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More quotation marks than a comic dialogued by Kirby.

§ October 21st, 2016 § Filed under this week's comics § 4 Comments

So I love oddball promotional materials sent to retailers by comic book companies. My favorite is probably the bottle of Armstrong Ale that Valiant Comics sent to promote Archer & Armstrong back in the ’90s. (In fact, I’m pretty my old boss still has that bottle in the back room somewhere.)

This week, the weird promo item was an honest-to-Philips audio cassette tape to tie into this week’s release of Cave Carson Has A Cybernetic Eye (which is one hell of a title, one must admit). It has a brief playing time, with a song (“Into the Cave We Wander”) on one side and an alleged documentary excerpt from Carson’s investigation of Poggy’s Cavern on the other, essentially making it a “cassingle” in the parlance of Ye Olden Times. (As opposed to a C-Dingle in the parlance of Slightly Less Olden Times.) Anyway, it’s weird, since I doubt too many stores nowadays have an in-store cassette player to pipe the tunes/spoken word track to their customers’ ears, but, you know, maybe some do. Or it can be used as a contest giveaway (buy a copy of the comic, get entered in the drawing…er, depending on your state’s lottery rules, maybe, I’m no lawyer), or if you like obscure-ish recordings, like I do, it’s yet another goodie to add to the collection. …A little investigation reveals that this was also given away at a “Young Animal” panel at a recent convention, and I suspect these tracks will be made available in wider release, probably as digital downloads, at some point, if they’re not already.

In case you’re wondering, the comic itself is fine…probably the most “traditional,” I suppose, of the three titles so far released under the Young Animal imprint. If you thought Doom Patrol and Shade the Changing Girl were a little too “out there” for you, this feels more like a simple updating of a Silver Age character that might be a little more accessible. But overall I think I like the aesthetic of the imprint…dense and complicated but mostly clearly told and enjoyable comics that don’t necessarily feel beholden to whatever related comics preceded them. This has me wondering about what Mother Panic, the first entirely original character (I believe), will be like, but if it’s presented in the same fashion as the others, I’m looking forward to it.

I had no idea how much I missed Love and Rockets in its magazine format until I was finally holding a new issue in my hands. Not to say I didn’t appreciate L&R or related works in whatever format I could get my mitts on, but there’s a bit of a nostalgic “going home again” sense in seeing it like this. In fact, I think I prefer the magazine format to the previous annual format, particularly since if the magazine comes out on a regular basis that means more Los Bros Hernandez pages per year, and who can say no to that? Also, it’s a bit easier to sell something at $4.99 a few times a year than it is to sell a $14.99 book even just once a year, which probably sounds strange but that’s just been my experience. Anyway, I’m glad Love and Rockets is still around in any configuration.

The implied promise of the eventual “Wicket W. Warrick, Ewok Lawyer” comic.

§ October 14th, 2016 § Filed under pal plugging, this week's comics § 1 Comment

So you guys all remember pal Ian? The fella who was one of the founding members of ACAPCWOVCCAOE, which is short for, as long-time readers will remember, Associated Comics and Pop Culture Webloggers of Ventura County, CA and Outlying Environs? The kind and gentle editor of the Bill and Ted’s Excellent Comic Book Archives who was good enough to place a credit for me in the collection due to my small bit of production assistance?

Well, pal Ian can use a little help…he’s been out of work for a bit, and while he tries to get more employment in the comics biz, he could stand a bit of assistance to keep himself going in the meantime. If you have a few spare dollars, he’d be most appreciative, so please visit his GoFundMe page and help out if you can. Or just straight-up hire the dude…he’s a good and talented guy! I’ll vouch for him!

• • •

Meanwhile…COMIC BOOKS:


I’m genuinely surprised that Marvel is ending the Darth Vader series, but in retrospect that’s probably a good thing. Too much Vader can spoil whatever mystique is left (I mean, yes, we got a lot of Anakin in various Star Wars-ian media, but Vader is another thing entirely), and we basically know how it all ends for him, so having a short-run adventure with a beginning, middle, and end in the midst of already-established Star Wars “history” is for the best. And it’s also probably just as well that the series bows out now while sales are still strongish, though they were beginning to sag a little…switching up the titles on a regular basis for ones starring different characters keeps things fresh. Yeah, that’s like the exact opposite of what I usually want from Marvel, another parade of new #1s, but Star Wars sales generally remain strong and enthusiasm for new titles is still present in the marketplace, unlike the groans I hear at the same titles being relaunched over and over again, sometimes only months apart.

