Listen, Gotham Academy: I already liked you. You had me hooked from the very first promise of teen boarding school drama in a city full of supervillains with Batman showing up to try to reach these kids. That is exactly what I am into in virtually every way, and with the first issue being as good as it was, you didn't have to sell me on the series any harder than you already did.
But then you brought back Bookworm, and cemented your place as the single best comic on the stands today.
With a new hardcover omnibus of Alias by Brian Michael Bendis and Michael Gaydos, Marvel re-releases one of the most critically successful comics of the early 2000s. Apart from its various awards nominations and wins, it was one of just a few comics that everybody seemed to love, during an era when Marvel was equal parts creatively daring and ridiculously misguided. The first comic published under the mature readers MAX imprint, Alias officially broke ground on Marvel's R-rated label with an emphatic F-word, which immediately strikes one as both obvious and necessary. Unlike many other titles that sprung from the MAX imprint, though, Alias went far beyond than the gimmick of sex and cuss words in the Marvel Universe, and was easily one of the most readable comics on the stands for its entire twenty-eight-issue run.
That's just my memory, though, and I wouldn't exactly describe it as sharp. So how good is it on a re-read? Particularly as Marvel prepares a new live-action Netflix series based on the book, and has hinted as recently as last week that Jessica might be "getting back to work".
You probably haven't heard since they haven't really been making a big deal of it, but this year marks the official 75th Anniversary of Marvel Comics. Sort of. It actually marks the 75th anniversary of the publication of Marvel Comics #1, which introduced the world to the Human Torch and paved the way for the company that would eventually become the modern Marvel Comics which really came about in 1961, but you know what? That's a good enough reason for a party.
To that end, this week saw the release of the Marvel 75th Anniversary Celebration, an anthology that caught my eye mostly because it features legendary and still hugely popular Batman: The Animated Series co-creator Bruce Timm adapting a Captain America story written by Stan Lee in 1941, and that is definitely something that I want to read. But with 55 pages in the anthology, there's a heck of a lot more in there besides, including the return of Alias by the original creative team of Bendis, Gaydos and Hollingsworth, and essays by comics journalists including our own Andrew Wheeler, making this one of those rare anthologies where it's all pretty good stuff.
If you're the kind of person who keeps up with news about people spending truly massive amounts of money on comic books, then you're probably aware that there was a copy of Action Comics #1 rated at 9.0 that sold for $3,000,000 earlier this year. On one level, that makes sense. It is, after all, an incredibly important historical artifact, featuring the first appearance of Superman and Lois Lane in a story that kickstarted the entire superhero genre. On the other hand, if you really want to read that comic, you don't need to spend three mil. You can get it for like fifteen bucks.
Either way, the CGC corporation put the entire issue online to read for free -- presumably to prove that these crisp, unblemished pages really are as good as they say they are -- and there's a lot more in there than just Superman, whose first appearance has naturally overshadowed the numerous other short features contained in this most coveted comic.
When October rolls around, I always spend as much of the month as I can with Dracula, and it's gotten to the point where I'm actually starting to run out of stuff to watch. I mean, we're still almost a week away from Halloween, and I've seen at least a dozen movies about the Count, so I've been looking for something new to get me through these last few days. Fortunately, a kind soul on Twitter told me about Don Dracula, and I was immediately intrigued.
After all, if you're going to make a list of the most important comic book creators of all time, there aren't going to be a whole lot of names on that list ahead of Osamu Tezuka. He's called "the God of Manga" for a reason, and finding out that he not only did a bizarre all-ages Dracula comic, but that it was adapted into an anime that's available in its entirety on Hulu mean that my week was pretty much set. There's just one problem: It's actually pretty terrible.
Don Heck is something of an odd man out when it comes to comics history. He was one of the architects of the Marvel Universe, co-creating Iron Man, Hawkeye, and other famous characters; he was held in high esteem by his peers – yet he's rarely mentioned in the same breath as Romita, Ditko, Kirby, Buscema, Ayers, and other Silver Age greats. He was, for many years, the Avengers artist, but often goes unnoticed when fans make their lists of the definitive super-team pencillers. He defined the down-to-earth qualities of Marvel while his contemporaries were pushing toward the cosmos, rooting his characters in reality as others pushed the boundaries of possibility. And while that precise mix of magnificent and mundane was what truly defined Marvel, his contributions were nevertheless destined to be overshadowed by the flashier offerings that the rest of the bullpen provided.
