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Things To Come: Previews November 2005 for comics shipping January 2006
Proving that everything old is new again, it's another end-of-October, and while I really should be getting ready for running the Marine Corps Marathon again (which as of the moment I'm writing this, is just under 21 hours away) I'm writing another edition of Things To Come. I'm not sure which makes me crazier, the fact that I'm writing this right now... or that I'm running my fifth marathon tomorrow. You decide.
Of course, by the time everyone reads this, the race will have already happened. It's sort of like the reverse of Things To Come, where everything I talk about is off in the future. Not to be confused with DC Comics' upcoming series 52, where everything has jumped one year into the future, proving once and for all that time really does progress in superhero comics from the larger companies - provided that it's part of a gimmick.
All right, now I'm just stalling. As soon as I finish writing this column, I have to start thinking about the marathon again. I'd say, "wish me luck", but like I said, it's already over now (although you can read all about it at MarathonGreg.com). In the meantime, let's look into January 2006 and see just what's in store...
MEATHAUS VOL 8: HEADGAMES TP by Various
I've always been pleased with past volumes of the MEATHAUS anthology, and I don't expect this to be any different. Becky Cloonan, Farel Dalrymple, Tomer Hanuka, James Jean, Scott Morse, Troy Nixey, and Vincent Stall are just a few of the talented people contributing stories with the theme of 'headgames', and for that alone I'm intrigued. Add in that MEATHAUS has always done a great job of finding up-and-coming artists and giving them the exposure they deserve and I think any fans of alternative comics should really love this book.
THE ART OF USAGI YOJIMBO TPB by Stan Sakai
Dark Horse's THE ART OF... series is one that's gotten better with each volume, and I particularly loved the hardcover edition of Stan Sakai's THE ART OF USAGI YOJIMBO. I think a lot of people write off Sakai's work because of the anthropomorphic nature of the series, but they're really missing out on not only a well-written comic, but a beautifully drawn one to boot. This book is a fantastic showcase of all the eras of Sakai's career, letting you see how his style has evolved, and providing lots of little-seen before watercolors, essays on process, and sketches. A lot of art books are the sorts of things that you read once and then leave to gather dust, but I look at THE ART OF USAGI YOJIMBO over and over again. If the $40 price tag scared you off before (and trust me, it was worth every penny) then the softcover at $29.95 will perhaps lure you in. This is a steal.
OH MY GODDESS! VOLUME 2 by Kosuke Fujishima
OH MY GODDESS is a prime example of a series that used to have a huge fan base, but that has since whittled away to a shell of its former self. Like so many long-running series, it's one that should've ended much earlier, when plotlines began to grow increasingly repetitious. Even the occasional glimmers of excitement in the book much later in its life (like the 'Traveller' storyline involving Schroedinger's Whales) have been too far and few between.
That said, the re-issuing of the earlier volumes in a right-to-left format at just $10.95 a volume? Well, these are the stories that created the series' large fanbase. The early tales of the clueless Keiichi trying to live with both the sweet goddess Belldandy and her sassy older sister Urd are genuinely funny and enjoyable. If you've never read OH MY GODDESS before, I'll offer up this suggestion. Start buying the re-issued volumes, and you'll see how much fun these early books were. Then, as soon as you get bored... just stop and pretend the series ended. You'll get to read a great series in its prime, and avoid the slow downward spiral. You'll thank me later.
SPACE PINCHY: SURROUNDED BY ROBOTS! by Tony Takezaki
And I do quote:
"The crazy, sexy, and relentless Space Pinchy is back! The last of the Pinch tribe, Pinchy travels through the stars in search of treasures left behind by her ancestors, and it's never an easy hunt. But one thing is for certain, it's always hilarious. From the crazy manga mind of Tony Takezaki, SPACE PINCHY is a frenetic series of sexy high jinks, rendered in beautiful, 3D, curvy color. Join Pinchy and her naughty alien companion, Audrey Q as they somehow escape the most dire and ridiculous consequences Takezaki can think up!"
You have got to be kidding me. (But look at that nice cover of Space Pinchy in a skin-coloured spacesuit that's dripping with something-or-other while she straddles a thermometer - complete with two spheres at the end.)
THE FLASH: ROGUE WAR TPB by Geoff Johns, Howard Porter, and others
Oh, come on. I've got a marathon the day after writing this and you think I'm not going to mention THE FLASH? Really.