Now elements of the Darth Vader comic will continue in this new series, and by the way that entire link is a SPOILER in case you haven’t read that last issue. I wonder if the main Star Wars title has a planned conclusion in its future? I suspect not, but I am surprised at the lack of a current comic based on the Rebels cartoon, since the Kanan series wrapped up some time ago. I think an Ahsoka series would probably be like printing money.

We’re beginning to see a little more of a direction in the Doom Patrol series with the second issue, after a very strange, but still quite interesting, debut issue. Glad to see the return of concepts from the Grant Morrison era, which is a couple of decades old now (but usually readily available in trade paperback form at a comic shop near you!) but I still have fond memories of those crazy stories and it looks like this new series should build quite nicely on them without necessarily repeating what we’ve seen.

Every time one of the new Superman comics comes out, like this week’s Action #965, I say the same thing: “this shouldn’t be working.” But it does, somehow, even with the convoluted set-up of the pre-Flashpoint Superman returning to the New 52/Rebirth universe after the reboot Superman died, and then there’s the other non-Superman Clark Kent running around, and two Lois Lanes (or are there) and the Son of Superman, and so on and so forth. It makes for compelling reading, as the reader wants to know what the resolution is going to be, and I sure as heck hope it’s not tied to the larger metaplot of the Watchmen’s involvement in Rebirth. But eventually there’s going to be some sort of “smoothing out” of continuity which results in One Universe, One Superman, One Lois Lane, and I’m about 90% certain No Son of Lois and Clark, and it’ll probably be Dr. Manhattan waving his hands and saying “well, I thought that would work, let me put the pieces back together.” We’ll see.

Anyway, this issue of Action had a couple of great Lois Lane-focused covers, appropriate for the Lois-heavy content within. It was hard to pick which one I wanted for myself, but ultimately went with the one pictured above.

I buy every issue of Haunted Horror (and its sister mag Weird Love)…it reminds me of that late, great series Tales Too Terrible to Tell, without the great historical text pieces discussing the stories and publishers, alas, but it is in color and it’s always great to see what was going on in vintage horror titles that weren’t from EC Comics. The stories can be of…shall we say, varying competency, but they always make for some entertainingly ghoulish reading. Hey kids, comics!

If you told me years ago that in 2015/2016 I’d be reading and enjoying a Howard the Duck comic that wasn’t written by Howard’s creator Steve Gerber, I’d probably be secretly plotting a way to get my hands on your time machine. Also, I would have been surprised by this revelation. It’s not Gerber’s Howard, but it was definitely Zdarsky’s Howard and it’ll be missed. Yeah, this is the last issue. That’s too bad. …Still can’t believe I’m saying that about a non-Gerber Howard. YES, I’M CLINGING DESPERATELY TO THE PAST, WHAT OF IT

I could make a tortured Woodrue Morgue joke but only I would think it’s funny.

§ August 24th, 2016 § Filed under swamp thing, this week's comics § 7 Comments

So you Swamp Thing fans out there, of which there are at least one or two I’m pretty sure, should keep a lookout for this edition of the British Canadian horror magazine Rue Morgue:

…that’s issue #169, and I normally just get a copy in that shop for a pull list customer, but of course once I saw what was being featured I had to get my mitts on one myself. I like the cover, which of course incorporates Steve Bissette’s cover from Swamp Thing #51. It’s a nice seven-page chunk of the mag in full color, featuring interviews with cocreator Len Wein, artist of the recent mini-series Kelley Jones, and writer of the back half of the New 52 series, Charles Soule. There’s a brief overview of Swampy’s history, and a review of the aforementioned mini. It’s a welome addition to the ol’ Swamp collection.

Checking with my distributor, it appears to be no longer available through them (and any other retailers checking there themselves should note they have a different cover attached to the item information for this issue). However, it appears you can mail order a physical copy from the official site for the magazine, or even get a digital copy, if that’s the way you swing.

