Friday, September 22, 2017

Review- WOLVERINE- OLD MAN LOGAN VOL. 1: BERSERKER



WOLVERINE- OLD MAN LOGAN VOL. 1: BERSERKER (Marvel, Second Printing, 2017; Softcover)

Collects Old Man Logan #1-4 and Wolverine: Old Man Logan Giant-Size (cover dates November, 2009- June, 2016)

Writers: Jeff Lamire and Mark Millar (Wolverine: Old Man Logan Giant-Size)

Artists: Andrea Sorrentino and Steve McNiven with Mark Morales and Dexter Vines (Wolverine: Old Man Logan Giant-Size)

Colorists: Marcel Miolo and Morray Jay Hollowell (Wolverine: Old Man Logan Giant-Size)



The PARENTAL ADVISORY box on the back cover should be enough to tell you that this is not all ages reading. With that in mind, I had to let go of my nostalgic yearnings for the Wolverine of my youth and think of this as that same Wolverine a few decades on. When put in that context, with both of us three decades worse for the wear but as stubborn as ever, I was able to enjoy this book for the violent fun that it is.

Logan wakes up in 2015, “a few years before things went bad”, a reference to the events in the original Old Man Logan arc where the villains all come together and kill nearly every hero. He is bound and determined to stop the events as they happened in his future timeline. Logan is older and wearier, less prone to anger but also less tolerant of bullshit. I can relate.



Logan has made a list of people he needs to kill in order to stop the seemingly alternate future timeline that he came from from happening. First on the kill list is Black Butcher, a minor leaguer who crossed Logan and his son in his future. Bruce Banner, a/k/a The Hulk, is next on the list. Logan finds The Hulk, only it's the fake Amadeus Cho Hulk. Then we see the fake female Hawkeye before he encounters the then-old man Captain America before stumbling upon some X-Men and a Sentinel.



I'm not crazy about all of these doppelganger heroes, as it smacks of the cheesiest aspects of Silver Age DC. Your mileage may vary, but this old man says get off of my lawn, you damn kids with your teenage Asian Hulk and female Hawkeyes! Back in my day the Hulk was Bruce Banner and Hawkeye was Clint Barton, and that was how we liked it!

My only real gripe about this book is the padding out of the page count/ price point by reprinting Wolverine: Old Man Logan Giant-Size here when it was already reprinted before in the original Old Man Logan trade. It's not like including it in this collection again provides valuable insight into this arc. It's a double dip, plain and simple, and the worst kind. Padding a page count for a price point.

I'm still on board with this series, with Volume 3 moseying on up to the front of the backlog reading pile.
Junk Food For Thought rating: 4 out of 5.

The OCD zone- I was surprised to see that this is a second printing. Marvel often times lets books fall out of print while quietly reprinting others like this one.
Paper stock: Coated stock with a slight sheen. The paper seems a bit on the thin side compared to what Marvel used to out in their trades of contemporary material.
Binding: Perfect bound trade paperback.
Cardstock cover notes: Laminated cardstock coating. The curling factor that was plaguing the newer Marvel trades seems to have been rectified. 

Sunday, September 17, 2017

Review- Dragonslayer #1 and 2



Dragonslayer #1 and 2 (Marvel, cover dates October- November, 1981)

Writer: Denny O'Neil

Artists: Marie Severin and John Tartaglione

Like the movie, these comic books are an unremarkable footnote that few people remember. It's odd, considering that Disney and Industrial Light and Magic (George Lucas' special effects company) were involved. I remember it though, because in the summer of 1981, while visiting my aunt one day, she gave my sister and I each 50 cents to buy something at Lawson's. Lawson's is a long defunct convenience store chain that could be found throughout Michigan and Ohio, later becoming Dairy Mart and then Circle K. Today they have a radically reduced presence here in the Detroit area. There was a Lawson's a few blocks from her house, back in the days when it was okay to let an 8 year old kid roam around unsupervised.

This was the architectural style of the Lawson's store that I went to, although this picture looks like it is from the 1960s. I could not find any pictures of the actual location nor of the company logo circa 1981. Fun fact: Lawson's Frozen Coke mix was superior to the 7-11 Slurpee of the day.  


