Thursday, September 03, 2015

Put it on the shelf instead of on my pull list

So there were only two posts last month on account of me being busy with other stuff because wonders never cease. Yes, I did indeed finally get my new bookshelf delivered and so I was able to get rid of all the numerous piles of comic books that had assembled over the last year on my desk.

The downside was that the bookshelf was delivered one day early. Which sounds good but if you have just spent the whole night without sleep and plan on going to bed and sleep for the next twelve hours until your new bookshelf is due and you have to tidy up your room that´s not so good.

Because instead of going to sleep you have to stay awake and quickly clean your room, wait until the bookshelf is assembled and then of course you want to put the books from your desk on the bookshelf so your room doesn´t look like it was hit by a dozen atomic bombs filled with comic books. Which takes another couple of hours. So you don´t get much sleep on that day either and I was totally wasted for the next few days during which I used my waking hours to finish putting comics on my new bookshelf. But you´re never finished. There are always some books to add, some books you don´t need to have in your room or you suddenly have the idea to put all the Marvel Essentials on one shelf, all the DC Showcase Presents on another shelf, all the british and black and white and horror comic books on one more shelf get the idea.

And when I´m saying comic books I rather mean books than single issues because I´m more drawn to collected editions nowadays as there are fewer and fewer series that are worth reading in single issue form.

Today two packages arrived, one from amazon ( two others are still pending ) and one from the online comicshop I go to for everything outside of my pull list - which these days consists of SAVAGE DRAGON, USAGI YOJIMBO, TAROT, Witch of the Black Rose and RACHEL RISING or whatever Terry Moore does next - and it was difficult to order the last one because I realized that the only book left is Kurt Busiek´s ASTRO CITY.

With the announcement of the NEW 52 I saw a big opportunity to cut back on my DC books and that prediction has come through. AQUAMAN was a good book but with the wrap up of the storyline so far, the departure of Paul Pelletier and a new creative team taking over that´s it for me. 

This title was really a great read and one of the things that struck me when the whole NEW 52 stuff started was how many comic readers - new and old - were really surprised, or rather in a state of total shock that AQUAMAN - of all books - was one of the best right out of the gates.

Which shows how short the memory of the collective comic community is because I can clearly remember a time when AQUAMAN was one of the more successful titles DC was putting out, a must read for comic fans.

It was such a big success it even was translated for german readers.

Okay, I´m not that old but I read the later albums Ehapa put out.

Interesting tidbit : the issue reprinted in SUPERMAN PRÄSENTIERT AQUAMAN 8 - AQUAMAN 56 - was the last issue and part of an unofficial crossover with Marvel´s aquatic pendant in SUB - MARINER issue 72.

The whole thing was covered - very short - by CBR´s COMICBOOK URBAN LEGENDS REVEALED but for a longer version check out DIAL H FOR BLOG or MAJOR SPOILERS . The writer of the book, Steve Skeates, ended the issue on a cliffhanger and as with Jack Kirby´s OMAC - ONE MAN ARMY there was still one more story to tell. Later on Skeates created a new aquatic hero for Warren Publishing in 1971 and eventually recycled his plot for AQUAMAN 57 as “ The Once Powerful Prince ” in EERIE 40, wherein villains stole the mystic ring that gave Prince Targo his undersea powers. The first Prince Targo script appeared in EERIE 36 ( “ Prototype ” ) and the chronologically 3rd was in EERIE 37 ( “ The Other Side of Atlantis ” ).

But that was not the end of it, there was still more life to the story. In 1974, Skeates penned a direct sequel ( complete with a shot of an unidentified Aquaman’s hand ) that dealt with the consequences of the cliffhanger in SUB - MARINER 72 , itself the final issue of the run !

Back to the Aquaman book the biggest draw was Jim Aparo´s fantastic art. He has always been a favorite artist of mine and I can´t understand why his complete body of work is still not available in collected form. 

DC released some of his comics in bits and pieces like LEGENDS OF THE DARK KNIGHT - JIM APARO, AQUAMAN - DEATH OF A PRINCE or WRATH OF THE SPECTRE but come on, he built a great part of the DC mythology.

And speaking of the LEGENDS OF THE DARK KNIGHT - JIM APARO, I can´t be the only one witth a copy of volume 2 that has printing errors in almost half of the pages. Because I returned my copy but the replacement had the same printing errors. Despite this I never read any mention of this in the amazon reviews or on comic message boards. So either there are only two bad copies and I happened to get my hands on those two or all other comic readers out there just assume it can´t be helped because DC doesn´t have any setting copies of better quality from those issues.

