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My Multiple Editions of Kingdom Come

While it’s only more recently with the release of the 20th Anniversary Edition of the book that brought it back to my attention (as well as several podcasts and other recognition being given to celebrating the 20-year-history of it), Kingdom Come is truly one of the "classics" from my formative years being into comics.

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Pictured here are the 4 original issues, the hardback of the novelization, the 2008 new edition TPB, the original 1990s edition TPB, and the just-released 20th Anniversary Deluxe Hardcover.

Consciously missing are the Absolute Edition as well as some other ’90s hardcover, and the MMPB edition of the novelization (which as of this morning ranges from ~$32 with shipping on Amazon for "used" copies and ~$84-87 for "new" condition).

I had tried the first issue or two "off the rack" 20 years ago, based on the Alex Ross art, and I think a bit of the "collector" mentality–this being the "next" Alex Ross project, or DC‘s version of Marvels. (having little idea that he’d be a key foundation for Earth X as Marvel‘s version of Kingdome Come!).

I never initially finished out the story–it was a couple years later at least before I got a copy of the first TPB edition and finally read the entirety of the story. And of course, the novelization was a real treat, roughly in the age when I so thoroughly enjoyed other novelizations like The Death and Life of Superman and Batman: Knightfall (and though I didn’t know they were novelizations of comics at the time, several Aliens and Aliens vs. Predator novels).

While I’m not opposed to owning any of the "missing" editions, the only one I’m particularly interested in is the book-on-tape "audio-drama" edition, though I don’t expect to ever find that for anything resembling a reasonable price.

I missed Dark Knight and Watchmen by just a couple years…but it’s been an interesting experience seeing what an integral part of the "landscape" Kingdom Come has been, for my actually being there from the start.

Now, DC Comics just needs to do a single-volume edition of the Johns story from JSA a few years back–Thy Kingdom Come and include the Kingdom Come Specials in the volume.

New Old Books: Kingdom Come and Hellblazer

Considering I just placed the order on Friday, receiving books on Tuesday is excellent service from InStockTrades! I’ve been keeping up with the new Hellblazer editions–here we have vol. 13–which catches the series up to about where I first came into the series back in 2001 with Azarello‘s run…and off the top of my head, I believe this now gives me a complete run of the entire 300-issue Hellblazer series in paperback volumes! (From here, it’s just a matter of swapping out the old editions for the new on a rolling basis, I think!)

kingdom_come_20th_and_hellblazer_vol13

While I don’t like the cover nearly as much as I liked the image on the original paperback, that had much more of the “feel” of the story…this seems to be what DC is sticking with for now, taking the cover they’ve used for roughly 8 years over the one they used for about a decade or so…or over one of the original covers or even a celebratory new cover image.

That said, I quite like the 20th Anniversary Deluxe Edition of Kingdom Come, and for a very rare thing, part of that is the extras the book contains.

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I don’t care much for sketch material or pencils-only stuff–I’m just not a “primarily-for-the-art” kinda guy when it comes to comics. And I prefer to write about, talk about comics more than any true interest in actually writing comics, so even seeing script pages doesn’t tend to do much for me (though I tend to prefer those more). But there’s plenty of text with the sketches and whatnot, and lots of images reproduced in full color, some even full-page, and this is a volume, a story, a creative team, a singular truly special isolated thing that (to me) actually deserves “extras” and such be thrown in.

But the quality of the extras, their relevance and insight, the smile I found myself with, grinning as I flipped through them–some of the pages bringing back memories, others a bit of wonder, some just pleasant, collected excitement seeing stuff I haven’t seen in years or am simply curious about and look forward to reading in-depth. And this is without even getting to the core of the book, the story itself, to get to re-read in this format.

I have the original single issues; the original paperback collection, the 2008 paperback with this new green cover, as well as the hardback original edition of the novelization (bought from a local comic shop at initial release), and even bought the mass-market paperback edition of that for a friend shortly into college. I do not have the Absolute Edition and don’t truly expect I ever will unless it’s reprinted and the timing and finances are just right. But for this not being the Absolute Edition, I really dig this one.

Thanks to the online order, but including shipping, I think I functionally paid about $22 for this, which at the price of a mere 5 single Marvel comics and some shipping, I find to be an extremely reasonable price and very much worthwhile for this.

