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

Heroic Age

Heroic Age

by KC Carlson

This month, the Big Two launch their newest big initiatives to attempt to collect all our money, Marvel’s The Heroic Age and DC’s Brightest Day. Not that there’s anything wrong with that – it’s just that both companies also have several other things brewing this month, and you might miss them in all the hubbub, bub. But, like it or not, that’s what you have me for – I’m the guy who always says “Hey! What’s going on over there – behind that curtain!” More on that in a minute. Lemme get Brightest Heroic Age Day out of the way first.

I’d like to be able to say that both of these events are shiny new original concepts – and it may be true that elements of both may be things that we’ve never seen before – but both stunts build on what has come before and both are just the next big chapter of what has become the never-ending storylines of both the MU and DCU. I do find it fascinating that both companies have decided to push the big RESET button at virtually the same time, however. (More on this and “The Old Order Changeth” in an upcoming KC Column.)

And yet, I find some of the individual offerings of both new events some of the most potentially exciting comics in a long time. I guess I’m really concerned about the sheer tonnage of what may be coming our way in the next few months.

Marvelous

Enter the Heroic Age

Enter the Heroic Age


By my count, there are 17 different titles (not counting variants) being published under The Heroic Age banner this month. Here’s my handy checklist:

Heroic Age Magazine
Deadpool #23
Avengers #1
Avengers Assemble #1
Avengers Spotlight #1
Atlas #1 (Watch for Roger’s interview with writer Jeff Parker!)
Captain America #606
Black Widow #2
Fantastic Four #579
Age of Heroes #1
Enter the Heroic Age #1
Heroic Age: Prince of Power #1
Invincible Iron Man #26
Origins of Marvel Comics #1
Avengers, Thor & Captain America: Official Index to the Marvel Universe #1
Secret Avengers #1
Thunderbolts #144

Granted, a lot of these are one-shot, supplementary (and technically non-comics) items about The Heroic Age, including features, interviews, indexes, handbook pages, origins, and other ephemera. But that’s still a big chunk of books! And remember, Heroic Age is a marketing title, not one big Event, so most of these books have independent storylines (at least right now!). If you bought them all at cover price, it would cost you $68.83! Aren’t you glad you’re a Westfield subscriber with a discount? And if you’re not – why aren’t you?


X-Men Legacy #236

X-Men Legacy #236


Also consider that this month Marvel is also listing:
* 21 titles (14 of which are listed as “chapters”) of the new, major mutant storyline: X-Men: Second Coming
* a mini-Hulk event (no, not about a tiny Hulk! Stay focused!) of three titles essential to World War Hulks
* a new imprint (Astonishing) with just two titles (for now)
* more projects in their Women of Marvel Comics push
* 11 Spidey-related titles (including some new ones, and not counting Ultimate or Astonishing titles)
* as well as 654,430,279 new Deadpool titles! (Not really. April Fool!)

I feel for ya’, dear readers, for the decisions that have to be made in ordering books these days. I’m right there with you. I had to cut back on my reading and collecting in a big way a few years ago, which made it seem easy (at the time) to just cut off all of Marvel’s “cosmic” books and characters – which I felt were going nowhere. But that was before Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning (and Keith Giffen and others) re-set Marvel’s cosmic corner of the universe in a big way. Now, I hear how great all of these books are on virtually a daily basis, but it seems that too much time has passed to catch up, and I still don’t have the money to go back and get them all at this point. I kinda wish I had gotten these books instead of some of the over-hyped and ultimately disappointing books that I did get. So, just another reminder of how important it is to choose carefully and buy what you actually might like and enjoy rather than just buying some series by rote because there’s a big splashy marketing campaign.


Thanos Imperative: Ignition

Thanos Imperative: Ignition


I also bring this up to mention that D’n’A’s cosmic corner books (notably Nova and Guardians of the Galaxy) are taking some well-deserved time off this month – except for the opening blast in their next cosmic event: The Thanos Imperative: Ignition #1, which looks like it will be taking off in a big way next month. A word to the wise, if you’re looking for something different.


Avengers #1

Avengers #1


The most interesting thing about the new Avengers title isn’t who’s a member. We’ve known for a long time that the whole point of this was to get Cap, Iron Man, and Thor all back on the team together. Hawkeye back in his Hawkeye persona is a plus as well, and Spidey is just gravy. I’m sure that there will be a couple of other membership surprises in Avengers #1 (or within a couple of issues). But the most interesting thing about the series takes place behind-the-scenes. Both Brian Bendis and John Romita Jr. have been Marvel superstar creators for a decade or more, but this incarnation of the Avengers will be the first time the two have ever worked on a long-term project together.


