by KC Carlson
It’s one of those months where there’s way more than 10 things I like — especially since the Holiday Gift books are starting to appear for early solicitation — and maybe you heard that DC’s going to release 52 new #1 comics in September (What, it’s not April 1st?). So strap in and hang on — I’m going to cover as much as I can!
(BTW, ignore the numbers this month. There’s way more than 10 Things here, even though I didn’t number them that way. But who’s counting?)
1. DC Comics’ 52 Pick-Up — The big news in comics this month is DC relaunching its entire DC Universe line of comics with 52 new #1 issues. That’s a little bit daunting for anybody, but Westfield is offering a special “volume discount” if you’re interested in checking out all 52 issues. Simply buy all 52 as a set and you get an extra discount! If you’re looking to pick and choose, here are some helpful hints:
• We’re told that many of the Batman and Green Lantern books will not be changed much (although look for some new concepts in the mix). Likewise, the ongoing Legion of Super-Heroes title will continue virtually without change — although the Legion Lost book is a new concept, based in the 20th Century DCU.
• Crash courses in “new” DC continuity will be available in the Justice League and Action Comics series. So we advise that you check out at least the first couple of issues of each for answers to your continuity questions. (It’s a no-brainer to pick them up just for the creative teams: Johns/Lee and Morrison/Morales!)
• The rest? Pretty much up to your personal taste. I’m going to check these out: (Caveat: I had some trouble deciding whether to buy books with great concepts/not exciting creators — and vice versa.)
• Aquaman by Johns, Reis, and Prado. Why not? The poor guy could use a break. But I’m gone at the first sign of bodily mutilation. Been there, done that.
• DC Universe Presents: Deadman by Jenkins and Chang. Love DC anthologies. Love quirky characters like Deadman and quirky creators like Jenkins (The Sentry, Spectacular Spider-Man) and Chang.
• Superman by Pérez and Merino. Not sure about the new costume, or how this will link up with Morrison’s Action Comics, but I usually love anything that Pérez touches. (Him doing breakdowns is better than nothing.) Will be interesting to see Merino breaking away from Carlos Pacheco and working from Pérez breakdowns.
• Justice League Dark by Milligan and Janin. Wild card. Great team of quirky characters and concepts. Hope Milligan brings his A game (good to see him working on Shade and Constantine again). Not familiar with Janin’s work. Interesting that DC has this in their “The Dark” category and not “Justice League”. (Editor’s note: If you’re reading Flashpoint: Secret Seven, you may have an idea of what to expect from this book.)
• Frankenstein, Agent of S.H.A.D.E. by Lemire and Ponticelli. A popular unconventional pick. Wish it all the best! Really enjoyed Jeff Lemire’s work on Superboy. Need to read Sweet Tooth.
• Static Shock by McDaniel and Rozum. Glad to see the character return, and very interested to see what McDaniel will do with him. I think a lot of folks think McDaniel’s style is “old school”, but I love his dynamic layouts and storytelling.
Here’s a few I would probably get, but for a creator (or concept) I really dislike:
• Hawk and Dove by Gates and Liefeld. This one is killing me, as I love the characters and Sterling Gates’ work. But life is too short to keep supporting the worst technical artist in comics.
• O.M.A.C. by DiDio and Giffen. My least favorite Kirby Koncept, ever. How many times are they going to attempt to re-do it? Really looking forward to seeing if Giffen has another place in the new DCU. That other guy — not so sure about him…
• The Savage Hawkman: Would buy this in a second if he just wasn’t so darn savage.
Most of “The Edge” titles kinda confuse me — a lot. There are plenty of great characters and creators in that particular mix, but I fear that DC’s “Edge” may be too “dark” for me. (Might be right up your alley, however!)
Finally, a title I will grudgingly check out because of the creators (including AH!), but I have serious doubts about upending the latest concept for the character — Batgirl. Smells corporate-directed to me — never a good sign.
Anyway, good luck with your ordering this month! (And check out that “volume” deal!)
