Inio Asano has had enough works translated into English that his tics have become readily apparent at this point. The characters who speak with arch know-it-all sensibilities, his love of magical realism or outright surrealism, and stories that mix everyday whimsy with crushing despair. It’s to the point where I’d imagine that you’re either onboard with what the mangaka has to offer or have decided that his style is not for you. In that regard I have to say that it’s a little bit disappointing that his latest series feels like “one for the converted.” As someone who has liked his previous works I enjoyed it well enough even as it shows that his style is starting to coalesce into a formula.
I really want to say that this is one more reason that collecting comics in the hope that they’ll become valuable one day is for suckers, but…
The story goes that after “The Walking Dead” launched back in 2004 a “Museum Edition” (read: oversized hardcover) of the first issue was created as part of a promotion for the Fear Fest Horror Con the same year. Unfortunately, due to low ticket pre-sales, the con never happened and these Museum Editions were put into storage where they remained for a decade later. Only one hundred were produced and they’ve since become one of the rarest “The Walking Dead” collectibles around.
Except that they’re really just high grade fakes. Or, at best, unofficial reproductions of the first issue of the comic. Robert Kirkman’s production company Skybound and Image weren’t involved in the production of this comic. Which likely explains why, if you actually look at this Museum Edition, it comes off as impressively half-assed compared to actual hardcover editions of notable comics.
Still, a copy of this comic did sell for upwards $3500 on Ebay after it was graded by PGX. Bleeding Cool’s Rich Johnston wrote an article about all this and included how he let PGX know how they were essentially selling a counterfeit comic. PGX’s response? They thanked him for the heads-up and continued to grade the comic, noting that it was a “counterfeit edition” on the bag. If you did pay for this then consider yourself a superfan of “The Walking Dead” comic, or something. Whatever helps you sleep at night.
The company may have lost the “Star Wars” and “Conan” licenses to Marvel, but they’ve been getting plenty of Disney licenses to help balance things out. Last month’s solicitations had the debut of an “Incredibles” miniseries while this month has the first issue of Frozen: Breaking Boundaries which is described as the first multi-issue comics tale for the franchise. There’s also Jasmine’s New Pet which tells the story of how the princess from “Aladdin” got her pet tiger. Things get even better later this year when Dark Horse will publish Zootopia: Friends to the Rescue, a 48-page comic spotlighting stories from the movie’s protagonists Judy and Nick’s childhood.
The existence of these comics Dark Horse does raise an interesting question as to why Disney isn’t publishing “Zootopia” comics through Marvel. Then again, it’s not like this is the first title they’ve licensed out to other publishers to make comics about. IDW has the licenses for “Big Hero 6,” “Ducktales,” “Tangled,” and all-ages “Star Wars” comics. Yen Press has also published manga based on “Big Hero 6” and will be doing so soon for “Star Wars.” It’s almost as if the company has realized that Marvel has its own dedicated comics-buying audience and is incapable of expanding beyond that to reach younger readers. Or maybe there’s lots of inter-company politics, such as the never-less-than-strained relationship between Disney CEO Bob Iger and Marvel President Ike Perlmutter, are what’s causing these licenses to be licensed out.
Whatever the reason is the main takeaway from this is that Dark Horse is getting a potentially very lucrative license out of it. That’s their win! Maybe it’ll also pave the way to getting other Disney licenses… especially if the Fox merger goes through and the “Aliens,” “Predator,” and “Buffy” licenses wind up in Marvel’s hands.
Who’s representing Marvel at the Eisners this year? They’ve got “Hawkeye” for Best Ongoing Series, “Black Panther: World of Wakanda” and “X-Men: Grand Design” for Best Limited Series, “Black Bolt” for Best New Series, Brian Stelfreeze and Julian Totino Tedesco as Best Cover Artists for “Black Panther” and “Hawkeye” (respectively), and Ed Piskor for Best Coloring on “X-Men: Grand Design.” It’s a better showing than usual for the company, but if you look a bit closer you’ll notice something about most of these nominees. “Hawkeye” and “Black Bolt” have both been cancelled. “World of Wakanda” would fall into that boat too if it wasn’t for the fact that it was retroactively declared to be a miniseries. Maybe next year Marvel will manage to have published at least one Eisner-nominated ongoing that’s set to continue after it has received its award.
