Archive for the ‘Where Do I Start?’

WHERE DO I START? :: DROPS OF GOD: THE NEW WORLD

October 24, 2012 By: Andy Mansell Category: DISCUSS, Where Do I Start?


Please welcome guest blogger and Heroes customer Matt Plummer!

When it comes to purchasing or recommending manga to check out, there’s always the problem of middle to long-term commitment to the series because manga reads much faster and builds at a slower pace than American comic series.  Often-times, you have to wait for it to hit its stride.  In addition, the story arcs in manga are so long that you don’t know if it’s worth the time, effort, and money you need to put into it.  Worry not though, because Drops of God: The New World addresses both issues. (more…)

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WHERE DO I START? SPY TRIO: JAMES BOND, AGENT CORRIGAN & MODESTY BLAISE

October 09, 2012 By: Andy Mansell Category: DISCUSS, Reviews, Where Do I Start?

For as long as I can remember, I’ve always loved a good spy story.  I grew up reading Robert Ludlum and watching James Bond.  To this day, 007 remains the measuring stick against which all other action heroes are compared.

Nothing beats a good spy plot and nothing is worse that a half-baked one.  This is true for novels, films and comics as well.

Three of the best comic strips currently being reprinted in collected editions involve super spies and for all Espionage fans–I am going to see if I can steer you all over to the comic strip section of the store and enter the world of double agents, action, global scale danger but above all else terrific art and exciting storytelling.

First up is the granddaddy of them all–James Bond.  Titan books has been publishing the entire run of James Bond comic strip–which ran in British newspapers from 1958 to 1984!!!  Originally adapted by Bond creator Ian Fleming and then handled by other writers including  noted novelist Martin Amis, the Bond strip focuses on the characters from the source material and captures the feel of the original novels.  There is less pyrotechnics and more tense drama.  The Cold War is still threatening to go hot any minute and James Bond is right there keeping the world safe with enough time left over to enjoy his cars, his women and his martinis. (Not necessarily in that order)  Although any of the volumes will do nicely– I highly recommend  Colonel Sun, Death Wing, Golden Ghost, The Man with the Golden Gun, Octopussy, Phoenix Project, Spy Who Loved Me and Trouble Spot . Each volume contains three or four complete and self-contained stories. So pick up any one.  You will end up buying them all and then you will find yourself reading the original novels as well. Great Stuff!

Now, across the pond here in America, the talented comic team of writer Archie Goodwin and artist Al Williamson were asked to breath new life into the long running daily comic strip Secret Agent X-9 which was created by the unlikely team of Dashiell (Sam Spade) Hammett and Alex (Flash Gordon) Raymond way back in 1934!.  Rechristened  Secret Agent Corrigan, Goodwin and Williamson did more than just invigorate the strip, they made it their own.  For over 12 years, from 1967 to 1980, they turned Secret Agent Corrigan into arguably the last great adventure comic strip published in the US.  The stories are fast paced, exciting, economical and intelligent.  The storytelling is clear and beautifully rendered.  Each daily strip contains panels which are never too busy that the art becomes a distraction. Any volume of the IDW published series will do the job, but I especially recommend Volumes 2, 3 and 4. Greater Stuff!

EVERY PANEL is THIS GOOD!!

OK–Bond is a terrific read, and Corrigan is a true high-point in adventure strip history, but I saved the best Spy strip for last – Modesty Blaise.  Along with Steve Canyon and Johnny Hazard, Modesty Blaise is in my top three all-time favorite comic strips.  The plots are intelligent and exciting and above all–consistent. The strip ran in Britain for over 20 years and when the creator/writer Peter O’Donnell finally shut down his word processor, longtime fans were angry. In over 100 adventures, O’Donnell never repeated himself– and more importantly, the strip never “jumped the shark.” What really made Modesty Blaise hum was the relationship between the title heroine and her partner the very lethal Willie Garvin.  Their relationship was unlike any in fiction.  There was no sexual tension– instead their friendship was based on mutual admiration and respect.  And that respect was hard-earned. In these reprint books, the danger is real and the setting, tone and illustration are strictly for adults! Any volume will do the series justice, but Cry Wolf, Death Trap, Gallows Bird, Green-Eyed Monster, Sweet Caroline, Top Traitor, Black Pearl, Yellowstone Booty and Puppet Master are all essentials! Greatest stuff!!!

Now you see what Willie Garvin sees!

So if you are a fan of spy fiction, these three titles really fit the bill.  Give any one a try–you will be back for more.  Like the owner of the Men’s Warehouse, I guarantee it.

 

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WHERE DO I START? :: B.P.R.D.

October 02, 2012 By: Heather Peagler Category: DISCUSS, Where Do I Start?

It’s no secret to readers of this blog that my husband/Heroes blogger Seth loves all things Hellboy, but he has been completely unable to get me to read anything outside of Hellboy Jr. and the Beasts of Burden crossover one-shot.  There’s no real reason for my stance on this.  I liked the Hellboy movies, but that’s more about my love for Ron Perlman in beastly make-up than any particular attachment to the Hellboy storyline.  (While we’re on Mr. Perlman, can we all have the warm fuzzies again about the Make-A-Wish kid and Hellboy story from this summer?) Anyhoo, back to comics…Seth has full shelves in our house dedicated to Hellboy and B.P.R.D., but they had been gathering dust where I was concerned until recently.

