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 (big "if" this week!), I’d take a break from the struggles of adult life and find sanctuary in the pages of high mythology thanks to Jason Aaron and Esad Ribic’s Thor: God of Thunder #4 (Marvel, $3.99). Aaron and Ribic have really build up an excellent foil for Thor in the God-Killer, and also snuck in the idea of Young Thor and Old Thor – something I’d love to see expounded upon in their own series or one-shot (hint-hint). Second up would be the startling potent promise of Star Wars #1 (Dark Horse, $2.99). I never thought I’d see Brian Wood do a Star Wars comic, but I’m so glad he is – and seemingly doing it on his own terms. Thinking of him writing Princess Leia, and the potential there specifically has been rolling around in my brain for weeks. Third, I’d get two promising artist-centric series (at least for me) in B.P.R.D.: Hell On Earth -- Abyss Time #1 (Dark Horse, $3.50) and TMNT: Secret of the Foot Clan #1 (IDW, $3.99). James Harren and Mateus Santolouco, respectively, are two artists I've been keen on for the past year and both of these books look like potential breakouts to a bigger stage. On the TMNT side, I've always thought Shredder and the Foot Clan to be one of the most overlooked great villains in comics, so I’m glad to see some focus on that and some potential answers.
If I had $30, I’d continue my super(comic)market sweep with Womanthology: Space #4 (IDW, $3.99). This series has two things I love: new, young creators and a space theme. I've been on a space opera/sci-fi kick for a while now thanks to Saga and re-reading some Heinlein, so this anthology series comes to me most fortuitously. Next up would be Legend of Luther Strode #2 (Image, $3.50). Luther Strode is a real down-and-out kind of hero, like some sort of action-based Charlie Brown. Tradd Moore’s artwork really makes this sing, too. Finally, I’d get two Marvel books with Secret Avengers #36 (Marvel, $3.99) and Wolverine and the X-Men #23 (Marvel, $3.99). I’m gritting my teeth on the latter – not because it’s bad, but because it isn't as good for me as the previous arcs. For Secret Avengers, I feel Rick Remender and Matteo Scalera’s run on this has been sadly overlooked in the wave of Marvel NOW books, but this mega-arc about the Descendents and now Black-Ant has been great. I’d love to see Black-Ant as a permanent part of the Marvel U.
If I could splurge, I’d throw practicality out the door and shell out big bucks for the Black Incal deluxe hardcover (Humanoids, $79.95). There’s few times I’d spend nearly 80 bucks on a comic, but this classic story by Alejandro Jodorowsky and Moebius is one of those once-in-a-blue-moon kind of things. This has been reprinted numerous times (I have an older one), but I’m re-buying the story here for the deluxe treatment this volume has with its large size.
If I had $15 this week, I'd run to the store to ensure that I could get a copy of Star Wars #1 (Dark Horse, $2.99), a book that I have been eagerly awaiting since its announcement. There's something about the time frame and choice of Brian Wood as writer that makes me particularly excited about it. I'd also pick up Action Comics #16 (DC Comics, $3.99), the second-to-last issue of Grant Morrison's run, and something that has been picking up speed as it heads toward its conclusion, as well as Superior Spider-Man #1 (Marvel Comics, $3.99) because, hey, I'm curious. The hype worked …
If I had $30 this week, I'd add Popeye, Vol. 1 TP (IDW, $17.99) to that stack. For some reason, I skipped the single issues of this series when they were coming out, but I've heard more than enough good things about Roger Langridge's writing and Bruce Ozella's artwork to make me want to rectify that mistake with this collected edition.
Were I to consider splurging today, I know immediately what I'd splurge on: Alex Toth's Zorro: The Complete Dell Comics Adventures (Hermes Press, $49.99). Not only is it Toth, but it's some of Toth's best work; just glorious stuff that's reportedly been "digitally reconstructed" to offer sharper blacks and cleaner colors than the original. Without a doubt, almost definitely the best looking release of the week.
