Axel-In-Charge: Extending "Secret Wars," Excitement for a "Totally Awesome Hulk"
With the end of Geoff Johns’ tenure on Green Lantern and Grant Morrison’s upcoming farewell to Batman, a fan’s thoughts turn naturally to other extended runs. Marv Wolfman wrote almost every issue of New (Teen) Titans from the title’s 1980 preview through its final issue in 1995. Cary Bates wrote The Flash fairly steadily from May 1971’s Issue 206 through October 1985’s first farewell to Barry Allen (Issue 350). Gerry Conway was Justice League of America’s regular writer for over seven years, taking only a few breaks from February 1978’s Issue 151 through October 1986’s Issue 255.
However, in these days of shorter stays, I wanted to examine some of the runs that, despite their abbreviated nature, left lasting impressions. At first this might sound rather simple. After all, there are plenty of influential miniseries-within-series, like “Batman: Year One” or “Whatever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow?,” where a special creative team comes in to tell a particular story. Instead, sometimes a series’ regular creative team will burn brightly, but just too quickly, leaving behind a longing for what might have been.
A good example of this is found in Detective Comics #469-76, written by Steve Englehart, penciled by Marshall Rogers and inked by Terry Austin (after Walt Simonson penciled and Al Milgrom inked issues 469-70). Reprinted in the out-of-print Batman: Strange Apparitions paperback, and more recently (sans Simonson/Milgrom) in the hardcover Legends of the Dark Knight: Marshall Rogers, these issues introduced Silver St. Cloud, Rupert Thorne, Dr. Phosphorus and the “Laughing Fish,” featured classic interpretations of Hugo Strange, the Penguin and the Joker, and revamped Deadshot into the high-tech assassin he remains today. Tying all these threads together is Bruce Wayne’s romance with Silver, which for my money is the Bat-books’ version of Casablanca. It’s the kind of much-discussed run that seems like it should have been longer. Indeed, I suspect it’s one of the shorter runs in CSBG’s Top 100 list.
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For the Brandon Graham completists, the King City creator and Prophet writer has posted the pages from the Madame Xanadu short story he drew for the 2010 House of Mystery Halloween Annual, preceded by his recollection of the Vertigo experience (aka “before I came up with my ‘never ever work at DC ever’ plan”). While the artwork is lovely, the process was a bit of a mixed bag.
“It was fun enough to draw and paid well but I don’t actually recommend anyone track it down. (I really didn’t like the story),” he wrote. “After this I wanted to make sure I only put out books I would want to buy myself. Live and learn and all that.”
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.
If I had $15, I’d dutifully pick up Dark Horse Presents #17 (Dark Horse, $7.99). With all the stories and the variety of genres, this is a comics haul all under one roof. This month’s issue has a great looking Carla Speed McNeil cover, and inside’s star looks to be Richard Corben adapting an Edgar Allan Poe story. Beat that, comics! After that I’d do an Image two-fer with Multiple Warheads: Alphabet to Infinity #1 (Image, $3.99) and Invincible #96 (Image, $2.99). On the Multiple Warheads front, I’ve been salivating over this ever since it was announced – I bought the premature version of this back when it was published by Oni, and it’s built up in my mind as potentially greater than King City … and I loved King City. In terms of Invincible, I feel this book has the best artists working in superhero comics – and the writing’s not to shabby either. They’re doing a lot of world-building here, and having Cory Walker join with Ryan Ottley on this essentially split book makes it the highpoint of the series so far.
If I had $30, I’d double back to Image and get Prophet #30 (Image, $3.99). Of all the prophets, I love Old Man Prophet the best – and this issue looks like a mind-bender. After that I’d get Ghost #1 (Dark Horse, $2.99). Kelly Sue DeConnick and Phil Noto look like a dream team and Dark Horse really scored a coup by getting them together on this book. I was a big fan of the original series (Adam Hughes!) so I’m excited to see if this new duo can make it work in a modern context. Third up would be Secret Avengers #33 (Marvel, $3.99). Make no mistake, I love that Rick Remender is so popular now that he’s graduated to the upper echelon of books, but I’m remorseful he’s having to leave his great runs on this, Uncanny X-Force and Venom. This Descendents arc is really picking up steam. Lastly, I’d get National Comics: Madame X #1 (DC, $3.99). I’m a fair-to-middling fan of Madame Xanadu, but the creators here – Rob Williams and Trevor Hairsine – mean it’s a Cla$$war reunion! Love that book, love these guys, and love my expectations here.
If I could splurge, I’d splurge all over Shaolin Cowboy Adventure Magazine (Dark Horse, $15.99). Can DH do two excellent anthologies? We’ll see… but fortunately they’ve got Geof Darrow’s Shaolin Cowboy to lead the way in this pulpy throwback. Shine on, you crazy super-detailed diamond, shine on.
