Thursday, March 13, 2008

Dollar Bin Adventures

Lately, I've been more preoccupied with hunting for and reading comics that actually writing about them. It started a year ago when I discovered a handful of shops that had dollar bins... magical, wallet-saving dollar bins. Soon, I began to seek out shops that had said bins, which led me to this:

Yes, it's a map of all the comics shops in the greater Los Angeles, Ventura and San Bernardino areas. Well, the ones I could find online anyway, restricted (for now) to this northern swath that roughly follows the 210/134/101 freeways. Slowly, I've been visiting them, looking for the fabled dollar bins, as well as a bit of adventure. At some point, I thought I'd make a project, visiting and reviewing all of these shops, which I may still do. Mostly, I'm just having fun, rediscovering the joy of the hunt. So, I got that going for me.

Lately, I've been hunting down:

Batman: Broken City - I've got all but the second installment. I've hesitated starting to read this, figuring it will be much more satisfying in one chunk. I started picking up the 100 Bullets trades by this team a while ago. I remember reading the first one, and thinking it was a great concept, but it wasn't until the revelation of the larger

Breach - Here's an instance of me picking something up on the thinnest of premises. I remember thinking that when this series was coming out that it seemed like a retread of Captain Atom, and passing on it even though I liked the artwork. Cut to the present where I spot the first few issues in the dollar bin and remembered that bit of dialogue from Infinite Crisis where they said that the Breach would have been the Earth-8 version Captain Atom if the multiverse had survived back in the 80's. It set off all kinds of nerd connections within me, so I picked it up. Even later, I find out that it was supposed to be a kind of reboot for Captain Atom while he was out on walkabout in the Wildstorm universe. The idea of a reboot was killed, so they just made it into a separate character. Crazy comics.

The Filth - Loves me some Grant Morisson. Found a near-complete run of this and have already read the first few issues. Someone needs to write a book about this guy someday, honestly. In the middle of all the craziness of the story, he uses a pet cat to anchor the emotion and pathos. In a way, it's a clever callback to his last issue of Animal Man all those years ago; not a retread, but a reinforcing of a very personal authorial symbol. Honestly, it made me a little weepy inside.

Hard Time - Another series I always wondered about, but never managed to pick up. It was part of the DC Foucs line, which probably doomed it in my eyes. I wish I could say that it wasn't the fact that Steve Gerber passed away that made me reconsider it when I saw a clutch of issues in the dollar bin. After reading the first four issues, I beleive I'm hooked. I like the way he wrote a more-or-less all-ages book that takes place in a prison without really sanitizing it. That's some skilled writing, there.

Sleeper - Still looking for issues on this one, though I've got to read the first eight issues of Season 1. My appreciation for Brubaker grows. Honestly, this book and Criminal make his work on Captain America pale a bit in comparison.

Spider-Woman: Origin - It's okay, I guess. I'm just not sure why it was done, other than to generate some excitement about the character as she rejoined the Marvel U. Her origin is more or less the same, some things have been streamlined and retconned out. I just didn't find the dialogue or the art very compelling. The whole enterprise seems fairly mercenary and drawn out. Easily could have been a three or four-part mini.

X-Force/X-Statix - I picked up a handful of issues of Milligan and Alred's run back when it was coming out, but dropped it for some unknown reason. I was able to complete the run on X-Force and find about half of the X-Statix issues. With a little bit of hindsight, this run is brilliant. At the time, regular X-Fans thought it was too outre (much like Morisson's run on New X-Men), but I think it really connects to old-school Marvel conventions. Sure, the characters weren't all grim-n-grittied up, but they had just as much soap opera and sheer weirdness of the Stan Lee days. The great part of it is that Milligan never lets it become a nostalgic exercise, but reinterprets the old formula to fit new times. In some places, it almost seems prescient in its depiction of the relationship between the current media landscape and pop culture personalities.

That's it for now. Thanks for stopping by.