I picked #1 off of the spinner rack because the cover was awesome. Conventional wisdom says not to judge a book by its cover. In comic books the cover is the hook. All of those comics on that spinner rack with my having money enough for only one. Yes, the cover was the most important part of the comic circa 1981.

The story itself isn't very original, a retread of so many concepts that it would take some time to ascertain exactly what was lifted from where. There is a lot of Lord Of The Rings and Star Wars at play here. Dungeons And Dragons was also popular, and popular culture of the day such as Heavy Metal reflected this trend.



What is notable about this two issue limited series are the creators involved. Denny O'Neil deftly handles the adaptation, driving the point home and condensing 90 minutes of story across 44 pages of story. Marie Severin is an industry legend with a career that spanned decades. Both have been involved in some of the finest comic books ever made, and I got a real kick out of seeing them on this. 8 year old me enjoyed this comic but didn't have a clue who they were.



This was originally released as Marvel Super Special #20, which was a magazine size title printed on superior paper stock and subsequently split across two standard comic books (reviewed here) before being reissued as a full color paperback. The paperback-sized book split the panels across 157 pages of story. I used to own it but the binding on the copy I had was failing and I got rid of it. You can get copies of that book on eBay for cheap, or you can get the single issues out of .50 or dollar boxes like I did with these two issues.



I still have my original copy of #1 from 1981 but it is missing the back cover and is held together with Scotch tape. I read it so many times as an 8 year old kid that it fell apart. And I never got to read #2 until I was an adult. I did see the movie on cable years ago and it was okay. Unremarkable and honestly a bit boring.

Rereading these comic books was a pleasant way to spend an evening. If you want to read this title I can almost guarantee that they are waiting in a dollar box near you.
Junk Food For Thought rating: 3.5 out of 5.


The OCD zone- There is no OCD zone on original single issues.

Monday, September 11, 2017

Review- WOLVERINE- OLD MAN LOGAN VOL. 0: WARZONES



WOLVERINE- OLD MAN LOGAN VOL. 0: WARZONES (Marvel, First Printing, 2015; Softcover)

Collects Old Man Logan #1-5 (cover dates July- December, 2015)

Writer: Brian Michael Bendis

Artist: Andrea Sorrentino

Colorist: Marcelo Maiolo



I am cautiously continuing on my journey down the path with Old Man Logan, buying one book at a time, reading it, and then deciding to buy the next one. I realize that this is how most of the comic book world functions, but my acquisition rate has historically outstripped my rate of reading productivity, so I usually end up with entire runs without so much as cracking one book open before beginning my marathons. I hope it's good, I usually think to myself as I crack a book open, knowing full well I have another 5, 10, 20 volumes of the series ready to go right after it.

Despite assurances that I should read this, it almost didn't happen because Brian Michael Bendis' name is on it. I survived his reign of terror on Avengers and vowed to never purchase his work again. I enjoyed the original Mark Millar Old Man Logan arc and was told that I need to read this to understand what comes next. I had to shower with steel wool and a wire brush to scrub the grimy feeling that giving my money to Bendis gave me.

To be fair, if someone handed me this and there was no mention that it was written by Bendis it would have taken me a while to piece it together. His usual ticks and pet phrasings are all but absent here, and even his once consistently nauseating “witty” writing has been pared down to something palatable, and even...dare I say it...almost enjoyable? The Bendis that I knew and loathed would pad out issues with fluff to meet a requisite six issue, made for the trade arc. While this is still a brisk read it is a far cry from his decompression days. Don't get me wrong, the guy still deserves a shot to the jaw for his Avengers run, but here he has come dangerously close to becoming a competent writer.



This spins out of Secret Wars (the new one, not the classic one), so I can only assume that Wolverine was sucked into that and then spit out into this alternate timeline. Given that, OML (Old Man Logan) stumbles through a few territories, each with their own multiverse-style set of doppelgangers and structure. I've seen those too many times to enjoy them, cynical old bastard that I am. My son digs that kind of stuff, so I take them with the grain of salt that I probably would enjoy them if I hadn't wasted my entire life  spent too much time  been reading comics as often as I have over the years.