At this year’s HeroesCon, I stumbled into a conversation between B.P.R.D. artists Jason Latour and James Harren in which I mentioned that I had not read B.P.R.D. and I wasn’t sure it was for me.  Not daunted at all by my hesitation, Jason immediately suggested that I start with Plague of Frogs and assured me that I would like it.  August rolled around without me picking up any of the trades on our shelves until I had a week without many new comics in my reserve bag and decided to pull volume 3 and it give it a go.  Cut to about a week and half later and I am about to start volume 13. (more…)

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WHERE DO I START? :: PEANUTS

August 29, 2012 By: Andy Mansell Category: DISCUSS, Where Do I Start?

Is Peanuts the greatest comic strip of all time? It is hard to say for certain since there have been so many classics that have run throughout our lifetimes and and the lifetimes of our parents (and grandparents) before us. Calvin and Hobbes, Pogo, Popeye and Wash Tubbs/Captain Easy immediately come to mind. They are all masterpieces of the comic strip form–timeless, inspiring and entertaining…but do any of these (along with dozens I neglected to mention) have the true emotional pull and the personal connection we have all felt at one time with Charles Schulz masterpiece featuring Charlie Brown and the gang? Is there any visual ICON from the past 50 years more universally familiar than Snoopy?

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WHERE DO I START? :: HELLBOY

August 21, 2012 By: Seth Peagler Category: DISCUSS, Where Do I Start?

There have been several occasions in recent years when a customer heard me talking about Hellboy (which is a frequent occurence) and asked: Where Do I Start?  The Hellboy shelf is chock full of choices, and for those who might only know of the character through the two films, it can be a daunting challenge to pick where to begin.  The obvious choice would be to start with volume 1: Seed of Destruction After all, this volume does present Hellboy’s origin and kicks off the big themes that persist throughout the story.  I would suggest that even though this is where it all starts, newcomers might be better served to start elsewhere.  Hellboy: Seed of Destruction, while essential to understanding the big picture of Hellboy, doesn’t quite feel as cohesive as later volumes.

This is partially due to the fact that it was scripted by John Byrne.  Byrne has rightly earned a place of respect for his huge body of work as both an artist and a writer, but Hellboy is Mike Mignola’s baby, and was much better served when he started writing it full time.  As Mignola’s confidence as a writer grew, so did the overall quality of the book.  While you’ll never hear me complain about the artwork, it’s also evident in later volumes that the quality consistently improved once Mignola got more comfortable with the character.

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WHERE DO I START? :: FABLES

August 13, 2012 By: Andy Mansell Category: DISCUSS, Where Do I Start?

Welcome to the very first installment of Where Do I Start?. There are a lot of great, long-running comic book series that didn’t start out so great–good enough to catch on, but not enough to catch fire.  Off the top of my head, Hellboy, HellblazerLove & Rockets and yes, even (gasp!) Sandman are good examples of series which needed to produce a few story arcs before it really reached their potential.  We could spend all day arguing about each individual series I mentioned, but space is limited, so let’s just concede that I am always right and move on (See, wasn’t that easy??)
To me the ultimate example of this slow-start-to-a-great-series phenomenon is Bill Willingham’s Fables.  A lot of folks tried the first few issues of Fables 10 years ago and were a bit disappointed by the Vertigo-proclaimed heir apparent to Sandman.  But a lot more folks got hooked and continued to read it to this very day.  Currently the series is celebrating it’s 10th Anniversary with 118 issues published collected into 16 trades.  There have been two spin-off series, Jack of Fables and now Fairest, plus a stand alone short story collection 1001 Nights of Snowfall and even a prose novel Peter and Max.
After all of that material, I still get excited every single month to read Fables.  I would like you to enjoy this series that tells the on-going saga of the famous characters from Legend and Fairy-tale (Snow White, The Big Bad Wolf,  The North Wind, Pinocchio, Ozma and countless others) existing in our Mundane (Mundy) world. The problem for hesitant readers has been the first two story lines collected in Legends in Exile and Animal Farm.  These two stories told in the cliche ridden forms of a murder mystery and a Spy thriller do not work as well as one might hope.
So, I am suggesting you set aside your strong completest sense (all of us comic readers have it) and pick up the Third Fables trade Storybook Love.  It was these issues that hooked me for life and I believe it will do the the same to you.  The storytelling, art and characterization are confident.  The story literally jumps off the page.  the world of Willingham’s creation becomes fully formed and believable.  From that point on, he was off to the races with no end in sight.
So do yourself a favor, break with tradition and read the third trade Storybook Love first.  You will continue to read on and on and I am confident that Fables will become one of your monthly must-reads. Remember: you can always go back and read the first two once you’ve gotten involved.
Note: Although i really enjoy the current storyline, I do not recommend Fairest as an optimal starting point for new readers. The tone of this first story is humorous and a bit self-reverential–much like the wise-guy first person narration in Jack of Fables.  This conceit works well for the story Willingham is telling within Fairest’s pages, but I do not think this tone works well as a proper introduction to a series like Fables that successfully tells many different tales in many different ways.
Try Storybook Love— it is really enjoyable and you will be chomping on the bit for more.
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