Axel-In-Charge: Unmasking the "Totally Awesome Hulk"
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.
I don’t know quite why, considering I’ve been feeling cynical and disinterested in the DC Universe over the past couple of weeks, but I find myself tempted by both Flash Annual #1 and Justice League International Annual #1 (both DC Comics; $4.99) this week; something even more surprising considering I haven’t been following the JLI series past trying out the first issue. And yet, if I had $15 this week, I suspect I’d be using a chunk of it for that. I’d also grab Joe Hill and Gabriel Hernandez’ Locke & Key: Grindhouse (IDW Publishing, $3.99), because, well, Locke & Key is a very, very good comic book.
If I had $30, I may find myself picking up the first collection of Peter Panzerfaust (Vol. 1: The Great Escape; Image Comics; $14.99) because I like the high concept behind it even if I managed to miss the single issues. People who did pick it up in singles: Is it the kind of thing I’d like, do you think?
Should I find the money and ability to splurge, I find myself surprisingly drawn to Dark Horse’s Star Wars Omnibus: Clone Wars Vol. 1 ($24.99); I blame people in my Twitter feed talking about Star Wars Celebration last week, and my thinking, “I haven’t really kept up with Star Wars in ages” in response. Does that count as peer pressure?
I relate to the main character from Doug TenNapel’s Cardboard more than I want to. His name is Mike, he’s the father of a pre-teen boy and he’s looking for work in a crappy economy. Fortunately, I’m not a single dad and I also haven’t had to bring home a cardboard box for my son’s birthday. That’s all that Mike can afford, but the box does come with the promise of adventure. The old man on the street corner who sells it to Mike explains that it’s “actually a father-and-son project in disguise! Slay the giant! Kill the Nazis! Hunt for buried treasure!” It’s not just a box, Gideon claims, “it’s everything mankind ever needed to accomplish pressed into a cube of corrugated pulp.” It also comes with two rules.
Any time a creepy old guy sells you something from a ramshackle shop and that thing comes with rules, you know trouble is coming. The cardboard’s rules are that 1) Mike must return all the scraps when he and his son Cam finish their project, and 2) they can’t ask for any more cardboard. Naturally, they break both.
As these things will, the problem begins with a creepy butthole kid who lives next door. Marcus is a rich kid whose obnoxiousness has left him with only two friends: his rat Fang and a sunglasses-wearing boy appropriately known as Pink Eye. Marcus mocks Mike when he brings home the box, but laughter turns to jealousy once Mike and Cam have created a cardboard boxer named Bill who comes to life. Meanness ensues, scraps are not returned, thefts occur and before long Marcus is creating his own army of cardboard monsters that gets horribly out of control.
Leo Geo and His Miraculous Journey Through the Center of the Earth
By Jon Chad
Roaring Brook Press $15.99.
This is a clever, literally slim book, designed as skinny as possible in order to highlight its central conceit. You see, the running gag here is that you have to turn the book sideways to follow Leo on his downward trek to the Earth’s core, and then turn it another 180 degrees as he heads back up.
The book combines science with fantasy, with Leo discovering lost worlds filled with crazy monsters while spouting out science facts like “Some countries like New Zealand and Iceland harness the awesome power of lava for their own uses in heating and generating electricity. Though the juxtaposition of fantasy and hard facts seems a bit jarring, it actually adds to the book’s charm. There’s something about a guy standing on a giant underground ogre while discussing thermal generators that’s too silly to dislike.
Though Leo himself is one step up from a stick figure, Chad fills the pages with as much detail as possible and his ornate underworld scenes take on a “Where’s Waldo”-like mania at times, especially as he eschews panel borders to instead depict various versions of Leo crawling across a wide (but narrow) vista. Basically, it’s a fun introduction to geology that the elementary-school set will really dig (sorry, couldn’t help the pun).
Raina Telgemeier has been busy — it seemed like she made it to every single comic convention in the United States and several in Canada over the past year — and last weekend she capped it off by picking up the Eisner Award for Best Publication for Teens for her graphic novel Smile. Despite all that traveling, she has managed to start work on her next graphic novel, and she announced it over the weekend: It will be called Drama, and, she says, “It’s about middle school theater geeks, stage crew, putting on a play, love and hate and friendship, and that’s all I can talk about for now.” The book is due out in fall 2012 from Scholastic/Graphix.