In typical Bendis fashion, this entire book is nothing but set up. The main difference between this and his old style is that there are things that occur in each issue. In the past he would have lazy talking heads filling up pages and pages, accomplishing nothing. The times that he does go on with his long winded exposition here he crunches it onto one page. Credit where credit is due, he has tightened up his dialogue style since his Avengers run. The characters aren't all same sounding and filled with snark. Bendis does insert the occasional bit in there still, but it is not noticeable even when looking for it. Most of it even serves the story and furthers the plot. Did Marvel editorial pay for him to attend a writing class?

At one point Bendis would have milked four or more pages out of this exchange.


Andrea Sorrentino's artwork seems to model Wolverine after Hugh Jackman, which is understandable seeing that he is what the general populace associate with the character. I do enjoy her flow of action sequences across multiple panel double page spreads. Very effective. Bendis has always had the luck of the Irish when it comes to being paired with top talent.

Things end well enough and I am intrigued enough to read Volume 1. I will continue my journey through this possible future of a Marvel Universe that I have all but given up on. Have I lost my mind? Do I hate my money? Let's find out together!
Junk Food For Thought rating: 3.25 out of 5.

The OCD zone- Nothing unusual to report here.
Paper stock: Fair weight coated stock with a slight sheen.
Binding: Perfect bound trade paperback.
Cardstock cover notes: Laminated cardstock coating. I am not sure what it is with these 2013-on thinner Marvel trades, but the front cover tends to get a curl to it, even when the book is handled gingerly. 

Monday, September 4, 2017

Review- MARVEL 1985



MARVEL 1985 (Marvel, First Printing, 2009; Softcover)

Collects Marvel 1985 #1-6 (cover dates July- December, 2008)

Writer: Mark Millar

Artist: Tommy Lee Edwards



I recall when this title was originally announced that it was going to be a type of photo comic. That plan was quickly scuttled and the project was shelved for a time. The series came and went and was subsequently rereleased in a hardcover as well as a trade paperback, both of which are now out of print. I passed on it when it came out but my interest was piqued after a friend of mine sent me a picture of one panel of this book. Here is the panel that he sent me below.



Toby is from a divorced family and is way into comics. He discovered Marvel Super Heroes Secret Wars late, with #10 (I picked it up with #7). The title was released throughout 1984, not 1985, except for issue 12 which was released through newsstands in January of 1985 (December of 1984 in the Direct Market). I know, I'm a total buzzkill. I guess that they couldn't call the series 1984, now could they?

Toby doesn't have many friends and is kept at arm's length because he is from a divorced family. This struck a chord in me, as being a kid from a divorced family was still stigmatized during the '70s and '80s. Toby's Dad is someone who loves his son but has essentially wasted his life reading comic books. He means well but is basically a well-intentioned loser.

Original "photo" page, not included in this collection.


This comic has a real 1980s family movie vibe to it. Think of any summer blockbuster popcorn flick of the day. The '80s were a great time to be a kid. Unbeknownst to those of us were 11-12 in 1984-1985, we were the last generation to reach adulthood in the old world. There are times when I miss the simplicity and innocence of the pre-Internet world. While there are many pluses with technology we as a society seem to have become less patient and less tolerant of one another as the result of the Internet. Maybe everyone should take a step back, take a deep breath, and read some comic books. Or maybe even go outside and go for a walk.

Page as it appears in the book. 

Like nearly every comic book fan that I know, I come from a divorced family. I wonder what percentage of comic fans were kids from divorced families who found solace in a world of four color dreams. It pains me that my kids now know divorced life but I give them something my dad never did or could: memories. Toby's dad gave him memories too. Had I read this years ago I likely would have been looking at it through the child's viewpoint. I read it now rooting for the dad, who is the real hero of the piece. Our draconian family court systems always paint the father as the bad guy, regardless of the truth. They are stuck in 1970 and need to change.

I would dislike Tommy Lee Edwards's artwork for a mainstream Marvel Universe title but felt that it worked well for this material since this is “the real world”. Mark Millar gets it. He gets what being a certain age at a certain point in time meant and what being a father now means. I feel like leaving this book on a park bench where someone who needs to read it will find it.
Junk Food For Thought rating: 4 out of 5.

