Funnybook Babylon

April 22, 2008

Pull List Analysis for April 23, 2008

Filed under: Pull List Analysis — Chris Eckert @ 10:00 am

Hey fellows, no Pull List Analysis last week; we were busy getting things together for the con, and nothing incredibly exciting was coming out. Tomorrow isn’t the biggest release date in the world either, but there’s some interesting things. Warning: this is really long because I digressed into complaints about some trade policies. Just skip over the parts in blue if you get bored.

A portrait of characters that will be radioactive for years to come.For instance: the final issue of Countdown to Final Crisis is only one short day away! Our long national nightmare is over, and some sad post-mortems should be coming this weekend. Here is a preview: Jimmy is still banging a bug lady, but how long will their love last??? This is the sort of thing someone, somewhere, decided was the sort of tentpole plotline that carry a flagship event comic. I would love to meet that person.

In other DC mercy killings, Death of the New Gods concludes with the final showdown: Darkseid versus the New God Killa! Will Darkseid die at the hand of The Source or The Anti-Life Equation or Infinity Man or whoever that dude from last issue is? Or will he survive this mini-series and instead be killed in last week’s issue of Countdown?

Remember this book as strong and vital, before it was place in hospice.One book that is not being given the kindness of a mercy-kill is Checkmate: this week’s issue (#25) is the final chapter in both “Castling” and series creator Greg Rucka’s tenure on the title. This seems like the perfect place to end this critically lauded but dismally selling book, but instead it’s coming back for issue #26 in May, with a new storyline by Bruce Jones and Manual Garcia. Putting Bruce Jones on a book alongside a Countdown alumnus is tantamount to advertising that this book will personally insult your loved ones if you buy it. Why would DC publish this?

Also out this week is Justice League of America #20, which appears to be a story written by Dwayne McDuffie that was not editorially mandated, which is a rare and beautiful sight these days. Better yet, it’s drawn by Ethan Van Sciver rather than Ed Benes! With all this going for it, I’m fear it will be revealed as a corporately mandated mop-up of the JLA: Breakdowns crossover… I want to believe, but you can only be cautiously optimistic about a title for so long.

And while I’m being a big jerk to DC, I want to talk about one particular trade published by DC this week: the fifth volume of The Batman Chronicles. The “Chronicles” collections aren’t a bad idea: the two series (Superman and Batman) offer affordable paperback reprints of every issue of these characters’ history in chronological order. The problem is, “Chronicles” started over three years ago, and is only into its fifth volume. Volume six isn’t due until October, meaning they’re publishing these books biannually. Basically, these books are coming out at a pace slightly slower than the books were originally printed in the 1940s. Why so slow? I’m certainly interested in reading these formative superhero comics in something other than a ridiculously expensive “Archive” hardcover, but not if it’s going to take over a decade to get out of World War II. Come on, DC! I know those Time Masters and Tangent trades are really important to your marketing plan, but why not treat the comics you built your empire on with something resembling respect?

Like the Seinfeld Chronicles, it needs a lot of work to succeed.

To further alienate everyone with trade formatting, what’s the deal with Marvel’s Deadpool Classic? I appreciate the impulse towards completeness in reprints, but this book contains mostly comics that came out well before anyone actually liked Deadpool, and before he resembled the character the blogalaxy has come to fetishize. This collection consists mostly of two mini-series published in the mid-1990s, featuring some “not their best” work by Mark Waid, Fabian Nicieza, Joe Madiuera and Lee Weeks. I am sure people are interested in these stories; perhaps someone remembers them fondly. But the only reason anyone really cares about Rob Liefeld’s Deathstroke Rip-Off is because of Joe Kelly’s career-making 1997 series. I think most people would be well advised to skip this collection and just wait for Kelly’s Deadpool to be reprinted but, well… this collection has the first issue of that series. ONLY the first issue. Oh, and his first appearance in New Mutants #98, but none of his subsequent appearances in that book or its successor X-Force. What? I hope Marvel throws Kelly’s first issue into whatever collection they do of it, because I can’t imagine many people are going to be buying this thing. Please don’t prove me wrong, fans.

Elsewhere at Marvel, Iron Man’s early adventures get collected, making them perhaps the most inessential material to get the Omnibus Treatment. But hey, he’s got a movie coming up! Another seemingly useless movie tie-in coming out might actually be worth checking out: Hulk vs Hercules When Titans Collide is not just one of those superfluous reprint/inventory story books that gets dumped out whenever someone has a movie these days; I mean, I’m sure it’s an excuse to have another book with HULK in the title on the shelves this summer, but it’s being written by the World War Hulk/Incredible Herc architects Greg Pak and Fred Van Lente, which means it should be fun even if it isn’t particularly relevant to the character’s continuing adventures. Which it might be!

