Carmine Infantino

Howard the Duck 28 (November 1978)

Howard the Duck #28Carmine Infantino on Howard the Duck. It works out rather well. He’s got Frank Giacoia on inks. They have fun. It helps the story is fun too–these people who run into Howard go to the same psychiatrist, which wraps the flashbacks. Howard’s story has him breaking in to an army base. The army is experimenting on the populace.

With the Infantino pencils and Mary Skrenes’s over-the-top dialogue for all the squares, this issue of Howard doesn’t feel like Gerber’s usual work on the comic (he edits the issue) but it’s not bad.

It’s sort of one note and predictable and a little too cute, both in terms of plot coincidences and Howard and Bev (it’s out of continuity apparently). It’s Howard the Duck with artificial sweetener. All the anti-establishment stuff is there in exposition, but not in the storytelling.

But it could be much, much worse.

CREDITS

Cooking With Gas; writers, Marv Wolfman and Mary Skrenes; penciller, Carmine Infantino; inker, Frank Giacoia; colorist, Glynis Wein; letterer, Bruce Patterson; editor, Steve Gerber; publisher, Marvel Comics.

Howard the Duck 21 (February 1978)

Howard the Duck #21It’s a better issue than the recent norm, but Gerber still doesn’t have Howard on much of a path. At one point, Howard all of a sudden seemed like the perfect cultural relic from the Carter presidency, but it’s not.

Instead, it’s like Gerber is showing how much he can abuse the reader as far as the plot is concerned. Howard meets up with Beverly Switzler. Not Howard’s Beverly, but her uncle. What a joke. Gerber gave a fat dude Beverly’s name and ran him into Howard.

I’m not sure if the series has just gotten too tame (this issue has Howard battling the nicest, most likable murderous cult leader ever–one who even gets sympathy from the reader when Howard’s being sexist) or Gerber’s just lost interest.

But, it’s a better issue than usual. Carmine Infantino guest pencils. He and Janson are a neat team; contrasting while still complimenting.

CREDITS

If You Knew Soofi…!; writer and editor, Steve Gerber; penciller, Carmine Infantino; inker, Klaus Janson; colorist, Glynis Wein; letterer, Irving Watanabe; publisher, Marvel Comics.

Showcase 14 (May-June 1958)

20120427-225028.jpgOnce again, neither Flash story is particularly impressive, though Infantino (inked both stories by Frank Giacoia) creates some neat-looking space ships in the first one. The second has some great art for maybe three pages, then the quality falls off a lot.

The stories themselves read fast and don’t have much personality or thought. For example, in John Broome’s story, Dr. Alchemy turns lead into gold… then proceeds to rob a bank for money. Doesn’t make any sense.

That story also has Infantino resolving the big action in a small panel, which is boring. At least in the first story–written by Robert Kanigher–Infantino gives the finale the appropriate scale.

There’s also more of Iris thinking about Barry Allen being super-lame. It’s almost like Lois Lane is dating Clark Kent and constantly berating him. Of course, Barry’s barely a character, so who cares?

Still, it’s been worse….

Showcase 13 (March-April 1958)

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What a bad issue for Flash.

Joe Giella’s inks on Infantino don’t have any perspective. Faces are flat, even with features implying depth. Then, on the second story, Frank Giacoia’s inks give everything a sketchy look. Neither story looks like each other, much less the standard Infantino.

Robert Kanigher writes the first story, with Barry headed around the world to solve crises while still needing to make a date with Iris. Iris is mean to Barry, he’s a doofus and all of his rescues involve beautiful women who complement Flash. The action seems more like Superman: The Movie.

The second story has Flash fighting Mr. Element. Writer John Broome is big on fantastic events, but Infantino gives them tiny panels. Iris is still mean to Barry here, even if he’s a little less of a doofus.

The issue doesn’t impress, not for art, certainly not for writing. It’s rather tiresome.

Showcase 8 (May-June 1957)

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Unfortunately, this issue does not feature the Flash fighting a giant finger. Instead, he fights some evil triplets and then Captain Cold (in different stories). The first story–written by Robert Kanigher–is better. Barry has to figure different things out in order to defeat the bad guys and Kanigher does show some of Barry’s character. There’s also a lot of Iris (as comic relief) in the story.

For the Captain Cold story, John Broome spends more time on Len Snart’s origin than he spends on any personality for Barry. Worse is Broome’s “science,” which gives Captain Cold a hallucination-making device. It’s really dumb.

The art, from Infantino (inked by Frank Giacoia), has its highs and mediocre points. It never goes bad. Infantino occasionally comes up with some beautifully composed panels; they aren’t constant but they’re enough to make for engaging art.

The issue’s okay; Broome drags it down.

Showcase 4 (September-October 1956)

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It’s hard to say who’s more enthusiastic about The Flash–Robert Kanigher or John Broome. Kanigher does the origin, Broome does the second adventure. Broome tackles time travel… Kanigher has Flash in a speedboat. I guess Broome wins.

Both have Carmine Infantino (inked by Joe Kubert) on art. Infantino doesn’t quite know how to tell a superhero story in this issue. His panels are all matter-of-fact and he doesn’t dynamically compose them. Flash in the speedboat is beyond silly.

But Kanigher and Broome–while writing a boring character in Barry Allen–manage to still write a compelling one. The stories’ villains are goofy; Barry’s excitement at his new abilities make up for them.

