Happy unofficial end to summer that is really just an end to wearing white pants, because really no one wanted to see you in white pants.
Okay, you probably either already know about that or don’t care, so I’ll stick to the topic. This post covers all of the collected comics and graphic novels out this week. It is more than just a list because I’ve researched each book to give you the context. It’s a guide to what each collection is about and what you might want to pick up to get there.
This is an odd week for comic collections – one obvious blockbuster, a few interesting entries, and a lot of things I’m not so familiar with. I suppose it’s not the best idea to ship a big bounty right after a holiday and with schools and colleges back in session? As a reminder, Amazon is sometimes 1-2wks behind the direct market on these releases.
Crush of the Week: Saga, Vol. 5 – Collecting #25-30.
If you’ve never read Saga before, it’s an unusual series that can’t be entirely summed up. It’s worth it to try the first bargain-priced trade, which introduces this ragtag group of regular people, bounty hunters, and robotic royalty. Plus a truth-diving cat.
Truth be told, I found the last trade of Saga to be a bit flat – high on acrimonious domesticity and everyone was awful to each other. Space-faring was grounded and terrible choices took center stage, as did Alana as she starred in a popular interplanetary soap opera. Yes, really. I know that’s the story Vaughan is telling, but I don’t like stories with no one to root for. While that still might be the case in this trade, now everyone is coming together (Gwendolyn! Lying Cat! Prince Robot!) and I think we’ll get a hint of the broader plot in store for us. In Vaughan’s other landmark series we’d be at about the halfway point, but he’s said he intends for this to run longer than Y The Last Man and Ex Machina (both highly-recommended!), so who knows where we might wind up from here?
Interesting Unknown: Steven Universe, Vol. 1 TP – Collecting #1-4.
I’ve heard nothing but effusive praise from my adult friends on this cartoon about adventures, identity, and consent. After turning their My Little Pony license into a machine and watching BOOM! have a breakout hit with Adventure Time, I think IDW knows how to make this a success. The interesting thing is that I get the feeling is still slightly under the radar – it’s not an Adventure Time sized hit already, nor does it have as much content and fandom amassed as when that comic began.
Now let’s take a look at what Marvel, Dark Horse, DC, IDW, Image, Valiant, and other publishes have in store for us this week!
Avengers: Time Runs Out, Vol. 1 – Collecting Avengers 35-37, New Avengers 24-25
Let’s get the easy stuff out of the way: This book is frigging beautiful. Look at this line-up: Stefano Caselli Jim Cheung, Mike Deodato Jr., Paco Medina, Valerio Schiti, Kev Walker, Dustin Weaver – and they’re each as good as their reputation. Heck, Nick Bradshaw delivers career-best work on his installment. It’s all pretty transfixing.
Unfortunately, there’s a story here too. No matter what ending Hickman delivers, this Avengers run is a mess – more time-trickery on the main book can’t save it from not being a good Avengers story while we all wait with baited breath for the actual fun in the villain-filled New Avengers. This might look more favorable in retrospect as a complete run, but as a handful of Avengers comics it almost kinda sucks.
The time jump makes this a decent point to jump on if you simply want the endgame of the run-up to Secret Wars, but all of the establishing action happened in the prior volumes – catch up on them in my Avengers guide.
Luke Cage (1992) Vol. 1 – Second Chances – Collecting Cage #1-12 and material from Marvel Comics Presents #82.
Just in time for Luke Cage’s screen debut on the impending Jessica Jones Netflix show, Marvel has released a bevy of his collections – first his Marvel Masterworks, then an Epic Collection split with Iron Fist, and now this first-time reprint of his early 90s series. It’s so under-the-radar that I had never heard it mentioned before last year, so there’s no telling how readable it might be. The collection of the second half of the series has already been announced! Want to know more? Hold tight – I’m working on a Luke Cage guide right now.
Marvel’s long-running adaption of King’s masterpiece continues under the able hands of longtime scripter Peter David. If they make it through the finish, it just might wind up the definitive version! If you need to catch up, the prior version was Drawing Of The Three – The Prisoner.
