Were Money No Object on April 4th with American Barbarian, Flex Mentallo & Cold War
by James Fulton on April 4, 2012

The Book I Want to Buy:

American Barbarian

by Tom Scioli; Adhouse, $19.95

I’m going to admit that I’m not the biggest Jack Kirby fan.  I know that saying something like that is considered sacrilegious to many a comics fan, but there you have it.  I appreciate the characters he created, and his body of work, but I don’t particularly like reading his work.  Fire away.

Why am I talking about this when explaining why I would want to buy Tom Scioli’s new graphic novel American Barbarian?  Well, that’s because Scioli has turn ‘Jack Kirby’ into a comics genre all its own, through his work with Joe Casey on Godland, and with his own The Myth Of 8-Opus, which I’ve never read.  I’ve seen some preview pages of his American Barbarian, and it looks like the same kind of knowing, self-aware madness that shows up whenever a new issue of Godland decides to appear out of the ether.  (Is the existence of this book part of the reason why Godland is so late?)

Scioli is a talented artist, and I’m curious to see what he does as a writer.  At the least, I expect this book to be pretty entertaining…

The Books I Think You Should Buy:

Flex Mentallo Man of Muscle Mystery Deluxe Edition Hardcover

by Grant Morrison and Frank Quitely; Vertigo, $22.99

It was never really expected that this comic would see the light of day in any sort of reprint fashion (as it has drawn some legal fire for its similarity to a certain celebrity).  The character of Flex Mentallo, the master of muscle mystery was introduced in Grant Morrison’s classic run of Doom Patrol as a Charles Atlas look-a-like who could tap into his magical abilities by flexing his muscles.  He paraded around in little more than a leopard-print speedo, and if I remember correctly, was a bit of a dolt.

The character proved popular, and Morrison gave him his own mini-series, accompanied by artist Frank Quitely.  I could be wrong, but I think this was the first major North American comic Quitely ever did – I do know that it was my first exposure to the artist who would go with Morrison to revitalize the X-Men a few years later, and make a name for himself drawing The Authority.

At this stage, I can’t tell you a single thing about what happens in this comic.  I read (and still own) all the originals, but I don’t remember them at all, beyond being able to picture the cover.  The thing is, it’s a comic by Morrison and Quitely.  Do you need to know anything else?  You might not completely understand it, but it’s going to be lovely.

Cold War Vol. 1: Damocles Contract

by John Byrne; IDW, $19.99

I believe you’d be hard-pressed to find a comics fan of a certain age who doesn’t have warm memories of John Byrne’s classic runs on comics at Marvel and DC in the late 70s, the 80s, and into the 90s.  I was too young to have read his famous The Uncanny X-Men run with Chris Claremont s it came out each month, but was right there for his time with books like Alpha Flight, the Fantastic Four, and later Superman, not to mention his creator-owned Next Men series at Dark Horse.  I did lose interest in his work around the time he was doing Wonder Woman and Elseworld series at Dc, but I will always appreciate his work on some of my favourite comics, even if it’s hard to appreciate the on-line presence he has built for himself.

I’ve read 3/4 of the comics that make up his Cold War mini-series, collected here in trade.  It’s a very good comic, featuring a James Bond-like character who is involved in some nuclear espionage.  This is the old Byrne, with nice clear pencils and a quick-paced but meaty story that is strong on characterization.  It’s a very good comic; if you liked his work back in the day, you likely won’t be disappointed in this comic now.

So, what would you buy Were Money No Object?

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