I also find myself feeling a bit old, that I now own a 20th-Anniversary edition of something I remember buying the original first issue of, new, when it first came out. Time flies…

Crisis 30th Anniversary Edition: Acquired

When I first got into comics, it was via Grandpa’s old Silver Age stuff. When Mom bought me my first few brand-new comics, I knew there was a LOT of stuff between Grandpa’s comics and what I had in-hand (if only the 3-400-some difference in issue numbers!). It would be several years before I learned of the existence of the major story that “split” the continuities…for much of my time as a comics person, DC could be referenced as “Pre” and “Post” Crisis.

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It was at least another decade before I ever actually READ the story myself, getting it first-hand…and that came sometime after reading Wolfman‘s novelization of the thing.

I think it was another couple years before I finally acquired a copy of my own…of course, I was happy at the time with the edition I got–with the Perez/Ross cover.

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Then, just last week I happened across a 30th Anniversary Deluxe Edition. I recal seeing something about it, so its existence was not a surprise…but seeing it for myself, it was just this beautiful volume, and though I’d intended to hold off at least a couple weeks, I opted not to put off ordering it (justifying it as a birthday present to myself).

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This new edition is an oversized hardcover, and dwarfs its earlier paperback edition…length, width, thickness.

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The physical size is accounted for with the price…this weighs in at a hefty $49.99 cover price (to the paperback’s $29.99 most of a decade ago).  This certainly makes the paperback the better value solely for the story…but I am quite happy with my purchase (I was able to order the volume for 45%-off that cover price).

This is a volume that definitely illustrates where I feel DC is by FAR Marvel‘s superior when it comes to pricing stuff. Where DC‘s far physically-smaller paperback is a whopping $20 (60%) cheaper than its massive, oversized hardcover counterpart…I can’t help but remember my shock at seeing the similarly-paired editions of the Planet Hulk volumes. The hardcover was $39.99…while the paperback was a mere $5 cheaper at $34.99. If $5–barely more than a SINGLE-ISSUE COMIC–is all the difference, then for me it’s a no-brainer: I’ll pay that slight bit more for the superior edition. (While generally speaking, such a $20 difference would certainly prompt me to stick with paperback).

I suppose the next thing is for DC to publish several oversized hardcovers collecting the Crisis on Multiple Earths series…which would certainly have my interest!

Secret Wars (2015) #1 [Review]

secretwars(2015)001The End Times

Writer & Designer: Jonathan Hickman
Artist: Esad Ribic
Color Artist: Ive Svorcina
Letterer: Chris Eliopoulos
Production: Idette Winecoor
Cover by: Alex Ross
Assistant Editors:Jon Moisan & Alanna Smith
Editors: Tom Brevoort with Wil Moss
Published by: Marvel Comics
Cover Date: July 2015
Cover Price: $4.99

Despite a certain grumpiness toward Marvel stuff lately, and being almost entirely out of the loop having consciously AVOIDED most of their contemporary stuff…I couldn’t simply pass this up. I gave DC‘s Convergence a chance, for two $5 issues and a $4…so having been turned off to that, I decided I can at least give Marvel‘s Event a chance for a $5 issue or two.

It’s been a long time since I’ve bought an Alex Ross covered issue of anything, and seeing his work on a Marvel anything again is quite cool. The interior of the issue is about 33 pages of actual story, and additional pages serving as title, credits, character, divider, and memorial pages…with the final pages of story going to black with a few words of text. While that seems at first to be quite a waste of space and pages, I find myself allowing it some leeway as I enjoyed the fade to white effect in DC‘s Zero Hour, and hold to that twenty-some years later.

Story-wise, things are a bit choppy to me, jumping between the 616 Marvel Universe and the Ultimate Universe. I’m not at all caught up on current going-ons in the Marvel Universe, but for the most part was able to follow along and get the “core” stuff out of the issue. Much like recognizing a bunch of characters while yet lacking their recent backstory for stuff like Zero Hour back in the ’90s, or any other event, this is what it is for me–a throwing-together of a universe of characters and I didn’t expect to experience this the way I would something I had more familiarity and interest in.

I’ve rarely enjoyed Hickman‘s work, and consciously recognizing his name on this project left me a bit dismayed the other day. I could compare elements of his work to Priest–the non-sequential storytelling, the caption/header dividing of scenes, the overall sense of the story not just being some straight-forward thing–but where I enjoy it in Priest‘s work (particularly his classic Black Panther and Quantum and Woody runs) I don’t care for it with Hickman‘s…but that truly gets into a whole different thing than this issue. As such, I expected to have a real problem with the issue’s story. Fortunately, I believe my negative expectation ran deep enough that this failed to be that extreme and so I actually enjoyed the issue as much as I have much of anything from Marvel of late.

