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Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Week In Ink Addendum: The Trades

When I was stranded away from my house over the weekend, it came as something of a shock to realize that I had to go out and buy a set of fresh clothes and a toothbrush, and yet I had two video game systems and well over fifteen hundred pages worth of comics with me.

This probably shouldn't have been as much of a surprise as it was, but I felt it was worth noting, since the vast majority of that page count was made up by last week's trade paperback purchases that I'd left at work and therefore hadn't gotten around to reviewing for the ISB. So tonight, in an effort to keep up with my reasonably out-of-control comics buying habits and help you to become a more well-informed and generally awesome customer, tonight's ISB is devoted to What You Need To Know about last week's trade paperback releases.




Donald Duck and Uncle Scrooge v.1: Although I'm not really sure if it counts as a trade paperback considering that it's the same size and price as most of the monthly Disney books, it was solicited and marketed as one, and for good reason. Gemstone seems to have finally caught on to the market demand for (relatively) cheap and available reprints of the old Carl Barks material that Don Rosa generated with Life and Times of Scrooge McDuck, and while Somewhere In Nowhere--the last story Barks plotted that gets finished out by John Lustig and Pat Block--is interesting enough on its own, the real star of the book for me was the Barks classic North of the Yukon, a great little piece of adventure fun that ties in heavily to a segment of Life & Times.

What You Need To Know:



Uncle Scrooge Punches His Enemies With A Fistful of Money...



Twice.


Essential Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe: Deluxe Edition v.1: The second volume of this massive black-and-white slab of text came out last week, and while I ordered it, I had neglected to actually purchase the first one, so I picked it up this week instead. There's really not a whole lot to say about it other than that, since everyone pretty much knows whether or not they want to buy a pair of massive books with lines like "Captain Britain can lift (press) two tons under optimal conditions" and diagrams of Iron Man's briefcase immediately upon seeing it. I do wonder, however, why Marvel bothered putting out an Essential volume for the original handbook if they were going to do the Deluxe Edition, since--unless I'm wrong about this--the DE contains all the information of the original and more.

Which is still 20 years out of date.

What You Need To Know:



Angar the Screamer is 5'10", weighs 155 pounds, and is wearing no fewer than three items of clothing that feature fringe.

It took a Russian super-spy and a blind ninja acrobat to take him down.


The Five Fists of Science: I'd passed on this one when it was originally solicited and immediately regretted the decision. Fortunately, Matt Fraction and Steven Sanders moved their two-fisted tale of historical adventure to Image, and I was able to jump on one of the most enjoyable original graphic novels that I've ever read. Despite the fact that I actually know very little about him, Nikola Tesla has always been one of those historical figures that I'd picked up enough facts about over the years to be mildly fascinated by him. Still, if there was a better way to get me to sit down and actually read something about him than by having him team up with Mark Twain and use a giant robot body to fight an occult conspiracy led by Thomas Edison and J.P. Morgan, I'd certainly like to hear it. Fraction's script is a fun and exciting piece of writing, and Saunders' art is cartoony enough to give it the animated feel of a Disney cartoon, but still with an old-timey sketchy quality that fits the story's era perfectly. Warren Ellis gave it his highest reccomendation, and with a price of $12.99, I can't help but agree.

What You Need To Know:



SCIENCE!


Showcase Presents: The Haunted Tank v.1: My feelings on the Haunted Tank are reasonably well-documented, but just to sum up: Aside from the issues where Sgt. Rock beats Nazis to death with belts of .50 caliber ammo, a tank posessed by a ghost that occasionally has to fight dinosaurs and shoot down planes while parachuting to the ground is probably the best idea for a war comic ever. Even if most of the early ones constantly reference the sound of General Stuart's "gay, reckless laugh" like five times in one story.

What You Need To Know: Since May was Asian-American Heritage month, Ragnell spent a good deal of time collecting detailed information on Asian-American comic book characters and writing about the different stereotypes that characterized them. This is not, as you may well know by this point, how we do things here at the ISB. Me, I just look for panels like this:



Just so you know, that's the splash panel for a story where the crew of the Haunted Tank runs across Hiko and Tommy Asumo, a pair of Japanese-American infantrymen, and it largely concerns the prejudice they have to deal with. And shortly after his outburst, Slim is told to sit down and shut up by Jeb Stuart, who reminds him that the Japanese-American soldiers are "tops in Presidential Citations--and Purple Hearts!" Of course, right after that he makes a joke about Native American ace pilot and future Loser Johnny Cloud saving their scalps, so...

Stagger Lee: Before a couple years ago, I'd never heard a single song concerning Stagger Lee until the Nick Cave version that, as my friend Scott said, took a story about a murder that had been gradually sanitized in dozens of songs over the years and made it even more violent than ever. It's a great song. So great, in fact, that I ordered Derek McColloch and Shepherd Hendrix's 216-page graphic novel about the songs, the legend, and the actual events that inspired them, and I was not disappointed. It was a very pleasant surprise and a great read, as the book alternates between fictionalized versions of the plot threads that make up the legend that are broken up by examinations of the legend itself, with Lee and Billy often directing their comments to the reader. They're bits that read a lot like the stories in Action Philosophers, and that's good company to be in. It's got love, romance, violence, revenge, lawyers, racism, and--most of all--a catchy tune to go along with it.

And Nick Cave does appear.

What You Need To Know:



And that, my friends, is the power of fiction.

4 Comments:

Blogger Martin said...

Wow. I wasn't sure on getting Haunted Tank - my list of War Comics I Like is pretty much limited to 2000 AD's Rogue Trooper - but this has changed my mind.
As for Stagger Lee - whether I got that or not was entirely based on whether Nick Cave was in it. If they'd just shown that panel, there would have been no doubt.

6/07/2006 5:29 AM

 
Anonymous Scott said...

Tesla was the villain in the DC comics graphic novel Barnum.

6/07/2006 10:55 AM

 
Blogger Mark Hale said...

Barnum wasn't very good, though.

I really need to read Five Fists of Science. I do love science.

6/07/2006 8:57 PM

 
Anonymous Sean McQuaid said...

Said Chris, "I do wonder, however, why Marvel bothered putting out an Essential volume for the original handbook if they were going to do the Deluxe Edition, since--unless I'm wrong about this--the DE contains all the information of the original and more."

Yes and no. The Deluxe is in most respects superior to the original -- a longer run of issues, often-longer profiles, more detail, and so on. But the two editions made slightly different selections in terms of which characters to feature, so there are subjects featured in the original run that don't appear in the Deluxe run.

For instance, the original series has:

- Profiles absent from the Deluxe run, such as Ajak, Belladonna, Blitzkrieg, Blue Shield, Brotherhood of Evil Mutants, Champions of Los Angeles, Charlie-27, Collective Man, Defenders, Defensor, Devil-Slayer, Fly, Freedom's Five, Headmen, Howling Commandos, Invaders, Iron Fist, Kid Commandos, K'un-Lun, Leatherneck Raiders, Liberty Legion, Living Mummy, Madame Web, Man-Bull, Martinex, Mercurio, Nikki, Peregrine, Plunderer, Rangers, Recorder, Scarlet Scarab, Shamrock, Star-Dancer, Starhawk, Talisman (Australian), 3-D Man, Vance Astro, White Tiger & Yondu

- An Appendix listing of minor characters that was supposed to be part of the Deluxe series, too, but never made it into the Deluxe edition

So there are reasons to get the original series even if you have the Deluxe model.

6/13/2006 3:40 PM

 

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