Leave Your Spandex At The Door 01.10.04

Happy New Year’s everyone, and welcome to the 24th installment of ‘Leave Your Spandex @t the Door’!

Most folks start off their first columns for 2004 with a look back to the year that passed. I’m saving that for next week, since the orders cut-off date is fast approaching and I know you want your Previews-Scope on time. 😉

Joining me this month is Patrick Brower, a man who foolishly makes his living selling these here kiddie books (shameless plug: Graham Crackers Comics) and he writes the weekly 411 “What’s Shipping” list.
These weeks I’m back in Greece for holidays with the family so, unfortunately, I don’t have access to those nifty Previews catalogs. Blame Diamond and their apparent animosity towards Greek retailers. Patrick will help out with his copy though, have no fear!

As always, my text is plain old boring regular font, while my honorable co-columnist dzzle in all bold!

On to the main show:

DC COMICS

SUPERMAN: BIRTHRIGHT #8: by Mark Waid and Leinil Francis Yu

”Witness young Lex Luthor and find out why his youth has been kept a secret until now”.Gee, I wonder if it has anything to do with the mega-success of Smallville. DC could have been more tactful with this TV tie-in origin retcon, but then again, they could do much worse. Just ask Marvel…

DC has even brought Lionel Luther into current Superman continuity, of sorts, in the Superman Batman Secret Files 2003. Clever…

FORMERLY KNOWN AS THE JUSTICE LEAGUE: by Keith Giffen, J.M. DeMatteis and Kevin Maguire

Collecting one of the true highlights of 2003, the series that showed 80s revivals can actually turn out good! Wise move from DC to reprint the material in TPB right before the follow-up mini is released. Brief recap: Giffen and company bring back the shamelessly shameful Justice League of the 80s (that they themselves launched, of course) as the ‘Superbuddies’, and enormous hilarity ensues.

Bwa ha ha!

JUSTICE LEAGUE #94-95: John Byrne and Chris Claremont together again!

Hadn’t these two sworn off working together ever again or something? This time they both share the writing credits, which is good news. I’m hoping they both mesh together well, to overcome their individual weaknesses that they’ve amassed the past decade. John Byrne scripting over Claremont’s plots would be heaven ;-). I don’t think Jerry Ordway has inked over Byrne before, but I like his pencilling style, so I’m crossing my fingers that he’ll make Byrne’s pencils gold again. In any case, it’s the silver team of comics (Stan and Jack being the gold), what reason is there not to be excited about this?

Ordway actually inked over Byrne when Byrne was writing and penciling the Fantastic Four back in the 80’s. Al Gordon inked a few of those issues, too. I’ve heard from a reliable source that the JLA pages are technically proficient but unspectacular.

TEEN TITANS: A KID’S GAME TPB: by Geoff Johns and Mike McKone

Despite the enormous hype generated on the web, and in our site (eyes Ben), I haven’t checked out the Titans relaunch yet, and this is a sweet package, with a really small price tag. $10 for 7 issues? hee hee. What’s not to like?

Teen Titans is one of my favorite books on the market. Johns ends every issue with a surprise or a cliffhanger and he really has the feel of the 80’s Wolfman/Perez run, only this is better. And Mike McKone is doing the best work of his career—better work than I thought him capable of. Yow!

TEEN TITANS GO! #5: by J. Torres and Tim Smith

From what I can piece together from the solicit blurb, Raven has a supernatural zit that opens a vortex and sucks the team in. I LOVE funky zit vortex stories! X-Force #123, anyone? J. Torres and Todd Nauck have perfectly captured the spirit of the animated series in this ‘adaptation’ book, it’s best alternative while waiting for season 2!

KINETIC: by Kelly Puckett and Warren Pleece.

As far as I’m concerned this is the most anticipated of the Focus line. Tom Morell is a diabetic, hemophiliac, and amyotrophic high school kid with an over-protective mother. Or in his own words, he’s just a freak. And he has super powers, but he doesn’t know it. Warren Pleece’s art is quite a departure from his “Mobfire” days and if this is the way he draws now, maybe him doing “Robin” wasn’t too far of a stretch. And it’s good to see Kelly Puckett doing something since leaving “Batgirl.”