The art was solid, and while it does not have the “classic” look my mind wanted, it’s mostly clear and certainly modern and on the whole, works for this take on the various characters. There were a few panels where I honestly went cross-eyed trying to visually parse out what was actually going on (especially one with Rocket Raccoon) but the bulk of the thing was good.

This is definitely being billed as the END of the Marvel Universe AND the Ultimate Universe, with a page at the end citing their “lives.” In that regard, this really should have been a 0 issue or something else, as whatever the Secret Wars part is, that begins NEXT issue with a mashup of the various worlds/timelines/whatever. Still…you could do worse. I mostly enjoyed the reading experience, and realizing the next issue is already due out next week, I’m very much looking forward to it. I’m also looking forward to several of the tie-in minis.

As starts go, I think I like this better than any other recent Marvel event I can think of…and if only for the immediate present, it’s certainly got the weight behind it for once as something that does and will matter.

I find myself a bit surprised to say so, but…recommended!

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Astro City (2013) #3 [Review]

astrocity003Mistakes

Writer: Kurt Busiek
Artist: Brent Eric Anderson
Cover: Alex Ross
Lettering & Design: John G. Roshell & Jimmy Betancourt of Comicraft
Color Art: Alex Sinclair
Editor: Kristy Quinn
Assistant Editor: Jessica Chen
Executive Editor: Shelly Bond
Published by: Vertigo/DC Comics
Cover Price: $3.99

I’ve always quite enjoyed stories set in a superhero universe that focus on the “regular people” in the world; how they are affected by the mere EXISTENCE of the super-heroes; how their lives are different from ours, for that “reality.” And I’ve found no series more consistent at delivering that than Astro City, whoever’s publishing the title at the time.

While I thought #1 was starting a single ongoing story, it seems that was either a red herring or something to be revisited later, as last issue gave a whole different story, which is picked up again in this issue.

After realizing her mistake and what she seems to have set off–a huge war between Honor Guard and the Skullcrushers–that’s resulted in much collateral damage and loss of life, our heroine first goes home sick, before resolving to take action…self-imposed penance, essentially. She takes it upon herself to use what resources she has access to, to try to assist those negatively impacted by her mistake, though this leads to another unintended result for her…and inadvertently proves her worth to those she most assumes sees none in her.

The art is clear and consistent as usual, the coloring and overall tone maintaining “the look and feel” I associate with Astro CityRoss‘ cover and ANDERSON’S interiors both.

The story feels like a “typical” sort, for this title in whatever its iteration (Wildstorm, Vertigo, etc)…which is to say it doesn’t blow me away in the way that, say, the #1/2 issue did from all those years back, but this is still darned good stuff!

This issue IS the second of a 2-part story, so while there’s plenty of context to “get” what’s going on in this issue, it’s likely far more appreciable if you at least snag #2 as well and read this in context of that…though you do not need to go all the back to #1.

Definitely recommended!

Astro City (2013) #2 [Review]

Astro City (2013) #2Welcome to HumanoGlobal

Writer: Kurt Busiek
Artist: Brent Eric Anderson
Cover: Alex Ross
Lettering & Design: John G. Roshell & Jimmy Betancourt of Comicraft
Color art: Alex Sinclair
Editor: Kristy Quinn
Assistant Editor: Jessica Chen
Published by: Vertigo/DC Comics
Cover Price: $3.99

$3.99 sucks. I’m really, really very tired of this price point. I think I’m going to keep making sure that’s extremely well-documented in these reviews and other blog posts until I eventually give up on new comics altogether.

That said, if you’re going to pay $3.99 for a single issue of a comic, there are few better series out there than Astro City. Even when you don’t know what the issue will be about or it deviates from the previous issue or whatever…it’s hard not to look back on a given issue without a bit of a smile and some disbelief at how much it was enjoyed and sheds different light on superhero stuff typically taken for granted or outright not often considered.

This issue focuses on a new employee of a hotline–said hotline turns out to be for a call center that weeds out the truly important calls for the Honor Guard, and in other cases outright makes connections allowing Honor Guard to be sent after villains/terrorists before they have a chance to enact plans that would otherwise leave the heroes reactive rather than proactive. We see bits of her training, the sorts of calls she takes, and the excitement with her teammates when they manage to catch a big call and be part of the overall “process” that leads to the saving of so many lives. Though they largely have to keep the true nature of their work secret from family and non-work friends, they find certain perks within their work…but also learn that one mistake can be very costly.

