Category Archives: Features

Underrated: I Was the Cat

This is a column that focuses on something or some things from the comic book sphere of influence that may not get the credit and recognition it deserves. Whether that’s a list of comic book movies, ongoing comics, or a set of stories featuring a certain character. The columns may take the form of a bullet pointed list, or a slightly longer thinkpiece – there’s really no formula for this other than whether the things being covered are Underrated in some way.

This week: I Was The Cat


I don’t know how I missed this book when it first came out, and after having a conversation with the owner of my LCS, it turns out she wasn’t entirely sure how she missed it either. I Was The Cat is an autobiographical tale about a cat who has, through his various lives, lived thousands of years through history trying (and failing) multiple times to take over the world.

Burma, the cat in question, can talk. And seems to be an incredibly wise and influential animal who wants the world to know his story. To that end he invites Allison Breaking to begin writing his memoirs so that he can reveal to the world just who he is… and that it’s totally normal that a can had been trying to take over the world across centuries, and failing every time because… well because he’s a bloody cat.

Perhaps the most interesting part of the story is how Paul Tobin structures so many different tales within Burma’s history, and never once explains how Burma can change his appearance with ease – it lends the character a mystical aspect that’s never really explored, and I think the story is strong for that because this book is what Burma wants to tell us, not a historical accounting of his accomplishments.

Yes, I am aware that Burma is fictional.

I Was The Cat is probably one of the most interesting comics/graphic novels I have read in some time; it’s an engaging and entirely light hearted affair with only a handful of gorier moments (in a story set across history, there’s a lot that’s alluded to, but only one real moment where you see an animal get injured, and it’s such an ordinary occurrence that you’re going to wonder what kind of person you are that it doesn’t really phase you.

Perhaps one of my favourite things about the book is how Tobin gently critiques our current society through the eyes of a cat. It’s amusing without being deeply hilarious, and yet just unsettling enough to make you really think when you close the final page. Burma is easily one of the most interesting feline characters in comics, and I’d love to read more, but at the same time, this is a complete story and it doesn’t need a sequel.

This came out in 2015 or so, and went far below my radar for several years. It’s a lot of fun – and that’s why it’s a great candidate for today’s Underrated column. Check it out if you ever get a chance.


Join us next week when we look at something else that is, for whatever reason, Underrated.

By The Numbers: August 2020

Like in any industry, comic books and their companies listen most to one thing and that’s your money! What does your money tell them? What does it tell us as fans? What series do people say they adore but can’t seem to catch a break and what books to people hate that sell out? What are the trends? What looks good? What looks rough?

All these questions and more will be answered here, every month in ‘By The Numbers’ by comic writers, editors and fans, Glenn Matchett and Ray Goldfield.

Glenn Matchett is a comic writer and editor. He’s worked in the industry for many years but grew up reading comics. He’s had work published with various small press publishers and has is own comic now available on Comixology in Sparks: The Way I Was from Yellow Bear Comics! In a few days Glenn will be visiting Bly Manor, please send help.

Ray Goldfield is a fan of comic books for going on 25 years, starting with the death of Superman. He is a writer and editor and has released his first novel. Ray also does a weekly roundup of DC comic reviews for website Geekdad and they’re brilliantly entertaining.  When he votes in a few weeks, Ray is writing himself in. It’s 2020, you never know!

No more cover images until WordPress stops being useless in its new format outside the top book. Sorry for the wall of text! We promise laughs in place of images!

Glenn: Three so close together? It can only happen in 2020! We’re nearly caught up folks, have no fear!

Ray: This is the first month that we have more than 500 books on the stands again, so it seems like most of the industry is returning to normal. We also have confirmation that for the second month in a row, Avengers is the new “index book” replacing Batman due to Batman’s sky-high sales.

DC: Batman: Three Jokers #1 from Batman: Three Jokers by Geoff Johns  published by DC Comics @ ForbiddenPlanet.com - UK and Worldwide Cult  Entertainment Megastore

Glenn: Once again with Joker War in full swing now, Batman rules the top of the charts with the much anticipated Three Jokers Black Label mini. We know this sold in the 300k mark and its no surprise. This is Johns first work on a mainstream Batman book, Jason Fabok is a hot artist, years of hype, a pseudo sequel to Killing Joke and three times DC’s hottest villain. It was a recipe for success and is no surprise it took the top of the charts.

Ray: Much like last month, we have a comic that just completely outpaced the field. Three Jokers sells exactly double what the next book on the list does, which is a staggering number. This is probably going to be another Evergreen smash for DC, much like Doomsday Clock. It’s only three issues for us, but the total content is closer to a nine-issue miniseries, which should make for a nice collection. 

Glenn: Batman the regular book also continues to dominate, surprisingly still outselling the huge event Dark Knights: Death Metal as James Tynion has restored the title to its former sales prestige. Issue 100 is a sure fire finner for October.

Ray: The index indicates that Batman is coming down to Earth just a bit from last month, as retailers probably over-ordered on the first month back due to Punchline-mania. But these numbers are still spectacular overall and Tynion’s run will likely see long-term benefits. 

Glenn: Speaking of Death Metal it charts at 4, its not slouching by any means it just underlines how much Tynion’s Batman has surpassed expectations. A lot of good news for DC at the moment.

Ray: The index has it pretty close to Batman this month, so more evidence of its staying power. This mini had the proper hype and buildup that other recent events didn’t.

