The Dwindling Shelf...

I haven’t read a “new” comic in about two months now. Don’t think that means I’m not reading – oh contraire! I’m reading more than ever! Just not of the “recently published” variety. I have been doing a wonderful job of rationing the comics I brought with me from the states – namely, I’m so enjoying Blackest Night and all of its space battle-y epicness! I’ve got enough two page spreads to last the blog for a long while (coming in the near future). Though I currently can’t write about enjoying comics from the new release shelves, I can tell you all about what I have been reading, which is a lot of well established series that I should have read by now. Here’s a look at the trade paperbacks I’ve picked up, and a little bit about why you should check them out too, even if you have access to new books:

Sandman Volume 1
Publisher: Vertigo (DC)
Writer: Neil Gaiman
If you like… House of Mystery! Hellblazer! Gothic tales that can sometimes be disturbing, the darker side of DC, brooding gentleman that slightly resemble a young Alan Rickman (mmmm….)

The Sandman (left) and his big sister Death

I brought this with me from the States in anticipation of the comic book prohibition within Launceston, Tasmania. I’m picking up the additional volumes from the local library and hope to finish the series while in Australia. So far it has been a chilling introduction to the Sandman as he works towards first escaping imprisonment by cruel and careless mortals, then reclaiming his kingdom, the land of dreams. Along the way he encounters the House of Mystery, John Constantine (in his first appearance ever), and several random DC villains that are shown in a more diabolical light than they've ever been seen in a standard DC title. In regards to why you should pick it up – well you probably already have. I must be the only female comic book fan that hasn’t read this book. Expect a series review when I have completed it!

Hellblazer in all of his crusty lovable glory.

League of Extraordinary Gentlemen Volume 1
Publisher: America’s Best Comics (DC)
Writer: Alan Moore
Aritst: Kevin O’Neill
If you like… Mystery tales of the “who dunnit” variety, fanciful conspiracy theories, alternate realities of literary characters, an explanation for why Sean Connery was ever persuaded to star in that dreadful movie, and of course late 19th century English lit

It’s a real travesty that until now I had only seen the “film adaptation” (the only resemblance to the comic is the title). The book is both a visually and conceptually dense read. If your regular superhero books are like junk food (delicious pizza and candy I wouldn’t think twice about accepting), then LOEG is like eating at a gourmet French restaurant. Like most of the finer things in life, it does come with a price. To be blunt, reading this made me feel like a dullard. I’m really rusty on my 19th century English lit (thanks art school!) and though I’m familiar with them, I haven’t read many of the books whose characters grace the story (Allan Quatermain, Captain Nemo). It is rewarding when you do recognize famous literary characters that make cameos such as Dodger, leader of the orphan gang in Charles Dicken’s Oliver Twist. Alan Moore weaves a tale that can be enjoyed by any readers (of adult age - what’s with this guy and attempted rape?), but I could see how this would definitely give more kicks to fans with a thorough knowledge of the original books. It is a rich mystery / adventure tale that would surely make some of the characters’ original authors proud. Additionally, you could spend hours analyzing the art, in particular the highly detailed background scenes. I have no doubt it was intended by O'Neill, but I found myself looking at every background player and thinking, “What novel could they be from? Will they play a larger part later? Did those two characters in the background just break up in between panels?” It’s like a “Where’s Waldo?” of literary heavyweights. Even looking at the cover image of the book, I wonder who the girl in the mirror is; perhaps Alice Through the Looking Glass (see above image)? Another library loan, I’ll be reading LOEG Volume 2 as soon as my loan request is met.


Superman Chronicles Volume 5
Publisher: DC
Author(s): Jerry Siegel
Artist(s): Joe Shuster and the Superman Studio, Paul Cassidy, Fredy Rey, Jack Burnley, Wayne Boring
If you like… Classic superhero comics of a simplistic nature, Superman, general goofiness

This was a trip. I will admit I only read about half of it before I started skimming, but it was worth checking out. These series of reprints showcase every Superman book published, and in chronological order. This volume contains issues of Action Comics, Superman, and World’s Best Comics. Within the issues are short, self-contained action tales, and all of them contain wacky narration that gives it the tone of an old newsreel or radio show. It’s refreshing to see Superman tackle issues like gambling rackets and crooked carnies. But only a few short years after the character’s creation, and there’s already repetition within the plots. In this collection alone there were three separate scenes with Superman “burrowing” (apparently an overlooked talent today), and countless opportunities for Supes to both save and humiliate Lois Lane (Is she fearless or stupid? Neither, she’s just a woman!) The stories are simplistic, and at times the language is archaic, but you won’t fail to be gob smacked by the bizarre moments these issues offer.