Tuesday, May 28, 2013

The Retro Video Game Addict covers: The Dynamite Entertainment Pulp Revolution.

Yeah, yeah. I know what you're thinking. “Why is there an article about comic books on a retro video game blog site?”. Well, to tell you the truth, I'm not exactly sure. I was just laying around doing nothing and I suddenly felt the need to sit down and type out my feelings on the pulp storytelling movement that is currently happening over at Dynamite Entertainment. For those who don't know what I'm talking about, relax, this won't hurt (I swear!) and you may find yourself kind of interested in what I have to say. But before I do I have to let you in on a little secret. You ready? Here it comes.....

     Superheroes no longer have to wear spandex.

     There, I said it! Dynamite Entertainment has enlisted quite the crew to bring us comic book readers some of the absolute best comics on store shelves right now and these characters are not spandex clad and do not leap tall buildings in a single bound. They're normal human beings just like you and me, but with a few dollars in the bank that allows them to do what they do. These characters were popular back in the 30's and 40's but have basically been absent from the public eye for several decades until a company known as Dynamite Entertainment picked them up and decided to publish comics based around these characters for both fans of the originals and a bold new modern audience. This was a risky task considering modern comic book fans are used to their heroes having superpowers and being either mutants or tricked out in some colorful superhero gear. Not these heroes! These guys are packing heat, wearing fine business suits, ankle long trench coats, and many of them protect their identities with cheap eye coverings and fedora's. Take that Spider-Man!
     This style of “pulp hero” is something that actually found popularity before the traditional superhero ever graced a comic book page. Comic books started finding their ways to newsstands sometime in the mid 1930's while pulp books have been printed since the very early 1900's, and the differences between a superhero and a “pulp hero” is that the pulp hero will shoot you clean between your eyes and leave for you for dead while the superhero will try to rehabilitate you. Pulp storytelling is a violent, take no prisoners, affair that has found it's way back into readers hands for what appears to be a long haul and something I've personally taken to over the past couple of years.
      Dynamite publishes a lot more pulp characters than the ones I'm going to discuss in this blog but I'm choosing to discuss the pulp heroes in the traditional sense. They publish comics based on John Carter, Zorro, Lone Ranger, Tarzan, and a few others, but this blog entry is geared more toward The Shadow, The Spider, Green Hornet, The Black Bat, Miss Fury, and others. For me (and many others) Dynamite hooked me on the pulp characters when they first started publishing The Green Hornet sometime in 2010. The Shadow in May of 2012 was another title that hooked me and then soon after that they began putting out comics based around The Spider and before you knew it more and more started trickling in. Luckily pretty much all of the books within this line have been extremely well written and feature art that fits the mood of the books. In other words, it's been a hell of a ride.
     I like the fact that these heroes are not scared to kill their enemies as opposed to the traditional superheroes you get from DC and Marvel, it gives the books a sense of unpredictability that you won't find elsewhere. These classic heroes swear, smoke, drink, engage in adult “situations”, and kill with the best of them. But all in the name of “justice”, of course. And why not? Sometimes to preserve the law you need to break the law and if killing a man who poisoned a city or who tossed an elderly woman off of a rooftop after wiping out a bank full of hostages is the only way to get the job done, than I say go for it. The only alternative is either rehabilitation the criminals by locking them away in Arkham, or delivering a super powered psychopath to the boys in blue. And I think we all know how that turns out, you see what I'm saying?
Now, I'd like to take a few moments to talk about a few of the specific titles within the pulp line Dynamite had going on. The firs title I would like to discuss with you would be their flagship book, The Shadow, which was launched by the legendary writer known the industry over as Garth Ennis. The opening arc was a mixed bag to many fans, it seemed like they either loved it or hated it (I enjoyed it quite a bit) but the sales remained strong and the story was quite compelling. The artist on the book illustrates The Shadow and his 1930's surroundings perfectly and the artist that took over the book on it's 12th issue gives the title a flair that is up there with some of the best pencilers in the comic book industry. It's just remarkable. The story is dark and violent and The Shadow pulls no punches as he fights criminals in New York and over seas, bringing justice in the only way he knows how: Through the barrels of his double pistols. Make no mistake here kids, this isn't you're friendly neighborhood Spider-Man or your classic red cape who is vowing to bring us “justice in the American way”, no, this head crackin' to the 10th degree and definitely not for anyone under the age of 14 or 15.
     The Spider is very similar. This book features a hero who is defending his city against crazed lunatics on a daily basis while trying to keep an eye on the woman he loves who just happens to be married to his closest friend, the police chief. Most of the book is written with The Spider trying to use the police to help him solve mysteries while trying to keep his identity safe while he desperately wants to win back his true love. It's remarkable how this book cliff hangs and pulls you in for the next issue, it's definitely underrated and deserves all the readers it can get. In fact, Dynamite almost pulled the plug on it as of it's 12th issue, but fan outcry on the Dynamite forums and on Twitter helped to #SaveTheSpider and the book is solicited to it's 15th issue as of this writing. The writing in this book is top notch and some of David Liss' finest work, the art was phenomenal as well with the original artist and even better with Ivan Rodriguez since he's taken over pencils as of a few months back. Stellar colors and inks set this book apart as a real looker too, everything is just solid all around.
     The Green Hornet is off to a masterful start as Mark Waid takes the character back to his original roots. Don't confuse this book with the existing Green Hornet title that was launched by Kevin Smith, though! That Green Hornet title has been rebranded as “Legacy” and follows the adventures of the original Hornet's son in the modern day while Waid's book follows the original Green Hornet in his native setting. Both book are great and should be given a chance but the newer of the two GH comics is the top dog in the eyes of Dynamite and their readers. Waid's art and Indro's pencils couple to make a kick in the ass that reviewers all over the world have said is the best rendition of The Green Hornet to date, which is a huge compliment seeing as how the character has been around since the late 30's or early
40's. And the book is just getting started too, lot's more is on it's way including a crossover title between The Green Hornet and The Shadow and more from the “Legacy” book. For me, this character has the making of becoming something truly special in the world of comics, especially with a top tier talent like Mark Waid at the helm and art that pop's out at you the way that it does. Phenomenal!
     I could go on and on about these pulp titles. MASKS, Miss Fury, The Black Bat (a personal favorite), and more.....but instead I'll just kick back and let you be the judge. That's right. I CHALLENGE you to give these books a shot whether it be through single issues, trade/GN's, or digitally through Comixology and tell me that these aren't some of the most enjoyable comics you've read in a while. Seriously, I think that as successful as they are they've yet to truly scratch the surface and I believe that this whole revolution will be something special that we'll remember for quite some time to come, especially by those who embraced the movement. So, with that said I want you to get down to you're local comic book store or grab you're closest iOS or Android device and snatch up some of these Dynamite Entertainment gems, I truly think you'll see what I'm talking about and stay on board for the long haul. If not than at least you can say you tried them, but yeah, prepare for a long and blissful stay upon the S.S #PulpComics. Cheers!

