Thursday, February 19, 2015

Return Of The Originals!

I remember when Return Of The Originals: Battle for L.A. hit the stands and being a little bit interested, but alas I didn't pick it up. Found it a few weeks ago for a few bucks and thought it was well worth the tiny gamble. It was...sort of.

Moonstone has been a favorite publisher of mine now for several years. I followed their Phantom comics with glee and found most of them quite strong. It was a sad day when Moonstone lost that license to Dynamite who have had a difficult time with it. Moonstone though seems to a durable group and tried out some of the vintage pulp heroes not already being produced. Among these are the Phantom Detective, The Black Bat, G-8, Secret Agent X, and Domino Lady.

This story by  C.J. Henderson and artist Mark Sparacio is one of Moonstone's near-comics, actually a  relatively short yarn with a multitude of illustrations. Sadly this story is too short for the heavy cast and the art is ill-suited for the vintage World War II atmosphere the story attempts to convey.

We first encounter Secret Agent X as he attempts to survive his latest mission which has resulted in intel that the United States is about to suffer a devastating secret attack from the Japanese.  But survive he does and his info is passed to the Black Bat who recruits The Phantom Detective and the pair uncover further secrets.

The result is a trip to the west coast and ultimately Los Angeles where they meet up with Domino Lady and an older G-8. The story simmers but doesn't really ignite at any point and never does Henderson generate any real sense of a threat which might actually harm the heroes. Sure they fight and fight some more, but somehow it all feels too pat.

The Domino Lady really has no role of significance and seems added merely for the visual qualities the character brings to any story she participates in. She is a character who works better in prose than comics, since her costume is absolutely ludicrous for crime-fighting.

One of the biggest drawbacks for me is the art of Mark Sparacio. He's a capable and talented artist no doubt, but his characters all feel too real and too similar. I cannot really tell the male characters apart unless they perhaps have a mustache or something. The shimmer Sparacio brings to his artwork seem out of place in this supposedly gritty pulp tale.

All in all this package was reasonably pretty but fundamentally dull, the worst thing a pulp adventure can be.
Pretty cover art though.

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