Review Date: 09/26/2008

 Greatest Hits
Issue Number: 1 (of 6)
Title Story: Come Together
Publisher: Vertigo/DC
Writer: David Tischman
Artist: Glenn Fabry
Colors: The Hories
Letters: Todd Klein
Price (USD): $2.99
Release Date: NOW ON SALE
Genre: Super Hero
MATURE READERS (Comics on the Edge)

     DC Vertigo has a new six-issue mini-series entitled "Greatest Hits," with the sub-title "The Greatest Rock 'N Roll Heroes Of The '60's!"  The series is written by David Tischman and drawn by Glenn Fabry.
     The story centers on The Mates, a superhero foursome "doing their thing" (1960's phrase!) during the British Invasion rock 'n roll period in the 1960's.  The plot in issue #1 interwines two storylines, which flip back-and-forth: the origin of the group as they form in England, along with a present-day storyline of an effort being made to film a behind-the-scenes documentary about the group.  In an interesting sub-plot, the reluctant Director of the film is the estranged son of one of The Mates, with the specific identity of his father remaining a mystery, at least for this issue.
     Tischman has started this mini-series off to a very strong start.  It's clear that he's paralleling the early beginnings of The Mates with the factual origin of The Beatles.  His superhero group originates with two strong Lennon-McCartney like personalities, loses a member (a.k.a. Stu Sutcliffe) while gaining a happy-go-lucky new member (a la Ringo Starr), etc.
     I was very impressed with Tischman's ability to contrast the 1960's and present-day pop culture scenes.  In one comic issue, he skillfully manages to contrast the elements of innocence and naivete within the 1960's pop culture scene as it was being born, with the more harsh, cynical and corporate pop culture that we live in today.  The modern storyline scenes are frankly bleak and downright depressing at certain points, but unfortunately they are accurate, and serve as excellent counterpoint to this creative team's colorburst portrayal of the 60's pop cultural explosion.
     I also want to give credit to Tischman and Fabry for having a subtle hand in alluding to the Beatles.  It would be very easy to overemphasize The Fab Four here, to the point of it feeling forced and kind of fake.  Instead, the authors manage to parallel the Beatles history while establishing The Mates in their own identity.  Ticshman's even sharp enough to have the boys refer to The Beatles at the right point in the story, so we realize that they inhabit the same fictional world as opposed to being comic book knock-offs.  I wonder if The Mates and The Beatles might cross paths in an upcoming issue!
     As with a lot of the Vertigo comics line, this one is definitely not for young readers.  But for any adult, whether you personally remember the sixties or at least claim to be too young to remember, this is an excellent, intriguing start to a brief mini-series that mixes two very different social eras and cultural times in telling an entertaining story.

  A Tribute To Gene Colan (Marvel One-Shot)

     This one-shot tribute to artist and writer Gene Colan is produced by Marvel in conjunction with the Hero Initiative, a non-profit organization providing financial assistance to yesterday's comic creators.
     Chances are that most true comic fans with interests ranging from the Silver Age to the present day have at least once enjoyed the high quality creative work of the legendary Gene Colan.  While Gene has produced for both Marvel and DC, he's particularly known for working out of the Silver Age "Marvel Bullpen" of Stan Lee's heyday, producing magnificent silver age Marvel creations both on his own and in conjunction with Lee.
     This 96-page tribute issue reprints a wonderful representative sample of Colan's work for Marvel from the late 1960's through the mid-1970's.  Six stories are presented here: two Iron Man stories from Tales Of Suspense, a Doctor Strange tale, a Daredevil, a Doctor Doom and a Tomb of Dracula story.  Each story begins with a reproduction of the original issue cover, along with an introductory narrative tribute to Gene Colan from a Marvel contemporary or disciple.
     Both the Stan Lee and Ed Brubaker commentaries most accurately describe and pay tribute to Colan's importance toward the development of the post-Golden Age comic book; namely, his ability to introduce a cinematic element within the artistic style of the story.  Motion literally leaps off of the page in a Colan action sequence.  To this day, I've never seen another professional comic artist match Colan's ability to move a scene along purely on the art alone, irregardless of his narrative and plotting talent.  Non-action scenes are also powered by Gene's artistic rarity; even in a panel of two people chatting in a living room, the reader can sense the natural movement of newspaper pages turning, people smoking, characters moving their hands and crossing their legs.
     You don't have to be an old Silver Age fan to enjoy reading the six stories reproduced in this tribute issue.  All six stories are as modern in feel and detail as any decent new comic being produced today.  My personal favorite is the Daredevil story, the well-known iconic Silver Age classic reprinted from Daredevil #47, entitled "Brother, Take My Hand."  It's a moving tale of a disabled Army vet trying to adjust to life after Vietnam.  The narrative is absorbing, and then there's that matchless Colan artistic style.  Even the blind vet's guidedog seems to shamble across the page in cinematic motion.
     In sum, you'd be doing two good deeds at once by purchasing this rare gem of a tribute: contributing to a worthy charitable fundraising cause and treating yourself to some of the best, most timeless work of this wonderful genre that we call comics.


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