Monday, November 19, 2007

Dollar Comics

Lately I've been finding a lot of dollar bins at local shops. In the guise of trying to stay within my meager comics budget, I've been seeking them out. Surpringly, I've managed to find a great deal of quality material in those bins. Though I'm probably spending a bit more on comics now, you can't argue with the quantity. To be able to get a fat stack of comics for under $20... well, that hasn't been seen since the 80's. Plus, it brings back the thrill of when I was a kid and trying to track down back issues of some of my favorite titles. Say what you want about the convenience of trades, there's something emotionally satisfying about finding that missing issue in your collection tucked neatly away in some long box far from home. It's like it had been waiting for you there all this time.

So far, my criteria for picking titles breaks down to: 1) stuff I missed out on when it first came out 2) stuff I wanted to read, but didn't want to pay full price on 3) stuff I remember having in my youth, but have since lost (which I've been meaning to cover in a post all its own) and 4) goofy stuff that looks interesting enough to sample.

Here's rundown of what's in my current pile:

Batgirl: Year One #1 & 2 - I always liked the look of the art on this series, but it came out at a time when pretty much every character in the DCU had a Year One series. On a lark, I picked up the first few issues and really liked the story. Now, I'm debating whether or not to pick up the trade or to pursue the rest of the series in the discount bins. Yesterday I found issue 7, so maybe I'll stick with the hunting.

Planetary #21-23, 25, 26 - I discovered this series in trade around the time the second one appeared. I fell in love with this series, and think it's the best thing Ellis has ever done. It feels like a love letter to all the things the helped birth comics. I was content to wait for the last trade until I found this run yesterday. I may end up sitting on these issues until I can fill the holes... but I make no promises.

Sleeper Season One and Two - I ran across a description of this series and it sounded like something right up my alley. Unfortunately, the trades seemed overpriced to me. I figured I'd pick them up some day when I had some extra cash. I've run across a lot of them though, and finally started to put a run together.

Blue Beetle - This was one the new titles that came out of Infinite Crisis that I was most excited about. I've been a fan of Hamner's since Green Lantern: Mosaic and Firearm. I picked up the first few issues when they originally came out, but then lost interest after the first fill-in came. Since then, I had heard enough good things about it to give it a second try. I've been able to find the first year's worth of issues so far. It's a good series, though some of the storytelling seems a bit disjointed from issue to issue.

Criminal #1-2 - Brubaker's work has grown on me enough that I thought to check this out in trade, but then I found the first two issues. It's funny, though. I've discovered I've reverted back to the comic fan that I was when I was a kid, in a way. I'm only looking for the superhero stuff, for the most part. A crime book seemed like the last thing I wanted to pick up. Maybe it's a comfort thing as I get older. I have to remember that in the future, not be so narrow-minded.

Hitman - Oh Tommy, how I've missed you. This was one of the first series I picked up solely in trade form. It was at a point where I rarely went in the comic shop. I had been reading Preacher in trade as well, and got into this series based on how much I liked Ennis. Of course, DC stopped putting out the trades at some point. I figured it was only a matter of time before they resumed, but...

Reading the recent JLA Classified reminded me how much I liked the character and his world. Of course, I had the series ending spoiled for me. I decided not to wait for DC, and am currently hunting down back issues.

X-Men: First Class - Fun series. Almost reads like a Marvels Adventures line. I like how it jettisons all of the tortured brooding that has bogged the X-titles down over the years. Just good, clean done-in-one fun, though it's not as simple as you might think. I especially like that it gets into the gender politics of the team, and shows how hard it must be to be the only girl on the team.

Union Jack #1-4 - I always liked the idea of Union Jack, British counterpart to Captain America. The sad part was that no one had done that much with him over the years. I can't think of any highlights other than that Byrne two-parter in Captain America in the 80's. Was he connected to the Invaders in the 70's? I'm not sure.

Anyway, I sat down and read this mini a few days ago, and found it immensely satisfying. I almost think it could work as an ongoing. I liked the combination of agents from other countries and the fast pace of the story. Much like Brubakers Cap, but with more action.

Newuniversal #2, 4-6 - I had high hopes for this series, remmebering with fondness Marvel's crazy New Universe stunt back in the 80's. I picked up the first issue when it came out, but was underwhelmed. I figured I'd wait for the trade... Ellis seems to read better in trade. Now I can skip the trade as well.

Checkmate #6-15 - Also picked up the first few issues. Also figured it would read better in one lump sum. We'll see. I want to like it.

Firearm - Looking for a duplicate set of these. One of my most favorite series from the 90's. Thought that I'll never see the follow-up Robinson hinted at, or even a nice collected edition. I'm going to get a duplicate set together and make my own. Shouldn't be too hard.

The Irredeemable AntMan - Series that I really wanted to like, but just kind of fell off my radar around issue four. Now that it's ended, I'm going to check it out. Maybe the story came to some kind of point.

Terra Obscura #1-6 - I loved the idea of this series when Alan Moore first rescued these characters from the public domain. Not too sure about Hogan's writing, however. I dropped Tom Strong when he took over, but maybe this series works out better. The artwork by Paquette certainly is easy on the eyes.

Suicide Squad #2, 3, 5, 6, 8 - I bought the first few issues back when they came out, but dropped the title and lost the issues since. I think it's something I couldn't appreciate at that age. Now that I'm older, I think it's more in line with what I like. I was all primed for the now-delayed Showcase, so I think I'll go this route instead. About the same price, but I get color, too.

That's all for now. I've got my work cut out for me. Next time, I hope to share some rediscovered gems from my childhood.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Current Goings-On

Haven't much felt like writing about comics lately. Not that I'm not enjoying them, it's just been hard to find time to write anything about them. I have ideas for longer posts, which may find their way here someday. For now, here's what I'm enjoying:

World War Hulk and Sinestro Corps War top the list in spandex-centric event-style comics fun. Both have their own strengths, and I have to admit I get a metatexty charge out of competing companies dueling it out with emerald-themed slugfests. I particularly like what Johns and Gibbons have done building on a decades-old Alan Moore short, and has made me realize how much they have rehabilitated the Green Lantern concept in the DCU. Pak, to his credit, has got me interested in the Hulk again, after quitting the title when Peter David left. I just hope both series don't go all pear-shaped like other recent events have, and have satisfying endings.

How is it that Captain America has grown even more interesting without its titular character? I've felt that Brubaker has a long-form arc in mind as far as the Winter Soldier is concerned, but learning that the whole Death of Cap wasn't factored into that plan makes me appreciate his skill even more. He's effortlessly incorporated it into James' journey.

Still reading Iron Fist. It grows on me more and more. It's like a master class on how to reinvent a c-list, period character by focusing and building on that characters inherent strengths rather than starting over from scratch.

Justice Society of America still feels like more of a flagship title than Justice League, though I'm worried about this return to Kingdom Come. Ross is a good artist, but I find his storytelling interests a bit muddled and at odds with his stated objectives. For someone who professes to long for simpler, clear-cut heroes in comics, he sure produces a lot of dark, tortured mediations on those icons.