Too Much Cool Stuff – Not Enough $$$ – April ’10

by KC Carlson

Superman #700

Superman #700

Trinity Anniversary
DC somehow finagled their publishing schedule so that their Big 3 characters all have Anniversary Issues the same month – so look for Superman #700, Batman #700, and Wonder Woman #600. All of these are 56-page comics with several creators pitching in, and all three promise major changes in creative direction as well. Both Superman and Wonder Woman feature the first work on the characters by recently new-to-DC superstar writer J. Michael Straczynski. For Superman, this couldn’t have happened at a better time, as I’ve felt that the Krypton storyline was dragging on far too long. (DC apparently did as well, as they scuttled their plans for a major War of the Supermen event that would have happened over the summer and collapsed the storyline to wrap up in May before JMS’s new direction is previewed in Superman #700.) Also in this issue is a story written and drawn by longtime Superman creator Dan Jurgens, and James Robinson’s run on the book concludes with a touching story, drawn by Bernard Chang, all topped off with a cover by Gary Frank.

Wonder Woman #600

Wonder Woman #600

There’s not much story detail about Wonder Woman #600 yet, but we do know it features the wrap-up of Gail Simone’s run on the series, a story written by Geoff Johns, JMS’s first Wonder Woman story (an early clue to the new direction), and art by George Perez (including the regular cover), Phil Jimenez, Joe Madureira, and others, including a variant cover by Adam Hughes.

Batman #700 doesn’t feature a new writer, but a returning one -Grant Morrison kick starts the return of Bruce Wayne. But first there’s a trio of stores about Batmen past, present, and future (a motif of all three Anniversary issues). Art is by Tony Daniel, Andy Kubert, and Frank Quitely, and the book features covers by David Finch (regular) and Mike Mignola (variant). Will we actually start getting answers to the lingering questions from Morrison’s previous Batman run and Final Crisis? Even if we do, will I need Cliff Notes to understand it all?

New Avengers #1

New Avengers #1

Heroic Age: Month Two
The Heroic Age at Marvel continues its big rollout with even more new titles and at least one surprise return (well, not really). That big return is New Avengers, starting over with a new #1 issue, but with the same great creative team of Brian Michael Bendis and Stuart Immonen. The cover features a few of the same characters from the other Avengers comic (Spider-Man, Wolverine) and a couple that have been so far unaccounted for (Ms. Marvel, Luke Cage), plus the Thing, who was featured in the pre-solicitation information so I’m not sure if he’s in the other book or not. Methinks that there is going to be a big shakedown period among all the books before we learn what’s up with all the various team line-ups and such. But we now know this – one of Norman Osborn’s Dark Avengers will be joining the New Avengers. Meanwhile, in Avengers #2, a new member joins already – and it isn’t Wonder Man (but he’ll be there too!).

Avengers Academy is another new Avengers-related title starring founder Hank Pym and his new pack of trainee heroes (mostly new guys, but maybe a familiar face or two). It’s by writer Christos Gage and artist Mike McKone, and the first issue promises a last-page shocker that may affect the whole Marvel U.

Avengers Prime #1

Avengers Prime #1

Avengers Prime is being described as a sort of Siege: Aftermath book, where we will learn the details of how Thor, Iron Man, and Steve Rogers find themselves reunited – after being the bitterest of enemies. This five-issue bi-monthly series features the first creative pairing between superstars Brian Michael Bendis and Alan Davis, and it’s KC’s “Pick Hit to Click” this month. (If there actually was that sort of thing.)

Longtime Avengers Hawkeye and Mockingbird star in their new ongoing series, where they’re in the midst of assembling the all-new West Coast Avengers team when they are confronted by the supposedly long-dead person who split them up years ago: the Phantom Rider! It’s by writer Jim McCann with pencils by David Lopez (the team behind New Avengers: The Reunion).

Young Allies #1

Young Allies #1

The Heroic Age is offering up a new team of teen heroes in Young Allies #1. Writer Sean McKeever (who specializes in teen heroics) teams with artist David Baldeon to present the new Marvel kids on the block! Nomad, Arana, Toro, Gravity, and Firestar join forces for the youth perspective on the New Heroic Age.

