Welcome to the first of a series of weekly columns about the universes that are comics.
I hope each week to inform and entertain you about comic books and the related items that fascinate so many of us in pop culture. I’ll include some recent news highlights, some brief reviews of books that are now available, and maybe even throw in an opinion or two!
First off, just what is a comic book? Comic books (or comics) are publications that often use drawings to tell a story. Now, a writer is usually behind the story, and he or she will insert dialogue via word balloons (a long-time comic staple), but without the art, it’s a novel.
Comics originally were very inexpensive, and thus considered throw-away magazines. But when their popularity grew, so did their collectability.
The two biggest companies are Marvel and DC Comics. There are several other comics producers, including Boom! Studios, Dark Horse, Dynamite! Comics, IDW Comics, Image Comics, and Radical Publishing, just to name a few. Each week, books arrive in neighborhood comics shops and the faithful fans make it to the store on Wednesday to buy their weekly stash. They then take the books home.
Most fans actually read the books, but others simply “bag and board” them–put them away in materials that will slow down (but not stop) the natural processes of destruction, including air and light.
Okay, with that basic info, let’s get to some recent “comics in the headlines” news stories, all taken from the scifipulse.net website:
First Appearance Of Spider-Man Sells For $1.1 Million
The first appearance of Spider-Man, which took place in Amazing Fantasy #15, sold for $1.1 million dollars. Five decades ago, the comic sold for just 12 cents.
The copy of the Marvel comic book, in excellent condition, sold through ComicConnect.com with a cover that shows the Web Slinger, who under the mask was Peter Parker, swinging from a high building with a man under his right arm.
Only one comic has been more expensive than Amazing Fantasy #15. That was the $1.5 million price attained for Action Comics #1, Superman’s 1938 debut.
Marvel Comics Bringing Garth Ennis Back
Marvel Comics has been bringing a lot of “name” writers onto their books recently.
Now it looks like Garth Ennis is on his way back
“C.B. Cebulski, senior vice president of creator and content development, announced that the legendary writer was due to work for the company again during the Marvel’s ‘Next Big Thing’ panel at Emerald City Comicon in Seattle,” reported digitalspy.com.
How did he announce it? “He answered a simple ‘yes’ to a question regarding the return of the Punisher and The Boys scribe,” wrote the site’s Hugh Armitage. “No further details were given.”
Continuing Where The Movie Left Off, ‘Total Recall’ #1 Hits Stores In May!
Shipping this May, Dynamite Comics, inspired by the hit 1990 science fiction movie ‘Total Recall’ starring Arnold Schwarzenegger, presents the story of what happens next in its new comic series: ‘Total Recall.’
The series begins with the death of the Mars mining colony chief, Cohaagen, and the creation of an atmosphere for the planet. Douglas Quaid, the undercover agent known as Hauser, and the man responsible for releasing the colony from the grips of Cohaagen, simply wants to live happily ever after with Melina the woman of his dreams. But with Mars in chaos, new enemies invading the red planet, and a mysterious stranger in their midst, will Quaid have his happily ever after? Check out issue ‘Total Recall’ #1 to find out!
Time for me to review a couple of comics highlights from this week:
1. ‘The Walking Dead’ #82. Believe it or not, before there was a hit AMC television show, there was a comic written by Robert Kirkman. While ‘Total Recall’ is a movie turned into a comic, ‘Walking Dead’ went the other direction.
Honestly, the series hasn’t finished the tale told in the first six issues, to you can imagine that there’s been a lot more story only the comics readers know! It’s a dark, moody comic about human nature and how we react in extreme circumstances. I don’t normally like zombie stories, but this book has me hooked.
Right now, Image is releasing the past comics on a weekly basis, so if you inclined to catch up on ‘Walking Dead,’ check out those issues!
2. ‘Time Bomb’ trade paperback. This comic was a limited-series story (only five issues), and now has been collected into one volume.
Here’s the book’s description: “When a hidden city is discovered beneath Berlin, Hitler’s secret doomsday weapon – an Omega Bomb designed to wipe out the human race – is accidentally activated. Now, a team of specialists with state-of-the-art equipment and weaponry must travel back in time to stop the bomb from going off. However, they soon discover that they’ve been sent back, instead, back to the heart of Hitler’s Germany.”
Jimmy Palmiotti and Justin Gray were the writers, and Paul Gulacy provided the art. They are some of the best creators in the industry, and they strut their stuff very powerfully in this action-packed story.
Radical always does a superb job of producing trades. Where other companies might either reduce the size of the pages or use less-than-top-quality paper or ink, this trade is reproduced lovingly, with glossy paper, sharp colors and easily read text. I only wish it were in hardcover!
And to conclude this column, I’ll express my opinion on trade paperbacks.
Several years back, someone got the smart idea to collect multi-issue stories into one large volume. Thus, trade paperbacks were born!
When I first heard about “trades,” as fans call them, I thought it was the end of the local comics store. I was so wrong about that. Instead, fans who had missed some issues could catch up on what had happened in the latest trade. So, trades actually were a boon to the local shops.
Another development took place recently, and that was releasing some stories in hardcover format instead of softcover versions. Of course, they usually sell the same story in trades after the hardcovers have been sold, but if one really, really likes a particular story, you can add it to your bookshelf with a hardcover.
It also makes people think you are quite the avid reader. A friend of mine who visited my place commented on all the books I owned. When she pulled down one of them and opened it, she discovered it was really a comic. Was she disappointed!
In the future, we’ll talk about the future of comics and some other topics of interest. Until then, welcome to the comics universes!
Wayne Hall is co-editor and a news writer for SciFiPulse.Net. He also serves as a host for the SFP-Now podcast and also the Wayne’s Comics podcast. You can check both of them out at http://www.sfp-now.com.