Glenn: Aforementioned good news continues at 5 with the newest issue of Detective Comics which is now in full Joker War tie-in.with the other issue this month charting at 7. Lets see how this story benefits other bat books as we go.

Ray: Yeah, this is what I expected – Detective probably almost doubled its sales from previous months, and next month’s mega-issue should dominate the charts and be an easy #1. Are we eventually headed for a month where only Batman books make the top ten?

Glenn: Splitting up the Detective issues is Venom at 6 as it continues its own stride of momentum towards the King In Black event. 

At 8 is Thor as it seems only the power of Donny Cates is powerful enough to stop Batman this month. It seems Cates has restored Thor to a top seller which it hasn’t been since the JMS years and at various points during the Aaron run. Excpent Cates upcoming Image comic to do big numbers.

Ray: I think it’s pretty clear at this point that Cates is Marvel’s #1 writer. I’d be surprised if King in Black didn’t bring some Thor elements in – it’s too big a plot for Venom alone – so the odds are good that’s going to be a sales monster

Glenn: At 9 is Harley Quinn which benefits from a combination of final issue/anniversary number and Joker War bump. The character has now gone full chaotic good and seems to be a satellite member of the bat family. No word on what her next book will look like but Harley has become a strong franchise in herself so its only a matter of time.

Ray: I’m honestly shocked there hasn’t been any announcement on Harley’s new series yet. Maybe we’ll get a printed version of the digital-first Harley Quinn: Black + White + Red first, but the character’s journey from henchwoman to headliner has been amazing. 

Glenn: Final spot in the top ten belongs to Maestro, the Peter David written Hulk series that finally tells the background story of quite possibly his most famous Hulk story. Thanks to the success of Immortal Hulk, the character is hot at the moment and while I don’t expect the rest of the series to sell this well this seems to be a pleasant surprise.

Ray: David’s Hulk always had a big fanbase and the character is red hot right now, but this is a little bigger than I expected. Worth noting – this beat every issue of Marvel’s big event comic this month. 

As the X-line heads towards its first big event, the latest Hickman issue charts at #11, selling probably somewhere in the 50K range. Still solid, but that’s fallen a lot and it’s dropped out of being the #1 ongoing pretty quickly. If I was the X-editor, I would not be optimistic about a twenty-part hard crossover. 

Glenn: Its almost like forcing everyone that just wants to or can afford to read Hickman’s X-Men to read every X-book under the sun was a bad idea!

Ray: Amazing Spider-Man also continues dropping, with the first issue of the month at #12 and the second at #15, both selling about 45K. We got word today that Ryan Ottley is leaving the title, so it feels like the wheels are coming off between this and the sales drop. 

Glenn: They’re cheating a bit (no big surprise from Marvel) by having 850 and 50 one after the other so that’ll help. I don’t expect the Kindred story to draw in the big sales like Metal, Joker War and King In Black do/will.

Ray: At #13, we’ve got Dark Nights Death Metal Guidebook, which featured both a new Darkest Night story and the DC debut of Chip Zdarsky. Despite the title making it sound like a sourcebook, it still delivered strong numbers. 

The story is basically the same at #16 for Dark Nights Death Metal: Legends of the Dark Knights. This anthology featuring new evil Batmen featured an eclectic group of creators plus a Darkest Knight framing story. Interest for the limited tie-ins to this storyline is very high – indicating that flooding the market may not be the way to go.

Two Bat-books get a huge boost from their Joker War tie-ins, with Batgirl landing at #17 and Nightwing #19. All together, this makes 11 of the top 20 books Batman or Bat-family related. 

Glenn: Batgirl probably won because of one of Joker’s most iconic stories being so heavily associated with her. This event is red hot.

Ray: Sandwiched in between them is the fourth issue of Empyre at #18, selling about 35K. This was the issue with the biggest reveal, and #5 is down at #21. Needless to say, this was not what Marvel was hoping for out of this event, and I’m sure the news won’t be much better from the tie-ins. 

Glenn: Never to be mentioned again. Let’s just try not to get overwhelmed but the twenty billion King In Black tie-ins Marvel is doing to make up for this.

Ray: We observed last month that the numbers on Venom #25 weren’t great, and here’s why – an underorder is reflected here, with the issue charting  again at #20, selling close to 35K copies. That puts the book well over 70K overall, a monster showing. 

Glenn: Its insane that Venom is Marvel’s biggest book right now and the second steadiest ongoing right now.

Ray: We’ve got an odd entry at #22, as the video game tie-in Horizon Zero Dawn charts the highest we’ve ever seen from a Titan book. To put this in perspective, it outsells all the Star Wars books this month, which are clustered in the 20s for the most part. Video game store orders, maybe? Or maybe a very passionate fanbase.

Glenn: Passionate fanbase for sure, this was a very popular game with a very easy concept to transfer over to comics. 

Ray: Spawn holds solid at #26, remaining the top creator-owned book – for now, but some big names are coming down the pipe. Keanu crush puny Spawn. 

Glenn: We’ll see but Spawn is still doing the best it has done in years. There seems to be some momentum from the anniversary issue which is nothing to sneeze at.

Ray: I continue to be impressed by how well Batman: The Adventures Continue does, landing at #28 and selling roughly the same as Immortal Hulk. This far outpaces what similar books like Injustice did. 

Glenn: People love their BTAS. They even got Kevin Conroy giving people directions in their cars now.

Ray: The oddball FF mini, Fantastic Four Antithesis by Mark Waid and Neal Adams, lands at #29. It’s a high-profile creative team, but largely an unconnected side story in an earlier era and Adams’ pull isn’t what it used to be. 