Surprisingly, DC has other books on their schedule this month, including a full line of Vertigo titles, as well as Batman: Noel, an odd, original 112-page hardcover graphic novel by Lee Bermejo inspired by Dickens’ A Christmas Carol and incorporating the many wildly divergent “eras” of Bat-history. Also, there are the eagerly awaited hardcover collections of the first six issues of Batman Incorporated and the complete Green Lantern: War of The Green Lanterns. Plus, The Bible. No, really… DC’s reprinting the wonderful 1975 tabloid edition of The Bible by Sheldon Mayer and Joe Kubert. Although I would have changed the actual title of the book — to something like Illustrated Stories From the Bible — or there might be a lot of really surprised folks ordering this not knowing what it actually is. (The current title is, maybe, a bit misleading…)
2. Fantagraphics: Fantagraphics usually doesn’t get a big call-out from me (some of their stuff is just a little too esoteric for me), but this time around, they’ve got three great new art books (and a call-back on a fourth), so let’s take a look . . . First up is the long-awaited first volume of Walt Kelley’s great Pogo Possum strips with the slightly unwieldy title of Pogo: The Complete Syndicated Comic Strips Volume 1: Through the Wild Blue Yonder. The reason for the long title? Pogo and many of his friends first appeared in various Dell comic books beginning in 1941. This book series is not reprinting those. It collects the newspaper strip which began in 1948 but wasn’t actually syndicated until 1949. I’m pretty sure that the new book will explain this further.
This first (of 12) 360-page hardcover volume covers approximately the first two years of this beloved comic strip, featuring all the dailies, plus — for the first time — full-color Sunday strips. Pogo originally started out as a whimsical funny animal strip featuring wonderful characters, nonsense language, poetry, and song. (“Deck us all with Boston Charlie!”) But it wasn’t long before Kelly bolstered the frenetic swamp goings-on with often biting political satire and good ol’ plain talk. (“We have met the enemy, and he is us!). The original strip ran for 27 years, until 1975, even outliving its creator. (Kelly passed away in 1973.) Such was the depth of the premise, it’s estimated that Kelly created over 1,000 different characters to populate the strip. That was one crowded swamp!
This is the book I’m most excited about this month, and I want it to do well, as Kelly’s Pogo has been out of print for far too long (and some of the run has never been collected at all!). It’s one of those rare gems that’s difficult to define in a single breath. It’s historically important as both commentary and folklore, it’s often thought-provoking, and it’s wildly funny. Much of today’s entertainment would be lucky to be just one of those. Walt Kelly’s Pogo is all of those… and more!
Special features in the first volume include biographical information on Kelly, an extensive glossary by comics historian R.C. Harvey, and a forward by legendary columnist Jimmy Breslin. And yes, this is not Fantagraphics’ first attempt at collecting Pogo. (11 slim volumes were published in the 90s.) But using their highly successful format of a big scoop of strips (two years’ worth), as in their well-liked Peanuts collections, this should be a more popular format for readers and collectors — especially with its larger-than-Peanuts size (11’’ x 9’’) to accommodate the full-color Sunday strips. (The book will be slightly larger than Fantagraphics’ new Mickey Mouse series.)
Speaking of Mickey, Walt Disney’s Mickey Mouse Volume 2: “Trapped on Treasure Island” is also on Fantagraphics’ schedule this month, featuring another incredible 312-page hardcover collection of Floyd Gottfredson’s Mickey Mouse newspaper strips! This volume features some classic Mickey villains in Pegleg Pete, the mysterious “Will Shakespeare”, and Professors Ecks, Doublex, and Triplex! Plus, 50 pages of supplementary historical material contributed by Disney historians. For those of you who missed it, Volume 1 was amazing! (And it’s also being offered along with Volume 2 in a special slipcase this month — so you get another chance at it!)
Also from FBI this month is The Art of Joe Kubert, a 232-page art book covering Kubert’s amazing career. From Hawkman in both the Golden and Silver Ages; and Sgt. Rock, Enemy Ace, and the Unknown Soldier from Kubert’s incredible run of DC’s war comics; to his more recent (and more personal) graphic novel work over the last two decades, including the Eisner Award-winning Fax From Sarajevo and Yossel: April 19, 1943. This full-color hardcover is edited and compiled by Kubert biographer Bill Schelly and is highly recommended.
