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Monday, 10 December 2018

'Mazing Man 12 - shopping with Denton, and 'Mazing Man ends

'Mazing Man 12 (Dec 86) is the final issue of the series, and features two stories by Rozakis, DeStefano and Boldman. Neither tale has anything to do with Frank Miller's Dark Knight Returns, despite the presence of that Batman and Robin on the cover. I absolutely hate things like that. A cheap way to lure in a reader, who will be disappointed, no matter how good the actual contents are.

The first story in the issue is fairly low key. Denton needs a new typewriter ribbon, and he and 'Mazing Man had out in search of one.

The main joke here is that people are all using computers now, and Denton can't find a ribbon anywhere. There is some silly, assorted chaos along the way, but this really doesn't pay off until the second story.

Because, you see, it's Denton's 30th birthday, and everyone comes by for the party. And what does Denton wind up getting? Why, a computer, of course!

More time is actually spent on KP, who is older than Denton. Because her younger brother is turning 30, KP goes through huge trauma about being old.

Honestly, this isn't my favourite issue of the run. I think it's one of the weaker ones. So it's a shame that the series went out this way, especially given the cheesy cover. But this was not the end for 'Mazing Man. He would return a few months down the road in a series of specials.

'Mazing Man 11 - a day at the beach

Craig Boldman joins Rozakis and DeStefano for a full length story in 'Mazing Man 11 (Nov 86).

Guido invites KP to spend a day at the beach, but she then invites the rest of the crew, to Guido's dismay. This issue is pure situation comedy, with all the characters getting involved in silly, but genuinely funny, plot threads. There is no big drama or action in the story, but it doesn't really need it.

Denton talks about his job with BC Comics, and his proposal for a big "Crisis" in which they would kill off all their characters, for good.

'Mazing Man once again gets to be charming. He helps some kids build a sand castle, but gets stuck in the middle of it, and doesn't want to break out and ruin it. Eventually he constructs a slide over the walls.

The issue also includes a map of the neighbourhood, marking the residences of the main characters.

'Mazing Man 10 - making pancakes, Zoot Sputnik ends, and the women talk

Zoot Sputnik comes to an end as the middle of three Rozakis stories, in 'Mazing Man 10 (Oct 86).

Gary Martin joins DeStefano for the art on the lead story (and, I suspect, a bit of the second tale as well). There are two overlapping plots in this one. In one, 'Mazing Man is making pancakes for everyone for breakfast. Denton stayed up all night working on his comic, and is barely alert. He falls asleep, and the apartment winds up catching on fire. The others have all left by that point, following the second plot thread.

That thread centres on Eddie, who has become a "Big Brother" to a young black boy. Eddie takes the boy to all the things he had enjoyed doing with his dad. But none of the things are stuff the boy actually wants to do. He thinks Eddie is just going through the motions and not actually interested in him. There is some goofiness and action with the fire, but it's the other story that has the impact, as Eddie comes to understand he needs to listen to the boy and his interests, rather than forcing his own.

Hembeck is back for the final Zoot Sputnik tale, which is set during the gangster era.

This one pays off the whole strip. The dog decides it needs to talk to help Zoot, and does so, because it's a comic book. The narrative then jumps to BC Comics, with Denton's editor freaking out. Denton explains that he was using the dog's development of a 'cosmic awareness" to link the various stories together. The editor is less than impressed.

Robert Smith steps in to do the art on the last story, which gives the spotlight to Brenda and KP. Essentially, all the women do in this tale is go for coffee and talk. They discuss the deaths of KP's and Denton's parents, and how they came to know 'Mazing Man. Brenda discusses her relationship with Eddie, as KP shares about her former marriage.

It ought to be boring. It's mostly talking heads. But the dialogue is good, and the characters are interesting, and I found this surprisingly compelling. The most important element to come out of the story is KP's revelation that 'Mazing Man slips people $10 bills into their pockets or coats whenever they are running low on money.

'Mazing Man 9 - the bank robbery, and Zoot Sputnik goes western

Rozakis serves up another 'Mazing Man adventure with a Zoot Sputnik back-up in issue 9 (Sept 86).

