THIS WEEK IN COMICS! (3/2/11 – Your weekly recommended dosage of Sappo)


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Tuesday, March 1, 2011


Right into the comics! Picture below!

Lewis & Clark: Your deluxe YA-type of bookshelf comic for the week – an 8 1/2″ x 10 7/8″, b&w First Second presentation of a 144-page Nick Bertozzi story of the explorers in the title. Preview; $16.99.

The Smurfs Vol. 5: The Smurfs and the Egg: Your trim vintage Eurocomic-type of bookshelf comic for the week – more Papercutz stuff from Peyo & Yvan Delporte, culled from the early ’60s; $5.99 (softcover), $10.99 (hardback).

Buz Sawyer Vol. 1: The War in the Pacific: Beginning another vintage reprint project for Fantagraphics, this time focused on Roy Crane’s post-Wash Tubbs/Captain Easy series, an initially Naval-themed strip he was given the opportunity to own for himself. I believe this 9.25″ x 9.25″ package is primarily dailies-based, with a selection of the strip’s more comedy-focused Sundays presented as fold-out images. Samples; $35.00.

Popeye Vol. 5 (of 6): Wha’s a Jeep?: Also in reprints, the latest in Fantagraphics’ line of huge E.C. Segar hardcovers. Samples; $29.99.

Popeye: The Great Comic Book Tales of Bud Sagendorf: Also in Popeye, the latest in Craig Yoe’s line of IDW hardcovers, a 176-page collection of comic book-format pieces by the former Segar assistant and eventual successor to the newspaper strip, presumably selected along some ‘best of’ lines; $29.99.

Chi’s Sweet Home Vol. 5: CAT MANGA. From Vertical, now pumped up with Japanese printer/publisher investments; $13.95.

Bokurano: Ours Vol. 3: ROBOT MANGA, IT’S SAD. From SigIkki, which means some content is online; $12.99.

Batman: Time and the Batman: I really don’t know why this collection of (mostly) loose Grant Morrison issues wasn’t redistributed into earlier, more accommodating packages focused on the writer’s run, although it might have something to do with keeping the publisher’s ducks in a row branding-wise. And making extra money. Included is the multi-artist time-travel story from Batman #700, as well as the recap/continuity clean-up issues #701-702, devoted to sorting out/setting up plot points between various storylines – they are quite possibly the most indelicate comics Morrison has scripted in 20 years, and emblematic of the zigs and zags of in-continuity superhero storytelling in the long form. Plus: a Fabian Nicieza lead-in story to the current Batman status quo; $19.99.

Joe the Barbarian #8 (of 8): Also from Morrison — and almost certainly more narratively satisfying — is the delayed conclusion to his fantasy adventure series with Sean Murphy; $3.99.

Wulf #1: While I haven’t been paying close attention, this appears to be the first product of Ardden Entertainment’s revival of the old Atlas Comics brand of the mid-’70s, with Steve Niles & Nat Jones inheriting a barbarian property initially written and drawn by Larry Hama. I’m not sure how much of a reputation (or even recognition) these post-Marvel Martin Goodman-published comics have today; my impression is that many people remember the company for attracting good talent with good pay rates and artwork returns, though the actual comics never managed to run for more than four issues, often getting retooled in the middle.

Generally the first-two Howard Chaykin-fronted issues of The Scorpion are cited as the high point, although in my recent Steve Ditko binge I also plowed through his various assignments with the publisher, including a full, four-issue run on The Destructor (Born of Fury! Sworn to Vengeance!), which actually had a pretty damn amusing first issue, reuniting Ditko with two old cohorts — writer Archie Goodwin of the Warren magazines and inker Wally Wood of assorted Tower Comics projects — for a superhero launch that can succinctly be dubbed ‘violent Spider-Man.’ Seriously, it’s an irresponsible kid whose criminal connections get his beloved elderly relative killed, prompting him to use his science-based sensory powers (a touch of Daredevil’s in there too) to track down and murder everyone responsible. There’s a huge, Batman-like prop factory, a startlingly overt reference to recreational drug use on Our Hero’s pre-reform part, and a very Ditko supervillain in the form of a dude in a ski mask decked out in a moss green suit and hat combo. Mind you, Ditko’s pencils were generally pretty light, even when inking himself, so the super-slick Wood kind of chases a lot of the weirdness out of his style. I mean:

That’s not a very Steve Ditko woman. Anyway, by issue #4 Gerry Conway was writing, Woody was gone, and the Destructor was shooting lasers from his hands in an underground world, because it’s Atlas; $2.99.

