Markley’s Fevered Brain: What A Week

Wayne Markley

Wayne Markley


by Wayne Markley

In the last few weeks, there has been a boatload of great collections that have come out. There were at least ten books which I consider must reads and are worth putting on your bookshelf for re-reading over time. There is a wide mix from an often overlooked newspaper strip by the King to a new celebration of one of the underground greats to a newest collection of one of Marvel’s single longest runs by a single writer (and most creative storylines) to a pair of beautiful European graphic novels. Actually, there were at least three stunning European graphic novels over the last two weeks, with IDW’s Eurocomics leading the way with a diverse release of some of, if not the best of, what Europe has to offer. Of course I am not going to write about all of these books this time, but I have picked five of them randomly to discuss and hopefully capture your interest.

Incredible Hulk Epic Collection Vol. 21: The Fall of the Pantheon

Incredible Hulk Epic Collection Vol. 21: The Fall of the Pantheon


The Incredible Hulk Epic Collection Vol. 21: The Fall of the Pantheon continues the reprinting of Peter David’s epic run of the Hulk. This is the third Epic Collection of his stories and there were eight Peter David Hulk Visionaries prior to the Epic Collections. All of these put together have over 100 issues of Peter David’s run in beautiful trade format, minus the ads and newsprint. I have raved and raved about how good Peter David’s run on the Hulk has been for years now, and this newest collection is leading to the end of Peter David’s run on the book. In this collection, we see the end of the Pantheon as they are torn apart from within while having an epic battle in Asgard, which leads to an interesting storyline with Hela. We also see the continuing evolution of the Hulk/Bruce Banner dynamic as we are introduced to the savage Bruce Banner. Plus, there are a number of guest-stars such as the Punisher, Man-Thing, Ant-Man and the Wasp, and others. As if this is not enough you get such great artists as Gary Frank, Liam Sharp, Barry Kitson, and many others. While this collection is a joy to read by itself, I would highly recommend you try and read all of Peter David’s run on the Hulk as it is one of the most creative and innovative runs on a single character ever done. David takes the Hulk that Lee and Kirby created and transformers him multiple times, and each change is an organic turn that makes sense within the storyline and takes the book in a new and original direction. The whole Peter David run should be required reading for every comic fan. Marvel deserves praise for getting these stories back into print.

Sky Masters of the Space Force: The Complete Dailies HC

Sky Masters of the Space Force: The Complete Dailies HC


Sky Masters of the Space Force: The Complete Dailies 1958-1961 HC from Hermes Press is exactly what it sounds like. Here you will find every strip Dick and Dave Wood wrote and Jack Kirby drew, as well as the fabulous inks of Wally Wood (no relation to the writers) and later Dick Ayers. Sky Masters has been collected in the past by Pure Imagination and in the pages of Comics Revue, but this is a nice collection of all of the strips, two per page, in their original size for the first time. The strips are right out of the time period they are done, with lots of Soviet spies, space monsters, and mad scientists. This collection is an easy read and a fun romp but the thing that stands out is the art. While Kirby tried to develop a newspaper strip for many years without much success, this one was his most successful and longest running strip, as opposed to his other attempts. (It should be remembered that newspaper strips were far more profitable as a creator vs. comic books in the ‘50s). It is also interesting how these strips reflect the times with the obsession to get to the moon in the late 1950s and early 1960s. To be fair though, the reproduction is not the greatest here and while it is no worse than the other reprints of the strips over the years, it still is not as nice as I would have hoped. Coming this spring is the complete Sky Masters and the Space Force Sundays from Amigo Press and they say they are re-doing everything including the colors to match the originals, so I have high hopes for this book to share the standard Fantagraphics has set with their Prince Valiant series. (One of the greatest newspaper strips ever done and the collections will knock you over they are so beautiful). A good book for comic strip fans or for Kirby completest.

