Markley’s Fevered Brain: Why Aren’t You Reading…

Wayne Markley

Wayne Markley


by Wayne Markley

I have mentioned many times that there are more great books out there (percentage wise, based on how many books that are being published) than perhaps any time in publishing history. Now I say this just in terms of the superhero genre, not to mention all of the European comics and Manga that is released every month. Since Marvel and DC dominate comic sales month after month, I thought I would talk about four books that I love and think deserve a wider audience, even though based on sales, I fear I am the only one. All four of these books are monthly titles that I hope can find a wider audience among superhero fans, and readers of this blog.

Hawkman

Hawkman


Hawkman from DC Comics has a history that goes back to the early 1940s. Since then he has been in series by such luminaries as Joe Kubert, Murphy Anderson, Tim Truman, Geoff Johns, and many others. Over the last 70 plus years Hawkman has had one of the most convoluted origins. It has changed multiple times, with there being a number of different people in the role of Hawkman. The current series came out of Dark Knight Metal, and in my opinion it is the best thing to come out of the whole mess that was Metal. Written by Robert Venditti and drawn by Bryan Hitch (for the first 12 issues) it is easily my favorite DC superhero book. Venditti has done the super-human task of making sense of all the different origins of Hawkman over the last 70 years. He tells a logical story that makes sense out of one of the most convoluted characters in DC’s history. He also was able to tie in a number of other key points in DC history into the Hawkman saga. The stories are a respectful love letter to DC history including a classic homage to the old Hawkman/Atom series. Almost every issue pays respect to the history of the character and fleshes out a little more of his background. If you are a long time DC fan (such as myself) and you miss the DC of the past, this book comes closest to capturing and honoring DCs rich history. This book should be one of DC’s best sellers, and sadly, it is not. There is a trade collection collecting the first six issues of this current series which is the first half of this new (and best) origin of Hawkman. Please, go out and try this book.

Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur

Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur


Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur is, month after month, one of Marvel’s most charming books. It has what is great about so much of Marvel with their ability to take forgotten characters and bring them back to life in a much better form than the original vision. Devil Dinosaur goes back to Jack Kirby’s comic series, 2001, A Space Odyssey based on Stanley Kubrick’s groundbreaking film. One of the characters in the series was Moon Boy and his pal, a red dinosaur referred to as Devil (and let’s not forget 2001 also had the debut of Machine Man). After the end of 2001, Kirby started a book called Devil Dinosaur (along with Moon Boy). This book again had a fairly short run but it is classic Kirby and a fun read. Over the years, Devil Dinosaur has popped up a number of times but as a B character until his co-starring role in Moon Girl. As a quick side note, Moon Girl was first published as a comic in the late 1940s by EC Comics and ran 12 issues. The character slipped into public domain and Marvel snatched it up and added Devil Dinosaur to create this modern version of Moon Girl, which has absolutely nothing to do with the 1940s version. The basic premise behind Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur is Lunella Lafayette is a 9 year old girl who is the smartest person on the planet. During the whole Terrigin mist story (in 2016) where the mists would convert people into Inhumans, Lunella was so terrified of becoming an Inhuman she searched far and wide for Kree technology to develop a cure for the mists. She finds some tech but her solution goes sideways and brings Devil Dinosaur from the far past to the present day Brooklyn. Also, she does become an Inhuman, and her power is she swaps brains with the Devil Dinosaur at random times, which leads to some very funny scenes. She bonds with the big red and together they have some of the best and most charming adventures you will find in a modern comic. They deal with everything from Ego, the Living Planet’s son, to helping reunite the Fantastic Four to dinosaur love. I cannot praise this book enough, as it is fun, warm, and just a book great for all ages. A couple of quick side notes. The original Moon Girl was brought back in 2010 in a digital only series. The creative team on Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur has changed with the one constant being writer Brandon Montclare who has written or co-written every issue. Also there are currently seven trade paperback collections (as well as hardcovers and other formatted collections) and an eighth volume will come out at the end of the year. While based on sales alone this book would have been done years ago, but it sells amazingly well as collections, mostly to schools. See, kid friendly books can find success in today’s market, but that is another blog.

Freedom Fighters

Freedom Fighters


Freedom Fighters is a 12 issue series being published by DC Comics. The Freedom Fighters are a group of heroes who are made up of Quality Comics characters, including Uncle Sam, Black Condor, Doll Man, Phantom Lady, etc. It is deftly written by Robert Venditti (again) and beautifully drawn by Eddy Barros. The story is set on Earth X where a baby from space (Krypton) crashes in Czechoslovakia in the 1930s and this leads to the Nazi’s winning WW2 and taking over most of the world. The story shifts to the present day where the Freedom Fighters, based on the team for the 1940s, form to fight the oppression of the Nazi regime. This is a fast paced book that has everything that makes a comic fun. Great art, fast paced storytelling, cliff hangers with every issue, and a powerful reminder what could have happened in the real world. The Freedom Fighters first appeared in Justine League of America #107 (1973) as part of the annual crossover with the JSA. Since then they have come and gone as both stars of their own book, and as guest stars and in a number of solo books, such as The Ray, Black Condor and Uncle Sam (drawn by Alex Ross). This current book is an updated version of these previous stories and some of the characters have been updated, but it still has the feel of a classic DC title. This is one of my favorite DC books. The whole series will be collected into one trade in early 2020.

Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man

Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man


Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man from Marvel is written by one of my favorite writers, Tom Taylor. Now I am writing about the 2019 version of Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man, as there are a number of versions of this book from the past. This new version has everything that I like about Taylor’s writing, passion, warmth, humor, and it is not over written. Taylor knows that you can tell a good story with less words and let the pictures move the story along. These stories tend to be more personal, with Aunt May’s health issues, and Spidey’s mix of friends and the problems they bring, as well as a feeling of harking back to the 1960s Spider-Man. Issue six was one of my favorite comics in years as Taylor introduces Spider-Byte. A standalone story that I defy you to read and not be moved by. The early issues are drawn by Juann Cabal with the later issues having a mix of artists. The first six issues have been collected into a nice trade. While I love what Nick Spencer is doing in Amazing Spider-Man, Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man is my favorite Spidey book.

Scooby-Doo Team-Up

Scooby-Doo Team-Up


I am afraid these four books (well three since Freedom Fighters is a 12 issue series) will go the way of Scooby-Doo Team-Up which is ending with issue #50. Now I have written over and over how great Scooby-Doo Team Up is and how it is my favorite comic book currently being published. Even the worst issue of its 50 issue run is better than 99% of everything else. Really, it is that good. It is a mix of kid friendly comic stories with lots of social commentary and humor for adults while being a love letter to DC’s history. If any book deserved an omnibus it is this title. I am so sad this book is ending. I will miss it. I encourage you to seek out the back issues or to try the trades that DC has done. You will not be disappointed. At some point in the future I will write a memorial for this wonderful series.

So here I have pointed out four books from the big two publishers that I think deserve a much larger audience. What do you think? Have you read any of these titles? Am I totally off base? Why? I would like to know what you think. I can be reached at MFBWAY@AOL.COM or on Facebook at Wayne Markley. All of these thoughts and words come from me and do not represent the thoughts of Westfield Comics or their employees. I do hope you have enjoyed this blog and…

Thank You

 

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