Secret Avengers #1

Secret Avengers #1


More of a mystery: Who are the members of the new Secret Avengers series written by Ed Brubaker and illustrated by Mike Deodato, which I am also recommending? Marvel has been teasing the fans with a series of images showing the shadowed outlines of the characters in question. After serious study of these images, I have come to the conclusion that these are the members of the new Secret Avengers: The Silhouette (either the Marvel or the Watchman character), the Phantom Blot, Felix the Cat, The Shadow, The Shade, and Splash Brannigan. Either that, or all six of them are Venom.


No evil shall escape my sight

Brightest Day

Brightest Day


Meanwhile, let’s break down DC’s Brightest Day, with 10 titles, for a combined cover price of $32.90. Here’s the list:

Brightest Day #1 & 2
Green Lantern #54
Green Lantern Corps #48
Justice League: Generation Lost #1& 2
Birds of Prey #1
The Flash #2
Justice League of America #45
Titans: Villains For Hire Special #1

Not quite as many as Marvel’s Heroic Age, but this does include two bi-weekly ongoing titles, representing a major buying commitment. Also, if Blackest Night ends up the way that I and many other readers are expecting, I wouldn’t be surprised to see many other new (or returning) titles added to this list in the next few months. A revamped Titans for one.


DC Universe Legacies #1

DC Universe Legacies #1


Here’s a sampling of what else is going on in the DCU this month: DC Universe Legacies #1 (of 10) is much-needed look at the history of the DC Universe from the dawn of the Mystery Men (the original Justice Society era) to the present day, written by Len Wein and drawn by Andy Kubert, Joe Kubert, and J.G. Jones. It’s a dream project for DC continuity geeks (like me), and I can’t wait to see how the new details of the mysteries of the DCU will unfold here, especially in the hands of these great talents.


Legion of Super-Heroes #1

Legion of Super-Heroes #1


Many of the DC selections this month are doing a kind of “What year is this, anyway?” thing in my brain these days, as I’m faced with the prospects of ordering titles starring Barry Allen as the Flash; my favorite era of the Justice League is again written by Keith Giffen; the Birds of Prey are back again with both Babs and Dinah, and both Gail Simone and Ed Benes. But the biggest brain shock of this month for a longtime Legion of Super-Heroes fan (and former LSH editor) is the excitement of seeing legend… (wait for it) …dary Legion writer Paul Levitz return to his favorite book for the third time. Another Legion “bouncing boy” with multiple visits to the 31st century, Keith Giffen, once told me that there was something about the concept that keeps bringing people back to it over and over again. Hopefully, this is true of the Legion fans as well. I’m deliberately trying to stay away from advance info on the series (other than hearing that Yildiray Cinar (with that name, he could qualify as a Legion member!) and Wayne Faucher will be the new artists on this go-round).

I’m a little sad that Geoff Johns had a fairly limited run on the Legion, but he took on the very important role of resetting (not rebooting) the LSH continuity back to roughly where Levitz had left it decades ago (amazingly without undoing anything that went afterwards) in the Final Crisis: Legion of Three Worlds series and collection. This new Levitz series picks up on those mysteries, as well as Johns’ Superman and the Legion of Super-Heroes storyline, as well as new questions – like the one posed by the first issue cover. Whose hand has both a LSH flight ring as well as a Green Lantern ring? I get chills…


Zatanna #1

Zatanna #1


The other DC project that I’m excited about is Zatanna #1. DC has been attempting to launch an ongoing title about the Mistress of Magic since the late 1990s, when I was still on-staff there. I’m pretty sure that writer Paul Dini was attached to the project even back then. Since then, Dini has been using Zatanna on and off in his Batman stories over the years. At the same time, she’s been getting more and more “screen time” as a member of the Justice League in recent years. And now with the gorgeous artwork of Stephane Roux and Karl Story, and Dini at the keyboard, it looks like Zatanna’s time has come at last. Nioj eht nuf!


Batman: Return of Bruce Wayne

Batman: Return of Bruce Wayne


DC’s also got two other “big” projects this month, that I’m sure lots of fans will be very interested in, but not so much me. First up are the first two issues of the six-part Batman: Return of Bruce Wayne story. That will be the ultimate epilogue for Grant Morrison’s Final Crisis as well as the payoff of his Batman: R.I.P. storyline. There are some great artists lined up (Chris Sprouse in #1 and Frazier Irving in #2) that I am excited about. But for me, this storyline has gone on way too long (with way too much extraneous stuff between the key elements of the story). I’m ready for the big wrap-up, but really more interested in what comes afterwards.


