Monday, September 10, 2007

Shazam Family Archives vol. 1 Graded

Master Comics #23 “Capt. Nazi’s Assassination Plot.” Grade: A. Heavy on coincidence, but exciting and historically relevant.
Master Comics #24 “Death by Radio.” Grade: A-. A clever crime in the debut of otherwise B-grade villain, Mr. Macabre.
Master Comics #25 “The Case of the Face in the Dark.” Grade: B+. Not a logical chain of events, but Jr. stopping an invasion of Alaska is a great ending.
Master Comics #26 “The Return of Mr. Macabre.” Grade: B+. Turning Macabre green may have made him less interesting.
Master Comics #27 “Captain Nazi and the Blackout Terror.” Grade: A-. First in a series of adventures that are clearly set in Europe, with England being used as Jr.’s home base.
Master Comics #28 “Hitler’s Headquarters of Horror.” Grade: A+. A well-constructed “get-in, get-out” adventure tale highlighted by Freddy disguising himself as a short Nazi major and (maybe?) capturing Hitler.
Master Comics #29 “The Iron Heel of the Huns.” Grade: A. A solid, credible tale of the problems facing a resistance movement.
Master Comics #30 “Captain Marvel Jr. Saves the Doomed Army.” Grade: A-. A disturbing tale of Capt. Nazi poisoning U.S. troops – too disturbing for the light punishment Capt. Nazi keeps getting.
Master Comics #31 “The Case of the Missing Ambassador.” Grade: B+. Mr. Macabre is running a spy ring now. His only superpower seems to be his ability to take a lot of punishment from Jr.
Master Comics #32 “The Cripple Crimes.” Grade: B-. A weirdly ineffective tale of a Fagin-like corrupter of poor kids. Dr. Krool is more effective when he’s threatening kids with a Tommy gun than when he’s hiding behind some curious legal document that Jr. has to waste time stealing.
Captain Marvel Jr. #1
“Wings over Dazaggar!” Grade: B+. Another exciting, though not nearly as well drawn, encounter with Capt. Nazi.
“The Shadow that Walked.” Grade: B-. A sudden shift in the oeuvre has Jr. tackling urban crime and a mystery foe that any non-powered superhero could have handled.
“The Case of the Cripple Kidnappers.” Grade: C+. Capt. Marvel Jr. is starting to look more like Johnny Thunder than Capt. Marvel, as he takes on a gang of insurance scammers, including a man in drag for no apparent reason.
“The Cracked Safecracker.” Grade: C-. Magic powers are easier to believe in than this tale of elderly parents so naïve that they have no clue their son is a criminal.
Captain Marvel Adventures #18. Grade: B. Mary Marvel debuts in a goofy tale, highlighted by some rare comic exchanges between Billy and Freddy as well as the humor of seeing the vastly different art style of each character side-by-side. And, of course, it doesn’t hurt that Mary Marvel is hot.

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