#PulpComics #SaveTheSpider

© 2013 Bill Mulligan


  1. Excellent! I've been enjoying this revival as well. The Shadow, The Green Hornet, and especially The Spider. The art is fantastic, and the stories are really well-written. Also loving Masks and The Black Bat. It's hard to decide to wait monthly on print issues or binge on trades. They're that good! Thanks for the article.

  2. Great article. RED SONJA was my first Dynamite title, and over the years they have kept publishing more and more titles I have enjoyed (LONE RANGER, ZORRO, BUCK ROGERS, THE PHANTOM, PROJECT SUPERPOWERS, KIRBY:GENESIS, FLASH GORDON, and more). That has reached an all-time high with the pulp comics. I'm currently getting (and loving) SHADOW, SHADOW:YEAR ONE, SPIDER, MASKS, MISS FURY, BLACK BAT, LONE RANGER, LORD OF THE JUNGLE, WARLORD OF MARS, DEJAH THORIS, Mark Waid'S GREEN HORNET, RED SONJA, P.C.:THUNDERBOLT, PATHFINDER, SHERLOCK HOLMES, and I'm pretty sure I'm forgetting some other titles! Looking forward to THE OWL. I hope this Pulp Comics revival will thrive.

  3. Thanks for the kind words, guys! Keep on pulpin' it up with Dynamite, I'm sure they've got some great new stuff on the way for us. :)