Superman: War of the Supermen #1

Superman: War of the Supermen #1


Also coming this month is Superman: War of the Supermen, a four-part weekly series written by James Robinson and Sterling Gates and drawn by a passle of artists. This one finishes off the year-long “New Krypton” storyline that, quite frankly, has bored me to tears. A long political struggle that has taken Superman out of his familiar distinctive costume for most of the year and put him in some sort of jackbooted neo-nazi looking uniform, exiled him from Earth (and from the comic that bears his name), and has him standing around for most of that year being ineffectual and indecisive is not really my idea of a great Superman story. (Really enjoyed the Supergirl title this year, however!) I chalk both of these series up to “forgone conclusions.” Let’s move on to something else. Both characters deserve better.

And in other parts of the comics continuum…

Brody's Ghost

Brody's Ghost


I know that many of you out there are fans of Mark Crilley, especially his acclaimed work on the wonderful Akiko series for young adults. He’s been doing a lot of projects away from traditional comic book publishers in the past few years, including the four-volume manga series Miki Falls, among other projects, but he’s now working on a new project for Dark Horse Comics. Brody’s Ghost is the first in a six-volume series. It tells the story of a young man named Brody who encounters the ghost of a teenage girl who needs help tracking down a dangerous killer. First, Brody must be trained by the spirit of a centuries-old samurai to unlock unbeknownst supernatural powers. Roger Ash has the details of this great new series in an interview with creator Crilley, coming up soon, right here at the Westfield blog.


Best of Dan DeCarlo

Best of Dan DeCarlo


A couple of weeks back, I wrote extensively about Dan DeCarlo and his struggle to claim creative ownership of his creation Josie (of Josie and the Pussycats fame), a character based on his wife. I mentioned that IDW was compiling a collection of DeCarlo’s work for Archie Comics. That collection, Archie: The Best of Dan DeCarlo, Volume 1 is now available for ordering and is highly recommended. You may not know his name, but everyone who’s read comics for more than 15 minutes is familiar with his work.

Dan DeCarlo had a nearly 50-year career working for Archie comics, most of it in total anomonity (except for his very distinctive style and his facility in drawing the female form). During that time, he drew over 400 consecutive issues of Betty and Veronica, over 100 issues of Josie, was the primary artist on the Archie comic book in the 70s and 80s, and took over the Archie syndicated comic strip after Bob Montana retired. His style became the “Archie style” and other artists were instructed to “draw like DeCarlo.” Further, DeCarlo drew virtually every Archie cover, from the mid-60s to the mid-70s, and many more for the next 30 years. Almost every one of the classic Archie character Pin-Up pages in the 60s, 70s, and into the 80s were his as well. Even if you didn’t know his name, you knew his work.

Just as Carl Barks was the “good Duck artist” before his identity was revealed as the artist of Donald Duck and Uncle Scrooge, for most of his career DeCarlo was known as the “good Archie artist”. This 152-page, full-color hardcover features reproductions shot from the original artwork and recolored, and it does a lot for setting the record straight and giving this great artist the recognition that he has long deserved. All of the stories are from DeCarlo’s generally accepted best period – from the mid-1950s to the early 1970s. A wonderful volume for everyone in your family to share.


Moving Pictures

Moving Pictures


Kathryn and Stuart Immonen’s Moving Pictures is now available in print form for ordering, after originally appearing as a weekly webcomic. Here’s the catalog description: “During World War II, the Nazis pillaged much of Europe’s great art collections. Museum curator Ila Gardner and SS officer Rolf Hauptmann are forced by circumstances to play out an awkward and dangerous relationship in a public power struggle. Moving Pictures unfolds along two timelines which collide with the revelation of a terrible secret, an enigmatic decision that not many would make, and the realization that sometimes the only choice left is the refusal to choose.” 144 B&W pages, published by Top Shelf.


