Sunday, April 22, 2018

Review- BLACK-EYED KIDS VOL. 3: SONS AND DAUGHTERS




BLACK-EYED KIDS VOL. 3: SONS AND DAUGHTERS (Aftershock, First Printing, 2016*; Softcover)

*Book actually released in 2018. Indicia states October 2016. It looks like a lot of copy and pasting from Vol. 1.

Collects Black-Eyed Kids #11-15 (cover dates February- December, 2017)

Writer: Joe Pruett

Artists: Szymon Kudranski

Colorist: Guy Major



The way that they were talking during the solicits made it seem like this was the end of the series. With that in mind I expected some sort of resolution. While we get a lot of background on the BEKs, we get neither a definitive answer to their origins nor do we get the reason of what this series has been building up to. Instead we get an End Of Season One blurb at the end of the book. Fair enough.



There is still a lot of good Horror fun to be had along the way. We finally discover what Meredith and Gus have meant to this group of BEKs and why they have been allowed to live...so far, at least.



I'm still enjoying this series, so I will be back if and whenever it is relaunched. It's been a fun ride and aside from the endless sea of blues used in the color palette I can't find any fault with the series. It's a good classic style Horrror comic brought into the 21st century.
Junk Food For Thought rating: 4.25 out of 5.

The OCD zone- This is the part where I go into tactile sensations and materials of physical media. Those with heart conditions, high blood pressure, or women who are pregnant should exit my blog at their earliest convenience, as their safety cannot be guaranteed beyond this point.

This book was originally announced as Vol. 3: Past Lives, for those interested in that sort of trivia.

Paper stock: Glossy coated stock.

Binding: Perfect bound trade paperback.

Cardstock cover notes: Matte finish with spot varnish.

Monday, April 16, 2018

Review- SHOCK SUSPENSTORIES ANNUAL VOL. 2




SHOCK SUSPENSTORIES ANNUAL VOL. 2 (Gemstone, 1994; Softcover)

Collects Shock SuspenStories #6-10 (cover dates February/March, 1952- December, 1952/ January, 1953)

Writers: Bill Gaines (co-plotter), Al Feldstein (co-plotter and script), and Ray Bradbury

Artists: Al Feldstein, Jack Kamen, Jack Davis, Joe Orlando, Graham Ingels, and Wally Wood



Shock SuspenStories was an EC sampler series, giving readers an idea of what the entire EC line was doing. Each issue has a Crime SuspenStory, a Shock SuspenStory, a Science-Fiction SuspenStory, and a Horror SuspenStory.

Issue 6's Under Cover! is a subversive tale about the Ku Klux Klan in all but name, pointing out how its membership were really well-respected members of the community. Sugar 'N Spice 'N... has one of those grand EC twist-ending Horror stories, borrowing from one of the greatest fables of all time.



#7 starts out with Beauty And The Beach!, a Jack Kamen eye candy feast. Kamen has a knack for drawing beautiful people doing horrible things to one another. Every story in #7 and 8 are winners. #9's Came The Dawn! is one of my all-time favorite EC stories. I don't go into great details with the whys of these tales because it would be like telling you the punchline to a joke. You need to read these comic books for yourself.



The Sacrifice kicks off issue 10, and it is a sordid tale of murder, love triangles, and double-crosses. Jack Kamen once again delivers a flawless portrayal of the ugliness of the human condition wrapped up in a pretty package.



While it is extremely difficult for me to name a favorite EC title, SS is certainly near the top of the pile. These comics hold up very well with repeated readings, and it is crazy to think that these were originally published 65 years ago.
Junk Food For Thought rating: 5 out of 5.

The OCD zone- This is the part where I go into tactile sensations and materials of physical media. Those with heart conditions, high blood pressure, or women who are pregnant should exit my blog at their earliest convenience, as their safety cannot be guaranteed beyond this point.

