Friday, January 18, 2019

Review- PRE-CODE CLASSICS SPOOK VOL. 1


PRE-CODE CLASSICS SPOOK VOL. 1 (PS Artbooks, First Printing, 2018; Hardcover)

Collects Spook #22-26 (cover dates January- October, 1953, originally published by Star Comics)

Writers: Mickey Spillane and other unknown writers

Artists: L.B. Cole (covers), Ken Battlefield, George Peltz, Wally Wood, Rudy Palais, John Jordan, Vern Henkel, Jay Disbrow, Howard Larsen, and other unidentified artists


Weird. This series started out as Spook Detective Cases (#22) and was re-titled Spook Suspense And Mystery (#23-on). The series consisted of reprints from other titles until #26. There is a disjointed, decidedly tame bent to the first few issues in this book. Indeed, this series' claim to fame, as far as I can tell, are the brilliant covers by L.B. Cole.

In the first story in this book (Headless Horror!) we see the namesake of the series, Sergeant Spook. Spook is some sort of ghost cop who helps a kid solve a crime. Sergeant Spook was a recurring character in Blue Bolt comics of the 1940s, and two of those stories are reprinted in this book with more appearing in the next volume of the series. Spook is like Casper The Friendly Ghost...if he were an adult...and a cop. Other oddball stories are from true crime type comics of the 1940s and we even get one of those good girl/jungle girl type of tales in #25.


I have to say that this particular book was something of a letdown. Not so much because of the more pedestrian nature of the material for the era, but because I had myself so hyped up when it came out. The book seemed to sell out immediately and required a bit of a hunt for it. Once I obtained it I immediately bumped it to the very front of the reading pile. If it sold out so quickly it can only mean that it must be the greatest of all PS Artbooks, you know? 


No. Sometimes Diamond is just shorted shipments at the time and then the book appears later. Copies of the slipcase edition can still be obtained as of this writing. To quote those kids on the Internet: “It's aight.”
Junk Food For Thought rating: 3 out of 5.


The OCD zone- This is the part where I go into tactile sensations and materials used in physical media. Those with heart conditions, high blood pressure, or women who are pregnant should exit my blog at their earliest convenience, as their safety cannot be guaranteed beyond this point.

All original advertisements are included in these PS Artbooks. Some, like this one, are downright bizarre. 

Linework and Color restoration
: Like any PS Artbook, the scanning quality varies issue by issue. This looks decent for a scan and print collection although it could have been better in spots. Issue 23 looks blurry, possibly sourced from one of the many public domain comic book sites. Many of those have lower resolution scans, as they were posted before 1200 dpi scanners became the norm.

Paper stock: I love the paper that PS Artbooks switched to a while back. It's a thick coated stock with a very slight sheen to it. Conventional wisdom is that this sort of paper doesn't work with 'scan and print' collections, but I disagree. There is something oddly pleasing about the contrast.

Binding: Sewn binding.

Hardback cover notes: Image printed on the casewrap. Casewrap has a matte coating which will resist shelfwear.

Friday, January 11, 2019

Review- CREEPY ARCHIVES VOL. 11


CREEPY ARCHIVES VOL. 11 (Dark Horse, First Printing, 2011; Hardcover)

Collects Creepy #51-54 (cover dates March- July, 1973, originally published by Warren Magazines)

Writers: Fred Ott, Doug Moench, Rich Margopoulos, John Warner, Martin Pasko, Kevin Pagan, Steve Skeates, Greg Potter, George Henderson, Bill DuBay, Tom Sutton, Don McGregor, Jack Butterworth, and R. Michael Rosen

Artists: Sanjulian, Auraleon, Esteban Maroto, Felix Mas, Ramon Torrents, Adolfo Abellan, Jose Bea, Reed Crandall, Tom Sutton, Richard Corben, and Martin Salvador



Things have started to gently rebound from the series' first creative slump. The recovery was largely powered by Doug Moench, whose writing is among the best of the 1970s. My favorite artist in this book is by Rafael Auraleon, as his work is genuinely creepy. No pun intended.


