Author: Scott VanderPloeg

Review | Fantastic Four By Jonathan Hickman Volume 2

After finishing volume 1 I moved quickly into Fantastic Four By Jonathan Hickman Volume 2.  Here’s the publisher’s blurb: Jonathan Hickman and Dale Eaglesham’s critically acclaimed run continues in the Prime Elements, a story that kicks off the new world-spanning adventures of the Fantastic Four. Featuring the return of the Mole Man, the architecture of the underworld, and the smartest Moloid you’ll ever meet. Watch as the First Family journeys to the moon where they learn that the history of the Inhumans runs much deeper, and richer, than previously believed. Collecting FANTASTIC FOUR #575-578. What’s that?  Why yes, you are paying the same $20 for one less issue and 32 fewer pages in this volume compared to the last.  At least these four issues are a cohesive story with no fill in creators. What we’re presented with is laying a groundwork for a future story.  A hidden underground city built by the High Evolutionary is raised to the surface.  A kingdom of fish people claiming to be Atlantis is discovered and Sue becomes their ambassador.  The Inhumans call forth a gathering of other races mutated by the Kree to claim their place on Earth.  There’s an attack in the Negative Zone.  We’re given bits and pieces but need to wait for another volume to have it mean something.  Interest is piqued and some great plot threads sewn but it’s...

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Review | Fantastic Four By Jonathan Hickman Volume 1

Based on the title I get the distinct feeling I should know who Jonathan Hickman is, but I still don’t.  I’ve always been a Fantastic Four fan but I haven’t been reading it for a few years so Fantastic Four By Jonathan Hickman Volume 1 seemed like a good point to jump in.  For some background depth check out this interview.  Here’s the publisher’s blurb: Solve everything! Inside a room kept secret from even his closest friends and family, Reed Richards had scrawled upon the walls 100 of the biggest and boldest ideas his brain could produce. And, recently, he added a 101st, the most audacious ever: “Solve everything.” It would be a mantra that would lead the obsessively intellectual Mr. Fantastic to doing great works on behalf of humanity — and, in typically fantastic fashion, lead him into even greater trouble! For, as the big brain of the Fantastic Four will find out, solving everything carries with it a great cost, and one that is perhaps too much to pay. With art by Dale Eaglesham and covers by the legendary Alan Davis, Jonathan Hickman’s bristling take on the Fantastic Four leads Marvel’s First Family in an exciting new direction! Collecting FANTASTIC FOUR #570-574. From the get go I was hooked on this story.  Reed Richards, being the greatest scientific mind in the Marvel Universe, has created a bridge...

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Jiminy Christmas! | 2010 Picks

The new year is finally starting to roll out so I thought to highlight my picks from 2010: one book from each publisher that to me was the best material they put out. Superman: Secret Origin by DC Comics This one blew me away: a straight up superhero book.  Geoff Johns and Gary Frank deliver a reinterpretation of the Superman origin story: it’s a slight tweak with details for modern audiences.  No big surprises or twists, just solid story and art.  This one keeps the faith that a superhero story can be great. The Marvels Project by Marvel Comics Another origin story but with a brand new spin.  Brubaker know how to write a great story and be brings it here: a look at the very beginning of the Marvel Universe with a fantastic roster of Golden Age heroes.  Epting’s art brings the period to life. Parker: The Outfit by IDW The second story arc from Darwyn Cooke brings more of the same: gritty mob action with quick rapid dialogue and a no holds barred story.  Singular colour and heavy ink give the art a look that screams “period piece” and immerse the reader instantly.  Cooke’s hard lines and chiseled men enforce the story and contrast with his soft and rounded women: every element works together beautifully and can only happen when it’s a one creator work. Usagi Yojimbo...

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Jiminy Christmas! | Variant Dust Jackets

This one has been brewing for a long time but over the holidays my ire was raised considerably as I tried to organize my library.  Why, pray tell, does Marvel believe they need to have variant dust jackets for hardcover books? Let’s take a step back and see where this debacle began.  Marvel Masterworks was launched with these great dust jackets that were part of the Marvel 25th anniversary event.  They looked great and lasted for a while until someone decided they needed to redesign the entire Marvel hardcover look.  Masterworks lost the fancy dust jacket design and consecutive numbering for a dull gray and black dust jacket with numbering only related to the content.  This lasted for a few books and enough people were angry about it that Marvel offered the original dust jacket design as a variant, for a $5 premium.  Eventually the premium was removed but the variant continues, available only through the direct market a.k.a. comic book stores. Fast forward and Marvel launches the Premiere Hardcover line reprinting stories from the 1980s, an era that Masterworks probably won’t reach for some time, if ever.  Marvel decides to launch a variant direct market dust jacket that maintains a consistent theme with consecutive numbering.  Hmm, sounds familiar: poor man’s Masterworks.  I’m guessing these newer works don’t need restoration and Marvel may still have the printer’s proofs.  This...

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Fantagraphics Spring Offerings

Over the holidays Fantagraphics released their Spring 2011 catalog which covers new items until August; yes that’s well into summer but I didn’t name it.  Feel free to browse it at your leisure but I wanted to highlight a few items I’m excited about. The Arctic Marauder by Jacques Tardi $16.99 Hardcover 64 pages, black-and-white, 8 ½” x 11 ½” ISBN 978-1-60699-435-1 A satirical, Jules Vernes-esque “retro-sci-fi” yarn executed on scratchboard in a stunningly detailed faux-woodcut style perfectly chosen to render the Edwardian-era mechanical marvels on display. Created in 1972, The Arctic Marauder is a downright prescient example of proto-“steampunk” science fiction — or perhaps more accurately, and to coin a spinoff genre, “icepunk.” In 1899, “L’Anjou,” a ship navigating the Arctic Ocean from Murmansk, Russia, to Le Havre, France comes across a stunning sight: A ghostly, abandoned vessel perched high atop an iceberg. But exploring this strange apparition is the last thing the sailors will ever do, as their own ship is soon dispatched to Davy Jones’ locker via a mysterious explosion. I’ve been enjoying the Tardi works Fantagraphics has brought to market thus far, hitting across the range of his body of work.  This is an early standalone work so it may be rough storytelling like the first Adele Blanc-Sec volume. WALT DISNEY’S MICKEY MOUSE VOLUME 1: “RACE TO DEATH VALLEY” by Floyd Gottfredson, edited by David...

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