What better way to celebrate the year's oddest month than with a tour through your essential comics buying guide?Â I can't think of one!
(You know, I read someone writing that they weren't going to use Previews anymore.Â That's fine and dandy if you live in a cultural mecca like New York, but what about those of us who live in a cultural backwater, like Phoenix?Â If I don't order from Previews, I don't get a lot of great comics.Â Previews may suck, butÂ it's kind of a necessary evil.Â Okay, I'm off my soapbox ... for now.Â I reserve the right to climb back on with no warning whatsoever!)
So, Previews, Volume XVIII, #2, with the hype machine for Marvel's next event kicking in big-time on the cover.Â But are there any, you know, good comics in this volume?
Check out page 13.Â Â Someone hired an editor who knows grammar!Â "The Secret Invasion is here - WHOM do you trust?" reads the copy.Â Joey Q got my letter about the uses of "who" and "whom"!Â How exciting!Â (Of course, this could just be the Previews people deciding to change the wording because it was poor grammar, because on the front of the Marvel Previews, it's still wrong.Â But I like to think it was my fawning letters to Joey Q, written on scented pink paper with bunnies on it, that did the trick.)
Conan: Born on the Battlefield (page 42; 18 June) sounds great.Â In fact, it sounded great a month ago, when Dark Horse solicited it the first time!Â Well, that was nice of them to put it in there again, in case you missed it!
Hey, over on page 44, the trade paperback of Grendel: God and the Devil is offered (11 June).Â "Never before collected" says the text.Â Really?Â That's strange.Â I could have sworn it had been.Â Anyway, this is a fantasticÂ arc and will be the subject of my next Comics You Should Own post (I'm working on it, I swear!).Â It's 30 bucks, but it's ten packed issues, so it's a pretty good value.
Speaking of trade paperbacks, there's another collection of Fear Agent on page 47 (18 June).Â Our Dread Lord and Master has opined that this series went off the rails very quickly, and although the second trade isn't as good as the first, it's still an interesting series.Â So what's the word - does this collection suck?
Hey, it's another desperate attempt to make WildStorm viable on page 75 asÂ it crosses over with the DC Universe (16 April)!Â Are they just doing this to keep Jim Lee happy?Â Is he that petty?Â Or is there another, more sinister reason to keep WildStorm on life support?
Batman #676 (page 80; 23 April): "Who will be Batman?"Â My guess is that it will be Bruce Wayne.Â How clever am I?Â Or maybe thatÂ Jean-Paul ValleyÂ dude?Â No, DC wouldn't pull that shit, would it?
I like the solicitation text for Superman #675 (page 81; 16 April): "Kurt Busiek, gearing up for his insanely huge next project, brings his Superman run to a close!"Â I have read very little of Busiek's run, but didn't he make it a bit of a mess with all the delays and whatnot?Â What say you all?Â I wonder if DC is sorry to see him go.
Blue Beetle #26 (page 90; 30 April) is in Spanish!Â What the hell?Â I love this idea, actually, and I hope DC does well with this in a probably under-tapped market.Â I'm sure someone will object to this because it somehow legitimizes the "browning" of our Holy American Culture, but they should shut the fuck up.Â This is awesome.Â Plus, it's 40 pages long.Â Coolio.
Whoo-hoo!Â Ethan van Sciver on JLA (page 92; 23 April)!Â I hope he started it three years ago so it comes out on time.
On page 104, you can pick up a hardcover edition of World's Finest (11 June).Â It's 30 bucks,Â and I'm not sure if it's worth it, even though it's a nice comic.Â Dave Gibbons wrote it and Steve Rude drew it, in case you didn't know it existed (it came out, what, 18 years ago?).Â I saw The Dude for the first time last weekend at the Phoenix Comic Convention.Â He's frickin' gigantic.Â Seriously.Â He's like 7 feet tall.
Both Minx offerings, Burnout and Water Baby (pages 122-125; 4 and 25 June), look somewhat interesting.Â However, I'd like, if I may, take exception with the Minx label: "The First Graphic Novel Imprint for Teens."Â Shouldn't that read "Girls"?Â I mean, none of the books so far look like they appeal to boys in the least, unless Famed Angry Man T is correct* and teenaged boys these days are a bunch of wusses who like to talk about their feelings instead of, you know, smashing things.Â Until Minx publishes a book in which a heroic boyÂ scores a game-winning touchdown while still having time to defeat an evilÂ robot at chess,Â hunts down a were-bear that is terrorizing the comely maidens ofÂ Sweden,Â or occupiesÂ Tegucigalpa with his army of school chumsÂ wielding crudely-made slingshots,Â DC really shouldn't claim Minx is for "teens," because the books ignore a full half of the population.Â I'm not saying they need to change the books they publish, because they can publish what they want, but if I were a teenaged boy and picked one of these books up and didn't see things exploding on page 2, I'd be a bit peeved.Â Where's Jack London when you need him?
* (And I refuse to live in a world where T is right!)