New Products Cause Big Questions

Marvelman

Marvelman

Also from Marvel this month is the Marvelman Classic Primer with articles and background info on the past, present, and future of Marvelman stories, featuring some new pin-ups of classic Marvelman characters. Said to be coming soon is Marvelman’s Finest #1, a collection of his greatest early adventures, presented in the United States for the first time, and the Marvelman Classic Vol. 1 Premiere Hardcover, reprinting all the classic tales starting from the beginning. All this is well and good, and the original Mick Angelo stories from the 1950s will be fun to see, but this still doesn’t really answer the questions about the Marvelman/Miracleman stories that everyone wants to see – the long out-of-print Alan Moore and Neil Gaiman-written material previously printed by Warrior magazine in the UK (the Alan Moore material) and Eclipse Comics in America (the work of both writers). So, Marvel – Whassup with Miracleman? Do you have the rights to reprint and release new stories, or not?
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Superman vs. Muhammad Ali

Superman vs. Muhammad Ali

Long thought to be one of those projects that would never be reprinted (mostly due to perceived rights issues pertaining to the dozens of celebrity likenesses on the cover), 1978’s Superman vs. Muhammad Ali will be available to new generations of comics and sports fans alike this November (but available for pre-order now). Written by Denny O’Neil and Neal Adams with art by Adams, Dick Giordano, and Terry Austin, the unlikely story involves potential alien invasions and the temporary de-powering of Superman to determine who is truly the greatest fighter in the Universe. While not the most logical of stories, there are plenty of emotional twists and turns (as well as all-out action!) to have you cheering by the end!

DC presents this lost gem in two different formats: The 80-page Facsimile Edition hardcover is printed at the original Treasury tabloid size for $39.99. Then there’s the 96-page Deluxe Edition, which is printed smaller (near standard comic size) for $19.99, but it includes 16 pages of unpublished artwork and other related material, plus a new cover by Neal Adams.

I’m really disappointed in DC’s decision to split materials in this way. As a big fan of the original, I would love to have the large, sturdier modern reprinting to see the gorgeous artwork at faithful publication size, but I am dismayed that there is no additional material in this edition. (What, for 40 bucks you couldn’t squeeze in 16 extra pages?) If I was cynical (and I am), I’d think that this is deliberately being done to get fans like me to buy both editions. So, bottom line, whether I spend $20, $40, or $60, I’m gonna be unhappy about it, one way or another. It’s like DC suddenly created their own Blu-Ray format for books.

I do understand why DC would want to have a lower-priced version for people who aren’t nostalgic for the original, and ultimately this smaller, cheaper version will most likely be the version that is kept in print (as well as the only one that goes to the book market). But why is the cheaper version of the book called the Deluxe Edition? And shouldn’t the actual deluxe material be in the obviously more lavish version of the book? This decision flies directly in the face of all the Absolute editions DC has put out over the past few years. Or have I accidentally stumbled onto next year’s Absolute Superman vs. Muhammad Ali publication a year early, making us buy it again, probably for $99?

Also, DC is also soliciting a Superman vs. Muhammad Ali Statue based on the original cover that looks really cool. It’s priced at $250. Obviously, there’s a reason that this column is named what it is.

But what I’m really excited about…

Brave & the Bold #35

Brave & the Bold #35

Pardon me for a minute while I put my geek hat on. Hands down, the book the that I am most excited about reading this month isn’t one of the new Avengers books or part of any big mega-crossover. It isn’t even JMS’ new takes on Superman or Wonder Woman. It doesn’t even have any major characters in it – nor any characters that anyone who started reading comics in the last 10 years would even know about. But it is written by JMS. It’s The Brave and Bold #35, and it stars The Legion of Substitute Heroes and The Inferior Five. I’ve been waiting to hear more about this since Dan DiDio teased about “the Five” in a DC hype page a month or so ago. (I’m a good guesser.) But I never conceived that they would be paired with DC’s other brilliantly stupid super-team, the Subs. Genius. I already have the cover art as wallpaper on my computer, so I giggle every morning in anticipation.

Back story: The Inferior Five were created by writer E. Nelson Bridwell and artist Joe Orlando in 1966. The series was an obvious parody of superhero comics (both DC’s and Marvel’s), but it was done in a relatively straightforward way. Or as straightforward as these characters could be…

The Blimp was a large overweight man who inherited his father’s power to fly, but not his super-speed, so the best he could do was hover, unless it was windy. He’s usually seen being towed by one of the other members like a balloon on a string. Awkwardman was super-strong but super-clumsy, and constantly tripping (probably because he always wore a too-long cape with swim-flippers). Dumb Bunny is as strong as Wonder Woman, but a stereotypically dumb blonde dressed like a Playboy bunny (hence the name), but she has a good heart. White Feather was a master archer – when no one was looking. At all other times, he was a coward, and almost everything made him nervous. Especially women. (Hmmmm…) Merryman was the leader, a physical weakling with no super-powers. He looked like Woody Allen, and he dressed like a jester because he thought super-heroing was a joke, although he came from a long line of costumed adventurers.

