Tag Archives: Jim Steranko

Extended quick shots for week 28: Nick Fury and ACE another Dutch comic

A dynamic panel from Nick Fury.Agent of Shield, by Jim Steranko

A dynamic panel from Nick Fury.Agent of Shield, by Jim Steranko

5. Strange Tales #156-163 (Marvel comics, 1967)                                                     7
I keep on plowing through the trade paperback of Nick Fury. Agent of SHIELD. The stories in here are being told in 12 page installments, because the original issues were split between Nick Fury stories and Dr. Strange stories. Issue 156 finally wraps up the first big arc, in which Fury is after Baron Wolfgang von Strucker or the Head Hydra as he was mostly known around then. I was glad to see this long winded rat race come to an end, and welcomed some shorter stories. But sadly writing wasn’t Jim Steranko’s strong suit. Regrettably, the art also took a bit of a dip, when Steranko stopped inking himself. I know that Bill Everett is no slouch either, but it just doesn’t look the same. As far as I have read now, without his own inks Steranko sadly devolves into a Kirby clone (was it the times, or just Marvel’s house style?)
6. ACE #2 (DROP comics)                                                                                                       6.9
And now for a little Dutch flavor. ACE stands for Action Committee Extraordinary, a pan European security agency with national branches. This series shows the adventures of the ACE team designated to the Netherlands. After a zero issue and the number one issue, writer Gert-Jan van Oosten is still setting up the team and the characters, but in this issue we get a gleam of the overall plot direction of this series. In this issue, we follow new recruit John Rock, who can copy knowledge and skills of the people he’s close to. We see Rock get recruited and initiated in the agency. But his welcome turns violent as he gets to fight ACE’s local martial arts expert and gets off on the wrong foot with another new recruit, who seems to be having a secret agenda of his own. Reading this issue, it felt like Van Oosten’s love letter to the classic Chris Claremont X-men. We have a bit of a danger room analogue, a quite physical welcoming ordeal, a team consisting of members with exotic powers as well as exotic ethnicities, fun banter between the characters and of course there is a Madrox the Multiple Man analogue. I love how subtle he manages to get these references in there, without it standing in the way of telling his story. The series’ artist is Ranjit Dommisse, a guy clearly channeling J. Scott Cambell (though a bit more cartoony), I love the way he portrays his women and the visual style he manages to set forth throughout this series. However, I have some issues with his linework and the lack of details (both in faces and backgrounds). Still, this issue’s got a beautiful two page spread introducing all the characters and a wonderfully choreographed fight scene.

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Runners up of week 27: Captain Roffa, Nick Fury, Invincible

2. Captain Roffa#2 / SUPER comics #2434 (Windmill comics)
I recently stocked up on all titles published by Rotterdam-based Dutch comic publisher Windmill Comics, so expect to see some of their products popping up in the following weeks. First up, Captain Roffa number two. This series stars Rotterdam’s own superhero while also offering a tongue-in-cheek Shazam parody. As in the first issue (click here to read my review), the first thing to strike me is the art. In contrary to the first issue, this one is in color and it’s amazing to see the detail in the thick-lined, tight cartooning of artist Boykoesh. Every issue of this series contains two stories. While these eight page comedy-adventure stories aren’t really to my taste, I have to admit that they are executed very well by writer Johan de Neef. The first story tells of an encounter with the Night Vampire (who looks an awful lot like Rotterdam’s own Jules Deelder) and in the second Captain Roffa gets help from the Giant of Rotterdam (back in the 1940’s the tallest man in the Netherlands). The biggest weaknesses of this issue are the two pinups: personally, I think they are a big step down from regular series artist Boykoesh, and I would really have liked these pages to be filled with more enjoyable content, such as the OHOTMU-style character bios’ that separate the two stories. But that’s just nitpicking: this issue is all kinds of fun and I hope it finds the hands of as much young readers as possible. If this won’t hook them on comics, I don’t know what will!
Art: 8              Writing: 7       Overall: 7.5

3. Strange Tales 150-156 (Marvel Comics, 1966)
This nearly comprises the first half of the 2000 Nick Fury, Agent of SHIELD trade paperback. I had always heard of the legend that is Jim Steranko, but other than his iconic covers was not familiar with his work. This trade paperback is basically a showcase of his first work in comics (besides these he had only done two Harvey Comics). The first three issues Steranko worked over layouts by Jack Kirby, with words by Stan Lee. Then there were two issues written by Roy Thomas and full art by Steranko and after that Steranko handled both writing and art. The first issue that was fully done by Steranko was a step backwards, he was still clearly getting his sea legs. But after that it Dyna-soars upward! Dynamic, cinematic action shown through groundbreaking sequential storytelling, makes this super spy caper a delight for the eye. On the writing side, things gradually get better from Stan Lee, to Roy Thomas, to finally Steranko unleashed. The first couple of installments clearly have more than enough word balloons obscuring the art in a manner that we have come to know from working the Marvel method. But still, if you take it for what it is –a fun throw back, over the top sci-fi, super spy series- you WILL be enjoying yourself
Art: 8              Writing: 7       Overall: 7.5

4. Invincible #92 (Image comics)
Many people have said it before, and most of the time I didn’t agree, but this issue really made me feel that Invincible has peaked and now is struggling along. I love the characters, the writing and the art –normally. But in this issue Robert Kirkman’s writing felt disjointed and the art was just not as good as I have become used to of Ryan Ottley. Sadly the same goes for the pages drawn by Cory Walker. While the overall plot is enjoyable and fun –Invincible is depowered and Robot and Monster Girl talk about what happened when they were in another dimension (for 700 years!), the subplots left me entirely cold and the one with ‘black Invincible’ even made me cringe…
Art: 7              Writing: 6       Overall: 6.5