This week is an off week in my view with few books that have me waiting on the edge of my seat. Of course the hardcover collections are back, but I knew stuff I had on order would continue to be coming in. I happy to report that the latest Masterwork that was announced is a collection of Marvel Team-Up and is another Masterwork that is easy for me to skip. The Bronze Age was not a particular great era for Marvel and therefore more and more of the material is easier to skip.
I’m still in search of a format but thought we could try the solicitation copy with some comments after each book again.
Marvel Masterworks Volume #139 Captain America Volume 5 - Written by STAN LEE Penciled by GENE COLAN Cover by GENE COLAN It's a twelve-pack of Captain America classics as only the Marvel Masterworks can bring them to you! Draped in the red, white and blue, there's no character in all of comics who represents America like Cap, and within these pages two of Marvel's greatest creators set him on a path through the tumultuous '70s that bears a character's, and a nation's, soul. In story after story Stan Lee and Gene Colan push the envelope for adventure as Cap goes behind enemy lines in Vietnam; teams with the Falcon to oppose the radical Diamondheads; and then sets out on a coast-to-coast road trip full of motorcycle gangs, rock festivals and the Red Skull! The excitement reaches fever pitch when the long, lost Bucky Barnes returns! Free from the guilt of his partner's death, Cap's slate is wiped clean, however, anything but a normal life is ahead-because Baron Strucker, Dr. Doom and M.O.D.O.K. are tied up in Bucky's return. Before the story's done you'll witness Cap vs. Bucky, the origin of M.O.D.O.K. and the beginning of the Captain America/Falcon team! Featuring guest appearances by Nick Fury, the Incredible Hulk and Peter Parker, and villains from Batroc to the Mole Man and the Monster Ape, they're classics one and all. Collecting CAPTAIN AMERICA #125-136 248 PGS. $55– This may have been one Masterwork too far on this material. If memory serves this stuff was very uneven and is during a time frame when Stan had become stale in his story telling.
Creepy Archives Volume #6 - Dark Horse Comics continues to showcase its dedication to publishing the greatest comics of all time with the release of the sixth spooky volume of our Creepy magazine archives. This collection of legendary yell yarns includes selections from revered writers Archie Goodwin and Harlan Ellison, among others, and groundbreaking artistic contributions from Frank Frazetta, Neal Adams, Angelo Torres, Jack Davis, underground comics great Vaughn Bodé, and more. $50– Sadly I still have not read many of these archives, but I will probably stop at Volume 10.
Seven Soldiers of Victory – Volume 1 - Collecting Grant Morrison's magnum opus for the first time in hardcover, featuring SEVEN SOLDIERS OF VICTORY #0, THE GUARDIAN #1-4, KLARION #1-3, ZATANNA #1-3 and THE SHINING KNIGHT #1-3. Independently, each of these heroes is featured in a story arc that redefines their purpose in the DC Universe. But their stories also interweave with the other soldiers' tales, and tell a grander story of a devastating global threat to mankind. These reluctant champions must arise and work together to save the world without ever meeting one another.$40 – An uneven but ambitious idea by Grant Morrison and one I thought would be a good addition to my hard cover collection.
Goon Fancy Pants Edition Volume #3 - This volume contains all of Eric Powell's stories from "Goon Year: The Return of Labrazio" in a signed limited-edition hardcover. The town on the edge of Horse-Eater's Wood is permeated by all manner of dark things -- hatred, fear, unhappiness, demons, and the undead (to name a few) -- brought on by a curse that has festered within the forest for many years. The death of one of the Goon's closest allies is revealed as the work of the dead mobster Labrazio, returned to wreak havoc and destruction upon the Goon and those who stand by him. The Goon and Franky must fight back against Labrazio's undead hordes in this touching story of demonic kitties, zombie burlesque, and animal love (there's a sentence you never thought you'd read). $35. – I still regret I passed on Volume 1 as the prices are still too high for me on E-Bay when I last checked.
