Good evening, and welcome back to the Weekly Haul. I swear to the Christian God it feels like I’m writing three of these damn things a week. Being absent a month and then getting back on schedule sure makes it feel like it, at least. It’s unseasonably warm here at Grim Manor, and Mr. Kittycat Jackson and I have a lot of reading to catch up on, so let’s see what’s in the stash tonight, shall we?
Right off the rack this week, we have The Visitor: How & Why He Stayed #1 by Mike Mignola, Chris Roberson, and Paul Grist. Spinning out of the Hellboy family of titles, The Visitor tells the story of this guy:
The mysterious dead Alien we first met in August 2001 in the pages of Hellboy: Conqueror Worm #4. We’d seen some of his buddies briefly in the first Hellboy arc, years prior, but other than that we know nothing about him or his background. It has always been a great detail of the Hellboy mythos that there are Aliens who know exactly what’s going on in this sprawling elusive epic, but they don’t tell us, and we’ve only seen them in collectively maybe ten panels. For better or worse, this miniseries will expand on this character. So far the first issue was fantastic, and the art is a good fit for the story. As always with Hellboy, I can’t wait to read more, and yet hope they never give me the full picture.
We also got a gator-bitten package in the mail this week with Classic Star Wars vol. 2 Rebel Storm. This collects the 1990’s re-release of the Star Wars Newspaper comic strip that ran from 1979 to 1984, particularly the run by writer Archie Goodwin and artist Al Williamson. The re-release revised the strip to function as a comic book, reordering the panels for a vertical page, rewriting the erroneous and repetitive narration necessary in a daily strip to recap where we are in the story, and coloring it all in. One could argue that this butchers the original, but this is how I met the comic in the 90’s, when the horrible newsstand at the Troll market had three random issues on their grimy spinner rack. The covers jumped out at me instantly, Giant Tentacles enveloping the Millennium Falcon, Darth Vader and some hitherto unheard of frog monster ambushing Luke and some barbarian woman in some ancient ruins, and Luke leaping at some masked alien assassins, lightsaber in hand. I read and re-read those issues many times, the character voices were right, and they looked and sounded just like everyone I knew from the movies, but they go on these insane Flash Gordon-type adventures with giant monsters and exotic, more comicbook-like environments. Al Williamson was in fact a classic Flash Gordon artist, an incredible draftsman with an amazing knack for lighting and storytelling, not to mention likenesses. Rereading some of these for the first time has not disappointed either, on page 1 we have a giant octopus, that’s all I ever need out of a story.
This week also brought us a most excellent gift from our Cyclops Lanterns co-Contributor Max. He might not know we have this yet, so maybe don’t tell him what a generous gift it was, for a while. Jack Kirby’s Fourth World Omnibus Vol. 2, signed by Neal Adams. This collects New Gods, The Forever People, Superman’s Pal Jimmy Olsen, and Mister Miracle, which collectively made up the Fourth World cycle, widely regarded by Kirby fans as his magnum opus. This makes it a little bit odd that Neal Adams wrote his name on the cover, right above Jack Kirby’s. Neal did work on the book though, he provided a number of covers for the series, as well as redrew Superman’s face in every issue he appeared, this at the insistence of the editors who thought that Kirby’s Superman didn’t look enough like the established house style, the fools. The cover has his signature because Max swiped it (or paid full price, who knows with that guy) from the gift shop at Neal’s studio, since it’s rare and out of print. Neal is an excellent artist, I was singing his praises in last week’s feature, and he did in fact work on the Fourth World books, but it’s a bit out of place, like Keith Richard’s signing the White Album. Any way this is an incredible collection that includes New Gods #3 The Glory Boat, one of my favorite covers of the series.
Finally, after doing my grim work all over the coast this weekend (I am criminally busy, and I mean criminally) I was close enough to the old swamp trading post to stop in and look around. The old fur trapper was there, as always, sifting through some dusty crates of newly acquired treasures. It was in one of those crates that I found this gorgeous over-sized collection, Batman’s Strangest Cases. This giant magazine size collection reprints four Bronze age Batman tales by all of the best writers and artists of that era, Red Water Crimson Death and A Vow from the Grave by Denny O’Neil and Neal Adams, The Demon of Gothos Manor by Denny O’Neil and Irv Novick, Nobody Knows! by Frank Robbins and Dick Giordano, and Night of the Bat by Len Wein and Berni Wrightson. This is literally everyone I was talking about last week.
This giant magazine size collection reprints four Bronze age Batman tales by all of the best writers and artists of that era, Red Water Crimson Death and A Vow from the Grave by Denny O’Neil and Neal Adams, The Demon of Gothos Manor by Denny O’Neil and Irv Novick, Nobody Knows! by Frank Robbins and Dick Giordano, and Night of the Bat by Len Wein and Berni Wrightson. This is literally everyone I was talking about last week.This scratched exactly every itch I had all week, Night of the Bat even features Swamp Thing (it was in fact an issue of his title). Mr Jackson and I have been enjoying this one story at a time, at the end of the day.
And that is it for this week, boils and ghouls, though to say “that’s it” sounds reductive, for such a fantastic haul. If you’ll excuse me I have to tend to my garden before the sun rises, it seems some kind of meteor has crashed there and there’s an eerie glow coming from the tomato patch. See you next slime, boo believers.