Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Oh, the Staggering Beauty of the Half Price Trades

One of the best things about the San Diego Comic Con are the those booths dedicated to the greater distribution of reading material to a public starved for more material than they can devour while sitting in the San Deigo airport for over 6 hours while Southwest tries to get them on a plane home. Yes, I'm talking about a business plan that makes no sense from a retailer's perspective, selling graphic novels and trade paperbacks for about pretty much wholesale prices to a desperate public. There are some amazing finds to be found here. My good friend Todd Severin and I make a point of doing some damage here.

What sort of damage you ask? Well thanks, I'll tell you:
  • Trinity by Matt Wagner
  • Captain America - Winter Soldier
  • Essential Fantastic Four #5 (so now I have all the Kirby work in black and white in one spot)
  • Astonishing X-Men - Gifted
  • New Avengers: Secrets & Lies
  • Spider-Man - Blue
  • Dr. Strange - A Separate Reality
A whole bunch of cool stuff, some of which I've never read before and wanted to (Spider-Man - Blue and Astonishing X-Men - Gifted), or they were a good bookshelf/studio version of work that I really enjoy (Dr. Strange - A Separate Reality, the great Englehart/Brunner work).

Probably the best of them was Spider-Man - Blue, a Loeb/Sale creation that puts an interesting spin on the whole Gwen and Mary Jane story, retelling the story in a disjointed fashion and adding bits and pieces that really expand the old Lee/Romita/Ditko work. Its a better creation than the Daredevil - Yellow book that didn't really add as much to the back story as this one did. One small nitpick was the replacing Mary Jane's clothes in the classic "Face it Tiger, You hit the jackpot!" scene. Why Sale needed to re-do that is beyond me, it seems like a bizarre decision when you consider that that is the only scene that most people know by heart. If they replaced anything else (except her clothes in the final Green Goblin/Brooklyn Bridge scene, which has also been done a number of times) there is no way anyone would know. But, face it tiger, you made an interesting executive decision.

We also can note that, yet again, the reproduction on the Marvel '70's books is probably simple scans from original prints that never are able to reproduce the real great line quality that was a feature of that work. The "Crusty Bunkers" inks and Dick Giordano inks used a lot of thin crow quill lines, and the early '70's comics were the last to be produced on metal plates as opposed to the plastic plates that were in use on the X books by 1978. Those lines either drop out or thicken up, and neither is a great way to really preserve the wonderful work that Brunner did back then.

Reading the Essential Fantastic Fours, in order, is great way to see the Lee/Kirby dynamic, and exactly when Jack shut down the idea factory that was his entire frontal lobe. For my money, it is the ending of FF#87, the three issues with the Fantastic Four trapped in Latveria, where Doom lets them leave, and turns his back to the reader, saying "We shall live to fight -- another day." From FF#88 to #93, the Skrull slaver saga and the Mole Man house, the artwork holds up, but drawing aliens fighting in gangsterville is almost Jack having a vacation, and the Mole Man house is the real start of Jack on full-on autopilot. Sad but true. I'm sure he was working at home on those early pictures of Orion by now, if designing the entire city of New Genesis.

1 comment:

Kid Sis said...

You're funny if you think that's a lot. I bought so many the first day, the trade guy asked me to marry him.

Already read Gifted and Dangerous. Loved.