The Legion of Substitute Heroes (The Subs) were the heroes that weren’t good enough to be in the Legion. Considering the Legion inducted Matter-Eater Lad and Bouncing Boy before these guys, you can imagine how bad they were. Actually, they were pretty noble characters, working in secret to help the Legion when they needed help, until Keith Giffen got hold of them around 1985.

The core members of the Subs aren’t too bad – except maybe for Stone Boy, whose power was to turn to stone, so the other Subs used to carry him around and drop him on things, an idea also used in a National Lampoon comic parody called Dead Man (not the one you’re thinking of), a corpse which a team of guys in jumpsuits used to carry around and drop off buildings. No, really! It was drawn by Neal Adams! And Chlorophyll Kid – who could make plants grow super-fast – was a little lame also, I guess. It was the latter-day characters like Porcupine Pete, Double-Header, and Infectious Lass that Giffen really went to town on. I’m not sure if they’ll be in JMS’ story or not.

Anyway, both teams come from a time when comics weren’t so serious, so you could have a little bit of fun reading about characters who were dumber than you, but when it came right down to it, they still got the job done. So if you still like your funny books a little bit funny, the Inferior Five and the Legion Subs are for you. Check ‘em out!

And one more thing…

Simon & Kirby Superheroes

Simon & Kirby Superheroes

Simon & Kirby Superheroes is a new book of classic forties and fifties Simon and Kirby stories by Titan Books, the same folks who published the wonderful Best of Simon & Kirby a while back. I’d tell you more, but Bob Greenberger called dibs, so he’s got a whole column on it coming up soon. All I can say is it’s got some really great stuff, including some unpublished stories, a famous story printed in color for the first time, and that Neil Gaiman writes the Introduction. Oh, I can also say – BUY IT!

Detective Comics #866

Detective Comics #866


CREATOR WATCH – Denny O’Neil returns to Batman for a stand-alone story with art by Dustin Nguyen in Detective Comics #866 in a special story about Dick Grayson: then and now! . . . The new creative team on Power Girl is writer Judd Winick and artist Sami Basri, beginning with issue #13 . . . Fabian Nicieza is the new regular writer on Red Robin beginning with issue #13 . . . Marc Guggenheim (Amazing Spider-Man) is the new writer on Action Comics and Pete Woods is the new artist . . . Eric Powell’s Buzzard character (from the pages of The Goon) gets his own three-issue series in June (with the first issue listed now). Also in each issue is a new Billy the Kid Old Timey Oddities story, by Powell and artist Kyle Holtz, which will become its own four-issue series later this year . . . Ted McKeever’s newest project, Meta 4, about an amnesiac astronaut and a woman who dresses up as Santa year-round looks to feature the usual McKeever mystery and dark humor set against a background of wretchedness and hope. The first of five issues is available in June from Image.

Namora #1

Namora #1

YOU’RE COVERED! – Silver Age great Ramona Fradon provides a cover for Namora #1 from Marvel . . . What’s Black Lantern Firestorm doing on David Finch’s cover to Brightest Day #4. Didn’t he get the memo? . . . Bryan Hitch draws this year’s Fantastic Four Annual #32 . . . Darwyn Cooke returns to Jonah Hex to provide the cover to issue #56 . . Carlos Pacheco illustrates the cover to Atlas #2 . . . Red Sonja reaches a milestone 50th issue from Dynamite with a 100-page issue, fronted by four different covers: one each by Joseph Michael Linsner, Art Adams, Joe Jusko, and Johnny Desjardins.

Tom Strong

Tom Strong


SHORT TAKES – Tom Strong returns in Tom Strong and the Robots of Doom, a new six-part miniseries written by Peter Hogan and drawn by Chris Sprouse and Karl Story. Yay! . . . The Batman Beyond universe returns to the pages of DC comics with a new Batman Beyond six-part miniseries by Adam Beechen and Ryan Benjamin. The Batman Beyond universe is also a big part of this month’s Superman/Batman Annual #4, written by Paul Levitz . . . Spider-Ham returns in a special one-shot to celebrate his 25th Anniversary. I just read somewhere that you really shouldn’t keep ham more than a week . . . The Penguin appears in Birds of Prey #2. Well, it does say Birds . . . Justice League of America #46 is Part 1 (of 5) of the annual JLA/JSA crossover . . . Lobo appears in Green Lantern #55. . .Titans #24 finally returns to the DC schedule as Deathstroke takes on Lex Luthor. Um… any Titans in this issue? . . . The Rawhide Kid returns in a four-part mini written by Ron Zimmerman and drawn by Howard Chaykin, with a first issue cover by John Cassaday. Looks cool! . . . The long-dead Thomas Wayne returns in Batman and Robin #13. Funny, I don’t remember seeing him in Blackest Night . . . . The regular Punisher comic book is changing its name to Franken-Castle. Really. Shouldn’t Franken-Castle be what happens when somebody sews together a lot of old European fortified buildings and strikes them with lightning? Or sews together a bunch of Nathan Fillions and- Okay, okay! Moving on . . . Manhunter’s back-up feature comes to an end in Batman: Streets of Gotham #13 . . . The Shield and The Web are both canceled with issue #10.

