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

Heroic Age

Heroic Age

by KC Carlson

This month, the big news from Marvel and DC is, respectively, The Heroic Age and Brightest Day. Most details on The Heroic Age are still CLASSIFIED, other than the fact that it will launch in May with the publication of a new Avengers #1 by Brian Michael Bendis and John Romita Jr. (No word yet on when the numbering will revert to the long-standing Avengers numbering, as most Marvel titles eventually do, but at this point, with several more-or-less interconnecting Avengers titles over the past few years, it might be just too difficult – or controversial – to calculate.) Assuming the image that Marvel released for The Heroic Age is, indeed, the new Avengers line-up, then I’m pretty happy about the following:

* The return of “the Big Three” – Thor, Iron Man, and Captain America, although that looks like Bucky-Cap to me, instead of Steve-Cap, and as good a character as the former is, it’s just not the Avengers without Steve Rogers. I hope that will be addressed.

* Hawkeye back AS Hawkeye (makes up for it a little). But where’s Bobbi?

* Black Widow. Very cool! Always a good Avenger. And, hey, she’s in a movie this summer and getting her own title! But the ONLY female?… not so cool.

* Ben Grimm. Finally. Served with the West Coast Avengers for a short time, but never interacted much with the East Coast team. And I hope that since we see his usual FF belt buckle, he’s not leaving them in the lurch. My secret hope is that with Ben an Avenger, we also see the return of the floating Marvel poker game, after way too long a time.

* Returning Spider-Man. Excellent! Non-returning Wolverine. Also okay. Guessing he’s going to be busy elsewhere.

* The Beast. My favorite Ex-Avenger. But isn’t he usually just as busy as Wolverine is?

* Gorilla-Man? Hmmm. Wait-and-see.

‘Course there’s the question of where are all the other characters? Well, I’m guessing that there are probably going to be a couple of new Avengers-related concepts that will need members. And we might have to deal with the fact that not everyone’s gonna survive Siege. More on this as it develops.

Brightest Day

Brightest Day

Brightest Day starts up this ordering month, with the publication of Brightest Day #0. This will be the linking book between the finale of Blackest Night and the new Brightest Day bi-weekly series, written by Geoff Johns and Peter Tomasi, with art by Fernando Pasarin and featuring the DC debut of David Finch as regular cover artist. Again, details are skimpy pending the ending of Blackest Night, but speculation is rampant regarding the possible resurrection of several formerly deceased characters. We’ll find out for sure in April.

What we do know is that the Brightest Day series will alternate weeks with another bi-weekly series: Justice League: Generation Lost, which will be written by Keith Giffen and Judd Winick (artists to be announced) and will feature stories of Justice League International. Membership will include Captain Atom, Booster Gold, Fire, Ice, and Rocket Red as well as some TBA members. Blue Beetle has also been mentioned as a member, but which one? (And isn’t one of them pretty famously dead?) JL: GL (weird initials, eh?) has not been officially scheduled yet.

Flash #1

Flash #1

Brightest Day is also the title of a blanket concept that will involve several of DC’s major titles, including Green Lantern, Green Lantern Corps, Justice League of America, the newly re-launched Flash title (#1 listed this month) by Geoff Johns and art by Francis Manapul, the two bi-weekly titles mentioned above, a soon-to-be-revamped Titans title, and the recently announced revival of Birds of Prey by Gail Simone and Ed Benes. These last two titles have yet to be officially scheduled. Geoff Johns is said to have a coordinating role in all the Brightest Day titles, in much the same way he coordinated the Blackest Night event.

