Sunday, February 17, 2008

The Gosh! Authority 14/02/08

Happy Valentine’s Day, Gosh types! At the risk of sounding insincere and perhaps even inexcusably mercenary, I would like to take this opportunity to state that we here at Gosh Comics love each and every one of you. And clearly you love us, as this shop has been on this very spot here for 22 years today. Happy birthday, Gosh Comics, and long may you reign!

But how much do we love DC Comics this week? Not very much at all, as they have provided us with a somewhat uninspiring handful of releases while every other company seems to be dealing a royal flush. Still, there is the odd gem to take in, like Bat Lash #3. No, wait, come back! Writers Sergio Aragonés (soon to take over The Spirit) and Peter Brandvold have crafted a delightfully upbeat and action-packed western romp in Bat Lash, with nostalgia-tinged artwork in a classical vein from John Severin. If you’ve enjoyed Jonah Hex or The Lone Ranger of late, or if you just yearn to return to the prairie where John Wayne doles out justice and one-liners, give Bat Lash a go.

Marvel this week attempts to win our hearts with that rarest of items – a new Jack Kirby comic! Well, of sorts. There’s plenty of Kirby to be had herein, but there’s also work by John Buscema and Joe Sinnott filling in the blanks of this ‘lost Beatles track’ of a comic. The story herein was originally planned as a full 103rd Stan Lee/Jack Kirby story, but was never finished before Kirby’s departure, and the fragments of completed material were later released as a flashback sequence in Fantastic Four #108 (the entirety of which is reprinted herein). Believe the hype, this is a whole new FF adventure in the truest sense possible.

Far from carrying an exclusive torch for its former champions, however, Marvel this week also celebrates one of its newest and greatest talents in writer Jason Aaron. Since his Vertigo titles Scalped and The Other Side debuted, Aaron has provided work of a quality that provokes genuine double-takes, and his reward has been big comics money, manifested this week in the start of runs on two mainstream Marvel titles: Ghost Rider and Wolverine. Of particular note is this week’s Wolverine #62, as not only is the excellent Ron Garney supplying the artwork, but the one-shot story in Wolverine #56 showed us all that Aaron’s the best at what he does, even if what he does isn’t very nice.

However, this week Image wins our unreserved love with not only the first of Paul Grist’s supposed monthly appearances with Jack Staff #14, but also the first issue of the deeply desirable Next Issue Project. Who is this mysterious beauty who woos men and women alike at every turn? Why, it’s a brand new anthology book that takes long-extinct comic titles and puts them in the hands of today’s most innovative creators! There’s Fletcher Hanks’ Stardust as written and drawn by none other than Mike Allred! There’s Jim Rugg and Brian Maruca (artist and writer respectively of Street Angel) taking on Captain Kidd! And there’s more! Howard Chaykin, Erik Larsen, Joe Casey… the list goes on, but any more excitement would probably kill you. All that and a new Walking Dead. I love you, Image Comics, and I’ll love you forever. Wait, BPRD 1946 and The Goon from Dark Horse? Hm…

It’s a sad batch of news this week, starting with the word that one of comics’ all-time greats, Steve Gerber, passed away last Sunday at the age of 60, after a long battle with pulmonary fibrosis. For those unaware, Gerber was the creator of such characters as Omega the Unknown and Howard the Duck. His most recent mainstream comics work was the Dr Fate story contained in Countdown to Mystery, though he was best known for his work writing for animation and for his advocacy of the new wave of independent comics in the 80s.

In addition to Gerber, comics also lost artist and colourist Stéphane Peru, best known to the English-speaking comics market as the colourist on such diverse titles as Marvel’s Annihilation and The Incredible Hercules and most recently Teen Titans Year One. Peru died of what appeared to be a heart attack, despite being only 26. His work to date has been of a superlative quality, and the world of comics has unanimously come out in tribute, acknowledging Peru’s work and agreeing that he had years of excellent work ahead of him.

In lighter news, songwriter comedian MJ Hibbett of Hey Hey 16k fame has seen fit to turn his comedic stylings towards the beloved subject of comics, and in particular an event taking place in Gosh itself! The song is here and is very amusing indeed.

- Tom