by KC Carlson
I’m writing this on Black Friday. Shouldn’t that really be the name of the next big comics Event? Featuring the dynamic debut of Doorbuster, the cosmic entity of Doom!!! (and sleep deprivation). His main power is that he’s too impatient to ring the doorbell. Just Thinkin’…
On to new comics…
1. SpongeBob Comics #1: You don’t hear this so much these days, but back in the olden days of funny books, most civilians described superheroes as “those guys who ran around in their underwear!” Well, it’s only taken 75 years, but now there’s a funny book character that actually frequently runs around in his underpants — and he’s the happiest, non-angsty guy around! Give it up for the comic book adventures of SpongeBob SquarePants! Published by United Plankton Pictures and distributed by Bongo Comics, SpongeBob Comics #1 is filled with funny — by some of the most brilliant indy, mainstream, and animation artists and writers around. Like these guys: James Kochalka, Hilary Barta, Graham Annable, Gregg Schigiel, Jacob Shabot… and more! (Even their names are funny!)
Here’s just some of what you’ll see in #1
* SpongeBob has a recurring nightmare about his favorite cereal.
* Squidward introduces music to the Krusty Krab.
* Mermaid Man is freaked out by a fan who won’t… stop… staring!
* Patrick and SpongeBob team up for the most idiotic joke ever.
* SpongeBob learns how to glow.
Oh, and did I mention that he’s a sponge!?! So, even if you don’t like the comic book (and how unlikely is that?), you can use it to wipe up household spills! Such a deal!
2. The Art of George Pérez HC: Probably billions of characters will be on display in IDW’s new The Art of George Pérez. The 256-page full color hardcover (available in regular and signed & numbered versions) not only features work from his early days at Marvel and DC, but also never-before-seen art from his files, sketchbooks, and privately commissioned works, as well as beautifully reproduced images of his personal favorites. The book also discusses his creative processes — in his younger days Pérez used to draw while lying on the sofa! — as well as insights into his life and long career in comics. A list of all the characters and projects he ever worked on would probably break the internet! And you probably know them all anyway. Get this book! Highly recommended.
3. Picture Books: An increasingly popular format for comic book artists (see also Jill Thompson’s many and varied releases), two storybooks appear this month by three major talents. First up, the new Owly & Wormy book is here! Andy Runton’s Friends All Aflutter introduces the concept of butterflies (and metamorphosis) to Owly and Wormy in that lovingly unique Andy Runton way (no words needed!). I can already picture the drama when Owly and Wormy befriend some fat green bug things — who like to sleep out under the stars and play checkers — until the bugs build their cocoons and the pair think they have no friends left. Until… Recommended for everybody! 40 pages from Top Shelf . . . Also available this month is the softcover edition of Neil Gaiman and Charles Vess’ best-selling Blueberry Girl, a joyous poem of hope and best wishes for girls embarking on life’s journeys. 32 pages.
4. Jeff Smith: Presenting the first in a series of Bone novels: Quest for the Spark is a 224-page novel for young readers, written by Tom Sniegoski. Jeff Smith reunites with his massively popular characters through new illustrations for the novel. When an entire village is plagued by nightmares, 12-year-old turnip farmer Tom Elm assembles a band of unlikely heroes. They must fight to preserve the Spark, a divine light born at the core of a vast, dark nothingness called the Nacht. And if they fail, Tom’s family — and everyone — might never wake up again! The new book (the first of three) is said to feature a new generation of Bone characters, although some previous characters like the stupid rat creatures and Roderick the raccoon may appear. Published by Scholastic … Also, TwoMorrows’ long-delayed Modern Masters Vol. 25: Jeff Smith — a 120-page exploration of Smith’s career and creative processes, including a gallery of rare and unseen artwork (eight pages in color) — is being resolicited this month.
