End of 2010 Trade Collections Wrap Up

It was a good year to be a comics fan, a lot of great reading to be had.

I want to list a few trade releases I didn’t get a chance to cover earlier.
DC Comics
The second volume of Grant Morrison’s refreshing new Batman and Robin team. At first I was disappointed when Frank Quietly left the book, but the truth is the art is still terrific. Cameron Stewart, Andy Clarke, Scott Hanna and Dustin Ngugyen have been doing a great job.
The dynamic of a Dick Grayson batman and Damian as Robin is almost more refreshing than it should be. The wise cracks from Robin seem more hip and a bit darker, if not at time psychotic.It is also very apparent that Damian is indeed changing and likes his new life. Morrison is also coming classic Batman lore and creating new lore along with new villains. It all feels seemless and seems like it’s always been there, I just hadn’t read it yet. Once again DC has taken a character that has been around a long time and made it feel new.


Image
Chew has very quickly become one of my favorite books. Image seems to be doing a nice job of bringing in creator owned properties, which is nice because the stuff from the original founders just doesn’t seem all that great anymore, but that’s a discussion for another time.
CHEW is set in a world where people are banned from eating meat.As such the FDA has become more important in law enforcement. Tony Chu is a special agent, in more ways than one. Tony is a cibopath, which means when he eats something he gets a psychic read from whatever he eats, including some really disgusting things.
In this third volume Tony has a new girl friend who has a strange foos pwer of her own, the ability to describe food perfectly which makes her a perfect food critic. The story has homages to The Freshman, an old Mathew Brodrick movie that had people eating rare animals, and also Pulp Fiction with Bad Ass seventies style cops under cover. We meet Tony’s family (including a surprise) and there is more on Tony’s ex-partner who has gone rogue. A great book that is loads of fun.


Vertigo

If you read the series you don’t need me to tell you how great it is. If you don’t read it, trust me, go grab Volume one right now. The deluxe editions are really nice, new forwards from Bill Willingham, a bit of extras at the back, but more than anything else, bigger and hardcover. These books will last for years. And with all the re-reads they get that is a real plus.

Marvel

This came out a few years ago, but I just got around to reading it. Garth Ennis tells a crazy tale that involves angels and demons and a lot of violence. People making deals with demons thinking they can come out ahead, and angels who are a bit too vengeful.  In other words, loads of fun. The art by Clayton Crain is really sharp and dark and perfect for Ghost Rider. If you are a fan of Garth Ennis, (and why wouldn’t you be?) you need to pick this up.

DC Comics
One of the first comics I ever bought with my own money was Legion of Super-Heroes, I think it was still technically Adventure Comics at the time, or maybe Superboy and the Legion of Super-Heroes. It was with this title that I first started to follow creators. Mike Grell very early on became one of my favorites (and still is) but I also started to pay attention to who the writers were. A lot of great names have written the Legion over the years, Jim Shooter, Mark Waid, Gerry Conway and more. For my money the two best writers the title ever had were Paul Levitz and Keith Giffin. This book has both of them working on the Legion and it is one of my all time favorite comic stories EVER. I still have the original issues.
The deluxe hardcover is beautiful. It’s big and bold and awesome glossy paper. It also has the complete story in all it’s glory. The Legion going through some real changes and one of the best eras of the team. The build up is spectacular and the payoff huge. Darkseid never looked more formidable and by the time we actually see him full on the story has built such suspense and tension that it is almost a relief. More than any other villian Darkseid put the Legion through the paces and almost took them out.
A truly classic story that is every bit as good today as it was when I had to read it monthly.


Marvel
I don’t think I have ever read something by Kurt Busiek that I didn’t like. I loved the Avengers he did, I love his work at DC and I am a slave to ASTRO CITY.  The original Marvels was a great idea and wonderfully executed. It was also a very ambitious project retelling the origin of the modern Marvel universe from the eyes of a man on the street. As told by co-writer Roger Stern in the intro, this was also a major undertaking. And the effort made to get things right shows.Phil Sheldon , our photographer friend from the first book is back and the world has changed, he’s changed too. The superheroes aren’t all bright and shiny like they were and things seem darker. He decides to leave a legacy in a second volume of his book of photos but the publisher wants to cover the bad guys. Phil eventually Comes to terms with his mortality and does things his way. This is a great book, not just because I did reading about superheroes, but because at it’s hear this is a story about being human.

