A cold dark November night, and once again, I’ve fallen way behind on the weekly Haul feature. You can see the impatience in Mr. Jackson’s face. What can I say, children? October is a busy month for me, and Halloween takes a lot of my time. I am miserable to see the tenth and greatest month pass, but November is a close second, and has it’s own chilly charms, for instance, it’s kicking off with a giant-sized weekly haul. So let’s dig in and see what’s in the stash tonight…
Let’s go back in time two weeks, to an unseasonably warm day, when Halloween was still on it’s way.
Rounding out the Mike Mignola corner of our monthly comics, I picked up Witchfinder: City of the Dead and Hellboy and the B.P.R.D. 1954, both of which have been fantastic so far. We also got the latest issue of Harrow County, and the first issue of Cave Carson has a Cybernetic Eye, by Gerard Way and Mike Oeming, which looks pretty promising. Cave is a resurrection of a super obscure silver age DC character who was part of their 50’s wave of explorer comics, along with Sea Devils and Challengers of the Unknown, and true to his name, was a spelunker with a habit of finding underground cities and forgotten civilizations. Last but not least, Mark Waid and Chris Samnee’s Black Widow returns after a month’s absence, and I cannot wait to dig in and see where it goes. It’s one of my favorite books on the stands, and for my money, the best thing Marvel is putting out now.
Later that week, while taking a break from the rat race, (my Rat Gnasher finished dead last behind Squeeky, SecretariRat, and Plague T. Nelson) I wandered through some sort of late-season Oktoberfest fair to find the comic shop hosting a secondary Free Comicbook Day Halloween event. How is that for the lord’s work, a national event that promotes reading and Halloween with free spooky comics. Of the free offerings I grabbed Evil Dead 2, The Three Stooges, and reprint of the first issue of Harrow County, with a great Halloween variant cover, the price was right.
I picked up the last two issues of Weird Detective, which I’ve fallen behind on, but it’s always nice when they pile up a little bit and I get to make a rainy afternoon of catching up on a particular title. I’m not a devoted Punisher fan, he owns a cool T-shirt and I loved the Frankencastle run, that’s about as far as it goes for me, but I still couldn’t resist The Punisher Annual #1 featuring a Jack-o-lantern scarecrow cover and a Halloween story. It made for good train reading later that week. And let’s not forget Spook House #1, from Albatross books and our old pal Eric Powell, of Hillbilly and The Goon. Spook House is his brand new all-ages horror anthology series, which he writes all of, and draws half of the stories, and it was great.
On this excursion my eye caught a collection on the shelf of which I had no previous knowledge, Doctor Strange: What Is It That Disturbs You Stephen? a clunkily-titled collection of P. Craig Russell’s work on Doctor Strange over the years. Russell is a fantastic artist who’s elegant line work and dazzling layout and compositional storytelling ability is so distinctly and unmistakably his own voice. I’m a fan. So naturally his talents on a book renowned for it’s surrealist and psychedelic imagery is something worth investigating. A day or two after this, trekking around that old swamp trading post north eastward I’ve mentioned in previous posts, I came upon a discount copy of WeirdWorld vol. 0: Warzones! by Jason Aaron and Mike Del Mundo. This was a fantastic book. November, as you may or may not know, is Barbarian month. Fantasy stuff works well all winter, but for whatever reason, come November, All I want to read is Conan and Kull. WeirdWorld was a miniseries tied to Marvel’s line-wide Secret Wars event from a year or so ago, which I did not read, and don’t feel one way or another about. In WeirdWorld they throw in all their forgotten fantasy characters from the 60’s and 70’s including the fantasy realm of the book’s namesake, Arkon of Polemachus, Skull the Slayer, and even the Man-Thing. It’s a sword and sorcery gumbo with a lighthearted touch that doesn’t cheapen or mock the story, featuring the submarine apes of Apelantis, Lazer-orcs, Hawksquaches, Crystal giants, and a tavern suspended by vines over a chasm accessible only by rope-ladder. It’s full of big ideas and concepts, and wonderfully goofy but not self-depricating comic bookishness, like Grant Morrison or Rick Remender on their better works. It’s an incredibly satisfying and simple story handled deftly by Jason Aaron, who also writes Star Wars, and wrote Wolverine, and a hundred other great things. And the Del Mundo’s art is a God damned treat, lushly, and colorfully painted with cartoonish elasticity, but crisp legibility.
Finally a few days ago on a cold grey afternoon, on my way to the night shift, I caught up on everything else waiting for me.
Poe Dameron #7, a self-contained story that wasn’t bad, with solid fill-in art. Rise of the Black Flame #3, awesome, and spooky. Conan the Slayer is not as good as I wish it was, but I like Cullen Bunn a lot and it is Barbarian month, so I’m holding on to see where it goes. B.P.R.D. I am still way behind on, so I’ll get to this issue when I can. Dark Knight III has been really interesting, Andy Kubert may be my favorite current Batman artist. Silver Surfer was a great story, the entire series has done a great job of feeling like classic 60’s/ 70’s Marvel comics. The Mighty Avengers #1 was a bit of an impulse buy, but it is written by Mark Waid (see Black Widow, above), and features, by bizarre coincidence, art by Mike Del Mundo, and having finished reading Weirdworld the night before, I couldn’t resist picking this up. It was a solid read, but left me a little lost, making a lot of references to recent Marvel continuity I’ve not read, but the art was great, and it had Kang the Conqueror, so it’s definitely not money wasted. And lastly, another impulse grab, The Unworthy Thor #1 by Jason Aaron (see Weirdworld, above, funny how this keeps happening, right?) and Oliver Coipel. Thor is an old favorite, who I check in on periodically. I greatly enjoyed Aaron’s run on the title, though I’ve only read it sporadically. I followed the first seven or so issues of last year’s (or the year prior?) The Mighty Thor, wherein Jane Foster takes up the enchanted mallet Mjolnir, and the mantle of the thunder god, while Thor himself was deemed mysteriously no longer worthy, and then had an arm ripped off. That was an amazing series, but I only have so much disposable income as a working Swamp Ghoul, and I had to drop it for budgetary reasons. But November, I don’t know if I’ve mentioned this already, is Barbarian month. And if you don’t think that Thor and his norse mythology buddies fit right in with Barbarian month, well then you need to go back to thinking school, and take some extension courses. Oliver Coipel is also an artist I really enjoy, and he did an iconic run on Thor (which I admittedly never read) a while back, but his style changes and refines over the years, and is beautifully fit for this title. For four dollars I got to see Thor riding a giant goat through space and smashing trolls on the Moon with a battle-ax before meeting up with horse-faced alien Thunder god Beta Ray Bill. That is a deal. I think I may follow up on this title, if funds permit me.
And that’s it for tonight, fiends. I have to put up the old storm windows, and I’ve a few days worth of painting and repairing some neglected wings of the swamp mansion here. Go out and buy some comics, read some Robert E. Howard or perhaps, the poetic Eda. And it’s getting cold out, so wear a sweater, and beware late-harvest ghouls and haints.