This is a big week for comic releases, not so much in terms of quantity (as selection is limited compared to a “normal” Wednesday), but in terms of actually having physical comics shipping from Diamond again. Wohoo! #BacktheComeback, and all that.
It seems like many comics retailers are opening back up as well, at least on a limited basis or with curbside pick-up, as I’ve seen several of them post on social media — even here in the Bay Area, where restrictions seemed to be tighter than in a lot of places. As a part of the new normal, you should call ahead or check your local shop’s website to see what your options are. Wear a mask, wash your hands, pay with a credit card in advance and enjoy some comics.
And if you’re wondering what you should get, here are some recommendations by the Smash Pages crew. You can check the Comic List page to see what’s arriving from Diamond in your local shop, and the comiXology new releases page for what’s available digitally.
I’ve been reading Hawkeye: Freefall, and I don’t know why more people aren’t? Maybe it’s because Marvel hasn’t really pushed a Hawkeye series since way back when Fraction and Lemire wrote the book, even though they’ve all been superb? He should be the Kevin Bacon of the Marvel Universe, much like Nightwing is in the DC Universe.
Anyway, this book is great. Hawkeye: Freefall has a superb creative team in Matthew Rosenberg and Otto Schmidt. This time around there’s someone else running around as Ronin while putting a hurting on the Hood’s gang, and Hawkeye is on the case to find out who, with the rest of his “family,” either is trying to help or possibly getting in the way. Does Hawkeye even really want to find out who Ronin is? That’s the story in a nutshell, but a TON of fun is packed into that nutshell.
Spider-Man, Bucky, Falcon, Luke Cage, Kate Bishop and a whole lot of other characters show up in the book, making it connected to the Marvel Universe at large, and it looks like it may have some serious ramifications to our favorite archer who isn’t green. We need more action books like this at Marvel, but with Marvel shuffling this to their “digital-only” line, we might not get any more. It’s a shame. I’m going to keep supporting it though, and you should, too. Support fun and buy this book.
Honestly, the biggest question for me from this week’s comics is whether to get DC’s 1st Issue Special hardcover. As the title suggests, this series was intended to launch characters into their own ongoing concerns – and although it only ran for 13 issues in 1975-76, it did indeed lead to Mike Grell’s Warlord and the Gerry Conway/Don Newton New Gods relaunch. Ironically enough, New Gods picked up where its old numbering left off, with issue #12.
Speaking of the New Gods, 1st Issue Special featured a few new Jack Kirby concepts. These included Atlas, a reimagining of the Greek god (issue #1); and Dingbats of Danger Street (issue #6), an adolescent gang in the manner of Kirby’s previous Boy Commandos and Newsboy Legion. Steve Englehart famously picked up what Kirby put down with issue #5’s Manhunter relaunch, and wove the Manhunters into the larger Green Lantern mythology. Kirby’s erstwhile collaborator Joe Simon created the Green Team (kid millionaires) for issue #2 and the Outsiders (unrelated to the later Bat-team) for issue #10, both with artist Jerry Grandinetti. Bob Kanigher and John Rosenberger gave the world Lady Cop (issue #4), a concept executed so perfectly that it must apparently be seen to be believed. Finally, besides the New Gods, the series spotlighted preexisting characters Metamorpho (issue #3), the Creeper (issue #7), and Doctor Fate (issue #9, written by the late Martin Pasko and drawn definitively by Walt Simonson).
However, perhaps the highest-profile fan of 1st Issue Special is writer James Robinson, who used Atlas and Codename: Assassin (created by Gerry Conway and Nestor Redondo for issue #11) in his stint on Superman about 10 years ago. Prior to that, of course, Robinson used Gerry Conway and Mike Vosburg’s version of Starman (Mikaal Tomas) to great effect in his landmark Starman series (and later in his Justice League run). Therefore, I recommend 1st Issue Special for fans of DC obscura, including but not limited to lovers of James Robinson and/or Jack Kirby; or simply those who want to know what DC could throw against a wall during the Ford Administration.
And while we’re on the subject of DC in the ’70s, and Steve Englehart in particular, if you haven’t gotten a collection of Englehart’s legendary Detective Comics run (with artists Walt Simonson and Marshall Rogers), do yourself a favor and pick up Tales of the Batman: Steve Englehart. Among other things, it also collects “Night of the Stalker” (drawn by Sal Amendola) and the Dark Detective miniseries from 2005ish which reunited him with Rogers.
What the heck – let’s finish this off with the Weird Western Tales Omnibus, featuring the introduction and early years of Jonah Hex. It’s two-fisted gun-slingin’ as only the grittiest cowpokes of yesteryear could do it, and it’s probably heavy enough that you could beat a a man to death with it to boot. Tell ’em Jonah sent yuh, varmint!
[Note: Neither Smash Pages nor the author recommend any unauthorized use of said product.]
Diving into the list for this week, there’s one comic that I’ve for sure been looking forward to, Ludocrats #1 by Kieron Gillen, Jim Rossignol, Jeff Stokely and Tamra Bonvillain. Described as “Dune meets Asterix & Obelix,” it looks like a heck of a lot of crazy fun; you can see some preview pages here.
Speaking of fun comics, let’s talk about Jimmy Olsen. This week brings the penultimate issue to the penultimate issue of what’s been such a clever book. This issue promises to reveal some details around the plot to assassinate Mr. Olsen, as well as an appearance by the entire Fall-Off-Family (somehow related to the Legion’s Arm-Fall-Off Boy). It’s like the post-modern Silver Age, mixed up with a dose of meta and globe-trotting-ness, and shaken, not stirred.
Finally, I was really impress with the first issue of Lost on Planet Earth, the comiXology Originals title by Magdalene Visaggio and Claudia Aguirre. It’s kind of like Star Trek, if Kirk decided to leave Starfleet behind and figure out what else he could do instead. The second issue is available this week, and I’m curious to see where Basil Miranda ends up after the big decision she made at the end of last issue.