KC COLUMN: OUT TODAY! or WHILE MY WALLET GENTLY WEEPS…

Cosmic KC. Art by Stuart Immonen.

Cosmic KC. Art by Stuart Immonen.


by KC Carlson

This always happens: No matter how much the various publishers try to space things out, every once in a while, your wallet just gets hammered on New Comics Day. And the only time you can really predict this will happen are the two weeks just prior to the San Diego Con and the few weeks before Christmas (and then virtually nothing for a week or three). There’s nothing like a predictable industry — of course, that’s just five weeks out of 52…

I’m having one of those weeks this week. Your mileage may vary.

THOSE #&@$*%$ MUTANTS!

The Uncanny X-Men Omnibus Volume 2. Cover by John Byrne & Terry Austin.

The Uncanny X-Men Omnibus Volume 2. Cover by John Byrne & Terry Austin.


I’m really looking forward to reading The Uncanny X-Men Omnibus Volume 2, which collects (Uncanny) X-Men #132-153 and handfuls of mutant-related oddities, including X-Annuals, Avengers Annual #10 (Michael Golden art!), Marvel Fanfare #1-4 (art by Golden, Dave Cockrum, and Paul Smith), Marvel Team-Up #100 (curious if they’re collecting both stories, one drawn by Frank Miller — featuring future New Mutants characters — and the other by John Byrne), Bizarre Adventures #27 (the all X-Men issue), and Phoenix: The Untold Story. If you know what that last thing is, then you also know what classic storyline climaxes in this Onmibus. (How timely that we’ve been seeing some of the after-effects of that awesome story still playing out in the pages of recent Marvel mutant titles in the “Trial of Jean Grey” storyline!) Plus, this volume features the original brain-numbing “Days of Future Past”, the basis for this summer’s mutant movie of the same name.

The Uncanny X-Men Omnibus Volume 2. Cover by Stuart Immonen.

The Uncanny X-Men Omnibus Volume 2. Cover by Stuart Immonen.


Other cool stuff here: Kitty Pryde! Emma Frost! Wolverine’s first solo adventure! The debut of Mystique’s Brotherhood of Evil Mutants! And a story with two different endings, one officially published and one not! And the reasons why! The bulk of the book is by Chris Claremont, John Byrne, and Dave Cockrum, with plenty of artistic surprises. Available with two different covers, one featuring the original classic cover to Uncanny X-Men #137 – the original by John Byrne and Terry Austin — or the 2014 remake by current All-New X-Men artists Stuart Immonen and Wade Von Grawbadger. (I vote Stuart! I already have plenty of the original cover in my collection.)

YOU MEAN THEY PUBLISHED A JUSTICE LEAGUE COMIC THAT DIDN’T FOCUS ON SUPERMAN AND BATMAN?!?

Justice League of America Omnibus Volume 1

Justice League of America Omnibus Volume 1


Hard to believe nowadays, but true. The earliest adventures of the Justice League of America — collected this week in the Justice League of America Omnibus Volume 1 — feature very little Man of Steel or Darknight Detective because their editors (Mort Weisinger and Jack Schiff, respectively) did not want them overexposed. Just imagine… At that point in history, Superman appeared in five comic titles (seven if you count Superboy) and Batman just three. (Nowadays, Batman doesn’t even slip on the cowl unless he’s guaranteed at least a dozen appearances a month!) And yet, despite fleeting (and occasionally essential!) appearances by the big guns, these stories are considered part of the foundation of the classic Silver Age DC Universe. These are the stories — more than most — that show us how the DC Universe really works, by how its characters (especially The Flash, Green Lantern, Wonder Woman, Aquaman, and Martian Manhunter) work together.

The first appearance of the Justice League of America from The Brave and The Bold #28.

The first appearance of the Justice League of America from The Brave and The Bold #28.


Edited by the legendary Julie Schwartz, these 33 full-length stories (from The Brave and the Bold #28-30 and Justice League of America #1-30, originally published from 1959 to 1964) are all written by Gardner Fox and penciled by Mike Sekowsky with inks by Bernard Sachs, from the days when creators stuck with their series! Art fans will want to study the many iconic JLA covers by Sekowsky and the always amazing Murphy Anderson, who inked all of ‘em, as well as penciling about half of them. (Those are the ones to really study!)

The Justice League battles the Crime Syndicate in Justice League of America #30

The Justice League battles the Crime Syndicate in Justice League of America #30


Inside the book, you will encounter the legendary return of the 1940s Justice Society (who, real world, inspired the creation of the JLA) and be able to read the first two of the team’s annual 2-part team-up stories (one of the most beloved parts of the Silver Age). Many of DC’s memorable and iconic villains also appear in this volume, including aliens Despero, Kanjar Ro, the silly-looking but awesome Starro the Conqueror, and the aliens from Appellax (who figure prominently in the first of a long-running series of JLA origin stories); evil scientists Professor Ivo (with Amazo), Doctor Destiny, and Amos Fortune; and sorcerer Felix Faust. Many of the JLA members’ regular supervillains from their own series occasionally cause trouble, but the team also gains some of its own costumed foes with the introductions of Dr. Light, Queen Bee, and the Crime Syndicate of Earth-3 (evil dopplegangers of the JLA “Big 5” — Superman, Batman, Flash, Green Lantern, and Wonder Woman). Most of these fearsome foes still pop up from time to time after all these years!

