Markley’s Fevered Brain: A Small Sampling

Wayne Markley

Wayne Markley


by Wayne Markley

Recently a number of comic publishers have issued low price compilations of the first issues of a number of their titles as sampler packages. Image was the first to do this, at least recently, and has done two so far. Joining the band wagon has been Oni Press and Humanoids, who did it a bit differently and issued a sampler of a single author’s work, which works just as well. What I like about these samplers is there are a very cheap way (all $6 or less) to try out the first issue of a number of different books and see if they interest you. Due to the diversity in the Image and Oni collections, I would think you could find at least one title that would draw you in and make you want to read more. What is also fortunate is with almost all of the books collected in the samplers there are collections of the complete story. So if you like a particular one you can go back and get a complete saga in a trade. Since there is so much material in these samplers I am not going to spend a lot of time on each individual book. I am going to give a brief overview and let you decide which appeal to you. I would highly recommend any of these collections as some of them have some of my favorite current comics collected within. Rounding out this blog is a look at the newest Captain America Epic Collection, The Coming of the Falcon.  It collects the end of Tales of Suspense, the start of Captain America, introduces the Falcon, and more importantly, features the exit of Jack Kirby, the explosion of Steranko, and start of Gene Colan’s run and some of Stan Lee’s best storytelling.

Image Firsts Compendium Volume 1

Image Firsts Compendium Volume 1


Image Firsts Compendium #1 offers you nine comics, all first issues by some of the best creators in comics for a super low price of $5.99 in full color. Included in this volume are the first issues of Wytches by Scott Snyder and Jock, a creepy horror story about not your traditional evil old ladies; and Outcast by Robert Kirkman and Paul Azaceta, one of my current favorite books and the inspiration for the television show of the same name about a young man who has the ability to detect and outcast “demons” from people; Nailbiter by Joshua Williamson and Mike Henderson, another great book about a small town where 14 serial killers have all come from. What is it about this town that has produced all of these mass killers? Southern Bastards by Jason Aaron and Jason Latour is a hard boiled tale of life in the Deep South. It is violent and at times painful to read as the characters are so real. A great read. The Fade Out by Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips is a film noir mystery set in the golden days of Hollywood. As with all of the Brubaker/Phillips collaborations this one is top notch. In The Wicked + The Devine, Kieron Gillen and Jamie McKelvie reunite to tell this tale of 12 gods who come to Earth and become pop stars. Low by Rick Remender and Greg Tocchini is a science fiction tale of the future where humanity has fled beneath the seas for survival, if they can get along that is. Shutter by Joe Keatinge and Leila del Duca is an adventure mystery story at least in part, about Kate Kristopher, who discovers that upon the death of her father she has a whole family she never knew of, and they want her dead. C.O.W.L. by Kyle Higgins, Alex Siegel and Rod Reis is a fun tale of a superhero union set in Chicago and all of the issues that so along with unions, big cities, and heroes. It’s one of the most unique superhero books out there. Overall this collection covers almost all genres and every number one here is worth reading, and I am sure a number of them will get you to try the trades.

Image Firsts Compendium Volume 2

Image Firsts Compendium Volume 2


With the success of the Image Firsts Compendium they issued a second volume, once again all first issues, all in color and once again a bargain at $5.99. Included in this volume are Birthright by Joshua Williamson and Andrei Bressan, which is a fantasy tale about a young boy who disappears only to return years later as a warrior from another dimension. Bitch Planet by Kelly Sue McConnick and Valentine De Landro is set on a distant world in a woman’s prison. This is so much like a ‘70s exploitation film. Copperhead by Jay Faerber and Scott Godleski is a science fiction western about a new female sheriff in a small town far off in space. Really nice art here. Descender by Jeff Lemire and Dustin Nguyen is a science fiction tale about a boy and his robot. At least to start. This book gets better and better over time and the art is amazing. The Humans by Keenan Marshall Keller and Tom Neely is for mature readers due to nudity and violence. It is about a biker gang mourning the loss of one of their own, except they are all apes. Nowhere Men by Eric Stephenson and Nate Bellegarde tells the unique tale of scientists who are rock stars, because they are scientists. ODY-C Matt Fraction and Christian Ward is a modern telling of Homer’s Odyssey. Sunstone by Stjepan Sejic is billed as an erotic romantic comedy, so it is only for mature readers. Finally, Wayword by Jim Zub and Steven Cummings tells the story of a teen age girl who moves to Japan only to discover she has powers and a whole new strange world. Once again there is a wide selection of genres represented here, and all of these first issues are a great way to taste these fine selections. The material collected here though does tend to lean more towards older readers than the first volume due to a number of the stories having nudity or violence.

