Saturday, May 25, 2019

Review- STRANGER THINGS: THE OTHER SIDE


STRANGER THINGS: THE OTHER SIDE (Dark Horse, First Printing, 2019; Softcover)

Collects Stranger Things: The Other Side #1-4 (cover dates June, 2018- January, 2019)

Writer: Jody Houser

Artists: Stefano Martino and Keith C. Champagne

Colorist: Lauren Affe


If any series lends itself to the comic book format, it is the nostalgic Netflix series Stranger Things. This four issue mini-series shows what happens to Will while he is trapped in The Upside Down. Key moments in the series are shown from the other viewpoint, and it's really cool. Fans of the series will eat this up. If you haven't read the series I am not certain if this will make a lot of sense, especially at the end.

It would have been cool if this were presented and framed like a 1983 comic book with flat colors, cheap pulp paper, and “Ben Day” dots. Then again, this series skews to a younger demographic than this fortysomething old man, and those kids seem to dislike the presentation of old comic books.


I read this book in one sitting with my 12 year old son, who loves the series. Heck, I even got him the action figures for his birthday last year. He's at the right age where the vibe of the show clicks with that sense of wonder we all have at that age before life grinds us down to a stump. He loved this book and so did I. I'm looking forward to more Stranger Things comics, and I am really, really looking forward to Season Three. Is it July 4 yet?

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: Thick glossy stock.

Binding: Perfect bound trade paperback.

Cardstock cover notes: Matte coating with spot varnish. The matte portions have sufficient protection from scuffing, a problem many matte finish covers seem to have. This is good, since copies of this book are likely to circulate through libraries across the country.

Monday, May 20, 2019

Review- WOLVERINE: OLD MAN LOGAN VOL. 9- THE HUNTER AND THE HUNTED


WOLVERINE: OLD MAN LOGAN VOL. 9- THE HUNTER AND THE HUNTED (Marvel, First Printing, 2018; Softcover)

Collects Old Man Logan #41-45 (cover dates August- October, 2018)

Writer: Ed Brisson

Artists: Francesco Manna (#41-42) and Juan E. Ferreyra (#43-45)

Colorists: Carlos Lopez (#41-42) and Juan E. Ferreyra (#43-45)


This volume consists of two stories over five issues rather than a bloated six part arc. Things move fast, make their point, and we all move forward. I like it. The first two issues collected here show Old Man Logan take on Kraven The Hunter. Come to think of it, it really doesn't make sense why Kraven had never hunted the greatest animal of them all, does it? It's a match up that is so obvious that you smack your head wondering why nobody had ever done it before.


The rest of the book shows OML's rematch with Bullseye. As much as I enjoyed the more cerebral era of this title early on, I have to admit that the more straight up superhero fare is great fun. Seeing an older Wolverine realizing the limitations of age unfortunately rings more true with me with each passing day. Like Old Man Logan, my prime is in my rearview mirror. And like Old Man Logan, I'm also too damn stubborn to fold.


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: The semi-glossy coated stock Marvel uses is getting thinner and thinner as time goes on. I get it, rising paper costs, diminishing demand for paper, etc, but I can still grumble about it.

Binding: Perfect bound trade paperback.

Cardstock cover notes: Laminated cardstock. The cardstock Marvel uses is also thinner these days, although it helps to make the book sit in your hand like a fat periodical, so it's not all bad.

Friday, May 10, 2019

Review- DREAMS OF THE RAREBIT FIEND


DREAMS OF THE RAREBIT FIEND (Dover, 2013 Printing; Softcover)

Collects sixty Dreams Of The Rarebit Fiend strips which were originally published in the New York Telegram 10/07/1904- 8/31/1905

Writer and Artist: Winsor McCay


This is the 2013 printing of the 1973 facsimile edition of the original 1905 hardcover. As of this writing one could get a 1905 original for a mere $10,000 on eBay. Or you can do what I did and buy the 2013 reprint which is still floating around out there for under 20 bucks.


As in the 1905 hardcover and 1973 facsimile edition, the strips are reprinted here in black and white. They are shrunk down from their original publication size, although the Dover editions are 10% larger than the 1905 hardcover. Like the 1973 edition, this 2013 printing omits the final strip due to its unfavorable portrayal of minorities.


