Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Review- INCOGNITO: THE CLASSIFIED EDITION


INCOGNITO: THE CLASSIFIED EDITION (Icon/ Marvel, 2012; Hardcover)

Collects Incognito #1-6 and Incognito: Bad Influences #1-5 (cover dates December, 2008- April, 2011)
Writer: Ed Brubaker
Artist: Sean Phillips
Colorist: Val Staples

Venturing into my comic room and going through my backlog of unread books can be just like going to a comic shop, as I sometimes stumble upon books that I have no recollection of ever buying, like this one. Imagine my delight upon discovering a previously unread Ed Brubaker amd Sean Phillips book to read. Wow! Plus I didn't have to pay for it since I already bought it, so it was like getting a free book or something.

Brubaker likes to sneak contraband toys into the sandbox. If he is writing a superhero comic he plays it like a spy movie (Captain America). If he is writing a Noir comic it quickly becomes a Horror comic (Fatale). Incognito is a comic fan's comic. It requires a working knowledge of the Marvel Universe, as there are doppelgangers throughout that might not make much sense to an uninitiated civilian. Think of it as Astro City if Astro City got hooked on drugs, had sex, and swore.

This is some pretty hard-edged, balls out stuff, certainly not all ages reading. This is a more grounded, realistic take on the Marvel Universe (only it's not the Marvel Universe) where a villain named Zack Overkill sort of becomes a hero. Lots of page-turning, signature Brubaker writing here. This is some great stuff that everyone should check out.
Junk Food For Thought rating: 5 out of 5.

The OCD zone- I was surprised to see that this book is out of print.
Paper stock: Good weight semi-glossy coated stock.
Binding: Smyth sewn binding, lays perfectly flat.
Hardback cover notes: No dustjacket. Image is printed on the casewrap. Casewrap has a nice thick coating and is resistant to scuffing.
 

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Review- JUDGE DREDD: THE COMPLETE CASE FILES VOL. 7



JUDGE DREDD: THE COMPLETE CASE FILES VOL. 7 (2000 AD, Fourth UK Printing, 2012; Softcover)

Collects the Judge Dredd stories from 2000 A.D. #322-350, 353-375 (cover dates June 25, 1983- June 30, 1984)
Writers: Alan Grant and John Wagner
Artists: Steve Dillon, Ron Smith, Carlos Ezquerra, Cam Kennedy, Ian Gibson, Kim Raymond, Brett Ewins, and Jim Baikie

My on-again, off-again Judge Dredd marathon continues! Things start out strong with a 7 part epic called Cry Of The Werewolf. I love werewolves. I love Judge Dredd. This is like chocolate and peanut butter combined to make a Reese's Cup. Some of the more typical Dredd elements (i.e. having different types of bullets which can be called out by name via voice recognition) come into play during the course of this book.

As I have stated in reviews of previous volumes, the style and pace of these British comics would go on to be a major influence on American comics. Indeed, it would be difficult to find a mainstream comic published after 2000 that doesn't ape from this style of storytelling. This helps this thirty year old material feel fresh and contemporary.


I have enjoyed what I have read so far. I hope that volumes 8-23, all four Restricted Files, and Daily Dredds hold up...or I will have bought a lot of sucky books! Stay tuned to find out.
Junk Food For Thought rating: 4 out of 5.

The OCD zone- These Rebellion/ 2000 AD books are wider than standard US trades. The artwork is still shrunk down from the original publications to fit.
The stories in #351 and #352 were reprints from earlier issues and thus are not included here.
Linework and Color restoration: Mostly good. Sometimes the backs seem too heavy, resulting in the letters of the word balloons being murky.
Paper stock: Thick uncoated stock.
Binding: Sewn binding.
Cardstock cover notes: Matte coating, easily scuffed. It is nearly impossible to assemble a mint condition collection of these books.
 

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Review- CLOAK AND DAGGER: CRIME AND PUNISHMENT


CLOAK AND DAGGER: CRIME AND PUNISHMENT (Marvel, 2012; Hardcover)

Collects Peter Parker, The Spectacular Spider-Man #64, 69, 70, 81, 82, 94-96, Marvel Team-Up Annual #6, and Marvel Fanfare #19 (cover dates March, 1982- March, 1985)

Writers: Bill Mantlo, Al Milgrom (#94-96)
Artists: Pencilers- Ed Hannigan, Al Milgrom, Ron Frenz, Tony Salmons, Rick Leonardi, and Kerry Gammill
Inkers- Jim Mooney, Al Milgrom, Kevin Dzuban, Terry Austin, Tony Salmons, and George Freeman

Progress and diversity are two things on the tips of the tongues of comic fans everywhere these days. Judging by the hype in the comic press, this is something new and now. Sorry kids, but writers like Bill Mantlo and others were blazing the trail decades earlier. Unlike nowadays, there were no plugs from CNN or USA Today whenever something new or daring was attempted...something like, say, an interracial superhero couple. Bold ideas were presented to the story more organically and thus enjoyed greater acceptance than many of the so-called progressive or diverse ideas forced down the throats of comic fans today.

Cloak and Dagger were teenage runaways who were kidnapped and experimented on with synthetic drugs by the mob, who were trying to make new addictive drugs. Due to some anomaly in their body chemistry they were the only ones to survive...and somehow get super powers in the process. They take up a crusade against drug dealers everywhere. This was all very 1980s, Nancy Reagan “Just say no” for the comic book set.

Spider-Man is in every issue except for one, so this is kind of like a Spider-Man hardcover as well. Dagger's light steals Silvermane's life in #70, a plotline revisited and resolved in issues 94-96. Those three issues are all special to me, as I bought #94-96 off of the stands and read them countless times during the summer of 1984. The Punisher losing his sh*t in issues 81 and 82 is highly enjoyable as well. 


This is as close to Cloak And Dagger Masterworks as we will ever get. Combine this with the other Premiere Classic hardcover which collects their original mini-series and you have their early run collected. It would be nice to see these two make the silver screen if only to get more 1980s material collected.
Junk Food For Thought rating: 4.25 out of 5.

The OCD zone- The late, lamented Marvel Premiere Classic line was a sort of junior Masterworks line, where material was presented in a high quality format but at a much lower MSRP than the Marvel Masterworks. The line reached well over 100 volumes but petered out because Marvel flooded the market with them.
Linework and Color restoration: The linework is tight and clean. Not Masterworks level but I am fine with it. The coloring is pretty faithful to the original issues.
Paper stock: Thick coated stock with a slight sheen.
Binding: Smyth sewn binding, lays mostly flat.
Hardback cover notes: The dustjacket has that stupid dull matte finish which scuffs if you breathe on it hard enough. The images have spot varnish and the lettering has a foil stamp. These comments apply to the bookstore market design only. The Direct Market variant dustjacket is different. The cover of the hardback has that grainy faux leather casewrap with white die stamping.