Oni Press Starter Pack 2016

Oni Press Starter Pack 2016


Oni Press has been around for almost 20 years now and have had a number of hits. Perhaps their best know was Scott Pilgrim. One of the things that has helped Oni succeed over the years is how diverse their line of titles are. They do not focus on one sort of title or genre, but instead they publish whatever they think is interesting. Very little of what they publish is high profile, but a number of these books are excellent and unfortunately are over looked most of the time. Due to this, the Oni Press Starter Pack 2016 is an absolute steal at $5.99. In this almost 200 page, full color collection, there seven complete comics reprinted, all first issues. The titles include in no particular order, Joshua Hale Fialkov and Joe Infurnari’s The Bunker. This is a science fiction mystery which is heavy on the mystery. It is a very good story with lots of twists and turns, but it does read better in collections than single issues. Next is The Life After by Joshua Hale Fialkov and Gabo. This tells the story of Jade, who is in a purgatory for people who commit suicide, and where he goes from there, if he can get out of purgatory. These stories are just as interesting as the premise. Then there is Hellheim by Cullen Bunn, Joelle Jones and Nick Filardi. Hellheim is a gothic horror story set in the times of the Vikings. As the title implies much of the story takes place in hell. Next is Zander Cannon’s Kaijumax #1. Once again the title says it all in this story about a special prison in the south pacific where all of the prisoners are giant monsters. Of course you know no good will come of this. The next title is one of my favorites from Oni, Letter 44 by Charles Soule and Alberto Jimenez Alburquerque and it tells the story of a letter left by the 44th president of the United States for the 45th president about an alien threat just past Earth’s moon and the actions taken to confront it. This is a long, winding story about politics and space adventure with issue after issue unveiling a new surprise. The art at times is not the greatest, but the suspense and creativity more than make up for it. Cullen Bunn is represented once again, this time along with Brian Hurtt, with the first issue of the recently concluded The Sixth Gun. This series was a supernatural western with a complex story and beautiful art though out the series. This is a great way to get a taste of this excellent tale. The final book in this sampler is Stumptown by Greg Rucka, Justine Greenwood and Ryan Hill. As with the best of Rucka’s writing, this story is about a strong female lead who is a private detective who is not having a good time, but in Stumptown there it is never boring and things can change on a dime. I can almost guaranty that you will find something you will enjoy among the books reprinted here. There is a broad mix of genres and storytelling styles, so that there is sure to be a something for everybody.

Humanoids Presents the Jodoverse

Humanoids Presents the Jodoverse


For a long time now Alexandro Jodorowsky has been one of my favorite authors. He (along with Osamu Tezuka) to me is one of the greatest modern storytellers. His stories are complex, almost beyond comprehension at times, but by the end everything always falls into place. A more commercial comparison would the work of Jonathan Hickman, but I think Jodorowsky’s stories are much better told in that while for a long time you may not have any idea where the story is going (like Hickman) by the time you to the last page everything falls into place and you see everything from every panel had a purpose. Jodorowsky work spans genres from science fiction to crime to erotica to surrealism to westerns. To me he is a master of the medium. (And a noted film maker as well as he has directed such classics as El Topo and Holy Mountain). Perhaps one of the best examples of his storytelling is the rich and lush world he has created in a series of books, that on the surface look unrelated, but they are all part of the same universe. They are The Incal, Metabarons, Technopriests, and Megalex. All four of these books are epic in scope and do not directly tie into one another, even though they are part of a shared universe and there are little references or guest appearances in the different volumes. Some books like The Incal is currently three hardcover collections and the Metabarons is still ongoing with a new volume coming out soon. Part of Jodorosky’s amazing storytelling are his partners in crime. For example, in The Incal the artist is the late, but still amazing, Moebius (let’s not forget Dark Horse will soon be issuing a hardcover collection of Moebius work. I can’t wait). With Metabarons he teams with a master illustrator in Juan Gimenez. With Techopriests the artwork is a lush painted style by Zoran Janjetov. And with Megalex he teams with frequent collaborator Fred Beltron. To get all of these collections at once will cost you over a $100 (as they all collected in beautiful full color hardcovers and are easily worth the money) Humanoids has done me, and you, a great favor by issuing a dirt cheap, at $4.99, sampler called Humanoids Presents The Jodoverse, which is a sampling of the four series discussed here. This book is full color on glossy paper that the painted art just looks amazing on. I bought multiple copies to give to friends it is such a bargain. While all of these stories are science fiction, and none of them give you the complete saga, there is enough to make you want to go out and get the complete collection of these four epics. I find this an amazing read as it reminded me why I love Jodorowsky’s writing so much. It is also interesting that this whole world that these four books are part of started as a film adaptation of Dune, which never happened, so he took the concepts and ideas and created this amazing world.

Captain America Epic Collection: The Coming of the Falcon

Captain America Epic Collection: The Coming of the Falcon


Captain America Epic Collection: The Coming of the Falcon is the second volume in the Captain America Epic Collections. This volume collects Tales of Suspense #97-99, Captain America #100-119, and Not Brand Echh #3 and #12. Stan Lee continues to be on a roll with these stories that involve Batrock the Leaper, the Red Skull, M.O.D.O.K., the Cosmic Cube, Black Panther, and much more. What really stands out in this book are the mix of artists as it features Jack Kirby’s end on the book (for a number of years) but he was followed by John Romita, John Buscema, Gene Colan and Jim Steranko. The Steranko issues are now classics in terms of storytelling and art and this has the start of an amazing run by Gene Colan and Joe Sinnott. Also in this massive book is the five part story arc where the Red Skull uses the cosmic cube to switch bodies with Cap which leads to the introduction of the Falcon and the conclusion of the story is fairly unique as the heroes win, but not by beating the Skull. I also found it fascinating as in the back of the book they reprint a number of original art pages and the most interesting is the cover to Captain America #101 where the Red Skull is re-drawn on the final cover because in the original drawing he was considered to be too menacing by the Comics Code. A great collection of Cap stories for a good price.

This wraps up this month’s blog. Between these four books you can read a ton of material for almost nothing. These samplers are a great way to try the first issue of a book you may never have heard of in the past and discover a new favorite. What do you think of these collections? Should other publishers follow the lead of these publishers? Have you discovered any books due to a sampler? I would also like to say thank you to my cohort in crime at Westfield Comics-East, Josh Crawley for the suggestion for this week’s blog. All of the opinions I have expressed here are my thoughts and in no way reflect the thoughts or opinions of Westfield Comics. I welcome your comments, complaints or suggestions at MFBWAY@AOL.COM or on Facebook at Wayne Markley. As always…

Thank you.

 

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