Glenn: Some loyalty for Waid and a little curiosity for Adams but yeah, not quite what he used to be able to pull in after a few years of odd works.

Ray: Giant-Size X-Men: Fantomex lands at #32. This series is benefiting a lot from the fact that it’s a new #1 every month, but this is the lowest we’ve seen it. General attrition, or lack of interest in Fantomex compared to the other leads?

Glenn: I don’t know what a Fantomex is so I’m going to go with that.

Ray: #33 has the Spider-Man #1 facsimile edition, selling likely under 30K. That’s wild for a reprint. Is this the 90s #1 that sold an insane number of copies with McFarlane art?

Glenn: It is which explains why its still hot after all this time. McFarlane Spidey will never not be an easy sell.

Ray: Justice League #50 lands at #34 with no real bounce for its anniversary issue, but then this was just the final chapter of a Simon Spurrier fill-in arc. Very good story, but the $5.99 price tag likely hurt a bit rather than helped. 

Lots of regular books down here, with Strange Adventures holding strong at #38. 

The next book of note is Seven Secrets #1, Tom Taylor’s new creator-owned Boom title, which lands at #47 between issues of Legion of Super-Heroes and The Green Lantern. A strong debut, but a little lower than I expected given the hype that this broke sales records for Boom. Unless the index is much higher than we think, we might be in for some heavy reorders here. Boom continues to pick up momentum ahead of upcoming debuts from Al Ewing and Matt Kindt (with Keanu Reeves). 

Glenn:  Great start here for sure. Boom is having a great year despite you know…all the things. It seems to be making at least Image up their game too as they have a few heavy hitters set up to make things interesting.

Ray: Empyre: X-Men #2 lands at #52, much lower than the first issue. Hickman was involved in the first and last issues, but despite that we didn’t see any sales jump for the last issue. They land at #57 and #59. 

A couple of strange reorders this month, with the first issue of Strange Academy #1 landing again at #54, selling about 25K. 

The same goes for the first issue of Fire Power, landing at #56 with impressive reorders. 

Something very odd, with the second issue of DCeased: Dead Planet landing at #58 and selling about 25K. That’s clearly VERY off, and I’d expect there to be many reorders. Maybe it was something with the classification of the variant covers? There are still a lot of kinks to be worked out here. 

Glenn: DC’s new distribution people may be figuring out how this stuff works. ‘Wait, it has the same content but…costs more…and is rarer?!’

Ray: Venom #26 charts again as well at #60, selling a little over 20K in reorders. 

Glenn: Crazy stuff.

Ray: Daredevil Annual #64, a wild story featuring Mike Murdock, lands at #64. It’s a similar number to what the title usually did, in between Justice League Dark and Catwoman. 

Fire Power #2 lands at #67, showing the title’s likely final standing at near 20K.. It’s likely to be one of the few creator-owned books to establish a regular beachhead in the top 100.

Glenn: Beyond Walking Dead this seems to be where Kirkman’s Image books seem to live.

Ray: Right under that at #68 is reorders of Negan Lives #1, which might show up on this chart pretty consistently in the coming months. 

Glenn: As we mentioned last month, retailers didn’t know this was coming so more than likely Image underestimated the demand.

Ray: After a few routine Marvel books, including the Empyre issues of Captain Marvel, we see the next new #1 – Mega Man: Fully Charged from Boom at #72. This video game tie-in didn’t really get the hype of other Boom launches, but the character has a big fanbase and the last time he had a regular comic was at Archie, I believe. 

Glenn: That’s a really solid debut for a video game tie-in, especially one that will doubtlessly do better outside the direct market.

Ray: After a bunch of Marvel books including the final issue of Black Cat, we get the launch of a new Power Rangers miniseries at #77 – Drakkon: New Dawn. This post-apocalyptic adventure is going to lead into the upcoming relaunch, which should do well. Boom’s proven this line can sustain a number of spin-offs. 

At #80 we have the ninth issue of Ghost-Spider, which was printed after being released digitally months earlier. Decent numbers for a second-run book, but what an inauspicious end to the solo title of one of Marvel’s biggest new characters for years. 

Glenn: Marvel have handled this character so poorly its outright depressing. This is just bonus sales on top of what it did for re-orders. It’s only here because fans that prefer print were so pissed off.

Ray: At #82, we have the third issue of Spider-Woman. This series bottomed out much more quickly than other Marvel series that started unusually high, likely due to the time off between issues. 

More than 15K in reorders for the second issue of Thor at #83, as retailers catch up on their Donny Cates in the rush before King in Black. Similar numbers for Thor #4 at #87. 

It’s a quiet end to the Slott era on Iron Man at #84, with the final issue of Iron Man 2020 selling just over 15K. 

Glenn: We’ll see what the new run brings, but Marvel still seems to have a problem benefitting off the characters newfound statue as a cultural icon because of the movies.

Ray: Dynamite’s streak of odd crossovers continues with Mars Attacks Red Sonja at #86, by John Layman. It’s not a crossover I ever would have expected, but it’s surprisingly good and it sells about 15K. 

The Empyre tie-ins slide down the charts, with Lords of Empyre: Celestial Messiah at #90, spotlighting the big bad of the event. No one really knew who he was except old-school Avengers fans, so these numbers aren’t a surprise – and it won’t be the lowest-selling tie-in on the list. 