Rarebit is apparently some sort of toasted cheese snack, and these unfortunate folks ate them before bed. Apparently this Welsh rarebit gives folks nightmares which probe their innermost fears and desires. This predates McCay's signature strip, Little Nemo In Slumberland but treads the same boards: the realm of dreams. Unlike Nemo, this is not a fun, surreal read, but a bizarre probing of anxieties.

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.

This book is wider than a standard graphic novel.

Linework restoration: I don't have any source material to compare.

Paper stock: Matte stock.

Binding: Perfect bound.

Cardstock cover notes: Laminated cardstock cover.

Sunday, May 5, 2019

Review- MARVEL MASTERWORKS: THE AVENGERS VOL. 14


MARVEL MASTERWORKS: THE AVENGERS VOL. 14 (Marvel, First Printing, 2014; Hardcover)

Collects Avengers #129-135, Giant-Size Avengers #2-4 (excluding reprint back-up stories), and Foom #12 (cover dates November, 1974- June, 1975)

Writers: Steve Englehart and Roy Thomas (#132 and GSA #4)

Artists: Sal Buscema, Dave Cockrum, Joe Staton, George Tuska, and Don Heck with additional Inking by Joe Giella, Frank Chiaramonte, and John Tartaglione


Us old guys like to bemoan the crossovers. Things were so much better way back when, we say as we sit around the Internet equivalent of playing checkers on checkerboard on top of a barrel at the general store. This book is proof positive that these sort of sales gimmicks are nothing new, as fans were required to buy both the monthly title and the double-sized, twice as expensive Giant-Size issues as well every month in order to get the complete story.


This was a double dip upgrade over the long out of print Celestial Madonna trade paperback. I think that I enjoyed the story more this second time reading it, as the Swordsman/Cotati/tree marriage bit was harder for me to swallow the first time around. Whenever I see stuff like that now I just shake my head and think Ah...the '70s. To be fair, none of these guys expected to have their work dissected in deluxe hardcover decades later or to ever appear on the big screen. We've come a long way, folks.


I am sucker for Kang and all of his timeslip ret-con goodness. This is nowhere near as confusing as all of the timeslips in Avengers: Endgame, though. Mantis was never done right on the big screen.

While this particular book is out of print you can get the same material with the same restoration (and a ton of other issues) in The Complete Celestial Madonna trade paperback. I will stick with this book. No more dips for me.

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: These books are so expensive because of the level of restoration done to the material. The beauty of it is that folks like me are willing to pay the premium and then the material is later reissued in cheaper formats. Everybody wins!

Paper stock: Coated stock with a slight sheen.

Binding: Sewn binding.

Dustjacket and Hardback cover notes: Laminated dustjacket with spot varnish. The hardback has faux leather grain and dye foil stamping.

Wednesday, May 1, 2019

Review- THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN OMNIBUS VOL. 2


THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN OMNIBUS VOL. 2 (Marvel, First Printing, 2012; Hardcover)

Collects The Amazing Spider-Man #39-67, Amazing Spider-Man Annual #3-5, The Spectacular Spider-Man #1, 2, and the Spider-Man stories from Not Brand Echh #2, 6, 11 (cover dates August, 1966- December, 1968)

Writer: Stan Lee

Artists: John Romita, Sr. with Don Heck, Larry Lieber, Jim Mooney, Marie Severin, Mike Esposito, Bill Everett, and Frank Giacoia


While I love Steve Ditko, I prefer the artwork of John Romita, Sr. a whole lot more. I remember teenage me arguing with some nerds at the comic shop circa 1987. This guy said Ditko all the way. I argued that Ditko is great and laid the foundation, but it was John Romita, Sr. who defined the contemporary Spider-Man that we know and love. This was right before Todd McFarlane would do a hard reset and make Ditko the only acceptable reference point for the character for decades to come. Those of us who were Bronze Age children know Romita's version as the one who adorned t-shirts and luncboxes.


This stuff is art of the highest order. There are too many highlights for me to do a blow by blow, but I'll take a shortcut and tell you that if you are not familiar with this run that it is top shelf material and it belongs in everyone's library.


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.


PLEASE NOTE THAT THE FOLLOWING APPLY TO THE 2012 FIRST PRINTING OF THIS BOOK.

Linework and Color restoration: There are a couple of issues here which look like they could be improved upon if better source material surfaced. I am uncertain if the second printing of this book used any original artwork which may have surfaced since this book was released.


