Too Much Cool Stuff – Not Enough $$$ – September ‘09

Terra

Terra

by KC Carlson

Covering new items now available to order for November shipping (or later).

This month, DC is collecting the recent Terra mini-series – plus the stand-alone introductory tale from Supergirl #12 – by Jimmy Palmiotti, Justin Gray, and Amanda Conner. I think it’s worth a look based on the work that the same team is doing in the recently started Power Girl series – especially since this new Terra is a supporting character there! I enjoyed the Terra series, but I felt there was still a little too much baggage to get past regarding the tangled mess of the old Terra character(s). (This history was recently explained in an excellent round-up article in Back Issue #28, written by Westfield’s own Roger Ash.) Plus, the previous version is still seemingly shambling around in Blackest Night: Titans. Since I like the new character when she’s not wrapped up in old history, I’m glad she’s being used in Power Girl, a new book that I love.

I’m not sure what happened, but somehow Power Girl managed to escape from the DC offices without being all grim, gritty, and angsty like most everything else DC is currently publishing. Having been abused by the continuity revamps of the DCU over the past 20-some years, Power Girl (originally the “Supergirl” cousin to Earth-2’s Kal-L (Superman), then Arion’s great-great (infinity) granddaughter (?) and then not) has featured in very few good stories (her Showcase run by Levitz and Staton) and a lot of very bad ones (the mystical baby is thankfully now forgotten). She spent a very long run in a couple of JLA-related books, written mostly as a bad female stereotype (rhymes with witch), with some of the worst super-hero costumes ever designed.

There’s none of this in the new series. Her new characterization is now more put-upon than pushy, and Palmiotti and Gray seem to delight in putting her in situations that are annoying and comical – while still deadly serious – but still require her to use her brains more than her strength to overcome. The stories are fun and fast-moving – and short! No 6-part “epics” here, at least so far.

But the real reason to buy this book is Amanda Conner’s artwork. Her stuff is open and airy, very design-oriented, yet extremely powerful when needed. Her super-fight choreography stands up to the best from the big boys! Best of all, her work is filled with characterization, body language, and facial expressions – something you seldom get from other fan-favorites. (Eye-rolling is one of her specialties!) Her Power Girl is both powerful and sexy-cute, but not in the traditional comic book model-posed way. This is a woman who’s taking action instead of standing around to be looked at.

She’s wearing a smartly modern version of her classic original costume (without the no-longer-needed peek-a-boo cutout). Conner is also not afraid to tackle the long-standing over-endowed physique of the character, as originally designed by Wally Wood. Nudge nudge. Instead, she teasingly plays with it. (Power Girl falls down on them a lot.) Amanda Conner has been Comics’ Secret Weapon for a while now – here’s hoping that this book finally gets her the widespread attention that her work has always deserved!

It’s so amazing to see a superhero comic book where the characters actually smile once in a while. And do things in their civilian identities. And have friends. Plus, there are cool cameos – did you spot the Big Bang Theory guys in issue #4? And I love the joke about the new Terra wanting to be Australian. So check out Power Girl when you get the chance! Unfortunately, it’s not listed on this month’s solicitations; the creative team is taking the month to get caught up on deadline. Instead, why not try the team’s previous Terra TPB (guest starring Power Girl) for now? It’s a great opening act!
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The ever-innovative Craig Yoe and his super-creative Studio! are getting their own imprint at IDW, and their first release looks to be amazing, as well as timely (pun intended!). For such a seemingly reclusive creator, many fascinating projects about Steve Ditko have surfaced over the last year or two. Yoe’s The Art of Steve Ditko looks to be among the best. With essays by P. Craig Russell, John Romita, and Jerry Robinson, plus an all-new, revealing introduction by Stan Lee (co-creator of Spider-Man and Dr. Strange with Ditko), there looks to be some great pro-fueled discussion about the man and his work. This 208-page full-color hardcover will also include reproductions of rare Ditko stories.

Sal Buscema Comics' Fast & Furious Artist

Sal Buscema Comics' Fast & Furious Artist

Speaking of distinguished elder statesmen of comics, TwoMorrows has got a career-length interview with one of the classics in Sal Buscema: Comic’s Fast & Furious Artist. Sal, of course, is the guy who probably drew more Bronze Age Marvel Comics than anyone in history, including huge runs on Spectacular Spider-Man (over 100 issues) and The Incredible Hulk (10 years!). Steve Gerber fans love Sal for his remarkable run on The Defenders, and Sal beautifully illustrated Steve Englehart’s often controversial run on Captain America. He’s also admired for his long run on The Mighty Thor with Walt Simonson and John Workman. Interviewed by comics historian Jim Amash, “Our Pal Sal’s” life is lavishly illustrated with his own work. The book is available in both softcover and hardcover (with additional pages). It’s about time that Sal got some recognition like this – he’s one of the great ones!

