decided to start from the beginning. Ewing says he grew up with the Hulk cartoon of the 1980s and was quite stunned to read a collection of the first Hulk series and realize Hulk could also be a figure of horror. While most reviews describe the book as horror, as I said reading Hulk in Hell, it’s not that different from the stuff superheroes deal with on a regular basis. But it’s well done, even though I’m not a Hulk fan, so I’ll continue with the series.

SUPERGIRL: Daughter of New Krypton by Sterling Gates and Jamal Igle is a good example of not providing context: this is part of a big Superman event involving New Krypton (the Kryptonian survivors had set up a new planet in our Solar System) and several key events take place between the issues collected here. On the plus side, Gates writes a good Supergirl, decent but still a little insecure, and unsure how to balance her Kryptonian and human lives. Unfortunately  it didn’t take as DC’s kept rebooting Supergirl over and over (they did that pre-Crisis too, but only to the extent of changing her job, her supporting cast, etc.). I haven’t seen a better take since Gates’, though.

#SFWApro. Cover by Jack Kirby, all rights to images remain with current holders.

1 Comment

Filed under Comics, Reading

One response to “Jetpacks, Hulk and Supergirl: books read

  1. Pingback: Graphic novels: Lots of women, plus some men | Fraser Sherman's Blog

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