Wednesday, April 9, 2008

The Gosh! Authority 10/04/08

Hello and welcome to the week in comics! Unfortunately, everybody’s buy pile will probably be pretty slim this week, but there’s still the odd gem here and there to be had!

First up, thanks to everybody who took a chance on Screamland #1 on my recommendation (and there were quite a few of you!), and I hope you enjoyed it as much as I did. It is also my duty and my pleasure to inform you that Screamland #2 is bang on time and releasing this week! To those of you who haven’t encountered the series at all yet, I’ll reiterate: it’s great. A loving, slightly demented, easy on the eyes re-casting of the Universal Monsters as actors, struggling to find work in today’s CGI-heavy Hollywood. Despite the high concept, it’s basically an offbeat human drama, with some compelling characters and storytelling. We’ve got a couple of copies of #1 left if you need to catch up. To those of you who’ve heard all this before - this is the last time I’ll pull on your coat about this, I swear!

DC brings us an unexpected nugget of intrigue this week in the form of Batman: Death Mask #1. Presumably as a prelude to DC’s upcoming ‘anime Batman’ straight-to-DVD project, celebrated manga artist Yoshinori Natsume brings us a Dark Knight murder mystery in the Japanese comics tradition. The story follows the caped crusader’s investigation into a series of murders whose perpetrator appears to have received training similar to Bruce Wayne’s in Japan years ago. Sounds like reliably gritty fare, but how well will one of American comics’ most well established characters fare in the hands of a manga creator? There’s only one way to find out! Well, that or you could ask somebody else.

I will, however, bring up another comic whose praises I’ve repeatedly sung – Criminal by Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips. Volume 2, issue #2 comes out this week, and if the previous edition is anything to go by, it should be quite the treat. It’s the second in a series of three standalone issues telling the stories that made the world of the comic what it is. This issue brings us the starring debut of Teeg Lawless, the man whose death served as a key moment in the histories of the first two story arcs. The story, Before the Living End, is set in 1972 and sees Lawless attempting to rediscover his foothold in the criminal strata after two scarring tours in Vietnam. If this issue is half as successful as the previous one, the comic’s re-thought expanded format will have been proven to be well worthwhile. Don’t forget the pulp movie/novel columns in the back!

Marvel brings us two other gems this week – Amazing Spider-Man #556 and Wolverine #64. Both combine talented writers with brilliant artists, both make excellent use of much-loved old characters, and both seemed to arrive at exactly the right time. Amazing sees Spidey and Wolverine team up to combat an ancient evil threatening New York City, lavishly illustrated by Chris Bachalo and wittily written by Zeb Wells. I want to stress this latter point especially – the previous issue contained two gags that genuinely made me laugh out loud. The issue should be racked next to last week’s, so grab them both if you haven’t read #555 already.

The other, Wolverine #64, is more ambitious fare. Writer Jason Aaron has performed his usual feat of capturing the requirements of the story he’s covering while going well above and beyond the call of duty in character development, storytelling and action. Ever-improving artist Ron Garney backs him up admirably, rendering Afghan desert one second and turn-of-the-20th-century Chicago the next, all convincingly and with aplomb. Pick it up and keep a beady eye on Aaron – this kid’s going to go far, assuming he’s not lured away by lucrative Hollywood work! If these picks aren’t enough, pick up a copy of the still remarkably monthly Goon #23 and the thrilling, chilling BPRD 1946 #4 – they’re some special kind of comics magic.

In store news, fans of alternative comics (and those who really ought to have given them a go by now) will be keen to check out our cheap Chris Ware shelf! Sure, everybody’s seen Jimmy Corrigan, but there’s a host of other glum delights to be had. Ware remains one of the indie scene’s most impressive creators, and his obsessively intricate artwork shows his dedication to his craft. As an example, pick up one of the Acme Novelty Library Datebooks, chock-full of his sketches and notes, and offered for £7 off (£19.99) for a limited time only.

In other literary news, two great European talents have new books through this week. Firstly, Joann Sfar follows up the phenomenally good (and phenomenally successful) The Rabbi’s Cat with the imaginatively titled The Rabbi’s Cat 2. Meanwhile, Philippe Dupuy - half of the Monsieur Jean team supreme of Dupuy & Berberian – releases Haunted, a mental catalogue of the misfit characters that parade through his mind. Two of Europe’s most talented creators in one week? Zing!

There are a couple of keen news items this week, the first being the announcement of Warner Brothers’ latest animated TV project for DC – Batman: The Brave & The Bold. An odd choice, certainly, but from the look of the preview images, the design sensibility lives up to the title, and renders such old favourites as Green Arrow and such newcomers as the current Blue Beetle with courageously Dick Sprangy expressiveness. One to watch out for!

In honour of everybody’s favourite under-appreciated literary medium, this month has been declared Comics Month in the town of Portland, Oregon. A huge number of people with ties to the industry, including Farel Dalrymple, Brian Michael Bendis, Greg Rucka, Alex Ross and my mum, hail from the big little town, so this is very fitting. A pleasantly forward-thinking move from the local government, and one that goes to prove that even though comics are for kids, it’s okay for grown-ups to like them too.

And now for the moment you’ve all been waiting for – this week’s competition! To celebrate the release of the second issue of David Lapham’s splendid Young Liars, we’ve got six copies of the Spectre TP, collecting the story he penned for DC’s recent Tales of the Unexpected series. All you have to do is answer the following question:

In which comic series did The Spectre first appear in 1940?

If you think you know the correct answer, just comment below. If you can’t sign in to a personal account, you can comment anonymously – but don’t forget to leave your name in the comment itself! First 6 people to comment with the correct answer win a copy of the book. Please note that the judges decision is final and that it is the responsibility of prize winners to arrange collection of the prize within a period of 14 days, after which any non-collected prizes will be offered to the runner-up.

Cheers and happy reading!
- Tom

(Criminal cover painting courtesy of Sean Phillips' excellent blog!)


David Carnegie said...

More Fun Comics

Will Shyne said...

Billy Said

More Fun Comics #51

benlefoe said...

The Spectre first appeared in a next issue ad in More Fun Comics #51 (January 1940) and received his first story the next month, #52 (February 1940).

Brianjsg said...

More 51 if you can believe the wikki

Brian Goldstein

Brianjsg said...

I Meant More Fun Comics 51

Gavin Beattie said...

It's already been said above, but as not every copy has been claimed, first appeared in an ad in More Fun Comics #51 (January 1940) and got his first story in #52 the next month, (February 1940)

David Carnegie said...

N.B. The question said "Which comic SERIES ..." not which comic ISSUE. ;-)

Gosh! said...

Well done everyone! That's 5 copies claimed so far for David, Billy, Ben, Brian and Gavin. They'll be popped in your sections now! But who's going to get the last one...

Anonymous said...

If I mention creators Jerry Siegel and Bernard Bailey, does that make clear that I'm not just copying everyone else's answers, which are correct?
- Martin Skidmore

Mr A. P. Salmond, esq. said...

Well done Martin, that final copy is aside for you! Well done everyone!