And speaking of swinging…er, I mean, of Swamp Thing:

…there he is, palling around with his old chum John Constantine in the first issue (as opposed to the Rebirth one-shot that came out a month ago…thanks for making me have to explain the “two number ones” thing to every customer, DC) of The Hellblazer, which is different from the other Constantine series called Hellblazer in that there’s a “The” there in the title now.

Inside the comic, Swamp Thing needs John’s help with something-or-other, and the two trade quips and barbs and it kinda feels like the Good Old Days in case you read that previously-noted one-shot and didn’t care for it (as some of my customers expressed to me). There is an odd continuity thing, which…well, to catch you folks up:

1. Lab explodes, and Alec Holland’s burning body plunges into the swamp.

2. The chemicals Alec was working on merge with the swamp and with Alec’s body, and out pops Swamp Thing.

3. Swamp Thing believes he is Alec Holland, mutated by science gone awry.

4. It is revealed that isn’t the case, that Alec did in fact die in the explosion, and the plant elemental that arose used Alec’s memories as a template for itself.

5. That Swamp Thing hangs around for a long time, before eventually going away.

6. Alec is returned from the dead, and this time he actually is turned into Swamp Thing to replace the previous one.

As per what seems to exist in New 52/Rebirth continuity, that Thinks-It’s-Alec-Holland Swamp Thing still happened, and in one issue Actually-Is-Alec-Holland Swamp Thing meets Thinks-It’s-Alec-Holland Swamp Thing. What of the published stories is still in continuity is anyone’s guess, especially since a major thing that happened to a supporting character during the Alan Moore/Bissette/John Totleben era seems to Have Never Happened now.

In The Hellblazer #1, we get a discussion referring to a specific something that happened during the Not-Holland-Swampy’s tenure, with John chiding Current Alec-Swampy for it. Now it could be that maybe Alec-Swampy did a similar thing off-panel and this is the first we’re hearing about it, or that John somehow forgot these are two different Swamp Things, or that the previous Swamp Thing merged with the current Swamp Thing somehow and they’re basically the same being, or it’s a complicated Rebirth re-fiddling with the continuity thing, or this was all explained somewhere and I missed or forgot it because I don’t reread every issue multiple times anymore, or maybe I’m just thinking too much about it.

Anyway, it’s just a very minor point in this issue and only some crazy person who’s been reading Swamp Thing for the better part of four decades and also has a blog would really bring it up.

I hope they do a year-long story about Superman having an ant head.

§ August 10th, 2016 § Filed under this week's comics § 4 Comments

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• • •


So Flintstones #2 from DC’s strange Hanna-Barbera revamp project isn’t quite as peculiar as the initial installment, but it does firmly establish the milieu as some sort of terrifying nightmare world. It goes well beyond the humorous shrug of the various appliance-animals exclaiming “it’s a living!” to…well, worse things, frankly. That’s just a small portion of the overall theme of the issue, which is a critique of consumerist culture, with a little poking fun at religion mixed in, and overall I think I’m beginning to really like this series. The first issue caught me off guard, as I said at the time, but I think with the second issue I’m catching on to what they’re doing.


Superwoman squeezes a whole lot of storytelling into those 20 pages…many panels per page, lots of dialogue, along with an additional surprise character that I wasn’t quite sure I was expecting as a regular in this series. The title brings an additional permutation of the Superman franchise, which has been going in some unusual directions of late, and generally for the better. Like I said last week, I feel like this weird fiddling with the Super-books will all go away once the Rebirth event reaches its eventual conclusion, but in the meantime it’s nice to see them break out of their usual ruts. And I mean in a good well-thought-out way, not in the rushed-to-the-marketplace-New-52-retooling way.

And yes, I know “Superman’s girlfriend gets super powers!? WHA–!?” ain’t exactly a new story, but neither was “Superman’s identity — REVEALED!?” but taking those old Silver-Agey one-off plots and turning them into The Status Quo (for at least a while) is still an appealing way of doing things, at least to me. Remember, I was into that whole Superman Red/Superman Blue thing before it was cool!