Glenn: It gets worse from here? Oooph.

Ray: #91 has the final issue of The Question: The Deaths of Vic Sage, as this Black Label series heads off to collections to sell there forever like so many of Lemire’s books. 

Glenn: This was essentially an epilogue to the brilliant 80’s series and the Question doesn’t have quite the fan base that some of the more iconic heroes do so it performed as expected. Like you say, it’ll perform fine as an evergreen.

Ray: A strong showing from Vault at #94, as their new spinoff of the tabletop game Vampire: The Masquerade sells about 15K. This is probably a combination of the established fanbase and the name of Tim Seeley

Undiscovered Country #7 lands at #97 – lower than I would have expected, but still one of the top five creator-owned books of the month. Marvel and DC really dominated this month. 

At #102 we’ve got the debut of Locke & Key: In Pale Battalions Go, a two-issue spinoff of Joe Hill and Gabriel Rodriguez’s popular fantasy thriller. While these are solid numbers, we all know this book makes most of its money in collections.

Glenn: We may see an exception for the upcoming Sandman team up but time will tell!

Two annuals down here with Teen Titans selling at 103 Wonder Woman’s selling at 105. Interesting that Wonder Woman wouldn’t sell better because this is the end of the run Steve Orlando had not too long ago. It seems that ending a story much later in an annual is an old trick that still doesn’t work as far as DC is concerned.

Ray: Teen Titans was also one of the most significant issues of the run, but didn’t really get much attention. 

Glenn: The Dreaming gets a new subtitle (Waking Hours) and a new creative team including writer G. Willow Wilson at 108. These books seemed to launch with a little momentum and quickly became second tier with some life in the collections market most likely. This will be much the same, especially with Wilson’s name attached.

Ray: The entire line has sort of collapsed, down to just one book in a few months. But this will eventually make a very good Sandman-related graphic novel, even if it mostly focuses on satellite characters. 

Glenn: New Mighty Morphin Power Rangers title from BOOM is at 110 which is another solid performer in terms of a licensed property that BOOM is reaping benefits from on the down low.

Lords Of Empyre: Swordsman sells at 112, no one knows and no one really cares.

Same thing for Empyre Handbook at 120. These could have done worse of course but they could have done a hell of a lot better too.

Ray: The sales on these tie-ins are disastrous. I think the King in Black ones will do better, but as a whole there seems to be very little interest in anything but the main books on Marvel events. 

Glenn: New Image book from writer/artist Jason Howard Big Girls launches at 123. Nothing spectacular but a decent enough number from a premise that sounds like a lot of fun on paper.

Wynd finally seems to be picking up (ha, get it?) as the third issue lands 1t 125. It seems retailers and fans are probably figuring out what this is.

Ray: This is good to see. Even as the main market is collections, Tynion’s name should be enough for solid single-issue sales. And I think this is destined to be a modern classic, so all eyes on reorders next month. 

Glenn: In what will be the last Alien comic they publish, the first issue of Dark Horse’s adaption of the original screenplay of the first movie lands at 126. While Alien 3 had a lot of notoriety for its various screenplays, Alien is less so and as a result this is probably one just for the hardcore audience the idly curious.

Ray will have to help me out here but Canto II: The Hallow Men seems to be a new property from the original creator of the Turtles. That alone is seemingly enough to get it to 128 on the charts which is very good by IDW standards.

Ray: This is actually the sequel to the acclaimed Wizard of Oz pastiche from IDW! Canto’s first series had some of the most consistent reorders prior to the apocalypse, so this one should be a pretty solid performer as well. 

Glenn: In an example that proves that you can crossover anything, My Little Pony/Transformers is at 132. I’m not sure how these fandoms intersect but I’m mildly curious and I only partially care about one of these (its My Little Pony)

Ray: The Transformers try to learn about the ponies by downloading all information on them from the internet and spontaneously combust. 

Glenn: Reprint special as Marvel Tales: Maestro sells 1t 146. These stories have been heavily reprinted and most that haven’t read it are likely just to check it out when its collected in the Hulk Omnibus that Marvel are putting out containing Peter David’s run.

We’ve spoken about how Vault comics seems to be getting some momentum as a publisher and while one of their newest books, Shadow Service lands lower than some of their other recent hits at149 that’s still not too bad from a relatively small publisher with a writer whose name I don’t recognize.

Despite having hotshot artist Mike Deotado on board AWA’s Bad Mother only manages 162 on the charts. Considering AWA is newly minted its hard to gage how well they’re doing, we’ll find out if the stick around or not in due course.

Ray: This seems to be where all non-JMS AWA books land, for the most part. 

Glenn: Oni continues to release Rick and Morty comics to keep the lights on with the latest being ‘Birdperson’ which is at 165. These of course are madly successful outside the main comic market.

Jimmie Robinsons Bomb Queen returns with a political commentary book entitled Trump Card at 172. The buxom villainess has always been a cult hit at best and political commentary doesn’t fare well in comics generally.

The Star Wars Action Figure Variant comic which is literally just a 9.99 comic that reprints all the action figure variants that Marvel has put out for Star Wars comics since requiring the licence is at 175. This is literally the easiest money Marvel will make this month.

Ray: I can’t believe over 10K people bought a $9.99 collection of variant covers. 

Glenn: Strange Academy falls hard to 178 on its second issue. It’ll have to earn a little more of its keep if it wants to stay around. No doubt a King In Black tie-in will be along soon to help.