Justice League of America #14

Justice League of America #14


Establishing another new tradition, new members join the team periodically, with Green Arrow in #4 and the Atom in #14. The characters don’t have as much personality here as they do in modern-day comics, but you’ll be fascinated to look back at how Fox and Schwartz create interesting pairings of characters and powers when the team needs to split up into smaller groups to cover more ground. At one point, there’s a weird Batman/Wonder Woman pairing to especially watch for.

At almost 900 pages (and almost 6 pounds!) of DC’s most iconic super-heroics, for many readers, the DC Universe began here! If you don’t see this book in your comic shop — ask for it!

FAMILIAR… BUT DIFFERENT!

Superman: The Silver Age Newspaper Dailies Volume 2

Superman: The Silver Age Newspaper Dailies Volume 2


Also out this week is the second amazing volume of Superman: The Silver Age Newspaper Dailies Volume 2, covering the years 1961-1963. This book is a fascinating addition to Superman lore, as these stories are different versions of those originally in the comic books — except written and drawn by different creators and produced in the style and format of daily newspaper strips (i.e., three or four panels a day). Co-creator Jerry Siegel does the re-writes and Wayne Boring and Stan Kaye are the new artists, retelling stories from comics originally by Bill Finger, Edmund Hamilton, Leo Dorfman, Curt Swan, Al Plastino, Kurt Schaffenberger, and Siegel and Boring themselves! It’s a full two years’ worth of alternate Superman storytelling! How cool is that! 288 pages, from the wonderful folks at IDW and the Library of American Comics.

JUST THE FACTS, MA’AM!

Marvel Fact Files #34

Marvel Fact Files #34


Also, I’m getting a bunch of issues of Marvel Fact Files. This is a British publication from Eaglemoss — the same folks who publish the Classic Marvel Figurine Collection and the DC Chess Collection. It’s a pretty interesting magazine, as it’s designed to be taken apart and assembled into a three-ring binder. Content-wise, it’s a combination of bios and fact pages on all the Marvel characters, teams, powers, gadgets, and history (often explained by eras). Plus, there’s “real world” Marvel info, such as backgrounds on the artists and writers of the comics, as well as comic book continuity discussions.

Marvel Fact Files #9

Marvel Fact Files #9


In the most recent issue I have (#9), there are two-page (front & back) articles on both Black Widows, Norman Osborn/Green Goblin (with two more pages on his being director of Hammer, which affected the entire MU), Reed Richards, 1990s Fantastic Four history highlights, character line-ups of the Forge-led X-Factor and the X-Men Blue and Gold teams united, a real-life publishing history of Spider-Man Evolution II (The Clone Saga), Alpha Flight, Frankencastle (The Punisher), and Part One of a history of Wolverine with the X-Men. Tech stuff like the Punisher War Van and MODOK get double-page fold-outs for schematics and history. Small spotlights (and photos) of Gil Kane, John Byrne, and Rick Remender are also featured. According to Eaglemoss, they plan to publish 100 issues of the regular series and will periodically be providing new binders for free.

Marvel Fact Files Thor Special

Marvel Fact Files Thor Special


All of these pages can be easily removed from the magazine’s glue-strip binding, to be organized into one of six major categories in the binder: Avengers, X-Men, Fantastic Four, Spider-Man, Marvel Knights, and Real Marvel. The inside front cover explains in detail where these pages go in your binder, in relationship to other pages. The whole package is kinda equally geeky and cool — especially if you love researching Marvel facts. Plus, since Eaglemoss is already known for their impressive figures, there are occasionally special issues that spotlight a single character (Thor, Wolverine, and Captain America so far announced), and each issue (albeit more pricey) includes a figurine of the featured character.

Marvel Fact Files #22

Marvel Fact Files #22


In the UK (where this magazine is published), it’s available weekly, but here in the States, it seems to be gang-shipped, so usually we get about four issues on the same week about once a month. Except we haven’t gotten any issues for a while. So, arriving in my hold box this week (supposedly) are twelve issues of the magazine (#11-22), all arriving on the same day. As you may guess, I’m not too pleased about this, since these are cover priced at $6.00 each. (Thank goodness they are discounted through Westfield.) I’m actually hoping that I really get fourteen issues this week, as Diamond shorted us on #10, and #1 has been back-ordered from Diamond since the beginning of the year and promised to arrive since March. (I’ve been told that issue comes with the specially designed three-ring binder and divider sheets for the series — although Eaglemoss’ website indicates that the initial binder came with #2, and the dividers came with #3, so I don’t know what to believe anymore.)

I imagine that Marvel Fact Files must be much more fun in England where it actually comes out weekly. Getting three months’ worth of issues all on the same day is not the ideal way to experience this publication. Plus, thanks to Diamond’s lack of follow-through, I may never get my missing issues (or binder). It’s tough having only one distribution source for these in the U.S. Frustratingly, Eaglemoss offers subscriptions to the magazine (plus free gifts), but not in America.

SHOT THROUGH THE WALLET, AND YOU’RE TO BLAME….

Just these four items total over $300 retail. And I haven’t even discussed the weekly floppies… But I’m actually not that upset, as these items will all be frequently looked-at and cherished parts of my collection, which was first begun when I was five years old. But — oh, the sticker shock!

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KC CARLSON: Skinnier wallets through comic collecting. I’m thinking about you, Mike McAvennie!

WESTFIELD COMICS is not responsible for the stupid things that KC says. Especially that thing that really irritated you.

Classic comic covers from the Grand Comics Database.

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