5. Archie Archives Volume 1: Archie fans have been waiting for this project for a long time. After priming the pumps with the recent (and gorgeous) Archie Firsts volume, this first book in the hardcover Archie Archives series presents the earliest adventures of Archie and the gang from Pep Comics and Jackpot Comics — all presented in chronological order and in full color. One of the earliest examples of what would become the very popular “teenage humor” genre of comics, these early stories were first presented as back-up features in the popular MLJ line of superhero comics. Little did anybody know at the time that Archie would soon eclipse the MLJ heroes, becoming the namesake character for the entire company, as well as emerging as the most identified teenager in the world. Most of these early stories are drawn by the amazing Bob Montana. Reprints the Archie stories from Pep Comics #22-31 and Jackpot Comics #4-8. 160 pages.
And don’t forget Dark Horse’s Classic Archie Character figures. This month’s figure is Reggie Mantle, who comes packed in his own collectable tin (apparently large enough to contain Reggie’s huge ego!). The rest of the core gang (Archie, Betty, Veronica, and Jughead) are also available.
6. Love & Capes: Ever After #1: Thom Zahler’s brilliantly funny and touching Love and Capes series moves to IDW for a new five-part miniseries. The superhero romantic comedy relaunches just in time for Valentine’s Day. That’s important for those of you who aren’t familiar with this series, which focuses on the challenges (and great joys) of being married to a superhero. Mark (the superhero) and Abby (the… uh, not superhero) balance both home and work — except they need a new home, and for once, it’s Abby’s job in her bookstore that’s a problem. Plus, double dating with Mark’s best friend Darkblade and Mark’s former girlfriend Amazonia! Love & Capes: No blood and guts. Very little angst. Very much fun!
7. Steve Canyon: The Complete Series: Now here’s something you don’t see every day — a collection of all seven of the Dell Four Color Steve Canyon comic books, with artwork by Milton Caniff, William Overgard, and Ray Bailey. It’s all meticulously digitally restored and collected in a new 256-page hardcover collection by Hermes Press. The original comics are from 1953 to 1959 and have been rarely seen since. In addition, the book also contains the original covers, essays, documentary material, and rare original artwork. A missing piece of the Steve Canyon puzzle found and restored.
8. Jack Kirby Collector #56: One of comics’ very best ongoing history/commentary projects, John Morrow’s Jack Kirby Collector always has something interesting going on, as well as some amazing reproductions of rare Jack Kirby artwork (especially Kirby’s pencils). The current issue (#56) looks especially tasty, with the theme being Kirby’s “Unfinished Sagas”: stories, series, and story arcs that Kirby never got to finish and concepts that never got off the ground. Topics to be covered include True Divorce Cases, Roam, DC’s Dingbats, and Kobra (forgot about that one, didn’t ‘cha?). Plus, there’s a complete story from Soul Love, the unpublished magazine that was created alongside Spirit World and In The Days of the Mob, including its cover. There’s also a look at the rarely-seen 1946 Boy Explorers story “Trip To The Moon”, as well as useful gobs of unused artwork and text, columns, panels, and galleries. 84 pages, published in a oversized “tabloid” format by TwoMorrows.
9. Videos: Ha! We’ve got these before even Previews does! Scooby-Doo Mystery Incorporated: Season 1 Vol. 1: Featuring the first four episodes of the series on a single disc. I love this show and talked about it here; page down to the SCOOBY-DOO heading. If you also love the series, you might want to wait for the inevitable Complete Season collection, but be advised that probably won’t get released for about a year, as Cartoon Network is still airing new first season episodes . . . The Complete H.R. Pufnstuf is exactly what it says, featuring every episode from the show on 3 DVDs, and including a special new-to-DVD bonus episode (“Horror Hotel”) which originally aired as part of The Krofft Superstar Hour. There’s also a special Collector’s Edition of this DVD set that includes a bobble-head Pufnstuf, which you can see inside the box . . . The Complete Rocky & Bullwinkle: 18 DVD discs. 5 seasons. (This set is the first appearance of Season 5 on DVD. No word yet on if it’s being released separately for those of you who already own the first four Season Sets.) It’s the whole shebang, including 91 trips in the WABAC time machine, 38 attempts to catch Snidely Whiplash, 91 fairy tales fractured, and 50 bits of wisdom from Mr. Know-it-All. Special Features include Dear Bullwinkle segments, classic commercials and promos, the Rocky & Bullwinkle saving stamp club, Many Faces of Boris Badenov, classic Cheerios commercials, June Foray (voice of Rocket J. Squirrel) interview, Moose Call: Best of Bullwinkle Sings, and Bullwinkle puppet clips. And probably thousands of laffs.
