Good Evening, Boo believers, and welcome to the cold, gray world that is this new year. You’ll have to forgive us for our absence, it has been nigh on a month since the last installment of what is usually a weekly feature, but when I say I’ve been busy, I’ve been busy. But here we are now, on a crisp Sunday night, to welcome back the weekly haul, and finally conclude our two-part Holliday haul edition. Kittycat Jackson is itching to delve into the stash this week, so join us, won’t you?
Let’s go back in time to late December, several days before Christmas. On my way to visiting my fiendish family, I made a customary stop at that old, railroad-adjacent trading post in the northern swamps. The trading post is a gold mine for reading material, because the stock rotates constantly, and the old fur trapper who runs it always finds me the best stuff. For a pair of old shoe buckles I swiped from some moldering nobody in a grave back home, (roughly a 15$ value) I got Superman/ Batman Vol. 1 and 3, and Savage Land. Superman/ Batman is something I’ve been meaning to read for years, both volumes are written by Jeph Loeb, with art by Ed McGuinness and Carlos Pacheco. That’s a solid deal, for some old buckles.
Savage Land is an original Marvel Graphic Novel written by Chris Claremont (great on story, bad on brevity) and drawn by a who’s who of the mid-Eighties Marvel Bullpen, Michael Golden, Dave Cockrum, Bob McCloud, Paul Smith, and Terry Austin, with a cover by John Buscema, no less. Now I’ve never heard of this book, but it features, in addition to that fantastic talent pool, Spiderman, the X-Men (classic 80’s line up), and Ka-Zar, lord of the Savage Land. “But Grim,” You ask, looking slack-jawed and clueless, “You keep saying Savage Land, what is this meaningless gobbledygook?” Oh you headless chickens, what do they teach you in school anymore? The Savage Land is the tropical jungle valley in the middle of the frozen wastes of the Antarctic continent, and home to the last remaining population of dinosaurs. It’s only the greatest fictional location in Marvel comics. And once again, it was cheap as sin. What about that other book all the way on the right? We’ll get to that eventually, but on to monthly books.
Harrow County, Possibly my favorite title on the stands these days. Black Widow, definitely my favorite super hero/ spy title on the stands these days. Dark Knight III: The Master Race, which has been fun and fearlessly weird so far. And Star Wars, coming back for all the Ben Kenobi stand alone issues.
The Unworthy Thor #2 was as excellent as the first issue, and is shaping up to be a great series. Red Sonja #0, for 25 cents, was worth every penny, and Spook House #2.
Gamora #1 was an excellent read for an impulse-buy. Green barbarian woman in space, there’s nothing not to love about it. The Rise of the Black Flame miniseries concluded in issue 5, and was phenomenal, the pulpy, tragic origin of one of the most fascinating characters in the B.P.R.D. mythos. and Lobster Johnson returned with a one shot story called Garden of Bones that is one of my favorite things I’ve read in the last month. It made for great porch reading on one of those bizarrely balmy sunny days we had this winter.
Finally, this past week brought us Black Widow #10, which means I have two issues in a row to look forward to, and Monsters Unleashed #1. I typically avoid big title-spanning event series, and I plan to with this one as well, until it gets collected. But I couldn’t miss Cullen Bunn, writer of Harrow County, writing all the Jack Kirby Marvel monsters, like Goom, Orrgo, Fin Fang Foom, and the rest. Plus it’s drawn by Steve Mcniven, of Old Man Logan, and he’s great.
Finally, my favorite acquisition of the holiday season, was a Yuletide gift from my brother Blackwolf.
Moon Knight: Shadows of the Moon, the 2nd volume of Marvel’s Epic collection featuring our looney lunar hero. Moon Knight is a C-list Marvel character I’ve been familiar with as he pops up in other books I’ve read from time to time. He always seemed to me like a lesser Daredevil, or as most people point out, a Marvel analogue for Batman. I borrowed Brian Bendis’ run on Moon Knight from an old fiend a while back, and it was a solid read, but not much else. Then I picked up Warren Ellis and Declan Shalvey’s run, being a fan of the art and writer. That book was fantastic, a series composed of one shots, each tonally and structurally different from the other. Reading up on it, Ellis claimed he was just trying to recreate the feel of the original Doug Moench and Bill Sienkiewicz run. I mentioned this in a casual telegraph to my brother Blackwolf, a sailor on the southern shores, and weeks later, as I returned to our ancestral home after a Christmas eve party in the wee hours of the morning, he jumped out from behind a corner and hit me with a brown paper package that contained this very volume. 500 full color high quality pages of comics that have been an absolute joy the last few cold weeks. Doug Moench is an incredible writer who wrote years of great Batman titles, and Moon Knight was clearly a cherished sandbox of experimentation for him. Artist Bill Sienkiewicz is better known for later drawing Daredevil and the original Elektra: Assassin miniseries. In this very volume you can see his art transitioning from gorgeously drafted heightened realism (he was often compared to Neal Adams) to his more scratchy, minimalist, experimental style for which he is better known. He also did an amazing comics adaptation of David Lynch’s Dune, which has some beautiful mixed media painted work.
The collection spans Moon Knight #5-23 , and is a fantastic gumbo of different genres and styles. It feels at times as though Moench is saying “Didn’t dig this detective story? Don’t worry, next month, Voodoo! Not your bag? Then after that, super villians! Then horror! Then globe-trotting adventure!”. Much like the title character, who has several personalities, Moon Knight is a different comic from issue to issue, while retaining a consistent essence. The closest analogy I can draw is to Will Eisner’s The Spirit, in the way it manages to hop from genre to genre in beautifully concise stand alone stories. But the brilliant writing, art, and variety in story telling, and shear page count, have made this collection my favorite new read of the season, and if this sounds appealing to you, I recommend you find yourself a copy.
And that is all for this installment. I’m afraid this next week will also be without an installment of this feature, but I have to travel to the tomb of the Witch Queen of the western desert. Rest assured we will be back the following week with a brand new edition. Until next time, boils and ghouls.