IT’S A BIRD… [HARDCOVER]: by Steve Seagle and Teddy Kristiansen

Steve Seagle writes about Steve, a comics writer who has just been assigned to write Superman, a character he doesn’t ‘get’. This is the story about Superman’s appeal as a fictional character, and it’s tabbed as ‘semi-autobiographical’, which kinda figures from the whole setting. This intrigues me, since I also don’t get why Supes is so big, and not even the nigh-famous ‘Superman For All Seasons’ has managed to sway me so far. Maybe I’m not intrigued enough to go for the pricey hardcover edition though, I’ll wait for the soft cover reprint in coming months.

SWAMP THING: by Andi Diggle and Enrique Breccia

Two writers have been attached to this relaunch of the famous horror series: Andy Diggle (LOSERS) for the first 6 issues, then followed by Will Pfeiffer (HERO), both personal favorites. I’ve only now started getting the Swamp Thing trades, so I don’t know what happened previously. The solicit mentions that Swamp Thing has lost its human conscience and is searching to kill his wife and daughter, Tefe (the star of the short-lived previous relaunch of this title) to help protect the eco-system. Or something. I think I’d better read through the Alan Moore run before this. Enrique Breccia is the artist here, but I can’t pinpoint where I’ve seen his work before, though the name sounds awfully familiar.

MARVEL COMICS

This month Marvel bids adieu to even more Tsunami titles (Inhumans and New Mutants, although you wouldn’t be able to tell from the latter’s solicit) and introduces another truckload of new titles, affectionately not called Tsunami Wave 3. Thank Joe for small favors. Rundown:

SHE-HULK #1 by Dan Slott and Juan Bobillo.

Juan Bobillo almost made my list of top 10 artists for 2003 with his work on Mekanix and Agent-X. The preview art looks good, She-Hulk is one of the most fun characters at Marvel, and Dan Slott is an up-and-coming writer that shows real promise. Will all these factors make for a successful equation to a good read and healthy sales? Ambivalent. I don’t see She-Hulk supporting her own title without her charming 4th-Wall-breaking antiques that made the previous run so memorable.

CAPTAIN AMERICA AND FALCON #1 by Priest and Bart Sears.

I like Priest, going as far back as the Jim Owsley days. I like Bart Sears. Captain America and the Falcon are my two favorite Marvel characters. I have absolutely no faith in this series.

Is a Cap movie in the works? Because this marks the 4th monthly title to feature Cap, and I don’t see the point. This is written by Christopher Priest, so two things are for certain: it will be funny, witty and engaging, while at the same time it won’t be able to make it past issue 7. It’s the Priest curse, the man has admitted to it himself. Pity, really…

IRON FIST #1 by Jim Mullaney and Kevin Lau.

Lau has to be my all-time least favorite artist. I hate the way he draws his women with annoyingly Manga-esque bunny eyes, while at the same time doing normal eyes for his men and pushing them to anatomical extremes. I remember a fill-in he had done for Deadpool, where he actually covered (was asked to cover?) all of the female characters’ eyes with sunglasses :-p.
Oh, and as for this title, I give it 6 issues tops, maybe leniently to 12, until the move comes out and Marvel decides to relaunch with a Ray Park-esque design of the character, and no ni
nja slippers.

ALPHA FLIGHT #1 by Scott Lobdell and Clayton Henry. This is the one title of the new wave that I am really looking forward to. For me, Scott Lobdell is the man who defined the X-Men of the last decade, and he’s the writer who got me to make the jump from the Greek reprints of the 80s x-comics to the then-current versions. This is a from-the-top relaunch, featuring only Sasquatch from the original linee-up, going on a recruiting drive to gather a new team of Alphans. The last time Scott created new characters from Marvel we got the kids of Generation-X (whose fun vibe this title is set to revisit), Marrow and Cecilia, the only noteworthy editions to the X-teams thru the 90s. I think ‘ve tooted Scott’s horn enough for now :-D. On the art front, Clayton Henry has a very simplistic cartoony style that was made to look rather awful with the help of the coloring in the pages of Exiles. Let’s see if he can win me over.

Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz…

CABLE AND DEADPOOL #1 by Fabian Nicieza and Mark Brooks from UDON.

