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.
It's a week of familiar faces for me this time around. If I had $15, it'd go on Action Comics #8 (DC, $3.99), which completes Grant Morrison's first story arc on the title -- even though we've already had the second one; thanks, fill-ins! -- as well as Supreme #63 (Image, $2.99), with Erik Larsen illustrating the final Alan Moore script for Rob Liefeld's Superman knock-off (I'd love to see a well-done collection of all of these issues one day, now that the Moore run is completed). Also on tap, the final issue of OMAC (#8, DC, $2.99) and the long-awaited return of Busiek, Ross and Herbert's Kirby: Genesis (#6, Dynamite, $3.99), because a man needs as much well-done Jack Kirby-inspired comics as possible, goshdarnit.
If I had $30, I'd add Hulk #50 (Marvel, $3.99) to once again celebrate what Jeff Parker had managed to do with a book and concept that, by all rights, should've disappeared a long time ago. (In all honesty, I much prefer the Red Hulk to the classic version these days, and it's all Parker's doing, along with his various artistic compatriots on the title.) Everyone who isn't reading it: This is a jumping-on point issue! Try it and see if you don't love it, too. And, despite the unevenness of earlier issues, Matt Fraction's Casanova: Avarita #3 (Marvel, $4.99) is also a must-read; I really didn't like the first issue, but loved the second. We'll see where the book goes next.
Should I be splurging, then this week the splurge is on Flex Mentallo: Man of Muscle Mystery Deluxe HC (DC/Vertigo, $22.99). One of my favorite comics of all time, I'm likely going to end up getting this over-sized, recolored reprint just because I genuinely can't resist the optimistic, hopeful tone of the book and its love of superheroes.
If I had $15, I’d plunge head-first into Wolverine and the X-Men #8 (Marvel, $3.99) and probably go so far as to read it while still in the comic shop. I’d love to have been a fly on the wall when Jason Aaron was pitching this new angle on an X-Men story, and just how it came to fruition. Next up I’d get Action Comics #8 (DC, $3.99); I was close to switching to the trade on this one, but Morrison seemed to refocus his energies with last month’s issues and I hope with Morales back on he’ll be less rushed in his art. Next up would be Hell Yeah #2 (Image, $2.99). I’m intrigued by Keatinge’s take on the superhero genre as he’s approaching it here, and Andre Szymanowicz is really showing what he’s capable of in this series. Last up would be one of my old faithfuls, Invincible #90 (Image, $2.99). The Eisners should have an award for the most consistently good series, as this would win it.
If I had $30, I’d grab Secret Avengers #24 (Marvel, $3.99) because Rick Remender’s idea of the robotic offspring as supervillains is right up my alley in terms of what I like in the superhero genre, and Gabriel Hardman is really getting something juicy to draw here. Next up would be Fatale #4 (Image, $3.50); I’d seriously pay for a subscription plan that just blindly sent me new Brubaker/Phillips comics each month. After that it would be Wolverine and the X-Men: Alpha & Omega #4 (Marvel, $3.99); I think the title of this series hurts the overall story, but if you can get past that then the story is good. This is Brian Wood by way of his Supermarket work to me, and really delivering in his first outing back at Marvel. Last up would be Animal Man #8 (DC, $2.99). This might be my last issue, as seeing Travel Foreman heading off this title is a big downer for me; I’ll probably stay on for the trades, but Foreman’s art was what was making me buy the book in singles.
If I could splurge, I’d fight Graeme for that copy of Flex Mentallo, Man of Muscle Mystery (DC, $22.99). I read this in singles ages ago when I borrowed it from a friend, and I’m interested in seeing how it lives up to my initial perception of the book. While it’s probably not a "lost classic", it is something worth reading. Of course when I re-read it I might think it’s the second coming.
If I had $15, all but a nickel of it would go to Vol. 3 of Drops of God, the manga about cute guys having a wine-tasting contest. It's like a grownup version of a battle manga, with a better-looking cast.
