by KC Carlson
1. CLASSIC CREATORS RETURN TO CLASSIC CHARACTERS: Neal Adams writes and illustrates Batman: Odyssey, a new six-part miniseries from DC Comics. For those of us reading comics in the late 1960s and 70s, Adams was THE Batman artist, so his return to write and draw a brand-new Batman tale (featuring a bunch of classic friends and foes) is pretty big news. Meanwhile, over at Dark Horse, Jim Shooter is reviving some classic 1960s Gold Key characters (although you may know them better from their 1990s revival at Valiant Comics). First up, in July, is Shooter’s re-imaginative take on Doctor Solar, Man of the Atom, in conjunction with artist Dennis Calero. The first super-sized issue also includes a reprint of the first Doctor Solar story from 1962! Coming up later this year are new takes on Magnus, Robot Fighter; Turok , Son of Stone; and other classic Gold Key characters. Watch for Roger Ash’s exclusive interview with Shooter — coming soon, right here at the Westfield Blog. Also in July, classic European artist Milo Manara teams with classic X-Men writer Chris Claremont for X-Women, a 64-page prestige one-shot from Marvel Comics. Storm, Psylocke, Shadowcat, Marvel Girl, and Rogue team for a globe-trotting adventure. With Manara pencilling, you know your eyes are in for a real treat.
2. MARVELOUS EVENTS: I’m looking forward to the new Avengers: The Children’s Crusade nine-part miniseries staring the Young Avengers and featuring the return of the Scarlet Witch (who may or may not have some unrevealed family ties to a couple members of the team). I think that the original Young Avengers series, written by Allan Heinberg and drawn by Jim Cheung, was one of the best things that Marvel has done in recent years, and I’m very happy to see these two creators paired again on this series (which will be wisely released on a bi-monthly schedule, hopefully alleviating the massive deadline problems that hampered the first series). It will also be nice to see the Young Avengers become more of a presence in the MU, instead of just appearing in miniseries tie-ins to the Event-of-the-Month. . . Also in July is Steve Rogers: Super Soldier, which is apparently a miniseries also, but its length is not mentioned in the solicitation materials. I’m not crazy about the title, but it will be great to see the original Captain America back in his own book, written by Ed Brubaker and pencilled by Dale Eaglesham, so you know it’s gonna read and look great! . . . Also, fans of Marvel’s ground-level characters (Daredevil, Luke Cage, Moon Knight, Punisher, plus Wolvie & Spidey) should check out Shadowland, a new five-part event by Andy Diggle and Billy Tan. . . By now, you’ve already heard about Spider-Man: One Moment in Time, beginning in Amazing Spider-Man #638 and running for four double-sized issues. It promises to answer all the questions about Spidey and Mary Jane’s relationship and history since One More Day (and apparently revealing untold secrets dating back as far as PP & MJ’s wedding day). But wait! Didn’t they promise to reveal all the secrets the last time MJ showed up? The difference this time is that One Moment in Time is written by Joe Quesada himself (chief perpetrator of One More Day). So I’m thinking that if Spidey fans don’t get the actual goods this time, there’s gonna be lotsa hot, steamy cups o’ Joe thrown into the real Joe’s face.