New Avengers #1 - Find out who the New Avengers are, where they call home (gotta see it to believe it!), which Dark Avenger has joined their ranks, and just who the interdimensional demonic threat to our existence is! These heroes have gathered to take on the threats too dark, too dangerous, and too bizarre for any other team of heroes. The New Avengers are back!! And Bendis & Immonen are back with the Siege & Secret Invasion colorista Laura Martin!! You didn't really think Marvel was going to cancel their number one ongoing title did you? Heck no!! Backup feature: Another brand new oral history of the Avengers chapter by Bendis! $4 – this maybe an easy book to cancel as I’m sick of Bendis on group books and $4 comics with only 22/23 pages of story and art. I'm a little embarassed that I modeled for the body they used for Luke Cage.
The Shield #10 - It's the shocking conclusion of OPERATION: GUNSLINGER! The JSA has arrived to give the Shield a hand against the forces of the terrorist group Black Seven, but no one is ready for the final trick up the sleeve of the dangerous Dragonfly! Is this the end for Project: Shield? Plus, the Fox is ready to take on the gangsters who killed his father, but the price he paid may be too high! Has the Kitsune chosen the wrong champion? - $4 – Would have done better as a $3 book without the backup series.
Spirit #3 - FIRST WAVE takes a break this month but THE SPIRIT marches on! Angel Smerti has delivered The Spirit into the deadly grasp of the Octopus, and the only one who can save him is… Angel Smerti?! Can The Spirit possibly warm her icy heart with a knife pressed against his throat? And in THE SPIRIT: BLACK & WHITE co-feature, Michael Uslan and F.J. DeSanto deliver a tale of treason on the airwaves, stunningly illustrated in rich graytones by Justiniano! - $4 – A strong start to this series and I’m enjoying the black and white backup stories.
Farscape #8 - The startling conclusion to 'Red Sky at Morning,' Farscape's biggest, most startling story yet! All of Moya battles to save Pilot's homeworld - and one crewmember isn't coming back! This is a story that could only be told in the comics medium. Another breathtaking Farscape tale from series creator Rockne S. O'Bannon and best-selling novelist Keith R.A. DeCandido. $4 – Season 5 (in my mind) is going great.
DC Universe Legacies #2 (of 10) - The awe-inspiring history of the DC Universe rages on. In this second installment, the exploits of the mystery men and emerging heroes of the mid-century inspire the everyday populace to fight crime. Groups like the Justice Society of America encourage regular citizens to action: Meet the Newsboy Legion and more! Meanwhile, the Seven Soldiers of Victory join together against a seriously unusual enemy. - $4 – At least when DC hits us with a $4 it has 30 pages of story and art.
Crossed Family Values #2 (of 6) - The Pratt family was torn apart by the sudden strike of the infected masses. The survivors think they have found a safe place to start over. A place the Crossed won't find them and can be well defended. But those are only the external threat as evil lurks in the hearts of some men and those terrors aren't as easy to see as a Crossed rash. Imagine, for a moment, the worst crimes against humanity. Picture the cruelest affronts to decency. Conjure your darkest nightmares... and then realize it could all be so much worse. When civilization crumbles in one terrifying moment; when people are gleefully breaking into unthinkable acts of violence all around you; when everyone you love has died screaming in agony: What do you do? There is no help. There is no hope. There is no escape. There are only the Crossed. $4 – A book that lives up to its hype, not for the faint of heart or even moderately tolerant.
Four Eyes #4 - With his hands on a baby dragon, Enrico stands on the precipice of a new life. But is the cost too high to bear? $3.50 – The book that is published whenever they get to it. It was solicited in September of last year I believe for a December release.
Atlas #2 - The new Era of Atlas kicks into high gear! The mystery of the former Avenger known as 3D-Man deepens- why does he remember working with Jimmy Woo's team in the 1950's when he wasn't even born yet? What is this strange presence that wants him dead? And what has The Uranian been hiding from his friends? $3 – Glad to see this is a $3 series.
