More reviews, but first: Horrific Poetry of Horrible Horrors
My eyes are the vessel through which these horrors are observed.
My brain is the muscle that interprets the pictures and words,
burning red hot, turning liquid in doing so
My ears are the escape path from which my liquid brain run
Congratulations Amalgam, you turned me blind, deaf and dumb.
And now, reviews:
Bullets and Bracelets - it’s interesting to see the creative talents involved in this project. Few, at the time, were superstars, although names like Mark Waid, Chuck Dixon and, here, John Ostrander were, and remain, solid talent in the industry. But, some, and Ostrander especially, completely jobs it here, just lazy, cliched writing, perhaps striving for a 70’s comic vibe with overt melodrama and cornball hero/villain encounters. He doesn’t even strive very hard at the “amalgam” part, using “Princess Diana” (the “bracelets”) in pretty much an unchanged form (well aside from sporting the horrific workout outfit that replaced the traditional Wonder Woman garb for a couple years) and the Punisher (the “bullets”) is supposed to be Steve Trevor mixed with Frank Castle (as “Trevor Castle”), but is essentially the Punisher with blonde hair and a soft spot for brunettes. Though estranged, they have a child together who has been abducted, at first they think by the Monarch/War Machine cross, but then they’re boom tubed to Apokalypse where they meet up with their old friend Big Titania, and duel with the Female Furies (unchanged from their DC incarnations) before meeting the big bad, Thanoseid. It’s all very silly, especially when they find out that Kanto, all grown up and a master assassin, is their son (*spoiler*). Guh, brain numb. Nice art from Gary Frank though.
Bruce Wayne: Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D. - Chuck Dixon brings in the most entertaining and probably the least cheesiest sense of amalgamation out of any of the dozen books. Here, Bruce Wayne is Bruce Wayne (no amalgam) but instead of being Batman he’s a super-spy. He works for Nick Fury and Seargeant Rock (both unchanged), who head up S.H.I.E.L.D. and he’s totally in love with Huntress #1 (Barbara something, likely a mix of Batgirl and Black Widow) and has mentored a couple of young heroes wearing the Moonwing (Moon Knightwing?) garb. They take on the Green Skull (Lex Luthor and the Red Skull mixed) but he’s killed by his own daughter Selina (#2) Luthor who takes over Hydra. At the end the whole place goes Kablam-o in an actually suspenseful cliffhanger. It’s outrageous Steranko-style super-spy mayham, illustrated by a then young Cary Nord, and my favourite of the lot, hell… I was even jonesing for a second issue when it was done.
Legends of the Dark Claw - Amalgam universe’s Bruce Wayne #2, merged with, obviously, Wolverine, in what you’d think was a cool costume/persona if you were, perhaps 12, but as an adult it’s more than just illogical, it’s mind numbingly bad (see poem up top). I’ve always been suspect of Larry Hama’s non-G.I. Joe writing talent and here it’s just as bad as anything of his I’ve read, add the Amalgam conceit on top and you want to get a drill and go trepanning until all the demons are let out of your skull. Hama introduces a second Huntress here (Carol Danvers) which further proves that nobody was really paying attention when all these comics were made. It’s twelve books people, surely you could have come up with something more cohesive…? The “Hyena”, a cross between, I dunno, Sabretooth and the Joker, is one of the worst creations of the Amalgam universe (frankly, I think the Joker should be the Joker no matter where he is, his insanity keeping him unique, but then that’s kinda clever, which few of the Amalgam books are).
Amazon - the most uninspired mix of Storm and Wonder Woman (Donna Troy) yields the dullest of all stories. Flying around high in the sky, Wonder Woman squares off against the god Poseidon, who contests her weather controlling skills against his ocean controlling skills. That lasts for a couple panels and then there’s page after page of background storytelling and Ororo teaching Poseidon a lesson that humbles him. It’s all talk, no action.
As I believe I mentioned, there was a second round of Amalgam comics in 1997, with the following titles:
The Dark Claw Adventures (done in the Batman Adventures animated style)
Generation Hex (Jonah Hex and Gen X)
Magnetic Men featuring Magneto (a second issue)
Super-Soldier: Man of War (a second issue)
Spider-Boy Team-Up (a second issue)
Thorion of the New Asgods (heh, Ass Gods… Thor and Orion, the latter of whom was dead in Bullets and Bracelets btw)
JLX Unleashed (a second issue)
Lobo the Duck (Lobo and Howard the duck!?)
Iron Lantern (Iron Man and Green Lantern… wouldn’t Green Lantern and Nova be the more logical combo?)
The Exciting X-Patrol (oh god, why more?)
Challengers of the Fantastic (as hinted at in Spider-Boy)
Bat-Thing (Man-Bat and Man-Thing? Why not Swamp Thing and Man-Thing? This shit makes no sense at all)
Aden bought the first three in the list, but I’m not sure if I have the heart, stomach or brain to read them. I realized that of all 24 of the Amalgam titles, I’d only purchased and read Dr. Strangefate previously (and, quite frankly even then that was more than enough).
Some new books for the sell pile.