And in some completely unrelated news the “Hellstorm Omnibus HC” collecting Warren Ellis’ first work at Marvel has received an upgrade. Instead of a “Parental Advisory” it’ll now be sporting an “Explicit Content” tag, making it a proper mature readers title. I guess that’s one way of saying it has aged well after all these years? It does make me more interested in picking it up when it comes out, however.
There’s an easy way to tell when a DC event means business. It’s when they use “Crisis” in its title. The original “Crisis on Infinite Earths” set the standard for being the crossover that really changed everything as it streamlined DC’s continuity in significant fashion. Subsequent events, such as “Zero Hour: Crisis in Time,” “Infinite Crisis,” and “Final Crisis,” tried in their own way to change things and some were more successful at it than others. Early on there was word that “Metal” was going to have the title “Dark Crisis,” but Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo managed to convince DC to let them keep their title for this event. Which worked out pretty well from what I’ve heard.
I’m bringing this up because in the wake of “Metal” and all of the things it unleashed onto the DC Universe, there’s been talk of the company planning another “Crisis.” Only this time it’s just going to be called… “Crisis.” Which has a certain purity in it if nothing else. So it’s possible that this could be the lead-in to the “fresh start” or “creative refresh” that DC is planning, or god help us another reboot. Right now all we can take away from word of this latest “Crisis” is the same thing that all events with its name have tried to do in the past: that it’s going to try its best to change the DC Universe. Whether or not it’ll be successful or even good is another matter entirely.
I’m not sure how I failed to see this coming or how I convinced myself in the first place that this was going to be a 22-volume series. Oh well, that just means I’ve reached the end of this really good series a little earlier than expected. What does vol. 21 have for us? The last few chapters of the series proper, a four-chapter side story focusing on Koro-sensei, and the one-shot mangaka Yusei Matsui did prior to starting the series. That one-shot is intriguingly weird, but it’s also a distraction from the quality falling action of the material preceding it.
A couple days ago I wrote about how “The Negative Zone War” over in “X-Men: Gold” didn’t really live up to its title. Among its many problems was the fact that the war in its title didn’t really amount to a skirmish or two before the statue of a god came to life and started rampaging through a city. Thankfully Jason Aaron and Russell Dauterman are on hand to show us how to properly stage a war in five issues with this latest volume of “The Mighty Thor.” You’ll just have to get over the opening speed bump first.
Have you ever wondered what it would look like when Rick Remender writes a story that puts his protagonists so far in the red that it doesn’t make sense for them to come out all right in the end, yet they manage to do it anyway? Well wonder no more as “Extinction is the Rule” has finally given us that story! After setting up not one, but two cliffhangers for the members of the McKay family and their companions, the writer offers up the briefest of respites (and a foreshadowing of things to come) before plunging back into the threat posed by the Zirites. While two of the story’s threads converge at this point to allow our protagonists to consolidate their forces, they’re still going to need to deal with the threats posed by the telepathic Draln, the witch Doxta, and whatever scheme Kadir has cooked up to save himself.
Matteo Scalera’s art is as impressively kinetic as ever, giving the action scenes real momentum to them. The action, still contrasting nicely with the low-key narration that usually accompanies it, can sometimes carry you through the increasingly depressing story as it seeks to grind down anyone who even tries to oppose it. In fact, it gets to the point where Remender can’t even be bothered to properly set up the nasty surprises he has in store for his cast. Witness Pia’s tribulations in the final issue where she’s doomed, then saved, then immediately doomed again along with everyone else! When the Pillar is used to make one final leap at the end of the volume it feels like a necessary measure to wipe away all of the chaos in the story up to this point. My hope is that Remender is doing this in order to set up the endgame for this series, which should only be two or three volumes (please make it two) away at this point. After a volume like this the end of “Black Science” can’t come soon enough.
Yes, those “X-Men” books do keep multiplying and piling up for me to read. The ones that I’m actually interested in following at any rate. So it happens that I picked up three new titles in my last big order of comics. While that includes the latest volumes of flagship titles X-Men: Gold and X-Men: Blue the second (and final) volume of Jean Grey was also in there as well. Were they any good? Well, while the quality of Jean’s title is sadly irrelevant at this point, “Blue” and “Gold” look to be settling into their own respective levels at this point.