The OCD zone- Nothing unusual to report.
Paper stock: Fair weight coated glossy stock.
Binding: Perfect bound trade paperback.
Cardstock cover notes: Laminated cardstock cover.

Thursday, August 31, 2017

Review- CRIME DOES NOT PAY ARCHIVES VOL. 4



CRIME DOES NOT PAY ARCHIVES VOL. 4 (Dark Horse, First Printing, 2013; Hardcover)

Collects Crime Does Not Pay #34-37 (cover dates July, 1944- January, 1945)

Writers: Dick Wood, Dick Briefer, and other, unidentified writers.

Artists: Robert Q. Sale, “Irving” (identity unknown), Dick Briefer, Rudy Palais, R.W. Hall, Art Gates, C.L. Hartman (as Art Mann), Alan Mandel, and other, unidentified artists, with cover art for all issues by Charles Biro.



The title is still climbing the mountain in this book. The writing and artwork all vary wildly in terms of quality, with some of it being brilliant while other stories are about as interesting as watching paint dry. I've read the Crime Does Not Pay Primer trade years ago and know that there is some great stuff on the horizon.



Mister Crime is the host of the series, breaking the fourth wall and talking to the reader while the characters in the stories remain unaware of his existence. All of the stories in this book are based on true stories.



This title was a precursor to our current day sensationalist culture which thrives on watching trainwrecks and car accidents. The criminals were the “stars” of the series, although they always receive their due at the end of each story. The title spawned so many imitators that by 1950 that by the end of the decade one in seven titles on the stands were crime comics.

Lev Gleason and Bob Wood were both characters in real life. Do a bit of research on them. Gleason was a Progressive fanatic, spending his fortune as quickly as he made it. Bob Wood wound up committing a crime as gruesome as any found within the pages of the comic. Life imitating art.



Dark Horse has scuttled this line of Archives, canceling the solicited Volume 11 and never soliciting the announced Volume 12. They weren't big sellers, which is a shame. Gwandanaland Comics, a company which uses scans of public domain comics found on the Internet and publishes them via Amazon's CreateSpace platform, has finished the series across fourteen softcovers. I have seen one of them at a friend's house and am considering picking them up at some point.

This was a good if uneven read. The better material is still in the future of the title. It's just a damn shame that sales weren't enough to support this line of books to see it through to the end.
Junk Food For Thought rating: 3.5 out of 5.

The OCD zone- The Dark Horse Archives are narrower than the original comic books.
Linework and Color restoration: Solid “frame up” restoration done off of scans of the original comics.
Paper stock: Thick uncoated stock. It has a creamy off-white color, being close to Mint condition pulp paper in appearance while being of sufficient thickness that it feels like 'Archival' quality paper.
Binding: Sewn binding which is stiff and does not lay flat. This book is light and small enough where it is not an issue.



Dustjacket and Hardback cover notes: Nice faux leather casewrap with die foil stamping. Dustjacket has a decent lamination.


Saturday, August 26, 2017

Review- SECRET EMPIRE PRELUDE



SECRET EMPIRE PRELUDE (Marvel, First Printing, 2017; Softcover)

Collects Captain America #21, 25, Captain America: Sam Wilson #7 (first story) and 8, Assault On Pleasant Hill: Alpha and Omega, and Captain America: Steve Rogers #1, 2 (cover dates August, 2014- August, 2016)

Writers: Rick Remender and Nick Spencer

Artists: Nic Klein, Carlos Pacheco, Stuart Immonen, Mariano Taibo, Wade von Grawbadger, Jesus Saiz, Daniel Acuna, Angel Unzuenta, Matt Yackey, and Paul Renaud

Colorists: Dean White, Veronica Gandini, Marte Gracia, Dono Sanchez-Almara, and Matthew Wilson

My son checked this out from our local library and wanted to read it with me. I am fortunate to have a library system which has a decent graphic novel section and that gets in many key event books like this. It saves me money, and since I don't buy much in the way of modern Marvel anymore it helps me to at least get a feel for what is going on in the Marvel Universe these days.

This book is double dip city for those of you unfortunate enough to be completists. These issues were mostly collected across various books in a couple of lines. I'm going to leave that fact right there and go forward with this review as a book, leaving my cynical cash grab critique aside.