Superior Iron Man Vol 02 Stark Contrast Premiere HC – Collects #6-9 & classic Iron Man #182
Superior Iron Man, Vol. 1 was a fresh take on Tony Stark. Writer Tom Taylor took the perspective that Tony turned upside down by Red Skull’s spell in Axis would be exactly the same, only without the altruistic streak that has kept him saving the world more than profiting from it. This volume wraps up Tony’s story prior to 8 Months Later and Secret Wars, and will answer the important question – was he still inverted when he helped usher forth the end of the Earth? Unfortunately, marvelous penciler Yildiray Cinar didn’t stick around for the long haul on this one. This run is built directly from developments in the preceding Gillen run – check them out in my Iron Man guide.
Now on to other major publishers…
Buffy The Vampire Slayer (Season 10) Vol 03 Love Dares You TP – Collects #11-15
Written by Christos Gage and series star Nicholas Brendon. The Buffy comic has gone pretty far afield from the show at this point, so if you want to pick something up and read it you probably want Buffy The Vampire Slayer: Season Eight Library Edition, Vol. 1, which resumes about a year after the series. We’re mid-Season Nine in those editions right now; Season 10 will almost surely hit that deluxe format about a year after it concludes (so, probably in mid/late 2017).
Creepy Archives, Vol. 22 HC – Collects #104-107
The ongoing Creepy Archives reprint project. Doesn’t seeing Volume 22 just make you want to start buying a series? No, I guess that’s mostly just me. Anyhow, there’s very few sequential aspects to this series, so you could dive in wherever you’d like – even with Volume 1.
EC Archives – Two-Fisted Tales, Vol. 1 HC – Collects #18-23 (1950-51)
Get in on the ground floor of this reprinting of EC’s army anthology with this refresh of a 2007 collection collecting its first issues. (Yes, it began with #18 – it was common int he 50s and 60s to relaunch a volume with a new title or theme but continue the numbering from the last one.)
Halo: Escalation, Vol. 3 TP – Collects #13-18. An extension of the video game Lore.
A reprint of the 2009 hardcover of the sequel to the winner of an Eisner for Best Anthology. From the solicit: “This gripping tale of urban horror follows the lives of five lonely tenants-strangers-whose lives become intertwined when they discover a dark mark scrawled on the walls of their building.” However, be warned: most reviewers disliked the story.
Batman Beyond 2.0 Vol 03 Mark Of The Phantasm TP – Collects #13-16, ending the series.
Batman RIP Unwrapped HC – Collects Batman #676-681
“Unwrapped” is one of the best “buy-it-again” collection gimmicks, presenting stories by DCs most-revered artists in their original pencilled format – no colors, no inks. They first rolled this format out on Jim Lee’s Hush, a masterpiece of pencilling. Tony Daniel is known for incredibly intricate work, so this will be a delight. However, $35 for six issues is pretty steep!
Green Lantern (2011) / New Gods: Godhead HC – Collects Green Lantern/New Gods: Godhead #1, Green Lantern #35-37, Green Lantern Corps #35-37, Green Lantern: New Guardians #35-37, Red Lanterns #35-37, Sinestro #6-8, and Green Lantern Annual #3
This is a little confusing, since it hits so many series and is unnumbered. In fact, each of those series just kept on collecting their issues separate from the crossover in the following volumes: Green Lantern Vol. 6, Green Lantern Corps Vol. 6, Green Lantern: New Guardians Vol. 6, Red Lanterns Vol. 6, and Sinestro Vol. 2. Thus, only the one-shot is unique to this collection.
Atomic Robo Everything Explodes Collection GN – Collects The Fighting Scientists of Tesladyne, The Dogs of War, and The Shadow From Beyond Time volumes into a single omnibus!
D4ve Vol. 01 TP – Collects #1-5. This is a clever little series wherein D4ve is a former defense droid who is now working a desk job who gets sucked into a new war with an invading alien force. Originally published by Monkeybrain Comics.
Judge Dredd Classics Dark Judges HC – Collects an unspecified set of Judge Dredd strips from 2000 AD with all-new colors.
