ANDY’S PICK :: AIRBOY OMNIBUS VOLUME 1: Back in the late eighties when I was buying 40 to 50 floppies per month, one title surprisingly leapt to the top of my new comics pile every time a new issue was released. And that was Eclipse Publishing’s update of the Golden Age aviator classic Airboy. I bought the first issue (published on a bold Bi-weekly schedule) because I was sure Airboy #1– along with every other premiere issue that came out– would one day make me independently wealthy (sigh) But from that first issue on, with a fast paced exciting story by Chuck Dixon and incredible art by Tim Truman, Stan Woch, Tom Yeates and inker Willie Blyberg, I was hooked. I read it faithfully all the way to the last issue and was sorry to see Airboy (and the rest of Eclipse) disappear over that last horizon. But now it’s back! This hefty edition– 308 color pages for only 29.95! collects Airboy #1-16–including the terrific Skywolf back-up series that begins in issue 9. BTW–Skywolf is the Man!
ANDY’S PICK :: OZ HC: EMERALD CITY OF OZ: Have you been reading the adaptations of the L. Frank Baum OZ books from writer Eric Shanower and artist Skottie Young? They are a genuine delight and they are also a textbook for successful comic adaptations. Shanower and Young maintain the integrity and spirit of the source material but still manage to put their personal stamp on Baum’s enduring creations. All 6 of their OZ collaborations are worth your time and money, but I have to say,I find this final story (at least for the foreseeable future) to be the best of the bunch. The Emerald City of OZ focuses on Dorothy;s family. Because of financial problems in the real world, she brings her parents/guardians Aunt Em and Uncle Henry to live in OZ. The enchanted and overwhelmed Kansas couple take a grand tour of OZ with Dorothy and the Wizard while unbeknownst to all, the nefarious Nome King plots to have his army invade the Emerald City. Can the Scarecrow, Glinda the Good and OZMA the really GOOD save the day? You’ll just have to read this marvelous story to find out. This HC edition collects EMERALD CITY OF OZ #1-5. You will read it over and over!
Have you seen all the Trailers for The Great Muppet Heist? It looks like it will be one of the funniest movies of the year. To celebrate this event– in the tradition of The Handbook of the Marvel Universe (but less dry and much more fun!), Disney/Muppets/Lucas/ESPN in association with every subsidiary that has slipped my mind, proudly presents The Muppets Character Encyclopedia. From the pages I’ve seen in preview, this book guarantees to be a reading riot and offers some fun backstory for many of the secondary (but still beloved) characters like the Swedish Chef and Gonzo’s girlfriend Camilla the Chicken. This is a must-have for any fans of the Muppets.
It’s finally here! Alan Moore and Steve Parkhouse’s grand finale to The Bojeffries Saga. This comic delight was first published in short segments in Britain’s Warrior (along with Miracleman and V for Vendetta–whoa!) and continued throughout the ’90s in A1 and Dalgoda. This is a chilling and hilarious and quite frankly delightful take of the macabre goings on in the Bojeffries household. Imagine if Charles Addams published by The Village Voice instead of the droll New Yorker. What a family!! AND It’s only 15.00!!! this is for all fans of Alan Moore, the Far Side, Gahan Wilson, Basil Wolverton and the aforementioned master Charles Addams. Don’t miss this!
ANDY’S PICK :: BATMAN SILVER AGE NEWSPAPER COMICS HC: God bless those guys at IDW PUBLISHING. In addition to all the other classic comic strips they offer–everything from Baron Bean (1916) to Goodwin and Williamson’s great run on Secret Agent Corrigan that ran through 1980, IDW is scheduled to publish all of the Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman newspaper strips. So far they have released two volumes of Superman-dailies from the late 50s) and one Sunday collection from the late 40s. With their third volume of DC reprints they are offering quite a rare gem indeed. When ABC launched the Batman TV series in 1966, it was full speed ahead for any and all product tie-ins featuring the Dynamic Du o. That included a newspaper strip published from 1966 to 1972 and until now has never been reprinted! If you are a fan of the mid-sixties Silver Age comics, this is the strip collection for you. Volume 1 (of 3) includes stories featuring Catwoman, the Joker, the Penguin, Batgirl and Poison Ivy written by Whitney Ellsworth with art by Sheldon Moldoff, Joe Giella and Carmine Infantino; all with a stunning period inspired cover by the great Peter Poplaski. The first volume, reprinting all B&W dailies and color Sundays from 1966 and 1967, features an all-star list of Batman and Robin characters, including Catwoman, the Penguin, the Joker, Poison Ivy, and Batgirl! In the months ahead they will alternate between Superman and Batman volumes, so be here when it happens, Same Bat-time, same Bat-publisher.
ANDY’S PICK :: DEAD BOY DETECTIVES #2: Attention all fans of of Neil Gaiman’s Sandman and Bill Willingham’s Fables: Mark Buckingham– the insanely talented artist of the latter takes charge (co-writing and drawing) of two of the most beloved supporting characters from the former. Our deceased yet upbeat and ever so polite British sleuths, Charles and Edwin formerly (and presently) of St. Hilarion’s School join forces with the young and lovely (can Buckingham draw women any other way?–I suggest–no, he cannot) Crystal as the three investigate look into the past to uncover the truth about the one’s who (as Eliza Doolittle might say) ‘Done them in‘. Don’t miss this series.
