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Friday, November 14, 2008

Comics' Greatest Battles, Entry 3 - Captain America Volume 1, #'s 372-378

In 1990, Marvel Comics ran the "Streets of Poison" storyline through seven Captain America issues. In it, Cap came under the influence of a street drug. It made him careless, much more aggressive, and quite a pain to his friends and allies.

One of the main reasons I'm so fond of this particular yarn is the number of interesting confrontations contained within.

Here are the covers.








While some of these battles were a bit too short, they were still satisfying. For my money, the most interesting and entertaining was the confrontation between Crossbones and Bullseye.

Also worth note are the contents of issue 378, in which Cap battles Crossbones without the Super Soldier Serum, which was flushed from his system in ridding himself of the Ice. Additionally, there was a memorable hand-to-hand battle between the Red Skull (in a cloned Steve Rogers/Captain America body) and the Kingpin. And the winner was...., naaahhh, you should probably check it out for yourself. Go here if you want to buy the trade.


Zinc Alloy, published by Stone Arch Books, 40 pages, hardback

As a parent, I want my children to enjoy reading. As a comics fan, I want more young readers drawn to the hobby. Zinc Alloy could help on both counts.

Zack Allen is your typical, small, nerdy boy. A favorite target of bullies, noogies and wet willies are a regular occurrence. Zack is also extremely intelligent, however. He must be, since he manages to build a giant robot, primarily for the purpose of teaching said bullies a lesson. Instead, he ends up becoming a hero.

Though Zinc Alloy is a graphic novel for elementary readers, I’ll admit to my own initial excitement at finding it on the shelf of my local library. After all, actual graphic novels for children are still rare, despite increasing acceptance of the literary form. My kids love it. And, I think parents will enjoy reading it to their children, due mostly to it’s light-hearted fun and potential life lessons.

Author Donald Lemke has created a character in Zack Allen to which most young children will be able to relate. He has also produced a story that is brimming with action, humor and the potential for great learning.

As younger readers are apt to be drawn into a story by the illustrations, artist Douglas Holgate is to be commended for his ability to translate Lemke’s story into exciting visual form. His characters have individual personalities, and his robotic protagonist will no doubt illicit plenty of responses like “Cool!” and “Awesome!”. Hey, children getting excited about reading - that’s what it’s all about, right?

Additional features include a glossary of words used in the book, a short history of comics, and discussion questions that parents and/or teachers can use to drive home important points.

Zinc Alloy is highly recommended for young readers. Parents should buy it for their children, and libraries should stock it. Find it at bookstores, online retailers (Amazon lists it for under five dollars.) and at

Review by Mark Allen