Voyage to the stars, a space adventure featuring anamaraphorphic (sp?) animals from IDW sells at 193, no big surprise considering it seems to be from a group of names that aren’t familiar to the market.

The Street Fighter Swimsuit special somehow makes it to the top 200 at 197. People need their sexy drawings of M. Bison.

At 200 is Sex Criminals which has been an oddball schedule for the last few years as most of its fans have likely transitioned to trades in the meantime. It might get a boost for the final time jumping 69th issue, we’ll see.

Ray: Heh. 69. Heh

Glenn: Among a bunch of reorders and lower indie books is our beloved Zombie Tramp at 221, You never call, you never write, you never try to eat my brains. Where’s the love gone Zombie Tramp?

Ray: Zombie Tramp should be selling 69K every month!

There’s a random reorder for Champions #13 at #205, and it’s worth noting that we’re in the area of the charts that only has rankings, no estimates. It was a weird month, with only 169 books being properly indexed. And you’ll also note that there are countless Marvel reorders this month, many from months or even years ago. Yep, it’s stock-dumping time – which is why there were about 200 more books this month than the last on the charts. 

Glenn: Marvel be like ‘no one talks about sales anymore, no one is that stupid.’ In fact Marvel, we are that stupid.

Ray: At #210 are reorders for Empyre: X-Men #1, which might get a boost due to being one of the ones Hickman wrote in full. Look for #4 to get the same boost in the coming months. 

More Zombie Tramp at #221, for the second time this month! At least she’s keeping busy. And again at #228! 

A GI Joe one-shot, A Real American Hero: Snake Eyes Origin #0, charts at #233. This has been one of IDW’s longest-running licensed properties, and it has a small but very loyal audience. 

At #242 we have the debut of Patriotika, an Antarctic comic that seems to be about…a sexy Captain America-type superheroine who is also the Goddess Athena. Kay. That lack of chest protection doesn’t seem feasible. 

Glenn: Just as the profit Liefield predicted. Perhaps her ludicrously giant breasts double as shields?

Ray: Talking about strange Marvel reorders, there’s Monsters Unleashed #7 at #247. That’s a 2017 comic. Back in the olden days, in the before times…

Glenn: Bloody hell I’d forgotten about this book. Now watch as I forget again.

Ray: It’s a long jump with a lot of reorders until we get to the next original #1 at #267, which is…Ninjas vs. Robots from Keenspot. I like both those things, but it’s getting scary down here early, Glenn. 

At #276, we’ve got the debut of a new Scout Comics launch, Atlantis Wasn’t Built for Tourists. This supernatural small town thriller does not have any fish-men or undersea cities in it, shockingly. 

Glenn: No dreamy Jason Mamoa? I demand a refund!

Ray: #283 brings us the first issue of Amalgama Space Zombie: Most Wanted. One of Zombie Tramp’s pals gets her own spinoff! But she’s no Zombie Tramp. No one really is. 

#286 has Conspiracy: Men in Black one-shot from Zenoscope. I wonder if the Men in Black are sexy ladies here. 

#293 brings us the latest instalment in Scout’s most bizarre series, Gutt Ghost: Trouble with the Sawbuck Skeleton Society. This is definitely a niche book, but this issue had a Mike Mignola cover, which undoubtedly boosted sales a bit. 

#299 brings us the latest Archie mini-collection, Archie & Friends Endless Summer. It’s been a rough year for Archie, and they’ve basically stopped putting out their new line of rebooted books, but they’re still putting out the all-ages material. 

#300 brings us the fourth issue of Dryad, and with that into the breach we go. 

It’s mostly reorders down here, including a reprint of the 25th issue of Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur at #308 – from 2017 again!

At #313 it’s the one-shot “Amicable Spider-Vark One-Shot“. I guess that’s a thing the creator enjoys putting out.

Glenn: Must be nice to be able to be able to yell out your own nonsense while people are literally dying around the world.

Some reorders for Chu at 321, nothing groundbreaking but it does show some interest.

Raven Hex from *checks notes* Broadsword comics sells at 327. This seems to be a property from well known Catwoman artist Jim Balent who will have a fanbase that like the way he draws breasts with people attached to them.

Ray: Good for Balent getting his own company, I guess! Sexy lady books are very much underrepresented in comics these days. *nods*

Glenn: Despite being reprinted more times than I’ve had hot dinners, Image First’s Walking Dead still does a decent amount at 332. Look for the new coloured issues to sell surprisingly well starting in a few months.

Another Joe comic in Snake Eyes: Deadgame at 334. Retailers will know this is for completeists only by this stage.

More Heavy Booby Captain America at 340 with some sort of variant which means the issue sold a respectful amount considering its material combined. Lockdown has been lonely for some people I guess.

Shanna the Firehair who I assume is some not so subtle Shanna the She Devil rip off sells at 342 from Antartic. Sexy ladies in fur bikini’s is about what I’d expect from them.

Among many low reorders and low selling indie books is Amalgama Space Zombie who from the cover is some sort of associate to our beloved Zombie Tramp. YOU CAN’T BE HER SO DON’T EVEN TRY SPACE ZOMBIE.

Proving that any politician can have their own comic, Yang Gang from Keenspot is at 372. I’ve either taken too many pills or not enough.

Ray: Every politician with a wacky fanbase is going to get a comic from them, I guess. At least they’re equal-opportunity?

Glenn: Remember Hunt For Wolverine? I sure as heck don’t but some reorders/stock dumping of the first part shows up at 374.