This is the final Geoff Johns collection on THE FLASH (well, unless they finally go back and collect his very first, forgotten storyline). For someone who was given the unenviable task of following Mark Waid's beloved run on the book, I think Johns did a good job of making THE FLASH his own. Right now (based on nothing but my own observations of fill-in storylines written by editorial) it's looking like this incarnation of the Flash may not be around much longer, so if you want you can even consider this the final major storyline for THE FLASH. That's certainly got to be a selling point.
DC UNIVERSE: THE STORIES OF ALAN MOORE by Alan Moore, Brian Bolland, Curt Swan, and many more artists
All right, if you've already got the earlier 'DC Universe stories of Alan Moore collection', plus THE KILLING JOKE and WHATEVER HAPPENED TO THE MAN OF TOMORROW, then don't worry, you have everything in this collection.
Otherwise, I do recommend picking this up. THE KILLING JOKE is a historical lynchpin in the attitudes and styles of comics for years to come, and WHATEVER HAPPENED TO THE MAN OF TOMORROW is a beautiful farewell to the Golden Age. I'm also fond of some of the other stories included here; some of them are goofy, but others are golden in their own right. If nothing else, Moore's GREEN LANTERN stories are worth the price of admission.
With "prestige format" squarebound one-shots reportedly difficult to keep in print, it's nice to see a new way to keep them around. And for people who already had all of these books, well, I'm thankful that there aren't any new stray shorts added to this collection.
SEVEN SOLDIERS OF VICTORY VOL 1 TPB by Grant Morrison, JH Williams III, Simone Bianchi, Cameron Stewart, Ryan Sook, and Frazer Irving
No, I'm not going to complain about the format of the SEVEN SOLDIERS collections, and I can't help but feel that anyone who has actually read (and understood) the comics so far will either. This first book will collect, in order of publication, SEVEN SOLDIERS OF VICTORY #0, SHINING KNIGHT #1-2, THE GUARDIAN #1-2, ZATANNA #1-2 and KLARION #1. And for me, that makes perfect sense. One of the things I've loved about SEVEN SOLDIERS is that while each character is in their own mini-series and seemingly in a void, the reality is that everything is connected.
Some of the connections are subtle, a supporting character being mentioned in more than one comic. Some are more blatant, with items dropped in one comic picked up in another.
The idea is that this is really one huge story. Sure, you can just read KLARION or ZATANNA... but if that's all you want to read, then I'd say just buy the individual issues. These collections are going to bring the entire epic together the way that creator Grant Morrison envisioned it, and I think that people who read the story in this format will quickly understand why the decision was made.
Oh, and lest I forget: I adore SEVEN SOLDIERS, I think these comics are simply amazing. KLARION in particular is fantastic (and if there's an ongoing KLARION comic by Morrison and Frazer Irving, I will buy it in a heartbeat), but there's been something to enjoy in all of the books to date. Now that's impressive.
ATLAS #2 by Dylan Horrocks
I may faint. The first issue of ATLAS was Dylan Horrocks's follow-up to his critically acclaimed (and worth all of the attention) HICKSVILLE, as two people try to visit the Eastern European country of Cornucopia, where cartoonist Emil Kopen lives, and maps are forbidden. As the mystery of Emil Kopen's life and the banning of maps began to unfold, people who read the first issue of ATLAS grew excited, wondering just where Horrocks was going with his new series.
Unfortunately for all of its readers, ATLAS was published in 2001, and since then Horrocks has written for DC Comics (primarily HUNTER: THE AGE OF MAGIC and BATGIRL) and there hasn't been anything new on the ATLAS front. Until now.
I'm delighted that ATLAS is making a return. While I have nothing against Horrocks' writing for DC Comics (and I read his entire run on HUNTER), it never had quite the same heart and soul that HICKSVILLE and ATLAS did. Now that he's gone back to writing and drawing his own creation, I have very high hopes.
In the meantime, if you've never read HICKSVILLE, please please please rush out and buy a copy. (Or order one online, if your local store doesn't carry it.) It's a fantastic story about creating comics, about casual thievery within the industry, and relationships. It's one of those books that really deserves to be in everyone's library.
A DISEASE OF LANGUAGE HC by Alan Moore and Eddie Campbell
Two of the strangest yet most intriguing comics I've come across in recent years have got to be THE BIRTH CAUL and SNAKES AND LADDERS, comic adaptations of Alan Moore's spoken word performances. Eddie Campbell did the impossible and made these events come to life on the page, with Moore's presentations of powerful ideas and language matched with appropriate illustrations. Now these, along with a Campbell interview of Moore from EGOMANIA, plus Campbell's sketchbook drawings for SNAKES AND LADDERS, are all being collected into a single hardcover. If you're a fan of Moore or Campbell, this book should be on your holiday shopping list.
