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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.
Oh, hey, don’t forget I’m still looking for your comic industry predictions for 2014…I don’t mind some gag predictions, but try to give me at least one serious one, too. Remember, limit three per person, please!
Anyway, this week’s comics, and SPOILERS AHEAD:
Here it is, the inevitable “main story partially drawn by another artist” issue of Superman Unchained
, but at least it’s done in an effective way, having said guest artist (Dustin Nguyen) illustrating the flashback sequences to Clark’s youth. And there’s a particularly effective sequence later in the book, where Superman is asked to imagine his future as the world ages (and friends die) around him, and it’s quite sad, really. It’s a rare moment of genuine emotional connection to the character in this post-New 52 world.
In fact, and I’ve noted this before, the Superman line of books seem to be undergoing a mini-rebirth lately, more entertaining, more engaging. It’s like Superman comics are allowed to tell Superman stories again, instead of presenting a parade of creative teams trying to make top-down editorial mandates somehow work in a narrative. Even marketing ploys like Superman/Wonder Woman and Superman/Batman have turned out to be, surprise, pretty good reads.
I’m even beginning to learn to live without Superman’s trunks. But still, that collar is terrible, and has to go.
I was a defender of the New 52 Aquaman at first. Well, still am, I suppose. I didn’t mind that the book went with the “no one takes Aquaman seriously” angle, a bit of metatextual repurposing of the usual fannish criticisms of the character. I did mind when the book started dealing with some kind of super-team that Aquaman was involved with (no, not Justice League, some other one) and I don’t even remember the details now, but suddenly I wasn’t enjoying the book and away it went. And just in time, too, because then there was
some crossover with Justice League
, which I wasn’t reading, and, well, that was that.
Which was a shame, too, since I’ve generally been following most the Aquaman comics over the last thirty years, beginning with this series and lasting up until the beginning of the most recent pre-New 52 iteration, where I finally decided that, like Flash and Legion of Super-Heroes, I’d read pretty much all the Aquaman I ever needed to read.
With this new issue, Jeff Parker is on board as writer, and having enjoyed pretty much everything Mr. Parker has written before, that was enough incentive to dip into the Aquaman pool once again. There’s plenty of underwater monster-fightin’ action, and it’s fun, and thankfully continuity-light, so if you haven’t read the series prior to this point, no worries, you can jump right in. This is pretty close to the kind of Aquaman comic I’ve been wanting over the last few years, and I hope it’s rewarded with enough sales and readership to encourage DC to persue similar strategies with other properties of theirs.
So this two-issue series involves Lord Baltimore finally confronting the vampire who killed his family, the one he’d been chasing after in the previous, um, lemme look inside the front cover here…eighteen
issues of previous mini-series. For some reason, I briefly thought maybe this would be the end of the line for the Baltimore comics, with one of the Mike Mignola-verse series actually reaching a conclusion. However, the letters page in this issue does confirm further Baltimore projects, so either that darn vampire scoots away, or Baltimore finds a new hobby after the end of this story.
It’s not that I want this series to end…I enjoy all of Mignola’s horror work, but I am curious as to how he sticks the landing on any of his long-term projects. I believe it’s been said that he has an ending forHellboy in mind, and though Hellboy in Hell is the Hellboy series for the time being, I don’t know that this is also the last series. B.P.R.D. is a series that could probably benefit from an ending, wrapping up some of these plotlines and supporting characters and such and starting afresh, since I don’t see too many new readers jumping into the storyline at this point. Abe Sapien just started, though I could see this becoming Abe Sapien and the B.P.R.D. at some point, which would nicely replace the ongoing continuity-heavy B.P.R.D. as long as I’m telling publishers who don’t care what I think what to do.
Anyway, Baltimore. It’s good, and it does look like we’re getting our final battle with this vampire. I’m sure whatever direction this series continues in after this climactic moment will be just as creepily entertaining, and I look forward to it.
Here’s a book I wanted to like more than I did. Not that it’s bad, by any means…it’s certainly intriguing, but it hasn’t quite grabbed me yet. There’s a bit of business with the ghost-boys worrying about Death eventually coming back for them and taking them to their final reward, so I suppose that’s going to be a thing hanging over them ’til the eventual “Sandman
family characters guest-starring in this issue!” issue.