I want to check this out, because Fabe had done wonders with these two characters in the past, but the prospect of buying something with Rob Liefield’s mark on the cover is off-putting. Really. But you shouldn’t. ‘’ Don’t judge a book by its cover.” Wise words!

Sadly, I stopped caring about Cable 2 series ago. I thought the Gail Simone Deadpool stuff was a riot so of course they ditch it.

MARVEL AGE

-Claps wildly-. No, not for the Spider-man and Fantastic Four monthlies for kids, I know these won’t last; Marvel tried it before, about 7 years ago, with ‘Professor X and the X-Men’, the 99cents monthly title that modernized the original Stan and Jack X-Men run. First helmed by Fabian Nicieza and Jan Duursema, and then by some other people I have completely forgotten about, it only managed 2 years before cancellation. And it was ‘under a buck’, half of the then regular comics pricing.
No, I don’t clap for this; I applaud for the announcement of the upcoming digest-sized Runaways, Sentinel and Spider-Girl trades. This Christmas, I was looking for a present for my 14-year old female cousin, who had showed interest in superheroes in the past. My first thought was of Runaways and Spider-Girl, but neither one was traded at that point, so I opted for the next best thing, the Meridian Traveler #1. (She has since went out to buy the next trades btw. Mission accomplished, 100% conversion 😉 ).
This is a wise move from Marvel’s part, and they should go one step further and do thick digest-sized trades off the CC/Byrne Uncanny X-Men run, the Bagley and McFarlane runs on Amazing Spide-Man, and so on, get their classic runs out in affordable formats for younger readers to pick up. These are the stories that pulled in kids back then, and I think they could do it again. Kids are more likely to pick a digest with 12 issues of Bagley’s action-packed run than 3 issues (for the same price) of the modernized Spider-Man with imitation manga artwork.

This rant has been brought to you by ‘Leave Your Spandex at the Door; normal solicits will be resumed.

PUNISHER THE MOVIE LIMITED SERIES #1-3 and TPB: by Peter Milligan and Pat Olliffe

A limited series and its tpb, both released in the same month. LOL. The series is written by Pete Milligan, who is also in charge of this month’s Punisher/Wolverine mini-series (art by Lee Weeks). Milligan is a writer I trust blindly, I want to see if he can succeed in making the Punisher, one of the industry’s most 2-dimensional characters, interesting to me. Pat Oliffe seems an odd choice to illustrate the Punisher, since he has more spandex-y inclinations. The adaptation is done over 3 issues, a very good format, considering how cramped these things usually feel when done in the confines of a 48-page one-shot. The TPB edition comes with two extra stories, the first appearance of the Punisher waaaay back in Amazing Spider-Man, and the first issue of the Garth Ennis Punisher mini-series. I gladly got rid of that mini on eBay last year and since I have no intention of reading it again it’s individual issues for me.

ULTIMATE FANTASTIC FOUR #4: by Mark Millar, Brian Bendis and Adam Kubert

Issue 4 and we’re still right after the plane crash. Sue is trapped with the Mole Man and the rest of the team comes to her rescue. Kinda like Heroes Reborn: Fantastic Four #1, only that one had Jim Lee art ;-). Good luck tracking that down any of those trades in time for the FF movie…

FANTASTIC FOUR #511: by Mark Waid and Mike Wieringo

The FF go to see GOD to bring the Thing back to life. God has surely been fairly busy in comics the last decade, with permanent cast status in Preacher and Lucifer, and constant cameos in books like Howard the Duck , and now FF and Heaven LLC from Image (also out this month)… Talk about a busy schedule!

I’m tired and I’ve just been reading about it.

ELEKTRA #34: This issue… Elektra has the flu! The House of Ideas does it again! What next? Emma Frost with cramps?

Okay, that one I’d actually buy…

We could pitch it for X-Men Unlimited; get Greg Horn to illustrate it. Stan Lee presents: “Emma’s got the cramps”.

Giving the phrase “bloody hell” a whole new meaning…

WOLVERINE #12: Guest-starring JEAN GREY! But wait… Isn’t she dead? In the age of super-consistency and ‘dead means dead’, Miss Grey is the poster child for creative anarchy.

