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So it occurred to me a few days ago, in regards to all my griping about the order in which this “Truth” storyline in the Superman books is playing out, that what we’re getting in the forthcoming Superman #41 (the issue readers were referred to in Action #41, the actual first part of “Truth” to hit the stands) is backstory intentionally deferred until after the in media res chapters we’ve already seen. And now that I’ve seen the issue, that’s more or less what happened, though, well…here’s what the original solicitation says for Superman #41:
“The epic new storyline ‘TRUTH’ continues with the debut of the amazing new creative team of new writer Gene Luen Yang (American Born Chinese) and continuing artists John Romita Jr. and Klaus Janson! What will happen when the big secret is revealed?”
Okay, the storyline continues, so I was wrong about this issue being delayed and thus “the first chapter” of this storyline being skipped with following chapters being released. The egg is in my face, as the saying goes. “The big secret is revealed” in a way, though not how we expected, in that someone knows, but it’s not the big “here’s how the world found out!” reveal everyone was assuming would happen in this issue. And you know what they say about assuming…it makes an “ass” out of “you,” and, um, somebody else, I think…slips my mind at the moment.
The editorial aside to Superman’s reference in Action #41 to having a couple of “crazy weeks,” asking readers to see the then-forthcoming Superman #41 for details, certainly gave me the impression that this would be the issue where the secret I.D. hits the fan, but I was wrong again. Instead, it looks like this will be the book where it catches us up on what happened, while the other Super-books give us the “current” adventures. Don’t know if my previous assumptions were from misdirection or outright being misled, but I’ve been enjoying this particular direction of the franchise so far, so I guess I’ll just have to deal with it.
I am curious, plotwise, how they’re going to get this particular genie back in the bottle without “magic” or “Brainiac wipes everyone’s memory” or some other similarly cheaty fashion. I know the general meandering direction of the genre has been kinda/sorta away from the secret identity concept, but it still holds firm in some parts. I doubt Superman, the archetypal example of this particular trope, will be left without his Clark Kent for long, but it’s interesting in the meantime.
It’s a weird thing when you have a second title start up that essentially duplicates the first title, which probably seems like an outdated commentary in an industry that throws a half-dozen Avengers
titles on the new comics shelves at regular intervals. It just seems a little stranger here with a new Justice League title that’s featuring the same team that’s in the already-existing Justice League title, as part of a franchise that, historically, would at least present different casts across the various series. The promise of “massive widescreen action”
almost implies a mild criticism of the other title, which doesn’t
give you said “massive widescreen action.” The other novelty is that it’s tied to the vision of a particular creator, though as soon as that creator leaves that novelty is gone, leaving the title either to cancellation (i.e. Superman Unchained
) or focusing on the vision of Another Big Name Creator, or just becoming a second regular monthly Justice League book, indistinguishable from the other.
Again, probably a dumb complaint in this brave new-ish comics world of Every Character or Team Stars in Two Titles or More, but there it is. This first issue was pretty good, however. It certainly delivers on the “widescreen action,” as promised.
This is almost even more…perverse (but not in a bad way…lemme ‘splain) than its line-crossing cousin Afterlife with Archie
, in that it straight-up looks
like an Archie comic. Afterlife
at least is visually distinct from the rest of the Archie line, both covers and contents. Archie Versus Predator
, at first glance, looks just
like other Archies, at least inside (the cover pictured above is just one of the several variants available, and the only one that resembles traditional Archie). I do like that Archie is fully willing to do peculiar things with their bread-and-butter properties, probably inspired by the need to more firmly establish themselves in the direct market…hence Afterlife, the Sharknado crossover, another attempt at New Look Archie, and this very series I’m talkin’ about here. The comic is
a hoot, though given that this comic contains a significantly larger amount of blood and exposed spines than most Archie titles, I’d definitely keep it out of the hands of young’uns. And for God’s sake, if you’re a store, keep it off the kids rack! Assuming you have
a kids rack.