Issue 51 features an eight page preview of the full color 120 page Dracula paperback which Warren published in 1972. I did some digging, and it turns out this was an English language translation of foreign comics which ran for twelve issues, with unsold copies being rebound into an Annual over in the UK. The Warren book reprints the first six issues from the New English Library (NEL) series, which themselves were reprints of the 1971 Buru Lan Spanish series. It seems like something ripe for a reprinting if rights issues can be sorted out.


Issue 52's Them Thar Flyin' Things rules. That same issue features Reed Crandall's The Man With The Brain Of Gold. Crandall actually refined his craft as he aged, with his artwork being worlds beyond even his 1950s EC greatness. Richard Corben's incredible artwork turns up in #54's The Slipped Mickey.


This was a good but very inconsistent read. If I ever get around to rereading this book I will skip over most of the stories, as they sort of meander and have mediocre artwork. The good stuff is really good, though.


Volume 27 is currently in my possession, with the final volume (Vol. 29) being announced for a summer 2019 release. We will have the entire Creepy and Eerie runs collected in just 11 years, with Dynamite having already covered Vampirella across 15 books and Fantagraphics having done Blazing Combat a decade or so ago. There was a time when seeing all of these collected was little more than a pipe dream. Some argue that the golden age of collected editions is over, but who cares if this is true? We have gotten so many treasures and these books will last my lifetime. Some of them might even get read before I depart this mortal coil.
Junk Food For Thought rating: 3 out of 5.


The OCD zone- This is the part where I go into tactile sensations and materials used in physical media. Those with heart conditions, high blood pressure, or women who are pregnant should exit my blog at their earliest convenience, as their safety cannot be guaranteed beyond this point.

Linework and Color restoration: High resolution scans of the original magazines. The color portions came out very nice.

Paper stock: Coated stock with a slight sheen.

Binding: Sewn binding. This book will outlast me.

Dustjacket and Hardback cover notes: The hardback as faux leather casewrap with dye foil stamping. The dustjacket is laminated but was a little “wavy” fresh out of the shrinkwrap when I bought way back in 2011.

Sunday, January 6, 2019

Review- MY HEROES HAVE ALWAYS BEEN JUNKIES


MY HEROES HAVE ALWAYS BEEN JUNKIES (Image, First Printing, 2018; Hardcover)

Original graphic novel.

Writer: Ed Brubaker

Artist: Sean Phillips

Colorist: Jacob Phillips


Brubaker and Phillips are the Lennon and McCartney of Crime/Noir comic books. They have developed the type of creative partnership that most writers and artists can only dream of. Each new book is an automatic blind buy on my end. I don't even need to know what it's about, because I know that it will be worthwhile.

People who romanticize heroin addiction frighten me. I have known people addicted to it, and it's an absolute nightmare for everyone involved. I thought that this story might be a cautionary tale about heroin or a story abut addiction spirals. Instead it morphs into a crime story.


Ellie isn't exactly likable or relatable. She seems like someone best avoided the first time that you meet them. I guess that this wouldn't have been an interesting story if Skip was a smart guy to begin with, though. This problem is compounded by the fact that the reader is provided with no knowledge of Ellie or Skip bottoming out. They are just in rehab, where they meet. I get Ellie's fascination with dead junkie musicians and know the material being referenced offhand, but I imagine younger readers sitting there Googling names and listening to YouTube or Spotify to try and piece it all together and still coming up empty-handed. It's a bit of a plot crutch.



This is a quick read, clocking in at 72 pages. This is, in truth, the next Criminal book, albeit more of a standalone story than an outright continuation. It seemed weaker in my mind after making that connection. If it were listed as Criminal Vol. 8 I would have been less gentle in my criticisms, as Criminal is a high mark of 21st century comic books. This is still worth a read, as Brubaker and Phillips are great and deserve your time and money.
Junk Food For Thought rating: 3.75 out of 5.