Gemstone overprinted their single issue reprints in the '90s with an eye toward selling their own back issues. They later repurposed this overstock by trimming and gluing 5 entire issues into a cardstock cover. While this is not technically a trade paperback since it has no ISBN, it is squarebound and has the title on the spine. Close enough for Rock and Roll in my book. The EC Annuals are the most economical and efficient way of getting your EC collection while offering the most authentic reading experience this side of the original comics.

Linework and Color restoration: Shot from the original artwork with a color palette authentic to the original publication. If you want to see EC Comics in full color then this is the best way to do so, as these look superior to the originals in print quality. The only drawback is that the covers to each issue are recolored. Marie Severin redid them for the EC Library sets and those same versions are used here.

Paper stock: Standard pulp paper of the day. The pro is that this looks and feels like a real comic book. The con, and it is a very large one, is that this will age and yellow, just like real comic book paper. I am admittedly less and less worried about this sort of thing as time goes by, as I will likely be dead and gone before this book deteriorates too badly.

Binding: Perfect bound trade paperback. I am impressed by the quality of the glue used in these Annuals, as many Marvel trades of this vintage have fallen apart.

Cardstock cover notes: Thick cardboard with minimal coating. There are signs of wear after years but all in all very solid.

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Review- CRIME DOES NOT PAY ARCHIVES VOL. 5




CRIME DOES NOT PAY ARCHIVES VOL. 5 (Dark Horse, First Printing, 2013; Hardcover)

Collects Crime Does Not Pay #38-41 (cover dates March- September, 1945)

Writers: Dick Wood with one story by Milt. J. Kramer

Artists: Charles Biro, Al Fagaly, Dick Briefer, Jack Alderman, C.L. Hartman, Norman Maurer, Rudy Palais, Robert Q. Sale (as Bob Q. Siege), and other unidentified artists



The quality of the stories and artwork have rebounded nicely after the dullness that was Volume 4. The gist of this series is that it is a “true crime” anthology style that depicts crime from different eras and countries, with an emphasis on crime of the 1920s and 1930s.

Mister Crime is the host, and he is essentially the devil on the shoulder of these would be criminals as they embark on their life of crime. In #41 we see his counterpoint, the “angel on the shoulder” of the criminal, Officer Common Sense. Neither one of them are visible to the characters and they break the fourth wall in regard to the fact that they are speaking to the reader.



While this series was lurid for the time, in all fairness they do not glorify crime. The criminal is always shown getting killed by police, sitting in an electric chair, or ending up in prison. There is an over the top, sensationalist angle played up for kicks, though.

The Dick Briefer Who Dunnit? recurring strip has run out of steam. I was thankful to see Robert Q. Sale take it over in #40. Issue #39's King Killer Of The Mountain is one of the better tales in this book. The quality increases across the board with #41, and I am looking forward to reading Volume 6. I know from reading Blackjacked And Pistol-Whipped: A Crime Does Not Pay Sampler that the series' best days are ahead of it.



Sadly, Dark Horse pulled the plug on this line after Volume 10. They cancelled the already fully restored and ready to go Volume 11 as well as the already solicited Volume 12. Dark Horse has recently revived their Creepy and Eerie Archives, so I am hopeful that they will revive this line of books as well. I have no interest in the Gwandanaland print on demand books found on Amazon which complete the run. Dark Horse could even up the price $10-15 to make up for the low print run if that is what it would take to finish up this line of books.
Junk Food For Thought rating: 4 out of 5.

The OCD zone- This is the part where I go into tactile sensations and materials of physical media. Those with heart conditions, high blood pressure, or women who are pregnant should exit my blog at their earliest convenience, as their safety cannot be guaranteed beyond this point.

The Dark Horse Archives line of books are narrower than the original comic books.

Linework and Color restoration: Solid “frame up” restoration done off of scans of the original comics.

