A Greener Shade of Kale – Superman/Top Cat Special Review

Superman Top Cat coverAlong with Scooby Doo, Hong Kong Phooey and Captain Caveman, Top Cat was a Hanna-Barbera cartoon that became a staple part of my childhood in the 70s. So, when the call came out from Weird Science Towers for people bold, crazy or stupid enough to review the latest round of DC/Hanna-Barbera specials, I got my request in quickly. Not having read any of the solicits for these issues (I mean, really, why would you?), I had absolutely no idea what to expect. Would this one-off special be an overly earnest disappointment, a right-on politically correct ‘satire’, a rollicking good-time adventure or something else entirely?  Let’s find out!

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Exit Stage Left: The Snagglepuss Chronicles #4 – Review

Snagglepuss 4 CoverHeavens to Murgatroyd! It’s Snagglepuss time! After last month’s gentler, more reflective, issue, which gave us a break from Gigi Allen and her one-woman crusade to rid 1950s America of cultural deviants and ‘agitators’ (a word we’ll hear more of in a moment), this issue sees the return of a more explicitly satirical focus. Will Ms Allen succeed in ensnaring our pink-haired hero and get the evidence she needs to out him as a gay man (lion)? Will Huckleberry Hound find the love and acceptance for which he’s been longing most of his life?

There is, as ever, only one way to find out…

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The Ruff and Reddy Show #4 – Review

The Ruff and Reddy Show 4Another month, another issue of The Ruff and Reddy Show, a comic book whose very existence continues to baffle and bemuse me. Last issue saw the titular pair do the dirty on their agent, Pamela, and take up the offer of industry veteran Aldo “Crafty” Schrafft. Will this issue be as predictable as it is beautiful (Mac Rey’s art continues to be the one shining point of the series)? There’s only one way to find out, doncha know? And here it is…

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Exit Stage Left: The Snagglepuss Chronicles #3 – Review

Snagglepuss 3 coverI must admit I was a bit harsh on this series to begin with, but it’s beginning to grow on me. After last issue’s ending, which indicated that our pink hero would soon have to appear before the government committee trying to clean up the performing arts in 1950s America, the stage seemed to be set for some kind of confrontation and, presumably, a considerable quantity of drama. While there is indeed a fair number of dramatic goings on here, it’s very much an incidental issue, replete with charm, humour and a surprising level of pathos.

Let me explain…

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The Ruff and Reddy Show #3 Review

The Ruff and Reddy Show 3 coverChaykin and Rey’s The Ruff and Reddy Show is one of the strangest comics I’ve ever been asked (oh, okay – volunteered) to review, but I think this might be the issue when I finally get some kind of handle on it. The last two issues have seen our titular pairing, after a long period of separation and obscurity, reunite in a bid to relaunch their careers. That it’s taken this long to reach that point is largely down to Chaykin’s decision to turn his ‘story’ (if that’s the right word for a narrative this threadbare) into a vehicle for a satirical look at the entertainment business, whose scattergun approach has yielded entirely predictably mixed results. The end of this issue marks the midway point of this story, though, and it looks light it might actually be moving a bit more purposefully. And thank goodness for that…

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Exit Stage Left: The Snagglepuss Chronicles #2 – Review (DC Comics)

Snagglepuss 2 coverWell, this is better. The first issue of this reimagining of everyone’s favourite softly-spoken pink cartoon mountain lion as a softly-spoken pink secretly gay playwright in 1950s America didn’t exactly grab me for a number of reasons. I’m happy to say that, with a bit more focus and a lot more characterization, this issue sees the series begin to deliver on its premise. With the forces of cultural oppression focusing on him and a play to stage, will our hero manage to remain characteristically unruffled? There’s only one way to know for sure…

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Not Quite Ready – The Ruff and Reddy Show #2 (DC Comics)

The Ruff and Reddy Show 2 coverYou know, everyone has regrets: that girl or guy you wanted to ask out but never quite mustered up the courage to go and talk to; those winning lottery numbers you should have put on, but somehow forgot; the ultra-rare foil cover, poly-bagged edition of that 90s comic you bought seven copies of in the hope they’d actually be worth something at some unspecified point in the future. You know what I’m talking about. In the grand scheme of things, agreeing to review The Ruff and Reddy Show for the Weird Science DC Comics website isn’t exactly a huge regret, but that bitter-sweet pang when I think back to the enthusiasm with which I told Jim I’d gladly review this weirdest of the already bizarre crop of Hanna-Barbera titles just won’t go away. I wonder if DC regrets commissioning the thing. Who knows? Maybe they know something I don’t. Well, there’s only one way to find out, isn’t there?

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Exit, Stage Left: The Snagglepuss Chronicles #1 – Review

Snagglepuss coverThe Hanna-Barbera comics continue to bemuse, frustrate and entertain in more or less equal measure. By now, you’ll be familiar with the concept. DC takes a fondly remembered franchise from your childhood, and reimagines it in a hopefully entertaining ‘edgy’ way in an effort to breathe some new creative life into it. Whether the concept actually needed new creative life is neither here nor there. This is the 21st century. The past is simply a resource for a never-ending parade of pastiche, nostalgia or subversion. I rather liked Snagglepuss as a kid. A minor character, to be sure, but he had an instantly recognizable look and demeanour and, voiced by the incomparable Daws Butler, a warmth and vulnerability that was all rather appealing. What does Mark (The Flintstones) Russell do with all that? There’s only one way to find out…

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Quicker Than The Human Eye? – Black Lightning and Hong Kong Phooey Special #1

Black Lightning and Hong Kong PhooeyVoiced by jazzman and prolific voice actor Scatman Crothers (he voiced The Transformers’ Jazz and the cartoon Harlem Globetrotters’ Meadowlark Lemon among many others), Hong Kong Phooey was one of my all-time favourite Hanna-Barbera characters as a kid. (Right up there, in fact, with Scooby Doo and Captain Caveman.) There was a glorious blend of patently stupid authority, hapless heroism and sly fourth-wall-breaking humour in just the title sequence alone and, although I preferred my superheroes to be just a bit more serious when I was growing up (Bat-Mite? What the hell was that all about?), Hong Kong Phooey had a charm that was utterly irresistible. So, when the latest round of H-B titles was announced and the feeding frenzy that regularly accompanies such news broke out at Weird Science Towers, I had no hesitation in diving in for this title – particularly on finding out that Bryan (The Wild Storm: Michael Cray and soon to be Detective Comics) Hill was on writing chores and that Black Lightning would be pairing up with our mystery martial artist. How does it all pan out? Let’s have a look…

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No Happy Endings – Dastardly and Muttley #6 – Review

Dastardly and Muttley 6 2Dastardly and Muttley has turned out to be one of the few winners in DC’s Hanna-Barbera range and, in many respects, I’ll be sorry to see it go. While other books mope around in the decidedly shallow waters of political and cultural commentary or attempt to impress with dark ‘gritty’ versions of beloved characters that are as charmless as they are tedious, Ennis and Mauricet’s creative take on our famous pigeon-hunting duo manages to be fun. This issue gives us a resolution and a couple of surprises along the way, including a coda that even now I’m a little uncertain about. Climb in, buckle up and strap on those goggles. We’ve got a pigeon to catch!

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