I read comics. So should you.

The Art of the Pull List

In new books, rants on February 17, 2017 at 7:32 am

Like any true Wednesday Warrior, my comic book pull list is in a constant state of flux. There ARE those people who blindly buy every book a company puts out, I suppose in some pointless display of brand loyalty, but I’ve never been one of those (Though, to be honest, I came close when Vertigo was at its peak). Recently there has been a bit of a purge, and that got me thinking about the entire process, both from a consumer and a retailer perspective. I’ve assembled here a bunch of random observations that could possibly be of some use to anyone who loves comics so much that they must have them each and every week. Enjoy.

1. The Chopping Block: Should it stay, or should it go?

There’s the obvious primary factor in choosing titles for a comic shop pull list–limits on disposable income. Sure, we’d all like to add whatever we want, and give more books a chance. But there’s that pesky rent/food/bills/depression medication thing getting in the way. So you’ve got to be kinda picky, and prioritize based on what you value most in a floppy. Maybe it’s art, maybe it’s story, or maybe it’s variant covers. Actually, if it’s variants, and you don’t just nab one here and there because it features art by someone you adore, you should probably take some time to evaluate your life. You filthy collector.

Beyond that, there’s a personal threshold that develops for everyone, and it involves a few factors. Most important is how long you intend to give a series to develop. First issues are designed to hook you, but when that wears off, the development of the plot and characters are what will keep you buying. So how long do you allow for that? Most of us will go to the conclusion of the first storyline, which is usually five or six issues. Sometimes you’re just not feeling it, in which case you should by all means drop it and move on with your life. There will be this completionist part of you that will nag at the back of your mind, trying to convince you that enduring mediocrity for the sake of a complete run is wise. Ignore that shit. Trust me. You filthy collector.

2. The Previews catalog: Your greatest friend, your greatest enemy

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Every single month, Diamond puts out the Previews catalog. This monstrous tree-killer lets you know about every single comic, collection, and graphic novel headed your way in about two months. Each shop gets a free copy, and any that desires staying open will at the very least let you peruse one. DO THIS. I realize that I don’t really need to emphasize this, since the thrill of the new is all the motivation you’ll need. Your wallet will hate you, and loved ones may disapprove, but you knew the risks going in. What is even more important is that you inform your shop owner as soon as you’re done looking at it, letting them know what you want to add or remove. Their initial orders each month are based primarily on pull list numbers, and the interest suggested by those numbers. You’ll get exactly what you want, and they will not be wasting time and money. It’s a wonderful bit of symbiosis, when everyone is on board with it.

3. The Social Contract: It takes two to make this thing go right

Speaking of your relationship with your local shop, let’s talk about responsibilities. YES, you have them when you start a pull list. It’s not a legally binding contract, but by ordering comics that a shop has agreed to hold for you, you have agreed to actually pick them up and pay for them. Regularly. Not put most of them back on the shelf. Not disappear for months and expect that you can just cherry-pick some when you deign to show up again. Nope. You take and pay for them all. Your shop is providing you with a service, and many of them are even giving you a discount on top of that. Be an adult and uphold your part of this deal. Let them know in a timely fashion if you have changes. If you have to or want to cancel, just say that. You might be making them less money, but you will have earned their respect. I speak from experience on this one.

I think that pretty much covers it. Don’t be scared to commit to the list. The hours of reading enjoyment are totally worth it. Just make sure you honor that commitment. It’s like having a puppy. A puppy made of paper. But there’s a new one each week. A bunch of them each week.

Okay, it’s nothing like having a puppy. Just read comic books. Please. And thank you.

You filthy collector.

 

The Stack-2/15/17

In new books on February 16, 2017 at 8:06 pm

I’ll keep the opening banter to a minimum this week, since I’ll be making another post right after this one that will tie into what I want to discuss, and it will hopefully make up for the lack of anything on Sunday.

Wednesday was a deluge of goodness. If you didn’t visit your local shop yet, get off yer rump and fix that situation posthaste. Behold, nerdy mortals:

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God Country #2 (Donny Cates, Geoff Shaw, Jason Wordie, John J. Hill, Gerardo Zaffino-Image): Emmett was an old man suffering through Alzheimer’s, and then for some reason a magic god-forged sword from beyond Earth chose him to wield it so that he might slice up demons. Its former owner and his father aren’t too pleased about this, so it’s time to parley while Emmett comes to terms with the fact that this weapon has returned his memories and life to him. This book is a spiritual successor of sorts to the amazing 2008 Luna Brothers series The Sword. Unintentionally, I’m sure, but the similarities are there. Regardless, this cosmic-mysteries-by-way-of-real-world-Texas-grit yarn is one of the best new books out there.

The Wild Storm #1 (Warren Ellis, Jon Davis-Hunt, Ivan Plascencia, Simon Bowland, Tula Lotay, Jim Lee, Scott Williams, Alex Sinclair-DC): Jim Lee’s Wildstorm universe was a thoroughly 90s superhero concept that made its way from the early Image days to DC Comics. Full of black ops teams, conspiracy theories, and genre action, it really didn’t pop until a Red Bull-swilling, cane-swinging Brit by the name of Warren Ellis got to make his mark on it. With StormWatch, and later The Authority, these ideas soared to glorious new places, with a swagger all their own and page-consuming fight scenes. This latest iteration goes a bit more street-level on the surface, but even darker and more devious below that. It’s going to be one hell of a twenty-four issue ride.