Hard to believe this series is just about done…only two volumes to go, and it was just announced
that the final book will include Schulz’s early pre-Peanuts
“Li’l Folks” strips! Of note is the introduction for this current volume pictured here, written by a couple of fellas from Rifftrax, which includes a few riffed strips from the founders of Rifftrax
, former Mystery Science Theater 3000
cast members Michael J. Nelson, Bill Corbett and Kevin Murphy. A brief sample:
It reminds me of that long-ago missed opportunity when the MST3K gang were to delve into the world of comics, but cutbacks at Acclaim canned the book
. (And I see the name of a certain stuffed bull
‘s pal mentioned in that long-ago Usenet posting!)
Yet another installment in the ongoing saga of Superman’s No Longer Secret Identity that has yet to see the publication of the first part. A little annoying, yes, but I’ve been actually enjoying the story thus far…it’s a direction that the New 52 Superman needed, one where the character could be explored on its own merits rather than sloppily slapped together as something New and Different and Exciting!
I’m totally in the bag for the Minions, those cute little critters from the Despicable Me
films (and their own movie, coming soon to a theater near you), so I thought I’d take a look at this little ol’ funnybook here. And surprise, it’s beautifully illustrated, with one-page mostly pantomime gag strips and a surprisingly detailed and hard-on-my-aging-eyes two-page spread of their secret underground lair. A couple of the gags are on the hokey side (oh no, the Minions are painting the floor and they ended up trapping themselves in the center of the room!) but I’m sure there’s a kid out there somewhere for whom those jokes are completely new. And it all looks so nice it’s hard to hold that against it.
A couple of questions popped up in the comments to my last post:
“Here’s something I’ve long wondered: Why are so many variant covers so much more awesome than the regular covers for that issue? If the company really wants to sell more comics, shouldn’t they make the variant cover into the actual cover, and make the boring one the variant?”
I’ve wondered about that myself once or twice over the course of this here weblog — on one occasion wondering why some Star Trek comic decided to use the amazing Gorn photo cover for the limited variant instead of slapping that sucker on the regular edition and selling a ton of copies. The answer is almost certainly aimed at enticing retailers into ordering more copies, which for some publishers may be a safer bet than hoping enough readers will be attracted by the better cover. A retailer orders a certain number of a book, sees a cool-looking variant cover that s/he could get for the shop if orders were raised just a smidgen to a particular sales plateau, and bumps orders up accordingly.
Same goes for those comics that have five, six, a dozen different covers, that are all equally available for order by retailers. They’re not necessarily there in the hopes that customers will buy one of each cover (though that does happen, of course). They’re there to get higher initial order numbers from retailers. Instead of ordering 10 copies of one available cover of Mistress Bikini-Armor #1, a retailer might instead order two each of all six variants for Mistress Bikini-Armor #1, just to make sure there’s enough available of each variant to meet theoretical demand. It’s not much of a bump, probably, but in this marketplace every little bit helps.
“So how did Convergence and its various tie-ins sell, now that it’s all over? How do you think it will compare with Secret Wars?”
Overall, it did…okay, I think. Some tie-ins did especially well (like the Shazam! one) and some just didn’t do anything for me (many of the Justice League-related titles sold far less than expected). The actual Convergence series itself actually sold very well, surprisingly for a weekly series. In the end, maybe a shorter main series and fewer tie-ins while not putting everything else on hold may have been preferable, but I didn’t seem to experience any kind of decline in revenue while the event proceeded (despite some sky-is-falling scaremongering by certain online gossips).
Compared to Secret Wars, Convergence seemed to lack some measure of cohesion and direction, beyond “here are a bunch of cities from parallel Earths crammed together on one planet, and they have to fight each other to see who survives.” The upshot of the series is that it…undoes Crisis on Infinite Earths which had already been undone, I think, or otherwise just ignored, and, well…maybe if the series had been a more focused 4-part mini instead of a bloated repeating-the-points 9-parter, we might have been better off. In addition, I think Marvel managed to push Secret Wars as something Marvel fans had to read, explicitly tied to the Marvel Universe’s overall continuity, whereas Convergence never really felt like more than “here’s something you might want to read for a couple of months, we hope.” However, I do appreciate that the creators of the series managed to trick DC fans into reading what was essentially a Warlord comic for an issue.
