Back Issue # 90 August 2016 (magazine review)

July 31, 2016 | By | Reply More

Back Issue # 90 focuses on eighties ladies in comicbooks. Most of them are super-heroines but more on that in a while. I should point out as a reminder that ‘Back Issue’ focuses on the bronze age of comics while ‘Alter Ego’ focuses on the silver age. Useful to remember for which age of comicbooks you prefer or which childhood you experienced.


As the cover shows, top of the list is ‘Elektra: Assassin’, a 6 part mini-series written by Frank Miller and painted by Bill Sienkiewicz with a bit of plotting and re-plotting from both of them. The original plans were for it to be part of the ‘Daredevil: Love And War’ graphic novel but it was editor-in-chief Jim Shooter who decided it should be a mini-series. Back in those days, painted comicbooks were a rarity and I know in the UK we were bemused by Sienkiewicz changing his MO so drastically but Elektra was a favoured character as well. Reading Christopher Larrichelle’s article, there was a muted silence in the USA until it triggered in some people that it was actually good, helped a lot by some negative newspaper press objecting to the first issue cover which actually helped sell issues.

Alison Blaire aka the Dazzler was originally created to be a cross-media character, matched with song material. When that flaked out, she went on to have her own life in the comicbooks. The insights from writer Roger Ash from the various scriptwriters as to why they brought in so many of the top gun characters so early in her career was to ensure she was firmly established in the top tier. There is also a brief look at her time in the X-Men animation series on TV.

Writer Dan Mishkin is interviewed bySteven Wilber about his 28 issue stay on the ‘Wonder Woman’ title of the 1980s and his introduction of new characters and sorting out Steve Trevor’s lives and deaths. There was also the matter of how to write DC Comics’ most perfect character at the time.

In many respects, I tend to feel sorry for Monica Rambeau. A dimensionalised character but laden with a too formidable power to work well in a team and given the name ‘Captain Marvel’ to ensure name copyright is preserved. As I stopped reading comics around 1993, I missed her name change from Photon to Pulsar (unusual choice as there was already an Imperial Guard by that name) to Spectrum. David Suiter interviews the various people involved in her career.

I often thought the real source of ‘Somerset Holmes’ alias came in part from James Bond, as he posed as David Somerset in ‘From Russia With Love’. From reading Philip Schweier’s interview with writer Bruce Jones, it was more the appeal of ‘Somerset’ being a tribute to writer Somerset Maugham and its soap-opera quality. Considering that I live in the county of Somerset in the UK where they name came from, it has a more rural or rustic status. Even so, Jones has hinted he wants to get a complete graphic novel released of the detective series, so pay particular attention to what is said here as it was a good mini-series deserving a revival.

Robert Greenberger looks at one of his own creations for DC Comics, Lady Quark, created for the ‘Crisis On Infinite Earths’ mini-series and to be one of the few survivors from Earth-Six. Her longest run was part of the ‘L.E.G.I.O.N’ series and she did better off-Earth than on it.

Martha Thomases is another creator who looks back on her co-creation and comic with Tony Salmons, this time with ‘Dakota North’, although more about the environment she created her in.

Finally, there is ‘Jezebel Jade’ from Comico and one I never saw although looking at the art here from Adam Kubert at the start of his career, is truly impressive. Jezebel Jade was one of the supporting characters in the ‘Jonny Quest’ series given her chance at stardom. The interview by Brian D. Stroud with Kubert and writer Bill Messner-Loebs fills in all the details.

While reading this edition, I did start to think about other female characters that might have been missed. Although a cartoon feature by Karl Heitmueller Jr. hits on some of them, I think he missed several others.

I should point out that none of these characters are particularly cheesecake and you certainly wouldn’t want to tangle with some of them unless you are combat ready. What you will come away from this issue of ‘Back Issue’ is a sense of nostalgia and a willingness to dig around in your attic to look at the original issues or, in some cases, get the reprints and that’s never a bad thing.

GF Willmetts

July 2016

(pub: TwoMorrows Publishing. 82 page illustrated softcover. Price: $ 8.95 (US). ISSN: 1932-6904. Direct from them, you can get it for $ 7.61 (US))

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Category: Magazines, Superheroes

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About UncleGeoff

Geoff Willmetts has been editor at SFCrowsnest for some 21 plus years now, showing a versatility and knowledge in not only Science Fiction, but also the sciences and arts, all of which has been displayed here through editorials, reviews, articles and stories. With the latter, he has been running a short story series under the title of ‘Psi-Kicks’
If you want to contribute to SFCrowsnest, read the guidelines and show him what you can do. If it isn’t usable, he spends as much time telling you what the problems is as he would with material he accepts. This is largely how he got called an Uncle, as in Dutch Uncle. He’s not actually Dutch but hails from the west country in the UK.

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