- Posted by Johanna on February 13, 2011 at 2:29 pm
- Category: Shopping Guide
Anthologies are difficult to sell, sometimes, unless they’re strongly themed or otherwise reassuring to the customer that the ratio of good stuff is high enough for the cost. (It’s not that anyone sets out to put in “bad stuff”, but to the buyer, “stories I’m not interested in” or “don’t want to buy” feel similar.) Dark Horse is bringing back one of the historical best anthology titles, and with Dark Horse Presents #1 (FEB11 0009, $7.99, 80 color pages), the strategy is simple: outstanding creators providing new material with well-known characters. I’m interested for the “new, all-color Finder story” by Carla Speed McNeil, but they’re front-loading the series with lots of big names:
- Paul Chadwick provides a new Concrete tale
- a sneak peek of Frank Miller’s 300 followup prequel, Xerxes, for those who haven’t yet tired of his blocky, violent work
- New stories by Howard Chaykin, Neal Adams, and Richard Corben
DC Comics — Mostly Snark
Others have already pointed this out, but since DC starts off their section with a “letter” explaining their new rating system … I’m disturbed to see that they consider almost all of their superhero comics “appropriate for readers age 12 and older.” I’m shocked that the level of blood, gore, and exploitation they’ve been building their events on is considered only “mild violence”. The only teen plus, 16 and up, books are Green Arrow, Jonah Hex (appropriate, given a story about cannibals — which will apparently only have “moderate” instead of “intense” violence shown), Secret Six, and Titans. Weird Worlds, starring Lobo, is a T, but Zatanna is T+. Only Vertigo is Mature.
Typical of rating systems, this one makes little sense in the details. What makes a book mature? Extensive (instead of mild) profanity, nudity, or sexual themes. You can still be T+ if the book has “graphic imagery”, showing the typical U.S. double standard: naked bodies bad, but excessive violence just peachy. I can’t find the rating on the covers of the comics that came out either this week or last, although they’re labeled April 2011 (cover date) and are thus supposed to carry them. I also notice that the books, the reprint collections, aren’t rated — and why should they be? Bookstores have a very different history from comic shops in terms of being raided.
While we’re mentioning the company saying one thing and doing another, why is Batman Incorporated #6 (FEB11 0141, $2.99) listed as shipping April 20? I like the Grant Morrison-written series, but due to delays, issue #3 isn’t even going to come out until next month, March. The DC site has the next few issues shipping every 2-3 weeks to make up the schedule, but it also says #6 is coming in May.
Also out from Morrison, and recommended if you don’t already have it, is the We3 Deluxe Edition hardcover (FEB11 0270, $24.99, June 15, 144 color pages). They’re promising “new story pages by Morrison and [artist Frank] Quitely” in order to tempt those of us who own it to re-buy. It’s an excellent story, true, but I don’t have a spare $25, or the shelf space, I’m afraid.
Judging by the merchandise section, DC is busy erasing Wonder Woman from its front line of heroes. The lead Graphitti item is tagged “The DC Franchise”, promoting the “Big Three”, which now equates to Superman, Batman, and Green Lantern. There’s another attractive tee, a “Justice League retro” shirt, but that grid of nine includes, in addition to those three characters, Flash, Robin, Green Arrow, Aquaman, Hawkman, and Plastic Man. No space for even the secretary? Let’s hope that her upcoming TV show is a success so we can get more merchandise.
Image has had the most interesting high-concept miniseries launches recently, with books that aim at the traditional comic shop crowd but have something a bit different to them. The premise usually isn’t too hard to explain, but it suggests some intriguing possibilities, and the limited length allows for an actual ending. Plus, thankfully, they’re not all horror comics, which are a glut on the market. Infinite Vacation, Who Is Jake Ellis?, now Nonplayer (FEB11 0397, $2.99) by Nate Simpson, a six-issue miniseries about a girl and her life in an online fantasy game. Art looks gorgeous.
Ah, the mixed messages of comicdom: Trina Robbins edits Miss Fury (IDW, FEB11 0371, $49.99, 240 pages), “the first female superhero created & drawn by a woman cartoonist” (Tarpe Mills), but the cover shows the title character topless (breasts shielded by an arm as she takes off her cat costume).
These books available this month have already been reviewed by me, in case you’d like to learn more in detail:
- Zombies Calling, Amaze Ink/SLG Publishing, FEB11 0711, $9.95, March 23
- Francis Sharp in the Grip of the Uncanny, Black Bottle Press, FEB11 0808, $10, April 27
- Seeds, Com.x, FEB11 0891, $10.99, April 27
- A Drifting Life, Drawn & Quarterly, FEB11 1010, $29.95, March 16
- Liar’s Kiss, Top Shelf, FEB11 1167, $14.95, April 27
And one more: Yehuda Moon & the Kickstand Cyclery (FEB11 1072, $14.95, April 6) is the first collection of Rick Smith’s bicycle webcomic, containing a year’s worth of color strips. If you visit the website shop, you’ll see that two more volumes are planned later this year.