Speaking of Shazam, as I was just a couple of paragraphs back (go ahead, check, I’ll wait) here’s one thing I had noted on the Twitterers the other day:
I’d love to see more only slightly-tangentially related to the wider DC Universe Captain Marvel adventures like in Convergence
(and both series showed how the Shazam Family can play nice with other superhero milieus without losing the ol’ Shazam charm), instead of seeing the Big Red Cheese squeezed into the grittier ‘n’ darker comics where he never quite fits in. I know the temptation is to contrast Cap’s innocence with the “real world” of the regular DCU (like in this week’s Justice League
, where Cap is distraught at having seen a dead body for the first time…hey, kids, comics!) but it would be nice to have him star in, and be the hero of, his own series, instead of the odd-man-out that he almost always is everywhere else.
I suspect once the always-forthcoming Shazam movie finally does come, and if it’s successful, it’ll establish which tone the comics will follow. Probably more “New 52” and less “C.C. Beck,” if I were to hazard a guess.
And yeah, I keep calling him “Cap” or “Captain Marvel,” the name he retains in the retro-style Convergence and Multiversity comics, but as since been discarded in favor of being called “Shazam!” for ease-of-licensing-and-market-exploitation-that-doesn’t-conflict-with-Marvel-Comics purposes. I mean, I can understand why DC would want that change, and it looks like they wrote around the old Marvel Family issue of characters who can’t say their own names without switching back to normal humans. But “Shazam” as a name just by itself seems nonsensical…”hey man, why are you called ‘Shazam’?” “Well, it’s the magic word I use to turn into a superhero! The ‘S’ is for ‘Solomon,’ the ‘H’ is for Herc…hey, where are you going?” Personally, I would have gone with “Captain Shazam,” so at least you could still call the character “Cap” or “The Captain” and retain some connection to the Captain Marvel of old. That wouldn’t be any more ridiculous a name than, say, “Batman.” But nobody asked me. Nobody ever asks me. (sigh)
• • •
In completely unrelated news, I was convinced to read the new Airboy
#1 from Image that came out this week, in which creators James Robinson and Greg Hinkle tell a story of themselves trying to come up with an angle on an Airboy reboot. SPOILERS AHEAD:
Horrible things are done over the course of the story, with drink, drugs, sex, and more drugs, while the creators, Robinson especially, uncomfortably assess their comic-creating careers. It’s probably the last thing you’d expect in an Airboy comic, and probably some 80-year-old somewhere is really pissed off that this was done in a comic named after his favorite comic book character, but it really is a compelling read. And, if you’ve read ahead to solicitations for future issues, you already know that by the end of the comic, somehow Airboy himself appears to Robinson and Hinkle, disgusted by their debauchery.
And what that reminded me of was this comic:
…Airboy and Mr. Monster
comic where an apparent apparition of Airboy appears to help a comic creator through a time of trouble. In this case, it’s the fictional Everett Coleman, whose failed career and torment by some of the evil characters he’s drawn over the years eventually leads to other
characters he’s drawn coming his assistance…including Airboy. Now, Airboy is just one of an army of characters who pop up in this book, making the implied team-up of the characters in the title only just technically correct. It’s still amusing that Airboy, of all characters, has now been used twice in these mildly similar fashions.
And here comes another month of people seeing the variant covers and thinking one thing and requiring me to explain “no, no, it’s just a variant…the cover image doesn’t reflect the contents.” So, sorry, kids, no Superman versus Joker, no Joker wearing Green Lantern’s ring, no Joker pierced with Green Arrow’s arrows, etc. etc. Also, despite the actual story in this comic taking place after the events in Superman
#41, despite Superman
#41 being referenced in a footnote in this story, you didn’t
#41 since it’s not coming out ’til the 24th of this month. Just for your information. …The comic does
do a very good job of making you curious about just what did…er, will
happen in Superman
#41, however. It’s a weird mix of the story being very outside the typical Superman formula, but feeling like it builds on the Superman we know, rather than the “let’s do Superman, but different!” throwing-at-the-wall-to-see-what-sticks that characterized most of Superman’s New 52 existence.