Darth Vader wraps up next issue, which kinda surprises me given that it’s been a success for Marvel (not that any of the Star Wars books haven’t been successes). However, it’s nice when it’s recognized that a series that comes to a natural conclusion (and will sell forever in collected book form) is preferred to an eternally-running series with diminishing returns. Or restarting with a new #1 immediately to boost up sales for another month or two. Not that we won’t see another Darth Vader mini-series at some point, I’m betting, but taking the first one off the shelves finally makes room for that Lobot: P.I. mini-series that I would totally write for free if Marvel is listening.

Anyway, this issue is like the total opposite of Superwoman in that it’s all big panels and light on dialogue, but for some reason I’m a little more forgiving of this in a Star Wars comic, probably because George Lucas has brainwashed me since I was a child. It’s mostly mindspace-type shenanigans, as Vader reflects on the incidents that made him who he is, so we’re getting a lot of Prequel Trilogy imagery mixed with the Big Guy as we’re familiar with him from the Real Trilogy, which is intrinsically interesting to the Star Wars nerd that I am. It’s not quite as shocking as the one appearance-of-sorts of Darth Vader in the Clone Wars cartoon series, but it’s neat to see nonetheless.


Okay, I haven’t had a chance to read it yet, but 1) no, despite the name it’s not a continuation of DC’s finest Batman title, All-Star Batman and Robin the Boy Wonder, and 2) the multiple covers for this first issue reminds me of the multiple covers for the first issue of the somewhat similar Legends of the Dark Knight. At least this time they gave us actual drawings on each variant (well, except for the blank sketch cover)…I like that John Romita Jr. cover (pictured above) the best. A quick flip-through at least looks interesting, and I enjoyed Scott Snyder’s Bat-writing previously, so I’m reasonably sure I’ll enjoy this too.


Okay, fine, I read it instead of going to bed like a sane person. It’s a fun Batman comic, featuring our favorite Caped Crusader in some locations you don’t usually see Batman in. Plus, there’s the return of a character that I’ve always liked and that we’ll get to see more of (well, more or less…you’ll see what I mean) in the next issue. Don’t know if we need yet another Batman book, but so long as 1) they’re good, and 2) they’re taking different approaches to the franchise, I guess I’m okay with it, which I’m sure makes the folks at DC let out sighs of relief.

The whole “Superman” section of this post sort of got away from me here.

§ August 3rd, 2016 § Filed under superman, this week's comics § 5 Comments

So I have to say I was pretty amused by this week’s preview booklet for DC’s “Young Animal” imprint. As you can see by the cover, it apes the look of DC’s Who’s Who series, down to including Who’s Who-style entries for some of the characters in the first few pages. The rest of the pages are filled with art samples from the forthcoming titles. Mostly I’m impressed by the “lo-fi” nature of the preview, a black and white digest-sized pamphlet that stands out in this age of full-color sampler comics and full-size first-look magazines, selling ideas, not production values. An interesting statement on the aesthetic of this line, I think.

What’s interesting about the Superman titles during DC’s “Rebirth” initiative is that, all things considered, people shouldn’t like them. This is about as convoluted a set-up as you can have for a Superman franchise, involving parallel universes and whatnot, and oh Superman and Lois have a son, too…but ultimately people are interested. It’s a combination of “here’s something sorta new with the character” and “this isn’t the New 52 version of Superman you didn’t like, but the one that’s been around since the 1980s Byrne revamp, more or less.” The hooks for the two series have been engaging (with Action focusing on the maybe-redemption arc for Lex Luthor and the mystery of the Other Clark Kent, and Superman focusing on the Supes/Lois/Jon family dynamic).

I generally prefer Action, and at first I wasn’t entirely thrilled with this week’s issue of Superman…there’s a whole lot of fighting with the Eradictor, and not a whole lot else…but it does provide the next step is Jon’s evolution as the Son of Superman, and that does leave me wanting to see more. Which, of course, I’ll eventually be getting in the forthcoming Super Sons book, co-starring Damian Wayne…which makes me wonder. Did DC’s relative success in giving Batman a biological son pave the way for DC doing the same for Superman? But then, a father/son dynamic has been present in the Batman comics for decades…it’s just now the son is actually his son, not a ward or an adoptee, so there’s not really any change in that dynamic.