ICON
I came to this series late, I think I started right after volume 9 came out. It was cool because I could power read the first nine trades back to back. I love the art, Michael Avon Oeming has such a wonderful style at play on this series. And the coloring is always perfect. Powers also has Brian Michael Bendis kicking ass. This is  creator owned so the freedom to do what they want really shines through. Bendis is always good with dialogue, but he really shines on POWERS.
This latest collection has our detectives working a murder case of a golden age hero, one with ties to Detective Walker’s past. In WWII he was part of a group of heroes that eventually took out Hitler. Now one of them is dead and as we learn in flashbacks, these dudes weren’t always heroic.
If you dig this series you’ll like the latest collection. And it leads into the return of Deena Pilgrim!

DC Comics
Gail Simone. Oh Gail Simone, if only we could clone you so you could write even more book each month. Everything she does is magic.Secret Six initially felt like something that would be an interesting mini series but I would never had thought it would maintain as a monthly comic. I have been happily proven wrong by Gail Simone.She brings the root of good story telling to the book, characters you care about, or at the very least want to know more about. In a very short time she has got me invested in these characters who for the most part, to be honest, were really cast offs. With fleshed out history and a look at who they really are I now can’t get enough.
The Secret Six is a group of bad guys who do work for hire. They have a mysterious benefactor who goes by the name Mockingbird (Just like the original version). However the team has taken their own dynamic to what they do.
In this collection, co-written by the awesome John Ostrander,  they are hired to bust someone out of Belle Revee prison, one of the most secure place to house supervillians. Also home to the Suicide Squad. Much fighting ensues, which is made more fun by the addition of dead bad guys being re animated by the Black Lanterns.
Loads of great art by Peter Nguyen and J Calafiore make the battle scenes jump off the page. Great book.

DC
I have been a fan of J. Michael Straczynski since I discovered Babylon Five on DVD, but his comics career has been kind of hit and miss.However with this retelling of the Superman story I think he has a homerun. In this version Clark is reluctant to become a public figure, Hell, he doesn’t even want to be a hero. He’s a young man who is unsure where to go and as a result is looking into a lot of different ways to leave his mark on the world and take care of his Mom. Of course he does eventually come around to the costume, but the journey he takes is fresh and well told, and that’s something for a character that’s been around as long as Superman has.

DC Comics
I remeber when this book came out in the super sized giant edition. I used to love those huge comics. And this is one that really is deserving of a reprint.
Neal Adams does some incredible work here and the art is amazing. The story that he and Denny O’Neil came up with really works and makes the team-up between Ali and Superman work. There is a new intro by Adams and a really nice afterward from DC legend Jeanette Kahn who did such a great job running DC. A some nice extras as well.
This is one for the library.


Marvel Comics
Mark Millar seems more at home on books that are out of the mainstream of the regular continuity. This works because it gives him more freedom to go where he wants to go.
In this second volume of Ultimate Avenger Nick Fury brings the Punisher on board to help out his black ops team. Their target? The Ghost Rider.
After a nice set up we get to see the team in action and we discover not all is as it appears. Who the bad guys actually are is lees and less clear. The climax is great and I love how the book ends.
Great story telling and WONDERFUL art by Lenil Francis Yu.

Marvel Comics

Let me get this out of the way. I think Gregg Hurwitz is one of the best writers we have today. I’ve read all his novels and the guy is a true talent. I would read a book of bowling statistics if Gregg wrote it. When he started writing comics a few years ago I was intrigued. I enjoyed his FOOLKILLER, and really liked what he did with PUNISHER When he was given a more mainstream hero I was curious to see what he would do. I wasn’t disappointed.
This is his second collection of the title and Moon Knight is up against the latest Marvel character who is EVERYWHERE, Deadpool. It’s a fun meeting between the Merc With The Mouth and Moon Knight, a hero with is own psychological baggage.The second story told here has a team up with Spider-Man, but it is really getting to what Hurwitz does best, characterization and motive, and this time he’s looking at Sandman. Very nicely done. The book ends with Marc Spencer hooking up with the Secret Avengers and we see his trepidation at being on a team and his realization that it can work. Again, a nice look into the character.
So, I’m loving Gregg Hurwitz on this book. Naturally that means Marvel is making a change, and the comics hitting the stands soon with Moon Knight in the title will have Brian Michael Bendis on them as writer. I like Bendis, but I love Hurwitz. I’ll check it out, but the urgency to read it will be gone for me.