Paper stock: Coated stock with a slight sheen. This is closer to glossy than matte.

Binding: Sewn binding. Like many older Omniboo, this has developed the dreaded Omnibus sag due to gravity and the weight of the book block. Some folks use post it note pads to prop up the block, others store them spines down. I like to live dangerously and store my books vertically.

Dustjacket and Hardback cover notes: Laminated dustjacket. The hardback has faux leather grain and dye foil stamping. The second printing does not have that.


The hardback has ugly creases on it after reading it.

Sunday, April 28, 2019

Review- DAUNTLESS DURHAM OF THE U.S.A.: 1913-1914


DAUNTLESS DURHAM OF THE U.S.A.: 1913-1914 (Hyperion Press, First Printing, 1977; Hardcover)

Collects Dauntless Durham Of The U.S.A. daily strips from January 22, 1913-January 31, 1914

Writer and Artist: Harry Hershfield


Harry Hershfield's vaudeville melodrama is a charming snapshot of a world long gone. It was a backward looking piece even in it's day, with ironic takes on villains of the late 19th century. Durham seeks the hand of his beloved Katrina in marriage. At first Lord Havaglass was trying to steal her away, but he was soon replaced with Desmond, the star of Hershfield's previous strip Desperate Desmond. This is when the series really gets going.


Desmond launches one caper after another trying to steal Katrina away. I mean he literally tries to steal her away, as kidnapping must not have been as frowned on back then as it is today. The capers and pissing contents between Durham and Desmond run the gamut of the absurd. There is a real charm to this strip.


Unlike many strips of the era, minorities are portrayed across the board as a melting pot, with stereotypes used as less caricature or more characteristic. There is a huge difference, as one is intended to offend and the latter offends because times and society has changed. One must use proper historical context when reading old material, because nothing from the past can measure up to the values of 2019.

I learned a lot of words when reading this book.

It is fascinating to see then-current events referenced (the new buffalo nickels, Hoover Dam, and many more). Old slang and old songs are referenced as well, and I had a blast using Google and YouTube to experience these as I read the book. It is incredible to be able to add an extra layer of reference to this material in a historical context.

This page is not in this book, but I provide it to demonstrate how this strip looked when originally published. Old newspapers were huge. 

Volume 194, No. 2 of The Official Gazette Of The United States Patent Office lists a claim use date of January 22, 1913 for this strip. American Newspaper Comics by Allan Holtz confirms this date as the start of this series. The Buffalo Enquirer ran the intro strip on January 25, 1913 with the story beginning on Monday, January 27, 1913. Pinning down dates on old strips is a wild game of dice, as syndication often meant that strips appeared on different days in different markets. (Thanks to Brent Swanson and Buddy Lortie of the Sunday newspaper comics 1890-1950 Facebook group for providing the answers for the second and third sentences of this paragraph.)


This strip ended when Hershfield created Abie The Agent, the long running strip which he is most remembered for. There is a nice happy ending to wrap things up. This strip is all but forgotten. Indeed, I wouldn't have even heard of it had I not checked Art Out Of Time from my local library and been exposed to it. I hope that Library Of American Comics will reprint this in one of their LOAC Essentials books, as that is the ideal format for this vintage of strip.


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 restoration: The primitive reproduction methods used in the stone age of 1977 yielded surprisingly decent results. I know that Library Of American Comics or one of the other publishers could do better today, but credit where credit is due. There area few spots that are bad in this book but given the tools that neanderthal 20th century man had to make this book with I would say that this is a good restoration job for the time and serviceable by 2019 standards.

Paper stock: Matte stock.

Binding: Sewn binding that has held up pretty well.

Hardback cover notes: You don't see textured casewrap like this anymore. Primitive man feared nuclear annihilation from Russia and used production methods that ensured that their books would survive the nuclear winter. 

