Well, this summer of reading independent comics has been pretty successful because at the time I’m writing this, I have made my way through most of that longbox and have a pile of Valiant comics as well as a couple of other random books left and can now spend my time focusing on the Marvel and DC series that I’ve been neglecting.
I was getting a little tired of the older books at one point or another, so I decided to mix in those books that were newer or that were currently on my pull list but I had let pile up. It wound up being a pretty good idea because some of the newer books (which were written for the trade in some cases) had a different style and read more easily than some of the older ones. Anyway, this time around, there’s a mix of ratings, so let’s get started.
Alien 3: The Unproduced Screenplay #1-5 (Dark Horse): Since they lost the Star Wars license a few years ago, Dark Horse has been working to reposition itself and one of the earliest tactics was to revive the mostly dormant Alien and Predator books. I had bought their four-series event/crossover called “Fire and Stone” and found that it was a bit of a mixed bag and haven’t gone back to their regular books, but this miniseries which was based on an idea for Alien 3 that was developed by William Gibson looked interesting. The book takes place on a space station that is a deep space Weyland-Utani outpost and it attempts to be closer in tone to the original film (we’re dealing with one alien and some other weird science experiments) but also integrates the politics we’d seen in Aliens as well as elements of the other films in the series. I actually enjoyed Alien 3 when it came out, although I will tell you that it’s definitely a flawed movie, but this would have been a much better film. It also sort of fits into the continuity of Dark Horse’s original series if you want it to (though it’s only supposed to be a stand-alone). The only thing missing is that it would have been nice to have a text piece in one issue explaining the backstory of this unproduced screenplay and how the film actually got made. Keep.
Bad Company #11, 16, 17 (Quality/Fleetway Quality): I believe these are reprints of British comics that landed on comics shelves in the 1990s. While they’re not on the level of some of the Image books I read last month, they definitely are crazy with a lot of violence and muscles. I may send these to Professor Alan to get him back for sending me Ferret #1. Donate.
Britannia: Lost Eagles of Rome #1-4 (Valiant): This technically was not an unread series because I bought it and read it when it came out last year, but when I was creating this project, I put it on the list because I didn’t remember it and wanted to reread it. The idea is that a Roman detective, Antonius Axia, is sent by Emperor Nero to recover the Eagle standards that Roman armies bear in battle because they were lost in a fight with Germanic barbarians. It’s a detective story that also plays out as historical fiction and is also the second or third series featuring this character. It’s densely written and Peter Milligan (whom I enjoyed on Batman back in the day) works the history of the Roman Empire (at that time, anyway) into it on the same level that Eric Shanower has done with the Greeks and Age of Bronze. I’m going to see if I can find the other series. Keep.
Die #1-5 (Image): This is another currently on my pull list that I wanted to reevaluate. Back in the Nineties, a group of friends got sucked into a role-playing game and now their friend, who is still in there, has grabbed them back and is forcing them to play, even if it kills them. Think Jumanji if it were featuring the kids from Stranger Things and Will the Wise had grown up to become a villain. That being said, Kieron Gillen’s story is oustanding and Stephanie Hans’ artwork is absolutely gorgeous. I’m not an RPG guy but I do like sci-fi/fantasy and I am glad I held onto it. I highly recommend it. Keep.
Ex-Mutants #8 (Malibu): A non-Ultraverse Malibu book that was part of the line that also gave us The Ferret. The book has art by Paul Pelletier, a few years before he’d take over Green Lantern at DC, which is really its only asset because it’s very typical for its time in that there are a lot of people fighting and yelling at one another and while it’s not hard to follow what’s going on, I don’t know if I should really care. I am going to keep it, though, because Pelletier is coming to this year’s Baltimore Comic-Con and I thought I would add this to the signing pile. Keep.
James Bond Origin #1-8 (Dynamite): I’d read a really good FCBD 007 comic and wanted more, so when this series came around, I put it on my pull list. It’s still being published, but I had decided to drop it a couple of months after the first arc ended because I wasn’t really that into it. I decided to pick it up and reread it to see if I was missing anything. It’s a good World War II comic with Bond learning how to be a soldier and a spy, but I think that if I’m going to read the adventures of our famous suave secret agent, I’m going to go for the actual fully realized spy stuff rather than the origin. Sell.
Legend of the Shield #6, 7 (Impact Comics): Yes, it was a DC imprint in the early Nineties, but this is a character that DC had to and lost the license to, so I’m considering it an indie. I wasn’t much for the Impact books, even though the few I bought were okay. These were entertaining enough, although I do have to note that it looks like the production value was cheap as hell because the covers look like they weren’t shrunk to fit (so to speak) and the paper is low-grade newsprint (which I believe they were trying to off-load at the time). The story and art, of course, should be the reason for my decision, though, and they are. A decent Captain America riff and the very definition of ephemeral. Donate.
Mickey Mantle #1 (Magnum Comics): This was a gift from Professor Alan and is a bit of a curiosity because it was published in 1991 and has a story by Tom Peyer but art by legendary comics artist Joe Sinnott (with John Tartaglione), so it looks like a comic from my parents’ youth more than mine. I hate the Yankees with the fire of a thousand suns, but I also enjoy baseball history; plus, this was such a weird artifact that I want to hold onto it and see if I can find the other issue in this series (apparently there were a total of two). Keep.
Outpost Zero #1-11 (Image): This is a series on my current pull list that is still being published, although it has been canceled and will be wrapping up with issue #14. I’d let the last few issues pile up, so I went back and read the entire series. Sean Kelley McKeever is the writer and goes back to writing about teenagers, which is one of his strengths (The Waiting Place remains one of my all-time favorite series). This is about a domed city on a distant planet where a portion of humanity resettled in the future after leaving Earth. The planet is Hoth-like in its hostility and we follow the drama of a group of teenagers and their parents and the idea that there is more to the planet and the city than it seems. McKeever, as he has in the past, makes his teen characters seem real and creates some serious tension concerning the city and whether or not these people are all going to survive. I’m bummed it was canceled because I really enjoyed it. Keep.
The Protectors #6 (Malibu): This actually counts as two comics because at first I thought that the person who owned these books prior to me had bought issue #6 of two different Protectors series. Then I realized it was two copies of the same comic, but with different covers. I’d say “Ah, the Nineties,” but the variant cover craze has made a big comeback during the past couple of decades. Like Ex-Mutants, it’s pretty disposable, but unlike Ex-Mutants, it doesn’t have Paul Pelletier artwork. The story is better than the Ferret, though. In this one, Nightmask has just died and the team has to deal with its grief while also dealing with a threat and R.A. Jones does a pretty good job of telling that particular story. Donate.
Steel Claw #3 (Quality): Par three of a four-part miniseries that was published in 1987 and features art by Garry Leach, who drew the initial story arc on Alan Moore’s Miracleman series. My copy has a stamp on page 1 that says it’s from Lone Star Comics. So thanks for that, guys? Anyway, it was a bit hard to follow considering that it was the second-to-last issue of a miniseries. The art was gorgeous and it felt like if I had the other books in the series, I might be a bit more interested, but I’m not. Donate.
The Tick Free Comic Book Day 2014 Special (New England Comics Press): While I have not watched any of the live action Tick shows, I really enjoyed the cartoon back in the Nineties. This is a hoot of an issue that does comics and superhero satire in a way that’s smarter than a lot of what I’ve read and is right up there with Ambush Bug. I don’t know if I am going to look for more Tick comics, but I’m going to hold on to this one. Keep.
Way more hits than misses this time and nothing went in the trash. I’m going to sort through the remaining books to hopefully close up this whole series next entry.