Paper stock: Thick uncoated stock. It has a creamy off-white color, being close to Mint condition pulp paper in appearance while being of sufficient thickness that it feels like 'Archival' quality paper. It also has the sweet, delectable smell that only Chinese made books have.

Binding: Sewn binding which is stiff and does not lay flat. This book is light and small enough where it is not an issue.

Dustjacket and Hardback cover notes: Nice faux leather casewrap with die foil stamping. Dustjacket has a decent lamination.

Monday, April 2, 2018

Review- STAR WARS: RETURN OF THE JEDI- THE ORIGINAL TOPPS TRADING CARD SERIES VOL. 3



STAR WARS: RETURN OF THE JEDI- THE ORIGINAL TOPPS TRADING CARD SERIES VOL. 3 (Abrams Comicarts, Second Printing, 2016; Hardcover)

Collects the red and blue sets of The Topps Star Wars Return Of The Jedi trading cards and stickers. 



I remember asking for the owner of the corner store to save me an empty box and he did. This was back in a time when a kid could wander around his neighborhood unsupervised. 

Nostalgia is a powerful thing. These Topps trading cards were one of the few ways to relive these movies in the days before home video and in a time when many homes (like mine) did not have cable television. I have gone over all of this in my reviews for the first two volumes in this line, so I'll skip the rest of that spiel and get to the meat of it. This series of books is a blast of nostalgia for those of us who were around to buy these cards at the time.



I managed to cobble together both sets of cards in 1983. I was surprised back then that there was only two sets while Empire had three, but it was a relief in a way since I started “officially” collecting comic books in January of 1983 and couldn't afford to split my money in two directions. Jedi was the last series of cards that I sought to complete. While I would buy packs of, say, Garbage Pail Kids and a few others afterward, I was never compelled to buy them all.





There's not much else to say. These are high resolution scans of the original cards, with the front on one page and the back side on the next page. Flipping through the book is similar to looking at a deck of the trading cards. If you love Star Wars, love trading cards, or are a younger fan who wants a chance to check out merchandise which was released at the time of the original trilogy then these books are a fun, relatively inexpensive way to relive the fun of buying these cards in 1983.
Junk Food For Thought rating: 5 out of 5.



The OCD zone- This is the part where I go into tactile sensations and materials of physical media. Those with heart conditions, high blood pressure, or women who are pregnant should exit my blog at their earliest convenience, as their safety cannot be guaranteed beyond this point.

This book is a small, chunky book clocking in at 528 pages. The cards and stickers are presented in their original size.

Paper stock: Thick coated stock with a slight sheen.

Binding: Sewn binding. The binding is very tight, requiring two hands to keep it open at all times. This is the result of the book block being glued square to the casing.

Dustjacket and Hardback cover notes: The dustjacket has a waxpaper feel to it, similar in spirit to the wrappers of the original cards. The image on the front of the paper casewrap is the stick of gum found in every pack of cards. The back cover of the hardback shows the stick of gum broken. The casewrap has a matte coating.

Monday, March 26, 2018

Review- WOLVERINE- OLD MAN LOGAN VOL. 6: DAYS OF ANGER




WOLVERINE- OLD MAN LOGAN VOL. 6: DAYS OF ANGER (Marvel, First Printing, 2018; Softcover)

Collects Old Man Logan #25-30 (cover dates August, 2017- January, 2018)

Writers: Ed Brisson

Artists: Mike Deodato Jr.

Colorists: Frank Martin



We have a new creative team and a completely different feel and direction this time out, as Old Man Logan's timeslip flashback/future memories become less relevant to the current story and more of a simple backstory stopgap. This is a fast-paced read and is more straightforward and accessible than the Lemire run. If you have read the original Old Man Logan story you could jump straight into this and not be lost.

Maestro and the Hulk Gang have journeyed from Old Man Logan's dystopian future to the “real” Marvel Universe (616 for the kids out there in Internet land). Maestro, an alternate timeline Bruce Banner Hulk from yet another continuity than the main Marvel Universe (616) or OML's timeline(807128), has a plan to wipe out the puny humans once and for all.