I am cautiously optimistic about all of these announcements. I get the feeling that just “pockets” of the MU and DCU are going to be affected by this sudden (and scarily simultaneous) upswelling of good times and promises of the return to traditional heroic traditions. But that may be enough for me. I fear a little for the Giffen JLI book, which traditionally has been a “fun” book, being published by a man who had admitted to not liking the previous Giffen run and who seems to not have a professional sense of humor. Can writers like James Robinson and Geoff Johns really curb their tendencies to beat and maim their characters? The omnipresent Norman Osborn and his uptight Dark Avengers not withstanding, the underlying tone and playfulness of the Avengers books has actually been pretty good of late (thanks to Spider-Man and his complete ineptness around women), so I’m actually hoping that the current writers stick around for The Heroic Age. Bendis-lite works great on Ultimate Spidey – I’d love to see it on the “real” Avengers.

I know I’ve been on everybody’s case of late about this, and now that it looks like I’m getting what I wanted from the big two for their core super-heroic characters, I’m a little greedy and want a little more. I’d feel a lot more confident about the whole thing if some of the classic writers of fun and heroic characters, like Mark Waid, Roger Stern (both on Team Spidey, thank Wacker!), Todd Dezago, Kurt Busiek, Walt and/or Weezie Simonson (yay, X-Factor Forever!), Chuck Dixon, Tom Peyer, and probably others I’m forgetting, were asked back to participate. Trust me, Giffen on JLI and Simone on Birds is a big deal, but let’s see more!

Further, I’d like to see up-and-comers Jeff Parker and Paul Tobin, who have been working on Marvel’s kid versions of the classic characters for several years, finally get the call to the “bigs”. Parker’s Fall of the Hulks: Alpha was SO good. We need more writers who can successfully reclaim the classic (and occasionally goofy) old characters and make them work for a new audience. And while I (sadly) don’t see her being asked to draw the next Civil War – give Colleen Coover all the work that she can handle!

End of soapbox. For now.

Beasts of Burden

Beasts of Burden

Speaking of fun, check out Beasts of Burden from Dark Horse this month! Written by Evan Dorkin and wonderfully illustrated by Jill Thompson, Beasts is an action-adventure story staring a heroic pack of dogs – and one cat – who band together to ward off supernatural menaces that threaten their community. This 168-page hardcover also includes the original stories from the Dark Horse Book of … series. I’ve seen a lot of weird trends in comics over the years, but it looks like we might have a full-fledged pet invasion brewing! (See also Marvel’s Pet Avengers, David Peterson’s Mouse Guard, and The Mice Templar.) Hey, Paul Levitz! If there was ever a time for a Legion of Super-Pets mini…

Red Tide

Red Tide

Although light on animals, Dark Horse is also (finally?) publishing Steranko’s one and only Chandler visual novel, Red Tide. (I say “finally” because Dark Horse had originally planned to reprint the book in 1999, but the book did not materialize then.) Red Tide was first published in 1976 as part of Bryon Preiss’ Fiction Illustrated Vol. 3 in a digest format. According to Steranko, the book was originally designed as a fill-in of sorts for another very late story, and the original Chandler work was produced in just 2 1/2 months. (Hyper-speed for a Steranko project!) Dark Horse’s version will be published as a 7” x 10”, 128-page hardcover graphic novel. Substantially re-worked and “remastered” with all-new state-of-the-art coloring by Dave Stewart, Red Tide tells a tale of the hard-boiled detective, Chandler, in a specially designed fusion of text and graphics. But the main reason you should buy it is because it’s by Steranko – and there’s just not that much Steranko work available for you to miss it.

Kids Komics

Kids Komics

I am all over The Golden Collection of Klassic Krazy Kool Kids Komics being offered by the Yoe Books imprint published by IDW. Just check out this line-up of creators: Stan Lee, Jack Kirby, Steve Ditko, Frank Frazetta, Walt Kelly, Dr. Suess, Syd Hoff, Jules Feiffer, George Carlson, John Stanley, Dan DeCarlo, Sheldon Mayer, Carl Barks, and others! I don’t know exactly why, but as I get older I find myself drifting away from more traditional current comics and rediscovering the comics that I read as a kid (before I discovered superheroes) and even those kids’ comics published before I was born. They have even more meaning to me now as I continue to learn about the men and women who created them. This information is finally becoming more widespread, and these talented, and mostly unsung, folks are finally getting their due. I’m always thankful to see collections like this (and other recent books like The Toon Treasury of Classic Children’s Comics, edited by Art Spiegelman and & Francoise Mouly), because the original comics are often so hard to find. This is good, funny stuff. Try it! It’s better than spinach!

