Welcome to Food or Comics?, where every week we talk about what comics we’d buy at our local comic shop based on certain spending limits — $15 and $30 — as well as what we’d get if we had extra money or a gift card to spend on a splurge item.
If I had $15: Whoah, another tough week to narrow things down. Is every Brian Wood-written title required to come out the same week of each month? Do Dark Horse and Marvel get together and plan it that way, so that people who only buy Wood comics only have to go to the store once a month? I think more than half the DC titles I buy come out this time every month, too. So yeah, lots to pick from ...
Anyway, I'd start with one of those Brian Wood comics, Conan the Barbarian #8 (Dark Horse, $3.50), which features Vasilis Lolos on art. Lolos drew one of my favorite issues of Northlanders, "The Viking Art of Single Combat," so it's cool to see the two of them working together again. I'd also get a comic I'm sure will be popular with a few of my colleagues, the first issue of the new Stumptown miniseries by Greg Rucka and Matthew Southworth (Oni Press, $3.99). Next I'd get Manhattan Projects #6 (Image, $3.50); this issue turns the focus from America's secret science program to Russia's secret science program. Jonathan Hickman and Nick Pitarra are having a lot of fun with this one. Finally, I'd get Uncanny X-Force #31 (Marvel, $3.99), which really picked things up last issue ... and this is a comic that's usually running on twice as many cylinders anyway.
If I had $30, I'd also grab two finales from DC Comics -- Shade #12 and Resurrection Man #0 (both $2.99). Honestly, I never expected to see a Resurrection Man comic again, much less by the guys who wrote the original, so the fact that we got a good run of 13 issues is a pleasant surprise. Shade, of course, was planned as 12 issues from the beginning, and was a nice return to the Starman-verse by writer James Robinson. That leaves me room for three more $2.99 comics, which means I'm going to bypass X-Men, The Massive and Avengers Assemble this week (let's assume that I'll one day spend my splurge money on the trades) and instead go with Chew #28 (Image, $2.99), It Girl and the Atomics #2 (Image, $2.99) and Demon Knights #0 (DC Comics, $2.99).
Splurge: Assuming I wouldn't spend my unlimited gift card on single issues, I'd be looking at the first Bucko collection from Dark Horse ($19.99) and Fantagraphics' Is That All There Is? trade ($25).
If I had $15, I'd be lying if I said that the first thing I bought wasn't going to be the Stumptown: The Case of the Baby in the Velvet Case #1 (Oni Press, $3.99), because there is little I like more than Greg Rucka and Matthew Southworth's crime comic, and the fact that it's back once more after far too long away is something that makes me astonishingly happy. I'd also duck back to DC's Zero Month for Demon Knights #0 (DC, $2.99), a book I'd dropped off of on the monthly treadmill but am curious about to see how they're faring nowadays anyway. Other than that, though, I'm saving my pennies for …
… the Bucko HC (Dark Horse, $19.99) that I'd buy if I had $30. Why would I buy it, you may ask? Because I loved it as a webcomic, and this edition has all of those strips plus, as they say, even more! More comics, more commentary and just more more. And anyway; I prefer print to digital, even now, so having this as a print book means I'm more likely to re-read it a lot.
When it comes to splurging, I'm tempted all over the place this week. Walt Simonson's era-spanning graphic novel The Judas Coin (DC, $22.99)? I'm curious to pick that up - but then, I'm also curious to see what Marvel's Dr. Strange: Season One ($24.99) is like, as well. And then there's also the Crackle of the Frost HC (Fantagraphics, $19.99), which is a bit of a cheat -- I've already read an advance copy - but is worth mentioning because it is drop-dead beautiful and highly recommended. Maybe I'd just see how I felt when I got to the store ...
Wow. Lot of good books out this week. My first $15, however, would have to, have to, have to be spent on Vol. 5 of Love and Rockets New Stories, the latest collection from Los Bros. Gilbert returns to Palomar (!) to tell the heretofore secret origin of Vicente, while Jaime follows up on the masterpiece that was "Love Bunglers" with a look at Vivian the Frogmouth and her relationship with her sister. I dunno how Jaime could possibly match the highs of the last volume, but any new issue of Love and Rockets is cause for celebration.
If I had $30, I'd get five extra dollars and go with the new Hugo Tate collection by Laika author Nick Abadazis. I've read very, very little of this everyman (Hugo literally has a blank face) series of stories, but I've heard nothing but excellent things about it. Enough things to make me me willing to plunk down hard earned cash for a copy.
Splurge: Oh, man, where to begin. Graeme already mentioned Crackle of the Frost, but there's also The Cavalier Mr. Thompson by Rich Tommasso, Legends of the Zita the Spacegirl by Ben Hatke, Symour Chwast's adaptation of The Odyssey, and - perhaps best of all - a new collection of the classic adaptation of Alien by Archie Goodwin and Walt Simonson. Decisions, decisions...