Fifty Freakin’ Years with the Fabulous Furry Freak Bothers

Fifty Freakin’ Years with the Fabulous Furry Freak Bothers


Fifty Freakin’ Years with the Fabulous Furry Freak Bothers is just what it says, a wonderful collection of classic and new Freak Brothers stories by their creator Gilbert Shelton and others. The Freak Brothers are arguably the most well know of all of the underground comics of the ‘60s and ‘70s, while Robert Crumb is obviously the most famous creator. The Freak Brothers are three friends who lives are devoted to drugs and enjoying themselves. The three first appeared as a syndicated strip in 1968, and their adventures and stories have been collected in comic books and graphic novels for 50 years now and are still going strong. And let’s not forgot about the also nefarious (and drug using) Fat Freddy’s Cat, who has his own comics and adventures. This book is an homage to the fiftieth anniversary of the boys and their adventures. It features new short stories of the three “brothers”, Freewheelin’ Franklin Freek, Phineas Phreak, and Fat Freddy Freekowtski, and all of their friends. The stories are just as fresh and entertaining as they were in the beginning with the same humor and social commentary you would expect. There are also pages of history and background on the characters and all of their impact on American (and elsewhere) culture. There is also a very good tribute section where artists such as Robert Crumb, Hunt Emerson, and others, try their hands at telling a Freak Brothers story. Reading this book it made me remember how good these stories were and what a different, but equally as good, the world of underground comics was. I now want to go back and re-read the works of Spain, Crumb, Rand Holmes, and so many others from the ‘60s and ‘70s. This book is a great trip down memory lane, with new bits thrown in and is also a great sampler of a seemingly forgotten side of the world of comics. A great book for everyone. From the fine folks at Knockabout Comics.

Tales from the Age of the Cobra

Tales from the Age of the Cobra


IDW released two beautiful but very different albums (Graphic Novels) reprinting classic European material in English for the first time, both of which are stunning, but in different ways. The first is Lights of the Amalou by Christophe Girelin and illustrator Claire Wendling. The story is an epic fantasy tale involving magicians, magic trees, romance, action, adventure, and dragons. This full color tale takes you away and until the last page you will forget where you are or that you are reading a book as this story just sucks you in. The coloring also plays a major part of this story as it is so subtle that you might mistake it for black and white in places, but it is not. It is understandable why this book won the award at Augouleme Festival Award for Best Fantasy Graphic Novel. Tales from the Age of the Cobra is another fantasy story this time by Enrique Fernandez. This is a tale of two lovers separated by fate in a world filled with war and magic, and their desperate attempt to survive and to get back together. Fernandez’s art looks almost animated and reading this book is like watching a movie with flowing images and bright colors. While of a similar genre as Lights of the Amalou, it is a world apart from it is terms of style and look. Yet both of these books are great reads and work on so many levels. Reading these two books in the same week was almost like reading Barry Windsor-Smith’s Conan and John Buscema’s Conan back to back. The same character (or genre in this case) but the two look nothing alike but are equally as good for different reasons. My hat is off to IDW for bring all of these wonderful European books to America (and publishing them in English) for the first time. Treat yourself to both of these books, you will not be disappointed.

Lights of the Amalou

Lights of the Amalou


That is it for this time. The last few weeks have seen a plethora of fantastic books. As I mentioned in the opening, these are just the tip of the iceberg of great books that have come out recently. While I tend to be very critical of modern comics, it is without question a fantastic time to be a comic fan due to the diversity of material that is being released, be it historical in nature or for comics from around the world or even new monthly comics. Ice Cream Man from Image stands out as a very different and entertaining comic book that also just came out. There is almost too much to take it all in. As I do every time, I welcome your feedback as to what I reviewed here. Have you read any of these books? What DID you think? Am I crazy? I can be reached at MFBWAY@AOL.COM or on Facebook at Wayne Markley. My thoughts and words here are mine alone and do not reflect the opinions of Westfield Comics or their employees. As always…

Thank you.

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