Comics | Green Lantern writer Geoff Johns talks with The Wall Street Journal about the introduction this week of the newest member of the Green Lantern Corps Simon Baz, an Arab-American Muslim from Dearborn, Michigan: “As fantastic as the concept of Green Lantern is of an intergalactic police force, the comic has had a history of grounding in the now and dealing with modern characters and concepts and Simon Baz is that. I wanted to create a character that everyday Americans have to deal with. When 9/11 hit, he was 10-years-old. His family was devastated, just like every other American. He’s grown up in that world. It’s just part of the daily life, the new normal.” [Speakeasy]
Comics | The new Spider-Man, Miles Morales, reaches a key moment in Ultimate Comics: Spider-Man #14, when Aunt May gives him Peter Parker’s web-shooters and the formula for for his web fluid. Writer Brian Michael Bendis explains why he waited so long to pass along the iconic tools: “‘This is like Excalibur. This is it. This is like being bequeathed the sword,’ Bendis says. ‘But, young Miles and (his friend) Ganke trying to figure out how to make web fluid is going to be my favorite stuff to write ever in the history of writing of anything. Just because someone gives you a formula and says, “Here, cook this,” doesn’t mean you can.'” [USA Today]
[A quick note before we go too much farther: I started writing this post before DC’s big announcement about its September-and-beyond plans. In fact, I wanted this particular post to be about something other than Flashpoint and/or line-wide reboots — so depending on your perspective, I picked exactly the right week, or exactly the wrong week, to draw that line. In any case, it’s probably not hard to tell, from the past few weeks’ worth of posts, where I stand on current events.
[So there you go. On with the business at hand.]
Since it’s pretty much summer, and time to think about catching up on reading, let’s revisit DC’s list of “30 Essential Graphic Novels” — “best-selling titles that you must read[, ]whether you are just beginning to discover graphic novels or you are an established fan looking to expand your collection.”
The list is almost four years old, and has had a few minor updates. (Pride Of Baghdad replaced The Quitter, and Crayon Shinchan replaced Sword Of The Dark Ones.) For the most part, though, it’s the same compilation — heavy on the Batman and the Jeph Loeb, a decent amount of Alan Moore (but no Swamp Thing), a couple of Sandman books and Hellblazer, but no Wonder Woman, no Joe Kubert, and no Jack Kirby. While there are at least a couple of representatives from each of DC’s imprints, there aren’t many hints at the real scope of DC’s diverse publishing history.
Artist Joëlle Jones (You Have Killed Me, Spell Checkers) shares a wonderful commission she recently did, featuring Madame Xanadu and Death playing cards outside Xanadu’s brownstone. If I learned anything from Bill & Ted’s Bogus Journey, it’s to never let Death win …
Jones is taking orders for additional commissions for the upcoming Stumptown convention in Portland. Click on the link above for details.
Welcome to the first Food or Comics? for 2011. 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.
Check out Diamond’s release list for this week if you’d like to play along in our comments section.
Hey, it’s the first week of 2011, and time to get some awesome comics, right? Right? So for my $15, I’ll pick up… Oh. Kind of a slow week, then, huh? Well, there’s always Steel #1 (DC, $2.99), the sure-to-be-controversial one-shot that launches the retro “Reign of Doomsday” crossover, and my love of James Robinson’s Justice League will ensure I pick up the Starman/Congorilla one-shot (DC, $2.99), if only to find out what all those interludes in the middle of the current “Omega” storyline are all about. Curiosity compels me to pick up Image’s Walking Dead Weekly #1 ($2.99), if only to see if it’s pretty much an exact reprint of the original first issue with a different cover, but that remaining $6 may just end up burning a hole in my pocket. Maybe I’ll put it toward my $30 haul…
I mentioned this in Food or Comics? yesterday, but thought it was worth mentioning again (esp. since Vertigo posted a preview on their blog today) … although it was originally solicited with Jill Thompson on art, the Madame Xanadu tale in this year’s House of Mystery Halloween Annual is actually Matt Wagner and King City creator Brandon Graham. It’s kind of like finding out the house next door isn’t handing out candy this year (boo!), but they did make popcorn balls (yay!).
Wagner and Graham join Matthew Sturges, Peter Milligan, Luca Rossi, Mike Carey, Peter Gross and more in contributing to the anthology. It arrives in shops today.
Careful readers may have noticed that in past months I have been a little lukewarm towards DC’s solicitations.
Well, not this time.
Although we’ve already heard about many of these new titles, the fact that they all hit in the same month helps make the November solicits pretty eventful. So let’s see how DC’s loaded the pre-holiday season, shall we?
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The biggest new title is Batman, Inc., Grant Morrison’s new standardbearer for the Batman line. Essentially Morrison is transferring his flag from Batman and Robin to this book, and thereby shifting focus from a Dynamic Duo to a caped CEO.