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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.
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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.