And… a rare price decrease on a worthy project, Fantagraphics’ amazing Gahan Wilson: 50 Years of Playboy Cartoons — a three-volume, slipcased, full-color, 1,056-page collection of every cartoon Wilson drew for Playboy. Formerly priced at $125, it’s now just $75.00 (plus the generous Westfield discount), meaning that it’s the perfect creepy addition to your bookshelf! Just in time for Halloween!
3. Halloween giveaway comics: Speaking of that Hollowest (Weeniest? Never mind…) of holidays, there’s a great batch of Halloween giveaway comics for the kids in your neighborhood this year. These ashcan versions are a lot of fun, most feature well-known characters, and they’re a great way to get younger readers into the fun of reading comic books! We’ve been giving comics away for about a decade now and have become known as “The House With the Comics!”, as we hear the kids yelling as they come up the walk. We’ve even heard that other neighborhoods drive their kids to our house just for the comics! Try to get a couple of different bundles so you can target specifically to the kids. Little kids will be all over the Smurfs this year, because of the movie. Little girls always love Archie comics, and they will be enchanted by Scary Godmother (as will little boys!). The Casper/Strawberry Shortcake flip book is the perfect solution for both. And don’t forget classic characters Donald Duck and Fraggle Rock or newcomers Snarked! (based on Lewis Carroll concepts) and the mangaesque Mameshiba! Share your love for comics with the neighborhood kids — and help grow new comics readers at the same time!
4. Marvel Comics: To almost no one’s surprise, there’s a new Ultimate (Comics) Spider-Man #1 on Marvel’s schedule for September. One major problem (SPOILER ALERT!!!!!!) — the character just died about 15 minutes ago. I’m sure the returning Brian Bendis has an answer for that. (I may sound underwhelmed, but I truly am excited that Sara Pichelli will be the regular artist! Yay!) To make sure no secrets get prematurely spoiled, the first issue will be polybagged. (Which can conveniently double as a barf bag if needed! Yet another Marvel innovation!) . . . Also, there’s a new Ultimate Comics X-Men series on tap as well. (But wait, aren’t most of them dead too? Perhaps I’ve accidentally discovered the secret of the new new Ultimate Universe…) I see dead people…
Marvel also gets this month’s Sour Grapes award for their “Still #(issue number)” blurbs scattered throughout the September Marvel Previews. Obviously designed as a dig against DC’s line starting over again at #1, Marvel’s trying to show off how long-lived their titles are. Which would be funny if most of the titles they blurbed hadn’t been re-started a time or two themselves. Especially ridiculous: Avengers: Still #17 and New Avengers: #16. It would have been a good joke (as well as proving they’re big enough to laugh at themselves) had they also blurbed recent restarts Daredevil: Still #3! and Ghost Rider: Still #3! Or even Ultimate Comics Spider-Man: Still #1! But in the immortal words of John Belushi: “But, NOOOOOO!” How disingenuous.
The Marvel Universe seems to be in a rare holding pattern this month (how fortunate for DC) with Fear Itself winding down, X-Men: Schism still gearing up, and I’m sorry, but every time I see the words “Spider Island” I’m thinking “Uh-oh, Chongo!” (I’m actually really enjoying the recent run of Amazing Spider-Man, but “Spider Island” is a dumb name.) My two favorite Marvel items this month are decidedly non-Marvel Universe: Roger Langridge is adapting Edgar Rice Burroughs’ John Carter: A Princess of Mars as a five-issue miniseries with artist Filipe Andrade. And Brian Bendis, Kelly Sue DeConnick, and Lan Medina are finishing up a tie-in to the popular ABC detective show Castle, just in time for the Fourth Season premiere. The 112-page graphic novel featuring fictional Richard Castle’s fictional detective Derrick Storm was already mentioned on the show during the Third Season cliffhanger. The official title is (deep breath): Castle: Richard Castle’s Deadly Storm: A Derrick Storm Mystery.
