Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Better than New Comics Day?!?!

I didn't actually get to pick up any new comics today because I was away from home (on a road trip with the wife and kids), and even though we stopped at a comic book shop on the way back, I couldn't buy anything from this week because the ever-loyal James Arlemagne of Fantasy Realms surely had a big stack of goodness held for me back in town. So I told my wife I would just run in to see what they had on sale. Luckily, my wife didn't feel like inflicting bodily injury today, because once I got into the store, I knew it would take longer than a few minutes. They had boxes of 12-for-$5.00 comics, and the boxes weren't just old Valiant and 90s Marvel stuff. I found some cool things at that great price, and so the family had to find something else to keep themselves busy while I waded through the white treasure chests. (And here's how they kept themselves busy: my three-year old daugher kept singing the "Spider-Pig" song from the Simpsons Movie, my wife looked through the homegoods store next to the comic shop, and my son begged for money to buy some candy. For an hour. Until they all got big lollipops.)

Here's what up at those less-than-50-cents-an-issue prices, and why:

G.I. Joe--Assorted issues, but basically the first year and a half of the series, including the 1st issue, which is certainly worth far more than two nickels. I have about a dozen issues of this series already, but none of the very early ones. I probably won't have time to read these issues right away--they are low on my priority list, but you have to respect the singular vision of Lara Hama and his creation. (Also, I have some vague notion of writing an extended piece on war comics, and this series would provide an interesting contrast to other more traditional tales of combat.) Plus, CO-BRRRRAAAAAAA!

A bunch of Flash comics, including a handful of William Messner-Loebs issues I've been missing and a couple of pre-Crisis Bates/Infantino comics. Here's my history with the Flash comics: I buy them for a while. Then I stop. Then I pick it up again a few years later. And I stop. Repeat. Because of that tendency, the only complete Flash run I have is from the recent travesty known as Volume 3 (also known as "The One Where They Screwed Up Bart Allen Forever and Killed Him To Make Up For It"), and even though I've been trying to fill in the gaps in Volume 2, I still have a few issues left to grab. So it was nice to find them in the bargain boxes.

Mighty Samson!!! Gold Key-tastic. I scored six of these comics from the late 1960s. Unfortunately, they aren't the earliest ones, drawn by Frank Thorne, but I think Jack Sparling worked on these stories (numbered in the teens), and they look to be amazing. My new philosophy is that I buy anything involving dudes with eyepatches and monsters on the cover (and if you can't tell by that image, Samson has an eyepatch--made of RED FUR!). That has yet to fail me as an aesthetic criteria.

My ever-loyal James Arlemagne keeps forgetting to put Jack Staff in my box, probably because I forgot to add it to my pull list and he doesn't order more than one copy otherwise. So, James, remember to add this to my pull list. Because I have the first six issues and I didn't stop buying it on purpose. Paul Grist is the type of artist I would be if I were way better at drawing comics. And, it's fun to see the Marvel Universe analogues pop up.

Comico put out a lot of garish junk, but they also produced some great comics in the 1980s. Jonny Quest might not be one of them, but it's Jonny Quest! And I was able to get an almost-complete run out of the boxes today. The covers alone are worth more than 50 cents each. Look at that Sienkiewicz coolness!

To go along with my ill-determined plan to eventually someday write something maybe possibly about war comics, I couldn't resist a complete run of the first two years of Marvels' The 'Nam. Michael Golden provides the art for the first dozen issues or so, and that makes it worth the price, and even if the Doug Wheeler scripts stink worse than the fetid stench of his Swamp Thing tales, at least I'll be able to look at those Tefe Holland issues more favorably.

When I saw Chase, in the first box I scanned, I knew it would take longer than a few minutes to dig for stuff in this store. I stupidly bypassed Chase when it first came out. I looked through the first few issues and thought "this looks GREAT," but it doesn't have enough costumes in it and I've never heard of it, so it probably won't last very long. Because I knew it wasn't commercial, I gave up on it immediately, rather than have my heart broken when it was cancelled. How dumb is that? I mean, I was right, but still! I should have bought it and enjoyed the stories while they lasted. I should have HELPED the comic survive by actually buying it at the time. I'm glad I'm so much smarter now, so series like Nextwave, Ant-Man, and Blade never have to face such early cancellation because I buy each title regularly.

5 comments:

Marc Caputo said...

Wow, Tim, I've not run into many people who've actually read Swamp Thing (outside of the Moore run and even then, not many). I read the Swamp Thing from 20 (which REALLY is Moore's first issue but it's never been reprinted, not even in DC's Moore-centric catch-up trades. Anyone know why?) until Millar finished it out at 171 - Millar's run, to me is the best. I'm always searching for the BKV run (which must be pretty bad for DC/Vertigo NOT to tpb it in light of his recent successes there) and I have the last run (Diggle/Dysart) but never got to it. Wheeler's run is truly one of the worst runs I've ever read; Collins brought an interesting take to it, but nothing 's like Millar's run.

Thoughts?

Timothy Callahan said...

I would rank the writers on every Swamp Thing series like this (and I own almost every Swamp Thing issue, except where described):

1) Alan Moore (by far the best Swamp Thing writer ever)

2) Rick Veitch (is very good, and I actually have a fan letter in the column from his last issue--the one right before he quit)

3) Mark Millar (did a nice job at the end--and I guess Morrison didn't really have much to do with their collaboration on the first issues of his run)

4) Brian K. Vaughn (whose Swamp Thing I really liked--it's actually a proto-Y The Last Man, with the teenage Tefe on an odyssey, various episodic adventures along the way, secret agents trying to apprehend her--you should track down the issues)

5) Len Wein (I feel bad ranking his work so low compared to the others, but without the Wrightson art, there's not a lot going on--witness the Redondo issues for example--also, I don't own every Wein issue, just most of them)

6) Marty Pasko (had some cool stories, for a few issues there, before Moore came in and changed my concept of what a cool story looked like)

7) Andy Diggle (Diggle's not one of my favorite writers in the world, but his Swamp Thing relaunch was slightly interesting, but he left before it went anywhere)

8) Will Pfeiffer (He did a decent job with the mood of the series)

9) Joshua Dysart (I gave up after two issues of his run, frustrated at the lack of progress and how the relaunch just seemed like Moore lite)

10) Nancy Collins (I gave up after her first year, although I picked up an issue or two later. I didn't like her "horror" approach at all. It didn't work)

11) Doug Wheeler (I don't know what Wheeler had in mind, but his run seemed like you were being forced to sit through the most boring Biology class in the history of the universe--yet I bought all the issues, hoping for some light at the end. Collins crushed that hope, and yet I rank her above Wheeler)

That's my take.

Marc Caputo said...

Interesting points, Tim. I loved Diggle's Adam Strange mini, the one that they tied Rann/Than into and really the best of the pre-Infinite Crisis stories overall.

Marc said...

Your comment about Ant-Man, Nextwave and Blade made me laugh...and cry.

I will say this though, Ms. Marvel 18 is worth a buy this week for Aaron Stack showing up in all Nextwave-esque glory. STEALS THE ENTIRE COMIC.

Timothy Callahan said...

Marc C: Yeah, I liked the Diggle Adam Strange, at least the first half--and then it turned into that huge crossover lead-in which was OBVIOUSLY not the direction originally planned. But that's not Diggle's fault. I actually forgot Diggle wrote that series.

Marc: Ms. Marvel has been pretty good all along. I've bought every issue, and I'm definitely looking forward to the new one.