Thursday, January 1, 2015

Comic-a-Day and more news for youse!

My beard's a-bristlin' with good things coming.

It certainly helps that I had the opportunity to use my brand-new French press this morning on my day off from Avenue 209. Anyhow, I'm sorry I've not got much to say here, though there'll be more coming down the pike before too long. Here are some new things on the horizon:

1. Taking a shot at reading a comic book a day this year. I've got a longbox full of goodies that have been sitting around for the last five years or more, and it's about time I do something with them. They come from the music man himself, my uncle Kevin Dremel. There're about 150 issues from the mid-80s, bearing both Marvel and DC logos. I've got long runs of Claremont's Uncanny X-Men and New Mutants from over at Marvel, while the Distinguished Competition offers a lot of mini-series, including Watchmen and Man of Steel.

Since there are less than half a year's titles, I'll also be dipping into some books I bought at a storage unit a couple of years back. I got lucky with Knightfall, Death of Superman and some of the Carnage books.

If I'm still looking for more reads along my journey, I'll find some earlier eighties mags that I've purchased from my good friend Dave who was getting rid of his. He's a lot more, so maybe I'll keep this up, if I can. I'm hoping to interview both Kevin and Dave in the months to come.

2. I'm also going to try a First Friday sort of guest blog here, maybe throw that in conjunction with the interviews. First up...TOMORROW...will be my partner-in-crime over at The Echo & Sway doing the honors with his first write-up of our now annual Man Voyage brewery tour. Check us out at Webster's in State College January 25 for their musical brunch.

3. I've also got a poetry reading at Webster's July 1. (You can never promote too early.) Since the title of my first novel is Last 4th of July, I figure I'll do some of the ballad stuff as well.


Anyhow, it's the first Thursday as we speak, and that means So You Wanna Be a Comic Book Nerd for publication in the Williamsport Sun-Gazettte.

What a momentous beginning, the first comic book article on the first of a new year. What, just because I’m a nerd about comics doesn’t mean I can’t also be a nerd about auspicious numbers, too? 

As I’ve stated in previous articles concerning such fine works as Saga and Outcast, a number of companies reissue bestselling series with $1 number ones. Yes, you’ve read that right: your local comic shop has a multitude of beautiful beginnings for just a buck. Cheap, sure. Worth it, absolutely.

Be forewarned, however: these books will keep you reading.

Editor’s note: There are like a bajillion different issues at your local comic shop, stories for every palate!

Batman #1, DC Comics. Scott Snyder (w) Greg Capullo (a) 

I was more than a disgruntled fanboy when DC rebooted their entire line of comics, but I’m also more than willing to admit that at least this first installment of the first arc, The Court of Owls, has plenty of promise. The first few pages introduce the city of Gotham as a character itself then quite hauntingly jumps into Arkham Asylum as Batman fights alongside the Joker. Plenty of intrigue right from the get-go, worthy of the world’s greatest detective. This arc is collected in trade, as well as a special edition with a story-centric owl mask.

The Manhattan Projects #1, Image. Jonathon Hickman (w) Nick Pitarra (a)

This little ditty puts the science in science fiction. Take what you know about Robert Oppenheimer and the production for the atomic bomb and mix it up with the weird heebie-jeebies and far-flung scientific theories. Murder and mayhem ensue. Keep an eye out for other famous visionaries of history. The Manhattan Projects is reprinted in trades, deluxe formats and is featured in a new spin-off series.

Revival #1, Image. Tim Seely (w) Mike Norton (a)

Image bills Revival as a “rural noir,” but that’s putting it lightly. There’s some jibber-jabber on the radio that is playing in the background, but makes itself quite apparent as the issue progresses towards the story’s climax. There’re some pretty heavy Christian themes weaving like a bloody thread, where revivers come back from the dead, but changed. Some creepy stuff going on here. Revival is now out in trades as well as deluxe editions.

Y the Last Man #1, Vertigo. Brian K. Vaughan (w) Pia Guerra (a) 

What’s a post-apocalyptic setting even more frightening that hordes of bloodthirsty zombies? How about a scenario where the world is populated only by women and that one unaffected lucky guy? Yorik Brown is searching high and low for his girlfriend, venturing across continents so he can propose. Smart, funny and (best of all) believable, Y clocks in at a mere sixty issues and can be found in collected trades and deluxe editions.


Peter Parker, The Spectacular Spider-Man #115. Marvel Comics. (w) Peter David (a) Mark Beachum

I'm guessing what I'm going to find reading these issues this year will be a bit of disconnect in the overall history of the books. Luckily I've got longer runs of some of the Marvel that'll make things easier to digest.

Poor poor Peter Parker, always down on his luck. J. Jonah Jameson isn't the only one making a bad name for the old web-head either: a bunch of punks are pulling off crimes wearing masks of Cap, the Hulk and Spider-Man. Ridiculous, yes, especially since the rest of the issue doesn't mention this again.

But they DO mention that Spidey's old flame (?!) Black Cat is around and her bad luck is rubbing off on him. The ever-so-astute Doctor Strange finds that "The bad luck aura that affected you is a combination of natural gene mutation and science...bordering on the sorcerous." Well, it turns out that by ridding our friendly neighborhood Spider-Man of the bad luck just so happens to place it back on the provider.

There are a few back stories here that aren't fully fleshed out, definitely ramping up the suspense for issues to come. At first I had thought (hoped?) that the cosmic Spidey suit was working against him, but to no avail. The cover says a thousand words, most of which are something akin to "This happens in this issue, but not nearly on a level so grand."

The best parts of the book are the introduction of some young pre-teen who has some powers of his own, the paneling is just fantastic bottom panel pg 11 and mid panel pg 12. Spidey meeting Strange on pg 19 is pretty swell, too, in a very trippy, magical way. The bottom two panels with Black Cat aren't half bad, either.

As an aside, last page last panel, Black Cat is in just about the same position as Spider-Woman was on the variant cover earlier this year.

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