Welcome to the Part-Time Fanboy picks of the week for September 24, 2014! Each week some of the crew at PTF will pick their most anticipated books for that Wednesday’s releases based on their own individual tastes. Hopefully this list will help give you, the discerning comic book reader, some ideas on what to pick up at the comic shop during that particular week.
By: Wally Wood
Publisher: IDW Publishing
Wally Wood is like a god to me. I believe that Mr. Wood was one of the most talented comic artists that came out of the golden age of comics. I doubt that there are many comic fans out there who debate me on that statement. So when a new collection touting Wood’s artwork is set to be released I take notice. The T.H.U.N.D.E.R. Agents is also a superhero property that I’ve never been really exposed to all that much even though it’s one that I’ve always been very curious to learn more about. Superheroes that existed outside of the sphere of the big two, especially when these books were originally published, barely survived for any length of time. For some reason the T.H.U.N.D.E.R. Agents is a property that keeps popping up from time to time, enduring when other indie superheroes have disappeared into obscurity. So to have a collection that gathers the best of Wallace Wood’s art on the title in one volume is like a gift from the comic book heavens! Could anything be better than a book of Silver Age super heroics from one of the best artists to ever grace a comic book page? I doubt it!
Publisher: Humanoids Publishing
Everyone knows the Roger Vadim/Jane Fonda camp-cult classic film Barbarella. What a lot of people may not know is that Barbarella was actually a popular French comic in the sixties before it was a film that inspired the name of a certain British pop group in the eighties. Unfortunately, it was a comic that was never really made available to U.S. Readers…until now. Humanoids is collecting the erotic comic that was supposedly the precursor to the sexual revolution in France in an oversized hardcover edition. But before you run out and grab yourself a copy you might want to go back and re-read that last sentence. Yep, the word is “erotic” people. So this is definitely not a comic for the kids or the prude at heart. By today’s standards, however, much of it probably seems tame to modern readers. In any case, it’s still considered an important work to many comic professionals. So much so that Humanoids was able to get hot writer Kelly Sue DeConnick to aid in the translation. In today’s sexism vs. sexuality culture, Barbarella may be a controversial read for some but for those interested in comic art and comics history seen through the lens of a European culture from the 1960’s this is a must-purchase. This is a comic I’ve been interested in checking out for years and I’m grateful that Humanoids is putting this collection out. Still, it’s a limited release so Barbarella fans may want to jump on it before it disappears.
By: Mike Wolfer, Gabriel Rearte
Genre: Action Adventure
Publisher: Avatar Press
Warren Ellis created the character of William Gravel in his Strange Kiss limited series that he published with Avatar. Gravel is one of Ellis’s hard boiled anti-heroes: a combat magician who is as adept with a gun as he is with a magical text. Gravel is the last line of defense against Lovecraftian demon entities, monsters from beyond, and plain old human mercenary greed.
The original artist, Mike Wolfer, is now the writer on the series. The new artist, Gabriel Rearte is equally skilled at depicting the hyper-violent, super gory world that Gravel moves through. This TPB collects a story in which Gravel visits Japan in pursuit of another magician: an assassin who threatens to expose Gravel’s secret society. This collection covers issues #0-#4 of the series. If you’re looking for something horrifying and dark, Gravel’s your man.
By: Wilfred Santiago
Previously available in hardcover, this is the story of a true hero on and off of the baseball field. Roberto Clemente grew up poor in Puerto Rico. Baseball was his passion at an early age, and he became a rising star in Puerto Rico’s professional baseball league in the early 50s. He was recruited by American scouts and he debuted with the Pittsburgh Pirates in 1955. He was a dark-skinned man who spoke little English at first, and life was difficult, even years after Jackie Robinson had “broken” the color barrier. Despite the adversity, he became the league leader in batting average, hits, and triples.
But sports was only a means to an end. Roberto Clemente was immensely involved in charity and worked in his off-season time to improve life not only in his native Puerto Rico, but throughout Central and South America. It was a charity mission in Nicaragua that led to his his death by plane crash in 1972.
This graphic novel is beautifully illustrated. It shows Clemente as a superhero on the field and balances the action with gorgeous quiet moments that show Clemente’s internal state. This is one of the best bio-comics that I’ve seen in a while. Highly recommended.
Genre: Historical Fiction
Publisher: Dark Horse Comics
We mostly think of feminism as existing since the 1960s and ’70s during the era of bra burning and women’s lib. But the gender equality movement predates that cultural moment by a couple of hundred years, even if it wasn’t yet codified as it is now. The Edwardian era of England during the first decade of the 1900s was one of those periods of time where a counter-culture feminist movement gained some traction.
Within this setting, award-winning historian and author Mary M. Talbot, who wrote the acclaimed graphic novel Dotter of Her Father’s Eyes, imagines a fictional housemaid who gets swept up in the feminist militancy of the campaign to obtain the right to vote. The book is illustrated by Kate Charlesworth, based on layouts provided by Mary’s husband Bryan Talbot, also a respected graphic novel and comics creator.
This looks like a fascinating look at a period of time that doesn’t often get a lot of attention. It should also be interesting juxtaposed with our modern context, where discussions of body image, representation and modern feminism are ongoing.
Publisher: Abrams ComicArts
Ernie Colón is generally known by comics fans as a horror and children’s comics artist from the 1960s, ’70s and ’80s. But in 2006, he reinvented himself when he and writer Sid Jacobsen created a graphic novel adaptation of The 9/11 Commission Report. The book was able to take very dense and dry information about multiple tragic events happening simultaneously, and present them with visual clarity and humanity. There had been non-fiction comics and graphic novels in the past, but the book was a shot in the arm for the genre in comics. It proved that comics could do something that the written word could not. It did very well, so the duo teamed up again for several other non-fiction projects.
Colón returns with an adaptation of a commission report on another controversial event in American history, the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. As with The 9/11 Report, this take on The Warren Report challenges the conclusion of the report by placing visuals from conflicting narratives side-by-side, adding a dimension to the report that previously did not exist. As I have said before, I have a particular love for non-fiction comics, so I am excited to see this come out.
Colón is joined this time by writer Dan Mishkin. The two are most known for collaborating on the DC Comics fantasy mini-series Amethyst: Princess of Gemworld from 1983. And on art assist is cartoonist and teacher Jerzy Drozd.