If I had $15, I'd steal an extra dollar from somewhere and get Reset, the collected edition of Peter Bagge's miniseries for Dark Horse about a washed-up comedian who has the chance to relive his life thanks to virtual reality. I don't remember hearing much buzz -- good or bad -- about this series, but Bagge is one of funniest cartoonists working today and well worth one's time.
If I had $30, there are a lot of good books out this week. The new Tom Kaczynski book Beta Testing the Apocalypse comes most immediately to mind, but I simply can't pass up Shako, the great John Wagner/Ramon Sola tale of a man-eating polar bear that accidentally swallows a top-secret capsule, putting him on the CIA's death list. I swear I'm not making this up. Basically, Shako is great, early 2000AD-styled fun that anyone who likes ridiculously violent, melodramatic, tongue-in-cheek monster yarns can enjoy. I know I plan to.
Splurge: It's a good week to be a Gil Kane fan -- presuming you're a wealthy Gil Kane fan -- as this week sees the release of both The Adventures of Superman: Gil Kane, featuring most of Kane's work on the Man of Steel, and the Amazing Spider-Man Artist's Edition. The latter is one of those uber-expensive, uber-sized, uber-luxiourous IDW collections featuring the original art work. In this case, eight of Kane's most memorable Spidey stories.
If I had $15, I'd start with the first issue K. Lynn Smith's Plume ($3.99). I haven't read the webcomic that Devil's Due is collecting, but it's been on my radar since I noticed it in Previews and I'm glad it's finally here. After that, Kelly Sue DeConnick and Phil Noto's Ghost #3 ($2.99) is an easy pick, as is Guarding the Globe #5 ($2.99), because it's written by Phil Hester. I'd top off the pile with Brian Wood's Star Wars #1 ($2.99). Like Graeme says, this writer on this time period of this series is irresistible.
With $30, I'd add Jane Yolen and Michael Cavallaro's Curses! Foiled Again ($15.99). I was disappointed in the first volume, but mostly because I felt put off by its switching genres late in the story. Now that I have a better idea what the series is, I expect a completely different experience with the sequel.
I'm extremely torn about my splurge item. I'm with Graeme about Alex Toth's Zorro: The Complete Dell Comics Adventures ($49.99) and don't know how I could pass that up, but I'm also extremely tempted by Marvel Masterworks Ka-Zar, Volume 1 ($69.99). Since Graeme already picked Zorro, I'll take the easy way out and make Ka-Zar my official pick, but I'd have to stare at them both on the bookstore shelf for an hour before making a real decision.
If I had $15, I'd start out by getting my Valiant fix with Shadowman #3 ($3.99). As with the other Valiant relaunches, I haven't read the original, but the first two issues of this comic really drew me in. I'll grab Popeye #9 ($3.99), and the Mars Attacks KISS crossover ($3.99) looks just weird enough to be worth a look. And I'll wind it up with New Crusaders #5 ($2.99), because I'm sorta liking where Archie is going with these.
If I had $30, though, I'd put back all but Shadowman and pick up Conan: Queen of the Black Coast ($24.99), which is vol. 13 of Dark Horse's Conan series, written by Brian Wood and illustrated by Becky Cloonan. I have dipped in and out of this series in the past year, and I really like it, but I would relish the chance to sit down and read it all in one sitting.
My splurge is unquestionably Comics About Cartoonists ($39.99), in which cartoonists from Winsor McKay to Jack Kirby go meta on us. It's a great conceit for a book, and Craig Yoe has put together a really nice package, with generous-sized pages (larger than most of the originals) that show off the comics well, and a fascinating assortment of comics. And actually, this would be a super-splurge week because I'd also love to pick up Alex Toth's Zorro: The Complete Dell Comics Adventures, despite the $49.99 price tag. And finally, Papercutz has published the second volume of their Best of Three Stooges comics ($19.99), which is not the new comic, but a compilation of the originals from the 1950s.