Overstreet 40 Batman

Overstreet 40 Batman


Overstreet 40 Captain America

Overstreet 40 Captain America


With the seeming collapse of Gemstone Publishing last year, there has been buzz around the comics community about whether its most famous publication, the Overstreet Comic Book Price Guide, would continue. Apparently, we needn’t have worried. The 40th Annual edition of THE comic guide to comic book pricing will be published in July, but you can pre-order it right now. As usual, there are two covers to choose from: a classic Batman and Joker piece by Mark Chiarello or a WWII-era cover of Captain America and Bucky by Darwyn Cooke. They’re hard to choose between! In addition to the hundreds of pages of comic listings, this volume also includes articles on Conan the Barbarian #1 and a look at the important comics of 1970. More than just a price guide, Overstreet is an essential comic book reference guide to the publication history of graphic storytelling, with information reaching back over a century. As always, the Price Guide is available in either hardcover or softcover. Always recommended.


X-Men Forever Giant-Size

X-Men Forever Giant-Size


CREATOR WATCH – Harlan Ellison and Kyle Baker team up for a Spirit Black & White story in The Spirit #2 … Booster Gold gets a creative makeover when writers Keith Giffen and J.M. DeMatteis and artist Chris Batista take over the title in Booster Gold #32. Giffen & DeMatties’ old JLI crony Kevin Maguire provides the cover … Mike Grell takes on some rare Marvel work when he provides pencils and cover for X-Men Forever Giant-Size #1 … Frank Frazetta fans should be all over Dark Horse’s new Thun’da, King of the Congo Archive, collecting all six issues of the legendary master’s work, as well as scattered Thun’da back-up stories from other comics. Also features the work of Bob Powell and Gardner Fox. 224 full color pages in Dark Horse’s gorgeous hardcover Archive series.


Justice League: Generation Lost

Justice League: Generation Lost


YOU’RE COVERED! – David Finch’s first work at DC will be covers for Brightest Day #1 & 2. But before he gets to DC, he’s also doing a boatload of variant covers for the X-Men: Second Coming books … Other DC ongoing cover assignments include Tony Harris on Justice League: Generation Lost, Andy Kubert on Batman: The Return of Bruce Wayne, and Andy and Joe Kubert on DC Universe Legacies … Darwyn Cooke provides a variant cover to DC’s newest Vertigo ongoing: I, Zombie #1 … Walter Simonson provides the cover for Jonah Hex #55.


Thor

Thor


SHORT TAKES – A “beloved X-Men” dies in X-Men Second Coming. Didn’t a beloved “dead” X-Man just come back? Talk about your beloved revolving door policy in the X-books … Pepper Potts (aka Rescue), one of the best things about the current Invincible Iron Man series, gets her own one-shot this month, written by Kelly Sue Deconnick and drawn by the ubiquitous TBA (who has been getting more and more work at Marvel lately, no?) … Supergirl battles Power Girl in Justice League of America #45. Could it be because the JLA is in Brightest Day and the JSA is not? I bet that’s it … Thor #610 promises Thor vs. Thor as the real Thor battles the insane clone of Thor and hopefully more Thor’s as well, as I haven’t typed Thor nearly enough in this sentence. Did you know that Jan Brady had an unknown sister named Thor? Thor! Thor! Thor! Anyway, I don’t think that I’ve ever really wanted a comic character dead before (comic creators, yes!), but this insane Thor clone has to go! (Or at least form the Insane Thor Posse!) That’s enough about Thor. My fingers are Thor … Catman fans should not miss Secret Six #21! I don’t know why. They just shouldn’t … Wonder Woman #44 leads into Wonder Woman #600 (Auggh! I hate New Math!), but don’t miss #44, because it looks like something important happens there as well. Wonder Woman has an eyepatch on the cover for one thing! … Speaking of New Math – Wolverine #900! Wasn’t X-Factor #900 and Deadpool Team-Up #900 enough? I say yes! The only real #900s? The upcoming Action Comics #900 (later this year!) and Detective Comics #900 (a couple of years down the road)!