DeStefano and Kesel help out on the cover story, which takes place in and around the bank Eddie works in. Eddie is getting a promotion, although it seems this has less to do with his own abilities than with the retirement of one of the bank's officers. A big deal is made about the key to the executive washroom.

The story becomes about some hapless robbers trying to hit the bank, and 'Mazing Man gets to go into full hero mode in order to stop them. Mind you, this is 'Mazing Man, so it turns into a pie fight, rather than a vicious battle.

Hembeck does the art on the Zoot Sputnik outing, which is set in the old west.

I find these cute but not up to par with 'Mazing Man, with one exception. The dog. As with the last issue, none of the Zoot Sputnik characters seem aware that their strip changes genres each time, aside from the dog. In this one, the dog recalls going to sleep in an aircraft hanger, and wonders how he woke up in the old west.

'Mazing Man 8 - Denton's grandmother, Zoot Sputnik fights Nazis, and 'Mazing Man cat sits

Rozakis has three stories in 'Mazing Man 8 (Aug 86). DeStefano and Kesel provide the art on the first and last.

The lead story is fun. Denton and KP's grandmother comes by for an extended visit. Neither really wants her there, and she is the friendly-but-overbearing kind.

Guido, of all people, winds up saving the day. He is, as usual, insisting that he is KP's boyfriend. This time KP goes along with it, as the grandmother gets so repulsed by him she decides to leave.

Hembeck does the art on the Zoot Sputnik tale. This second story contains basically the same characters, but is a World War 2 adventure, pitting the group against the Nazis.

It's all pretty straightforward, although the dog, at one point, wonders why they are now in the middle of a war when they were just on a spaceship. None of the other characters seem to notice the change of era and genre.

The last story has 'Mazing Man do some cat-sitting for a family.

More than most stories from this book, this one really gives 'Mazing Man a lot to do. Once the family head out for the night, it's all him and the cat. Unsurprisingly, 'Mazing Man is utterly incapable of handling the cat, and winds up destroying one of the walls in the house. Fortunately for him, the family like it that way.

'Mazing Man 7 - bar fight, and Zoot Sputnik debuts

Zoot Sputnik, a series supposedly created by the character of Denton, debuts in 'Mazing Man 7 (July 1986).

Rozakis, DeSrefano and Kesel deliver the lead story, which sees Guido head to the bar with some of his scuzzy friends. Despite his bragging, it turns out Guido is a cheap drunk.

Inevitably the other characters from the book, Denton, Eddie, Brenda and 'Mazing Man himself, wind up coming to the bar as well. The plot nudges its way towards a big bar fight, though it is a surprise that this is not started by Guido and his friends, but by Eddie, angry at a guy putting the moves on Brenda. An ok story, but nothing special.

Zoot Sputnik begins in this issue, a series Denton is writing for BC Comics (but of course it's really written by Rozakis). Fred Hembeck does the art, and this first story is a science fiction one, which at least suits the name of the character.

I found it visually entertaining, but not much else. There will be more to this strip than is apparent at first, but the most significant thing, even though it barely seems so, is the dog character gaining a human-like consciousness due to an accident.

Friday, 7 December 2018

'Mazing Man 6 - 'Mazing Man goes to the baseball game, and Brenda's options

The second of the two Rozakis and DeStefano tales in 'Mazing Man 6 (June 1986) hits a lot harder than this book usually does.

The lead story, which has inks by Robert Smith, sees 'Mazing Man and his friends go to a baseball game. Guido spots a woman he knew back in high school on the big screen, and spends the remainder of the story trying to find her. Her name is Stella, so the story culminates in Guido screaming her name, Streetcar Named Desire style.

'Mazing Man and Denton get into a plot about an overweight woman who feels discriminated against because of it, who wants to shoot up the stadium. This may have seemed funny at the time, but is just sort of appalling now.

Eddie gets a wonderful moment, almost catching a ball, but failing, as he always does.

Karl Kesel does the inks on the second tale, which is all about Brenda. Eddie's charming incompetence has been played up in the series, and Brenda always comes off more responsible and effective. This story shows how the stresses of work and her relationship are taking their toll on her.

So much so that Brenda fantasizes about having an affair with a co-worker. In some ways he is a perfect match for her. But in the end Brenda realizes her marriage is more important to her than her job, or her co-worker. Was really not expecting anything quite so heavy from this book.