If I had $30, I'd add in Vol. 2 of A Devil and Her Love Song ($9.95), a really sharp shoujo manga from Viz. It's a high school story about the new kid in class, but the tired tropes stop there; the main character, Maria, is a straight talker who cuts through all the high school BS. I loved vol. 1 and I hear vol. 2 is even better. I'm not seeing any single-issue comics that tempt me this week, so I'll save the extra five bucks for the splurge.
Splurge: Usually for me this means a big, beautiful archival book of some ancient comic or comic strip. This week, it's a handful of brand-new books that are outside my usual reading habits. First on the stack is The Girl Who Owned a City ($9.95), from Lerner — it's an adaptation of a YA novel — and it gets the nod because the art is by the superb Joelle Jones. Next, believe it or not, is Vol. 1 of Best of the Three Stooges ($19.99), from Papercutz. I don't particularly like the Three Stooges in their film or television incarnations — actually, I can't stand them — but these 1950s comics by Joe Kubert and Norman Maurer have a real retro charm. The absence of sound effects helps, too. I might even pick up the new Three Stooges graphic novel, Bedbugged ($6.99), since the creative team is Jim Salicrup and old Archie hands George Gladir and Stan Goldberg.
If I had $15: Just about every series I'm reading regularly in pamphlet form (floppy form?) comes out this week -- The Boys #65, Glamourpuss #24 and Casanova: Avaritia #3. Of the bunch, I'd say it's probably that issue of Casanova I'm the most excited to read, though that may just be because it's been a while since the last issue.
If I had $30, well, there's a new volume of Bakuman out, but I might put that aside for Anne Sullivan and the Trials of Helen Keller, a new book from the Center for Cartoon Studies' ongoing biography series. My main interest lies in the fact that this is by Joseph Lambert, a young cartoonist whose work has been taking huge strides and chances recently, as evidenced by his short story collection, I Will Bite You.
Splurge: I'm interested in checking out American Barbarian, that new post-apocalyptic fantasy series from Godland co-creator Tom Scioli. The biggest splurge of the week for me though is Humanoids' ultra-fancy release of Celestial Bibendum by Nicholas De Crecy. I've been enjoying the little bit of De Crecy that NBM has put out so far (mainly Salvatore) and I recall hearing good things about Bibendum, probably in the pages of The Comics Journal. I'm a bit frustrated by Humanoids insistence to release these books in such mega-expensive versions. My wallet honestly can't take it. Hopefully a cheaper edition will be out in the near future.
If I had $15, I'd start with Kolchak: The Night Stalker Files #3 ($3.50) since I really enjoyed the first couple of issues with Christopher Mills writing the series. I'm not even that big a Kolchak fan, but Mills is a good enough writer of supernatural mysteries that I don't need to be. Next, speaking of supernatural mysteries, I'd get Trina Robbins and Tyler Page's Chicagoland Detective Agency, Volume 3: Night of the Living Dogs ($6.95) and follow that up with Steve Niles' Criminal Macabre one-shot, Die Die My Darling ($3.50). It's monster-hunting week apparently and I'm a-okay with that.
If I had $30, I'd take Graeme's advice and try out Hulk #50 ($3.99) in addition to my $15 pile. I love Jeff Parker's work, but I've let Red Hulk keep me away from this book. Sounds like I need to give it a shot. In another case of creators I like writing concepts I'm not sure about, Javier Grillo-Marxuach has written Ramiel: Wrath of God #1 ($3.99) about Heaven's most fearsome warrior. The creator of The Middleman trumps my aversion to religious-themed fantasy. Finally, I'm also torn about Summer Camp Science Mysteries, Volume 1: In Search of the Fog Zombie ($6.95). While I'm (ahem) skeptical about a story in which something as cool as fog zombies is probably going to be explained away by science, as a parent that sounds like an awesome way to teach scientific concepts to kids.
My splurge item is way easy this week: Legends of the Dark Knight: Jim Aparo, Volume 1 ($49.99). This was my childhood Batman and I'm excited to explore much more of it than just the random issues I found in my grandfather's barber shop and the neighborhood drug store.