Food or Comics? | This week’s comics on a budget

Welcome once again to Food or Comics?, where every week we talk about what comics we’d buy based on certain spending limits — $15, $30 to spend and if we had extra money to spend on what we call the “Splurge” item.

Join Brigid Alverson, Chris Mautner and me as we run down what we’d buy this week, and check out Diamond’s release list to play along in our comments section.

Kevin Melrose

If I had just $15 to spend, I'd pick up ...

Avengers: The Children's Crusade #2 ($3.99)

The second issue of the nine-issue miniseries reuniting Young Avengers creators Allan Heinberg and Jim Cheung finds the teen heroes, the Avengers and the X-Men racing to discover the Scarlet Witch. This bimonthly schedule is going to excruciating. (Marvel)

I Am an Avenger #1 ($3.99)

I'm picking up this anthology miniseries on the strength of its creative teams. This issue, for instance, features Jim McCann and Chris Samnee on a Young Avengers story, Duane Swierczynski and Jason Latour on Iron Fist and Misty Knight, Alex Zalben and Tom Fowler on Squirrel Girl, and Chris Eliopoulos on the Pet Avengers. It's hard to go wrong with that lineup. (Marvel)

Stumptown #4 ($3.99)

Greg Rucka and Matthew Southworth conclude the first story arc of their well-received crime series. (Oni Press)

Wolverine #1 ($3.99)

The world needs another Wolverine series, or a series relaunch, like it needs another Deadpool variant cover -- hey, that's one of five offered for this first issue -- but I'm willing to give this one a little leeway based on the involvement of writer Jason Aaron and artists Renato Guedes and Jason Latour (the latter drew the issue's Silver Samurai back-up story). I'm far behind on Logan continuity, and the character's imminent trip to hell doesn't exactly fill me with joy. But I'll take the four-dollar leap of faith anyway. (Marvel)

That brings me to $15.96. Can anyone lend me a dollar?

If I had $30, I'd also buy ...

Our Army at War #1 ($3.99)

Chalk it up to nostalgia, but I'm sort of looking forward to DC's month of classic war comics one-shots. First up is an Easy Company story by Mike Marts and Victor Ibanez. (DC Comics)

Heroic Age: 1 Month 2 Live #1 ($2.99)

The weekly miniseries with the Prince-like title is part of Marvel's continued dance with digital distribution; each of the five issues will be released simultaneously in print and via the iPad. Beyond that, though, the miniseries is noteworthy for its creative lineup -- writers Stuart Moore, John Ostrander and Rick Remender, for starters -- and for the protagonist, an ordinary man who, after an accident, is left with extraordinary powers ... and a 30-day death sentence. (Marvel)

Taskmaster #1 ($3.99)

After milling about the Marvel Universe for three decades, Taskmaster -- he's the hooded supervillain with photographic reflexes -- in recent years has become a bit of a fan-favorite. Now he gets his own miniseries in which he's pursued by everyone from A.I.M. to Sons of the Serpent, all of whom hope to collect a billion-dollar bounty. I don't have a particular connection to Taskmaster, but I enjoy the work of writer Fred Van Lente and artist Jefte Palo. (Marvel)

Wolverine: Road to Hell #1 ($3.99)

Somehow I go from buying no Wolverine comics to picking up two in the same week. I'm ambivalent about this whole "Road to Hell" thing, but if I'm going to give the relaunched Wolverine a try, I should probably know roughly what's going on. The idiom "In for a penny, in for a pound" comes to mind. (Marvel)

That brings me to $30.92. Lucky for me, this isn't The Price is Right.


Dark Shadows: The Complete Series, Vol. 1 ($49.99)

If I had $50 burning a hole in my pocket, I'd have to pick up this 208-page hardcover collecting the first seven issues of Gold Key's Dark Shadows series. The comic was, of course based, on the popular gothic soap opera, and was published for five years after the television series was canceled. Hermes Press is collecting the complete 35-issue run, digitally remastered. (Hermes Press)

Brigid Alverson

If I had only $15 to spend, I would spend every penny on Julia Wertz’s Drinking at the Movies and feel like I got a bargain. Wertz is brutally funny when she turns the lens on herself, and this story of her move from San Francisco to Brooklyn, and the misadventures that ensued, is a must-have.

At the $30 level, there are some very tempting choices, but the one that trumps them all is Martin Lemelman’s Two Cents Plain ($26), an autobiographical graphic novel about the author’s boyhood in Brooklyn, where his parents owned a candy store/soda fountain. Lemelman tells his story in a series of vignettes, sprinkled with images of period toys and knickknacks, but the nostalgia is mixed with bitterness as he recalls his family’s strained relationships and the difficulty of running a small business in a vibrant but changing neighborhood. Good stuff.

Then to lighten it up a bit, I’d throw in Veronica #202, which introduces Kevin Keller, the first openly gay character in the Archieverse.

My splurge item is Moto Hagio’s A Drunken Dream and Other Stories ($24.99), the long-awaited collection of short stories by one of Japan’s pioneer shoujo manga creators, translated by Matt Thorn. It’s a book with a great deal of historic and literary importance, but beyond that, it’s just a great read, and that’s good enough for me.

Chris Mautner

If I had $15 ...

This is one of those tough weeks, as just about everything that interests me is over the $15 limit. I'll certainly pick up the latest copy of The Boys for $3.99. But after that ... hmmm, if I didn't already own it, I might pick up one of those two softcover volumes of Osamu Tezuka's Apollo's Song since they're only $10.99 each. I might also pick up a paperback copy of David Small's Stitches since that's a really good book. But I already have a copy of that, so I'll just stick with The Boys for now.

If I had $30 ...

It's a tough battle between Fantagraphics' first major entry into manga (not counting the Sake Jock anthology many moons ago), A Drunken Dream and Other Stories by the legendary Moto Hagio ($24.99), and Kevin Huizenga's latest hardcover collection, The Wild Kingdom ($19.99), courtesy of Drawn and Quarterly. The latter is a collection of Huizenga's more experimental work, most of it found in his late, lamented Or Else series. The former is a collection of short stories spanning several decades from a true pioneer and a cartoonist who helped shape the shape the face of manga, shojo manga especially. It's a close call for me made a bit easier by the fact that I'm working on a review of Dream at the moment, so I'll probably go with Kingdom this week.


I'm always up for those big, coffee-table career retrospectives of golden-age cartoonists, so Jerry Robinson: Ambassador of Comics ($35) seems like it should hit that sweet spot rather well. Add on the fact that in addition to creating the Joker and working on Batman for a number of seminal decades, he created several comic strips and is a tireless promoter for creators writes (he famously helped Siegel and Shuster) and you've got the makings of a pretty decent book.

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