The OCD zone- This is the part where I go into tactile sensations and materials used in physical media. Those with heart conditions, high blood pressure, or women who are pregnant should exit my blog at their earliest convenience, as their safety cannot be guaranteed beyond this point.

Paper stock: This paper feels like the kind of paper you would find in a Dr. Seuss book. I can't recall any other comic book or collected edition which utilizes this paper stock.

Binding: Sewn binding for $16.99 MSRP? Yes please!

Hardback cover notes: Matte finish on the casewrap.

Tuesday, January 1, 2019

Review- COLLECTED WORKS: SKELETON HAND


COLLECTED WORKS: SKELETON HAND (PS Artbooks, First Printing, 2012; Hardcover)

Collects Skeleton Hand In Secrets Of The Supernatural #1-6 and Clutching Hand #1 (cover dates September/ October, 1952- July/ August, 1954)

Writers: Richard Hughes, Paul Gustavson, and other unidentified writers

Artists: Ken Bald, Pete Riss, Charles Sultan, Jon Blummer, Frank Simienski, King Ward, Gus Ricca, Edvard Mortiz, Harry Lazarus, Charles Nicholas, Milt Knopf, John Rosenberger, Sam Cooper, Dick Beck, Paul Cooper, Sheldon Moldoff, George Klein, Art Gates, Lin Streeter, Paul Gustavson, Ed Good, Ken Landau, and other unidentified artists


ACG (American Comics Group) is widely considered to be in the top 5 Pre-Code Horror comics publishers. Most of these comic books were thrown away by angry mothers who were aghast that their perfect 1950s children would soil their minds with such trash. These comics remain a sort of forbidden fruit nearly 70 years after they were originally published for that very reason.


Issue 2's The Bat And The Brain features artwork by Gus Ricca, whom I was previously unaware of. His art is incredible and my research revealed that he was a professional artist but only worked in comics for a dozen or so years.

Parenting techniques have changed in the last 70 years.

A lot of these Pre-Code Horror comics tend to bleed into one another after you've read enough of them. It becomes difficult to tell who nicked what and where they might have nicked it from. Most of the series writers are unknown. This series seemed to pick up steam with each issue.


The Clutching Hand one-shot is the best issue in the book. I especially enjoyed Flowering Death!, a tale of a serial killer who chooses his victims by their names (Rose, Aster, Marigold, etc.). It was an effective hook for a story.


This was a neat done in one volume series. PS Artbooks has buried us alive with these books and we love them for it. I likely won't live long enough to read and review them all but I'll give it a go.
Junk Food For Thought rating: 3.75 out of 5.

The OCD zone- This is the part where I go into tactile sensations and materials used in physical media. Those with heart conditions, high blood pressure, or women who are pregnant should exit my blog at their earliest convenience, as their safety cannot be guaranteed beyond this point.

I enjoy huffing these Chinese made books. PS Artbooks smell the best. Whenever I crack one open I sit there and snort it...Oh yeah, that's the stuff.

This book has the ever delectable sweet, sweet toxic Chinese printing press smell, likely* the result of paper sourced from virgin Amazon rainforests and ink which is a concoction of lead paint chips, broken and pulped asbestos tiles, mercury from recalled thermometers, and the final magical ingredient: the blood, sweat, and tears of the children working the sweatshop printing presses. If loving these books is wrong then I don't want to be right!

*This is a joke, folks. Lighten up.

Linework and Color restoration: Like any PS Artbook, the scanning quality varies issue by issue. This looks decent for a scan and print collection although it could have been better in spots.

The raw scan presentation has the benefit of giving the reader the feeling of reading the original comic book. The drawback, which is a huge one subjectively speaking, is that all of the shortcomings of the primitive four color printings presses are apparent. Line bleed, off register printing, and other anomalies are all present. It's a warts and all approach. Your mileage may vary and it all boils down to your preference.

Paper stock: Bright white matte stock.

Binding: Sewn binding. This book is on the thicker side for a PS Artbook and it doesn't lay flat until a little ways in.

Hardback cover notes: Matte casewrap with spot varnish. No dustjacket. Images printed directly onto the casewrap.