Well, except that it's slated to be published in January 2006. Oops. Still, I've heard belated gifts are always nice. Spread the holiday out a bit and all that.
X-STATIX PRESENTS: DEAD GIRL #1 by Peter Milligan, Nick Dragotta, and Mike Allred
I have to give Peter Milligan full credit; if you're going to bring back characters that you killed off at the end of their series, what better way to do so than by having the new mini-series star Dead Girl, the character who was already dead? Even better, the plot - about how some characters keep coming back from the dead while others don't - already sounds hysterical. I loved Milligan and Mike Allred's run on X-FORCE/X-STATIX, so having them back is a big thumbs up in my book. The world needs more X-STATIX.
SABLE & FORTUNE #1 by Brendan Cahill and John Burns
I know nothing about the creators of this book, save that John Burns has a similar painting style to Mike Grell. (Honestly, I thought the cover was by Grell until I read the credits. That's a good thing.) I do know that a traditional action-adventure story, if done properly, can be a lot of fun. And I know that Burns draws both attractive women and men, if the cover is anything to go on. I'm going to take a gamble here and say that this is something to take a look at. I fear it's going to sink like a stone in terms of sales, but a good old-fashioned espionage 'buddy book' sounds like fun.
ESSENTIAL GODZILLA VOL 1 by Doug Moench and Herb Trimpe
If you've ever looked for proof that the Marvel Bullpen put acid in the water coolers, look no further than ESSENTIAL GODZILLA. I'm not sure whose idea it was to have a comic about Godzilla rampaging through the Marvel Universe, but that's exactly what you get here. It's tough to get the ultimate strange moment here, but while many would point to a shrunken Godzilla rampaging through the New York sewer system, I'm going to have to place money on him getting teleported back in time to team up with Moon Boy and Devil Dinosaur. This is a book sure to never be reprinted, so if you ever want to experience the insanity of Marvel's GODZILLA this is your one chance.
PAST LIES by Nunzio DeFilippis, Christina Weir, and Christopher Mitten
One of my favourite new books mentioned at San Diego this year was PAST LIES by Nunzio DeFilippis, Christina Weir, and Christopher Mitten. We're all used to the traditional "man comes into a detective agency needing help with a murder case" set-up... but this one's a little different. The person needing help received a post-hypnotic suggestion in his previous life right before he was killed, and he's only just now remembering what happened to him before. Even more interestingly, it's the greatest unsolved mystery of the past 50 years.
It's a nice twist on the standard detective story, and DeFilippis and Weir have certainly proven themselves to be able to carry a narrative on books like THREE STRIKES and SKINWALKER. I'm also a big fan of Mitten's art, so these three creators teaming up again is a good thing. These creators haven't let me down before, and I don't think they will here either.
ROSEN GRAPHIC NON-FICTION
Ok, this is interesting. Rosen Publishing Group, traditionally a prose book publisher, is offering six graphic novels all about different mythologies: African, Chinese, Egyptian, Greek, Meso-American, and Roman. Now obviously there's more than enough to fill more than the 48-page count of each book (especially under the umbrella of such as expansive title as 'African'), but I really like the idea. When I was in elementary school I loved reading about different mythologies, and having comic book version of them would have been right up my alley. I hope these look good, because there's a lot of potential here for a wide-reaching audience. (School librarians, these books were just meant for you.)
BUDDHA VOLS 7 & 8 HC by Osamu Tezuka
For those of you who haven't heard of it before, one of Osamu Tezuka's masterpieces was a biography of the Buddha, Siddhartha Guatama. Collected into eight volumes in English, these are the two final pieces of a breathtakingly wonderful series. I know you may be thinking, "The life of Buddha? Is Greg crazy?" If you are, it's probably because you don't know just how interesting this really is. There's war, there's romance, there's good and evil, and there's a lot of action. Oh yeah, and Enlightenment, too.
BUDDHA has won two Eisner Awards against some pretty fierce competition, and they're both extremely well deserved. This is one of those series that is more than worth checking out. When I saw that BUDDHA's last two volumes were offered, I actually almost started jumping up and down with excitement. This is a winner, folks, and not just of awards.
Greg McElhatton writes reviews for iComics.com, and has also written for anthologies, magazines, web sites, and technical manuals.
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