I guess in the Superman franchise, Supergirl sort of filled the role of the mentored youngster, but that’s not really the same as “Superman has a child.” He’s not even really had any kind of established Robin-esque sidekick like Batman, despite Supergirl’s occasional guest appearances. So, while Batman having a son didn’t really affect the franchise, giving Superman a son does alter things from the established model quite a bit. (It strikes me, sometimes, how lonely Superman seems to be in the pre-Crisis days…going to the empty Kent home, keeping his double life secret from his friends, even separated from Kandor in either its shrunken city or on-an-interdimensional-planetoid forms.)

Anyway, this is just a lot of meandering about a current plot development that will likely go away in whatever big shakeup the whole “Rebirth” thing is eventually leading to. The current story of “Parallel Universe Superman” will probably be wrapped up sooner rather than later, and whatever permutations that make this Superman differ from the Official Licenseable Version will be sanded away. But in the meantime, the Superman books have made for intriguing reading, if only for exploring how flexible the franchise is after nearly eight decades of existence.

Some comic pages right out of history.

§ July 7th, 2016 § Filed under this week's comics § 6 Comments

Of course the first thing I thought of when I first heard about the then-forthcoming Flintstones revamp from DC Comics:


…was John Byrne’s “realistic” version of the family from Sensational She-Hulk #5 (1989), as seen here in this detail from the cover:


…and here’s a bit from inside that book:

Now, so far from DC’s Hanna-Barbera retoolings, we’ve had Future Quest (which everyone expected to be good), Scooby Apocalypse (which surprised people by being good as well), Wacky Raceland (bit of a misfire, but we’ll see how it goes), and now this, The Flintstones. I…I’m not quite sure what to make of it. My initial response to it I posted on Twitter, where I said it was “weird,” and I was asked “good weird or bad weird?” My reply was “weird weird.”

There’s stuff in here about Fred and Barney being veterans of “The Paleolithic Wars,” there’s Slate wanting to exploit Neanderthal workers, there’s the unpleasant fate of one of the characters shown in the modern day framing sequence…and that there even is a modern day framing sequence is a bit strange period. Tone shifts around quite a bit, from the expected dinosaur jokes to the poignant backstory for one of the cast. It’s definitely an interesting read…I didn’t know what to expect from writer Mark Russell on this, since I’d not read his work (though I understand Prez is good), but I’ve enjoyed Steve Pugh’s art in the past (on Grimjack and Hellblazer) and he did a fine job here, though trying to reconcile this version of the Flintstones cast with the permanently-embedded mental image we all have of the cartoons is quite the task.

Anyway, I’ll certainly be back for the second issue. It’s not often a comic catches me off guard like this, and that’s something I can very much appreciate. Don’t quite know if it’s good as such, but it has my attention.

So I was going to write about…

§ June 23rd, 2016 § Filed under star wars, this week's comics § 2 Comments

…the fact that the Force Awakens comic book adaptation is coming out now, long after the theatrical release and the home video release, theorizing as to why, etc., but it turns out the answer is apparently just “hey, it happened when it happened.”

On the Twittererers, @bensonmic let me know that Jordan D. White, one of the folks behind Marvel’s Star Wars funnybooks, indicated on his own Twitter and/or Tumblr that it just wasn’t something they were prioritizing. I went on the endless scroll through Mr. White’s Tumblr, not finding that particular post but certainly appreciating the man’s nearly endless patience for some of the fan interactions he was…enjoying. But anyway, the aforementioned @bensonmic later sent me the link to the actual post in question, put up last Christmas:

“The comic book adaptations of movies have not been as big of a thing since the advent of home video. Back when, getting a comic was one of the only ways to reexperience the story of the film when it was out of theatres. Now, you can own the film relatively soon after, so it’s less imperative to get the adaptation out right away. If we do one, we can take the time to do the comic as accurately and awesomely as we can.”

Which of course makes complete sense. I even said the same thing on this site…guh, eleven years ago, which is a mindset I’m still in, and that’s why I’m always surprised when a new movie adaptation comes out. Mostly, it’s just Marvel adapting previous installments of their superhero films before the next film comes out (like the Captain America: Civil War Prelude from late 2015/early 2016, which adapted 2013’s Iron Man 3 and 2014’s Captain America: The Winter Soldier).