Tuesday, April 23, 2019

Review- PLANET OF THE APES: WHEN WORLDS COLLIDE



PLANET OF THE APES: WHEN WORLDS COLLIDE (Boom, First Printing, 2019; Softcover)

Collects Planet of the Apes: The Time Of Man #1 and Planet of the Apes: The Simian Age #1 (cover dates October- December, 2018)

Writers: Jeff Jensen, David F. Walker, Ryan Ferrier, Dan Abnett, Phillip Kennedy Johnson, and Matt Kindt

Artists: Jared Cullum, George Schall, Lalit Kumar Sharma, Carlos Magno, Morgan Beem, and Matt Smith

Colorists: Jared Cullum, George Schall, Gabriel Cassata, Gabriel Cassata, Morgan Beem, and Joana Lafuente


This book compiles two giant-sized one-shots which were both anthologies of various points in Apes history. One was set in the original quadrilogy (sic?) continuity, the other in the more recent trilogy continuity. It's a fairly mediocre bunch of stories, perhaps the laziest Apes offering that Boom has done yet. It's like they are trying to kill the brand with these uninspired rehashes. The only ones that seemed worthwhile were the nod to the original Marvel black and white Apes magazines storyline Terror On The Planet Of The Apes and the Cloud And Rain story which showed Koba's subversion in action.


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: Thick glossy coated stock.

Binding: Sewn binding.

Dustjacket and Hardback Cardstock cover notes: Thick cardstock with a matte finish.

Friday, April 19, 2019

Review- Shogun Warriors #1-20



Shogun Warriors #1-20 (Marvel, cover dates February, 1979- September, 1980)

Writers: Doug Moench and Steven Grant (#15 only)

Artists: Herb Trimpe with Inking by Dan Green, Al Milgrom, Jack Abel, Mike Esposito, Steve Mitchell, Bruce Patterson, Mike Vosburg (Pencils #15 only), and additional cover art by Terry Austin, Walt Simonson

Nostalgia is a funny thing. There are times when it's warm embrace is like a trusty old blanket, and then there are times when fond remembrances are best left in childhood. Like a lot of fortysomethings, I had Shogun Warriors toys as a kid. I had Raydeen and Great Mazinga in the '70s and loved them. They were solid toys that a kid could beat the heck out of and they kept on trucking.


I owned issues 1 and 14 as cheapo back issues circa 1983. I have been wishing and hoping for an Omnibus of this book for years. Over the years I pieced together a run of this title for little money, and started reading the series a while back.


The verdict? Well, Doug Moench is a fine writer who has done a lot of good work elsewhere. Herb Trimpe shines with silly Jack Kirby inspired monster stuff, and giant robots fighting giant monsters are right up his alley. The title has a certain pedigree of talent. The general vibe is that not a lot of effort went into this since it was a cheesy kids comic, which is fine since that was the intended audience for the toys and this comic book. There are times when the series is entertaining but by and large it, much like Marvel's Godzilla comic, were simply bottom rung Bronze Age titles which are now held in high regard solely based on nostalgia. That said, I can't wait to buy this in hardcover someday. Someday science will come up with a name for my malady. I offer the term Shaw Syndrome to science.

Monday, April 15, 2019

Review- MS. MARVEL EPIC COLLECTION VOL. 1: THIS WOMAN, THIS WARRIOR


MS. MARVEL EPIC COLLECTION VOL. 1: THIS WOMAN, THIS WARRIOR (Marvel, First Printing, 2018; Softcover)

Note: Book was actually released in 2019

Collects Ms. Marvel #1-14, Marvel Team-Up #61, 62, and Defenders #57 (cover dates January, 1977- March, 1978)

Writers: Chris Claremont and Gerry Conway

Artists: Jim Mooney, John Buscema, Sal Buscema, with John Byrne, Keith Pollard, Carmine Infantino, George Tuska, Dave Cockrum, Joe Sinnott, Dave Hunt, Tom Palmer, Frank Giacoia, Steve Leialoha, Sam Grainger, and Dan Green


The original series has held up really well, less damsel in distress and more strong independent career woman determined to make it, both as an editor of a magazine and as a superhero.


I was pleasantly surprised to see how forward thinking the writing was, but with Chris Claremont in charge for most of the book I should have known better. Claremont was ahead of his time in more ways than one.


The artwork is good, solid Bronze Age fun done by the usual journeymen of the day. I really enjoyed reading this book.


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: This is the same restoration found in the Marvel Masterworks hardcovers. High def all the way.

Paper stock: Matte coated stock. This is a pinch whiter and glossier than what we have been getting in Epics so far but it's still nice.

Binding: Perfect bound.

Cardstock cover notes: Laminated cardstock cover.