New Talent Showcase #2 (Sky Dogs)
“A Magic Carpet Ride”
Writer – L.B. Kellogg
Art – Tom Mandrake
Letters – Phil Felix
Colors – Shelley Eiber
Edits – Marv Wolfman & Ernie Colon
Welcome back to New Talent Showdays… where it looks like the order has changed! Rather than popping back in on Forever Amber (who “headlined” the first issue), we’re going to check back in on the Sky Dogs. Forever Amber will actually anchor this issue… so, we’ll catch back up with her in three days.
Hmm… ya know, it feels like we might’ve taken too much time away from New Talent Showcase… I can hardly remember where we were! I’m thinking we’re going to have to reevaluate this “triple feature” thing I’ve got going on for more reasons than “Ain’t nobody give a rip ’bout Wasteland“!
We pick up with Captain Kidd and his Mystic inside the Great Mogul’s place. While holding the Man of the House at knifepoint, the latter is able to open a hidden panel on the wall… which reveals the Crown of Siva. With that, all they’ll need now is to find those Seven Jewels of Power. Looks like we’re in for a long quest! Well, we’ll just put a pin in that for now. Just then, through a window in the ceiling, our Sky Dogs (and Mullah Whatshisface) soar in on a Magic Carpet!
Captain Hawke hops off the ride and fights his way through the baddies (like, literally “though” them… despite the lack of bloodshed) on his way to confront the nefarious Captain Kidd.
Meanwhile, Ndemba and Mullah share a little Odd-Couple banter on the carpet… before the latter dumps the former to the ground below. Speaking of which, Princess Zelaleddin is still aboard the Moonjammer, acting like quite a brat. She demands to be taken into her daddy’s palace… and so, the Sky Dogs oblige… by just tossing her off the side of ship! I mean, these goofs just committed a murder, right?
Well, as “luck” would have it, Zelaleddin lands right on top of Captain Hawke. If that’s not bad enough for the Dogs, just then Kidd’s Mystic chants an incantation or something at Mullah which crashes the Magic Carpet. Looks like the baddies have got the upper-hand.
The Mystic heads over to the Crown of Siva… however, before he can put it on… he’s stabbed in the back by Captain Kidd himself! Ya see, Cappy ain’t keen on sharing the booty. Speaking of booty, he also grabs a fainted Zelaleddin and tosses her over his shoulder. Turns out, though, she might not be as “fainted” as she appears.
The scene then shifts to Captain Kidd’s ship… and I swear, this was probably supposed to be a whole nother chapter… it’s just way too jarring. The Sky Dogs catch up to Kidd… and ram the skip (from the sky) but good. With just a swoop, Cap’n Geoff manages to rescue the Princess. Feels like that should’ve been a bit more difficult, no?
Back ashore… it would appear as though Kidd’s Mystic survived being stabbed through the heart! He concocts a wicked tempest, and vows vengeance against both Captains.
We wrap up with Kidd… apparently having given the Dogs the slip? Like, he’s just gone. Our heroes lament the fact that he got away… and also, that he got away with the Crown of Siva. Well… not so fast, kemosabes… if you’re an observant reader, you’d have noticed when Zelaleddin was “feigning unconscious”, she was actually rooting around in Captain Kidd’s pockets. How she managed to steal a friggin’ crown from the dude’s pants without him noticing, I’ll never know… but, she did! Annnnd… that’s the end. Like, really… this story is over(… for now?).
Sooo… that’s it, then? Like, really? Okay.
I’ve already mentioned a time or two in the New Talent Showdays coverage that I’m purposely remaining ignorant on the direction(s) of these features. It isn’t often enough that I get to be surprised about where things go and/or how (and when) things end. I feel like that’ll just be part of the “fun” in this endeavor. I’m likely projecting, but I feel as though many who come across these posts will also either not know or not remember many of these tales… so, it’ll be something we’ll all experience “together”.
I gotta say, I was quite unprepared for Sky Dogs to wrap up after just two chapters. Now, that’s not to say that it won’t return as we work our way through the volume… and, it’s also not to say that it definitely will. I just don’t know… and, while that is a good thing in the way of “mind percolation” and thinking about all the ways that this could continue, it puts me at a disadvantage as to how I oughtta cover this two-parter in a “vacuum”. Do we discuss this as “Arc 1 (of x)” or as a completed “package”, ya know?
I suppose, not knowing if/when the Sky Dogs feature will return, it’s probably wisest to look at it as a “done deal”. Especially when we consider just how disjointed and rushed this one became toward the end. It really feels as though we received more than one chapter’s worth of story here… but, in such a way that it had very little impact.
Let’s look at the main beats… Captain Kidd “kills” his Mystic, who turns up alive just a page or two later… as if it was some big reveal. Cap’n Hawke just swoops over Kidd’s ship and rescues the Princess… which, for what should be a moderately big deal, feels like it was a complete afterthought. Like, just something they had to “fit” into the eight-pages they were allotted. And, while we end on an up note… it’s still something of a cliffhanger. The only thing missing here would’ve been a note saying “If you’d like to see more from Cap’n Geoff and the Sky Dogs… write to 666 Fifth Avenue”. What I guess I’m trying to say is… this could’ve been paced better, and… while I’m certainly no fan of decompression… Sky Dogs might’ve needed a third chapter in order to give us a less-rushed ending.
I do want to say, however, that I absolutely loved the art here. Mandrake gives us some amazing-looking faces, and excellent scenes of action. Those faces though, definitely the highlight of this feature for me. Just so emotive, and well done!
Tomorrow: Class is back in session