I found out that someone had scanned in the two-page splash from Mike Allred's issue of Solo and I felt that it was something worth sharing. So then I thought I'd take a moment to type out all my thoughts on the comic itself.
If you haven't had a chance to check it out, yet, Solo is a project where DC devotes an entire over-sized book to one artist. Said artist then either chooses to write his or her own stories or have someone else come in for that.
Mike hands out five incredible stories including characters such as Hourman (the Golden Age one), the Silver Age Teen Titans and Doom Patrol, the '60s Batman, Mister Miracle and his friends and a small story featuring the characters in the pic below.
The '60s Batman story is probably the best overall, with Mike drawing comparisons between the campy television version (which heavily influenced DC's comics at the time) and the current Dark Knight version. He does a splendid job of showing just how sharply the two contrast even though it was more or less a gradual change in tone over the many years. Putting the two side-by-side really gives an indication of how much comics (and readers) have changed. The question is, is it for the better?
I enjoy reading Silver Age stories. And I understand that even though real life was just as bad as it is now, it was kept out of the comics for a reason.
Nowadays, readers feel that stories and characters (especially super-hero ones) can't be taken seriously without having a real-life authenticity about them. And forget about not taking them seriously. It's unheard of.
Older readers want comics that reflect their own lives. Stories with depth. Characters with conflict. Especially inner conflict. Comics that are relevant to the times.
Younger readers want the most extreme characters. Wolverines with their gritty no holds barred personalities. Batmen with their cool, dark and menacing kick-ass approach and Vampirellas with their very healthy physical appearances (and lack of covering).
Look at today's video games to get an idea of the current mentality of society. Due to the success of Grand Theft Auto almost every game out there has tried in some way to mimic it. Not only in gameplay, but also in grit. Kids these days don't want a video game unless it's got guns, sex and drugs.
Sure, they'll take a Viewtiful Joe... as a gift.
Most people have the idea that the old comics are gone simply because they ran out of stories. Every other story you could do would simply be a rehash unless you threw in something "new" to make it relevant.
I say that they just gave up on trying and went for what was easy.
Mike Allred shows us that there still is some fun to be had in comics. Although to some his efforts here may seem like he's lecturing us on how comics should be, I found the book to be as entertaining as any other book of his I've read. While there does appear to be an underlying theme about the differences in comics, it only surfaces during the Batman story. Everything else is just plain escapism.
From what I've read Mike is currently working on the Madman movie which is reportedly being directed by Robert Rodriguez (Desperado, Sin City). He had originally planned to do Madman, the comic, for at least a hundred issues but unfortunately he's been distracted. First by Marvel and their X-Force/X-Statix and then by his own (massive) undertaking of adapting the Book of Mormon into comic form.
I also can't recommend Allred's Madman Comics and The Atomics (his super-hero team spin-off) highly enough. Both titles are incredible reads and guaranteed enjoyment.
Mike had planned a return to comics with Madman and the Atomics, a book combining the two. But there hasn't been much word on it. However, he has recently announced that he'll be doing the comic adaptation for the film and that he has several other Madman related things coming out when the movie is released.
I'm really looking forward to his new work.
The only other creator that I think has the same views as far as comics goes is probably Darwyn Cooke. It would be awesome if they started their own company...
Of course, Mike already has AAA Pop...
Meanwhile, get a glass of milk, take a seat, pick up some Madman, Atomics or Solo #7 and take a trip through adventure.
The pic at top is the final cover of Solo #7 (courtesy of Mile High Comics -I was lazy). Here's how it was first going to look:
Apparently, there was some sort of legal issue about using the campy Batman on the cover. Probably because DC was afraid they might have to pay Adam West for using his likeness or whatever.
You can check out the first few pages over at Mile High by going to the issue's detail page.
FourthRail did a nice review of several issues of Solo, including Allred's, and you can find it here.
Now, here's that awesome two-page spread. You can find a key to the characters here!
This was the image that appeared in the Fall 2000 issue of COMICOLOGY. The preview art was featured alongside a mammoth thirty-page interview! The issue also included a two-page list of Allred's work up until that time.
If you have a longing for more campy Batman stuff go visit The 1966 Batman TV Tribute Site, where they have info on all the characters, an episode guide and some really cool clips to watch.