We’re getting three
Star Wars comics this week…the regular series, Darth Vader
, and Princess Leia
. That’s a bit much, almost Avengers
-esque in its scheduling, but I do have an awful lot of customers who are interested in just
the Star Wars books, so getting all three at once won’t be that much of a burden. I don’t know if I’ve said it on my site already, but the timing and success of the Star Wars books vis-a-vis the opening of my own shop was very fortuitous: the release of the new titles driving new customers into shops, causing them to seek out and find my store, was a strong financial influx just when my young store needed it. In fact, at one point I had double-reordered the first Darth Vader
by accident, to which I reacted with “I’m never
going to sell all of these.” Of course, they sold out and now I wish I’d triple
I don’t have a dog in the Secret Wars
race, and while I appreciate the strong sales on this series and most of its tie-ins, but I don’t have any particular interest in it (but I’m still getting this
). Which is fine…nobody can be a fan of every
thing, and I’m certainly not against it by any means. Between this and Convergence
, though, that did leave me trying to figure out order numbers on a bunch of oddball titles at about the same time I’m still trying to suss out the buying habits of my new customer base, and believe you me, my friends, that took all of my comic book retailer super-powers to tackle that particular task. But I’m mostly
managing, with a couple of hiccups (who knew people would want that Ultimate End
comic, after years of Ultimate comics just not selling). But anyway, I did buy that Future Imperfect
tie-in, because it’s Peter David revisiting that old mini-series of his
that I enjoyed so much. I guess the Maestro (the evil future Hulk, for those of you who don’t know) has also popped up in David’s recent Spider-Man 2099
run, so I guess I’ll have to look into those, too.
SPOILERS ahead, but mostly just for All Star Western:
I don’t read the regular monthly Simpsons titles, for ultimately no good reason whatsoever except perhaps “I already get too many comics and I have to draw the line some
where.” It’s clearly good work, very representative of the show and an all-around professional package…I just never got into the habit of following the ongoing series.
On the other hand, I do pick up the minis and specials, particularly the character-focused one-shots they release every few months. That’s generally enough Simpsons funnybookin’ to keep me going…they probably appeal to my childhood enjoyment of the treasury editions, the extra-sized anniversary issues, and what have you. Basically, I’m a cheap bastard who wants more bang for his buck, though if you’re going to be one of those people that does a page count and “number of cents per page” breakdown to tell me I’m better off buying the regular-sized $2.99 issues if I’m that concerned about pinching a penny…well, off with you, then.
Besides, these specials usually come with some kind of fancypants novelty insert, like the “Don’t Blame Me, I votes for Kang”/”…Kodos” bumper stickers that accompanied the special pictured above. Okay, I’m still too anal-retentive a fanboy to want to remove those stickers, but it’s nice to know that they’re there and I can enjoy ’em every time I open this comic. Well, until that glue dries out and the stickers come loose, but that’s a problem for whatever creditors come digging through my house after I’m gone. So, you know, in a week or two.
a specific review about Red Lanterns
, though of the Lantern Bunch (“Here’s the story of some lovely Guardians / Who were bringing up 3600 very lovely GLs”) it probably is my favorite series, which is not something I’d expected to say way back when DC was originally threatening to publish such a thing. But there it is: the characters and situations are more exciting and compelling than those in the other Green Lantern books. Not that the other GL books are bad…I still like them, but Red Lanterns
kind of brings it in a way the others don’t.
Anyway, not what I wanted to mention. It’s just that the DC Universe books (at least, most of the ones I read) are sort of wrapping up storylines in order to make way for the “Futures End” one-shots with the 3D covers an’ all that are debuting this Wednesday and hopefully not bankrupting all of us retailers by contributing to insane distributor bills. I talked about trying to order these things before, and at the time it didn’t occur to me that the weekly series event-thingie the one-shots are tying into might turn out to…well, underperform, thus cutting off that entry avenue. With not a lot of interest in the event, there is the danger of ending storylines giving readers jumping-off points on titles they were sort of iffy on, or maybe just to cut reading costs and spend that money on, I don’t know, feeding the kids or something. Hopefully the novelty of the 3D covers will still entice people to continue, but that sort of thing does make me worry.
I am getting requests from customers to pull all the fancy covers for them, so the interest in there. Still wondering if we’re going to get anything like the rush from last time.