I found the whole concept of Kobik to be fascinating, but Nick Spenser telegraphs things a mile away with her. Spenser does manage a few twists in spite of this. I enjoyed the build-up and subsequent execution of the Pleasant Hill arc. The Falcon is Captain America for much of this book, as Steve Rogers gets stripped of his Super Soldier Serum by The Iron Nail in the beginning of the book. I don't have a problem with The Falcon as Cap, as Steve Rogers as well as The Winter Soldier/Bucky, also a former Cap, are in tow. The Falcon handles things differently than Rogers, but everyone knows that this was not a permanent change.



All of the modern day doppelganger heroes are involved in the final battle on Pleasant Hill. The new Quasar is revealed, this time a female who is handled the mantle by Wendell Vaughn, the original Quasar (itself a reinvention of Marvel Boy from the 1950s). Will this new Quasar amount to anything? Probably not, since no version of Quasar or Marvel Boy ever made it above C-lister status.

Kobik is used to fix Steve Rogers as Cap as well as restore Sin, the daughter of The Red Skull, back to her former self. Of course anyone with half a brain has figured out who the identity of the woman who has inserted herself into Steve Roger's childhood memories is, and what she is going to do.



Spenser telegraphs everything, but not before stopping to smell the roses with ham-fisted virtue signaling. His attempts to make The Red Skull sounding like Donald Trump misses the mark, as Social Justice Warriors (SJWs) almost always do. SJWs believe that it is wrong to love your country or for people to want jobs to return to America. They are so brainwashed by globalist socialists like Jeff Bezos who have convinced them lower wages and a lower standard of living are a good thing that they label anyone who disagrees with them a racist/sexist/homophobe/etc. There are no absolutes, kids. No one political party is going to save you, and identity politics cost the Democratic Party The White House in 2016. Sorry to disillusion you, but the truth hurts.

All said and done this was an entertaining read with a mixed bag of artwork. I am always very careful to keep my comic critiques to myself when reading these with my son, as I like for him to form his own opinions and tastes on things.

My ten year old son's take: It was good. It didn't use very man swears, so that's good. The storyline was really good. My favorite part was when the alien ( the Iron Nail) stung Captain America and he lost his youth. He was surprised When Father Patrick turned out to be The Red Skull and The fact that Steve got his youth back at the end.

This is his golden age of comics. These will be the stories that he refers to as examples of greatness. These poor kids. Nick Spenser is their good old days. God help us all.
Junk Food For Thought rating: 3.75 out of 5.

The OCD zone- Library books are always fascinating case studies of the workmanship and durability of the materials used in these books. Most of my books will be read once if they are lucky. Maybe I will donate my whole collection to a library when I am old.
Paper stock: Glossy coated stock.
Binding: Perfect bound trade paperback.
Cardstock cover notes: Laminated coated stock. 

Monday, August 21, 2017

Review- CLEVELAND



CLEVELAND (Z2, Second Printing, 2017; Hardcover)

Original Graphic Novel from 2012

Writer: Harvey Pekar

Artist: Joseph Remnant



Comic books are considered the ninth artform, which seems kind of low on the totem pole of art since they have the expressive capability of literature along with the visual impact of cinema. Not all comic books are art, nor do they need to be. I am admittedly of the “capes” set, meaning that superheroes are my first and primary interest. Over the years my tastes have expanded and I have dipped my toe into other waters while remaining loyal to my beloved superheroes.



Harvey Pekar comics are deceptive, as they often look crude and sloppy when compared to their more polished mainstream counterparts, but in terms of accomplishing and saying something they are art of the highest order. I have to be in a very specific frame of mind to read Pekar. I was going through a brutal divorce and a bitter custody battle throughout most of last year, and when life was at it's bleakest point a friend told me to check out Pekar. American Splendor was like a lifesaver thrown to me as I was drowning. I'll put it to you like this. I own over 1100 collected editions yet only have two bookshelves. The rest are all kept in acid free magazine boxes. I keep all of my Pekar books on the shelf in case I need one, the comic book equivalent of “break glass in case of emergency”.