Spectacular Spider-Girl

Spectacular Spider-Girl


THIS AND THAT – The Marvel comic that would just not die is back again (with a slightly modified title) – Spectacular Spider-Girl #1 is written by Tom DeFalco and drawn by Ron Frenz. But the creators aren’t making it easy for her new debut – she takes on the Punisher! … In addition to their new #1, the Legion of Super-Heroes also appear in Adventure Comics #11 and team up with the Doom Patrol in The Brave and the Bold #34 … Somehow, I don’t think Luke Cage’s so-called retirement is going to stick for long. He’s currently starring in his own miniseries (New Avengers: Luke Cage) and will be the head honcho of the (mostly) all-new Thunderbolts … Speaking of Thunderbolts, Man-Thing pops up in issue #144. I’m thinking lots of scared burnt villain flesh. The perfect opportunity for a scratch & sniff cover variant, no? … The Shield, Inferno, Hangman, and The Web team up for the first time in The Mighty Crusaders Special #1, which I’m guessing will lead to the Crusaders’ own regular title … Speaking of the Shield, he battles Magog in Magog #9 … Most cramped comic book of the month? The Many Loves of the Amazing Spider-Man #1 is only 48 pages. Who are they kidding? … House of Mystery #25 presents an old-fashioned writer’s Round Robin story as five scribes (Matthew Sturges, Bill Willingham, Alisa Kwitney, Dave Justus, and Paul Levitz) try to write each other into a corner. Art is by Luca Rossi and Jose Marzan Jr. … Wanna play poker with Adam Hughes? DC has imprinted his artwork onto playing cards and poker chips and produced the Cover Girls of the DC Universe Poker Set as a new and unique DC Direct item. But you gotta know when to hold ‘em and know when to fold ‘em! … Speaking of DC Direct, Amanda Conner fans should check out her design for a new Power Girl bust (And when they say “bust”… never mind.) … Other cool comic statuettes this month include Klondike Uncle Scrooge and Classic 60th Anniversary Charlie Brown. Both are from Dark Horse and are part of their classic collectable tin box line. As always, these are sculpted by Yoe! Studio and are beautiful collector’s statues, limited to 950 numbered pieces … DC’s Earth-Two has always been one of my favorite comics concepts, and Roy Thomas’ legendary Alter Ego #93 zine takes a look back when DC needed just two universes to entertain hundreds of thousands of fans. Plus, a revealing discussion with the seldom interviewed DC editor George Kashdan! BTW, did you know that TwoMorrows publications (including Back Issue) now include a color section?


Blackest Night

Blackest Night


BOOKSHELF – DC unleashes 7 (7!) Blackest Nightrelated hardcovers in July, but they are available for pre-order now! … My personal pick for DC hardcover this month is Adventures of Superboy Vol. 1, a shoulda-been-an-DC-Archive collection (but I don’t really mind paying $40 instead of $60, either). It contains the earliest adventures of Superman when he was a boy from More Fun Comics #101-107 and Adventure Comics #103-121. Several stories here are by Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster, and many of them have never been previously reprinted. Highly recommended! … Meanwhile, Bob Greenberger’s pick of the month will most likely be DC’s long-awaited (and finally resolicited) Showcase Presents Suicide Squad. Bob edited the original series, as he will tell you all about in an upcoming column, here at the Westfield blog … Bob is also spotlighting the Thor: Warriors Three collection from Marvel, featuring the work of John Buscema and Charles Vess, among others. Watch for his review in a couple of weeks … The second collection of Nancy comic book stories written by John Stanley is now a part of Drawn & Quarterly’s acclaimed John Stanley Library. Collecting 152 pages of the best kid’s comics in a handsome hardcover collection featuring stories about the spooky Oona Goosepimple, Spike, and Mr. McOnion. Everybody loves Nancy! … Also for kids of all ages is BOOM! Studios’ new hardcover Walt Disney Summer Classics, featuring 112 pages of great summertime stories with Uncle Scrooge, Donald Duck, Goofy, Minnie Mouse, and Bucky Bug! Just the thing to keep you occupied during this year’s seemingly weekly blizzards! … Product Update: The 100 Greatest Looney Toons Cartoons by animation historian Jerry Beck was originally scheduled to be released last year. It’s now on track for May and is being re-listed this month. The 246-page hardcover includes more than 300 color illustrations for the 100 must-see cartoons featuring Bugs, Daffy, Road Runner, Tweety and Sylvester and many more, selected by cartoon fans, animators, and historians from around the world.

KC CARLSON: Buying and reading comics since 1960. And won’t shut up about it!

USER COMMENTSOne Response

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

  1. David Scholes Says:

    I’ve been reading Marvel comics since 1962.

    These days I only read Thor but some of the upcoming stuff sounds a bit mouth watering.

    As an Australian science fiction writer I thought it was time to give something back to the genre.

    Anyways, if you get a chance to check out some of my (predominantly) Thor fan fic, you can find it here:

    http://www.fanfiction.net/u/1276881/David_Scholes

    Also you can find details of my 2009 sci-fi publications here:

    http://www.StrategicBookPublishing.com/ScienceFictionandAlternateHistory.html

    http://www.amazon.com/Essential-Reading-Science-Fiction-Scholes/dp/1449581889/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1261366245&sr=1-1

    Cheers