Gutt Ghost something something Glow In The Dark edition is at 376. Again an indie book that sells better than would first appear based off split sales. I have vague memories of a Ghost Rider glow in the dark cover from like 25 years ago so I’m glad that Scout has their fingers on the pulse.

I just can’t type the name of the comic at 385. I just can’t. I assume this is the hell Dante wrote about.

Ray: Keenspot, keeping it classy at 385!

Glenn: In a case of just happy to be here, Behemoth Comics (?!?!?!?!) brings us Cardinal Dragon at 390. We’re not making these up.

Ray: I have still never encountered a Behemoth Comics book. 

Glenn: If a comic is published and Ray doesn’t know about it, does it happen?

So many reorders/stock dumps down here until we get to Metalshark Bro 2 issue 1 at 405. How did I miss Metalshark Bro 1, HOW?!?!?!!??!

Junior High Horrors is on first glance a kid friendly spooky anthology from Keenspot at 408. I refuse to trust anything from this company after 385.

At 417 is Rock & Roll biographies: Sublime. Is this one of those popular bands you yanks like on your newfangled ‘cassette players’ Raymond? Pip, pip.

Ray: You just don’t get today’s music, Glenn! *stomps up to his room*

Glenn: So much random stuff here. The Domino mini from a while back shows up at 476 for the THIRD issue. What? Why?

Ray: This is almost entirely reorders down here. I’ve never seen anything like this. I would estimate close to a third of the comics this month are all reorders, mostly Marvel with a scattering of DC and Image. I think this was the Gail Simone run, but that’s still something people would logically be picking up in trade, not singles. 

Jeff Lemire’s Sentry #1 charts again at #479. This is more a reminder that this miniseries was awesome and you should buy the trade!

Glenn: It was great, the only good use of the character since the original mini.

Ray: Silver Sprocket puts out the most interesting titled books on the market, of course. And that includes #486, aka “Yes I’m Flagging: Queer Hanky Code 101 One Shot“. This is a very niche company that mostly specializes in indie zines. 

Glenn: I don’t know what this title means. I could google it but I’m already on enough watchlists…

Ray: Scout’s oddball Funny Monsters comic Adventures of Byron: Comic Capers one-shot charts at #496, a rare original comic at this level. Scout’s one-shots usually don’t pick up much of an audience. 

At #500 is a reprint of the 101st issue of TMNT from IDW, which normally would meant the end of this strange journey – but this month there are new depths to plumb. 

Glenn: Look I won’t go further than 500, you can’t make me. Its not human. Noooooooo.

Ray: Aside from the Image First reprints, maybe the earliest reorder on this list is Gwenpool #3, which appeared in June 2016 originally. Down at #521. It’s so weird to see cancelled series getting reorders four years later. 

Remember “Tales of a Well Hung Man” from Gumby last month? Well, it’s still hanging! Down here at #530. So many jokes.

Glenn: Inhuman says I!

Ray: #534 brings us the Litho edition of Tarot: Witch of the Black Rose #122. Glenn Matchett! You have to get out of here! Your comic list is haunted!

Glenn: It turns out the knocking was coming from my Scott Snyder box all along.

Ray: And just before we head out, there’s the earliest reorder yet – All-New Hawkeye #1 by Jeff Lemire at #539, which originally debuted in March 2015! 

Glenn: This was a great series. The artist is now drawing Stillwater which we’ll likely see in at least the top 30 next month.

Ray: And down at #547 is Image First Rat Queens #1, the very last book on the list. What a long, strange journey it’s been…

And in a month we get to do it all again! So looking ahead, at DC we have the likely clear #1 of the month in Detective Comics #1027, a massive $10 Batman anthology featuring just about every major Bat-creator of the last few decades. Add that to the ongoing Joker War storyline and the Metal tie-ins, and DC should once again dominate the top of the charts. 

Over at Marvel, it’s the last of Empyre and the launch of the next event, Sword of X. We’ll also get to see how Kelly Thompson’s Black Widow does as it launches months late. 

Glenn: Without the movie to support it, I’m not predicting big things unless Marvel flubs the numbers. It’ll be interesting if they don’t considering they have on a number of female Spider titles which they don’t have nearly outside interest in as much as Black Widow.

Ray: And over at Image, we’ll likely see a rare top ten debut for them as James Tynion IV’s Department of Truth lands. And not to be undone, Boom has the record-breaking launch of We Only Find Them When They’re Dead from Al Ewing. 

What will rise? What will fall? Will we go insane after covering six months in a little over a month? Find out next month on…By the Numbers!

Like what you read? Have any comments, questions or concerns then let us know here or on Twitter @glenn_matchett or @raygoldfield

Underrated: The Phantom

This is a column that focuses on something or some things from the comic book sphere of influence that may not get the credit and recognition it deserves. Whether that’s a list of comic book movies, ongoing comics, or a set of stories featuring a certain character. The columns may take the form of a bullet pointed list, or a slightly longer thinkpiece – there’s really no formula for this other than whether the things being covered are Underrated in some way. This week: The Phantom.


First appearing in newspapers on February 17, 1936, the Phantom was the first character to wear the skintight costume that has become emblematic of the superhero (inspired, it turns out, by stage productions of Robin Hood). He was also the first character to wear a mask with no visible pupils; the Phantom’s creator, Lee Falk, explained  that Ancient Greek busts inspired the idea of the not showing the Phantom’s pupils when he was wearing his mask, incorrectly believing that the statues had no pupils, when instead it was just that the paint had faded over the centuries. But Falk felt the pupil-less eyes gave the statues an inhuman, awe-inspiring appearance – ideal for the Ghost That Walks.