Friday, December 21, 2018

Review- JOHN CARPENTER'S TALES FOR A HALLOWEEN NIGHT VOL. 4


JOHN CARPENTER'S TALES FOR A HALLOWEEN NIGHT VOL. 4 (Storm King Comics, First Printing, 2018; Softcover)

Original Graphic Novel

Writers: Elena Carrillo, John Carpenter, David J. Schow, Duane Swierczynski, Joe Harris, Amanda Deibert, Dennis Calero, Renae Deliz, Frank Tieri, and Sandy King

Artists: Jaime Carrillo, Cat Staggs, Nick Percival, Greg Scott, Megan Hutchison, Dennis Calero, Ray Dillon, and Jason Felix

Colorist: Felipe Sobreiro


The fourth annual volume of this series has made this a Halloween tradition. I am a sucker for the Horror anthology, a tried and true institution in comics. Before I begin, I have to say that I am a bit sad that the Groundscreeper wasn't here to narrate the between story bits this time out. It doesn't matter much or impact the flow of anything, I had just grown accustomed to him and was looking forward to him being a part of it. That said, let's continue.


The stories tend to tread the same boards that Horror comics and movies often do. I enjoyed all of them but one, which I'm not going to reveal. After deliberation I decided that my favorite story in this book is Teen Angel, a riff on mean girls in high school and the goth outcast that they despise.


I finished reading this book on Halloween night after taking my kids trick or treating. It seemed proper. I am looking forward to the fifth volume next Halloween.
Junk Food For Thought rating: 3.75 out of 5.

The OCD zone- This is the part where I go into tactile sensations and materials used in physical media. Those with heart conditions, high blood pressure, or women who are pregnant should exit my blog at their earliest convenience, as their safety cannot be guaranteed beyond this point.

Paper stock: Glossy coated stock.

Binding: Perfect bound trade paperback.

Cardstock cover notes: Matte finish with spot varnish as well as an embossed logo.

Friday, December 14, 2018

Review- AVENGERS: THE ONCE AND FUTURE KANG


AVENGERS: THE ONCE AND FUTURE KANG (Marvel, First Printing, 2013; Softcover)

Collects Avengers #262-269, Avengers Annual #15, and West Coast Avengers Annual #1 (cover dates December, 1985- Annual, 1986)

Writers: Roger Stern, Danny Fingeroth, and Steve Englehart with Jim Shooter and Mark Bright

Artists: Pencilers/Breakdowns- John Buscema, Steve Ditko, and Mark Bright; Inkers/Finishers- Tom Palmer, Klaus Janson, and Geof Isherwood


Oh man! This is where things got real for then-12 year old me. I bought issue 262 off of the spinner rack at 7-11 when it was released in September of 1985. I was in 7th grade at the time and, as hard as it might seem to believe to younger comic book fans today, one had to hide the fact that they still liked “childish things” like superheroes at age 12 back then.


#263 was another one that I bought off of the spinner rack. The Roger Stern/ John Buscema era rules. The art team of Buscema and Palmer had a rough edge to it which lent itself to the action. I fell hook, line, and sinker for this crossover. I was already buying Fantastic Four, so part two of this story in #286 was another spinner rack purchase. I picked up X-Factor #1 because of this issue.


I didn't buy 264 at the time, which is too bad since it's such a great issue. Oh well. I don't recall buying #265 at the time, although I have read it in the Secret Wars II Omnibus. I did pick up 266 at the time. The 32 pages with no ads cover blurb, along with the Silver Surfer and Secret Wars II epilogue, enticed me to buy it. It was an awesome issue then and it holds up every bit as well today.


It is issue 267 that blew my mind as a kid. I love Kang The Conqueror with all of the endless timestream and divergent timelines, and this issue was read many times that winter. I didn't get 268 or 269 at the time, probably due to a lack of money. This was a fantastic ending to the Kang saga.

This splash page blew my mind as a kid, back when alternate timelines in Marvel Comics weren't a daily occurrence. I remember thinking wait...how is Storm back in her old costume WITH her powers back?