If I had $15, I'd spend the lion's share of it on vol. 1 of Genshiken: Second Season. The original Genshiken, the story of a college manga and anime club, was great because it mixed insider humor with broader comedy: enthusiasts are enthusiasts, whether they are obsessing over doujinshi or variant covers. This new series picks up where the old one left off, with some new characters and others that were in the original series taking larger roles. It looks like a lot of fun. The $4 I have left after that will go to Valiant for Issue 5 of X-O Manowar, my favorite of the publisher's ongoing series so far.
If I had $30, I'd repeat that pattern, with the first $10.99 going this time to Raina Telgemeier's Drama, a story of the ever-shifting romances and friendships of a group of middle-schoolers, most of whom are on theater crew, and the last four bucks to Valiant for Harbinger #4, another outstanding comic.
For my splurge, I'd pick up Rich Tommasso's Cavalier Mr. Thompson ($18.99), a historical mystery set in Texas in the 1920s. I love history, mysteries, and Tommasso's work, so that's a slam dunk for me. And I'll grab Legends of Zita the Spacegirl, the second in Ben Hatke's Zita trilogy, which is a fun read for me and even more fun for my nephew and nieces, who couldn't get enough of the first book.
If I had $15, I’d go heavy on creator-owned this week. First up would be Stumptown, Vol. 2 #1. I was late in the game for the original series, but after catching up a couple months back I vowed to stay on if and when a new volume came out. This is everything I like about Greg Rucka, and Matthew Southworth continues to be a diamond in the rough. After that I’d get Punk Rock Jesus #3 (DC/Vertigo, $2.99); I’m excited to see Sean Murphy do creator-owned again and on such a big platform, and his story really sits in style and substance of the cyberpunk and crime tales I began reading as a teenager. My third creator-owned pick this week is Manhattan Projects #6 by Jonathan Hickman and Nick Pitarra; like Punk Rock Jesus, the teenage me would go bonkers over this kind of Big Trouble In Little China meets The Right Stuff, and well … the adult me is not too different from the teenage me. With my last scrap of $15, I’d get Wolverine and the X-Men #16 (Marvel, $3.99): Bachalo is rejoining Jason Aaron on this, and I love what they do together.
If I had $30, I’d go back and get the Brian Wood two-pack at Dark Horse of Conan The Barbarian #8 (Dark Horse, $3.50) and The Massive #4 (Dark Horse, $3.50). It’s a tale of two artists here – I love Vasilis Lolos’ work on this from the previews, but over on The Massive I’m far from sold on Garry Brown replacing Kristian Donaldson. Donaldson was a major draw of this book for me, and it’s going to take a while to adjust. After that I’d double dip at Marvel with Uncanny X-Force #31 (Marvel, $3.99) and Avengers Vs. X-Men #11 (Marvel, $3.99). From the way I understand it, Bendis and Cheung are taking point on this group-created effort; I’m surprised they’ve been able to keep building the momentum over 10 issues now, but I like what’s happening. Honestly, I always thought Cyclops was a dick.
If I could splurge, I’d get go in with my fellow Food or Comic writers and get Cavalier Mr. Thompson by Rich Tomasso (Fantagraphics, $18.99). A 1920s crime story set on the dusty oil fields of West Texas? Sweet Jesus, this sounds great. And you can quote me on that, Fantagraphics.
If I had $15, I'd jump on that Stumptown bandwagon and pick up the first issue ($3.99) of the second volume. Like Chris Arrant, I've regretted not buying the first volume in single issues and want in on the beginning of this one. Next, I'd pretend like I was smart enough to buy It Girl and the Atomics #1 a month ago and get #2 ($2.99) this week. In reality, I'm going to have to buy them both, but for the purposes of this budget, I'd just get the second one and jump in cold. After that, I'd grab The Massive #4 ($3.50), because -- art changes aside -- Brian Wood has hooked me with these characters and the world they live in. And I'd finish up with Thun'da #2 ($3.99) because I enjoyed the amnesiac soldier vs. prehistoric creatures concept of the first issue.
With $30, I'd put back The Massive and Thun'da to be able to afford Walt Simonson's Judas Coin ($22.99). I like a well-told story about religious artifacts, so the title intrigued me, even though that was all I knew about it until Graeme mentioned Simonson and that it was an "era-spanning" tale; both of those things are hooks for me. I lost a little interest when I checked out the solicitation for it and saw Batman and Two-Face on the cover, but then got it all back when I read the description. The era-spanning element means that it also includes the Golden Gladiator, the Viking Prince, Captain Fear, Bat Lash and Manhunter 2070. In other words, this is Simonson's Captain Fear story that I've been eager to read since he first started sharing art from it. I obviously need to read my Previews catalog more closely, or at least not automatically skip past Batman graphic novels.
As the other guys said above, this is a really difficult week for decision-making. If I had some splurge money, it would be tough not to buy some other single issues that didn't make it into my first two budgets, but there are also some great graphic novels competing for my dollars. Bucko ($19.99), Cavalier Mr. Thompson: A Sam Hill Novel ($16.99), and Drama ($10.99) are equally tempting. Hell, I'm splurging, so I'll just get 'em all.