Cleveland is Pekar's autobiography. He is from Cleveland and never left, nor did he ever want to. The first forty or so pages of this roughly 120 page book is Pekar setting the stage with the history of Cleveland peppered with his worldview. Pekar is the son of Polish immigrants and grew up poor. His views on poverty and race are to the point and pull no punches. He watched the city go down the tubes and come back in some ways while watching lots of problems get rearranged like so many deck chairs. Life is like that. There are no answers to some questions.

This was among Pekar's final projects and was published posthumously, adding to it's poignancy. Here we see a 70 year old Pekar musing about life and seemingly resigned to his fate. His bitterness has mostly subsided and he has taken a matter of fact stance on relationships. I haven't read all of his work, but this is the finest artwork that I have seen in any of his books thus far. Remnant's art perfectly suits the mood of the book.



There are times when I miss my 20s. I knew all of the answers, as young people tend to do. In my 30s I realized that not only did I not know the answers, I didn't even know the questions. In my 40s I have found that there aren't even questions. On a cosmic scale none of this matters. The beauty of Pekar is that he makes normal everyday existence seem of cosmic importance. I have several more Pekar books sitting on my bookshelf, sitting there like a fire extinguisher in case of personal emergency. As much as I love his material I am not in any rush to read them. They will be read when the universe deems it necessary. God bless Harvey Pekar.
Junk Food For Thought rating: 5 out of 5.

The OCD zone- This book is slightly smaller than your standard collected edition.
Paper stock: Uncoated stock.
Binding: Sewn binding, a bit stiff but no big deal since the book is small and light.
Hardback cover notes: Matte casewrap with a quarter binding wrapped around the spine. 

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Review- PLANET OF THE APES: THE ORIGINAL TOPPS TRADING CARD SERIES



PLANET OF THE APES: THE ORIGINAL TOPPS TRADING CARD SERIES (Abrams Comicarts, First Printing, 2017; Hardcover)

Spine with dustjacket on.


I was too young to see any of the original quintilogy at the movie theater but fell in love with Planet Of The Apes during the late '70s Apes Week, when WXYZ Channel 7 in Detroit would show the five movies and the reedited/reconfigured TV series in their “movie” forms several times a year. These aired from 4 PM until 6 PM Monday through Friday. I remember watching them many times. In the world of no cable TV or VCRs this was as good as it got.

Front cover sans dustjacket.


All of which brings us to this book, which collects the front and backs of the cards from all three Topps trading cards series. The 1969 set for the original movie, the 1975 set for the television series, and the set for the 2001 abomination of a film. It's nice that the latter it is included here for completist's sake but that is all. Let us never speak of it again in this review, or anywhere else for that matter.

Back cover sans dustjacket.


Gary Gerani is our guide, being involved with all three sets while working for Topps. He offers endless behind the scenes information throughout the book. Like I've stated in my reviews of the Topps Star Wars Trading Cards books, these cards were the only game in town for remembering scenes from the movie, and Gerani does a fantastic job of putting this in proper context.



I am a grade A sucker for these books of scanned cards. I would buy pretty much anything that I used to collect. Give me Alien, Mork And Mindy, Battlestar Galactica, King Kong, Jaws, Close Encounters Of The Third Kind, Raiders Of The Lost Ark, E.T...heck, I'll take Fleer cards books for Kiss and Charlie's Angels while we're at it! Take my money!
Junk Food For Thought rating: 5 out of 5.

The four bonus trading cards which are included with this book, seen here on top of the dustjacket when laid flat.


The OCD zone- This book is a small, chunky book clocking in at around 480 pages.
Paper stock: Thick coated stock with a slight sheen.
Binding: Sewn binding. The binding is very tight, requiring two hands to keep it open at all times. This is the result of the book block being glued square to the casing. On the plus side, there is no way that this book will ever fall apart. The denizens of 2148 will delight in this book, as it will surely outlast me.

Book spine sans dustjacket.


Dustjacket and Hardback cover notes: The dustjacket has a waxpaper feel to it, similar in spirit to the wrappers of the original cards. The image on the front of the paper casewrap is the stick of gum found in every pack of cards. The back cover of the hardback shows the stick of gum broken. The casewrap has a matte coating.