The Phantom has been in continuous publication since he debuted as a newspaper strip in 1936, with Lee Falk continuing to write the character until his death in 1999 (let that sink in for a moment. That’s sixty three years on the same character), although before he died, Falk dictated his final Phantom story to his wife from his death bed.

The essence of the Phantom is that he is an undying ghost destined to protect the fictional country of Bengala, located in Africa, from the evil Singh Brotherhood – originally a gang of pirates, though they manage to evolve with the times. The Phantom’s reputation as The Ghost That Walks comes from his longevity – Bengala has been protected by the Phantom since the early 1500’s, but it hasn’t always been the same man. Son takes over the mantle from father, over and over, giving the impression of immortality to his enemies (establishing the character as the first true legacy hero in comics).

The reason I’ve gone in to such detail about the character is because I have finally found the 1996 movie on DVD from Amazon. I say finally because I’ve been looking on and off for this movie for quite some time. It hasn’t been on any streaming service that I subscribe to, and it comes and goes from online stores – usually for more than I want to pay for a Blu-ray. In the end, I needed to bulk up an Amazon order for free shipping, and the DVD was $7* or so – well worth the price for the movie.

*(Before you ask, my wife has Amazon Prime, so I could have gotten free shipping, but for some reason the item I wanted, a low end drawing tablet, gave me a coupon and not her so in the end the DVD was closer to $2 – which is an absolute bargain).

It had been nearly twenty years since I had seen this movie, and after the glut of big budget super hero films, and so I was curious as to whether it would hold up as more than a nostalgic diversion or whether it would still be a good film in its own right. Billy Zane’s performance is solid enough, though the script doesn’t give him much to do; Treat Williams commands the screen as a wonderfully camp comic book villain with just enough of a sinister bent to make you nervous; Kirsty Swanson and Catherine Zeta Jones are both able to play strong, if fairly one dimensional characters; and James Remar is James Remar – an actor who will never give a bad performance (you may see a bad movie with him in it, but it wasn’t bad because of him).

You might think that I’m going to start ragging on the movie, but I genuinely enjoyed it. It was exactly what I hoped it would be, and indeed remembered it as; a good movie that stuck to the core concepts of the Phantom (as I remembered them); the Phantom doesn’t shoot to kill, his horse and wolf are in the movie, the stunts and effects haven’t aged brilliantly, but they’re still not terrible (the only time that you really notice anything is anytime a vehicle crashes into a ball of flames; everything else is forgivable or still holds up).

Yes, it’s a kitschy movie, and the Phantom isn’t the one man wrecking machine that super heroes have become in movies today – which oddly keeps the flick pretty grounded – but it is a really fun film.

I am absolutely going to watch the movie again. And again.

If you’re curious about the Phantom in the comics, well although the character has been in continuous publication in newspaper strips from the 30’s, The Ghost Who Walks has also appeared in several comic books throughout the last few decades – the most recent of which was Dynamite Entertainment’s The Last Phantom, a fantastic 12 issue modern take on this legendary character that I highly recommend. You can find the issues collected under The Last Phantom: Ghost Walk and Jungle Rules


Join us next week when we look at something else that is, for whatever reason, Underrated.

Underrated: the Batman: Arkham Knight comic prequel

This is a column that focuses on something or some things from the comic book sphere of influence that may not get the credit and recognition it deserves. Whether that’s a list of comic book movies, ongoing comics, or a set of stories featuring a certain character. The columns may take the form of a bullet pointed list, or a slightly longer thinkpiece – there’s really no formula for this other than whether the things being covered are Underrated in some way.

This week: the Batman: Arkham Knight comic prequel.


If you’re a gamer and a comic fan, then there’s a really good chance that you’ve played the Arkham series of Batman games. Starting with Arkham Asylum, the sequel (and still my favourite of the bunch) Arkham City, to the finale Arkham Knight, the franchise also delivered Arkham Origins – though this prequel, released after Arkham City, was developed by a different studio and doesn’t compare as well to the other three despite still being a really good game. The games’ story is remarkably robust, and at the time caught a few people off guard with the quality and detail (remember, the first two were released before video game stories were up to the quality you see in God Of War or Red Dead Redemption 2), leaving many a comic fan with the first true experience of playing as the goddamn Batman.

Of course, being a comic based game series, there have been various tie-in series released over the years, which is where this column comes in, with a look at the prequel to Arkham Knight, the series finale.

Written by Peter Tomasi with art by an all star cast of creators such as Vikto bogdanovic, Art Thibert, Ig Guara and Julio Ferreira, this book is far better than your average movie or video game tie in. And yes, it did take me far longer than it should have to realize that this was the second volume, but that didn’t lesson my enjoyment of the story at all. If anything, the best way to really look at this book is as an Elseworlds tale (which ultimately it is, just under a different moniker. where you’re not going to know the full story unless you play the games as well.

This gives the Arkham universe a unique interactive element to them not found in either comics or videogames alone. There’s no harm in not reading this book if you’re a gamer, just as there’s no real reason not to give this a look if you’re a comics fan – though if you’re not familiar with the game’s story then you may have a slightly harder time, but no more so if you started reading a series at the beginning of a story and not at the first issue.

If you’ve been reading comics, especially superhero comics, for some time then you’re going to be used to starting a story without knowing everything that came before, and so if you pick this book up with that in mind then there’s something here that you’ll be able to enjoy.