3. DC COMICS: BEGINNINGS AND ENDINGS: J. Michael Straczynski’s first full issues of Superman (#701) and Wonder Woman (#601) premiere in July, setting the stage for a change in direction for both characters. Also, Paul Cornell and Pete Woods are the new creative team on Action Comics, starting with #891. . . Adventure Comics returns to its historical numbering with issue #516, the first issue to lead-feature the Legion of Super-Heroes by Paul Levitz, Kevin Sharpe, and Wayne Faucher. New back-up feature will be the Ray Palmer Atom by Jeff Lemire and Mahmud Asrar, following a Brightest Day: Atom Special by the same team. . . Time Masters: Vanishing Point is a new six-part miniseries written and drawn by Dan Jurgens. Rip Hunter puts together a super-team of time-traveling heroes including Superman, Green Lantern, and Booster Gold in a story that ties into the The Return of Bruce Wayne event. (Speaking of which, has anyone looked between the sofa cushions for him? That’s where I always find my car keys!). . . Gail Simone’s fan-favorite town full of super-folks returns in a new six-part Welcome to Tranquility miniseries: One Foot in the Grave, with art by Horacio Domingues. . . Meanwhile, Ex Machina wraps up its Eisner Award-winning run with issue #50 by Brian K. Vaughn and Tony Harris. The groundbreaking political thriller will be long-remembered. . . Also wrapping up: Warlord with issue #16 and The Great Ten with #9 (one issue short of its originally announced conclusion).
4. ARTIST COLLECTIONS AND HISTORIES: There are a bonanza of great artist retrospectives available this month. Icons: The DC Comics and Wildstorm Art of Jim Lee is exactly what it sounds like, and it looks to be a great value as well, weighing in at 304 pages and including over 500 full-color and pencilled illustrations, featuring Lee’s best and rare art. Also included is a brand-new Legion of Super-Heroes story written by Paul Levitz and illustrated by Lee. We are currently listing the Previews Exclusive Hardcover Edition of the book, which features additional pages of pencils from Batman: Hush, Infinite Crisis, and Superman: For Tomorrow. The PX edition also features an exclusive cover of Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman by Lee. (The regular edition of this book will be listed at another time). . . The Art of Neal Adams hardcover offers up classic and rare work spanning Adams’ entire career, including a section of Adams’ seldom-seen paintings. Fully annotated by Adams, the book comes in two formats from Vanguard Productions: a regular 136-page, full-color hardcover, or a deluxe slipcased Previews Exclusive Edition including 16 extra pages of vintage Adams artwork. . . John Buscema: Michelango of Comics is a 176-page collection featuring over 200 examples of Buscema’s original art. Author Brian Peck provides a history as well as comments from Buscema’s colleagues. Available from Hermes Press in two versions: a softcover and a deluxe hardcover including a plate of Buscema art, inked, signed, and numbered by Joe Sinnott (limited to 300 copies). . . From Shadow to Light: The Life and Art of Mort Meskin is a new 220-page hardcover critical biography of this influential but often overlooked artist. Meskin’s sophisticated chiaroscuro art technique influenced artists including Jack Kirby, Jerry Robinson, Alex Toth, Steve Ditko, Steranko, and many more. Written and compiled by Steven Brower and published by Fantagraphics. . . Al Williamson Archives Volume One from Flesk Publications opens up the Master’s private files to showcase much unseen and unpublished work. This first volume features Williamson’s SF and fantasy artwork, including unpublished newspaper strips and comic pages from the 1950s. 64 pages in full color. . . TwoMorrows has a couple of new artist-focused books as well. The latest in the Modern Masters series takes a look at the career of Jeff Smith, featuring a new Bone cover by Smith. There’s also a look at RASL and his Shazam: Monster Society of Evil work. 120 pages, eight of which are in color. . . The Thin Black Line: Perspectives on Vince Colletta is a 112-page softcover written by Robert L. Bryant. Colletta is probably the most notorious inker in the history of the business (some would say the worst), often taking short cuts to save extremely late books, but many pencillers (including classic greats) maintained that he took shortcuts on all his assignments. Stan Lee, Roy Thomas, Mark Evanier, and others pull no punches in their criticism — and praise — of Colletta.