Oddly Compelling

Oddly Compelling

I seldom have anything in common with R. Crumb (except maybe a love for really odd music), but I certainly agree with what he says about the new Oddly Compelling Art of Denis Kitchen volume coming from Dark Horse: “I think ‘oddly compelling’ is a very good title for a book of Denis Kitchen’s work, and describes it very well.” I concur completely, as that was exactly my thoughts upon discovering Denis’ work in underground comix back in the early 1970s – which is, not surprisingly, the focus of this 220-page collection of rubber-limbed appendages on otherwise stiff figures, eerie black backgrounds, crazy eyes, and lord knows what else lurking in the corners of his panels that you don’t see because his drawings have lured your eyes in the other direction. As the proud owner of Denis’ childhood copy of Archie’s Mad House #2 (he wrote his name on the cover with turquoise ink), I highly recommend this book from this truly unique artist, and hope you find it oddly compelling as well.

SHIELD

SHIELD

“Leonardo Da Vinci was an Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D. So was Isaac Newton.” Okay, I’m sold. S.H.I.E.L.D. has always been my favorite Marvel concept, so I don’t need much of a push to check out this month’s S.H.I.E.L.D. #1. Written by Jonathan Hickman (who is doing wonders on Nick Fury’s new book, Secret Warriors, as well as making the Fantastic Four a fun read!) and pencilled by Dustin Weaver, doing a spectacular job, this issue also has a special Black & White variant. Did you know that Da Vinci and Newton teamed with Imhotep, Zhang Heng, Galileo, and other geniuses to be the first heroes to defeat Galactus? Holy Monty Python! This sounds freaking awesome!

Black Widow

Black Widow

I’m also excited that Marvel is showing some love to theBlack Widow, with a new ongoing series, written by Marjorie Liu and illustrated by one of my current favorite cover artists, Daniel Acuna (love his super-design-y covers!). Unfortunately, she starts the series severely injured, after an attempted murder. Plus, a special back-up feature gives up the backstory of the mysterious Natasha – just in time for her appearance in Iron Man 2!

Cover Run

Cover Run

CREATOR WATCH – AH! It’s so sweet that our pal Adam Hughes is the focus of Cover Run: The DC Comics Art of Adam Hughes, a new hardcover art collection. Besides the actual finished covers, there will also be sketches and commentary from Adam. I wonder if there will be any babes in it? … Want to see some of Adam’s work in 3-D? Check out his design for the new Cover Girls of the DC Universe: Poison Ivy statue, also listed this month! … Author Neil Gaiman and artist Charles Vess have re-teamed for Instructions, a 40-page picture book that looks incredible. Vess provides fantastic full-color illustrations for Gaiman’s lyrical poem about the rules to follow and how to get around if you accidentally find yourself in a fairytale world. (Where was this book 20 years ago, when I first started working at DC Comics in NYC?) It’s beautiful. Get it! … Alan Davis is rapidly stealing George Pérez’s thunder with his massive wall-to-wall hero covers. Last month was his amazing piece on the Marvel Women, and this month he’s drawing the wraparound variant for the final issue of the brilliant The Marvels Project (#8), featuring most of Marvel’s Golden Age greats! … Jeff Parker and Steve Lieber’s creepy cave-bound Underground miniseries is being collected this month by Image. … Sam Kieth writes and draws the first new Batman graphic novel in awhile – Batman: Arkham Asylum – Madness, a 112-page hardcover out in June (but order now!). Kieth also finishes up his Ghosts storyline this month in Batman Confidential #43 … Bryan Hitch pencils the New Avengers Finale this month, written by Bendis and wrapping up the various Avengers plotlines. The 64-page Finale also features a bunch of super-star artists paying tribute to their work on the Avengers … The Power Pack dream-team of Weezie Simonson and June Brigman return to their creations in a special story in Girl Comics #2. Look for the “Snow White”

