by KC Carlson
1. DC COMICS: Nothing individually outstanding this month, but the DCU seems to be wrapping up all their ongoing storylines — including major ones like Flashpoint and aftermaths for both War of the Green Lanterns and Brightest Day. It’s almost as if they might be planning to start everything all over again next month with a whole bunch of new #1 issues. But that’s crazy talk! Nobody would do something that risky — or would they? So, feast your eyes on the biggest collection of LAST ISSUES in comics history! DC fans, say goodbye to your little friends! (I think DC is missing a real bet by not giving away commemorative collectible incentive handkerchiefs with the purchase of each issue. Oh well… Don’t Cry for Me, Justice League Antarctica!)
2. MARVEL COMICS: The Punisher returns in an all-new series by Greg Rucka and Marco Checchetto, with two issues this month! . . . The “Fear Itself” storyline features the debut of the American Panther in Black Panther: The Man Without Fear #522, so I guess that wasn’t an April Fool’s joke! . . . The Ultimate Universe is reborn (third time’s the charm!) in the first issue of Ultimate Comics Ultimates. (Did I stutter? Sorry.) This might be the first Ultimates series that I enjoy, as it’s written by Jonathan Hickman. Ultimate Hawkeye (you saw him in the Thor movie!) debuts in his own Ultimate series this month as well . . . The last issue of The Incredible Hulks (until the next one) will be #635, wrapping up Greg Pak’s long and successful run on the series . . . The secrets of the Scarlet Witch’s murderous rampage in “Avengers: Disassembled” is finally revealed in Avengers: The Children’s Crusade #7, and half the Marvel U. (Avengers, X-Men, X-Factor, and Young Avengers) will be there. Will you? . . . Marvel’s got two giant Omnibuses on tap this month — one featuring one of its best super-teams (with one of its best runs) and one of its strangest teams! The Fantastic Four by John Byrne Omnibus Volume 1 collects not only Fantastic Four #215-28, #220-221, and #232-262, but also Byrne-illustrated, FF-related stories from the pages of Marvel Team-Up, Marvel Two-in-One, Peter Parker, the Spectacular Spider-Man, Avengers, The Thing, and Alpha Flight! A whopping 1,084 pages of Byrneliciousness! The X-Statix Omnibus features every appearance (I think) of Peter Milligan and Mike Allred’s subversive media-loving X-Statix — all the way to the bitter, shocking end! 1,200 pages! Not recommended for reading in one sitting. You’ll break your lap, your wrists — and probably your brain.
3. ROGER LANGRIDGE PRESENTS: We’re proud and happy to have two new Roger Langridge (The Muppet Show, Thor the Mighty Avenger) projects on the order form this month, both published by Boom! First up is a very special preview issue of Langridge’s new project Snarked, a whimsical series inspired by and expanding upon the works of Lewis Carroll — especially the Wonderland books. The #0 introductory special is only a dollar for a 32-page comic! If you haven’t already, please check out Roger’s interview with Roger (Roger, Roger), which has a four-page preview of the book! Also this month, Boom! presents a new collection of Harvey Award Winner Langridge’s uncollected work, The Show Must Go On, a 224-page full-color softcover — including, for the first time ever, all of his Mugwhump strips under one cover. Plus, Fred the Clown’s Flying Parsnip! See the devil get outfoxed by the one and only Leppo! And behold the world’s mightiest swordsman, the Kabuki Kid! Gut-bustingly amusing in a highly refined way! Don’t miss either project.
4. ARCHIE COMICS: IDW’s latest hardcover Archie collection — The Best of Harry Lucey Volume 1 – has the potential to be one of their very best. Like his contemporaries in humor comics — Carl Barks, John Stanley, Floyd Gottfredson, Dan DeCarlo, Al Taliaferro, Bob Oskner, and others — Harry Lucey is overdue to be rediscovered. Beginning his career in comics in the 1930s, Lucey helped create some of the early MLJ superheroes (The Hangman and Madam Satan). But when original Archie artist Bob Montana moved over to the syndicated Archie comic strip, Harry Lucey moved to Riverdale and began illustrating Archie and the gang in the comic books. (Lucey also filled in for Montana on the Archie strip when he was on vacation.)
While Dan DeCarlo receives credit for revolutionizing the Archie art style in the late 1950s, mostly with his work on Betty & Veronica, Lucey ruled before that and well into the 1970s (He passed away in 1984.) While DeCarlo’s girls were “cute”, Lucey’s were “saucy” (and frequently drawn sans clothing — giving his inkers something fun to do). That wasn’t even his best trick. Lucey was a student of fluid humor illustration, a master of frantic slapstick. Lucey’s stories are filled with action, including flying bodies and fists. Frequently, somebody had a black eye by the end of of a Lucey story.
Another Lucey trademark: when one of the girls plants a hot kiss on “Archiekins”, they hold his head tight in the liplock, but his feet fly up into the air, putting him parallel to the ground. Plus, he’s pretty dizzy for several minutes afterwards, leaving him likely to crash into lampposts, mailboxes, or low-hanging tree branches. Or wander into traffic or Big Moose’s fist, if he’s been smoochin’ on Moose’s girl Midge.
Lucey is an artist’s artist. Every discussion I’ve ever had with other comic book artists about Archie work either begins or ends with a discussion about Harry Lucey. There is a reason that his artwork anchored the flagship Archie title for years in the 1950s and 60s.
IDW is collecting the very best of his classic work. You should read it.