This arc sheds more light on Old Man Hawkeye (that would be Hawkeye 807128 for those keeping score at home) and helps set things up for OMH's new series. I will check that one out because I hate my money and need more books to pile on top of my backlog. Why, god, why???



This was my favorite arc since the original Millar/McNiven one. While Ed Brisson is an unknown quantity to me and Mike Deodato Jr. is a god. There is plenty of action and bone-crunching violence to sink your teeth into. While this not all ages reading by any stretch, this is some great stuff and is worth your time.
Junk Food For Thought rating: 4.25 out of 5.

The OCD zone- This is the part where I go into tactile sensations and materials of physical media. Those with heart conditions, high blood pressure, or women who are pregnant should exit my blog at their earliest convenience, as their safety cannot be guaranteed beyond this point.

Paper stock: Medium weight coated stock with a slight sheen.

Binding: Perfect bound trade paperback.

Cardstock cover notes: Laminated cardstock cover.

Monday, March 19, 2018

Review- DO ANDROIDS DREAM OF ELECTRIC SHEEP? OMNIBUS




DO ANDROIDS DREAM OF ELECTRIC SHEEP? OMNIBUS (Boom, Second Printing, 2017; Softcover)

Collects Do Androids Dream Of Electric Sheep? #1-24 (cover dates June, 2009- May, 2011)

Writers: Philip K. Dick

Artists: Tony Parker

Colorists: Blond



Philip K. Dick's Do Androids Dream Of Electric Sheep? is the inspiration for the movie Blade Runner. Ridley Scott admits that he never made it through the entire book, and it shows when you watch the movie. While the table setting is the same (android bounty hunter Deckard, etc.), the goal posts are located in entirely different spots than the movie version which most people are familiar with.

This was a tough slog of a read for the first four to eight issues. Unlike any other comic book adaptation, this is a word for word transcription of the original novel. While I am not a fan of decompression, the first several issues are packed with so many words that they fall flat. Too wordy for a comic book, too many pictures for a novel. The huge swaths of words ruin the story flow and if I were a single issue buyer, or even if I bought the first trade back when it came out, I would have bailed on this series. It's a chore to read for a while.

This makes Don McGregor look like Bendis by comparison.


The story itself is very good, although the climax was kind of a whimper instead of a bang. This is where my preconceived notion due to the film ruined things. I imagine if you read the book in the '60s or '70s it was mindblowing, predicting anti-depressants and anti-anxiety medications, the ramification of technology in daily life, the questions technology would pose to humanity, etc. The book poses different questions and moral dilemmas than the movie did.

The focus of this story is also quite different from the film. Most animals are dead due to the fallout of nuclear war, and electric animals are very popular. Owning a real animal is cost prohibitive and a status symbol as well as a sign of empathy. Due to the new “religion” Mercerism, empathy is considered the greatest virtue one can have. The Penfield mood organ is basically Xanax, with people trying to follow Mercer's teachings. Deckard pursues these androids so that he can afford a real animal.

Rick Deckard is still an android hunting bounty hunter, and he is after six of a new kind of android who have illegally returned from an offworld colony. In many ways the version of Earth in the book is even more dystopian than in the film. There's a whole subplot with Isidore that is not explored in the movie. The Noir aspect of the film is entirely absent in the original book.

As a comic this is just okay. The artwork and coloring are both mediocre, with my kindest description being “adequate”. I dislike the color palette used, a sea of bluish grays and grayish blues, overly rendered and making everything look lifeless and dull, and not in a way that serves the story. The story is very good of course.



So should you buy this? Maybe. It's worth a read, but if your local library has it you might be better off checking it out instead of buying it like I did.
Junk Food For Thought rating: 3 out of 5.

