Vaughan & Chiang's "Paper Girls" Builds a Familiar Yet Disconcerting World
Welcome to Food or Comics?, where every week we talk about what comics we’d buy on Wednesday 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 what we call our “Splurge” item.
If I had $15:
I’d start with IDW’s Godzilla: Kingdom of Monsters #1 ($3.99) and have Wednesday night’s bedtime reading for my nine-year-old taken care of. And as long as we’re talking about Phil Hester comics, I’m not leaving the store without Wonder Woman #609 ($2.99) and the return of the classic costume. Then I’d add Captain America and the Secret Avengers ($3.99) because it’s Kelly Sue DeConnick’s writing Black Widow and those are two of my favorite people in comics. And I’d round off the order with Elephantmen: Man and Elephantman #1 ($3.99) because I’m behind on Elephantmen and this sounds like a good place to check in and catch up.
If I had $30:
I’d trade-wait Elephantmen, which has some of the nicest collected volumes around, and pick up the awkwardly titled Hawkeye and Mockingbird/Black Widow: Widowmaker ($15.99). I mentioned that I’m a big Black Widow fan, but thanks to Return of the Dapper Men, I’m looking to check out some of Jim McCann’s Marvel work as well.
Tough choice between the Strange Tales II hardcover ($24.99) and Buck Rogers in the 25th Century: The Complete Newspaper Dailies, Volume 5: 1936-1938 ($49.99). My love for space pulp would usually trump my love for Marvel, but a) I don’t yet have Buck Rogers’ volumes 1-4 and b) Kate Beaton wins everything. So Strange Tales II it is.
If I had $15:
… I’d have to make some tough decisions this week. Do I spend my initial $15 on the latest volume of Mome ($14.99) or on Cartooning: Philosophy and Practice by Ivan Brunetti ($13), a delightful little chapbook on the hows and whys of the medium that originally was bundled with an issue of Comic Art magazine and is now presented on its lonesome? Or perhaps I’ll skip those books and pick up the first volume of Fish Police ($14.99), a comic I remember people talking about back in the heady days of the 1980s but for whatever reason never checked out myself at the time.
If I had $30:
Gah, even more tough decisions! Assuming I don’t get any of the above books, should I spend my $30 on the new Strange Tales II hardcover collection ($24.95) or the third volume of classic Torpedo comics ($24.99, though it probably would be best to buy the first two volumes first). Then there’s 21, the new biography of baseball player Roberto Clemente by Wilfred Santiago ($22.99), which looks pretty fantastic, and RIP collects the best stories by German horror artist Thomas Ott ($28.99). The Best of Dick Tracy would be a must-buy ($19.99) if I wasn’t intent on getting the whole IDW series, and that Complete Peanuts Vol. 15 ($28.99) looks pretty spiffy as well. I’d probably, however, lay my money down on Chimo, the latest book from not-terribly-prolific autobio author David Collier ($17).
Comic strip junkie that I am, I can’t see myself passing up on The Comics: The Complete Collection ($40), Abrams’ mash-up of two books about American comic strip art that together provide a pretty decent overview of the past century. I’ve always liked Bill Plympton’s cartoons, however, enough so that I’d at least consider getting Independently Animated ($39.95), a hefty overview of the animator’s career. American Flagg! fans, however, will no doubt use their splurge money for Howard Chaykin: Conversations ($40), the latest in U. of Mississippi’s ongoing series that collects interviews with notable cartoonists.
It’s clearly a five-week month, given the offerings of this week’s shipping list – a couple of must-haves, but also a lot of “Eh, I guess maybe that”s, as well. The must-haves are DC’s Jimmy Olsen #1 ($5.99), the 80-page complete story by Nick Spencer and RB Silva, including 30 pages of unseen conclusion that I’ve been waiting the last three months for anxiously, and Joe Casey and Mike Huddleston’s Butcher Baker, Righteous Maker #1 (Image, $2.99), the much-teased new series that looks set to take Casey’s Steve Gerber-isms to a whole new level. Rounding out my $15 selection this week, the one-shot Dollhouse: Epitaphs (Dark Horse, $3.50); I had a lot of problems with the TV series when it was on, and especially the two “Epitaph” episodes, leaving me really curious to see what it’s like as a comic. I admit, I fear the worst, but am willing to be proven wrong.
If I had $30? Let’s return to some favorites: DC’s Action Comics #899 ($2.99) lets Paul Cornell and the criminally-underrated Pete Woods – Seriously, what is wrong with the world that this guy isn’t being worshipped by many? – build for a big finale for their Luthor-centric arc, while Detective Comics #875 ($2.99) continues Scott Snyder’s amazing run as well as my belief that I might prefer Dick to Bruce when it comes to Batmans. Marvel’s Spider-Girl #5 ($2.99) gives Paul Tobin the chance to break my heart with one of that company’s best recent launches, even though it’s just been canceled with #8 (Thanks, Marvel), and Thor #621 (Marvel, $3.99) brings the first Matt Fraction storyarc to a conclusion and allows me the chance to hopefully end my unhealthy fascination with its unevenness, random plotting and daddy issues.
Splurgewise, face it, tigers: I’m actually going to go splurgeless this week. There’s really not that much I’d shell out the big bucks for…
If I had $15:
Although I’m totally on Team Callahan when it comes to Millennium, I’m down with Team McMillan on the oversized Jimmy Olsen #1 ($5.99). I’m also down for the oversized Captain America #616 ($4.99), not only to see what happens to Bucky now that the Russians have shown up, but also because of the great talent they’ve recruited for the back-ups tales — folks like Jason Latour, Howard Chaykin, Cullen Bunn, Paul Grist and Paul Azaceta, just to name a few. That leaves me with $5, which is enough to grab Amazing Spider-Man #657 ($3.99), a tie-in to the recent big “death” issue of the Fantastic Four.
If I had $30:
I’d also grab American Vampire #13 ($2.99), which kicks off a new storyline set in the Pacific during World War II. I’m also curious enough about Joe Casey’s new Image title, Butcher Baker, Righteous Maker #1, to grab a copy for $2.99. I’m also looking forward to Eric Powell and Phil Hester’s take on Godzilla, so let’s throw Godzilla Kingdom of Monsters #1 ($3.99) onto the pile. That leaves me room for one more, which would be a toss up between Secret Avengers #11, Walking Dead #83 and Zatanna #11.
Although I own it already in floppies, you can’t go wrong with the chocolate-in-my-peanut-butter Strange Tales II hardcover ($24.99), which features a lot of fun and wacky stories about Marvel characters by some of the best independent creators around. I hope they do a third one, but is there anyone left they could recruit for it who hasn’t already been featured in the first two? I can think of a few, but I’m curious to see what you guys think.