ANDY’S PICK :: PLANETARY is a super-group comprised of Elijah Snow, Jakita Wagner, and The Drummer. They are the greatest power trio since RUSH and perhaps CREAM (but not GRAND FUNK– you got a problem with that?). This is far and away my favorite superhero series from the past ten years. There is more to think about, revel in and just plain enjoy than just about any other series I can think of. And if the story by Warren Ellis, firing on all cylinders isn’t enough– but it is–I swear– then how about 500 pages of art from John Cassaday? A while back, the Heroes Discussion Group focused on PLANETARY and it was one of the best round tables we’ve ever had. Archetypes Ahoy!! This is well work a Grant, a Jackson and a Lincoln (yet another famed power trio!). This is a book you will read and re-read many times.This omnibus collects PLANETARY #1-27, PLANETARY/BATMAN #1, PLANETARY/JLA #1 and PLANETARY/AUTHORITY #1.
ANDY’S PICK :: MIRACLEMAN #1: Short and sweet. Buy this comic book. Forget about all the litigious baggage this series carries and revel in a great (not good–GREAT) comic series that changed things up in the superhero world as much as Dark Knight and Watchmen. This is Alan Moore’s re-imagining the Captain Marvel legend (changed to Marvelman then Miracleman for British publication) tailor made for a modern audience. I don’t want to give anything away. Just buy it and make sure you have Justin add MIRACLEMAN to your subscriber pull-list. The book just gets better and better. Issues 14 to 16 will take your breath away and then Neil Gaiman takes over and the results are truly sponge-worthy!! I can’t wait!!!!
ANDY’S PICK :: ART OF HARVEY KURTZMAN HC is a fine career retrospective from Denis Kitchen that is offered again from the good folks at ABRAMS. The book is subtitled, “The MAD Genius of Comics” highlighting Kurtzman’s role as the creator of MAD Magazine. That alone would make Kurtzman a first ballot Hall of Famer (no steroids here) , but Kurtzman deserves recognition for developing the Modern War Comic in two famous must-read EC titles Two Fisted Tales and Front Line Combat. And to add yet another layer to the legacy, with his humor magazine titles Trump and Humbug, Kurtzman unwittingly became the patron saint of the ’60s Underground Comix as well as Independent Comics publishers that followed in their wake. It matter not if you know a lot or a little about this talented visionary; this is a terrific book for your library.
What a day! What a group! What a great idea! So, the Heroes Discussion Group met for our holiday session over at the Sunflower Bakery (yum!) and had a solid two hours of fun and revelry.
Here is a breakdown of the books that each Discussioneer brought to the Table:
Andy Mansell selected Peanuts 2000 and passed the book around so everyone could read the final Charlie Brown/Lucy/Football kick Sunday strip.
Then we moved –clockwise of course– around the table to Matt Plummer—aka Manga Man—and he selected the 70 volume One Piece and thrilled us all with the reasons it is one of the best-selling and beloved weekly comics in Japan.
Dana Lynch brought a few books by the great Norwegian cartoonist Jason, but selected as his discussion choice the 8 issue mini-series Enigma from writer Peter Milligan and artist Duncan Fregredo. This is a book that has dipped below the radar in recent years and Dana explained why it was such an important book for him as a comic reader. The discussion morphed into a roundtable of our favorite Milligan books—X-Force and Shade the Changing Man were mentioned.
Next up was Discussion Group regular Charles Skender and he pulled out his two runners-up Fables March of the Wooden soldiers and Miracleman: Olympus. But he settled on Garth Ennis and Steve Dillon’s tour de force Preacher. He described Preacher as his gate way book into more challenging comic fare. We also mentioned that it is high time we did Fables for a future discussion and insisted to everyone that they need to give Miracleman a read in the next few months.
Then newbie Chuck Harris offered up Manhattan Projects as his #2 and presented us with his current fave, the All ages book Cowboy—A Boy and his Horse. Passing the book around the pastry-laden table, we were all smitten with the art. The group recommended Bone, Snarked and Herobear and the Kid as kindred spirits of Cowboy and ideal follow up books.
Mark Sullivan aka Mr. Vertigo—whom you can read at mrvertigocomics.wordpress.com was up next. His runner-up was Daytripper by those boys from Brazil Ba and Moon. We had spotlighted this series a few years ago and agreed it is a multilayered gem. Mark’s choice for favorite was Hold Me–the classic issue of Hellblazer from Gaiman and McKean. What a moving choice. I can’t speak for the rest of the group, but I had to re-read that beautiful story later that same day.
Joe Rauch—one of HeroesCon’s budding Panel Moderators selected a favorite story arc from his early teen years—Waid and Larroque’s The Flash: Return of Barry Allen. This got the ball rolling as we talked at length about the appeal of super hero comics and how certain books become embedded in one’s subconscious.
A perfect segue for the choice of Laurel Phillips who showed us some of her favorites: Hellboy-Wake the Devil and Soulfire but selected as her go-to book Waid and Ross’ Kingdom Come along with Robinson and Smith’s The Golden Age.
Alex Ramirez was up next and presented our band of sweet tooth readers with Shazam: Monster Society of Evil (which was quickly recommended to Chuck), Sandman World’s End and The Golden Age. But his favorite was the Morrison/Quitely gem of gems All Star Superman. This was the topic of our second Discussion Group back when the world was young. It was an ideal place to finish up since this 12 issue min-series encompasses a love for comics.
As I said, what a great time we had, I was barely able to mention my choice for best book—The Cartoon history of the Universe by Larry Gonick. But one thing is for sure, we have to do this kind of discussion again. It was a blast and most importantly, I wanted to get home as quickly as possible and read some comics. And isn’t that the point? Merry Christmas to all!!