Monday, January 27, 2014

Review: Bluewater Comics George Reeves Tribute

It was over a month ago that I reviewed the Blue Water Comics Christopher Reeve tribute comic. So I was happy when Blue Water decided to do a George Reeves comic. While the Reeve book was an inspirational tour de force, driven by Reeve's own words, this book is much more of a biography. And a quirky one as well. Reeves led an interesting life with ups and downs and darkness and mystery.

Written and drawn by M. Anthony Gerardo (who did art on the Christopher reeve book), the book has the flavor of a labor of love with not only the facts of the story but also interviews with people that have a more tangential link to Reeves. What I like about this story is that it not only covers the ups and downs of Reeves' movie career but also the ups and down of the Superman TV show. Lastly, while his suicide (murder?) might be the most salacious part of his life, Gerardo only covers it briefly, choosing to celebrate Reeves' life.

Gerardo's art looks like it involves manipulating photos with computer effects. It gives this story an appropriate scratchy feeling, invoking the time period of grainy TV reception.

There is just no getting around the fact that this book will be compared to the Reeve book. The Reeve book with its ethereal art and uplifting words made him bigger than life, iconic. Here, as in these opening panels, Gerardo focuses on the more down to Earth life of Reeves. While he played Superman, he was just a man with the standard foibles.

First we hear about the successes though. The sudden insertion of Reeves into everyone's home. The magic of television in those early days making him a superstar.

I love the top panel, a back shot of Reeve standing in front of a runaway train. More powerful than a locomotive? Yep.

And coloring this page gray is wise, reminding me of the repeats of this show I used to watch as a kid.

Traveling back, we get a slice of his early life, sepia toned for effect. Sounds like a decent enough life although divorce and remarriage was not that common back then. Kudos to Mr. Bessolo for adopting George.

And then the early highlight of George's acting career, a small but speaking part in Gone With The Wind.

Pretty amazing that Reeves has a couple of slices of Americana in his career. Superman is one. But does it get bigger than Gone with the Wind?

There is this sort of 'what might have been' aspect to Reeves' career. While turning some heads and getting noticed by some Hollywood execs, WW2 interrupts things. Reeves' biggest proponent gets killed.

As a result, Reeves is forced to star in some B-list (C-list) movies. Jungle Goddess looks like a low budget treat. I knew nothing about this portion of Reeves' life so I am glad that Gerardo covers it. And I like this page construction - a mix of movie poster, lobby display, and movie clips.

Luck would change when Superman came calling.

I admit that it has been years since I have seen any of this show and even then it is remembered through the gauzy lens of my very early years.

So Gerardo does grab my attention by talking about the more serious in tone early stories of the series, especially the 'prejudice' theme of the Mole Man movie. I do vividly remember being scared to pieces by the Mole Men as a kid.

Only to have these more mature stories turned into flights of fancy on a show with a shrinking budget.

Reeves life became consumed by Superman. He isn't the first actor to be defined by a role and to label it a curse.

It is one thing to be a superstar in a show with reputable stories. It is another to be an actor one break away from legitimacy only to be forced into doing a cheap live cartoon. Still, I wonder how many struggling actors would trade places with Reeves on the set of Superman in a heartbeat.

And then we get the page that delves into the details of Reeves' odd death. Affairs, gunshots, jealous husbands. It all sounds so sordid and again Gerardo is able to capture that with the page set up which looks like a montage of a crime movie in the 30s with floating headlines, blood stains, photos, and the dead body.

Great stuff.

But in the end, he is a hero. Whatever his personal life, Reeves was Superman for many. And Gerardo surmises, if alive, that Reeves would be happy with that.

The rest of the book is fun as Gerardo inserts himself into the book doing the research. It is clear that he is a Reeves' fan which gives this issue a personal feel.

If a Superman fan, especially of the TV show, this is a nice book to have with very compelling art.


Wayne Allen Sallee said...

Anj: that is some really fantastic art and composition. I'm sure you heard of the book HOLLYWOOD KRYPTONITE, and if not and you find it cheap, it is a pretty decent read.

Anj said...

Saw HollywoodLand with Affleck.

Will look for the book!

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