Neil Young's Greendale

Neil Young's Greendale

cover by Jill Thompson! … Cliff Chaing illustrates a retro-looking Wonder Woman, Zatanna, and a red-headed Batgirl in Brave and the Bold #33, written by JMS. Chaing is also the artist for Vertigo’s impressive Neil Young’s Greendale project, written by Joshua Dysart. It’s a 160-page graphic novel based on Young’s very personal album of a politically active young woman defending her hometown when a mysterious stranger comes to town – and everything goes to hell … Walter Simonson provides interlocking covers for The Authority #21 and Wildcats #22 … Craig Rousseau is the artist on Marvel’s new kid-friendly Marvel Her-Oes, featuring Marvels greatest females as if they were in high school. As if! Yeah, it sounds like a weird concept with an awful name, but if anyone can make it charming, it’s “Crafty” Craig!

Daffy Duck

Daffy Duck

SHORT TAKES – Wondering why there wasn’t a Looney Tunes Golden Collection DVD set in your Christmas stocking last year? It might have been because there wasn’t a new collection! But Warner’s DVD animation department remains committed to eventually getting every classic Warner Bros. cartoon on DVD – they’re just going to do it in smaller packages – and themed towards more specific characters or concepts. First up is Bugs Bunny: Hare Extraordinaire and Daffy Duck: Frustrated Fowl, two new single-disc sets featuring 15 new-to-DVD cartoons each, all remastered and shiny. They’re available in April, but you can order them right now! … Starfire joins the R.E.B.E.L.S. in issue #15 of their book. But wait, didn’t she just join the JLA? And she’s still in the Titans? I’m so confused … The team-up you never thought could happen! The evil Egghead meets the eerie Egg-Fu! Is Batman and Wonder Woman’s day going to be scrambled – or over easy? Find out in Batman: The Brave and the Bold #16.

Doc Savage: Man of Bronze

Doc Savage: Man of Bronze

THIS AND THAT – How weird is it that there’s a 1970s Marvel Comics cover (by John Buscema) attached to the solicitation for DC’s Doc Savage: The Man of Bronze collection this month? Even weirder, the collection reprints Marvel’s Doc Savage miniseries from 1972, featuring work by Roy Thomas, Steve Englehart, Ross Andru, Tom Palmer, and others. And I thought it was weird that Dark Horse was reprinting Marvel’s Conan material. But DC publishing old Marvel series?!? Holy Moonshadow! … By the way, don’t miss DC’s new Doc Savage series this month, written by Paul Malmont with art by Howard Porter and Art Thibert, part of the DC’s new pulp-oriented First Wave line … As is The Spirit #1, with a lead feature by Mark Schultz and Moritat and the beginning of a new The Spirit: Black & White back-up series, kicked off with a story by Denny O’Neil and Bill Sienkiewicz … No, you’re not imagining it. Deadpool IS in EVERY Marvel comic book this month, even if you don’t actually see him. Deadpool’s actual blood has been mixed into the red ink that every Marvel comic is printed with this month (even the Black & White comics!). Special issues will also include bits of his fingernails and toenails and… what’s that Roger? It’s too early for April Fools? Nah… besides all these books ship in April!!!

