Welcome once again to What Are You Reading?, where we share what comics, books and other good stuff we’ve been checking out lately. This week our special guest is Thomas Hall, writer of the science fiction/fantasy comic Robot 13.
To see what Thomas and the Robot 6 crew have been reading, click below.
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.
Check out Diamond’s release list or ComicList, and tell us what you’re getting in our comments field.
If I had $15, I’d reverently pick up the big release of the week: the final issue of DMZ, #72 (DC/Vertigo, $2.99). Wood and Burchielli have done something special here, and I easily see the series taking its place next to Preacher and Transmet as Vertigo (and mature comic) staples. Next up I’d get a dose of a new Vertigo series, Spaceman #3 (DC/Vertigo, $2.99); Azzarello and Risso definitely zigged when most thought they would zag, and in this shaking off of the long shadow of 100 Bullets they’ve created something decidedly unique and spellbinding. Next up I’d get another DC book, this time All Star Western #4 (DC, $3.99); I’ve really enjoyed Palmiotti and Gray taking Jonah Hex into the big city here and opening up the world and heroes of these tumbleweed times, and I’m excited for the new back-up featuring a literal firebrand of a female. Finally, my last book on a $15 budget would be Avengers: Children’s Crusade #8 (Marvel, $3.99); I could write a whole article on how the schedule’s affected this book, but despite all that what we’ve got is a great story. Despite all the delays, I’m apprehensive about the final issue because it’ll probably be the last we’ll see of Allan Heinberg in the Marvel U for a long time.
If I had $30, I’d thank the yuletime gods and pick up the vibrant new issue of Haunt, #20 (Image, $2.99). I don’t know what’s in the water at Image, but they’ve orchestrated a series of recent inspired and left-field revamps of their books: Casey/Fox on Haunt, the upcoming Keatinge/Campbell on Glory, Graham/Roy on Prophet. Next up I’d get Top Cow’s Artifacts #12 (Image/Top Cow, $3.99); I admit coming onto this series late, but thanks to a plush assignment I was able to tear through the past two years of Top Cow comics and found I really enjoyed their current event book. After I read and re-read that book, I’d get a double-shot of Marvel with Captain America & Bucky #625 (Marvel, $2.99) and FF #13 (Marvel, $2.99); love what the writers are doing here, but the recent choices by editors for their new artists have made both these books even more enticing for me. Juan Bobillo drawing Hickman’s scripts on FF especially gives it a creepy vibe I’d love to see more of. Speaking of art, my final pick for this final week of the year would be the artistic tour de force of Flash #4 (DC, $2.99); Manapul and Buccellato are really showing their stuff, providing story to enable Manapul to do some of the most dynamic and heart-wrenching work of his career. In the back of my mind I’m worried what happens when Manapul needs a break from drawing: much like finding an appropriate artist for J.H. Williams 3 to rotate with on Batwoman, a suitable second for The Flash will be hard to come by.
My splurge this week is the under-the-radar collection Broadcast TV: Doodles of Henry Flint (Markosia, $19.99). I’d buy an art book by Henry Flint on face value alone, but from the limited previews I’ve seen of the book online it’s something far, far more unique. These are off-hand doodles Flint’s done in his spare time over the past five years, but I’m not talking about quick sketches: “doodles” as in ornate mind-benders where Flint literally doodled his heart out. Once I get this in my merry hands, I’ll be going over it with a fine tooth comb, magnifying glass and anything else I can find.
… Specifically, thank goodness this is the last batch of solicitations before the New-52 lineup. As with the previous two sets of solicits, these exist partly to advertise November’s books, but also to keep consumers excited about September’s. Paradoxically, however, that means I can’t really get excited about them until September’s books arrive, and with them some real context.
As always, though, there are more things in the solicits than the New-52, so at least we can discuss some things substantively.
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In a blog post titled simply “Finally!,” J.H. Williams III notes the inclusion in DC Comics’ solicitations for November a listing for a trade paperback for Chase, the woefully short-lived 1998 series he created with D. Curtis Johnson.
The title came out of the same experimental era at the publisher that produced such comics Young Heroes in Love, Aztek: The Ultimate Man and Hourman, and introduced us to Cameron Chase, a cynical, cigarette-smoking agent with the newly introduced Department of Extranormal Operations.
I’ve written before about my love for Chase, which was a wonderful looking glass into the workings of the DC Universe, with Cameron providing an outsider perspective on the actions and lives of superheroes. She had ties to a costumed character and frequently interacted with the capes-and-tights set — from Batman and Nightwing to Alan Scott and Klarion the Witchboy — but she wasn’t part of that world. Well, not that she’d admit.
Cameron and the DEO far outlived Chase, which unfortunately ended with its tenth issue, part of DC’s “One Million” event. The character had a prominent role a decade later in Manhunter, while the Department of Extranormal Operations, also created by Williams and Johnson, has become a fixture of the DC Universe, even appearing in the Green Lantern movie.
“Chase was one of those series that came out at time when almost everything new from DC was getting the axe within a year due to slow sales,” Williams writes on his blog. “Ironically, as we were getting chopped, a groundswell buzz was happening around what we were doing, but unfortunately not in time to save the series. In all the years since then, Chase The Series had garnered a cult status, becoming almost more popular after its death than when it was alive.”
As Williams’ “Finally!” title suggests, this is the first time Chase has been collected; I tracked down the full run several years back at Mid-Ohio Con, where all 10 issues were bagged together for a decent price. The 352-page trade paperback goes well beyond that, though, collecting Batman #550 (Cameron Chase’s first appearance), plus a bunch of stories from the Secret Files line. It arrives in stores on Dec. 21.
Last week I talked about rediscovering the ‘70s series Secret Society of Super-Villains. As you might have guessed, this was made possible largely by the Internet. Without it, I would have had to scour back-issue boxes at regional comics shops and/or at the occasional convention. After all, that’s what I grew up doing.
Regardless of where or how I bought those back issues, the fact remains that I bought them pretty much sight-unseen. Oh sure, I remembered random scenes from isolated issues, but basically my yen for SSoSV grew out of two things: its concept and its reputation. I knew what it aimed to be, and I figured if Gerry Conway wrote most of it, it couldn’t be all bad.*
What’s more (at the risk of being obvious) I had to track down these back issues because a collected version of Secret Society of Super-Villains is apparently still trapped in royalty-payment limbo. Not that I am especially bitter about that, mind you; because clearly I don’t mind reading the individual issues and they weren’t that hard to find.