But still, the Force Awakens comic feels like bit of an anomaly, but hey, what do I know, it came out this Wednesday and it sold just fine, so clearly there’s an audience for it. And, um, I got it too, since I’m pretty much in the bag for all things Star Warsian (at least as it pertains to the characters I grew up with, and not, say, novels set 10,000 years before A New Hope and featuring Jedi Master Tu Ma’nee Apos’troph’ez versus Darth Menacingname). And even though I know it’s a five-parter, it felt like the film’s story was so compressed in the opening pages I briefly wondered if this adaptation was a one-shot.

I mean, yeah, it’s probably an entirely unnecessary comic, given that most of us interested enough in actually buying it almost certainly owns the film itself in the format of one’s choice. But there are some nice illustrative moments, and the adaptation of the script is fine, and let’s face it, if there wasn’t a comic book version of Episode VII, it would certainly be noticeable by its absence. “Star Wars movie comic” is just one of those constants of the industry, present whether you want it or not.

So now there are two different comics called Flash: Rebirth to go with the two different Flashpoint series.

§ June 8th, 2016 § Filed under this week's comics § 5 Comments



So this is the first Flash comic I’ve bought in…six years, I guess? Since the previous Flash: Rebirth and a couple of issues of the follow-up regular series, at least. I just decided, at that point, that I’ve read enough Flash comics, and was a bit put off that franchise anyway due to starting/relaunching/returning to the old numbering at about that time. Plus, having discarded Wally West (the previous Kid Flash, who had taken over his mentor’s mantle) and going back to Barry Allen as the Flash seemed very…retrograde, particularly after a couple of decades of Wally as the Flash and the then-deceased Barry as the ideal Wally always tried to live up to – a scenario that worked very well, I thought. Of course, all those botched re-relaunches killed whatever sales momentum the Flash franchise had, necessitating some desperate measures…in this case, bringing back the character who was one of the two big deaths from Crisis on Infinite Earths.

That said, there were a couple things here that at least got me to try out this new Flash: Rebirth #1. First, there was DC Universe: Rebirth, which brought back the old, pre-New 52 Wally West, stuck in the Speed Force and trying to find some touchstone to bring him back to Earth. The touching scene between him and his uncle Barry was quite effective, I thought, and I wanted to see more of that relationship, as well as where things were going to lead with the larger metaplot of “Just What Is The Deal with This New 52 Universe, Anyway?” And yes, we do get a little bit of both, though it doesn’t go much farther than what we’ve already seen in that Rebirth one-shot from a couple of weeks ago, but it is, at least partially, from Barry’s perspective. I don’t know if we’ll see much of said metaplot when the Flash series proper starts up, but it looks like it might continue over in a Teen Titans, based on what happens here.

Now I don’t know if my interest in the series will continue outside of this larger picture subplot stuff, but it at least got me to pick up an issue of The Flash again for the first time in forever. I see that the book, at least in part, reflects the TV show (or perhaps the other way around…again, haven’t read it in a while) in that Barry’s father is present in an advisory/support position, and that his situation (framed for the death of Barry’s mom) is also similar. Now, some of the groundwork for this way be in the original 2010 Rebirth mini, but man, I don’t remember now. Regardless, it’s a nice familiar touchstone for anyone coming to this title new who may only know the TV show, especially given the larger DC Universe Event hoohar that’s also thrown in.

Other new books:

Action Comics #957 – the old numbering is back, which is nice. But speaking of DC Universe Event Hoohar, the background to everything going on in this Superman book is a lot to take in. The New 52 Superman died, with the Superman from the pre-New 52 universe, who has been hiding out in the New 52 universe for years raising his son Jonathan with his wife Lois, taking his place, and I’m assuming the eventual payoff to this, once the other shoe from this Rebirth event drops, is some kind of “streamlining” of the DC Universe reality so that there’s always been just one Superman. In the meantime, as odd a set-up as that sounds, it actually all works in context, and it’s quite the interesting hook for Superman adventures, at least for the time being. It helps that Dan Jurgens, one of the main contributors to Superman over the last couple of decades, is on board as the writer. It feels like the old Superman (well, okay, the post-1986 John Byrne reboot Superman) versus the New 52 Universe, which is going to be the recurring theme as this all plays out, I guess.