Black Widow #3 - Black Widow vs. Elektra! Whoever’s pulling the strings in this attempt on Natasha’s life has got some impressive connections…enough that it’s even got Wolverine rattled! When Elektra and other familiar faces are crawling out of the woodwork to chase Marvel’s top super-spy, where will Natasha be able to turn? $3 – I was shocked to hear that the second arc is by a new writer. I don’t think that bodes well for a series and is disappointing as I was really getting into Majorie Liu’s writing.
New Mutants #14 - “SECOND COMING”, CHAPTER ELEVEN The X-Men are losing the battle against the Nimrods and Cyclops knows it. Desperate times call for desperate measures and no measure is more desperate than enlisting a mutant with multiple personalities, each possessing its own power. That’s right, Legion is let out of prison to fight on the X-Men’s side. $3 – After last week seeing three books from Marvel at $3 is a minor miracle.
DV8 Gods and Monsters #3 (of 8) - In "Chemical Chords" part 3 of 8, the superhuman Hector (a.k.a. Powerhaus) is found sprawled across the floor of a primitive hut in the throes of some pretty serious herbal hallucinogens. It's not shocking, though, as his power is one that converts ambient emotion into mass – but now it's overloading his system! When the others seek him out, they find that Hector's got some serious demons he's trying to block out in this tragic tale of misuse – and overuse – of power. $3 – Well done and enjoyable.
Walking Dead #73 - Living among the safe can make you soft. $3 – Just a class “A” series.
Birds of Prey #2 - Flying out of BRIGHTEST DAY, the Birds of Prey are forced to ally themselves with the worst of Gotham City's mega-criminals while they struggle to save his life from the unspeakable horror that hunts them all! Fan-favorite writer Gail Simone (WONDER WOMAN, SECRET SIX) and superstar artist Ed Benes (JUSTICE LEAGUE, GREEN LANTERN) continue their return to the title that first brought them together! $3 – Issue #1 was a good restart.
Fables #96 - The exploration into Rose Red's childhood continues as she's abandoned by her sister Snow. There are wicked witches and evil dwarves waiting out in the wilder parts of the world. Is it better that Rose Red was the one left behind? More important, can Rose pull the Farm back from the brink of chaos? $3 – No longer a talked about series, but just a solid well done book that is still a strong well done series month in and month out.
Hellblazer #268 - John Constantine's grip on sanity has always been tenuous, but now he's really lost it. Haunted by memories of punching Epiphany, the cracked magus tries appeasing his tormenter by making a bloody offering of his own flesh. Things get so desperate he even attempts to summon that high prince of madness, Shade, The Changing Man! $3 – I was ready to drop this series and then last issue pulled me back in.
DMZ #54 - The conclusion of "M.I.A." sees Matty arriving at the 59th Street Bridge and into the control of the U.S. military who could conceivably charge Matty with war crimes. Oddly, Matty seems okay with that. In a pivotal moment that helps define the series, the fog of war is lifted and the truth behind Parco Delgado is made clear. $3.
Azrael #9 - In Europe, a cult has turned Azrael into the host for something evil, but can his faith overcome the possession? As the walls of sanity begin crumbling around Michael Lane, only his enemy the White Ghost can save him. $3 – I’m looking forward to next issue when David Hine comes in as the writer.
Brightest Day #4 - If this is the BRIGHTEST DAY then what is Black Lantern Firestorm doing on our cover?! $3 – Perhaps the spine book of the DCU.
Rebels #17 - As war breaks out on Rann between the Rannians, the Tamaranians and L.E.G.I.O.N. soldiers, series star Vril Dox shows up with the worst peacekeeping troops imaginable: the Hawkmen of Thanagar! $3 – A solid series that is going under the radar.
Including the hype is too much, but I think I will do this format on occasion and try to continue to play with the presentation of this column.