Most of the book is about introducing a new character to the mix, and it seems the next issue will have her at the same school the titular spectral Sherlocks were themselves murdered. Thus I expect, now that we’ve got the introductions out of the way, I’ll be fully on board once the plot is in motion.
Slightly altered Twilight Zone panel courtesy Evil Bully. …It’ll all make sense once you read that #1.
(Again, despite the category I’ve filed this post under, these comics are actually from last week. Shhhh, don’t tell anybody!)
So a long time ago, back in the initial heyday of Image Comics, back when people were buying full sealed cases of The Pitt
#1 and we could get a line down the block of folks just itching to purchase Rob Liefeld’s Youngblood
, there was this oddball thing. It was nominally a superhero comic, I guess
. There was certainly a dude in a costume, and there seemed to be a villain involved in the story. But it was all so weird and dark, and not “dark” in the “comics by people who learned the wrong lessons from Dark Knight Returns
‘dark,’” but as in creepy and moody and mysterious. It was right up my alley…
…but then I apparently went through one my periodic “purge the reading list” moods, and I dropped The Maxx after issue five or six. Not sure why, other than I needed to save money, but I kind of regretted it ever since. And somehow, despite the fact that, oh, I don’t know, manage a comic book store, I never did get around to going back and buying the back issues or trade paperback collections to complete the run.
Part of the problem was accessibility. Back issues of The Maxx have been hard to come by, at least around here, for years. Well, not the first six issues, which we’d ordered plenty of. After that, we scaled back the orders some, particularly since the Great Comics Market Crash was in full effect by that point and orders were cut on purt’near everything. As a result, issues 7 and up were in limited supply, only sporadically in stock. In addition, the Maxx TV show helped create a whole lot of fans for the series, it seemed, and to this day I think it is at least partially responsible for maintaining the back issue sales the series enjoys at our shop to this very day. At least, when we have those back issues available.
Yes, yes, I could have bought the trades. Never got around to it. Sorry!
But here we are, I’ve been given a second chance at buying the series, with improved reproduction and coloring and (ahem) a steeper price, but I intend on sticking with it this time. Here’s hoping sales allow them to finish the entire run.
Once again I jump into other people’s Twitter conversations
, this time to opine upon Larfleeze
, a comic about reprehensible beings acting awfully towards other deeply flawed characters, and what fun it is. It’s Giffen, DeMatteis and Kolins getting to have some entertaining space adventure that’s kinda sorta tied to the Green Lantern franchise, while staying mostly its own thing and not getting too involved in the other two dozen or so GL books DC’s currently publishing. We’re also getting yet another backstory for Stargrave
, which should be amusing to the longtime Legion of Super-Heroes fan.
Speaking of backstory, this issue starts to look back at Larfleeze’s origins, which make him seem even more terrible, and his own reaction to this revelation are a few more steps toward rounding out the character a bit. Who knows if this supposed history is really true at all, of course, but seeing a crack or two in Larfleeze’s wall of greed and self-centeredness makes for interesting reading.
Full disclosure: I’m Twitter-pals with this comic’s writers, Adam P. Knave
and D.J. Kirkbride
, which is why I picked up this book in the first place (not to slight the swell work by artist Robert Love, of course). I enjoy the idea of a short-run superhero book exploring one specific problem (in this case, an immortal superhero looking to become not-immortal…i.e. end his life), you’re in, you’re out, no set-up for a Whole New Superhero Universe, no ongoing franchise…just “here’s our idea, here’s how it plays out, The End.”
Unless of course it is a set-up for a new universe/franchise. I guess I’ll find out in a couple of issues. But the first issue is fun, with the reader’s sympathy for the hero established very solidly early on, so that you want to know how this all turns out for him. It’s all a lot more light-hearted than the premise would imply. There are a couple of chuckles to be had, honest!