When DC, and then everybody, cut page counts down to 20 pages from 22 in their standard books, it felt like the story content were slighter. I mean, technically, it was
; comics were two pages shorter. Maybe it was just psychological, but it felt like there was some kind of event horizon crossed, that the two pages significantly
affected the amount of content present, far in excess of the actual
storytelling loss caused by the truncation of the page count. The feeling’s lessened a bit, as creators have adjusted to the page loss and I’ve just sort of become used to it, but I occasionally read a comic, come to the end and think “what, already?”
That’s a long intro to say I didn’t have that feeling with Flash Gordon #5. In fact, this is the first standard-sized comic book I’ve read in quite a while where it seemed like things just kept going, where I kept expecting to come to the end of the comic, but nope, there was still more comic coming! After I finished reading it, I even went back and counted the actual number of story pages in the comic, convinced this was some kind of unannounced extra-sized issue.
20 pages. Including a two-page spread. Amazing.
A clever twist on what has been one of the more…macabre and great “ultimate fates” for any of DC’s characters. We all know how Hex is supposed to go out (I cover his death and adventures afterward here
) and it’s nice that the last issue of All Star Western
pays homage to that famous death while finding a new spin on it, one that also doesn’t necessarily reset Jonah’s life to the pre-time travel adventures status quo.
And it’s all drawn by Darwyn Cooke, so it’s very pretty looking, which is not a descriptor one usually uses for Jonah Hex, but, well, there you go. I do wonder what they’ll do with Hex after this, but now that time travel adventures for the character are once again on the table, look for his future Justice League membership. …Actually, he’d fit right into Justice League Dark, wouldn’t he?
I’m just going to remind you that a new issue of this has come out whenever it does
come out. It’s pretty great.
A bunch of you told me this was coming, and here it is, now in my possession, the 1:10 ratio variant cover for Super Secret Crisis Wars
#2, which was inspired by the cover for House of Secrets #92
(the first appearance of Swamp Thing, of course).
This cover is by Andy Suriano, who notes next to his signature that the image is “After (Bernie) Wrightson” and that it’s “For Weezie!!” — AKA Louise Simonson, the writer of Super Secret Crisis Wars, and, oh, by the way, was also the model for the woman on the cover of that original House of Secrets #92.
Suriano might as well have added “Buy This, Mike Sterling” next to his signature as well. This also makes the second Powerpuff Girls-related Swamp Thing parody that I own (the first being the first issue of their IDW series).
In other ridiculous comic news…well, I wasn’t going to buy Injustice: Gods Among Us for the Xbox 360 at $59.99 or whatever the price point was, but I noticed that it recently was available in the Xbox store as a $7.99 download, so, you know, what the heck, I can probably get eight bucks of entertainment out of it. And to be frank, I liked it a lot more playing the full game than I did when I played the demo way back when. Getting the actual “story,” such as it is, and the cut scenes setting up the battles actually does help quite a bit in fleshing this game out into more than just a punch-em-up. Not much more, granted, but I’m having some fun with it. Plus, I’m trying to actually use the special fighting moves each character has, rather than my usual “push every button on the controller in a panic” strategy in dealing with games like these. I’m mostly successful.
This last Wednesday was the rare Mike-less Wednesday at the shop, as I ended up being stuck at home all day waiting for a locksmith to come and repair the lock on my front door…well, not all day, but by the time everything was done, there wasn’t any point in making the drive to work. Hopefully I won’t return on Thursday to find smoking ruins and “MIKE MUST DIE” painted in blood on one of the remaining walls, because I wasn’t thrilled the last time that happened. Alas, the lock problems were a special morning surprise, and not anything I planned for, so I had precious little work to do at home whilst I waited for the Friendly Neighborhood Locksmith to make his way to me. A little eBaying, a little store website maintenance (i.e. getting the store website back up because someone screwed up somewhere…not saying it was me, but…um, it was me)…
…and a little catching up on reading this week’s new comics over lunch. My fifteen minutes are almost up here, so let me just throw out the fact that I really enjoyed the Red Lanterns Annual. In fact, the Red Lanterns title in general is a lot of fun. I was skeptical as anyone on the Tumbling-Twitter-Journals about this when it was announced, that the world surely didn’t need a comic about the Red Lanterns, of all things, and who are, well, kinda gross when you get right down to it. But there’s always something interesting going on in the title, and this recent annual was stuffed with all kinds of crazy events and twists and turns, and personality conflicts mixed with the occasional grudging friendships are entertaining to read. I certainly like this comic more than the Green Lantern titles, which aren’t bad as such…just seem a bit staid compared to their more crimson-hued cousin.
