New Reviews of Old Comics
I’ve always been a fan of Comico comics, ever since I first saw them on a spinner rack packed in with the Marvels and DCs. Grendel, Elementals, Justice Machine and heck, I even bought an issue of Star Blazers. One title I never bought, despite all of the accolades that were thrown at it was Jonny Quest. Some goody two shoes kid running around having all sorts of wild adventures just didn’t appeal to me and I figured it would be obnoxious. Flash forward 25 years and I find a copy for a buck. Even at that low cost I thought twice about adding it to my pile, but eventually gave in. Hey, the whole point of this site is to review a variety of comics, good, bad or somewhere in between.
William Messner-Loebs wrote “Things That Go Bump In the Night!” while the legendary Carmine Infantino is credited as the artist. Normally I don’t mention the colorist, but the color was a vital part of this story, so Adam Kubert deserves credit for his work here. The story opens with Race Bannon in the hospital while Jonny, his father, friend Hadji and dog Bandit are stepping off a train in the tiny coastal town of Whatleyville, Maine where Dr. Quest has been summoned by an old friend, Professor Phillip to investigate his haunted house, so Jonny and his crew tag along. Because it’s Maine, the town also has its share of oddball people milling in and around the town as well as at the haunted house including a weirdo groundskeeper who just wandered in to town one day and never left. Hey, what is it with Maine? Every time you read a story set in the state it’s always full of unbelievable characters. I guess we can blame that stereotype on Stephen King. In addition to weird living people the house is actually populated with ghosts and Professor Phillips has developed a device that will destroy them. They know this because they blew up a ghost during testing. When he gets it really cranking Dr. Quest has second thoughts about his involvement because ghosts have feelings too. Know what else they have (or at least these particular ghosts)? A ghostly pirate ship with cannons. Despite being ghosts the cannonballs do inflict damage on the home. The barrage stops when the ghost captain is reunited with the ghost woman who has been waiting for him. So really this was all just a big love story.
Let me admit right here and now that I thoroughly enjoyed Jonny Quest. Messner-Loebs’ story was engaging, with thoughtful character development and just the right amount of humor and action. Reading it was reminded of an episode of the old Scooby-Doo cartoons, the good ones, so that is not a knock, which I guess it appropriate given the origins of Jonny Quest. Of course we all expect Infantino’s artwork to be great, and it is with appealing compositions that move the story along, but the art is made truly beautiful with Adam Kubert’s coloring. As I said before, in most comics, especially older ones, coloring is little more than an after-thought; solid colors throughout with no account for lighting or different hues based on what else is going on in the panel. When the ghosts were near the living characters there were reflections of the ghostly blue light on Jonny and the gang, shadows of window panes and folds in bedspreads were part of the art. After reading tons of taking-themselves-way-too-seriously super-hero comics Jonny Quest was a refreshing change. I’ll definitely be picking up more issues as I see them.