Too bad there is no DC fan with a huge collection like Ralph Macchio. I´m talking about the comic writer and editor, not the actor who played Daniel San in the Karate Kid movies. If you have a copy of Marvel´s ESSENTIALS or MARVEL MASTERWORKS books there is a big chance it says " Special Thanks to Ralph Macchio " in the credits because - I only recently learned this from his interview on the SIDEBAR podcast - unlike DC Comics Marvel doesn´t have a huge library with all of their issues and Ralph Macchio is one of the few men on the face of the planet with a near complete Marvel collection. So whenever the Marvel guys have to reprint some issues they don´t have you can thank Ralph Macchio for providing the original issues.

Okay, so I´m done with AQUAMAN. The same goes for WONDER WOMAN.

I´ll get the last hardback BONES by Brian Azzarello, Cliff Chiang and Goran Sudzuka but I´m not really all that interested in the following issues by David Finch. Don´t get me wrong, he´s a great artist but his hand in picking books hasn´t been that great and after the DARK KNIGHT book getting worse and worse I´m not going to pay money to see that repeated on a book that looks like the rest of the NEW 52 dark and gritty line up. You can say what you want about the Azzarello issues but at least they were different from the other revamped new alternate version stuff.

For decades it has puzzled me that a big company like DC has problems producing a decent comic book about a character that everybody knows and loves and that had one of the best television series of all times.

Well, George Perez knew how to do it right and the guys at DC got rid of him very quickly - and you can learn more of the reasons for that and a lot of other strange going ons at DC´s NEW 52 in this video which master blogger Terry Hooper posted on his excellent COMIC BITS ONLINE blog :

Okay, AQUAMAN and WONDER WOMAN done. ANIMAL MAN and SWAMP THING also done although there are still a few trades I have to get.

So technically I´m still reading those but they won´t pop up in my pull list. Then the are the bat books like BATMAN, BATMAN INCORPORATED and BATMAN & ROBIN but I´m not too excited and will probably get them when I can find them with a discount. I just finished the BATMAN - DEATH OF THE FAMILY book and even with a discount I felt ripped off. Not only because it included one issue that you can also find in the BATMAN & ROBIN - DEATH OF THE FAMILY collection but because it was the biggest pile of horse manure I read in a long time. There´s a lot of that at DC.

The first two books with The Court of Owls were absolutely spectacular and then something like this comes along and craps all over it. I don´t think Scott Snyder is a bad writer but even he couldn´t avoid this whole mess which was clearly mandated by the higher ups at DC who have no clue. About anything. Like - almost - the entire NEW 52 line the DEATH OF THE FAMILY story tries to outdo the previous versions of Joker stories but instead you get the bland feeling of been there, done that, bought the t - shirt. We´ve all seen these stories done by better writers AND better artist and the whole brain - f - word of the Joker cutting his face off only to staple it back on shows you that nobody at DC gets the Joker. Which is why they try to substitute the psychological horror which was always the Joker´s trademark - and requires good writers - with cheap splatter fic.

And that brings us back to ASTRO CITY, the ONLY DC book that´s still on my pull list and that´s not even a DC proper book, it´s a VERTIGO book.

So the only good DC books that are still out there are the SHOWCASE PRESENTS or other reprints because the actual DC universe now officially sucks. Pardon my french but there is no other way to say it. My brother says that I always buy the same books and it may be true in some part because I just bought CRISIS ON INFINITE EARTHS again from Eaglemoss´ official DC Comics Graphic Novel Collection. Which contains the complete twelve issue mini series in one thick hardcover for a meager 25 EUROS.

Now I said that it´s true in some part that I always buy the same comics because with CRISIS ON INFINITE EARTHS written by Marv Wolfman and drawn by that Perez guy ( again ! he´s like in all the good comics ) I had various attempts to read it. The first time I came across this story was with SUPERMAN TASCHENBUCH 71 which included the first two issues.

And ONLY the first two issues. The SUPERMAN TASCHENBÜCHER had 96 pages but issue 71 only has those two issues of the series, the rest is made up of other Superman stories from various Superman series.