As Emma Frost said to Cyclops on New X-Men #151, “This will only be the third or so time you’ve had to bury her. It must be getting rather tedious…”

I haven’t read that issue yet. Do they just bury her right back in her old grave? If so, how do they change the date on the gravestone? If they keep buying new ones, the Xavier family funds ought to have really thinned out by now.

Nah, Cyclops can just use his optic blasts to chisel in the new dates…

IMAGE COMICS

HEAVEN LLC: by Wayne Chinsang and Dave Crosland.

Dave has given me a peek of the first pages of this GN (weirdly described as a TPB in the solicits), and it’s a treat! GOD is a blonde male bimbo, and he acts on behalf of a committee, made up of such Biblical faves like Adam ,Eve, Lucife, John Baptist and the Pope! When GOD goes missing though, the committee is left without its chairman and they don’t know the first thing about running the corporation we call existence. Dave’s frenetic and ultra-stylised art is tailor-made for wacky concepts like this. Stay tuned for an insane follow-up to last year’s Puffed interview with Dave, later this month, with an extended preview of this project.

PHANTOM JACK #1: You all have heard of this, the project hyped to death through the Newsarama site, one of the many titles that fell victim of Marvel’s Epic crash. Mike Sangiacomo took the project as it was to Image, instead of dooming it to limbo as part of the epic anthology. The concept isn’t so captivating, an invisible journalist, but the art is very impressive, especially the coloring.

MINISTRY OF SPACE OMNIBUS: by Warren Ellis and Chris Weston

Billed as, “The story of how we could have gone to space. Maybe how we should have gone to space.” It’s good that they give that description because it’s been so damn long I’d forgotten what it was about. And no blaming Chris (Filth) Weston for this, it’s all Warren Ellis’ fault. This was a cool look at the possibility of British space travel and the men and machines that got them there. This collects the long sold out issues #1 & #2 with the never released #3 coming in April.

POWERS, vol. 2: by Brian Michael Bendis and Michael Avon Oeming

Apparently done as a way to introduce more readers to this fantastic super-hero/crime drama series, “Powers vol. 2” brings the series back to thepresent and reintroduces us to Detectiv
es Deena and Walker. “Powers” is about the police that police the capes. Those who investigate super-hero related homicides. And as of now, all super-powers are banned so they have their work cut out for them. Bendis’ dialogue and Avon Oeming’s gritty urban art are what make this book so damn good.

I have only read the first two POWERS trades from a friend’s copies, but I was left unhooked. This whole business lately of re-launching for no apparent reason (Spectacular Spidey, Punisher, Ultimates, Soldier X, etc) seems to be spreading across the rest of the industry, Marvel is a bad influence for everyone :-p

INDIE COMICS

(As I mentioned in the column’s intro, there’s no Previews catalog for me this month. Therefore, Patrick will take over the indies section this month on his own, so there’s no need to keep him ‘bolded’ 😉

Hah! Your puny bold letters cannot contain me! I am free to wreak—oh, crap, I’m still bold. Hold on…

CEREBUS #300 (Aardvark Vanaheim, page 196)
Writer/Artist: Dave Sim; Artist: Gerhard

The end of an entire career’s worth of work. Twenty-six years in the making, this 6,000 page graphic novel, told in monthly installments, finally brings an end to a true pioneer of small-press publishing and independent comics. Dave Sim deserves many, many accolades for following thru with what started as a mere “Conan the Barbarian” parody and making it biting commentary on our world today-politics and comics. Love him or loathe him,you have to respect his (& Gerhard’s) accomplishment with this 300th issue.

STRANGERS IN PARADISE vol. 3 #64 (Abstract Studios, page 196)
Writer/Artist: Terry Moore

Hmmmm. Previews says that this is part 3 of “David’s Story” but the full page ad in the same issue of Previews says it’s part one of a new story focusing on Katchoo’s art career. Either way, SIP is too good of a book not to read. No super-heroes, just real people with more f*cked-up lives than yours. Yet somehow they seem to make it work.

BIPOLAR #1, #2, #3, #4 (New Printings, Alternative Comics, page 202)
Stories & Art: Tomer Hanuka & Asaf Hanuka

Quite an interesting concept, Tomer and Asaf are twins and they’re both comic creators. So they split the book in half and each tell the stories that matter most to them. Asaf & Etgar Kerer tell what happens after a broken-hearted suicide, what happens to the dead, not the living, and Tomer plays with time in a series of more personal stories. Tomer is also the cover artist on DC’s Focus line.

