by KC Carlson
Here are some things I (mostly) want to read:
Sergio Aragonés Funnies — Okay, this is the no-brainer of the month. Sergio Aragonés, one of the best cartoonists and funniest people on the planet, is now doing a monthly comic book of what he does best — funny cartoons. Show of hands… Who hates funny cartoons? Um… nobody! If you don’t know Sergio from Mad Magazine, then you know him from Groo. And if you don’t know any of these, then why are you reading the wrong comic books? This is from Bongo Comics, publishers of the funniest comics (with the funniest name) in comics. What aren’t you getting about this? You know what the best word in comic books is? It’s comic! That means funny!
Mail-Order Mysteries: Treasures From Vintage Comic Book Ads — I suppose it’s no secret that the answers to pretty much every one of life’s mysteries are laid bare within the contents of the vintage advertising in comic books. From the arcane secrets unlocked in every single Hostess Fruit Pie Ad (especially the ones in Archie Comics), to the secret messages spelled out in Amazing Live Sea Monkeys ads, the unwritten history of the universe is unveiled. What? You’ve never heard of such a thing? Perhaps you’re one of the many kids who felt burned that the X-Ray Specs that cost you four hard-earned quarters (all taped securely to a piece of cardboard) — never actually worked! (Maybe you were just looking at the wrong things? Was it even worth looking at your sister?)
But perhaps I’ve said too much.
Mail-Order Mysteries: Treasures From Vintage Comic Book Ads is a very real new book, written by Kirk Demarais, that reveals the amazing truths (and agonizing exaggerations) about the actual products marketed to comic-reading kids in the 60s, 70s, and 80s. More than 150 extraordinary, peculiar, and downright fraudulent collectibles are investigated in the book — including these favorites: 100 Toy Soldiers in a Footlocker, GRIT, Hercules Wrist Band, Hypno-Coin, Life-Size Monsters, Mystic Smoke, and Ventrilo Voice Thrower!
This may be the most important book ever written — and a must-have for comic book fans everywhere. Really. No lie. Trust us. Fool your friends!
Daredevil #1 — There’s no doubt that there have been a lot of great Daredevil stories in the last decade or so. But it’s also fair to say that many of these stories have been dark and gritty. I’ve kinda been missing the old happy-go-lucky Hornhead, and apparently so has new writer Mark Waid, who intends to bring a little bit of that old DD back to the book, even if his friends (and villains) don’t exactly see Matt’s new (actually old) personality as a healthy sign. Marvel’s calling the new attitude “grinnin’ in the face of hell”. Will it work in the desolate atmosphere that has overwhelmed today’s superhero comics? I sure hope it will, and I’ll be there for every issue to cheer on the new creative team (including the amazing art of Paolo Rivera and Marcos Martin). If anyone can lift comics out of the dark and back into the light, it’s the team of Daredevil and Waid! (See Roger’s recent interview with Waid, if you haven’t already.)
Walter Simonson’s Mighty Thor: Artist’s Edition — What it is: A full-size (11” x 16”) reproduction of the original artwork of seven issues from the classic run of Walter Simonson’s The Mighty Thor. Issues #337-340 tell the original Beta Ray Bill story, as well as setting the stage for Simonson’s three-and-a-half-year run on the book. #360-362 features the Asgardians storming the gates of Hel, culminating in an unexpected heroic sacrifice. (It’s also Walter’s favorite Thor story of the ones that he wrote and drew.) Each original page is scanned in color — so you can see every handwritten note, every blue line, and every correction. And it’s printed on paper that’s as close to the original art board as you can get. Here’s the thing. It’s an expensive book; the cover price is $100. But if you love this material, it’s worth every penny, because this is just a fraction of what an original Simonson page would cost — assuming that you could find one! Walter does not sell his Thor artwork — so this book is the closest that anyone will ever get to see the originals of this now-classic material! If you’re on the fence about buying this, you better decide soon, as I suspect that it will sell out quickly (as did IDW’s previous Rocketeer Artist’s Edition). Walter Simonson’s Mighty Thor: Artist’s Edition is published by IDW in full cooperation with Marvel Comics.
Muppets Present: Meet the Muppets — Marvel’s got the Muppets, and now they’ll be better than ever! That may be the single dumbest sentence I’ve ever typed, since Marvel’s just reprinting the already great Muppet Show material by the incredibly talented Roger Langridge originally published by BOOM! Kids. But I just know there will be Marvel fans who will think that Marvel had something to do with its creation. (Or I might be completely wrong — a lot of Marvel fans also seemingly abandoned Langridge’s wonderful Thor: The Mighty Avenger thinking it was just a kids’ book.) For the record, Marvel didn’t create the Muppets. Jim Henson did. And this book is really great. You should already have it — but if you missed it, buy it now.