10. DC Stuff: Probably the best-looking comic of the month will be Batwoman #1, written and drawn by J.H. Williams with W. Haden Blackman. I haven’t yet seen the Batwoman #0 preview, so I don’t know how the scripting will be yet, but this is obviously a Must-See title . . . Also looking forward to artists Phil Jimenez and Andy Lanning and their stint on the “flashback” Legion of Super-Heroes stories (written by Paul Levitz) beginning in Adventure Comics #523. Hoping it turns into a regular gig for both, as Phil seems born to draw the LSH and (of course) Andy has previous experience with the characters . . . Interesting things going on in Fabletown! Fables #102 features the beginning of a five-issue arc called “Super-Group” by Bill Willingham, Mark Buckingham, and Steve “Leialoham” which looks decidedly odd. Fables with capes? Meanwhile, Jack of Fables concludes its long, prestigious run with #50, a 48-page issue which supposedly wraps up jillions of questions, kills bajillions of characters, and has extra Babe, the Miniature Blue Ox. Or not, as it appears that the issue’s contents are TOP SECRET! However, it’s no secret that the Cinderella: From Fabletown With Love mini was a huge success, so the super sexy secret agent is back in the new Cinderella: Fables Are Forever six-part miniseries by Chris Robertson and Shaun McManus. (It’s great fun even if you don’t read the main series, so if you’re looking for a starting point…)
10.1. Marvel Stuff: New Avengers #9 starts a new storyline that promises new secrets revealed about Nick Fury and S.H.I.E.L.D. Interestingly, it’s drawn by Mike Deodato, with special Fury-flashbacks by Howard Chaykin. Written (of course) by Bendis. Sounds interesting to this Fury fan! . . . A couple of recently canceled series are getting new leases on life (sorta) as Hawkeye and Mockingbird writer Jim McCann is taking on the new Hawkeye mini, while Sean McKeever’s Young Allies team reappears in Onslaught #1 (of 4), teaming with the Secret Avengers . . . Power Man and Iron Fist are reteaming for another chance in the spotlight in the new Power Man and Iron Fist #1 & 2 (of 5). Watch for Roger’s interview with writer Fred Van Lente, here soon at the blog . . . Deadpool Corps #11 and Deadpool Team-Up #884 are “almost the last issue.” Thank you, Santa! . . . Also, Marvel Girl (Jean Grey) has a new all-ages flashback series called Marvel Girl #1 (not to be confused with Marvel’s Girl Comics). I expect we’ll be told that the series is actually a 4- or 5-part miniseries in a month or two . . . Oh, and apparently Fantastic Four is canceled with issue #588. That’s really unfortunate, as it seems that Marvel never really gave the book a chance to find its audience…
Also This Month: The John Stanley Library: Melvin Monster Vol. 3 (Drawn & Quarterly), Complete Peanuts 1979-1980 (Fantagrapics), X-9: Secret Agent Corrigan Vol. 2 (IDW), Starstruck Deluxe Edition (IDW), and my new zombie pals would be upset if I didn’t mention Zombie! An Illustrated History of the Undead!
Not So Crazy About…
Death of Spider-Man: Awww, man! That trick never works! Oh, and it’s the Ultimate Universe Spider-Man they’re talking about, and that’s the only Ultimate book I really care about, so… Phooey!… Unless that means no more Ultimate Universe books… Think of the money I’ll save! Perhaps I’m being too harsh?…
DC Universe Online Legends: A 26-issue year-long story based on a videogame? Really? (Yawn.) Assuming it isn’t endlessly delayed. (Like the game itself…) A new low for decompressed storytelling. Can I say anything good about it? It’s only $2.99 an issue! I think I’ll wait for the movie…
KC Carlson: Making friends everywhere he goes… There’ll be coal in my stocking this year if Marvel & DC have anything to say about it.
Disclaimer: KC Carlson is insane. That about covers it. Why does he constantly hack our site? — Westfield Comics