Too Much Cool Stuff – Not Enough $$$ – October ‘09

Blackest Night: The Flash

Blackest Night: The Flash

by KC Carlson

We’re entering into that time of year where the pickings are slim for exciting new products. Most all of the cool new stuff for year-end holiday sales has already been solicited in the last couple of months. Long-standing sales wisdom says that people don’t buy for themselves during December, and nobody buys anything in January (and maybe February) since most folks overspent the holidays and are scrambling to pay off those bills. So the conventional wisdom for publishers is not to release anything too exciting. This is not just true for comics, but for most of pop culture. You’d be hard pressed to find many blockbuster CDs or novels or new movies (except for Christmas Day releases). New TV virtually disappears for much of December and early January, giving way to holiday programming – old and new – and end-of-season Bowl Games. I personally think the conventional wisdom is crazy – it’s actually the perfect time to sneak something cool out there when it doesn’t get buried by a dozen different similar things!

So let’s see what we can find this month…

There are a number of new comic strip collections starting up soon, some of which are pretty obscure or unknown, but several are really worth a look because of the people working on them. Like Jet Scott, a lost science fiction strip from the 1950s featuring artwork by the great Jerry Robinson, best known around here for his early Batman stories and his role in developing both the Joker and Robin characters for that series. Bob Greenberger will be along any day now at the Westfield blog to talk about this great collection from Dark Horse. (You’ll see this on Wednesday! – ed.)

From Tony Raiola and the Pacific Comics Club comes the 1939 adventures of Connie in two volumes of newspaper comics’ greatest female adventurer by the great brother team of writer Harold and artist Frank Godwin. Look for Connie Vol. 1: Captives of the Space Pirates and Connie Vol. 2: Battle for Titan.

John Stanley Library: Thirteen Going on Eighteen

Thirteen Going on Eighteen

While it may not be a comic strip, John Stanley’s Thirteen Going On Eighteen falls into the obscure category. Published by Dell Comics, it was one of the great teen comics during the 1960s, now pretty much forgotten by all but John Stanley fans. This title was actually much different than the usual teen book because, as the title implies, Val was just an adolescent on the verge of teenhood, learning about it through watching her older sister Evie and through friendship and rivalry with her best friend Judy.

I’ve never had the opportunity to read Thirteen Going on Eighteen, but it’s been on my “must read” list since first learning about it several years ago. Thus, I am extremely excited that Drawn and Quarterly will be reprinting the series as a part of their John Stanley Library, with the 336-page first volume of this series on sale soon.

There’s also another volume of Fantagraphics’ great Dennis the Menace series out this month, with all the daily strips from 1961-1962. I was never a great fan of Hank Ketcham, but discovering the power and grace and humor in these early Dennis strips – done during the height of Ketcham’s career – has made me a fan.

DC is hitting their Blackest Night event pretty hard this month with three new mini-series tie-ins (The Flash, JSA, and Wonder Woman) and ten regular books crossing over into the Event. So I think that we may be right at the tipping point for whether this is going to be a great event or just the same story (heroes vs. zombie-like former heroes) over and over again. It certainly hasn’t stopped the Marvel Zombies from returning time after time. I guess people really like zombies, although personal experience tells me that they make lousy house guests.

Blackest Night: Wonder Woman

Blackest Night: Wonder Woman

If I had to pick a couple to recommend, I guess I’d pick Blackest Night: The Flash, because it re-teams Geoff Johns and Scott Kolins, it’s a story about the Rogues, and Johns is the mastermind behind BN, after all. Blackest Night: Wonder Woman might also be interesting because Greg Rucka is writing, and it’s Diana taking on Black Lantern Maxwell Lord, so I hope that this storyline is finally being wrapped up and Diana can move on with her life. Both Doom Patrol #5 and Blackest Night: JSA #1 should be interesting as both teams have lots of dead characters in their long histories. Doom Patrol you should already be checking out anyway, as it’s one of DC’s best new titles with lots of unexpected goings-on in the Doom Patrol lead (written by Keith Giffen). Plus, the wack-a-doodle Metal Men back-up reunites the classic Justice League creative team of Giffen, J.M. DeMatteis, and Kevin Maguire! Big fun! (Don’t tell Dan DiDio!)

But I think that DC’s book to watch this month has nothing to do with zombie-like dead guys – or even superheroics! It also is one of DC’s consistently well-done titles, but it doesn’t get the credit it deserves. Of course I’m talking about Jonah Hex, celebrating its 50th issue this month! (Not bad when most critics thought the title would be gone by #12.) Credit for this goes to the regular writers, Jimmy Palmiotti and Justin Gray, who have been there since the beginning of this current revival, flanked by an incredible line up of artist’s artists including Jordi Bernet, Russ Heath, Phil Noto, Luke Ross, J.H. Williams III, Hex co-creator Tony DeZuniga, and Darwyn Cooke.

Jonah Hex #50

Jonah Hex #50

The latter artist travels back for a return trip to the Old West as Darwyn Cooke illustrates the double-sized Jonah Hex #50. For those of you who haven’t been following the trade reports, Jonah Hex is scheduled to be a major motion picture in theaters next year. So if you don’t already know about Jonah Hex – one of DC’s classic characters – here’s your chance before the  outside world finds out how great this character is. And if you think that Hex is just another Western character, you’ve obviously never read a Jonah Hex comic! #50 is a great place to start, and much of the current series is available in collected editions. And the original stories are being collected in Showcase Presents Jonah Hex, two volumes of which are currently available.

