Friday, August 18, 2006

Comics Review- Ghost Rider
Ghost Rider #2 (script- Daniel Way; art- Javier Saltares/Mark Texiera): The Ghost Rider has finally escaped his prison in Hell, but he has accidentally allowed the Devil and a hoary host of demons to follow him to the Earthly plane. The story opens up with Johnny Blaze on a desolate stretch of desert highway. His bike has long run out of gas. He gets picked up by a buxom lady truck driver named Dixie (if only they all looked like that), and while at a truck stop 90 miles away, guess who shows up... it’s Lucifer- who apparently has the power to inhabit the bodies of the dead-- he’s possessed a recently deceased grandfather, and has his mourning family trapped in a van at the truck stop, with gasoline overflowing from the tank.. The presence of evil lights Johnny’s fire, and he starts battling the horned one-- but he is now faced with a dilemma-- Lucifer now stands with a lit match in front of the van with his kidnapped victims inside, gasoline all over.. Double-daring GR to fight him, and risk his own flame-- or the match-- of igniting a deadly fire..
This time around, Johnny’s personality stays intact when he becomes the Ghost Rider-- apparently like the earliest comics.. The issue ends with a cameo by the Sorceror Supreme, Dr. Strange..

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Bring that Beat Back!

"Bring that Beat Back" is a really good remix project, overseen by Chuck D and compiled by Impossebulls’ founding member Dave ‘C-Doc’ Snyder. Except for a "Public Enemy #1", all of the original songs remixed here are cherrypicked from 1999 to the present, covering the period since Public Enemy left Def Jam and went independent for all future LP releases. C-Doc is behind the boards on several of the remixes here, including the title track, "Gotta Give the Peeps", "Put it Up", and "Watch the Door". Longtime PE associate DJ Johnny Juice Rosado remixes the Moby collaboration "MKLVFKWR"; Bone Thugs-N-Harmony producer Mauly T gives a west-coast funk feel to "Superman’s Black in the Building", with wailing synthesizers and Roger Troutman-style voice-box backup vocals. Other remixes make diversions over jazz-like sonic terrain, as well as the band’s traditional noisy-uptempo rhythm tracks. This is only one of a planned series of archival-based Public Enemy releases (Greatest Hits is in stores now), with even more to come, like "Beats & Places" and "World Tour Sessions".

Monday, August 14, 2006

Spider-Man Family: Amazing Friends
A ‘one-shot’ issue from Marvel Comics; $4.99 U.S.

Many of today’s cartoon watchers will know this show from Toon Disney/Jetix, but I’m old enough to remember when Spider-Man & his Amazing Friends debuted on NBC in 1981. This was a blissfully pre-Internet, pre-mega-convention era, so there was no stir-up buzz a year before the show came out. About the only thing I noticed beforehand was a comic-book ad that showed all the planned NBC fall cartoon shows, a few months before (back then, I didn’t have access to comics on a regular basis, so even that was a treat). The show produced a total of 24 original episodes (running on NBC until ’86). No, most of the animation wasn’t groundbreaking (hey, what was in the early 80’s?), but the writing was top notch, as it captured the sometimes flirty, sometimes contentious relationship between three college-aged superheroes. At that time, I had never heard of Iceman, and my knowledge of the X-Men was fairly dim (Nightcrawler and Beast were the only X-heroes I was familiar with, for solo appearances in Spidey team-up books). Obviously, Firestar was brand-new, though, probably like a lot of kids, I assumed she was in the comic books as well. Well, she wasn’t—in fact, she didn’t make her debut in the Marvel Universe proper (616) until Uncanny X-Men #193, circa ‘84—as a pawn of then-villainess White Queen, no less. She was much younger (around Sprite’s age), and clearly not a contemporary of Iceman and most of the then-current team (What with the recent Deadly Genesis revelation, I suppose she could have been retconned into being a secret recruit that quit off-screen.. But I digress.. and sheathe your daggers, please..)
Current comics stands have Teen Titans Go!, Justice League Unlimited, and several other animation-based titles. Currently, in an era when just about any animated show is guaranteed to at least have a comic-book mini-series or an ongoing, it seems odd that Marvel would only publish a flimsy one-shot based on SMAF, and never look twice at the possible sales gold they could have had with a companion title to the show. I guess they figured there wouldn’t be any money in it (wasn’t this during Shooter’s tenure? Never mind, we won’t go there…). Over the years, there have been an assortment of team-ups of Spidey with Iceman, and Spidey with Firestar, but never with the (alternate-dimension only) legendary Spider-Friends together in one adventure. In the words of Bobby Brown, that ain’t justice!
At last, Spider-Man Family: Amazing Friends features an all-new (lost) story involving Spider-Man, Iceman and Firestar. Written by Sean McKeever (with art by Pat Olliffe and others) the story doesn’t violate 616 continuity, and takes place when Spidey was already married to Mary Jane, and Iceman had just rejoined the X-Men fold after his run with X-Factor. One of the cartoon series’ made-for-TV villains, Videoman, makes his retroactive debut here. Apparently Iceman has just broken up with a girlfriend (Opal Tanaka?) and so Spidey decides to set him up with Firestar (who runs into the guys while on a break from the New Warriors). The rest of the story explores what happens after their date, and the obvious dichotomies of fire and ice. The story’s pretty lighthearted, and doesn’t make any waves continuity-wise, for time-skeptics. The backup features include a ‘mini-Marvels’ humor tale, and reprints from Spider-Man 2099 and Untold Tales of Spider-Man.