I was already buying Justice League Dark
, so I didn’t have to go out of my way to pick up this Swamp Thing appearance. I’ve definitely received what I wished for, a Swamp Thing more directly tied to the DC Universe, what with him discussing the evil parallel dimension (or whatever) Crime Syndicate with John Constantine, which is probably not something the me of, oh, four years ago would ever have imagined as happening. In a Justice League
book, no less. It’s all goofy adventure-drama, in the middle of a crossover event I’m otherwise not reading, but I get the gist. Swamp Thing also has these massively long word balloons which always seem wrong to me, despite the ol’ restriction on Swampy’s ability to speak having been done away with at the end of Alan Moore’s first storyline on the book.
Oh, and I also felt compelled to buy the 1:25 ratio black and white variant as well as the regular cover:
…because apparently I have the word “SUCKER” stenciled on my forehead.
(SPOILERS ahead, most likely.)
A long time ago, a particular image fixed in my mind. It was inspired by the various reimaginings of older, innocent comics in the light of deconstructive reconsideration, like The Dark Knight Returns
, with a bit of Alan Moore and Don Simpson’s “In Pictopia”
thrown in. It was an image from a comic story that will never happen, not within our lifetimes, at least not officially, unless with some changing of names or just straight-up Air Pirates
The basic set-up is that Goofy is visiting Mickey Mouse at his home. At some point, Mickey leaves the room, and Goofy follows. The panel I picture in my head is of Goofy glancing down at Pluto, who is dozing near the fireplace. There is some nearly-unreadable expression in Goofy’s face as he gazes upon his fellow dog. Is it pity for a distant cousin, separated by evolution, like a Homo sapiens sapiens looking at a chimpanzee in a cage? Is it disgust at another canine, one who settles for a life of sloth and pampering, not struggling to better himself as Goofy did? Is it sadness for a dog whose options in life have brought him to this low position, unable to escape? Guilt that he, Goofy, was able to advance while Pluto remained simply what he was?
At any rate, it’s basically picturing a “serious” version of the old question of “if Goofy is a dog, and Pluto is a dog, then why…?” by making Goofy himself seemingly aware of the discrepancy between his own dogness and Pluto’s dogness. Yes, “dogness.” I tried “caninity,” which is actually a word, but I liked “dogness” better.
Broader still, it’s a layering of depth and meaning far heavier than the subject can realistically support. Does anyone really need a serious in-universe examination of what exactly the difference is between Goofy and Pluto, and what that difference means to both of them, personally? I can see gags based around Goofy and Pluto deciding to trade places, and the difficulties that arise there, and in fact I wouldn’t be surprised if there was such a cartoon at some point.
So anyway, Afterlife with Archie #2. Taking the Archie universe, throwing it into a horror/zombie genre story, and just plain ol’ going for it. It’s a mostly serious take on a group of characters designed specifically to generate gags based on their personality differences, so there is that small measure of reexamination of the Archie gang and how they relate to each other. Sure, there’s the darkly ironic gag of Jughead, the character defined primarily by his love of eating, becoming the first zombie in the story. But the other happy, upbeat stories that usually abound in the their world are replaced with darker and / or more complicated issues: Betty and Veronica’s usually friendly adversarial relationship is suddenly a lot less friendly. Moose thinks maybe the zombified Jughead is “juicing.” There’s the reimagining of Sabrina’s aunts…what if they were scary witches? There’s the oddly incestuous subtext between Cheryl and her brother Jason. There’s the closeted lesbian couple who aren’t nearly as comfortable about coming out as prominent gay Archie character Kevin Keller.
And, unlike my Goofy ‘n’ Pluto thing, and against all odds, this works. If you told me a year ago, “hey, what if they the Archie characters and put ‘em in a zombie story,” I would have thought that was a terrible idea. Even when this series was solicited a few months ago, I thought…well, the creative team of Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa and Francesco Francavilla inspired some confidence, but even still I thought this was some chance to take. But going all out as they did, making the zombie genre a framework on which to build an alternate Archie universe where not everything works out in the end, not every relationship problem is solved with a pratfall, a laugh, or a humorous comeuppance, and where tragedy is not just a mild plot bump in the middle of an eight-page story…that’s what makes the project work as well as it does.
I probably really shouldn’t be racking this on the kids’ shelf.