The latter day appreciation of Heck's work continues with TwoMorrows' publication of Don Heck: A Work Of Art, is a handsome full-color hardcover recounting the artist's life story. The layout is clean and clear, the printing is up to TwoMorrows' usual high standards, and the selection of art is nothing short of superb – from published pages and panels, to roughs and sketches, to pieces shot directly from Heck's original art, it's all here, and all reproduced beautifully.
Teased for years and finally launched in 2014, The Multiversity is a universe-jumping series of DC Comics one-shots tracking the cosmic monitor Nix Uotan and an assemblage of star-crossed heroes as they attempt to save 52 universes and beyond from a trippy cosmic existential threat that, like much of Morrison’s best work, represents something far more mundane and relatable. Tying back into the very first Multiverse story in DC’s history, the heroes of these universes become aware of this threat by reading about it in comic books… comic books that, it turns out, take place in neighboring universes. Indeed, writer Grant Morrison continues his streak of highly metatextual DC cosmic epics with this eight-issue mega-series (plus one Tolkienesque guidebook).
Described by Morrison as “the ultimate statement of what DC is”, The Multiversity naturally offers the reader much beyond the surface level adventure, and that means annotations. Rather than merely filling out checklists of references, my hope with this feature is to slowly unearth and extrapolate a narrative model for Morrison and his collaborators’ work on The Multiversity; an interconnecting web of themes and cause and effect that works both on literal and symbolic levels.
We’ll be focusing here on the third issue of the maxiseries, The Just, written by Morrison with artwork by Ben Oliver and color assistance from Dan Brown (the excellent colorist, not the literary hack).
When DC Comics announced the new lineup of Batman Family titles a few months back, Arkham Manor was the only one that actually gave me a "wait what" moment. Dick Grayson as a super-spy traveling across the world dealing with stuff like a dude who had his eyes replaced with guns? Sure, makes perfect sense. Hipster Batgirl fighting crime with the power of Snapchat? All for it. Teens running around a creepy boarding school in the one place in the DC Universe where no one in their right mind would send unsupervised children? It's the book I've been waiting for all my life.
But Arkham Manor stuck out. Right from the concept, it's this weird variation on familiar themes, trying to twist them into something new. That makes it an inherently interesting idea, even if it's one that I'm approaching with caution as a reader. I want to know what's going on here, and with the first issue out, it lives up to that. More than anything else, Arkham Manor #1 is intriguing.
The way things are going, it's won't be much longer before we start referring to Image Comics as "that European sci-fi publisher.... but American." Over the last few years, Image has been host to a string of challenging and offbeat titles with strong Euro SF influences, and so far they've all been exceptional. With the combined comics goodness of Saga, Prophet, Nowhere Men, Black Science, and Starlight, stylish science fiction is trending upwards, and with Ivan Brandon and Nic Klein's forthcoming Drifter, the trend continues.
In advance of the November release of Drifter #1 (final order cutoff is next week, for you pre-orderers and retailers), Image has provided ComicsAlliance with an advance copy of the book, and boy, is it purdy.
If there's one thing that you need to know about ComicsAlliance, it's that we are very much in favor of Supaidaman, the '70s tokusatsu series where Marvel's Spider-Man was reimagined as Takuya Yamashiro, a dirtbike racer chosen by an alien from Planet Spider to defend the world from Professor Monster with the aid of a giant robot. It's one of my favorite things in the world, and if you asked me to pick one thing that I'd want to see from Marvel, it would be for Yamashiro to return to action in the pages of the modern Marvel Universe.
As a result, it's hard for me to look at this week's Edge of Spider-Verse #5, by Gerard Way, Jake Wyatt, Ian Herring and Clayton Cowles, without just seeing that it's a tokusatsu-inspired take on Spider-Man that simply isn't the one I want it to be. It took a lot of effort to get past that -- effort that was mostly motivated by how great last month's "Spider-Gwen" issue was -- but in the end, I'm glad I made it. It might not be the book I wanted, but it's definitely pretty fantastic in its own right, even if it suffers from a distinct lack of dirtbikes.
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