The Mighty Thor #16 (Jason Aaron, Russell Dauterman, Matthew Wilson, VC’s Joe Sabino, Joe Jusko-Marvel): Thor, right in the middle of Malekith’s war, has been whisked away beyond the edges of space to the place where the Shi’ar gods reside, and they have decided to challenge her to determine who is mightier. To these vicious celestials it’s all a game where mortal lives mean nothing, and Thor does not approve. In fact, she’s going to show these tyrants up by simply being her awesome, benevolent (at least as benevolent as a hammer-wielding superhuman can be) self. Meanwhile, in the Congress of Worlds, Volstagg filibusters by talking about his favorite foods.

Animosity #5 (Marguerite Bennett, Rafael De Latorre, Rob Schwager, Marshall Dillon, Marcelo Maiolo, Mike Rooth-Aftershock): Another fantastic comic that puts the thesis statement of the whole series in one beautifully-executed page! The whole conflict is right there on page one of this issue, as two shrimps who have been sent as emissaries for their kind head to the surface world to speak with the rest of the animals who have been suddenly given human-level consciousness and the power of speech. They wonder what other forms of life have been given these gifts, and if they are just too far down the chain to be taken seriously by larger forms of life. And then a whale eats them. Yep. There’s also goat drama, a big human event, and possibly a dragon attack…?

Unfollow #16 (Rob Williams, Mike Dowling, Quinton Winter, Clem Robins, Matt Taylor-DC/Vertigo): It’s time for the big showdown. Ferrell has revealed that he’s still alive, and he’s given the survivors of his experiment his coordinates in Venezuela. So they’ve hopped on a few helicopters to confront–Oh, he has shot them out of the sky with missiles. I know. Spoilers. But it seems like many of them are still alive. So there’s that. Back in the States, the FBI is trying to shut down the Global Church of Akira, which is more than up to the challenge, what with all the tax-free money they’ve accumulated and the MANY social media followers they’ve amassed. And then, the most thoroughly modern of disasters occurs, which put a big grin on my face. This one I won’t spoil.

There were so many other great books this week, including (brace yourselves) a Rebirth title–Batwoman! What made top of the pile for YOU? Feel free to comment. Seriously. You can. Just try it. It’ll be fun. Comments SHOULD be enabled. I think.

The Stack-2/8/17

In new books on February 9, 2017 at 11:16 am

It’s weird out there, folks. Not in a good way. Not in the way that Austin, Texas is known for. Not in the way that club kids or Burners enjoy. No, more like when there’s a black storm on the periphery of your town, and you feel dread in your guts. You know that fucker wants to come for you, and throw tornadoes at the ground, making unidentifiable detritus of everything you know and love. Weird like THAT.

I know, I know. I’m here for comic book reviews, and I just pooped darkness onto this post before it even had a chance to begin. But stay with me. In times like these, you need some solace or you’ll go mad. Here’s where the comics come in. Reading them voraciously, drinking in every beautiful panel–it’s a weekly ritual that helps to keep me from getting too close to the precipice. I don’t COMPLETELY have my head up my ass; obviously the support and love I get from those close to me is the what means the most. But my books, along with the myriad other hobbies I engage in, come in a close second. They connect me to all of these people outside of my immediate sphere, people who have big ideas, and stories to share, and images in their heads that they needed to get onto paper.

Having unburdened myself of that, let’s get to the weekly highlights.

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Green Valley #5 (Max Landis, Giuseppe Camuncoli, Cliff Rathburn, Jean-Francois Beaulieu, Pat Brosseau-Image): This is a comic I’ve been raving about since its first issue, and the primary reason for that is how well it doles out its mysteries. It always messes with your expectations, even the ones it worked to establish in previous installments. There’s plenty more of that this month, along with an amazing dinosaur battle (the tension and excitement created is wonderful; Max is not at all afraid to truly jeopardize his characters), and the musical stylings of 80s sensation and singer-songwriter Eddie Money.

Alters #4 (Paul Jenkins, Leila Leiz, Tamra Bonvillain, Ryane Hill, Brian Stelfreeze-Aftershock): This issue feels like a true crystallized mission statement. Charlie, newly transitioned from male to female and from human to superhuman, is starting to connect with a community that understands and supports those changes, and it has given her the courage to come out to the world as Chalice in a television broadcast. She assuages fears, takes down the haters, and offers up her powers in the service of anyone out there who needs a hero. Then, of course, the baddies show up and threaten to undo it all.

The Wicked + The Divine #26 (Kieron Gillen, Jamie McKelvie, Matthew Wilson, Clayton Cowles, Dee Cunniffe-Image): The gods have made themselves known to the world again, and now the Great Darkness follows, threatening to destroy everything. It’s time to unleash the superpowers… for SOME of the Pantheon. This isn’t The Avengers, and things just aren’t that simple. What we’re seeing is a collection of capricious deities in the bodies of very flawed, very conflicted mortals. Some want to fight, some want to study the enemy further before taking action, and some just want anarchy. Despite what prophecies might say, sometimes your champions just do not give a shit.

Jessica Jones #5 (Brian Michael Bendis, Michael Gaydos, Matt Hollingsworth, VC’s Cory Petit, David Mack, Jay Fosgitt-Marvel): And now we get to the jaw-dropper of the week. One thing I adore about the genre of Detective Fiction is the escalation factor. It always begins with a case, and quickly swells into conflicts and conspiracy WAY beyond the protagonist’s wheelhouse. That’s precisely what we have here, and it involves a recent, massive crossover event in the Marvel universe. It also threatens to turn Jessica against her superhero friends. A big nod to this art team is in order, too; they convey noir atmosphere on each and every page.

Okay, I started dark, so let’s head to the light. Let’s spread the word about all the good things we still enjoy, whether they’re comic books or not. Let’s encourage the creative people who make it possible, and put some money in their pockets for all of their hard work (I’m looking at YOU, pirates). And as always, let’s get it from local shops unless we have no other option. Thanks for reading.

12monkeys-brad-pitt

FUCK the bozos!