Almost the exact opposite of Afterlife with Archie
is this comic, reviving the Batman/Scooby-Doo team from those decades-old episodes (and, okay, a relatively more recent Batman: Brave and the Bold
installment). No darkness, no grittiness, no ironic reconsiderations of milieu or character, no snark, no winking at how silly this all is (aside from a knowing gag or two kicking at the fourth wall a bit). You just get delivery on the promise of the cover, with Batman and Robin teaming up with Scooby and the gang to solve some crimes and catch some bad guys. It’s all light and fun and certainly a much-missed version of Batman. “Dark Avenger of the Night” is fine an’ all, but sometimes it’s okay to turn on the lights and let Batman see what he’s doing for once.
Also, for not having seen an episode of Scooby-Doo in years (aside from the aforementioned Brave and the Bold cartoon), it’s so ingrained in my head that I could easily hear all the gang’s voices as I read this comic. Nice nostalgic flashback for an old coot like me, and probably fun for the young folk, too.
This series is over, with a follow-up mini-series coming early next year, and, well…it was okay, I suppose. Felt like it was maybe an issue too long, the art felt a little uneven at times, but overall, I enjoyed it. It fills its function as side stories to the books, and specifically
the books, as the comics are written by Dexter’s creator, novelist Jeff Lindsay. That’s the primary selling point; it’s that these are
written by Lindsay is the reason I’m reading them.
I will note that this cover, while still obscuring the face of the title character to avoid confusion with the television show version, comes the closest thus far to making Dexter look like his portrayal by actor Michael C. Hall. Not complaining or criticizing, just acknowledging the difficulty involved in managing this particular license, where the literary version of the character is at a disadvantage when translated to a visual medium, when another, slightly altered but much more in the public awareness, version preexists.
And like I said, next year, “Dexter Down Under.” “You call that a knife? This is a knife!” (Dexter unfurls carrying case of terrifying blades in all sizes.)
It takes a lot to get me to buy any of the comics review/interview/history magazines nowadays. I used to buy a lot
of them, back when I had more time to read them, and before I started writing a comics weblog, which I’m sure is only a coincidence. Today, I’ll pick one up if the overall subject matter interests me (like Back Issue
‘s special treasury edition
), or, like this week, if the mag covers all those extra-sized anniversary issues I so enjoyed when I was a kid. I’ve written about anniversary issues here way back when, not long after I started this site; Flash #300
and Detective Comics #500
are two favorites that are in fact discussed in this very magazine, and it’s nice to get a little behind-the-scenes information on them after all these years.
She’s not on the cover, but this issue features my favorite Catwoman, along with a cute musical in-joke, in a story drawn by Colleen Coover. …Remember when people thought Adam West Batman was something to be ashamed of? How wrong they were.
Well, here they are, the DC Comics with the 3D covers, in quantities sometimes approximating the orders retailers placed months ago. And to be fair, the covers are
pretty neat, adding to the tragedy that there’s not nearly enough around to meet demand. Saw several new faces over the last day or two, folks driving from out of town trying to track down the covers their local stores ran out of so quickly. Not that we were much better, with the increased demand meaning faster departures off the shelves, and once people have seen what the 3D covers looked like, the 2D covers DC offered to supplement the allocated orders were, for some, unsatisfactory replacements.
Not for everyone, though! I actually had some people with in-store pull lists request they not get the 3D covers, and believe you me, I thanked them for that, given the allocations have left me with barely enough to cover the regulars, much less the extra demand. And employee Timmy was a step head of me, looking up the 3D covers on the eBay and, sure enough, the panic buying has set in, resulting in relatively crazy prices for books that have barely been out for 48 hours. That makes the one-per-customer signs I put on some of the 3D books seem like an even better idea now, though Timmy reported to me that some folks were buying one 3D cover and the 2D version. (I can’t really say anything, since I plan on doing the same for the Swamp Thing issue that’s coming later this month. Sad when it happens to someone you know, isn’t it?)
As for the comics themselves, I did like the ones I bought well enough, though that’s bit of a self-fulfilling prophecy in that I restricted myself to buying the Villains Month issues from the series I was already reading. The Green Lantern one, Relic, was probably my favorite, giving us the backstory for this new villain, as well as finally providing full context for the story being presented on the 1:25 ratio black-and-white sketch variant covers being offered for the GL family of books over the last couple of months.
