Reviewer: James Hatton
Story Title: ‘It was A Dark And Stormy Night”
Written by: Kevin J. Anderson
Penciled by: Barry Kitson
Inked by: Gary Erskine
Lettered by: Rob Leigh
Colored by: Hi Fi
Publisher: DC Comics
In more recent days, I’ve been reading older stuff. My collection of old classic X-Men is over halfway through – which has been a mission since I started reading them. At San Diego, I picked up a hardcover version of EC’s old horror yarns. Sooner or later I’ll get to the DC-verse, and find out what all this hoopla is over superheroes in capes.
Seriously, there are people going gah-gah out there over a guy who has a lantern!? What a weird power.. a lantern… and there seems to be countless other weird superhero powers that were all the rage back in the pulp era. A Starman that ISN’T Jeff Bridges and a bad guy named ‘Lord Dynamo’ that wasn’t in the Running Man!
Wasn’t the Golden Age weird?
Before I go and talk about the plot. Before I tell you how much fun, if not a bit confusing, this book is. Let me tell you this. The dialogue is superb.
Johnny Thunder’s writing stories for old sci-fi and fantasy pulp books about his friends in the JSA, and not only does Kevin Anderson capture that ideal campy battle dialogue, but he captures the equally campy storytelling. The story that Johnny weaves is a standard superhero fare, but the way he writes it is just horrendous. How horrendous? I shall quote – “The horrific, horrendous horror was no more!”. Isn’t that just horrible? I love it!
Now, I will admit. Not being a classic DC guy, they could have had a man in a cow suit shooting plasma-milk at people, and I wouldn’t have known the difference — but what I do know is that there is a care put towards these old characters that shows even without my personal reverence of them. So I was a bit confused of who all of these people were, but no more confused than when I read Astro City for the first time.
The cover has to stand out as my favorite of the week. It’s eye catching because of it’s retro look, and seems like you would open it up and find out that it was as much Frazetta or Vallejo as it is John Watson.
I always find it interesting when writers have flashbacks to olden days. It makes for an interesting transition since the advent of computer coloring, and lens flaring, and other things like that. Kitson and Erskine have updated their classics well. The wide-eyed smiles and charming winks are all there in full force, but now they are gradient instead of speckled.
I can’t tell you how many cool little historical throwaways there are in this book, because some are completely lost on me. Why is it amusing that the guy with the whiskers arm-wrestling the blue masked guy? (Wildcat and The Atom, so I’ve been told) What is Tokyo Rose? Was Johnny Thunder that much of a dweeb in the original books? I have no idea.
I do know that for someone who has never touched a JSA related story, I just might with this as my launching spot. That, in and of itself, is the sign of a good book.