You know, it's nice that Tim Vigil is getting a somewhat high-profile gig on Frank Frazetta's Dark Kingdom Part One (page 154; 2 April), but does that mean that the final two issues of Faust are going to be held up even longer?Â He claimed to be done everything on issue #14 but the cover when I spoke to him last weekend, but what about issue #15?Â I know Faust is an awful comic book, but I still love it.Â I've been waiting almost 20 years for the damned thing to finish.Â Is it too much to ask for?
If you've been waiting for the softcover version of Elephantmen: Wounded Animals, it's offered on page 162 (9 April).Â It collects the first seven issues of the ongoing, and is quite awesome.
Top Cow brings Wanted back into print on page 187 to coincide with the movie.Â I guess that's fine, although the trailer looks nothing like the book.Â I like how the studio apparently wanted to put any notion that these were superheroes as far away from them as possible.Â By the way, this comic has the worst ending of any halfway decent book in history.Â Nice art, though.
Robert Kirkman is finishing his runÂ with Ultimate X-Men #93 (page 11).Â I wonder who's taking over?Â This has to be one of the most disappointing runs in a while, as Kirkman started strong and just went right in the toilet.Â HowÂ weird.
You know, I don't have any interest in reading Ghost Rider #22 (page 28)Â even though Jason Aaron is writing it, but I do like the text: "It's Ghost Rider versus a haunted stretch of highway ..."Â Any time someone battles a piece of pavement, that's good stuff.
Iron Man: Legacy of Doom (page 33)Â is the "long-awaited conclusion" of The Camelot Trilogy.Â What the hell is The Camelot Trilogy?Â I assume it's something Michelinie and Layton did back in the 1980s, right?Â So who has been waiting for this?
I know you won't listen to me, but how about you don't buy Secret Invasion (page 41)?Â Pretty please with sugar on top?Â Don't be an enabler!Â They'll never learn if you keep telling them it's okay!
In Mighty Avengers #12, we learn the answer to the question that's "been on every comic fan's mind for years": what happened to Nick Fury?Â I must say,Â praise JesusÂ for this issue - I actually haven't slept in two years pondering this question.
As somewhat decent Ms. Marvel is (page 46), I have heard it sells less than The Order.Â Yet that gets canceled and Ms. Marvel continues.Â Does anyone know if this title sells worse than one of the better superhero books Marvel has put out in the past year?Â And if so, why does it get to hang around?
Hey, check it out: The Punisher fights Chucky (page 52)! First Moby Dick, now this.Â It should be awesome.
Well, it's the final issue of The Order (page 54).Â Sigh.
You know, I don't like the Mike Choi art on the cover of Uncanny X-Men #497 (page 59), but I love the concept of it.Â It's, like, groovy.
I find the solicitation text for Kick-Ass #3 (page 78)Â amusing: "You were wowed by the first two issues of this comic."Â Um, really?Â We haven't actually read the first two issues of Kick-Ass, because they haven't come out yet.Â I know solicitation texts deal in hyperbole, but that struck me more than most.Â The rest of the text is silly, too.
The Punisher mini-series by Steven Grant, Jo Duffy, Mike Zeck, and Mike Vosburg gets a hardcover treatment on page 90.Â I've never read this, but I have aÂ question: it collectsÂ The Punisher #1-5.Â On the cover of the variant is the original cover to issue #1.Â It clearly states this is aÂ "four issue limited series."Â Did Marvel add another issue after this cover went to press, or can someone not count?Â Any die-hard Punisher fans out there who can help me out?
The Kree-Skrull War trade paperback gets a new printing on page 101.Â It's aÂ pretty good book.Â Â I proved it to you here.Â
On page 106 the trade collecting the first part of Bill Sienkiewicz's remarkable run on New Mutants is offered.Â It's 25 bucks, but it's totally worth it.Â Demon Bear, man!
Well, you know what's coming next ... the Back of the Book!
You know, I'm kind of looking forward to Glamourpuss, Dave Sim's new comic from Aardvark Vanaheim (page 202).Â Does that make me a bad person?
SLG has a new issue of Rex Libris on page 212, which is always cause for celebration, but they also have a trade of Vaistron, Andrew Dabb's insane (and insanely offensive) mini-series set in a wild dystopian future.Â I reviewed it back in the day, and if it sounds like your kind of thing, check it out!Â Dabb does way too many fantasy comicsÂ for Devil's Due that I have no interest in, but he's a good writer.Â I miss Atomika.
The cover to Helen Killer #1 from Arcana Studios (page 217) isn't great, but the solicitation text, which is perhaps the greatest in history, deserves to be quoted in full: "In 1901, twenty-one year old college student Helen Keller, with the aid of a fantastical device invented by her friend and mentor, Alexander Graham Bell, regains her sight and hearing as well as near super-human strength and agility.Â Helen is enlisted by the Secret Service to protect President William McKinley who has been targeted for assassination by Anarchists.Â As a deeper conspiracy to destroy America unfolds around her, Helen discovers that her new abilities come with a dark and terrifying secret."Â SOLD!Â How can you resist?!?!?!?