Marvel is gearing up for Iron Man II, with a flurry of projects with the characters from the movie, including an Iron Man vs. Whiplash mini and the four-part Black Widow: Deadly Origin mini-series. I’m a little more interested in the latter, as Black Widow needs more good stories. She’s one of the best of Marvel’s most-underutilized characters. This story promises to add some details to her origin, which with all the continuity-implant stories she’s been involved in with Wolverine and Captain America over the years, must be pretty messed up by now. Me, I’m hoping they bring back Nancy Rushman. (Big No-Prize for the first to pick up on that reference!)

Meanwhile, over at Ultimate Comics Armor Wars, (it says here) “Armor Wars goes to ELEVEN!” Does that mean that it’s just as stupid as Spinal Tap lead guitarist Nigel Tufnel? (Who writes this stuff?) And another thing, since Brit-based Warren Ellis is writing this, shouldn’t it be Armour Wars?

My other favorite underutilized Marvel character gets a one-shot special this month. The Black Knight looks like some medieval fun, courtesy of Tom DeFalco and Ron Frenz.

Image United

Image United

Image United #1 seems like one of those projects that sounds great on paper, but… Sometimes these “jam” projects are harder to put together than they look. Pardon me for being skeptical, but some of the guys involved have been responsible for some of the latest books in comics. I just hope that we still aren’t talking about this (as in “Where’s issue #3?”) a year from now. Roger Ash spoke recently with writer Robert Kirkman in order to give Westfielders the bottom line right here in the blog in just a few days. Man, this really does look great, but… And it’s a big but… I would love to be proven wrong and have every issue ship on time!

It kinda looks like the Norman Osborn/Dark Everything story-cluster may actually be wrapping up in November or so – or is that just wishful thinking? What a wonderful Christmas present! I hope that it is so! It was fun when it started, but literally dozens and dozens of tie-ins later, it’s now kinda like your Dark Drunken Uncle that refuses to leave after the party has ended. Let’s move forward, true believers!

Meanwhile, War of Kings begets Realm of Kings, the next DnA (Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning) extravaganza. Anybody besides me remember when comic book stories occasionally had endings – and then moved on to something else?

I’ve never been much of a Family Circus fan. I’ve always seen it as one of those strips that’s more zen than actually funny, like Nancy or Ziggy. But there is something unique about it, veering wildly from near-cloying sentimentality one day to creepy dead grampa the next. Something keeps drawing me to it – perhaps it’s because it’s drawn in a perfect circle each weekday. IDW is giving the strip the deluxe treatment, reprinting the first two years of Bil Keane’s classic family panel in one of their gorgeous hardcovers in November. As with any long-running strip, it’s enlightening to see how much the art style has changed from the early days compared to now. The Family Circus Library, Vol. 1 is the perfect Christmas gift. Bob Greenberger will be along at the blog any day now to give the book more consideration. Hopefully, he will recount all the fun trivia about the strip and its history! Watch for it!

Star Comics

Star Comics

Not sure I believe this one, but it looks like the stars of Marvel’s long-lost 80s kids line, Star Comics – Planet Terry, Royal Roy, Wally the Wizard, and Top Dog – are returning. And in the pages of X-Babies #2 of all places – as if that title wasn’t already weird enough! The cool part is that Marvel is doing a tie-in trade paperback collection of the above-named characters, reprinting the first two issues each of those long-lost titles. Fans of classic Harvey and Archie comics should also grab this, as it features the great work of Warren Kremer, Bob Bolling, Howard Post, Lennie Herman, and Sid Jacobson. Great stuff!

I really like the idea of a Batman/Doc Savage Special team-up, especially by Brian Azzarello and Phil Noto. I’m not so crazy about the idea of an entire pulp-influenced universe where presumably many of the classic characters live. I suppose they don’t want to call it Licensed Characters-Earth. This makes me wonder how well-thought-out the whole 52 concept really was. Or why DC constantly needs to go elsewhere to acquire more and more characters when so many of their own great characters are so poorly utilized – or not used at all. But that’s too much to put on this book. This book will be fun! I just don’t want to think about it too much.

Doing an Absolute Edition of Geoff Johns and Ethan Van Sciver’s acclaimed Green Lantern: Rebirth is pretty much a no-brainer. The series very neatly tidied up a lot of the awful things that were done to Hal Jordan (and his Green Lantern pals) over the years. But what isn’t so obvious is DC’s lead time on the project: They’re soliciting now, but the book isn’t scheduled to hit the stands (or your Westfield boxes) until next April! That’s 7 months from now! (Last month’s Robin Archives was similarly advance-solicited.) Granted, it’s good that DC’s taking the additional production time to make sure that the books are perfect. But it makes me wonder that they’ve advanced their lead-time so far ahead to give them a chance to bail on the project before serious production is done, if they don’t get the advance orders they want. That probably won’t happen with this GL project – but I fear for the smaller, more obscure projects like the Robin Archives. Hopefully, I’m worrying about nuttin’.

