Daniel's Comic Book Column #8
Daniel P. Dern is a free-lance technology writer. He was previously Executive Editor of Byte.com. He can be reached at: email@example.com /(www.dern.com)
KEEPING ABREAST OF COMIC NEWS
With dozens-to-hundreds of comics coming out each money, including on-going titles, "annuals" (large/special issues), mini-series, "one-shots," "prestige formats" (more expensive) etc. plus graphic novels, hardcover and trade paperback reprints of recent and old materials, not to mention an ever-burgeoning range of gaming stuff, plastic and "plushy" figurines and models and statues, not to mention and posters, cards, T-shirts, and what-not, there's a lot for a comic fan to keep track of. And that's not even counting media news about TV shows, movies, DVD and video releases; convention updates; industry news; people news (including far too many obits these past few years)... How -- aside from reading this column -- can one stay informed enough? One answer: follow one or more of the comic industry's "trade magazines."
In the science fiction world, that's SFRevu.com (sic), of course, along with Locus, SF Chronicle, and others. For comics, I follow two print sources, mainly, to help me be aware of what's coming up soon (or eventually), see a panel or two of some of the art, know who's writing what, and get some opinions of what's worthwhile: Comic Buyer's Guide. I subscribe to this -- currently slightly under forty bucks a year. A good mix of news, columns including Peter A. David's BUT I DIGRESS, and the always-informative ASK MR. SILVER AGE, useful reviews and other features. Plus lots of display and classified ads for current and past stuff, helpful for assessing what stuff might cost or be worth. And, of course, there's information in the comics themselves about some of what's coming.
There's no shortage of other sources which I don't get around to, like the monthly PREVIEWS, plus print/online info from sources include distributers like Diamond Comics, stores like New New England Comics and Wizard World, and the publishers' own sites, e.g. DC and Marvel. Not to mention the Usenet rec.arts.comics.* newsgroups, which I don't follow as much as I used to, but have lots of good reviews and answers (along with lots of flames, folly and badinage). And I get some news and suggestions when I go to the Outer Limits each week to pick up the new issues. What do you do to learn about what you want to buy (or avoid)?
DANIEL'S "ONLY ONE COMIC A WEEK" SHORT LIST FOR JUNE 2002:
Continuing the "short list" approach I started last month, ny recommendations for June are:
Other titles that bear checking out: The Incredible Hulk (Marvel), Spider-Man Blue (Marvel), Doom Patrol (DC).
REPRINT/COLLECTION OF THE MONTH:
"Crisis On Multiple Earths" What started out here as a simple recommendation has turned into a longish discussion/explanation. For what it's worth, I could have gone on MUCH longer about this stuff. The "Crisis of Infinite Earths" that rewrote the current state of the DC "universe" during the mid-1980's, "onstage." The main events took place in the miniseries by the same name, finally collected a year or so back in a lovely but expensive hardcover, and then more recently (and unexpectedly), in a much more affordable trade paperback edition However, a lot of the action took place in DC's existing titles -- the Superman and Batman titles, Justice League, etc. When this happens -- as it has continued to do, in subsequent events like "Zero Hour," "Genesis," "Armageddon" and most recently "Our Worlds At War" -- the issues in question are often labeled "cross-overs," a term originally applied to when characters and/or plots "crossed over" from one title to another. We've even seen the occasional multi-publisher cross-over, like Superman/Gen13, Superman/Bugs Bunny (really!), and the Marvel-DC individual and team crossovers, like the long-awaited, hopefully-coming-in-this-year JLA/Avengers cross-over mini-series.
Permit me to digress a bit. To a large extent, the whole "Crisis" thing gets traced back to the September 1962 issue The Flash (#123) (No, not from memory -- I found this on the Web), when the "new"" (Silver Age) Flash -- Barry Allen -- finds himself accidentally transported into a parallel Earth, where Jay Garrick, the "Golden Age" Flash, lives. (See Flash #123 for more info.) Great stuff! This evolved/got sorted out by the comic writers such that the "Golden Age" heroes (Justice Society of America era) were on Earth-2, and the "Silver Age"rs -- the Justice League era, were Earth-1. (Ignoring some weirdness like both having Bruce Wayne as Batman, and Kal-El as Superman, sometimes.) And this led to some of the most fabulous, popular DC comics ever, the multi-issue adventures combining the Justice League and Justice Society members. Over time, however, the complications of managing multi-universe, multiple version continuity got too cumbersome. The Crisis of Infinite Earths, conceived of and written by Marv Wolfman, with art by George Perez, was a year-plus long attempt to resolve this all, "on-stage." The main stuff took place in the "Crisis of Infinite Earths" issues. (Except for one issue, which we never saw until a year or so ago.) But a lot happened in DC's regular titles -- the cross-overs. DC's now collected -- if I understand their blurb correctly -- the Crisis-related cross-overs for the Justice League of America and the Justice Society of America, in CRISIS ON MULTIPLE EARTHS (208 pages) Here's the poop straight from DC's web site: "Written by Gardner Fox; art by Mike Sekowsky, Bernard Sachs and Sid Greene; painted cover by Alex Ross" The CRISIS begins here! The much-demanded early "Crisis Crossover" stories are finally collected, featuring the Justice League of America (Earth-One) meeting their Golden Age predecessors, the Justice Society of America (Earth-Two)! This volume collects the first four 2-part "Crisis Crossover" adventures, reprinting JUSTICE LEAGUE OF AMERICA #21-22, 29-30, 37-38, and 46-47. Our heroes battle the Injustice Society, the Crime Syndicate of Earth-Three, the evil Johnny Thunder, and the Anti-Matter Man! DC doesn't give a price, but according to Amazon.com, it's $19.95 list -- and they're offering it now (pre-order, that is) for $13,97 (plus shipping, I assume). They've also got the main Crisis book on sale for $20.97 (list price $29.95). (As I've mentioned in the January 2002 column, there was a fabulous not-just-homage story arc, "Crisis Times Five," in the Justice League within the past few years, available in JLA: JUSTICE FOR ALL (JLA issues #24-33). OK, as promised, enough about Crisis stuff, or we'll be arguing about John Byrne's Superman re-boot, the Hal Jordan fiasco... sorry. I'll stop here. Daniel P. Dern firstname.lastname@example.org (www.dern.com) (Daniel P. Dern is a free-lance technology writer. He was previously Executive Editor of Byte.com. He's getting ready to sell some of his comics on eBay -- "reading copy" quality (and prices), any day now.)
© 2002 Ernest Lilley / SFRevu