And then we come to Avatar, and Warren Ellis's latest epic, Anna Mercury (page 234).Â I want to like the newer output by Mr. Ellis.Â He seems like a swell guy - he wears fedoras, he likes to visit Iceland, he often seems grumpy - what's not to love?Â But I fear this rut he's in with regard to subject matter is becoming a canyon, and soon he will disappear down it like a Spanish explorer wandering through the Arizona desert in search of El Dorado and finding only death in the Colorado River.Â Anna Mercury, in case you didn't know from reading almost everything Ellis has written recently, fights "political repression of an insane technocratic society."Â It's a "high-octane blend of The Shadow, Tomb Raider, retropunk science fiction and 21st-century 'weird pulp' action."Â In other words, like almost everything else Ellis writes.Â I'll probably read the first issue, because I can read it for free, but I don't have high hopes for it being much different than his usual work.Â It's not that he doesn't try other things - Crecy and Wolfskin are recent examples - it's just that he goes to certain wells so often it becomes tiresome.Â Oh well.Â It's an Ellis book from Avatar, if that's what you like!
Bodog offers a comic called Ayre Force on page 246, which is not interesting because it's illustrated by Shawn Martinbrough, who ought to get more work with the Big Two.Â Well, that is interesting, but what's unusual about this is that the text claims it's "based on real people" who are led by some billionaire and are fighting a covert war against a pharmaceutical company.Â I guess we're using the term "real people" kind of loosely these days, right?Â Unless they're real people doing completely made-up things!
I know that Chip Mosher is heroically trying to clean up Boom! Studios' difficulties with late books, and I appreciate it, but they're offering Jenny Finn: Doom Messiah (page 249) for I believe the third time (I don't have previous Previews in front of me).Â I hope it comes out eventually!Â The solicitation text for the trade paperback of 2 Guns, which is a pretty decent series if a bit uneven, is also fun: "A light-hearted crime romp."Â Um, no, it's not.Â You may enjoy it or not, but don't go thinking it's "light-hearted."Â There are some funny moments, but that's about it.
I'm not that big a fan of alien abduction stuff, but The Nye Incidents on page 274 from Devil's Due sounds interesting.Â A medical examiner can't figure out the murder of a supposed abductee, and things get weird from there on.Â Sounds neat!
Three Shadows from First Second (page 296) looks kind of keen.Â Two parents try to keep the shadows outside of their house from killing their son, traveling the world to find a way.Â First Second has a good track record, so this might be something to check out.
If you're a Fabian Nicieza fan (I know you're out there!), check out Captain Action #0 from Moonstone on page 319.Â Captain Action must save the world, even though the world has no idea aliens have conquered it!Â Well, that kind of sucks.Â It's 2 dollars for 16 pages, so it might be a nice thing to preview.
NBM usually has some interesting things, and on page 324 they have three volumes of Max Friedman: No Pasaran.Â It takes place during the Spanish Civil War, and sounds kind of cool.Â They're a bit pricey at 12 dollars for only 48 pages each (the first one is 64 pages for 14 bucks), but has anyone read them?Â Are they any good?
So Oni has the second "definitive" edition of Queen & Country on page 326 for 20 dollars.Â Q & C is a great spyÂ series, but I was a bit disappointed with the first "definitive" edition, which didn't have much else besides the actual stories.Â Shouldn't a "definitive" edition have some extras?Â Anyway, if you haven't read this series yet, you should definitely check it out (and the first definitive volume is on page 330, in case you're interested).
Pantheon has the complete Persepolis on page 330.Â The movie is out and getting oodles of critical acclaim, so if you're interested in reading it, get both volumes in one!Â Just ignore me, who once called it "the asparagus of comic books" - good for you, but not very tasty.
I don't know anything about Tim Sievert, but That Salty Air on page 356 from Top Shelf sounds neat.Â A fisherman feels the sea has betrayed him, and his revenge jeopardizes his family.Â Sounds bleak!Â Sign me up!
Valiant has brought back X-O Manowar (page 358)!Â Layton, Shooter, Quesada, and Windsor-Smith!Â Guys with saliva strands almost completely covering their open mouths!Â Can you resist?Â I think not!Â Plus: A Harbinger trade by Shooter and Lapham (page 362)!Â It's like the Nineties never ended!
I love the pull quote for Gamekeeper Series 2 #2 from Virgin (page 365): "It makes you want to find out what happens next."Â It's certainly a good quote, because that's the whole point of serialized fiction, but it kind of lacks pizazz, doesn't it?Â Of course, this is written by Jeff Parker, so I'm already picking it up, but I think they could have found a better quote.
You know, I was going to end this post there, but I just had to dig deeper, because in the Toy section, there on page 450, is The Silence of the Lambs Minimates Box Set.Â Behold the awesomeness!
Is there any way to top that?Â The answer, of course, is no.Â Therefore, let's wrap things up for this month.Â You know you want to find better comics than boring old mainstream superhero stuff!Â So get looking!