Dr. Horrible

Dr. Horrible

SHORT TAKES — Fans of Scott Kolins’ take on Solomon Grundy in his current mini-series should take note that Kolins is following the character over to Superman/Batman #66 for a Blackest Night tie-in featuring Black Lantern Solomon Grundy. (Okay, Grundy was always “dead.” Now, he’s even more dead? Overkill much?) … So, at this point, are there more dead Teen Titans or X-Men? How many of each have “died” and come back? How many of them have Dead Grampas? Discuss! … Ms. Marvel finally goes on her long-awaited (at least by me) date with Spider-Man in Ms. Marvel #47, my pick for most underrated book of the month. … Batman #693: Pandemonium breaks out at Arkham Asylum! Again? That trick never works! “Hey Damien, Watch me pull a rabbit out of my hat!” … Joss Whedon’s Dr. Horrible appears in his first comic book, part of Dark Horse’s One Shot Wonders program. Sorry, no singing along here. … JMS’ third issue of Brave and the Bold (#29) features Brother Power, the Geek. His previous issues featured Dial H for Hero and the Blackhawks. And Mark Waid’s run on this title was too retro? Very interesting behind-the-scenes disconnect going on here, methinks. … Deadpool teams with Hercules (beer included) against Arcade and Nightmare? Oh, lord. It happens in Deadpool Team-Up #899. I must have missed the first 898 issues. I wonder if he teamed up with Brother Power, the Geek and Dial H for Hero? … S.W.O.R.D. looks like it may be fun, but it’s going to drive me nuts because when you type it all-caps with periods, it always looks misspelled to me … Can’t see his feet in the cover for Superman #694, but I’m wondering if Mon-El’s new outfit has footies instead of boots, cause his new duds sure look like pajamas to me. I know that Mon-El’s old uniform just screamed 1950s, but at least it was unique. Could this new one be any more generic? … Ultimate Comics Avengers #4 is using the tagline “These ain’t yer momma’s superheroes!” Well, I think my momma would be horrified by the terrible grammar, and I think the only hero she ever had was Katharine Hepburn. I’m really glad that Katharine Hepburn isn’t one of Mark Millar’s Ultimate Avengers.

Strange

Strange

CREATOR WATCH — Mark Waid writing Dr. Strange? It sounds too bizarre to be true – but it is! Strange #1 (of 4) debuts in November with art by Emma Rios. I’ll be checking this out. Will you? … Adam Hughes is the guest cover artist on Buffy the Vampire Slayer #30 … John Ostrander returns to a character he famously re-defined in the pages of Suicide Squad when he guest-writes a special Deadshot issue of Secret Six (#15) … Usagi Hulk? It’s true – check out Stan Sakai’s cover (and story?) for Marvel’s Strange Tales #3 … Jeff Parker takes on the writing reigns of Thunderbolts beginning with #138. Me, I think he’s too nice to be writing these vicious reprobates. Hope he proves me wrong! … Doug Murray and Michael Golden’s The ‘Nam is featured in a new TPB from Marvel, collecting the first 10 issues of this great Vietnam-era series … Tony Harris fans should look for Desperado Publishing’s The Art of Tony Harris: Art and Skullduggery, available in both regular hardcover or limited signed and numbered editions.

SOMETHING FOR THE KIDS? — Disney/Pixar’s Wall-E debuts in November from Boom! Kids, courtesy of J. Torres and Morgan Luthi. The preview pages look amazing! Boom! Kids is mega-hot right now between Pixar, the Muppets, and their new Disney line. Check ‘em out, if you haven’t already! … Eric Shanower and Skottie Young’s Marvelous take on the Oz characters returns in The Marvelous Land of Oz 8-part mini-series … The much-fun Supergirl: Cosmic Adventures in the Eight Grade is collected this month from Johnny DC.

Remember, you can’t be a Black Lantern, if you ain’t got that ring! (doo-ah, doo-ah, doo-ah, doo-ah, doo-ah, doo-ah, doo-ah, doo-ah, doo-ah!)

KC CARLSON: Buying and reading comics since 1960. (Yikes!)

Purchase:

Terra
The Art of Steve Ditko
Sal Buscema: Comic’s Fast & Furious Artist HC
Sal Buscema: Comic’s Fast & Furious Artist SC
Iron Man vs. Whiplash
Black Widow: Deadly Origin
Ultimate Comics Armor Wars
The Black Knight
Image United #1
Realm of Kings
The Family Circus Library, Vol. 1
X-Babies #2
Star Comics All-Star Collection Vol. 1 SC
Batman/Doc Savage Special
Absolute Green Lantern: Rebirth
Superman/Batman #66
Ms. Marvel #47
Batman #693
Dr. Horrible
Brave and the Bold #29
S.W.O.R.D.
Superman #694
Ultimate Comics Avengers #4
Strange #1
Buffy the Vampire Slayer #30
Secret Six #15
Strange Tales #3
Thunderbolts #138
The ‘Nam
The Art of Tony Harris: Art and Skullduggery HC
The Art of Tony Harris: Art and Skullduggery S/N HC
Wall-E
The Marvelous Land of Oz
Supergirl: Cosmic Adventures in the Eight Grade

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  1. KC’s September Previews » Comics Worth Reading Says:

    [...] the Westfield Comics blog, KC rambles through the September Previews catalog. After reviewing Power Girl, KC recommends some books you may want to check out, plus Marvel [...]