DC Comments: Does anyone besides me think that it’s odd that the most important things at DC this month have seemingly nothing to do with the current DC Universe? Their big summer crossover event (Flashpoint) deals with alternate versions of your favorite characters. Retroactive features six comics told by some of the top creators of the 1970s (although I don’t remember TBD — whoever he is — doing a lot of work back then) and features the characters in the versions of that era. (Issues spotlighting the 1980s and 1990s are also planned.) The newly resolicited New Teen Titans: Games hardcover by Marv Wolfman and George Pérez was originally conceived — and depicts the team as they were — in the late 1980s/early 1990s. While I’m cautiously optimistic about these projects — I’m taking a wait-and-see look at most of the Flashpoint minis, Retroactive features reprints I don’t need and is overpriced because of it, so I’m waiting for the (hopefully) collected edition on those, and that particular era of New Teen Titans wasn’t my favorite (but Pérez art is always worth looking at) — I find them all more interesting that what’s going on in the actual DCU. I just don’t find stories about Corporate Batmen, un-American Superman, uh, whatever the hell is going on with Wonder Woman, Green Lanterns fighting Green Lanterns, or the very boring Justice League (Doomsday? Eclipso?… Snore!) very inspiring, or worth my time or money. Plus, Swamp Thing with a superhero symbol on his chest is just so wrong on so many levels. Thank goodness some of the secondary titles (including Detective, Birds of Prey, Secret Six, Batgirl, Superboy, among others) are still worth reading. Just my two cents (or my $2.99, as things go).
X-Men: Schism #1 & #2 — It’s almost summer, so I guess it’s time to shake up the X-Men again. “But that trick never works!” you may be exclaiming (as I am). Maybe this time, it might, as Jason Aaron — one of the better mutant writers out there these days — takes on the whole franchise in the five-issue X-Men: Schism, which is promised to shatter the X-Men forever! Oh, great! I guess we’ll be sweeping up little pieces of mutant all summer! (Don’t you just hate it when tiny mutant bits get stuck to your sneakers?) Carlos Pacheco and Frank Cho are doing the artistic thing, so it will look dynamic and pretty! Speaking of Marvel’s newest Architect, don’t miss the Wolverine by Jason Aaron Omnibus being offered this month. 688-pages of finger-snikting goodness, featuring every Jason Aaron character-defining Wolverine story, up to the recent “Wolverine Goes to Hell” storyline. That’s a lotta Logan!
The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen III: Century #2: 1969 — This long-awaited second chapter of Alan Moore and Kevin O’Neill’s uh, deconstruction of everything (maybe — I’m behind in reading…) is set almost 60 years later than the last chapter (or not quite as long ago as the last chapter actually appeared). I’m not sure what’s going on at this point (I’m actually waiting for the animated movie… what’s that Roger?… okay, I guess there actually isn’t an animated movie — except maybe in my own brain), but I do know that this is set in one of my favorite years, 1969, and somehow Tadukic Acid Diethylamide 26 is involved, so perhaps we really won’t know exactly what is going on until 1969 rolls around again. Oh, wait… I’m now being told that sitars, hippies, vicious gangster bosses, and perhaps an antichrist might be involved. All right then! From Top Shelf — as in their stuff is really Top Shelf. Oh, that’s good! Don’t forget to look at the picture of the cover!
Grant Morrison: Supergods HC — The full title of this is: Supergods: What Masked Vigilantes, Miraculous Mutants, and a Sun God from Smallville Can Teach Us About Being Human. All right then. First off, this is not a comic book — it’s a 464-page “thrilling and provocative exploration of humankind’s great modern myth: the superhero.” So, no pictures. (Well, there may be illustrative art to illuminate Morrison’s points. But we don’t know that for sure.) It’s Grant Morrison talking about his favorite thing to talk about — superheroes and how they developed. Morrison draws on history, art, mythology, and his own astonishing journeys through this alternate universe to provide the first true chronicle of the superhero — why they matter, why they will always be with us, and what they tell us about who we are. Or it could be a superhero self-help book, or a cult manifesto. It sounds like it might be anything! It’s so hard to tell with Morrison sometimes.
I’m not sure why, but whenever I think about this book I wonder if Morrison fans will look at it like the 21st century version of when the Beatles visited the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi in the late 1960s, hoping he would slip them “the Answer.” I will say that it’s nice that Morrison is willing to share his vision with us all.
Helpful Reminders: Fantagraphics has a new Peanuts 1981-1982 volume being listed this month . . . IDW’s Parker: The Martini Edition is an oversized collection of Darwyn Cooke’s hard-boiled stories based on Richard Stark’s Parker novels. This 344-page slipcased hardcover includes both The Hunter and The Outfit, as well as 65 additional pages of Cooke content (sketches, layouts, etc.), plus a brand-new eight-page Parker story by Cooke, unique to this volume . . . TwoMorrows’ Modern Masters Volume 26 features the career and artwork of Frazer Irving . . . Also from TwoMorrows is Lou Scheimer: Creating the Filmation Generation, a 160-page history of the animation studio that gave us Star Trek: The Animated Series, He-Man and the Masters of the Universe, She-Ra: Princess of Power, Fat Albert and the Cosby Kids, and many other Saturday morning favorites, including the original Archie and Sabrina the Teenage Witch cartoons and early animated incarnations of Superman, Batman and Aquaman . . . DC’s Archives series is apparently not dead yet. They’re currently taking orders for the quirky Superman’s Girl Friend, Lois Lane Archives Volume 1 , scheduled to ship in December. Lots of gorgeous Kurt Schaffenberger artwork there . . . Terry Moore’s new series, Rachel Rising, begins from Abstract Studio. And be sure to check out Roger’s interview with Terry . . . Watch for Bob Greenberger’s previews for Dark Horse’s Creepy Presents Bernie Wrightson and DC’s Kamandi the Last Boy on Earth Omnibus — coming soon!
KC CARLSON Presents This Month’s Comic Book Event tallies, without commercial interruption: Marvel’s Fear Itself: 27 books for a total of $90.73 (cover price). DC’s Flashpoint: 18 books for a total of $54.82 (cover price).
As always, WESTFIELD COMICS is not responsible for the stupid things that KC says. Especially that thing that really irritated you.