Markley’s Fevered Brain: A Six Pack for the Road

Wayne Markley

Wayne Markley


by Wayne Markley

Over the last few months there have been a number of graphic novels and collections released that are well worth your attention. I am just going to pick a few to look at this time around and I will likely do at least one more blog reviewing other recent releases. As always please check www.westfieldcomics.com for availability. I have picked six different books to review this time, and I have chosen these books because they are all very different from one another and hopefully among these there is something you might like to try. All of these books are excellent, which sort of goes without saying, and are well worth your time and money. I think this a great time for comic book readers, and it is a good time for non-comic readers to discover the wide world of comics that is out there, aside from the superhero fare that Marvel and DC do so well.

Eerie Presents Hunter

Eerie Presents Hunter


The first book I want to recommend is Eerie Presents Hunter HC from Dark Horse Comics. Hunter was the first ongoing strip in Eerie. Well, it did not necessarily appear in every consecutive issue, but he did appear regularly for a number of years. This is a science fiction strip about a half human/half demon hunter whose quest in life is to kill his demon father. This is an interesting strip in that the main character dies twice and there are three different Hunter characters over the course of the series and a number of years. Most of the stories are drawn by the highly underrated Paul Neary and each story is a wild ride of action and science fiction. This collection is over 200 pages and is a mix of color and black and white all under a very nice hardcover. This book collects (I think) all of the Hunter appearances, including covers, pin-ups, and anything else related to the character from the pages of Eerie.

Green Lantern Chronicles Vol. 4

Green Lantern Chronicles Vol. 4


Next we have the newest volume of the Green Lantern Chronicles. This is a full color collection reprinting Green Lantern #15-20 from the 1960s. All of these stories are drawn by Gil Kane and are just downright fun. These stories epitomize what I loved about the old DC. These are self-contained stories, often two stories per issue, and there is a very simple story of Hal wanting Carol but Carol wants Green Lantern and some villain gets in the way. I discovered while reading these stories, many of which I have not read in 40 years, how much they actually carried on continuity. It was not in the Marvel style, where the sub-plots continue from issue to issue and build to a climax, but they did refer to prior issues of Green Lantern when a villain re-appeared, most notably Sinestro. There are also early appearances by Tomar-Re and the Flash. This is a throwback to a simpler time, where stories had a beginning, middle and an end all in one issue. It is worth reading just to see how much fun and entertaining comics were at one time.

DC Universe by Alan Moore

DC Universe by Alan Moore


DC also recently released a very nice hardcover collection of the DC Universe by Alan Moore. This is a great collection of some of the best super-hero DC stories ever published. A lot of these stories are stand-alone and they show what a great and creative storyteller Alan Moore is. While this volume does not have perhaps Alan’s most important story to the DCU, the Killing Joke (although DC did solicit it as being included), it does have one of my favorite stores, The Last Superman Story. If you are not familiar with Alan’s writing, or have only read Watchmen or From Hell, you really should check out this collection to see what a true creative genius is. (As an aside: I do find it a bit sad the DC has chosen to undo a great deal of what Alan had done with the DC Universe with the New 52.)

Marvel Firsts The 1970s Vol. 2

Marvel Firsts The 1970s Vol. 2


Marvel has released the third volume in their Marvel Firsts series. These are full color trades reprinting the first appearances of major (and minor) Marvel characters with little bits of history. So far they have released Marvel Firsts the 60s, Marvel Firsts the 70s Vol. 1 and 2, and a third volume is coming soon. These books are all huge, almost 400 pages each, and they are packed with stories from an age long gone. If you are a casual Marvel fan and do not know the history, these books are great as they give you insight into what early Marvel was about. In the 60s volume alone you get the first appearances of Spider-Man, Fantastic Four, Hulk, Thor, Ant-Man, Avengers, X-Men, and many more. The 70s bring the first appearances of Luke Cage, Warlock, Brother Voodoo, Sons of the Tiger, Combat Kelly, Deathlok, Howard the Duck, new X-Men, and so many others. It is great to re-read these stories that are such a reflection of a time that many modern readers have no idea ever existed. These stories are not what you would see in a modern Marvel comic, and there is a big difference between the 60s (where Stan Lee wrote almost everything) and the 70s where there was an ever expanding talent pool. Yet there is almost something for everyone within these pages. It is not only a great trip down memory lane, but these stories are a great peek into what made the modern Marvel Universe.

Gary Gianni's MonsterMen and Other Scary Stories

Gary Gianni's MonsterMen and Other Scary Stories


Next we have another beautiful hardcover from Dark Horse Comics, this one collects all of Gary Gianni’s MonsterMen. For those of you not aware of Monster Men, it was a back-up story in the early issues of Hellboy. Gary Gianni is a highly underrated artist whose most recent task was as artist on the Sunday Prince Valiant strip. He has a lush style that harkens back to the illustrators of a century earlier. The protagonists in these stories include zombie cowboys, squid pirates, and the abominable snowman. These are fun short stories with spectacular art. As a bonus, this hardcover also has all of the illustrated short stories the Gianni did for various Dark Horse anthologies. This book is a must for fans of great illustrations or Hellboy and BPRD.

Nancy is Happy

Nancy is Happy


Finally we have something completely different. Fantagraphics has released the first volume of the complete Ernie Bushmiller’s Nancy. This volume reprints the Nancy daily strips from 1943-1945. This is a great sampling of a strip that has long had a devoted following (led by Denis Kitchen) but is mostly overlooked by fans of comics and strips. Bushmiller has an amazing ability to tell stories within the confines of a daily strip that are both very funny and quite abstract. Now these are not abstract in the sense of Krazy Kat, but the art and design is a sight to behold. You can spend hours just studying the line art and design of the panels and the characters before you even get to read the gag. I would highly recommend this book for any comic strip fan or for the reader looking for something totally original. Nancy is unlike anything you will see in modern comics and that is a shame.

Pogo Vol. 1

Pogo Vol. 1


In closing, I was asked recently about why I had not mentioned the first volume of Fantagraphics reprinting of the complete Pogo. Well, I did some time back, but let me one again mention that this first volume of the complete Pogo is a masterpiece. I admitted last time that I did not originally understand Pogo, but reading these strips in sequence from the beginning showed me what a genius Walt Kelly was. (I have always loved his Our Gang stories mind you, so I should have re-tried Pogo years earlier.) I cannot recommend this book highly enough. I am sorry someone did not do this earlier, although Fantagraphics did try once before. This collection is beautiful in every sense of the word, from the reproduction to the design to the material itself. A must have book for any library. As always everything here is my opinion and do not reflect the thoughts of Westfield Comics or any of their employees. Complaints, thoughts, suggestions are welcome to be sent to MFBWAY@AOL.COM.

Thank you.

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