5. NEW NEWSPAPER STRIP COLLECTIONS: IDW’s The Library of American Comics begins yet another classic comic series in July — X-9: Secret Agent Corrigan by Archie Goodwin and Al Williamson. This beautiful and influential newspaper strip originally ran from 1967 to 1979. Volume 1 includes strips from 1967-1969 in a gorgeous 288-page volume. . . Frank Frazetta’s The Complete Johnny Comet collects the racing strip, shot from Frazetta’s personal artist’s proofs. 224-page hardcover from Vanguard. . . Classic Comics Press also starts up a new reprint series in July with John Cullen Murphy’s Big Ben Bolt, a boxing strip. The first volume includes strips from 1950 to 1952. . . Fantagraphics in July offers up a new Peanuts volume (the 14th) featuring strips from 1977-1978, Peppermint Patty on the cover, and an introduction by Alec Baldwin. Also from Fantagraphics is a new Willie & Joe collection by Bill Mauldin. Back Home features 288 pages of moving postwar cartoons. . . Not many people remember the Conan the Barbarian newspaper strip (I didn’t), but Dark Horse does and is collecting the entire run of 1978-1981 strips in a 280-page hardcover collection is September (but listed now). Written by Roy Thomas and Doug Moench, with art by John Buscema, Ernie Chan, and others.
6. THE OBLIGATORY ARCHIE MENTION: IDW has a new Archie collection that will interest many super-hero fans. The original 1960s Archie: Pureheart the Powerful stories are reprinted in a 144-page, full-color trade paperback. Originally appearing in Life With Archie, the Pureheart stories were an instant smash in the camp era of the 1966 Batman TV show, and they quickly spun off into their own (short-lived) series. Now, all the original stories have been compiled for the first time under one cover — just in time for the revival of the super-character in all-new adventures, coming soon directly from Archie Comics. (Hopefully this IDW collection will sell well enough so that the adventures of Jughead as Captain Hero, Betty as Superteen, and Reggie as Evilheart will also be compiled). . . Speaking of Life With Archie, that classic title is being revived by Archie Comics as a new 52- page magazine featuring the continuation of both the Archie Marries Betty and Archie Marries Veronica storylines (in separate stories, of course). Life With Archie: The Married Life #1 debuts in July and will also feature pull-out posters and exclusive Archie news. Some comic stores do not support the magazine format, so if you wait to find it at your local comic shop, you may be out of luck — but you can order this from Westfield with complete confidence.
7. SAMPLERS: There are a couple of interesting sampler items out in July. First up is a 24-page taste of of the next Darwyn Cooke Richard Stark’s Parker graphic novel — a complete chapter of The Outfit entitled The Man With the Getaway Face. Cover priced at just two bucks (and printed at 8” x 10”), this is a major bargain (as well as potential future collector’s item). Way cool idea. . . Even cheaper is The Smurfs: The Smurfnapper, a 24-page Smurfs story by Peyo for only a buck. It’s to promote Papercutz’ new line of Smurfs graphic novels. Here’s why it’s cool: First, they’re blue (duh!). Second, if you’ve never read Peyo’s original Smurf stories they’re WAY better than the occasionally beloved and frequently annoying cartoon show. Third, Peyo’s stories don’t actually talk, and there isn’t that obnoxiously cloying theme song. (That I have now put back into your heads. Sorry.) Finally, it lays the groundwork for the obvious and inevitable Parker/Smurfs crossover. (I made that last one up.)