“Based on George Lucas’s original rough-draft screenplay” says the blurb on the cover, both a warning and an enticement to the remaining Star Wars fans still devoted to the minutia of the property despite it all. That would include me, apparently, since I bought this comic, more out of a deep-seated need of the Young Mikester still within me to draw a narrative thread through all the memories of the preproduction images I absorbed back in my Starlog
-and-such days. I’m not the only one, it seems, since I saw more than a few new customers around my age showing up just for this comic, thanks likely to its presence in the real-world news media.
The comic itself is, well, what it is. It certainly gives the impression, whether or not this is what actually happened, that there was once a time someone could tell Lucas “no,” resulting in his beating this rough draft into the lean, mean fighting machine that is the original Star Wars movie from 1977. The emphasis in The Star Wars #1 on political intrigue, the lack of a central sympathetic “point of view” character (at least one as strong as Luke Skywalker)…you can see where the prequels came from. That said, it’s still an interesting comic, with familiar names and concepts not quite in their final form. We’ll see if that novelty carries us through eight issues.
A combination of the writing of Jonathan Hickman with the premise of the book (the return of the gods of assorted pantheons to Earth) is what got me to pick this up. That title is certainly something else, though I haven’t really noticed anyone at the shop giving it the stinkeye, so the no-such-thing-as-bad-publicity strategy hasn’t really come into play here yet. Nor is there too much of the usual bit of the old ultraviolence that you usually get in your typical serving of Avatar comics. I mean, there’s some
, and I bet there’ll be more in the future, so hang in there, guys!
Seriously, though, I like the set-up here, and am hoping it pays off and isn’t just an excuse for over-the-top gore. But, you know, c’mon. I mean, I might still read it, but I’ll cast a socially-responsible upturned eyebrow upon the proceedings, see if I won’t.
The first issue of this series came out in the first week of January of this year. It is now the first week of September. There have been seventeen
issues of this comic in eight months, and that’s not counting the recently launched companion series, or the Age of Ultron one-shot tie-in. But that’s okay, since you’re all rich, right?
A little context for the post’s subject line.
So this is yet another one of those crossover event series where I’m only getting the chapters that happen to appear in comics I’m already reading (in this case, Justice League Dark
) and missing the chapters that are in comics I don’t read (the other two Justice League series). I even took home part one, in Justice League
#22, but still it sits there, unread. But I’ve been down this road before, and we’ve all read enough comics to put the pieces together, and I’m not going into this completely blind since I’ve read that Pandora
#1 which leads into this whole hoohar. Excuse me, Trinity of Sin: Pandora
, which is the official title, I guess, though I’m just racking it under Pandora
on the shelf, though I suppose if I rack it along the title now suddenly known as Trinity of Sin: Phantom Stranger
and put ‘em both in the Ts, perhaps that’ll goose sales on the both of them, even though they’re selling just fine as is so who am I to upset this delicate funnybook balance and now to end this sentence before I use the word “though” again.
Anyway, I liked seeing the JL:D cast interact with the other, more traditional superheroes, which was fun, and there was a lot of shouting and running about regarding Superman being under the thrall of some bad guy or ‘nother and I’ll just assume everything’s going to work out in the end in one of those other Justice League titles I’m not reading. Also, as one might expect, JL:D sales, usually only about 1/2 to 1/3 of its JL brethren, sold just about equal numbers to his city cousins, so hey, sometimes crossovers work, gang. Not sure how long it’ll work in this case, but I’ll find out when I see my sales on a non-crossover issue of the series.
Speaking of crossovers, Constantine and Captain Shazam or whatever his name is now wander out of the pages of the previous comic and into issue #5 of John’s own series, and like I said on the Twitter last week:
This seems to have been the issue where folks still holding out hope this series would be more Hellblazer
-ish than not have decided that it’s not what they wanted, given the couple of pull-list drops I’ve experienced. I thought the particular sequence in this issue I won’t spoil here was kind of amazingly crazy and enjoyed the heck out of it, though I suppose I can understand why someone might be put off a bit. Plus, it’s hard to read that sequence and not think of this,
the link to which you probably shouldn’t even mouse over if you don’t want to be spoiled.
