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The Last Six Months

by  in Comic News Comment
The Last Six Months

Just goofing off this week; this is me amusing myself with another one of those canned survey things I get sent every so often, apparently because someone has me confused with an actual book reviewer. As I usually do when I get one of these, I thought I’d take it and adapt it to comics, just for the hell of it. The theme for this one is “The Last Six Months.” So here we go.

Best New Book You Read In The Last Six Months?

Hm. Tough one. A lot of my favorite books keep getting canceled… the latest casualties being Batman ’66 and Mark Waid’s S.H.I.E.L.D.

And that’s following the far-too-short runs of books I was really digging like Princess Ugg, Planet of the Apes, Steed & Mrs. Peel…. I’m almost scared to say anything nice about a comic now for fear I’ll jinx it. At least I have Spider-Man 2099 back relatively intact after whatever that Secret Wars interlude was.

All that being said, I adored the new James Bond comic from Warren Ellis and Jason Masters.

Dynamite says it’s an ongoing and Ellis says he’s doing at least twelve issues. I hope to hell they really mean it and are planning to stick with it a while. I happen to be something of an authority on James Bond and I can tell you that this is the closest anyone in comics has got to the Real Thing. I didn’t even mind that the first issue was virtually all laying the foundation for stuff coming later. This version of 007 won’t disappoint anyone coming to it from the movies, but it’s got everything a Fleming purist would want. It’s the same kind of re-invention of the character that we saw with Daniel Craig in Casino Royale, but in comics.

Favorite Reread in The Last Six Months?

Well, I talked last week about how I’ve kind of been wallowing in the pile of back issues we’ve picked up at various conventions over the last year and a half. That’s still going on. Right now I’m having a huge nostalgia flashback over what an incredible revelation Marvel’s Greatest Comics #25 was to me, way back when– not just the Fantastic Four and the Sub-Mariner, but that issue was also my first real exposure to Captain America, Iron Man, and Dr. Strange. I’ve also been enjoying revisiting the 100-page Flash “Super-Spectacular” which reprinted, among other things, the tale of how Kid Flash got his new outfit.

Really, though, if I have to pick a favorite… A couple of friends recently presented me with Savage Sword of Conan #1 as a gift, which really knocked me out. I was very moved that anyone would think of doing that at all, for starters. But apart from the incredibly nice gesture, I love that book just on the merits. That was the hell of a comic magazine, even if Roy Thomas later admitted that it was sort of cobbled together at the last minute.

It was one of the first back issues I bought, way back in the 1970s when I first found the Armchair Paperback Exchange in east Portland, and it was a huge thrill to get it back after all these years. I am reminded once again of how much I loved Marvel’s black-and-white line, and annoyed again that this is a format that apparently no one is interested in reviving. If i had the money I sure as hell would be trying it, especially now that black-and-white printing is so cheap and easy.

Biggest Industry Surprise In The Last Six Months?

I’m continually amazed at what Archie Comics is doing. Swear to God they are taking more chances than anyone right now. Loving the Waid/Staples reboot.

Saddest News In The Last Six Months?

I dunno. There’s the way great talents who literally shaped my childhood keep dying. There’s the fact that the ones who aren’t dying often have friends putting together benefit projects in order to pay their medical bills because those great talents were never fairly compensated for creating million-dollar properties. At least that last is finally changing a little bit. I hope Norm Breyfogle gets a nice payday out of Anarky showing up on Arrow. And it pleases me that DC is finally working it out with Tony Isabella over Black Lightning.

Most Unexpected Delight In the Last Six Months?

“Unexpected” is hard to come by when you’re a jaded old guy like me. But I have to say that the way DC Comics is suddenly all over my TV– and it’s the real nerdcore DC stuff like Green Arrow and Speedy, and Flash meeting his Earth-2 counterpart, and the sheer joyous exuberance of the new Supergirl– I honestly can’t believe it.

For God’s sake, Grodd is coming back in next week’s Flash. Grodd! I look up from the pile of old Flash Giants I’m reading and there’s friggin’ Jay Garrick and Eobard Thawne on prime-time TV. I can’t quite believe it. I used to get beat up at school for liking this stuff. And they seem to get better at it as they go on– Arrow, in particular, is a lot more fun than it used to be, and Supergirl is just terrific.

New Talent To Watch You’ve Noticed In The Last Six Months?

I’m really impressed with what Neil Gibson is doing at T-Pub Comics, and after I did the Sherlock Holmes column a while back Brandon Perlow sent me a copy of Watson and Holmes, a book which was even better than I’d hoped it would be. So those would be new names that would get me to stop and take a second look.

Biggest Disappointment in The Last Six Months?

Books that I like a lot getting abruptly canceled. Though this is a trend that’s been going on a lot longer than the last six months. I’m still bitter about The Spider and Avengers Academy, to be honest.

Most Fervent Hope For The Next Six Months?

Um… that the Ellis/Masters James Bond and the new Archie will be around for a while. Or that DC will publish a new Batman book that I can actually enjoy. Right now the only one on the horizon I’m interested in is Batman ’66 meets the Man From UNCLE, and that’s just a mini-series and out of continuity to boot.

Failing that, well, I’ll settle for DC not completely shutting down their Showcase Presents program just as they’re getting to the good stuff. Very jazzed for the upcoming Batman volume, and I hope sales on that one warrant them giving us more of them. Like, say, groovy seventies Supergirl from Mike Sekowsky, or even the next JLA volume… they were almost getting to that great Steve Englehart/Dick Dillin run.

*

And there you go. If you want to play along at home, feel free to indulge yourself in the comments below, and I’ll see you next week.

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