Star Trek Vol. 10 – Collecting #41-46
This ongoing comic exists in the world of the new movie series but applies the timeline of events we know from classic Star Trek, imagining how it might unfurl in this newly revised past. And, to this point, it is entirely treated as canon with the film series! It began with Volume 1, which began a bridging arc from the first movie to the second, but the series was enough of a success that it continued onward in the intervening years. Volume 6 picks up from after Into Darkness. Now it is beginning to ramp up to the third movie.
Transformers Spotlight Omnibus Vol 02 TP – Collecting twelve issues of the the 2006 unnumbered series that was simply titled after the Transformers it spotlighted: Mirage, Wheelie, Cyclonus, Hardhead, Doubledealer, Sideswipe, Blurr, Jazz, Drift, Cliffjumper, Metroplex, and Prowl.
Their method of collection is really confusing. Here’s the best way I can figure out how to break it down for you:
- The first Omnibus appears to have collected all of TPB Volume 1 (#1-2, Hot Rod, Sixshot, Ultra Magnus) and Volume 2 (Galvatron, Kup, Optimus Prime, Ramjet, Soundwave), but not all of 3 (only Arcee, Blaster, Grimlock).
- This second Omnibus collects the rest of TPB Volume 3 (Mirage and Wheelie), all of Volume 4 AKA Revelations (Cyclonus, Doubledealer, Hardhead, Sideswipe), and a number of issues that were previously collected outside of Spotlight (Blurr, Jazz, Drift, Cliffjumper, Metroplex, and Prow).
- That leaves out everyone that was included in a TPB called Dark Prelude (Bumblebee, Hoist, Megatron, Orion Pax, Thundercracker, Trailcutter) plus Orion Pax, which makes sense – they are from a run of the series starting in 2012.
Chrononauts Vol. 1 – Collecting #1-4
Sean Murphy hits this Mark Millar series hot from his acclaimed work on The Wake. Fun fact: Millar has a way of tying in all of his titles into one big Millarworld, though that doesn’t mean they’re all in the same continuity – some of them are films or legends in the worlds of other characters.
Saga, Vol. 5 – Collecting #25-30. See above for my write-up!
Skullkickers Vol. 6: Infinite Icons of the Endless Epic – Collects #31-33 & 100, ending the series
This is pretty damned interesting – a Kickstarter-funded graphic novel the creator describes as “queersploitation,” wherein a Jamaican cop is outed as gay and goes on the warpath to get his revenge. There’s a spotlight on this at Polygon with a lot more context, from which I’ll pull this quote:
This isn’t a ‘gay book,’ this is a genre book with gay characters in it,” he said. “It’s impossible for one story to sum up the queer experience of every single person, and if you attempt to appeal to everyone you end up with vanilla crap. So the best thing you can do is be true to the character.
Bloodshot Reborn Vol 01 Colorado TP – Collecting #1-5
There’s a ton of buzz around this weird Bloodshot reboot in the wake of Lemire’s The Valiant, specifically around Bloodshot hallucinating a cartoon of himself with Lemire draws as overlays onto the gritty, cinematic art of the series. I’m breaking my no-Valiant rule to pick this up – I found The Valiant to be a bit of a misfire, but Lemire’s Bloodshot was one of the best parts.
2000AD: Judge Dredd Complete Case Files Vol 01 HC – 10th Anniversary Edition – Collects Dredd stories from 2000AD #2-60 and Annual 1. A special, deluxe, hardcover edition of the comprehensive Judge Dredd reprint series to mark the 10th anniversary of the line. Start Dredd at the very beginning!
2000AD: Judge Dredd Complete Case Files TP, Vol. 25 – It took a bit of poking around to figure out what this contains! It’s the Dredd stories from 2000AD Magazine Progs (i.e., issues) #984-1024, Judge Dredd Megazine Editions 3.16-3.18 – covering in-story years 2118-2119. This reprint series has been 10 years in the making, and you can still start at Vol. 1 if you don’t mind a different trade dress.