The OCD zone- This is the part where I go into tactile sensations and materials of physical media. Those with heart conditions, high blood pressure, or women who are pregnant should exit my blog at their earliest convenience, as their safety cannot be guaranteed beyond this point.

The first printing has a red circle on the front cover instead of the blue one found on this printing.

Paper stock: Heavy glossy coated stock.

Binding: Sewn binding.

Cardstock cover notes: Matte coating with embossed foil spot varnish.

Monday, March 12, 2018

Review- JUDGE DREDD: THE COMPLETE CASE FILES VOL. 11




JUDGE DREDD: THE COMPLETE CASE FILES VOL. 11 (2000 AD, First Printing, October, 2008; Softcover)

Collects the Judge Dredd stories from 2000 A.D. #523-570 (cover dates May 23, 1987- April 16, 1988)

Writers: John Wagner and Alan Grant

Artists: Brett Ewins, John Ridgway, Cliff Robinson, Robin Smith, Mike Collins, John Higgins, Liam McCormack Sharp, Steve Dillon, Barry Kitson, Jim Baike, Garry Leach, Will Simpson, Dave Elliot, and Brendan McCarthy



It all started for me with an Anthrax song and then the 2012 movie Dredd. That is what prompted my mad quest to procure every single Complete Case Files as well as the Restricted Case Files books in the winter of 2012-13 . Over the past few years I've slowly been reading these books and have realized that I may never finish reading them all.

The writing is solid throughout, with continuity that is as tight as a drum. It's the artwork which swerves all over the road here, from brilliant to what I politely call “deadline art”. Cliff Robinson's artwork is head and shoulders above the rest of the pack here. Judge Dredd was a weekly strip, and there was a rotating crop of artists in order to make the going to press deadline. As a weekly reader this probably didn't matter, but when reading a huge swath of issues in a row like you do with this book it can be jarring from one story to the next.



The highlight of this book is the 26 part epic, Oz, where former champion skysurfer Chopper makes a prison break. Jug McKenzie has been the champion for the two years since Chopper has been in prison and was talking a lot of smack, which caught Chopper's attention. With nothing to lose, Chopper hops on a skyboard and goes on a harrowing journey across the ocean to Australia to compete in Supersurf 10. Some of the arcs in this book were about as fun to read as chewing chalk, but this one was a real page turner that kept me awake until I finished it.



Dredd's a good character and a good concept, but in my case a little goes a long way. There is a sameness to it all, even when they switch gears and Dredd is fighting rats, mutant alligators or martial artists. Dredd is great when I am in a certain frame of mind. The problem for me is that this frame of mind is becoming less and less frequent right now.
Junk Food For Thought rating: 3 out of 5.

The OCD zone- This is the part where I go into tactile sensations and materials of physical media. Those with heart conditions, high blood pressure, or women who are pregnant should exit my blog at their earliest convenience, as their safety cannot be guaranteed beyond this point.

These books are wider than standard trade paperbacks. The material reprinted here is presented in a smaller size than it was in the original publications.

There is a cover gallery in the back of the book which features only nine of the twenty one covers that Judge Dredd appeared on out of the issues collected in this book.

Linework and Color restoration: This book is printed in black and white, which is becoming a problem as the full color (or colour, since this is British) double page spreads are now an every issue occurrence. Those are scanned and printed in black and white, resulting in a grayscale mess. Starting with the next Volume I noticed that they have switched to a full color, glossy paper format for this line of books. The first two pages out of each six-eight page story in this book are a murky grayscale abomination with gutter loss.

Paper stock: Uncoated paper stock. The paper used in the European printed versions (like my copy here) feels odd to the touch. I can't quite explain it.

Binding: Sewn binding. There is an annoying amount of gutter loss across the double page spreads, with the word balloons getting sucked right down the middle.

Cardstock cover notes: Super thick cardstock covers with a matte coating that is sufficiently resistant to scuffing.