I do enjoy this direction, both in Constantine and in the new Swamp Thing series, in which they give weird and horrific interpretations of DC’s traditional characters. It’s a bit of nostalgia, I suppose, for the early days of seeing the Justice League in Saga of the Swamp Thing and thinking “whoa, what the heck” while immediately plowing through the pages. I may be all old and jaded and stuff now, but sometimes a little youthful exuberance slips through the cracks.
Another one of those cases where I know what numbers Rocketeer
usually sells for us, what numbers The Spirit
used to sell for us, and then getting sales on the crossover that exceed both numbers combined. Ah, well, What Can You Do? Reminds me of the story that the comic crossing over Cerebus with the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles received orders well in excess of their usual monthly printruns combined. (Should also note the same thing happened to me on that Army of Darkness/Hack Slash
crossover that also came out last Wednesday.) People (Or At Least Retailers Doing The Ordering) Like Their Unlikely Intercompany Crossovers, is the lesson learned here.
It helps that Rocketeer/Spirit: Pulp Friction is a good, fun comic. Alas, Paul Smith has left the book after drawing the first issue, but Loston Wallace takes over with #2, though his work looks like it’ll fit right in.
That this series reprinting the original 1940s/1950s Popeye
comic books made it this far frankly surprises the heck out of me. (The companion series by Roger Langridge is apparently over and done with, which I didn’t realize…I just figured it was late or on a planned hiatus or what-have-you, but nope, it’s gone
, which is a real shame.) I don’t know if Classic Popeye
, featuring work by Popeye
strip artist Bud Sagendorf, will be around to reprint all
, what, 70, 80, whatever, of the original comics, but I certainly will appreciate whatever we can get. And, at the very least, I hope they get at least to 1962 so I can have a print copy of this cover
I have to be completely honest with you, when I started to read this comic, for about half a second I thought “oh dear, the color printing is off-register” until I realized I was being stupid and that it was entirely intentional. It’s a pseudo-retro look that doesn’t really look like anything associated with this particularly property before, but still works perfectly well, like you’re watching an old TV show on a color television that doesn’t have the “hue” and “tint” dials set quite right…a feature, not a bug.
The comic itself gets the tone of the TV show about as close as it’s able, given that most of the actual impact of the show comes from seeing actual adults dressing in these costumes and acting out plots and situations right out of the comic books. (I went into more detail about this some time ago.) Twisting it back into a comic book makes it a peculiar artifact of a short-lived fad from before a whole lot of us were born…but that’s okay, because the comic gets much of what made the show so endearing. The earnestness and sincerity of the heroes, the goofiness of the villains, the moral lessons, the big ol’ sound effects, the overall cheerfulness…it’s a Batman comic that makes you smile, and when was the last time that happened? Yes, it lacks Adam West reciting the dialogue out loud to you, but trust me, you’ll hear him in your head anyway as you read.
This is one of those comics that I buy every month, out of my long-standing interest in Clive Barker’s creations, but is another case of my perhaps having lost the thread of the plot(s) over the last, what, couple-or-three dozen issues, reading one a month, every month, for years. I should, like I did with B.P.R.D.
, bust out all the issues of Boom’s Hellraiser
run and read ‘em in a row. Like with B.P.R.D.
, I still “get” the general thrust of the series, but I certainly feel like I’m missing some nuance and some subtle points here and there. I mean, as nuanced and subtle as you’d expect a Hellraiser
comic to be. Anyway, while I’m still enjoying the individual installments as they come, a reread is definitely in order.
So the last few issues of this series, formerly Batman and Robin
until the latest Robin’s untimely death, have been sort of entertaining in a completely bonkers kind of way, with Batman teaming up with various members of the Bat-family and generally yelling at them and being a jerk in the context of apparently mourning and rejecting the finality of his loss. Which, you know, that’s a not-unheard of response to someone’s death, but it makes for some odd funnybook reading. A few months of this was probably enough, and it looks like there’s some turnaround in this new issue…some closure and healing, I guess, in the appropriately superheroic and melodramatic manner…but not completely closed in order to string along the subplot of Carrie Kelley still thinking her former-student-who-was-secretly-Robin is still alive.
