Because there have been so many light NCBD’s recently, I’ve had a chance to catch up on some back issues and story arcs I’ve missed out on the first time around. There are a lot of winners out there that can be picked up on the cheap right now.
- Beta Ray Bill: Godhunter – Chris Sims at The ISB talked this one up quite a bit, but it didn’t quite live up to the description for me (“spacehorse with the power of Thor runs off to kill Galactus”). He’s really good at finding the high concept behind a book — and it IS a good one — but I felt the execution was missing something. Bill, who lost his planet to Galactus, has decided that he’s going to blow up any planet Galactus is looking for in order to starve him to death. Of course, those actions make him unworthy of his hammer Stormbringer. Maybe space adventures just aren’t my thing, (Hercules: Prince of Power apparently excepted), and it was worth the $.75, it just wasn’t all I hoped for. Still, huge props to Marvel for including a reprint of the original Beta Ray Bill story by Walt Simonson in the back of each issue. That’s definitely worth the extra $1 for each issue.
- Secret Six (mini) – I’ve been hearing incredible things about the new Secret Six ongoing, so I jumped at the mini that came right before it. It’s a solid story of former (?) villains who band together and seemingly care about each other…Except for, you know, they all hate each other. It’s compelling stuff with complicated relationships. It’s not the madcap insanity I keep hearing about the ongoing, but still an enjoyable read until I can pick up the current series.
- Incredible Hercules: Love and War – Containing the infamous issue 122 I spoke of a couple weeks back, The Incredible Hercules has just been getting better and better. There’s so much going on it’s almost too hard to paraphrase. There’s a corporate takeover in the Greek pantheon, a faceoff with Namor, and a whole crapload of Amazons! And punching. Lots and lots of punching. Pak and Van Lente’s story is fast-paced, action-packed, and amazingly funny. Clayton Henry’s art seems to combine the facial expressions of Kevin Maguire with the linework of Frank Cho and brother, there’s nothing wrong with that. Our writers have gone insane with the sound effects, too, and I say this in the most impressed way I possibly can. I have never seen sound effects used like they are here. More comics should be this fun.
- Modern Masters – I’ve recently picked up several of TwoMorrows’ excellent Modern Masters series, notably Art Adams, Kevin Maguire, John Byrne, and JL Garcia Lopez. If you have any interest in how one of your favorite artists work, this is the series for you. I find the questions to be too leading sometimes, and the subjects aren’t always as forthcoming as they could be, but these are great, great reads and feature some stellar artwork. I was especially touched by Fabian Nicieza’s ode to his friend Maguire in the introduction to that volume. John Byrne was a surprisingly good read, too, especially when he credits Claremont with writing the only comic page he ever drew that made him cry, and explaining his online persona. He does say a lot of things that come off harshly from the safety of his own forum, but he explains it from his side in this interview. (I should also mention that Matt and I met him once at the greatly-missed Big Easy ComiCon and he couldn’t have been nicer. He showed me how to draw the Superman shield right every time (it’s two fish!) and patiently answered what in hindsight was a fairly obnoxious question.) The Garcia-Lopez volume seemed to stop rather abruptly, but I really enjoyed hearing these artists talk about their influences, methods, and collaborators.
All-in-all, some exceptionally strong books from the discount bin and a couple trips to the library.