Skrulls are the New ZombiesAnother book that might prove to be way more readable than expected is Mighty Avengers #12, though you’d never guess from its generic “SKRULLY EDITION’ cover homage to Avengers #4. No, this is Bendis and his old running buddy Alex Maleev filling in the blanks of where Nick Fury has been since Secret War. Like Secret War, Mighty Avengers has been full of stutter-step, faltering storytelling that is amplified by an irregular release schedule. Both contain some fun ideas though, and hopefully they’ll coagulate into a fun comic this time.

Finally, I’d mention the shockingly fun and accessible “First Class” line of X-Books and how there are two of them coming out this week and how you might want to pick them up, but series writer Jeff Parker is pitching the book better than I ever could over on his blog.

Oh yeah, and Hippie X-Men continues in Ed Brubaker’s Uncanny and something is happening in Grant Morrison’s Batman that is leading into that big “R.I.P” storyline. Both of these books have had moments but are yet to connect in the same way either of their other books tend to for me, but maybe these will be the magic issues.

Outside the realm of The Big Two, it seems like this is Fantagraphics’s Big Week Out. Maybe this is just the vagaries of Diamond’s shipping decisions, but they’ve got like half a dozen things coming out tomorrow. Probably the biggest release is The Education of Hopey Glass, the latest Love & Rockets (Jaime edition) collection.

Fantagraphics claims this is “volume 24” of L&R, which is confusing since they’ve recently started repacking L&R Volume 1, which was originally collected in fifteen trades, but is currently available in three Gilbert/Palomar and three Jaime/Locas collections, with a seventh collection of errata/Mario material coming out (Amor y Cohetes), which Fanta totally had at their booth this weekend but is not coming out until June I guess. But they’re numbering the collections of L&R (the comic) starting with v.16, even though volumes 1-15 are now really 1-7. So Education is:

  • Volume 24 of the original Love & Rockets collection series
  • Volume 5 of the books collecting Love & Rockets volume 2
  • Volume 8 of the Locas series if you bought v1 in ‘new’ format
  • This is the indie equivalent of DC and their Crisises.

This is to say nothing of the big pretty Locas and Palomar hardcovers, which reprint most (but not all!) of the stories contained in L&R v1 #1-50/collections 1-14/collections mk2 1-7. The biggest testament to the greatness of Los Bros is that people wade through these sorts of things to read their comics. And deservedly so. Fantagraphics has a page dedicated to explaining this, which does a decent job, but at the end of the day I am happy to hear that the series is relaunching as “volume 3” and will just be one big annual Jaime/Gilbert mash-up each year. That should be pretty easy to follow, until they decide to repackage everything again in 2015.

Also from Fantagraphics, Kevin Huizenga’s Ganges #2 is likely to continue his streak of being pretty awesome, making comics that at first blush look like the navel-gazing autobiographical comics people write broadsides against every few months, but are actually really interesting exploration of both the comic medium and life in general. I also like Jordan Crane, whose all-ages book Clouds Above is getting a new printing I guess?

On top of that, Fantagraphics is putting out a couple more unusual titles. One is Josh Simmons’s Jessica Farm, which was previewed on Vulture the other day. I am not sure if it’s my cup of tea, but it’s an interesting concept, and it’s nice to see someone stepping up to the plate against Dave Sim, looking to beat him in distance if not volume of dedication. And just for the demographic of Young David, Fantagraphics is releasing Ray Fenwick’s freaky looking typography book Hall of Best Knowledge.

Speaking of pandering to FBB staff and their tastes, Oni is collecting Jamie Rich’s Love the Way You Love, a book full of lovelorn young people who are in bands, a niche Pedro has been looking for ever since he got Rock Band, it seems. If Rich’s novel Cut Your Hair is any indication, this will probably satisfy Pedro, Doug Rushkoff and anyone else who might wish that they were still going to American Legion shows and getting zines in the mail and listening to some guy at the Food Co-Op talk about pressing a 7 inch.

Oni’s also got the second volume of Queen & Country: Definitive Edition coming out. Greg Rucka’s stories of international intrigue and espionage are the sort of thing that I’d never find myself reading in prose form, and probably wouldn’t really care about in most movies either, but I read the first of these collections and really enjoyed it, and am looking forward to the rest. Don’t get me wrong, Rucka and his coterie of artists are all skilled storytellers, but Rucka also writes similarly themed novels that I will almost certainly never read. I wonder what this says about me.

From quarter to killer in just five years!Finally, in the realm of independent press, someone has finally answered this question:

In the wake of the success of League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, which book will contain the most counter-intuitive conflation of historical and public domain fiction characters in some sort of steampunk pseudo-superhero action comic?

Sure, books like Tales of the Bully Pulpit and Five Fists of Science have been strong contenders for the crowd, but Arcana Studios has swept in and taken the crown: What if President McKinley enlisted Alexander Graham Bell to develop some steampunk gadgetry to turn deaf-mute Helen Keller into the ultimate bodyguard/assassin? Finally, this question is answered in Helen. Killer. Congratulations, Arcana Studios: you win. But at what cost?

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