The art is strong as usual for an Astro City issue; everyone who should look familiar does, and those that don’t still look quite good. While the story itself isn’t your usual fare, the sequences with superhero action look as one might expect (if not a bit on the higher end quality-wise) while the normal people look…normal.

Story-wise, this is another great outing, showing that Busiek knows his stuff–and does very well giving us a look at the human side of things, as “normal humans” interact in a world filled with super-powered beings and threats, and how the culture itself is impacted by their very existence.

While I missed this issue on Wednesday and thought “oh well” I quickly realized that no, I actually really wanted to read this, and it became the entire reason of going back to a comic shop Friday rather than simply waiting and picking it up with next week’s books. There really aren’t many series that do that for me.

Provided you have any background at all with Astro City–I’d especially recommend the first TPB Life in the Big City (there’s even a new edition out now)–you’d actually be fine jumping in on this issue without even having read #1…which is another strength of this series: there are a lot of short arcs and done-in-one issues, rather than the “standard” fare from DC and Marvel necessitating 4-6 issues’ investment just for a single story.

I’d largely prefer to hold off for the collected volumes, but for now, this return of Astro City is such a welcome thing, I’m likely to keep going with the single issues for at least a few more months.

Astro City (2013) #1 [Review]

Astro City (2013) #1 [cover]Through Open Doors (Part One)

Writer: Kurt Busiek
Artist: Brent Eric Anderson
Cover: Alex Ross
Lettering & Design: John G. Roshell & Jimmy Betancourt of Comicraft
Color Art: Alex Sinclair
Editor: Kristy Quinn
Assistant Editor: Jessica Chen
Publisher: Vertigo/DC Comics
Cover Price: $3.99

I’m pretty sure it’s been a few years since I’ve read Astro City. The last I recall, I left off during the Dark Age saga: as I’m typing this, I don’t even recall why I never finished. Might be I’d grown bored; maybe I was “protesting” a cover price if they were $3.99, whatever.

This new #1 is $3.99, but since it seems EVERYTHING is $3.99…I’d really have to just give up comics entirely, now, to “protest” the price point (and I am a lot quicker to find any “excuse” to outright “drop” a title as a result).

But Astro City! The series is back–after awhile under Image/Homage, then the Wildstorm banner and limbo when Wildstorm was terminated, I’d wondered where we’d see the series pop up. And now it’s under Vertigo, which while I wouldn’t consider this a title exactly fitting with Vertigo (moreso that I wouldn’t limit this series to the older crowd) means it’s still under DC, which is what it is. And as a new #1…I’ll bite for the first issue…particularly given the nostalgia factor and that I’ve generally enjoyed Astro City stuff that I’ve read.

We open with a strange man speaking to us of some looming threat, and we’re introduced to American Chibi, a sort of “overlooked” heroine of Astro City (that when you focus on the big ones, obviously some are going to be missed). We’re re-introduced to some familiar faces as well as new; see the city introduced to some powerful new alien, and a “common citizen” chosen to befriend him and be his guide to understanding the Earth. And finally, against his protestations, we learn a potentially disturbing fact about our narrator that can cast the whole story in a new light.

The creative team behind this issue is quite familiar, lending a continued consistency to the title as it’s been bounced from imprint to imprint: the cover logos may change, but the story, the art, the characters–those remain constants, creatively.

As the art is “standard” Astro City art by Anderson, everyone who should look familiar does, and I had no trouble following along…and there was no weird anatomy to throw me off with anyone (well, no weird anatomy that shouldn’t be there), no weirdly constructed pages/panels to leave me scratching my head. Basically, the visual side was a smooth ride all the way through the issue, with nice detail and all the right “touches” I expect of an Astro City comic.

The story left me a bit hesitant at first, but quickly drew me in. I quickly found myself first thinking of this narrator in terms of Doctor Who, which (to me) was rather amusing in a way, and then another sort of familiarity set in, and just when I felt I was getting to “know” the him, the end of the issue changes things rather dramatically.

Overall, the issue does what I’d want in a first issue, especially one like this where it’s an older, continuing property, but the RETURN of that property after several years’ hiatus. We get new characters and old; and we get the details pertaining to the story, that we need, in the story. Having a “history” with Astro City, I pick up on allusions to other stuff, other characters–but even so, I haven’t read any of those in years myself, so I’m foggy on details. But that in no way hinders this story; if anything it just makes me want to go back and re-read some older Astro City stories.

As far as I’m concerned, this is a great return to the series’ existence. I’d originally thought to just try this first issue, “for old time’s sake,” and let that be that…but I’m pretty likely to actually go ahead and snag the next issue.

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