Sinestro is good, too. Must be something about Green Lantern villains/antagonists that make for compelling reading. …Where’s my Myrwhydden series?
Jim Starlin, the creator of Thanos, returns with artist Ron Lim to fill in a gap or two in the character’s past while setting up yet another Infinity Something-or-other
series, which is fine with me, actually, so long as Starlin will be involved. The annual comes with three variant covers, and of course there’s only one choice as to which I’d get.
Collecting Jason Yungbluth’s longform post-apocalyptic Peanuts
(and other comic strips!) parody, both from previous print appearances and the online strips, plus other goodies new to this collection. I’ve been a fan of Weapon Brown
since first encountering it in Yungbluth’s Deep Fried
comics, though I sort of fell behind keeping up with the webcomic and am glad to have it all here in one giant lump.
This is supposed to be the “Batman ’66” variant, though that mostly has translated to “‘characters drawn by Mike Allred in the usual Mike Allred style’ variant,” which is perfectly fine, don’t get me wrong. But everyone’s costumes need to be, I don’t know, a little baggier, maybe? At least one giant “KA-POW!” sound effect, some
where? Swamp Thing (looking more like the Dick Durock portrayal from the first film) dancing the Swamptusi with an Abby Arcane who looks suspiciously like Eartha Kitt in a white wig with black stripes?
Been digging Matt Kindt’s covers on this series. The story’s interesting as well, giving us outsiders’ views of the Original Trilogy’s core characters. I suspect this and the other ongoing Star Wars
monthly may be the last hurrahs for these characters in this form for a while, as the franchise switches over to Marvel and the ramp-up to Episode VII begins.
This issue goes a long way to establishing that the Fantastic Four are dangerous and possibly crazy people, which is something that probably should have been obvious from the get-go but James Robinson has a lawyer really go after the team on this and it’s hard to argue that the lawyer is wrong. It’ll all wrap up with our heroes coming out of it just fine, surely, or at the very least forgotten when the next writer comes along or the new first issue comes out, or both, but it makes for a compelling story in the meantime.
Was actually sort of surprised this wrapped up as quickly as it did, in only six issues, but there probably isn’t much more to say on the topic, really. A lot got squeezed into these comics, and the tone of the last issue swings from touching to appalling and back again, in true Garth Ennis fashion.
REMINDER: Swamp Thing appearance in Aquaman
this week, about seventeen years since the last time that’s happened
, so, you know, we were about due. Also, I have just dropped dead from old age, in case you were wondering.
Normally, on the rare occasion I buy Avatar comics and am forced to choose among the various cover options, the “regular” cover or the “terror” cover or the “propaganda” cover or the “lava leopard”
cover or what have you, I usually go for the wraparound cover. Maybe it’s the mindset of “I’m want as much for my buck as possible, so I want twice as much cover as normal,” I don’t know. But this time, for Caliban
, I went for the above “regular” cover, which just seemed more creepy and evocative than the perhaps more on-the-nose wraparound cover (which you can see on the publisher’s site
). It certainly looks more like an old sci-fi paperback cover, at least to my eye.
The comic itself is off to an interesting start (an Earth ship unexpectedly merges with a mysterious, and much larger, alien craft, unpleasantness ensues) placing it solidly in the horror sci-fi genre along with Alien, Event Horizon and even Disney’s The Black Hole. …C’mon, you know that movie’s terrifying.