8. FUN STUFF: Bongo presents the biggest no-brainer in comics — a five-issue miniseries called Comic Book Guy: The Comic Book! The sell copy cracks me up: “4 Variant covers included on EVERY copy of issue 1 (Does this make sense? Heck if we know!)” Plus, it’s drawn by my old pal John Delaney, from scripts by Ian Boothby. . . Dark Horse collects the never-before-reprinted, John Stanley-written and drawn Little Lulu’s Pal Tubby stories in the first volume of a new reprint series. Volume 1, containing the first six issues, is 224 pages of full-color fun. Also listed is Volume 2 of Giant Size Little Lulu — 672 full-color pages, collecting Little Lulu #6-22. . . Fractured Fables has some of today’s best comics creators retelling classic fairy tales for a kid-friendly audience. Under a cover by Mike and Laura Allred, there are 160 pages of art and story by Jill Thompson, Bryan Talbot, Camilla D’errico, Ben Templesmith, Bill Morrison, Scott Morse, Larry Marder, Terry Moore, Ted McKeever, and many others. This all-star hardcover is published by Image Comics. . . Usually, Scott Morse’s work makes me sigh because it’s so beautiful, but his new project from IDW makes me giggle with glee. Strange Science Fantasy is a throwback to pop culture of the 50s and 60s with hip hot-rodders and gearheads and folks who say “Daddy-o” a lot. And who is The Headlight? It’s the Future of Sci-Fi — Built from the Past! And High Octane Adventure to boot! . . . Alter Ego #95 puts the spotlight on Marvel’s beloved (and strangely un-Marvel Masterworked) 1960s parody comic book Not Brand Ecch, featuring a new cover by Mirthful Marie Severin! Who says a comic book has to be good? (Hmmm. Somehow that classic tagline takes on new meaning in the modern era. Not going there, though.)
9. WEIRD STUFF: It’s alive! Famous Monsters of Filmland rises from the dead, courtesy of IDW. The first new issue is #251, now in full color. Featuring a special memorial to FM’s late, great Forrest J. Ackerman, an interview with Ray Bradbury, news about Resident Evil, Predators, and True Blood, and a new cover by Richard Corben. 128 pages. . . I currently don’t read either comic, but Wildstorm/IDW’s X-Files/30 Days of Night is such a brilliant idea for a crossover that I think I can’t miss this six-part miniseries. It’s written by Steve Niles and Adam Jones and drawn by Tom Mandrake. It all starts when the FBI sends Agents Mulder and Scully to Wainright, Alaska, to investigate evidence of a possible cannibal killer… and then things get weirder. . . I don’t read much of the Top Cow Universe either, but Artifacts #1 sounds like one of those jump in head-first kinda stories featuring everybody. It’s the event FIVE years in the making, it says here. I love it when a plan comes together. Written by Ron Marz and illustrated by Michael Broussard. . . The second volume of Craig Yoe’s Good Girl Art Library features Fritzi Ritz by Nancy creator Ernie Bushmiller. The weird part is what was sweet Aunt Fritzi doing as a pin-up queen? This bizarre mix of good girl poses and surreal humor is hopefully explained in Yoe’s intro, which includes lots of rare Bushmiller art and photos.
10. GUEST-EDITED WIZARD: Yes, Mark Millar guest-edits Wizard #228. This isn’t so much of a recommendation as it is a warning.
10.5. A NEW X-MEN #1: As Marvel’s sales copy states, this is the “First X-Men #1 in 20 Years!” I’m actually surprised that there hasn’t been one every year, since printing X-Men #1s used to be like printing money. Are there multiple covers? Yes! Five of them! Hot creative team? Artist: Paco Medina. Rising Star. Check. Writer: Victor Gischler. Who? (Oh, wait. I don’t read Deadpool or Punisher or hard-boiled crime novels, so of course I wouldn’t know who he is, since Marvel’s not exactly promoting the heck out of him.) Subject: Vampires. Oooo! Trendy! Hope they’re sparkly! Actually, I’m gonna be buying this just like everybody else. And hoping that it can actually rise above this seemingly by-the-numbers approach to marketing it.
WESTFIELD COMICS would like KC CARLSON to remind everybody that his crackpot opinions are his and only his and do not reflect the opinions (or opossums) of anybody at Westfield. Mostly because my opinions (or opossums) are not mirrors. (Also, they’re not really my opinions. I rent them from the 12-year-old skateboard punk who lives across the street from me, who sadly knows more about current comics than I do. I know more about opossums, however. So there.)
Typed on Jeff Moy’s kitchen table with a broken back. No, the table doesn’t have a broken back. I do. And it was a really good trick to type with it.