Sea Bear & Grizzly Shark

Sea Bear & Grizzly Shark

THIS AND THAT – My favorite tag-line of the month is from Image Comics’ Sea Bear & Grizzly Shark #1: “They got mixed up!” See, it’s about a shark that thinks it’s a bear and a grizzly bear that likes to swim and eat stuff. It’s by Ryan Ottley and Jason Howard. I think they’re missing a bet by not including promotional pick-a-nic baskets and John Williams soundtracks . . . Fans of classic old-school Hercules (i.e. the constantly drunk version), will be happy to hear that Bob Layton is returning to write a four-part Hercules: Twilight of a God miniseries, and that it’s, also like the old days, set in the far future. Art is by Ron Lim and Layton . . . Speaking of Hercules, fans of Colleen Coover (and there should be a fan club!) will be pleased to know that she’s writing and drawing a Herc back-up in Thor and the Warriors Four #3 (otherwise known as the latest Power Pack miniseries) . . . Dave Sim’s Cerebus Guide to Self-Publishing is back in print with a new Expanded Edition, primarily addressing the pros and cons of the recent computer revolution in comics. 120 pages from Aardvark-Vanaheim . . . You wouldn’t think that there were any stories by Robert E. Howard that haven’t been adapted to comics, but somehow BOOM has found one with Robert E. Howard’s Hawks of Outremer #1 (of 4), featuring the adventures of renowned fighter Cormac FitzGeoffrey. It’s adapted by Michael Alan Nelson and Damian Coucerio . . . Harvey Kurtzman’s wonderful beatnik take of The Grasshopper and the Ant gets a new hardcover printing from BOOM. One of the best graphic novels of all time, this new version includes an introduction by Denis Kitchen (the previous publisher) . . .

Cages

Cages

BOOKSHELF – Dave McKean’s Cages is back in print after a long absence, in a newly remastered (rescanned and cleaned-up) edition from Dark Horse. Almost 500 pages of McKean’s stunning paintings, Cages tells the intertwined stories of a painter, a writer, and a musician all living in the same apartment building, as well as providing new insights about art, cats, God, and the cages we build for ourselves. Cages was McKean’s first solo work and was the winner of multiple awards for Best Graphic Novel in its original printing . . . Dark Horse also has a couple of cool new comic book archives this month. Mighty Samson Archives presents the first seven issues of this classic 1960s series originally published by Gold Key Comics. (Bob Greenberger has more details in an upcoming blog post.) Also, Volume 1 of the Flash Gordon Comic Book Archives presents seven classic comics from 1947 through 1953, originally published by Dell Comics and featuring work by Paul Norris, Jack Lehti, and Frank Thorne . . . The classic Avengers: Under Siege story, where the Masters of Evil destroy Avengers Mansion and almost kill a few Avengers (including Jarvis!) is being collected in a new hardcover edition. It’s by Roger Stern and John Buscema . . . Peter David and David Lopez’ earliest Fallen Angel stories are being reprinted in IDW’s new Fallen Angel Omnibus. This 464-page volume collects issues #1-20, originally published by DC Comics . . . DC’s got Volume 2 of classic Batman Annuals coming up in the next DC Comics Classic Library hardcover . . . DC also has a Team-Ups of the Brave and the Bold hardcover, including the first seven JMS-written stories featuring Dial H for Hero, Brother Power the Geek, the Blackhawks, Dr. Fate, Batgirl, and Zatanna – none of whom are on the cover, oddly . . . Wonder what super-heroic romance and marriage would really be like? Check out Thom Zahler’s charming Love & Capes Volume 2 from IDW. Collecting issues #7-12, it features evil twins, secret wars, superpowered ex-girlfriends, and other disasters . . . Rebellion/2000 A.D. is getting many of its classic series back into print, starting in June (but available for order now). The first book is Judge Dredd Case Files Vol. 1, featuring the original adventures of this classic character – from the beginning, and in chronological order – by John Wagner, Brian Bolland, and Ian Gibson. 336 pages. Also available, and one of my favorites, is The Complete D.R. and Quinch, the twisted tales of two psychotic reprobates as presented by Alan Moore and Alan Davis (with Jamie Delano). In coming months look for more Judge Dredd, ABC Warriors, Nemesis the Warlock, and The Ballad of Halo Jones among others . . . The title of TwoMorrows’ latest creator biography, Carmine Infantino: Penciller, Publisher, Provocateur makes me laugh, but it’s certainly an accurate description of the man who drew The Flash, Batman, and Adam Strange, as well as led DC Comics through the late 1960s and early 1970s as its publisher. Written by Jim Amash (Alter Ego) and Eric Nolen-Weathington (Modern Masters), the book promises to “uncover details about the comic industry never made public until now” which, given some of Infantino’s other interviews over the years, should have comic historians and fans buzzing for years.