The annuals I've read before in other collections. Steve Ditko did the artwork on Avengers Annual #15. His artwork at this stage of his career was solid if not his most illustrious effort. This was a crossover with West Coast Avengers Annual #1. I enjoyed the battle with Freedom Force.


This was another great collection of real Avengers comics. Roger Stern is one of the holy trinity of Avengers writers. Accept no substitutes.
Junk Food For Thought rating: 5 out of 5.


The OCD zone- This is the part where I go into tactile sensations and materials used in physical media. Those with heart conditions, high blood pressure, or women who are pregnant should exit my blog at their earliest convenience, as their safety cannot be guaranteed beyond this point.

While this book is out of print, it's contents (minus issues 262 and 263) have compiled along with the contents of the Under Siege hardcover/trade and the orphaned Alpha Flight #39, which addressed why Sub-Mariner left the team, in Avengers Epic Collection: Under Siege trade paperback.

Issue 263 was part of a three part crossover with Fantastic Four #286 which led into X-Factor #1. These issues aren't essential to understanding the issues in this collection, but Marvel has spoiled us with their completeness so their omission is curious. If this were a DC collection I would be praising the inclusion of all of the story pages and word balloons.

Linework and Color restoration: Nearly perfect. To be honest with you, I am going to have a hard time justifying a double dip when the Marvel Masterworks line reaches this run of of Roger Stern trades. Knowing me I likely will double dip anyways, but the end of the Stern run is where I will ultimately jump ship from the Masterworks line either way.

Paper stock: The same wonderful matte coated stock that Marvel uses in all of their collected editions for material with flat coloring. I love it.

Binding: Perfect bound trade paperback. You can see the slight separation in the front and back of the book with the perforated binding, but a dollop of acid free library glue would deal with that if it becomes an issue down the road. It's not like I'll ever have time to read this book again before I die to find out either way.

Cardstock cover notes: Laminated cardstock cover.

Friday, December 7, 2018

Review- JAMES BOND VOL. 2: EIDOLON


JAMES BOND VOL. 2: EIDOLON (Dynamite, First Printing, 2017; Hardcover)

Collects James Bond #7-12 (cover dates June- December, 2016)

Writer: Warren Ellis

Artist: Jason Masters

Colorist: Guy Major

I borrowed this book from my local library.

Man, this is a fun series. I've seen most, if not all, of the Bond films over the years but am no expert on the character by any stretch. This comic has a feel and tone similar to the best bone-crunching Bond films, the Sean Connery and Daniel Craig ones.

Not being a Bond expert means that I am probably glossing over many Easter eggs, but I'm okay with that. I got enough out of the outstanding story and art to give it a recommendation. Eidolon ties into Spectre somehow, but seeing as how I can't remember anything about that movie offhand I can't comment on how faithful or accurate it is continuity-wise. Then again, the best thing about Bond has been the elastic continuity, spanning nearly 60 years of movies with the character remaining roughly the same age. You have to let some things go on the sliding timescale in order for the character to not become a period piece relic.


My local library has the third Dynamite Bond book in stock, and I will have read it long before you read this review. I'm looking forward to seeing what happens next.
Junk Food For Thought rating: 5 out of 5.

UPDATE: I checked out the third book. It featured a different creative team and fell flat. I quit reading it two issues in. If I don't pay for a book then I don't feel obligated to read it.

The OCD zone- This is the part where I go into tactile sensations and materials used in physical media. Those with heart conditions, high blood pressure, or women who are pregnant should exit my blog at their earliest convenience, as their safety cannot be guaranteed beyond this point.

Library copies are fascinating studies in the durability of these books. I look at them like science experiments, as the average human handles their books like the Samsonite Gorilla when compared to how I handle my books.

Paper stock: Medium weight glossy coated stock.

Binding: Sewn binding. Book block glued square to the spine.

Hardback cover notes: This is a library copy, so it is fascinating to see how well the laminated casewrap has held up with repeated handling.