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, I'd spend the first $3.99 on the first issue of 47 Ronin, a retelling of a Japanese legend written by Mike Richardson and illustrated by Stan Sakai. I saw a preview of this and it looks phenomenal. Next up is my favorite soap opera, Life With Archie #24 ($3.99), in which Moose contemplates running for the Senate and The Archies reunite. This comic is consistently well written and the stories really drag me in. I'll slap down another $3.99 for Popeye #7, because I'm a Roger Langridge fan. And because I love a bargain, I'll finish up with Freelancers #1, a new series from BOOM! Studios that looks kinda fun — and hey, there's a variant cover by Felipe Smith, one of my favorite manga artists.
If I had $30, I'd revert to my childhood and pick up the Doctor Who Annual ($12.99) from Penguin. When I was a kid, the British comics annuals were the high point of the holidays, and I'm pretty sure I have a vintage Doctor Who one tucked away somewhere. It's probably aimed at kids but that just means I can share it with my nephew and nieces.
The splurge item to get this week is the new box set of Hayao Miyazaki's Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind. This is Miyazaki's longest manga by far, and the story continues after the movie ends. It's going to be the same large format as Viz's earlier box set, but the seven volumes are being bound as two this time. It's $60, but I noticed Amazon is offering a steep discount, so I'll add another splurge: Nickolai Dante: Sympathy for the Devil ($29.99), a story that ran in 2000AD. I saw artist Simon Fraser describe it at NYCC this way: "Nikolai Dante is a swashbuckling hero from the far, far future, the year 2666, where he is alternately working for and against the czar, and for his own family and against his family, and in the meantime trying to get as drunk and screw as many women as he possibly can." Sold!
If I had $15, I'd spend most of it on some old favorites: Planet of the the Apes: Cataclysm #3 ($3.99), Stumptown: The Case of the Baby in the Velvet Case #3 ($3.99), and Guarding the Globe #3 ($2.99). I've talked about all of those until I'm guessing people are sick of hearing me talk about them, so I'll just add one new pick to the pile, Shadowman #1 ($3.99) before moving on. I really want in on part of the Valiant relaunch, but none of the other comics have grabbed me so far. Maybe this'll be the one.
If I had $30, I'd add Katie Skelly's Nurse Nurse ($15.00) to my stack. I love minicomics, but even more, I love it when they get collected into bigger volumes. That's weird, right? What's not as weird is being excited about comics featuring a space nurse's adventures on Venus.
I could go a few different ways with my splurge money this week. I could pick up some more single issues like Paul Tobin's Colder #1 or Steve Niles' Criminal Macabre: They Fight by Night one shot. I'm also eager for Charlie Brown's Christmas Stocking. But probably where my money will go is Walt Disney's Mickey Mouse, Volume 4: House of the Seven Haunts ($29.99). I'm heading to Disney World next week and that would be great reading on the plane.
If I had $15 this week, I'd be spending it on a bunch of new books I've been looking forward to for awhile: Paul Tobin and Juan Ferreya's Colder #1 (Dark Horse, $3.99) has one of the most queasy-making covers I've seen in a long time, which bodes well for a new horror book. Sticking with the supernatural, but mixing it with the superheroic just a little, Valiant's new Shadowman #1 (Valiant, $3.99) is a must-read, if only because I've been impressed with every single one of their launches so far, and so I'm curious to see if they can make it five for five. And pushing further into the superheroic, Kieron Gillen's Iron Man #1 (Marvel, $3.99) is another must-read because of Gillen's track record in recent months. Greg Land, I'm not so convinced of, but you have to take the rough with the smooth, I guess …
If I had $30, I'd add Jeff Parker and Cliff Richards' new Buffy: The Vampire Slayer - Willow: Wonderland #1 (Dark Horse, $2.99) to the pile because (a) everything Parker does is worth a read, in my opinion and (b) the Buffy books are better than they've ever been right now. I'd also add Action Comics #14 (DC, $3.99) because, come on: Neil deGrasse Tyson. And finally, BOOM! Studios' Freelancers #1 is something I'm curious enough about: I like Ian Brill's writing, and I like that he seems to be writing into the genre, but away from the sexism, of the central concept from the interviews I've read. Color me cautiously optimistic about it.
Splurge-wise, I'm curious about the Tank Girl: Carioca hardcover (Titan, $19.95), if only because Mike McMahon drew it, and his art is both rare and rather special, if entirely not what I'd expect for Tank Girl. How could I resist …?
If I had $15, my first choice would be Injury #4 by Ted May. I love May's tales of heavy-metal high school stoners circa 1975 and oddball adventurers like the Bi-Plane Beast. Injury is the type of idiosyncratic, fun indie comics that used to proliferate stores 20-odd years ago but have fallen by the wayside in the years since. I'm happy that May is still out there doing this kind of material and I try to support it whenever possible.
I'd also get Popeye #7 because Popeye.
If I had $30, I'd go a little over budget (my car doesn't really need an oil change this month anyway) and get both the Smurf Soup, the latest volume in NBM's ongoing classic Smurf line, and Vol. 4 of Johnny Ryan's glorious gross-out fest Prison Pit. Honestly, I'd just love to see the look on the retailer's face when I take both these books up to the cash register. Oh, to be blessed with telepathy at that moment!
Splurge: I didn't care much for her last book, The Big Skinny, but I was a big fan of Carol Lay's Story Minute strip that ran on Salon and various alt-weekly magazines back in the day, so I'd probably at least check out Illiterature, her latest book, which collects in hardcover a healthy chunk of those strips in hardcover.
If I had $15: I'd get 47 Ronin #1 ($3.99), which features writer and Dark Horse President Mike Richardson teaming with two samurai masters to tell the tale of the 47 Ronin,which is about a Japanese feudal lord who was forced to commit ritual suicide, and the samurai-turned-ronin who avenged his death. Usagi Yojimbo creator Stan Sakai drew it, while Kazuo Koike of Lone Wolf and Cub fame serves as an editorial consultant. That's all kinds of awesome right there. Next I'd get Manhattan Projects #7 ($2.99); I caught up on this comic last week, and Jonathan Hickman, Nick Pitarra and Cris Peter have created something wonderful here. Avengers Academy #39 ($2.99) wraps up what's been a fun series; hopefully we'll see Christos Gage and Tom Grummett working together in the future. The Perhapanauts are back in a new miniseries from Image this week, Danger Down Under ($3.50), and although it's been awhile since I read them, I'm looking forward to their return. Lastly, Freelancers #1 comes in at a buck ... I'd buy this even if it was regular cover price, as it's written by Ian Brill, but the price point makes it twice as nice.
If I had $30: A new Buffy the Vampire Slayer spinoff miniseries starts this week, featuring Willow and written by Jeff Parker. So that's where my first $2.99 would go. Uncanny X-Force #3 ($3.99) wraps up the Final Execution storyline, while Green Lantern #14 ($2.99) continues the Rise of the Third Army storyline. Then I'd wrap up this second tier with the latest issue of Love and Capes ($3.99).
Splurge: I've heard a lot of good things about Blacklung ($24.99) by Chris Wright, which is out in comic shops this week from Fantagraphics. So that gets my extra cash.