About the Author:
Walt Simonson is married to fellow comics writer Louise Simonson.
AVERAGE REVIEW SCORE:
3 out of 5
Tarzan Versus Predator: At The Earth's Core
(Art by Lee Weeks)
An odd offering, this one. Tarzan, Lord Greystoke, travels to the subterranean land of Pellucidar, which has fallen under the sway of two terrible influences; the ancient mind-controlling Mahar and a band of Predators out for sport.
This book captures the old-style action adventures of Tarzan very nicely, but this doesn't sit so well with the dark sci-fi horror of the Predators. In fact, the Predators here are wusses. Tarzan kills one with a knife on a stick and just batters another to death with a big rock. There are some great scenes featuring the Predators versus Pellucidar's dinosaur inhabitants, but for the most part the Predator licence is entirely beside the point.
Also, for reasons that are left unclear there's a scene in which it seems Jane is about to be sexually abused by a giant lizard. The lizard says "Yes my pretty, you are beautiful and I so adore beauty. Come. Come to me." The lizard then commands her subjects to (and I quote) 'celebrate the passion as the pretty and I become one'. Now I'm sorry, but having such blatant references to sexual intercourse between a woman and a giant winged lizard is just one step too far!
2 out of 5
The New Fantastic Four: Monsters Unleashed
(Art by Arthur Adams, Art Thibert and Al Milgrom)
When the Fantastic Four are apparently killed and giant monsters begin attacking cities worldwide, Spider-Man, Wolverine, the Hulk and Ghost Rider step in to save the day as the new Fantastic Four. However, there is even more going on than they realise and they will have to contend with Skrull infiltrators and the armies of the Mole Man before they get to the bottom of things.
The plot of this book in pretty convoluted, with fake-out deaths, mind-control, shapeshifters and more but, despite all that, it still manages to remain internally consistent when it could easily have become a contradictory mess. But, to be fair, that's par-for-the-course when it comes to the FF, I suppose.
This book's real strength comes from the make-up of the new (sadly temporary) Fantastic Four. Spidey, Hulk, Logan and Ghost Rider are among Marvel's coolest but also most individualistic heroes, so having them team-up is endlessly entertaining. Having this version of the FF then fight alongside the original team (plus Ms Marvel/She-Thing) just increases how much fun this book is.
4 out of 5
Wolverine: The Jungle Adventure
(Art by Michael Mignola and Bob Wiacek)
After being attacked by a mysterious cyborg, Logan follows a trail which leads him to the prehistoric Savage Land. After facing the fierce creatures that dwell there, he becomes a member of the Tribe of Fire and, with their help, confronts the being behind their combined problems; Apocalypse.
This is a very short graphic novel (about the length of two normal comics) and doesn't have a great deal of import to say either about Wolverine himself or about Apocalypse. Although, if I'm right, I think this was their first ever meeting which, considering that Wolverine becomes one of Apocalypse's Four Horsemen, is somewhat significant. What this book does have, however, is Logan going native in the Savage Land and who wouldn't want to see the Wolverine fighting dinosaurs alongside cavemen? It's not big or clever, but it is entertaining. Also, special mention has to be given to Mike Mignola's brilliant artwork.
There are a few downsides to be noted that prevent this book from being more satisfying than it is. Apocalypse doesn't ring true here and, even after the twist, just feels like he was the wrong villain for Simonson to have used. Also there's some plot points which should have been major but which go absolutely nowhere; such as Wolverine finding an adamantium skull or, in the last panel of the bookend epilogue, Logan's cave-woman girlfriend holding a baby clearly intended to be his.
On the subject of Logan's lover, I just want to note how weird it is that all of the cavemen are primitive, dark-skinned and apelike but the women are statuesque white Raquel Welch types. Not a very subtle double-standard.
(On a completely unrelated side-note, I just realised that the two Walt Simonson books I've currently reviewed both involve characters going to prehistoric lands and fighting dinosaurs. Does that say something about Simonson as a writer or me as a consumer? Discuss.)
3 out of 5