5. Archie Stuff: Remember that Best of Archie Comics collection I mentioned last month? This month, Archie announces the Deluxe Edition of the same book — except in a larger (7’’ x 10’’) format, printed on better paper, including 16 additional pages, and costing three times as much as the regular edition. A heads up about this last month would have been nice, Archie. Or did you want us to buy this twice? . . . Also this month, Archie is offering a 192-page softcover collection of classic Archie Holiday stories from the 50s, 60s, and 70s, which only makes me wonder if there will be a hardcover listed next month. I really don’t know. Guess we’ll have to wait and see . . .
IDW’s latest Archie hardcover (see, that’s the way to do it) is Archie: The Best of Samm Schwartz. Schwartz was a long-time Archie artist beginning in 1942 and contributing to the company well into the 1980s. (With two major exceptions: He was an editor/artist for Tower Comics [T.H.U.N.D.E.R. Agents] in the mid-60s, although he primarily worked on Tower’s teenage comic, Tippy Teen. He also illustrated Date With Debbi and Debbi’s Dates for DC Comics in 1969-70.) For Archie, he worked on many of their titles but became most closely associated with Jughead, being the primary artist for the character (and title) for many years.
In many people’s eyes, he made Jughead (the comic) one of the funniest comic books around. His rubbery, loose-limbed style of art was very stylized and easily identifiable, and he had control over the look of the majority of the stories he worked on — penciling, inking, and lettering most of them. Although he didn’t write much, Schwartz was an excellent gag man and was said to have great autonomy in rewriting “bad” stories, often receiving an “additional dialogue” credit (when Archie actually displayed credits).
A strong Schwartz trademark was that the “business” that was going on in the background of his stories was often funnier that what was happening in the main plot — and often punctuated with pratfalls and explosions. He often drew himself into stories — look for “Vote for Samm” posters and signs. And he had an extra “m” in his first name because he thought it was more unusual. He was that kind of guy.
This new IDW collection features 152 pages of strange Schwartz stories — all full-color and meticulously restored. And if Golden Age Archie is more your style, Dark Horse is offering another gorgeous Archie Archives (Volume 3), a 232-page full color hardcover reprinting Pep Comics #46-50 and Archie Comics #7-10.
6. And Finally, Here’s Your Handy The Walking Dead Checklist for September:
• The Walking Dead Weekly #36-39
• The Walking Dead: Rise of the Governor novel by Robert Kirkman & Jay Bonansinga
• The Walking Dead Chronicles (Official Companion to the TV show)
• Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Sassy Deluxe Costumes (I never knew the Turtles were sexy girls. Why didn’t anybody tell me? ) (Wait, that isn’t right…!)
(I meant to say…)
Congratulations, all you Zombies! Have fun storming the castle!
7. …and the Rest!: Wow! We’re all out of time to mention such cool new stuff like Buffy Season 9, Hellboy: House of the Living Dead (a new GN by Mike Mignola and Richard Corben!), and the first volume of the new Manara Library from Dark Horse; new ongoing comics for Star Trek and Ghostbusters from IDW; a huge collection of Simon & Kirby: Crime stories from the Golden Age (Titan); Flash Gordon & Jungle Jim done right by IDW; a memoir from Batman movie producer Michael Uslan (The Boy Who Loved Batman); a huge new Batman coffee table book (The Batman Files), written and drawn by Bruce Wayne himself!; a new graphic novel by Frank Miller with absolutely no Batman whatsoever in it, really (Holy Terror); and a cool new graphic novel by Barry Lyga and Colleen Doran (Mangaman). Hopefully somebody else can cover some of these. (Or follow the links for more info!) Watch for Bob Greenberger’s rundown on The Art of Spider-Man and the Teen Titans Omnibus.
Wow! What a month! Check out ALL the new listings! You’ll never know what cool thing you might find!
KC CARLSON remembers another major comic publisher revitalizing their entire comics line during a September long ago. The time: 1995. The publisher: Malibu Comics (then just purchased by Marvel). The title of the revamp: Black September. Hmmm… Whatever happened to them?
History marches on!
WESTFIELD COMICS is not responsible for the stupid things that KC says. Especially that thing that really irritated you.