The Fifth Color | Now and later with Marvel in June 2014

I never talk much about Marvel's trade paperbacks or graphic novels because they tend to be pretty reliable. Working at a comic shop, I have quite few customers who are comfortable with the little engine of collected works the House of Ideas quickly puts on the shelves once the single issues are finished. Now, whether they are hardcover, softcover, digest or oversized, that makes things tricky. Still, if you only want to buy collections of comics, Marvel provides a way to keep the story going. So by the time I get to the trades in the solicitations each month, I generally shrug my shoulders and know it all must be working out OK over there. Let's talk about tie-ins!

Trust me, we'll get to those, but let's first take a lingering look at the books headed our way in June. Marvel solicitations, take it away!

To celebrate its 75th anniversary, Marvel seems to be doing a much slower build than I expected. Even the website seems a little barren, and the announcement that Alex Ross will be creating various covers throughout the year kind of came and went. Still, I have some hope for a pretty big bash, because take a look at this puppy right here ...

The MARVEL FAMOUS FIRSTS: 75TH ANNIVERSARY MASTERWORKS SLIPCASE SET is 10 volumes of Marvel Masterworks plus the never-before-released Not Brand Echh collection plus the Alex Ross 75 Anniversary Avengers poster plus it's signed by Stan Lee plus all the volumes have all-new interlocking spine artwork plus the slipcase looks like the original Avengers Mansion and oh, my God, this is so cool. Considering the price of 11 hardcover volumes plus the poster and year, this is completely worth its $500 price tag, a rarity for anniversary promotions; let your comic shops know now if you want one because not a lot of places feel comfortable stocking the really pricey stuff. Can't bring yourself to put down that much cash all at once in the name of comics?

Good news, the MARVEL MASTERWORKS: NOT BRAND ECHH VOL. 1 HC will be released by itself for $69.99. Not Brand Echh was Marvel's original way to thumb its nose at itself, and it's neat to see legends like Jack Kirby, Gene Colan and Herb Trimpe take lighter looks at characters we consider historic to this day. Are the gags a little dated? Yeah, most humor was back, then as old Mad Magazines can attest to. But if you like punnery, rare comic art and giggle at the name "Sore, Son of Shmodin," this is a necessary collection.

Speaking of legendary creators and the characters they made famous, Jim Starlin returns to Thanos in an original graphic novel, THANOS: THE INFINITY REVELATION. Part of me wants to think this is going to be in current continuity; Thanos, last seen in his new little frozen stasis, bursts out and goes on an new adventure. As Jim Starlin himself said he wrote The Infinity Revelation without knowing anything about Jonathan Hickman's Infinity event, I doubt we'll get much from what came before. Still, I like the idea that original graphic novels can work in the market for big stuff like this.

Big, sweeping stories should have a bigger budget, so to speak, and a bigger format to reflect that. While both The Dark Tower and the Oz series have done all right by themselves in the single-issue market and even better as collection, we'll be adding omnibus format to their resumes in June as DARK TOWER: THE GUNSLINGER OMNIBUS SLIPCASE HC and the OZ OMNIBUS HC hit the shelves. The first I am absolutely relieved to see: For one, keeping track of all the individual miniseries has been a chore; the whole thing reads better as a complete work, and the choice to split up the books into a slipcased hardcover extravaganza is going to look killer on bookshelves and provide a classy and easy reading experience.

The series was very well thought out and executed to stay true to the original novels, and I'm glad that extended to this new, (hopefully) final format. The Oz Omnibus, on the other hand, doesn't thrill me. As a huge fan of Eric Shanower's and Skottie Young's take on L. Frank Baum's work, I kind of wince at the idea of cramming it all into one 1,096-page monster. The larger an omnibus gets, the more printing errors you can find, the more unwieldy it gets to read and store, the less you can enjoy the work itself. Maybe they could have done something similar to what The Dark Tower got, but 1,096 pages is a lot to keep glued together.

That's all fine and good, you say, but what about what really matters? What about ... THE EVENT BOOKS!? We have ORIGINAL SIN #3-4 to further along the main series, wherein Issue 3 we're told that Nick Fury will stand alone after the heroes are rocked by last issue's secrets. And then ... we're getting four parts to that third issue. Why? I have no idea. ORIGINAL SIN #3.1-3.4 are by either Mark Waid and Mark Bagley or Kieron Gillen and Luke Ross. The only thing they'll tell us about why is "Everybody has one ...," referring to the big secrets that Original Sin is going to unleash. The regular tie-ins are giving us context, like AVENGERS #31 (sent into the future), MIGHTY AVENGERS #11 ('72's multicultural Avengers), DEADPOOL #30 (fights vampires, more secrets), but nothing from the weird point issues from Issue 3. Plus, there's ORIGINAL SINS #1-2 (of 5), what I have to guess is a Frontline style series that will follow the main one because there is nothing in the solicits about this new series, either.

As a reader, the lack of any information can be disheartening.  If you're reading the solicitations, there's a certain element of surprise you're giving up than walking blindly to the stands to see what looks good that day, something I'm not really sure anyone does anymore.  I'd have settled for "This one will have Daredevil in it!" or "Nick Fury learns more," just a bone of info to find out if this is just a tangent to the main plot or an important part of the story they couldn't fit into the eight-issue format of Original Sin.

You can kind of see why some people prefer to just collect trade paperbacks.

Take a stroll through Marvel's solicitations for June 2014 and share what you're looking forward to in the months to come. Excelsior!

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