Current Reviews


Back Issue #21

Posted: Friday, March 30, 2007
By: Michael Deeley

Editor: Michael Eury

Publisher: TwoMorrows Publishing
Price: $6.95

Back Issue is a magazine focused on comics from the 1970s and 80s. This issue has a devil theme, with looks at Daredevil stories by Frank Miller, Klaus Janson, Ann Nocenti and John Romita Jr.; the histories of Devil Dinosaur, Son of Satan, Plop and Stigís Inferno; a short interview with Mike Mignola about Hellboy; and an article about the unpublished sequel to Marvelís Fallen Angels, with an interview of artist Colleen Doran; and an interview of the creators of Blue Devil.

I bought this for the Daredevil feature, and I wasnít disappointed. Finished art is presented alongside original pencil sketches to show how much Janson added to Millerís stories. The interviews of Janson, Nocenti, JRJR and Ralph Macchio are revealing but brief. Thereís very little critical analysis of the comics. The articles feel like they were written by fans, but they do succeed in explaining why these comics were so memorable.

The other articles are also interesting in their own right. The Fallen Angles II article reveals the storyís villain had appeared in other Marvel comics at the time. The mini-series was supposed to be the culmination of plot threads from those comics. Doran also explains the perils of working for a major project that ends up getting cancelled. The Plop article explains the humor and appeal of the comic, and how it changed from its original purpose. The Son of Satan article explains the characterís origins, its evolution, and its controversy.

But the magazineís focus seems to be art. The Daredevil article spends more time describing the art than the story. Numerous reproductions of artwork decorate the issue. Itís understandable, since comics are primarily a visual medium. And the rare and unpublished art is a real treat. I just prefer to know more about the story, how itís created and where writers get inspiration. In that respect, I was most interested in J.M. DeMattiesí comments on his treatment on the Son of Satan and the reasons behind Jack Kirbyís creation of Devil Dinosaur.

The contributors to Back Issue did a great job digging up rare art and researching their subjects. They presented new information about long-forgotten works that makes readers want to read them again. I feel like tracking down Stigís Inferno by Ty Templeton. Iím also impressed by the magazineís even-handed nature. It covers all comics equally, not just Marvel and DC. I donít see myself buying every issue of Back Issue. But the next time I learn itís covering a topic or character I like, Iíll pick it up. Iím sure to learn something new.

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