Popeye #47 – still reprinting Bud Sagendorf comics from the 1950s. No idea how this reprint project has lasted so long, but I’m so glad it did.

Daredevil #8 – okay, I’m no Daredevil historian, but I’m pretty sure this issue does things (or rather, doesn’t do things) with his powers that haven’t been seen in a Daredevil comic before. Very clever.

Wacky Raceland #1 – you got me, I haven’t read this yet, but I’ve enjoyed the Hanna Barbera revamps so far, so I’m willing to give this one a shot. A quick glance through the book shows a somewhat more extreme take than either Future Quest or Scooby Apocalypse, so I’m not entirely sure how this is going to go, but you certainly can’t fault that terrific Tommy Lee Edwards “Penelope Pitstop” cover, which the variant I decided to take:

Anyway, I have a feeling this comic is going to be the hardest sell of the new HB lot, but we’ll see.

In which I complain about spoilers before getting into spoilers.

§ May 25th, 2016 § Filed under pal plugging, retailing, this week's comics § 10 Comments

In regards to my previous post, pal Andrew had his own take on the decline of the Legion of Super-Heroes, and makes a cogent argument that it wasn’t necessarily Zero Hour what done the deed.

And hey, blogging brother Tim has also opened the floor to questions, so while you’re waiting for me to finish answering what you’ve asked me, why not pick Tim’s brain?

BIG SPOILERS FOLLOWING for DC Universe Rebirth #1 (like you don’t know ’em already) and…well, I don’t really spoil Captain America: Steve Rogers #1

So anyway, about this:

First, I’m not thrilled about full spoilers for this comic getting spread all over the place days before it’s even available for sale. Comics can be a hard enough sell already, without removing yet one more incentive for buying. “What shocking surprises await within? Well, read this website and find out…save yourself buying the comic.” Gee, thanks guys, not like I didn’t order a pile of these for my shelves.

There are a couple of things that keep this from being entirely disastrous, saleswise. It could be that said spoilers might encourage people to pick up the comic, in a “I gotta see this” kind of way. Not to mention, actually reading the comic is an entirely different experience from reading a list of plot points. And there’s the fact that it’s 80 pages of comics for $2.99, which is a swell deal, though I suppose the more critically-minded may be of the “the food was terrible, but such great portions!” opinion on the matter.

Plus, there’s the fact that, believe it or not (and as I’ve mentioned on my site before) some people going to comic shops aren’t plugged into every social network and comic website, and their engagement with comic news begins and ends with walking into the comic shop, looking at the rack and picking out their books, and walking out again. Oh, and reading them eventually, too, I guess.

Anyway, I enjoyed the comic, and hopefully my customers will, too. Oddly enough, it’s actually strangely touching at one point, when a character who’s returned from the pre-New 52 universe finally connects with one of the rebooted characters. It’s probably as emotionally affecting as it is because it’s not just that we’re seeing these two characters reuniting, but that the fictional universe we readers thought was washed away forever may have a chance at coming back. Yes, that’s a silly thing to get emotional over, but I’m not made of stone.

I know DC has tried to walk back, or at least refurbish, revamps/reboots before…Kingdom and “Hypertime” being the most notable line-wide attempt at doing so. That the New 52/Flashpoint reboot was so obviously a last-minute decision, with the cracks showing almost immediately, the overall story premise of “Rebirth” being a pushback against a timeline purposefully inflicted by unknown parties upon the DCU certainly brings all these shenanigans to an almost metatextual level. That these parties appear to be the characters from Watchmen, one of the sources of the “grim/realistic” superhero trend that “Rebirth” appears to be rebuffing…well, no danger of subtlety of theme here, I suppose.

And speaking of which…holy crap, they’re using the Watchmen characters in a DC Universe thing. And not in a dream sequence, either. My guess is the same as when “Before Watchmen” was unleashed onto an unsuspecting world — Watchmen TP sales are moribund, and this is a way of spurring interest in the book again. Or maybe someone figured, hey, what the hell, this will get everyone’s attention, and lo, they were right.

