Monday, November 26, 2012

Black Friday Back Issue Bust (or the death of single issues)

So, as some of you may know, I collect solely single issue comics.  I don't like trades - I consider them cheating.  Nothing makes me happier than a room full of long boxes ready to give up their precious treasures.  Half the fun of reading comics is the thrill of the hunt.  Sadly, today's hunt did not go well.  After much careful planning, I decided to visit the comic shops in York, PA.  I live in Lancaster which is about half an hour east of York.  I was super excited - I had found 3 new stores to check out.  So, I saddled up GPS in hand and made my way across the Susquehanna.

First stop was Comix Connection - now I had been here before, but it was a couple of years ago and they were having a buy 2 get 1 free sale so I thought I might be able to get some good deals.  I was wrong.  After wading my way through shelves of trades, toys and trash I found about 10 short boxes tucked away in a corner.  Jackpot!  Cracking my knuckles and checking my list I dove in.  What I found was merely the shops overage from the last 2-3 years marked about 15% - 20% OVER cover price!  While searching, a very young employee came up to me and said, "Can I help you find something?"  I asked if they had any other back issues laying around.  "Like what?" he asked.  80's Batman, Tom Strong, or Captain Marvel.  "We don't sell a lot of that stuff at this store," he said to me in his hipster jeans.  Maybe that's because you don't have any for sale I said and walked out.  Strike 1.

Next up was Planet X Comics - I thought this one had promise after viewing their website.  Again I as presented with a store full of trades and toys.  They has shelves of new comics and a couple of short boxes of back issues.  I waded through these and equally unimpressed as at the previous store.  The staff was much nicer, but I still say comic shops should have comics.  Strike 2.

Last on my list was Comic Store West.  I walked in and found the same sorry state as the two shops above.  Lots of trades and toys, but a very sparse collection of back issues.  I did walk out with the first issue of the Spider-man classic Fearful Symmetry and a Moench / Jones issue of Batman, albeit a little too expensive for my tastes.

The day left me with many questions.  Is the local comic book scene dead?   Is the Internet now the place to find back issues?  Am I an anachronism among comic book lovers?  Have trades come to rule the Earth?  I'm a little sad about my discoveries, but it's better to know that York is not holding any comics that are missing from my short boxes.

So - until next time, keep reading.


Friday, November 16, 2012

Rumors of my demise...

So, I'm not dead - just really busy.  It's been a long time since I posted last.  My collection has grown, my son has grown and now I'm finding a desire to get this going again.  Going to try and stick to 2-3 posts per week - not as in depth as before, and possibly about things other than comics.  But comics will still be the centerpiece.  It's time to return to form - so come back for a review of Comico's classic Grendel series, more Tom Strong and Sandman Mystery Theatre, and we'll slog through the mess that is Mutant X.

Keep reading...

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Steampunk #2

Last issue ended with Cole Blaquesmith saving a child, destroying a steam powered garbage truck and publicly shouting his name.  To you or me, that's no big deal - but in 1830's Absinthian England, that's a big no-no.

After a chat and a shave from Randy, Cole learns he was underground for 100 years.  We are treated to a writing lesson w/ Cole and a mysterious blonde woman (in flashback) until Cole is snapped back to the present by a man named Robert Peel - a freedom fighter, who is also a member of the aristocracy.  He tells Cole that he is to be the hero of the people.  Cole, still reeling from the shock of the length of his sleep, storms out.  Randy goes after him...

... and we cut to Absinthe talking to a member of the Church (he has a head like an old diver's helmet - creepy) and discover that Absinthe is working for something for the Church.  Rikk, our freedom fighter who got captured last issue, is rolled out sans arms and legs, and Absinthe reveals a switch on the back of Rikk's head marked soul...

... Cole asks Randy how things got that way - Randy says Absinthe came to power about 90 years ago.  Before he came to power there was no steam; ever since, the smog has blanked out the sun.  Cole visits a statue of Absinthe and realizes he knows the Monarch.  Flash back to our mystery blonde, coughing up blood and Absinthe saying he can save her.  A mysterious woman attacks Cole and they fight.  She revels herself as as Victoria, Queen of the savages, and tell Cole that there's a bounty on his head she is there to collect.  They fight until Cole drops over for some unknown reason.  Victoria is about to claim her prize when a mysterious voice introduces itself as Faust and says that the prize is his.

All around a solid issue - so packed with information my synopsis doesn't do it justice.  This series is so well thought out - from the subtle references to the 1800's to Absinthe's way of speaking - that it still (after a couple reads) leaves me felling satisfied.  The story is so bizarre, so out of the mainstream that it feels like reading a story by Pynchon.  Awesome.  One small complaint - some of the panels are so filled with detail, you loss the focus of the action.  That's not to say the art is bad - it's sometimes so good the brain has trouble processing the important parts.  This is a exciting issue that needs to be read like a post-modern novel - slowly and with the utmost joy.

Well, until next time - happy reading!


Credits

Joe Kelly - Writer

Chris Bachalo - Artist

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Steampunk #1

In our last issue, Randy and Sköm dug up a mysterious man with a mechanical arm.  But this issue opens with a clean cut man walking down a street, heading to a reading lesson with a lovely lady who is hanging out on the back of a 50's style car...but, remember, this takes place in 1837.