Seven Soldiers of Victory

Seven Soldiers of Victory

BOOKSHELF – There’s a second volume of DC’s Greatest Imaginary Stories available for ordering this month, and this time it’s all Batman and Robin stories! Most of these weren’t labeled as Imaginary Stories back in the day, but how else to explain Batman battling space aliens or giant robots or the existence of Bat-Mite, Bat-Girl, or Bruce Wayne, Jr.? (Funny cigarettes?) Can’t wait to see Brian Bolland’s new cover for this collection! … Grant Morrison’s Seven Soldiers of Victory is getting the hardcover treatment this month with Volume 1 featuring SSoV #0, plus The Guardian, Klarion, Zatanna, and Shining Knight miniseries. Personally, I’d love some annotation or creator comments for this, or perhaps Cliff Notes for both this and Final Crisis. I’d buy that! Surely I’m not the only confused one out there … DC’s got another great Silver Age hardcover collection of some tragically near-forgotten material – Joe Kubert’s Viking Prince series from the earliest issues of The Brave and the Bold, plus the great Viking Prince/Sgt. Rock team-up (???) from Our Army At War. Bob Greenberger will have much more on these classic stories – and this long-awaited collection – in his column any day now, right here at th’ Blog! … Bob is also spotlighting the excellent Panther’s Rage storyline from Black Panther #6-24, by Don McGregor, Rich Buckler, Billy Graham, and Gil Kane, which is the latest (and super-big at 352 pages!) Marvel Masterworks, the 141st volume in this wonderful long-running archive of the classic material from Marvel’s formative years … Another must-have classic Marvel collection this month is the hardcover of The Infinity Gauntlet, the first major stand-alone story of Jim Starlin’s Thanos cycle of event stories. Illustrated by George Pérez (amazingly, while also writing and drawing War of the Gods for DC at the same time) and Ron Lim, who took over for Pérez when he left the series, after realizing that he had seriously overcommitted himself. For my money, this 1991 event story, featuring most of the then-Marvel Universe, blew Secret War (I and II) out of the water. The lynchpin story for the cosmic side of the MU.

Rip Kirby

Rip Kirby

STRIP TEASEBloom County: The Complete Library Volume 2 from IDW reprints strips from 1982 through 1984, which kicks the strips into more “classic” Berkeley Breathed Bloom County mode. There will be substantially fewer un-reprinted strips than Volume 1, but still some surprises to be found, I’m sure. Intro by Ted Koppel! … Bloom County Volume 1 is now available in a limited (to 1,000) signed edition … Alex Raymond’s Rip Kirby is back for a second IDW volume, collecting strips from 1948 to 1951. And if you don’t know why this strip is important, Howard Chaykin explains it to you in his introduction … More classic comics are on tap from the aptly named Classic Comics Press folks, including new volumes of Leonard Starr’s Mary Perkins On Stage (Volume 7 collects strips from Dec. 1964 through May 1966) and Stan Drake’s gorgeous The Heart of Juliet Jones Vol. 3, collecting strips from Dec. 1957 through Jan. 1960, and featuring an introduction by Bill Sienkiewicz … Hermes Press is back with the fourth volume of the popular Buck Rogers in the 25th Century: The Complete Newspaper Dailies, with strips from 1934 to 1936, featuring five complete stories … and Jerry Robinson’s lost SF strip Jet Scott is back for Volume 2 from Dark Horse, collecting daily and Sunday strips from Sept. 1954 to Sept. 1955, when the strip concluded. These are the first time these strips, by the popular Golden Age Batman artist, have ever been reprinted

KC CARLSON: Buying and reading comics since 1960. Oh, my head!

USER COMMENTS3 Responses

We'd love to hear from you, feel free to add to the discussion!

  1. Thad Says:

    Know it’s wishful thinking, but I still want to see them follow through on Avengers Forever and put Songbird on the team.

  2. Charles Vess Says:

    K.C.

    The Instructions book from Neil Gaiman and I is only 40 pages long NOT 160. Just thought that I should keep the record straight.

    Best,
    Charles

  3. roger Says:

    Hi Charles,

    I’ve edited the page count in the column. Thanks for the update as Previews does not have the correct page count.

    Best,
    Roger Ash, editor