Yes, yes, I suppose I should be angry about the violation of the sanctity of a classic work, but I have to tell you, I laughed and laughed. Partially because I’m amused by the idea of, I don’t know, Batman vs. Rorschach or something, and partially because I love seeing everyone else’s reaction to it. Anyway, it’s everything I’ve ever wanted and I’m sure I’m a bad person for thinking so.

Seriously, though, this whole “New 52 was an attack on the DCU” thing is a weird but interesting way of dealing with continuity issues, and would be quite clever if it were the planned outcome of the New 52 way back when, and not just a way to directly address a rushed reboot that didn’t quite take. This Rebirth one-shot is still an entertaining read for the continuity-minded superhero fan, a snapshot of where the DCU is now, what brought us here, what problems need to be resolved, and the sheer hilarious gall of bringing Watchmen into it. That’s gotta be worth your $2.99.

And you guys had to go and try to spoil this story for everyone, too! CAN WE NOT HAVE NICE THINGS

In which I admire Marvel’s restraint.

§ February 18th, 2016 § Filed under this week's comics § 5 Comments


The transition from self-contained gag-oriented issues to ongoing occasionally humorous soap opera seems to have been generally a successful one as far as sales go, at least at my shop. However, the comic now sells almost exclusively to adults, whereas the classic version…well, also sold almost exclusively to adults, just in lesser numbers. One thing I’ve noticed over the decades is, despite having dedicated sections of children’s comics with plenty of younger clientele in two different stores, the regular monthly (or so) Archie comics have gradually become harder sells to actual kids. That’s not to say I never had any younger customers for Archie, but they were few and far between. I think I first realized there was a problem during one of my regular bulk comic sales to a local library, when my contact person at said library requested I send them no Archie comics. “They just don’t circulate,” she lamented. Quite the change from my long-ago librarian days, when we had subscriptions to multiple Archie titles.

None of this applies to the Archie digests, which I can still sell to kids just fine. And I certainly don’t mean to criticize these New Look Archie comics, which I think are pretty good. Just…well, like Marvel and DC, Archie had to age with its audience in order to keep up their sales. It’s a tough market, and with decades-old characters as your primary product, you’ve got to do what you can to keep them viable.


I know the writer on this comic takes a lot grief and inspires some significant eye-rolling, usually for good reason, and I can’t say there wasn’t any of that going on in just this series alone. But, there were some interesting takes on Young Clark Kent here and there that you certainly wouldn’t find in the classic Silver Age Superboy stories, and I think this functions just fine as an alternate version of Superman’s younger years. No idea if this is intended as “canon” or not, which hardly matters nowadays since superhero canon lifespans are generally measured in the months between reboots/relaunches.

This particular issue has Journalism Student Clark meeting several future friends and enemies in the context of “exclusive interviews,” showing Clark different takes on growing into a hero, as well as what he will face when he finally does become one himself…leading into a final confrontation that, while in hindsight certainly should have seen coming, genuinely caught me off guard with its intensity. That’s hard to do to a guy who’s read about a million Superman comics. And it’s all beautifully illustrated with Jae Lee’s strong but delicate linework…boy, Lee’s work just continues to impress me. This issue was probably the best of the run so far.


The Star Wars line continues to do well, even as the new movie nears the end of its theatrical run. It’s nice that there hasn’t been an oversaturation just yet…three ongoing series and a rotating fourth spot for minis seems to be working out just fine. Given their sales, I’m honestly surprised Marvel hasn’t canned its lower-selling superhero titles and filled their slots with Ugnaught Adventures and Lobot, P.I. and another dozen-or-so titles any of which I would happily write, but I am glad that Marvel…Marvel…for once let the goose live to continue laying golden eggs. …Okay, none of this specifically addresses the book pictured above, which kicks off a new storyline based around a Rebel prison, which at least gives us a new location in the Star Warsian universe, unlike some sequels I could name. Leinil Yu joins up as penciller, continuing the current tradition of swell artists on this series. It all looks and feels like good old fashioned Star Wars adventure, which may not be cutting edge groundbreaking comics, but it’s entertaining all the same.


C’mon, it’s a new Love and Rockets. You don’t need me to sell you on this. Just get it already. (And yeah, it’s not technically “this week’s comics,” since it came out last week. It’s my site, I’ll do what I want.)

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