Some short notes about other comics this week:
Action Comics #30 – drawn, in part, by local artist and friend of the shop Jed Dougherty! Features the beginning (more or less) of the return of Doomsday storyline, or at least has that big ol’ “Prelude to SUPERMAN DOOMED” banner inset on the cover, and it doesn’t look like lightning is striking twice on this yet, but who knows. Maybe demand will pick up on these when the Doomsday story really gets moving along. And maybe all those copies of Adventure of Superman #500 will start selling again. And Superman #75 will finally break that $1000 barrier! I’LL BE RICH, I TELL YOU
Swamp Thing #30 – unexpected DC Universe guest-star in this issue, assisting Mr. A. Holland and friends with their particular dilemma. This installment ends with just about as disturbing a sequence as I’ve seen in Swamp Thing in quite some time, without having to resort to gore or corpses or really violence of any sort.
Starlight #2 – continues to be very by-the-numbers plotwise, but competently so, and thus is at least readable while you enjoy the true star of the book, the beautiful artwork by Goran Parlov.
She-Hulk #3 – everyone is telling you this is a great comic, and everyone is correct. This issue, She-Hulk tries to secure asylum for the “son” of Dr. Doom, and it’s exciting, it’s funny, and Doom’s son is both trying and a bit tragic. One thing I need to remember is that every two-page spread needs to be read across both pages, rather than down page one then back up to the top of the facing page. I’m so trained to do one page at a time that I kept having to remind myself “read all the way across before going down to the next tier of panels.” Not that I said that out loud to myself as I was flipping through the book, why would you even think that.
Phantom Stranger #18 – the Stranger helps Superman struggle against the ghosts of those he’s failed, or something like that. I’m pretty sure I need to read this again, because I’m not sure I quite caught it all the first time. The plot centers around that recent development over in the Justice League books, where a mind-controlled Superman straight up flash-fried Doctor Light, which is, mind control or not, kind of an upsetting thing to have as part of Superman’s history. Even the New 52 history, such as that is. I was kind of happy ignoring that, but nope, here it is in a book I read. Ah, well. Also, I’m totally shelving this comic in the Ps, not under T for “Trinity of Sin: Phantom Stranger” which is the official title, because that official title is dumb and I hate it.
$5.99 is an awful lot to charge for a new comic book (see also
), given that not too long ago six bucks got you a squarebound “prestige format” funnybook that was 48 pages, no ads, and this here annual is 48 pages with
ads and a staplebound spine and why, I can remember when comics only cost a dime and you could buy a car with a five dollar bill and have change left over for a down payment on a house, ah yes.
This Batman/Superman annual, written by Greg Pak, is very good, however, with some interestingly appealing art from Jae Lee, Kenneth Rocafort and Philip Tan…in particular, I was discussing with a customer of mine the other day about how Lee seems to be leaps and bounds beyond what he was doing back in the ’90s, when it was all jagged edges and silhouettes.
And for a six buck comic, you do get a fairly dense reading experience…plenty of dialogue and action and several panels per page, but never feeling cramped for space. Batman/Superman is one of the better Superman-related books, at a time when the Superman books across the board seem to be improving, and this annual is a solid, if pricy, example of the “New 52” Superman revamp actually working.
Not sure what I can say about this book that old chum Kevin didn’t already say
. Nothing in this issue should come as a surprise to anybody who’s ever read, well, anything, but it’s all competently written and very pretty to look at, and I have to admit, the idea of “what if Flash Gordon came back to Earth to tell of his adventures and everyone thought he was nuts” is an interesting one. I suspect the relative simplicity of this initial installment will go away as Mark Millar delves more deeply into the “here’s a modern perspective/twist on 1930s space opera!” themes in future issues, but hey, maybe I’m wrong. I’m willing to be surprised. I very much expect Goran Parlov’s art will continue to look nice, regardless.
I was finally called out by a customer on my racking this comic in the general area of the other Archie comics, which I kind of wondered about doing
myself, but kept them there anyway because that’s where I thought people were probably going to look for them. Hadn’t had any trouble yet, and we’re not selling them to kids, and even this customer wasn’t like angry or upset or anything…just mostly bemused.
This issue especially I can’t sell to kids, given the remarkably upsetting circumstances Archie finds himself in, and that subtext I’d mentioned before basically becoming straight up “text.”
Still very well done, however, and especially affecting given the characters starring in it. And Harvey? The jalopy makes an appearance.