TAROT: WITCH OF THE BLACK ROSE #25 (Broadsword Comics page 228)
Writer/Artist: Jim Balent

Yeah, that’s right, I’m picking “Tarot.” While sure to never be an EisnerAward contender, Jim Balent knows what his fans want and he gives it to them each issue. No rocket-science is involved [Manolis: don’t be silly, if course there’s science involved, those balloons don’t get so big with the use of conventional blowing materials], but he tells neat, magical stories with overly endowed characters. This is what most people wanted to see when he was doing “Catwoman.” While certainly not for everyone, “Tarot” can be a pretty fun ride. But then again, I am a pervert. Don’t I kind of have to be? I work in comics.

VOLTRON: DEFENDER OF THE UNIVERSE vol. 2 #3 (page 262)
Writers: Dan Jolly & Marie Croall Artists: E. J. Su & Clint Hilinski

This is on the list for one reason. Last year at every comic convention I would ask then “Voltron” artist Mike Norton to draw the car Voltron. He couldn’t do it off the top of his head and neither of us had any reference for it. And I would ask him all the time, seriously, all the time. And I would send innocent fans over to ask the same thing. And it was such a dumb joke that it made me laugh every time just as it saddened him every time. See, I didn’t even want the picture; I just did it because it bugged him. So now that the car (okay, “vehicle”) Voltron is actually in the series, Norton isn’t drawing it anymore. Curse you, Mike Norton! You will be forced to draw the car Voltron yet!! [Manolis: I have newfound respect for you, Patrick! I also have Mike Norton’s email address, and he is SO receiving a link to this column! p.s. This random bold inserts are so fun to do! Ben has been hogging all the fun!]

COMPLETE PEANUTS vol. 1: 1950-1952 HC (Fantagraphics, page 285)
By Charles Schulz

Fantagraphics loves us all and proves it by releasing EVERY Peanuts comic strip ever, in a 25 volume hardcover set. Seth (Palookaville) designs it and it has three dailies or one Sunday per page. The first volume covers the first 2+ years of the strip. And there’s a Garrison Keilor introduction, an index and a Schulz biography. This is gonna be sweet.

LUMAKICK #2 (Lumakick Studio, page 306)
Writer/Artist: Richard Hahn

Eisner nominee. Harvey nominee. Xeric winner. And you’ve never heard of it, have you? Pomes, jokes, dreams, Professor Lee and Clemenza & Tessio. And beer drinking. This is unlike any comic you have read yet. The word “lyrical” has been used to describe Richard Hahn’s storytelling style and I’m unable to disagree with that.

NEON GENESIS EVANGELION vol. 1 GN 2nd Edition (Viz, LLC., page 339)
Writer/Artist: Yoshiyuki Sadamoto

Viz is redoing all their properties in more of a Tokyo Pop format to better compete in book stores. That’s fine because it ensures such great works as NGE (or “Eva”) stay in print. Eva is Japan’s most controversial anime series. What this series really means has been debated for years and you have the chance to start at the beginning. The Angels have returned to new Earth and Shinji Ikari is forced to pilot the monstrous biochemical weapon Evangelion to stop them.

THE FLOATY BEAR THING!!! VINYL FIGURE (page 409)

Beware the Floaty Bear Thing-it’s gonna do something! What will that nutty Roman (Lenore) Dirge think of next? And hey, he vibrates!
[Manolis: A vibrating bear thing? You’re doing this to me on purpose, because you know I can’t see a photo anywhere until I get back to the U.K., and so I’m left with my wild, filthy imagination. yuck!]

I think we can safely wrap up on that happy note, many thanks to Patrick for his help this month and for being a lovable sleaze! Seriously now, a vibrating bear thing? >_<

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

The rest of you, tune back in 411Comics and “Leave Your Spandex @t the Door” in one short week for part 2 of the once more interrupted ‘Oni, Actually’ tribute, as I look back at this year’s graphic novel offerings from OniPress.

Do you want to discuss this article? Come to the all-new LYS@D discussion thread in the 411message boards and drop your spare cents.

Manolis Vamvounis

a.k.a. Doc Dooplove