And that’s another weird thing about this series, taking Carrie Kelley from Frank Miller’s beloved Dark Knight Returns (and slightly less beloved but still, I think, bizarrely wonderful Dark Knight Strikes Again) and plugging her into the New DC Universe. The conventional wisdom is that, like in Miller’s works, she’ll become Robin…the subplot of Bruce allowing her to think Damien is still alive certainly seems like one road to that result…but really, who knows. It still feels a bit odd to see her removed from her original context, but maybe if she does eventually become the new Robin, maybe when Marvel and DC start their intercompany crossovers again she can team up with Elektra.
Pretty much Superman’s only horror story, brought to us by Steve Gerber and Gene Colan (with a follow-up drawn by Rick Veitch), finally under one cover and
with non-muddy printing. There is a bit of dissonance seeing the art reproduced so cleanly and brightly after reading it on decaying newsprint for so many years (similar to my reaction to the Irv Novick Batman book
), but it really is one of the best Superman stories of all time, and if you haven’t read it yet, you should read it now. I wrote a spoiler-filled review
of it for another website if you want more info. But really, just get it. It’s great.
Well, it’s definitely in the Dexter
novel continuity as opposed to the TV show continuity, based simply on the fact that his sister’s name is spelled “Deborah” and not “Debra.” Oh, and the fact that the comic is written by the novelist who created Dexter, so it’s probably a given that it’d follow the books over the show.
Actually, all things considered, there’s not really anything here to trip up a fan of the TV show who’s never read the books, given that likenesses of the characters are general enough to be kinda/sorta like the show’s actors, if you squint a bit, and the presence of one particular character who’s…no longer around can be chalked up to the series being a “flashback,” if you’re really that concerned. And Deb is called “Sarge,” which is a rank I don’t think she ever held in the show. And the familiar supporting cast of the rest of Miami Metro Homicide aren’t involved, thus far.
Of course, this can all change with #2. An interesting trick they’re doing with the covers, which they’re apparently continuing based on the “next issue” ad in the back, is covering most of Dexter’s face, sidestepping the whole “this doesn’t look like Michael C. Hall” problem that might turn off folks browsing the racks.
The comic’s good, by the way. Dex goes to his high school reunion, encounters a former bully of his, and suddenly murders ensue. I think Dexter fans of either stripe, or both stripes (like me) will enjoy this.
It’s odd, but Clive Barker comics, aside from that brief period in the ’90s when anything that was vaguely comic-shaped would sell, are not big movers for us. The Hellraiser
anthology from Marvel/Epic was the biggie, followed by Eclipse Comics’ Tapping the Vein
, and then Nightbreed
a distant third. Everything else (and frankly there’s not much
else) never really sold that well. (Don’t get me started on Razorline
.) Even the recent Hellraiser
series from Boom!, which started off strong, has withered away to only a few hangers-on (including me, in case you’re wondering), as the structure of the series is mostly nonforgiving to latecomers (aside from the mostly self-contained Road Below
mini, which had slightly
I had high hopes for Next Testament (formerly New Genesis, until DC Comics suggested otherwise) which is perfectly fine religiously-themed horror and an entertaining read, but, well, the first issue sold okay, not great. Having “Clive Barker” splashed across the front cover isn’t the sales incentive one would think, at least with our clientele. Your future-of-horror mileage may vary at your own funnybook store.
SWAMP THING COVER CAMEO
Well, it’s tying into the “Trinity War” event, but I like the premise of the first issue, following Pandora over the centuries as she lives out her eternal curse, so we’ll see how it goes. I’ve read enough comics that tie into events I’m not otherwise reading to know how to deal with it, and so have all of you.
Yup. Still good. Still feels like classic pre-Vertigoization Swamp Thing comics. I’m not quite committed to the “actual Alec Holland in Swamp Thing’s body” status quo, but I’m coping. The vapors no longer come upon me quite so suddenly.
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