Also this month, Archie Comics (the actual mothership) is publishing The Best of Archie, a massive 416-page collection of Archie stories hand-picked by Archie historians and experts, as well as anecdotes, historical highlights, and exclusive content from Archie creators. I’m disappointed that it’s being published in Archie’s current trade paperback format, which is smaller than standard comic book size (the volume is 5” x 7”), but since the cover price is only $9.99 (and full color), I’m definitely not complaining. This is your comics value item of the month. Don’t miss out.
5. TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES #1: Well, why the hell not! The most famous tribute to Renaissance artists continues, by Kevin Eastman and company! Check out Roger’s recent interview with Eastman and get the facts from the man himself.
6. P.S. MAGAZINE: THE BEST OF PREVENTATIVE MAINTENANCE MONTHLY: Produced by the U.S. Army since 1951, PS, the Preventive Maintenance Monthly is a magazine dedicated to showing proper preventive maintenance methods. So why are we talking about this here? Because since its inception, PS has been a place where many prominent comics creators have had work published, including Will Eisner, Murphy Anderson, Joe Kubert, Dan Spiegle, and Mike Ploog. This particular 272-page hardcover (published in a digest-sized format) focuses on the best of Will Eisner’s long association with the magazine (227 issues). It shows the artist redefining his style between his earlier comic book work (The Spirit) and his later graphic novel style. Published by Abrams and highly recommended.
7. THE MAD FOLD-IN COLLECTION: I find it highly amusing that Chronicle Books is collecting all 401 of Al Jaffee’s Mad Fold-ins in a prestigious multi-volume, 208-page slipcased hardcover collection in immaculate condition. Not that the work — published in virtually every issue of Mad Magazine since 1964, and still going today — doesn’t deserve such an elaborate presentation. It most certainly does! I just think it’s funny that such a beautifully produced book is going to have every single page folded — that cracks me up! The mint condition freaks heads are going to explode. (Maybe that’s a good thing!) Way to go, Al!!! Good luck on the next 401!
8. THE SPIDER-MAN VAULT: Originally published last year and then mysteriously withdrawn before distribution (except for a few unsuspecting Costco stores around the country — but not mine), The Spider-Man Vault is a 192-page hardcover “Museum-in-a-Book” (without the funny smells) all about the Amazing Spider-Man. Written by occasional Spidey-writer Peter David (with an uncredited assist by our pal Bob Greenberger), it’s part comprehensive history and part ephemera collection of coolness — unpublished stuff, interoffice tomfoolery, possibly scripts excerpts and sketches, reproductions of giveaways, facsimiles of mystical annulment papers — it could be anything! Maybe even working Web-Shooters! (Nah, probably not.) The Vault-style books are great fun, and I am really looking forward to this one. Even if it doesn’t have facsimile x-rays from Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark stunt people . . . Speaking of Bob Greenberger, don’t miss his previews of DC’s Night Force collection and FF by Jonathan Hickman Volume 1 — this month right here at the Westfield blog.
9. SALE BOOKS: A number of very cool books are now being offered for half price (or more), giving you a second chance for some good reads. Here’s just a quick list — there’s more information for you at the links: Kirby: King of the Comics HC. Mark Evanier’s excellent overview of the the career of Jack Kirby . . . Star Trek: A Comics History SC. A history of all the comic books and newspaper strips . . . James Bond: The History of the Illustrated 007 SC. A complete comics history. Shaken, not stirred . . . In the Studio HC. Interviews with cutting-edge comics creators including, Burns, Crumb, Spiegleman, and Ware . . . Cartoon America HC. A celebration of 250 years of American cartooning . . . Sesame Street: A Celebration of 40 Years of Life on the Street HC. A complete history of the long-running and innovative show . . . Many other sale books are available at the Westfield website.
10. THINGS IN ODD PLACES: The Dark Horse collectible “statuettes in a tin box” series is now producing a line of Classic Marvel Characters, beginning with Spider-Man. Each statuette is 5 1/2 inches tall, limited to 2,000 numbered pieces, and comes with a special pin-back button and character booklet in each decorated tin box. If you haven’t seen them, these little statuettes are very cool . . . They might not be for everybody, but there’s a six-book series of kids books starring the DC Super-Pets — Krypto & Ace, Streaky, Beppo the Super-Monkey, Jumpa the Kanga, Topo the Octopus, and GL B’dg (although he looks like Ch’p to me) — all charmingly illustrated by Tiny Titans’ Art Baltazar. Aw yeah, cute! . . . TwoMorrows’ Alter Ego #104 is a special issue celebrating the 50th Anniversary of the Fantastic Four, featuring an all-new interview with Stan Lee!
AND NOW, A FINAL TRIBUTE TO THE OLD DC COMICS!
This is how I’ll always remember the old DC Universe. Not so serious, and not afraid to make fun of themselves a little. I fear that we will never see its like ever again.
10.1 BATMAN BLACK & WHITE STATUE: BATMAN BY SERGIO ARAGONES: Seriously, I laughed for ten minutes when I saw this. This may be the only Batman statue I’ll ever need to own. It’s a very cool statue, and I think every comics fan should have one, but I’m mostly running this picture here so that everyone can see it, and hopefully laugh like I did.
Comics should be fun!
See you soon!
KC CARLSON: Really needed a good laugh. Thanks, Sergio!
As always, WESTFIELD COMICS is not responsible for the stupid things that KC says. Especially that thing that really irritated you.