This comic from the fringes of Mike Mignola’s “Hellboyverse” remains pulpy good fun as always, but I’ve noticed an upward bump on sales on this title (and Baltimore
as well). After always selling the same amount of copies month in and month out, we’re suddenly experiencing sellouts and requests for back issues. I think readers generally like
Mignola’s storytelling but are gravitating toward these series that are more episodic and easier to follow, versus the B.P.R.D.
books that have mostly plateaued.
Speaking of sales, not long ago I had a brief interchange
with Richard Neal, co-owner of Zeus Comics way out there in the far-flung wilds of Texas, regarding post-Geoff Johns Green Lantern sales. My comment, that sales were “withering away,” may have been overstating things slightly, which is unusual given the Twitter platform’s capacity for nuance, I realize. It was Johns’s strong direction for the franchise that kept the four titles selling as well as they did for as long as they did, and with DC’s huge emphasis on his departure, that was a pretty strong cue for readers to depart as well. The main GL title still does…okay, but not nearly as well as it did before, and the other titles, rather than withering
away, have already withered
away to much lower numbers and are now basically staying there. There’s the odd bump or two with cross-title tie-ins like the “Lights Out” storyline, but that’s about it.
The real test will be the new Sinestro title debuting soon. Comic fans like Sinestro…heck, I like Sinestro, but we’ll see if they’ll like him as the star of yet another monthly Green Lantern franchise book instead of just appearing in already existing series.
So this is Top Shelf’s new collection of all the Bojeffries stories by Alan Moore and Steve Parkhouse, including 24 new pages appearing here for the first time. The work is reproduced in its original black and white format, save for one short story printed in black and various shades of red. If you’ve never read these darkly-humored tales of this monstrously peculiar family, I would highly recommend picking up this book.
If you happen to own the previous Bojefferies collection, published by Tundra in 1992:
…take note that the new Top Shelf volume doesn’t entirely supplant it. The Tundra edition of course doesn’t have the 24 extra pages in the newer collection, but this older book is
in full color, which is nice but, as noted above, not how the stories originally appeared. However, there are a handful of pages created for the Tundra collection that do not appear in the Top Shelf book. Mostly they are one (and in one case, two) page gags (a dress-up doll of Ginda, a cut-out model of the garden, a Festus mask), but it is
new Bojeffries material and it’s a shame none of it made it to the new volume. And then there’s that illustration of Ginda putting the moves on Lenny Henry, who provides the introduction. But the Top Shelf book does contain all the narrative material, so if you can stand the knowledge that a couple of gags didn’t make the transition, here you go.
Plus, the original book is 22 years old and seems to sell for anywhere from $27 to $120 on Amazon, so you may want to do without it anyway.
The odd cognitive dissonance of reading about John Constantine stuck in the middle of a big ol’ superhero crossover continues in this oddball tie-in to the “Forever Evil” storyline currently running in the Justice League books. In a strange way it sort of mirrors what was going on the last time Constantine was so closely tied to a Big Event Series, with John running around in Swamp Thing
dealing with the more mystical side of Crisis on Infinite Earths
. In that instance, the stories were definitely in the “this superhero stuff sure is weird” mode, with Alan Moore, Steve Bissette, John Totleben and the rest of the gang doing their off-kilter, somewhat creepy takes
on the DC Universe.
This time around, John and his magical pals are in full-on superhero mode, shooting eldritch energy beams from their hands instead of science-y energy, on a team that actually refers to itself, in-story, as “Justice League Dark,” a name that should have just remained a groaner of a comic book title. John is no longer really functioning as any kind of commentary on the DCU at large beyond his most basic “man, these guys” reactions. Despite that, Constantine and the other titles that are crossing over in their parallel “Forever Evil” event (like Pandora, Phantom Stranger, and the previously-cited Justice League Dark) have been a lot of fun, possibly more so that the parent Justice League series, even if the storyline has been dragging on maybe just a bit too long. Not “Rotworld” long, but I’m probably ready for this to wrap up Any Day Now.
If you like the current Hawkeye
series, then you should pick up this new She-Hulk
comic. It’s very much in the same vein, with strong dialogue and good humor and crystal-clear art. I just read it again for a second time, between typing that last sentence and this one, and I haven’t done that with a brand new comic on the same day I picked it up in long time.
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