This was not the last Superman pocket book from Ehapa - they lasted until issue 80 - but no other issues of CRISIS ON INFINITE EARTHS were published by Ehapa, neither in SUPERMAN / BATMAN nor in one of the SUPERMAN SUPERBAND magazine sized comics which would have been ideal for this. Instead we got two issues in a really small format with the usual cuts in text and dialogue because of the size and machine lettering.

But it was one hell of a story even if I didn´t know 80 percent of the players. No. ESPECIALLY since I didn´t know 80 percent of the players. It might sound strange to Today´s reading audience but back then there was no google or wikipedia where you could find out who those people were, there were no message boards where you could find other comic readers who were more versed in DC lore and there sure as heck were no online comic shops where you could easily find back issues. It was what it was. If you didn´t know a character you had to keep on reading and hope you might find out more. And this was exciting since not knowing everything about a character from issue 1 ( and you NEVER got to start reading a series with the first issue ) made him interesting. There were still things you could find out about him, things that could surprise you. So even if we only got a small glimpse of the CRISIS series it was a big deal.

Then, around five years later, Hethke came around and also tried their hand at this series and they used the bigger format and hand lettering.

Alas, they only lasted long enough to publish issues one to four so again it was comic interruptus. I found scattered issues of the spanish translation 

and even some of the original issues but never the whole series.

At least until the DINO Verlag published the miniseries in 1999 in two softcovers for 9 EUROS each or one hardcover edition for 50 EUROS.

Since I was more interested with reading then with collecting comics at that time my main goal was to get as many comics as possible so I went for the cheaper option. And I have to say 50 bucks still sounds like a lot of money for a hardcover of CRISIS ON INFINITE EARTHS - unless it´s either signed by George Perez with a sketch of Power Girl in a bikini or it has a lot of extra pages. Which is why I got the new edition - I wanted the complete series collected in a nice hardcover. But I have to say if you already have the DINO version it has the far superior translation. There are a lot of misspellings, bad translations and even missing sentences and other sorts of typos in the Eaglemoss version. So if you want to read it in german and you don´t need the whole hardcover treatment get the cheap DINO trades which should not be too hard to find for 20 bucks or less.

Last comic trivia tidbit of the day : on the cover of CRISIS ON INFINITE EARTHS 3 George Perez signed with " guess who " instead of his name.

And that´s all for Today´s post although I´m sure there will be more about my new bookshelf, more about CRISIS ON INFINITE EARTHS which will be definitely mentioned in upcoming DEATH IN COMICS posts since Supergirl AND Flash kicked the bucket in those series as well as more about what I´ve been up to instead of writing new post in the future. Leave it to me to start bemoaning the current state of comics, make a left turn into the german publishing history of CRISIS ON INFINITE EARTHS and then end up with a buy recommendation. You never know what´s next on this blog.

Okay, that´s not true. Next up is the first part of the SUBZERO edition casting the JLA movie starring Nicole Austin, Darlene Silva and Miko Lee.

Since Today´s post is not about a particular topic - well, it started out that way but turned into one of my usual ramblings - there are no links and we can get straight to the videos. Most of the post is about CRISIS ON INFINITE EARTHS and I really found a video with George Perez art.

We´re staying with the DC comics theme in our next video that poses the question : What if MAN OF STEEL was in color ? I know, it sounds weird but it will make absolute sense after you have seen it. I promise, guys.

I´m not exactly sure where the material for this video came from but it´s the Secret Origin of Wonder Woman. The real one. As I wrote in the post George Perez is one of the few who got it right which is the reason why I ordered the WONDER WOMAN BY GEORGE PEREZ omnibus while amazon is selling it for 55 EUROS. The paper cut is not good but maybe that´s just my copy and I already missed out on UNCANNY X - MEN OMNIBUS 2 where I had to get vol 5 of the UNCANNY X - MEN : MARVEL MASTERWORKS edition which also includes the UNTOLD STORY OF THE PHOENIX version.

It´s been quite a while since I posted a Yaya Han video so to keep with the DC theme here she is cosplaying as Power Girl. Maybe a re - post.

One of the things I have to thank my new bookshelf for is re - discovering all the neat comic series I have read and one of them is W.I.T.C.H. of which I have the first fourteen trades. For some reason I stopped at this point ( money ??? ) but it´s one of the best written and drawn european comics I know which is equally readable for boys and girls and there even was a tv series made which is my cartoon recommendation of the day.

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