Over at Marvel, this month – Sorry, I just can’t get too excited about the Fall of the Hulks thingamajig. After hearing “Hulk is strongest one there is!” for decade after decade and now seeing that there are apparently at least eight different variations of the Hulk (Man, I am behind in my reading…), it’s kinda hard to believe that guys like M.O.D.O.K., Egghead, and the Red Ghost and his Super-Apes are gonna take these Hulk guys and gals down. Or maybe we’ll get a new Hulk – one that’s purple with green pants!

Captain America: Who Will Wield the Shield?

Who Will Wield the Shield?

Are we really to take the Captain America: Who Will Wield the Shield? one-shot too seriously? I hope it’s not a big fight, although that would be the time-honored Marvel way of doing things. (Remember Power Man (bad guy) vs. Power Man (Luke Cage) battling over who gets to be da (Power) Man? Okay, maybe not.) At least it’s by Ed Brubaker and Butch Guice so that all the words will be in a pleasing order and the pictures will be pretty! (Although, I gotta say, every time I see that title, I can’t help but think “Don’t Wield -Back S.H.I.E.L.D.!” Stan would be so proud…)

I will be checking out Siege: The Cabal, however, mostly in the hope that Siege will be the storyline that finally brings all this Norman Osborn Dark Dank Drippy Reign stuff to a close. The promised death in Dark Avengers #12 might be a good sign as well. Dark Reign started off so strong, but now, after what seems like a hundred or more tie-in issues later, it’s starting to feel like someone left that cake out in the Dark Reign too long. Let’s hope that Bendis still has the recipe for a big strong finish!

Love and Capes #12

Love and Capes #12

SHORT TAKES – The special double-sized Love and Capes #12 by creator Thom Zahler features the long-awaited wedding of Abby and the Crusader in this charming superheroic romance comic. And as a very special treat, many of the series’ fans will be depicted as guests at the wedding! … It’s What If? time at Marvel again this month with five new What If? Specials … Vartox returns in Power Girl #7! No, really! And in case you think you’ve seen the cover before – you probably have! It’s a “fromage” (as Mike Carlin used to say) to the cover of Superman #281 from 1974 – Vartox’s first appearance!

Chimichanga

Chimichanga

CREATOR WATCHEric Powell is launching a new all-ages series under his creator-owned Albatross Exploding Funny Books line this month. Chimichanga is about a circus of less than extraordinary performers and the little bearded girl who discovers an extraordinary creature. Don’t worry, The Goon fans! Eric’s still doing that for Dark Horse, as well! … Mark Waid’s Incorruptible is the flip-side to his earlier hit BOOM! series Irredeemable. Incorruptible is the story of what happens when a super-villain decides to step up and start making a difference in the world. It’s illustrated by Neil Edwards … Chris Bachalo pencils and provides the cover for the Brian Bendis-scripted Dark Avengers Annual #1 … Speaking of Bendis, Marvel’s Icon imprint is issuing a special 10th Anniversary edition of Fortune and Glory: A True Hollywood Comic Book Story – written and illustrated by Bendis – and now in color for the first time! … Bendis’ 10th Anniversary at Marvel is also being celebrated in Brian Michael Bendis: 10 Years at Marvel, a 360-page TPB of his greatest Marvel Stories – a rare tribute collection for a writer! … Adam Warren’s popular Empowered graphic novel series is getting its first release in a traditional comic book format in an all-new 32-page comic from Dark Horse this month … Our pal Beau Smith has got a new story in this year’s DC Holiday Special 2009 – something he’ll probably be mentioning over in his own Beauology 101 column a few times between now and the holidays. Looks like a fun book!

Betty's Diary

Betty's Diary

SOMETHING FOR THE KIDS? – Archie releases a fan-favorite collection of Betty’s Diary stories this month. Told from Betty’s P.O.V. as entries in her diary, these stories are often more touching and heartwarming than the average Archie tale, and the original Betty’s Diary series is much beloved by Archie fans … Roger Landridge’s The Muppet Show comic becomes a regular, ongoing series beginning with a new #1 … Pixar’s Cars, Toy Story, and WALL•E also begin their regular series this month at BOOM! Kids … Duck Dodgers in the 24 1/2 Century returns in the pages of Looney Tunes #181. And you can bet that the trusty Cadet will be there too!

KC CARLSON: Buying and reading comics since 1960. (Yikes!)

Purchase

Jet Scott
Connie Vol. 1: Captives of the Space Pirates

Connie Vol. 2: Battle for Titan

John Stanley Library:Thirteen Going On Eighteen

Hank Ketcham’s Complete Dennis the Menace 1961-1962

Blackest Night: The Flash

Blackest Night: Wonder Woman

Doom Patrol #5

Blackest Night: JSA #1

Jonah Hex #50

Fall of the Hulks Alpha

Fall of the Hulks Gamma

Captain America: Who Will Wield the Shield?

Siege: The Cabal

Dark Avengers #12

Love and Capes #12

What If? Specials

Power Girl #7

Chimichanga

Incorruptible

Dark Avengers Annual #1

Fortune and Glory: A True Hollywood Comic Book Story

Brian Michael Bendis: 10 Years at Marvel

Empowered

DC Holiday Special 2009

Archie & Friends All-Stars: Best of Betty’s Diary

The Muppet Show

Cars

Toy Story

WALL•E

Looney Tunes #181

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