Crossed was created by Garth Ennis but it’s become a a multi-creator effort that puts a different spin on a zombie outbreak – instead of becoming undead, the infected lose all of their values and inhibitions (akin to Reavers in the Firefly universe). Between the theme and Avatar’s general “more gore” stance, this can lead to some pretty disturbing stories. Enter comics legend and paranoid hermit Alan Moore to give the franchise a new spin, advancing the timeline 100 years to when the outbreak is under control and humanity is just beginning to make a comeback. That probably won’t end well. If the concept sounds awesome but you aren’t ready for Moore-level weirdness, try Ennis’s original volume.
BOOM! Studios:Steven Universe, Vol. 1 TP – Profiled above!
Classic Comics Press: Leonard Starr’s Mary Perkins On Stage Vol 14 TP – Collects November 11, 1975 to September 18, 1977
This series collecting the classic newspaper strips is winding down, with just 1-2 more collections to go. Don’t be fooled by the name; the strip was part Soap Opera, part Saturday matinee adventure. Happily, earlier collections are still readily available – you can start with a remastered Volume 1!
Comicmix: Jon Sable Freelance Omnibus Vol 01 TP – Collects #1-16
A reprint of the same from 2010, a collection of the early 80s First Comics Mike Grell series about a globe-trotting mercenary. Unfortunately, the series has never been completed collected – and, while this could be the time it makes it, past experience point to “nope.” The format that got the closest was The Complete Jon Sable, Freelance, which left 11 issues uncollected when it ended in 2007.
Dynamite Entertainment: Vampirella Archives Vol 12 HC – Collects Vampirella Magazine #80-88, August 1979 to July 1980
For all of the busty babes that invaded comics in the 1990s, Vampirella is the original – a sort of comic book Elvira who debuted in 1969 hosting stories and became a breakout star, one of the first enduring vampire heroes in popular fiction! These HCs include features, letter columns, creator bios, and more. However, this one is pretty late in the run – there are only another three years of issues to follow. To get the real flavor of it, you probably want to check out Volume 2, which fans loved and where Vampirella really took over in her own stories.
This is super cool and I snapped it up immediately. When we were in London, we found that Gaiman’s books get a very different trade dress and illustration there, but at the time we weren’t scoping out his YA work (we wanted a copy of Neverwhere to read on the tube). Now, three of his YA British Editions illustrated by Chris Riddell are here in the US one super-cheap box. We’ve been reading Fortunately, The Milk to EV since she was a month old and it’s a ridiculous favorite in this household. The other two trend a bit older, but we’ll probably still use them as bedtime stories.
Kodansha Comics: Attack On Titan Colossal Edition, Vol 02 TP – Collects Volumes 6-10
A monster paperback digest of the monster manga hit adapted into a monster anime hit about giant monsters that look like one of those creepy see-the-muscles-of-dead-people museum exhibits. This collects what was contained in Volumes 6-10 of slimmer paperback editions. I’ve been flirting with reading this for a while, and what I’ve learned is that the art leaves something to be desired compared to the show and that the beginning of it is extremely formulaic. Rather than buy this volume, you should buy either the first Colossal Edition, the first slim TPB, or even a DVD of the show.
Magnetic Press: Bitten Full Moon HC – The first adapted volume of Cornelia Funke’s best-selling “Little Werewolf” books Illustrated in the style of Disney Animation.
PS Artbooks: Pre Code Classics Web Of Evil Vol 01 HC (also as slipcase edition) – Collects issues #1-7, November 1952 to October 1953. This collection has the most horrific of pre-code comics, in this case including zombies before such a name was coined! Unfortunately, this isn’t on Amazon yet!
PS Artbooks: Roy Thomas Presents Planet Comics Vol 09 HC (also as slipcase edition) -Collects issues #36-41, May 1945 to March 1946. Unfortunately, this isn’t on Amazon yet!
This is the second in a series of HCs collecting a 1980’s comic adaptation of the Elric of Melniboné novels by Michael Moorcock from legendary writer Roy Thomas. The books these are based on are long out-of-print, so this is the easiest way to get them at the moment. Volume 1 released earlier this year, and it unfortunately contained a lot of printing and reproduction errors. You might want to wait to see some reviews of this one before you buy.