I don’t think I’ve ever read these stories before. They’re extremely influential, not just for DC, but also for Marvel (particularly Stan Lee’s Spider-Man origin).

The stories are guardedly ambitious, especially the Broome one.

Detective Comics 500 (March 1981)

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For issue 500, DC went with something rather celebratory for Detective Comics–it’s very oversized (84 pages) and has many Detective Comics regulars–back to Slam Bradley–making appearances.

The opening Batman story, from Alan Brennert and Dick Giordano, is fantastic one about Batman going Earth-3 to save his parents. It’s a great, touching story. I love it. I’ve probably read it, in one place or another, like ten times.

The rest is mostly a mess. Len Wein’s Bradley story is atrociously written, the Mike W. Barr Elongated Man story is flat–the Hawkman story does have some beautiful Joe Kubert artwork and a nice Martian Manhunter cameo (he doesn’t appear otherwise).

The final story, by Cary Bates and Carmine Infantino, featuring Batman and Deadman, is a total mess.

I couldn’t get through Walter Gibson’s prose story.

But it’s worth it for the opener alone and it’s well-intentioned.

CREDITS

To Kill a Legend; writer, Alan Brennert; artist, Dick Giordano; colorist, Adrienne Roy; letterer, John Costanza. The “Too Many Cooks … ” Caper!; writer, Len Wein; artist, Jim Aparo; colorist, Tatjana Wood. The Final Mystery of Edgar Allen Poe!; writer, Mike W. Barr; artist, Jose Luis Garcia-Lopez; colorist, Wood; letterer, Costanza. The Batman Encounters – Gray Face; writer, Walter Gibson; artist, Thomas Yeates. The Strange Death of Doctor Erdel; writer, Paul Levitz; artist, Joe Kubert; colorist, Wood; letterer, Adam Kubert. What Happens When a Batman Dies?; writer, Cary Bates; penciller, Carmine Infantino; inker, Bob Smith; colorist, Roy; letterer, Costanza. Editor, Levitz; publisher, DC Comics.

Superman 242 (September 1971)

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The Pseudo-Superman story comes to its close with Superman choosing to be de-powered. It’s a strange move, since he’s still really, really powerful. Maybe not Silver Age powerful, but he hadn’t really been doing those feats during the rest of the issues… it’s a little confusing. It’s an effective scene, but it doesn’t hold up under much scrutiny.

Similarly, Superman’s decision to fight Pseudo-Superman to the death… again, shouldn’t he have tried to work something out with him.

It’s a good close though. O’Neil fits tons of story in–most of the issue focuses on these two bums slash crooks who “kidnap” an inter-dimensional being and use it to beat up Superman and terrorize the world in general. Some great art on those pages.

The beating up Superman scene is particularly rough to read, since it’s all so vicious.

The final scene’s a little anticlimactic though.

CREDITS

The Ultimate Battle!; writer, Denny O’Neil; penciller, Curt Swan; inker, Murphy Anderson. The Girl Who Didn’t Believe in Superman!; writer, Bill Finger; penciller, Wayne Boring; inker, Stan Kaye. The World’s Mightiest Weakling!; writer, Otto Binder; penciller, Carmine Infantino; inker, Bernard Sachs. Editor, Julius Schwartz; publisher, DC Comics.

Spider-Woman 5 (August 1978)

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Wolfman edited Spider-Woman too? I guess I hadn’t paid much attention. Now a lot more makes sense. Without any editorial oversight, Wolfman can keep going with whatever he thinks works (to be fair, Spider-Woman did run fifty issues–five years–so he must have been in sync with readers) and what does he go with? A dream issue.

I can’t think of a dream issue offhand I like–did Alan Moore do a Swamp Thing dream issue? I liked that one if he did. But here’s why I hated this one.

Who cares?

Wolfman doesn’t really work at making Spider-Woman a) a likable protagonist or b) even the protagonist of her own book. On the fifth issue, with all her neurosis, it’s clear she’s a lame character. He’s trying to force interesting characteristics; they aren’t helping.

Maybe I think I like Spider-Woman because of the cartoon.

CREDITS

Nightmare; writer and editor, Marv Wolfman; penciller, Carmine Infantino; inker, Tony DeZuniga; colorist, Michele Wolfman; letterer, John Costanza; publisher, Marvel Comics.

Spider-Woman 4 (July 1978)

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Can this series make any less sense? I mean, I’m not even going after Wolfman’s characterization of Spider-Woman as a social outcast who has a great vocabulary, not even mentioning the whole, everyone hates Jessica Drew thing. I’m getting the feeling I’d hate Jessica Drew too, if Wolfman were scripting her.

I don’t even know what happens this issue. Does Brother Grimm die? I thought there were two Brother Grimms. Didn’t the last issue cliffhang on that note?

And then the Hangman, one of Wolfman’s villains from Werewolf by Night, shows up. Wolfman layers on the melodrama in this series–it’s telling how he’s got the misogynist Hangman taking Spider-Woman captive after hogging her own book from her–Wolfman barely gives the titular character any time in her own book, instead concentrating on the male characters.

Infantino does a better job this issue.

There, I said something nice.

CREDITS

Hell Is the Hangman!; writer and editor, Marv Wolfman; penciller, Carmine Infantino; inker, Tony DeZuniga; colorist, Mary Titus; letterer, Joe Rosen; publisher, Marvel Comics.

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