And we're snapped back to the present, which is actually the past but that's all a matter of opinion, and our mechanical man has some butt to kick.  He beats the crap out of a half lizard man, a guy with a bazooka, and a floatng hear before collapsing in front of Randy.

We see a scene with two rebels (freedom fighters who oppose evil Lord Absinthe) on the run being trailed... something.  All we know is that it's heralded by haunting flute music.  Rikk, one of our rebels, injures his leg and is cut down by a mysterious glowing sword.  Laslo, our other rebel, is allowed to live to spread the word that "all belong to Absinthe...body and soul."

Our recently awakened man wakes up underground; Randy and Sköm try to keep him in their hovel.  He makes his way out and up to the surface - where he saves a child from what can only be called a street sweeper for children.  He perches on top and screams "I am Cole Blaquesmith and I will not be broken!"

Good issue - sets up all the players very well.  Joe Kelly really knows how to interweave flashbacks so that they do not feel forced.  The story is complex and full of questions; keeps me coming back for more.  The art is phenomenal - if at times a bit too busy.  Chris Bachalo fills every page with huge amounts of details so that when he decides to go with something sparse, it really jumps off the page.

So, until next time - happy reading!

Credits

Joe Kelly - Writter
Chris Bachalo - Art

Friday, February 18, 2011

Steampunk: Catechism

Snap Judgment: Promising
So, I decided to take a break from Spider-man, went digging through my long boxes and came cross this issue.  It's a special kind of book that might not be everyone's cup of tea, but I really enjoyed it.

The book opens with a series of mysterious quotes with dates that don't add up.  From these, we're told our tale is set in the 1830's, but this ain't not your great-great-great-great-great-granddad's Victorian England.  Mechanical bugs fly through the air, people are augmented w/ animal parts, and steam powers the entire land.

We're introduced to Sköm and Randy, two unlucky grave robbers, who are digging for "spare parts".  Their hole collapses with a startling boom and they find themselves in a weird cavern with a clock coffin counting down to who knows what.

The action cuts to the current leader of England - one Lord Absinthe - who is upset about the noise.  He's malformed and speaks with a modern tongue.  He's...well...he's creepy.

Cut back to our grave robbers and the coffin, which opens up to show a bearded man with a mechanical arm and a furnace in his chest.  Awesome!

Then it's over - what a tease.

The story sets a mysterious stage - a time in our past where things aren't quite right.  And it's done in a fantastic way.  There are quotes from Kant and Franklin mixed in with quotes from our Lord Absinthe.  This book poses more questions than it answers and pulls the reader in.  The art is a real treat - meticulous and at times overwhelming.  It takes a lot of work just to look at one panel.  All told, it's a great read and a nice beginning.

Well, since I own the rest of this series - I'll see you back here next time for issue 1 of Steampunk.  Until then - happy reading!

Credits

Joe Kelly - Writer
Chris Bachalo - Art

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Spider-man's Tangled Web #11

Snap Judgment: Awesome
So, I should have posted this review about 3 days ago as it is a Valentine's Day story; but, this last couple days have been filled with fevers and a throwing up 2 year old.


Well, happy belated Valentines Day.

In this issue, it's Valentine's Day and Spider-man is spending it with the Vulture high above New York.  Spidey gets his butt kicked and passes out in a alley.

Back at the Bugle, the staff is making plans for their evening.  Turns out Peter Parker has 2 dates for the night.

There's more to it, but I don't want to spoil this one.  Needless to say, hilarity ensues.

I love this issue - another gem in this series.  Wonderful art, just look at the cover; there's one scene where Cooke emulates 70's style Marvel art that  made me smile.  The story is unassumingly sweet without being artificial.  The way character's lives all intertwine by the end of the issue shows a real handle on plotting; and there are lots of laughs. 

Poor Peter Parker just can't seem to win.

Go out, get this issue (and the one before it) and have a nice night with our friendly neighborhood Spider-man.

Until next time, happy reading.

Credits

Darwyn Cooke - Writer & artist

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Spider-man's Tangled Web #10

After the last 3 disappointing issues of Spider-man's Tangled Web, we come to an issue I consider a modern masterpiece of comic book story telling.  Blows me away every time I read it.

The story opens with two brothers in their apartment, the older one on the phone, the younger watching Insectman cartoons ( in a nice touch Insectman is a parody / homage to Spider-man).  The older brother is ticked off because their life kind of sucks: Mom's always sick, Dad's not around, and he's stuck watching his little brother.  They get in a fight over whether Spider-man's really a hero when the wall crashes in.

Lying on the floor, in a red and blue ball, is our titular hero and standing above him is Electro.  The younger brother tries to stop Electro from hurting Spider-man, and finds himself on the receiving end of a little shock.  Big brother steps in and sticks up for his sibling.  Electro talks to the boy about being an outcast - and Spider-man webs up Electro's hand and kicks the snot out of him.

The older brother yells at Spider-man for breaking their wall and, in one of my favorite scenes ever, Spider-man hands the boy an envelope labeled "Rent" and tells the boys to never lose hope and swings away.  The two boys then sit down and watch TV together.

Everything about this issue is perfect.  The art is painted, the faces show genuine emotion.  The panel framing is brilliant.  This is what happens when an artist has a clear vision for the story he wants to tell - and is given the freedom to do it.

This is a gem in my collection - not because of the monetary vale, but because of the sheer joy this story brings me.

Well, enough gushing over this issue - until next time, happy reading!


Credits

Kaare Andrews - story and art