Wildcats Version 3.0: Year Two: Getting into some more recent ‘vintage’ superheroes, interested parties will want to know that the collapse of WildStorm has not prevented the release of this extra-fat collection of the remainder of writer Joe Casey’s potential state-of-the-genre work (issues #13-24) heading into the mid-’00s; $24.99.

Herculian: A nice-looking odds ‘n ends collection from Image co-founder Erik Larsen, still one of the most prolific artists of his peer group. Contains various anthology pieces, a 24-hour comic and a few new short stories. Preview; $4.99.

Uncle Scrooge #401: More anniversary stuff from Disney and (ka)[b]oom!, in the form of a one-off collection of a 1995 Don Rosa story, The Universal Solvent. Preview; $3.99.

Axe Cop: Bad Guy Earth #1 (of 3): Being the first-ever comic book format outing for the popular webcomic from artist Ethan Nicolle, laying down plotlines devised by his six-year old brother Malachai. From Dark Horse, which is also releasing print editions of the web stuff. Preview; $3.50.

5 Ronin #1 (of 5): This is one of those things where Marvel superhero characters are re-imagined in some other kind of story or historical context (17th century Japan this time), here notable for a modular one-character/artist-per-issue setup (Tomm Coker is penciller for issue #1) and the participation of writer Peter Milligan, who might wring some interest from the concept. Note that this is not actually on Diamond’s list, although some sources do list it for release on Wednesday. Preview; $2.99.

Usagi Yojimbo #135: Speaking of Japan, a new issue for Stan Sakai’s funny animal swordsman is always worth a mention. Preview; $3.50.

House of Mystery #35: Aka ‘the one with the guest artist segments,’ here sporting an appearance by Darwyn Cooke; $2.99.

Vampirella Masters Series Vol. 3: Mark Millar: First off, despite the title, this is actually (if perhaps involuntarily) an artist-focused collection, spotlighting posey realist Mike Mayhew’s initial six issues on the 2001 ongoing series iteration of the overdressed heroine. Moreover, the second of two included three-issue storylines represent a rare North American comics appearance for Indigo Prime creator John Smith, one of the most interesting writers of British sci-fi/action genre comics to come of age in the late ’80s. What I’ve read of his Vampirella stuff isn’t the most outstanding of his catalog, mind you, but there’s generally a little sparkle of interest – and some of these comics are oddly difficult to track down. Preview; $19.99.

Hellblazer Vol. 1: Original Sins: And finally, another British writer’s lesser-known work – not Hellblazer itself, no, but the Rick Veitch-era Swamp Thing material that Jamie Delano wrote some of, concerning the conception of Swamp Thing’s child. It crossed over with John Constantine’s then-new series, and so it’s now collected (that’s issues #76 and 77, also written in part by Veitch) in a revised softcover also sporting issues #1-9 of Hellblazer proper. Apparently this is going to start a big new organized collection of chronological Hellblazer trades, which gives me the sinking feeling it’s gonna be a while before the smattering of still-uncollected original run Delano issues (#34-40) are seen in bookshelf-ready format; $19.99.

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4 Responses to “THIS WEEK IN COMICS! (3/2/11 – Your weekly recommended dosage of Sappo)”
  1. Marc Sobel says:

    I agree the Ditko/Wood & Chaykin issues are probably the best, but don’t forget Pat Boyette did three issues of the Tarantula for “the new house of ideas.”

  2. Marc Sobel says:

    And, actually, Berni Wrightson inked Ditko in the third issue of Morlock 2001, yet flipping through it, it looks surprisingly mediocre. What a missed opportunity!

    • Jog says:

      Ha, that was a pretty heavy Swamp Thing reprise, I thought, but maybe because I could only really see Wrightson in the monster drawings. He was only a year or so off the DC project, though…

      My favorite random Ditko inker would have to be Rick Altergott, who worked on a pair of Golden Age revival-type books from Ace Comics in 1987… the one I have is RETURN OF THE SKYMAN, which was written by Mort Todd, so I presume they all hooked up at CRACKED, to which Ditko had been contributing for a little while. The other one is WHAT IS… THE FACE #3…

  3. Thrills says:

    I’m kind of interested in reading John Smith Vampirella, as even his worst stuff tends to be pretty uniquely ‘him’, but I’m not sure I’m actually willing to embarass myself by purchasing a Vampirella comic from a real shop. Seedy internet purchase, perhaps.