Friday, June 1, 2012

Classic Comics - Brave and the Bold #61

In Wednesday's review I talked about Carmine Infantino being one of my all-time favorite DC artists in the 1960s. I should add that he had lots of serious competition, including Gil Kane, Curt Swan, Nick Cardy, Joe Kubert, Russ Heath and Neal Adams - among others.

But if you had a gun on me and forced me to name the single DC artist from the '60s whose work I enjoyed the most, I'd have to admit that my favorite was... Murphy Anderson.

His solo artwork is actually somewhat rare, since he was most often used as an inker (and an excellent one, at that) - but he also did loads of covers, especially for the Justice League of America (almost always uncredited), he did outstanding work on the new adventures of Hawkman and many other titles, but I suspect some of his favorite jobs were working on the Justice Society of America heroes.

In the mid-1960s he revived the Spectre and tackled four (I think) one-shot team-up appearances by heroes such as Dr. Fate and Hourman, and he did the art for two issues of The Brave and the Bold featuring Starman and Black Canary.

What a labor of love these issues are! Anderson's work is lush, showing the strong influences of the great Hal Foster and Alex Raymond and doing both masters proud. His characters are lively and animated, his Starman is the heroic ideal, and his Black Canary beautiful and capable, whether in a bare knuckles brawl with invisible henchmen or racing to rescue her teammate.

The story is by the great Gardner Fox, and it's a fun bit of business, as a wave of mysterious crimes is tracked to a most surprising source - the Black Canary!

Throw in a classic villain with The Mist, and it's a great "done-in-one" issue by Fox and Anderson.

It's mostly memorable for the art and the characters, but it was a rare chance for Starman to shine (no pun intended).

Sadly, the JSA-based issues must not have been a big success, because they quickly went back to only appearing in their summer crossover with the JLA and occasional guest spots in Green Lantern and the Flash - but what gems these issues are!

Grade: A


No comments: