I bought the first issue of normalman back in the early days of my “hey, I just found a comic shop and I really want to try comics by people other than Marvel and DC” phase, mostly because, well, it looked like it would be funny.
And it was! This probably remains my favorite work by Jim Valentino (then, only “Valentino”)…fun, goofy comics about the one guy without powers on a planet filled with superheroes and villains. I recognized the subjects of the parodies on each cover, even if I didn’t specifically know a whole lot about all of them at the time. A couple of friends of mine were also reading the series, and we had a good time talking about some of the gags in the book (such as the ongoing, issue-after-issue roll-call of the Legion of Super-Heroes parody, and the highly*-entertaining-to-a-bunch-of-teenagers Man-Man, with his Ganja-Breath.
Normally, I don’t try to buy collections of comics I already own, though looking at the shelves I can see that despite repeatedly claiming so, I’ve done it more than a few times. It’s hard to resist a nice-looking trade paperback sometimes, especially if the better paper and clearer reproduction improves on the original. The original series was in full color, wrapping up in a 3-D annual, and, well, I don’t have anything really against 3-D as such, but I tend to prefer my comics in two dimensions, and not read through a pair of cardboard glasses with colored lenses. The trade is in black and white, and I think the content suffers a bit as such…the color of the original series was part of its charm, I think. However, the tradeoff is that I can now more easily read the story from the 3-D annual without trying to figure out where I put my 3-D glasses this time, instead of just keeping them in the bag with the comic like a reasonable person.
I wasn’t really seeking a collection of this series or anything. It just so happened that, at some point in the early ’90s, we were putting together a wholesale purchase from Slave Labor Graphics at the shop, and I happened to see this book in the catalog. “Huh, I’d never seen that collection before, that’ll be neat to have” I thought, and added it to the order on a whim. And here it is, still on my shelves, a couple of decades later. Almost right away there were some issues with the book, with the first few pages beginning to come loose from the spine, which bummed me out a bit. Otherwise, it’s still a nice package…
…which has been totally supplanted by The Complete normalman, released by Image Comics in 2007 and including all the normalman-related material published after the first book’s release (like the normalman 20th Anniversary Special). Doesn’t seem to have Max the Magnificent however, which features not only Max, who’s popped up in normalman, but also an appearance from Captain Everything, so you normalman completists will still need this.
Anyway, that newer collection is pretty tempting, and still available from Diamond. That’ll be neat to have.