Archie Classic Newspaper Comics

Archie Classic Newspaper Comics

STRIP TEASE – Original Archie artist Bob Montana was the perfect choice to write and draw the adventures of Archie and the gang on a daily basis in your favorite newspaper! IDW is collecting all the early Montana strips – from 1946-1948 – in the first hardcover volume of their newest strip reprint series: Archie: The Classic Newspaper Comics. Watch for Roger Ash’s interview with IDW’s Bruce Canwell about the genesis of the project, and no doubt, I’ll be back with a review of the first volume upon publication. I’ve been looking forward to this project for a long time! . . . Also from IDW this month is the Complete Chester Gould’s Dick Tracy, Vol. 10 (featuring Itchy and Influence) from 1945-1947, as well as a moderately priced collection of select Tracy stories in the Best of Dick Tracy, Vol. 1 . . . Titan Books have a couple of new hardcover classic strip collections out this month. Beetle Bailey: The Dailies and Sundays 1965-66 by Mort Walker features strips from the height of its popularity, just as the strip hit the magical 1,000 national newspapers milestone. Also available, The Wizard of Id: The Dailies 1970-1971, by Brant Parker and Johnny Hart, and also from the creative height of the strip . . . Krazy Kat: A Celebration of Sundays serves as a Krazy Kat’s Greatest Hits, as the very best of Sunday strips are collected and reprinted at their original size (huge!) and colors. This is another gorgeous hardcover art book by the fine folks at Sunday Press Books and also includes never-before reprinted works by creator George Herriman, as well as contributions by Michael Tisserand and Art Spiegelman. 160 pages.

Felix the Cat

Felix the Cat

FOR KIDS OF ALL AGES – IDW collects over 200 full-color pages of early Felix the Cat Golden Age comic book stories, written and drawn by his original artist Otto Messmer in Felix the Cat: The Great Comic Book Tails. Felix’s complicated origins will also be examined in introductions by Don Oriolo (son of noted Felix artist and writer Joe Oriolo, whose work is also included in this book) and comics historian Craig Yoe . . . Archie #610 re-introduces a great old concept from the past when Archie reappears as The Man from R.I.V.E.R.D.A.L.E. – The suave (ha!), debonaire (what?) spy and ladies man (not hardly!), battling the evil spy ring C.R.U.S.H., in a story written by comics great Tom DeFalco . . . Archie also plans on continuing the popular adventures of “The Married Life” storylines (both with Betty and Veronica) at sometime in the near future (look for a July launch) . . . Darkwing Duck returns in the “series that you demanded” from BOOM Kids! in Darkwing Duck: The Duck Knight Returns #1 (and, yes, there is a Frank Miller-inspired variant cover!) . . . BOOM Kids! also revives another kid-vid concept when Duck Tales returns in the pages of Uncle Scrooge #392 . . . Another long-standing Disney comics tradition is revived with BOOM Kids!’ softcover and hardcover versions of the Tim Burton-directed Disney’s Alice In Wonderland graphic novel (120 pages).

KC CARLSON: Buying and reading comics since 1960. And typing this way-too-long column since around 1997.

KC Carlson’s opinions do not necessarily reflect those of Westfield’s. In fact, we’re wondering if having that 16 ton weight dropped on him while learning to defend himself against someone armed with fresh fruit has affected him more than we realized.

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  1. Al Harron Says:

    “You wouldn’t think that there were any stories by Robert E. Howard that haven’t been adapted to comics, but somehow BOOM has found one”

    There are TONS of Howard stories that haven’t had comic adaptation. I’d even say the vast majority, seeing as he cranked out about 300 short stories and novellas in his career. There are some stories that have never even been published. Certainly there are two more Cormac adventures for BOOM to adapt.