This a solid story, and one that I’m glad I found on the shelf.

This isn’t one of the defining runs or stories in Batman’s history, but it is a lot of fun – and that’s why it’s a great candidate for today’s Underrated column. Check it out if you ever get a chance.


Join us next week when we look at something else that is, for whatever reason, Underrated.

By The Numbers July 2020

Batman #95

Like in any industry, comic books and their companies listen most to one thing and that’s your money! What does your money tell them? What does it tell us as fans? What series do people say they adore but can’t seem to catch a break and what books to people hate that sell out? What are the trends? What looks good? What looks rough?

All these questions and more will be answered here, every month in ‘By The Numbers’ by comic writers, editors and fans, Glenn Matchett and Ray Goldfield.

Glenn Matchett is a comic writer and editor. He’s worked in the industry for many years but grew up reading comics. He’s had work published with various small press publishers and has is own comic now available on Comixology in Sparks: The Way I Was from Yellow Bear Comics! In a few days Glenn will be visiting Bly Manor, please send help.

Ray Goldfield is a fan of comic books for going on 25 years, starting with the death of Superman. He is a writer and editor and has released his first novel. Ray also does a weekly roundup of DC comic reviews for website Geekdad and they’re brilliantly entertaining.  When he votes in a few weeks, Ray is writing himself in. It’s 2020, you never know!

Glenn: What’s the old saying? You wait months for a By The Numbers article and then two show up around the same time?

Things continue to return to normality in July but we’re still not quite there yet but we’ll see how we go.

Ray: This month’s index book is a tie between Avengers #34 and Hellions #2, so we can estimate those probably sold in the 30K range and we can base everything off tha

Glenn: To no one’s surprise the Joker War story is turning out to be a big hit for DC as issues 95 and 94 of Batman take the top two spots in the charts respectfully. We still don’t have numbers but I have little doubt that this story, the hype around new character Punchline and the lead up to 100 has brought the back up to the six figure range. This run by James Tynion which was supposed to just be a holding pattern has taken everyone by surprise and now he doesn’t seem to be going anywhere and why would he?

Ray: The most impressive thing about Batman this month isn’t that it topped the charts – it’s that it demolished the charts! Its indexes approach 500, aka 5x the index book, and nothing else even approaches that. Whatever Tynion’s doing, he can probably write his own ticket at DC from here on out. 

Glenn: These two issues actually outsell the second Dark Knights: Death Metal which doubtlessly did gangbusters too. This event seems to have big implications on the way but people are seemingly just enjoying the ride for the time being.

Ray: The student has become the master as Tynion defeats Snyder! This is probably more a result of Batman being so red-hot, but Death Metal only selling an index of 288 is kind of surprising. Could this be a bit of the War of the Realms factor, in that this is a conclusion to a story that’s been going on so long that it’s kind of inside baseball? Either way, this is still a very big hit for DC even as Joker War laps it. We’ll see how the tie-ins do – DC keeps them relatively moderate, with there never being more than one Death Metal book a week. 

Negan Lives #1

Glenn: The fourth book is a bit of an oddity, it’s a new Walking Dead book from Robert Kirkman and Charlie Adlard in Negan Lives! This book wasn’t solicitated to retailers but instead was essentially a gift from Image to help retailers get people back through their doors. I assume that Image matched orders on the last batch of Walking Dead books so this is probably anywhere between 75-100k. It seems retailers really appreciated the gesture too.

Ray: A great move to get retailers back on their feet. This book wasn’t offered digitally, so I imagine it’s going to be a big collector’s item in coming months. It also makes me wonder if the universe is gone for good. 

Glenn: Next at 5 is Marvel’s highest selling ongoing, X-Men. While Marvel basically waits around for everyone to forget about Empyre and bring along King In Black at the end of the year, I don’t see any of their titles topping it apart from maybe…MAYBE Amazing Spider-Man 850.

Ray: Still the class of the Marvel line – for now. Anniversary issues and launches may top it, but nothing else. But with a twenty-part hard crossover coming for this book soon, we’ll see if that drives some people to drop it and wait for trade. While the Hickman book is a big hit, the same can’t be said for the rest of the line. 

Glenn: Next up is the new launch of the latest DCeased series Dead Planet, the proper sequel to the mega successful zombie focused story. This surprise hit keeps surprising and its setting up Tom Taylor as a big name to be watched as he has several big out of continuity stories coming from the big two and a big BOOM launch coming soon.

Ray: Closer to what I was expecting than what Unkillables did, but it doesn’t seem like any of the DCeased sequels are quite hitting the massive numbers of the first series. But these numbers are more than good enough to keep it going as long as Taylor wants. 

Glenn: Plus it likely does very well in collections.

Ties into Joker War lifts up Detective Comics into the top ten once more as issues 1023 and 1024 chart 7 and 8 respectfully. This story seems to be beniffitting the main bat books a great deal, let’s see how it does down the line otherwise. Of course Detective 1027 is going to be a monster come September charts.

Ray: 1025/1026 are full Joker War tie-ins, not preludes like this, so those should soar even higher in August. 

Glenn: It may be due to Swords Of X or it might be because people missed their violent Canadian mutant but Wolverine seems to have settled into a comfortable spot towards the top of the charts. Issue 3 is at 9 likely selling between 50-60kish. Nothing amazing but still very good these days. Look for it to get a little boost for issue 350 *cough* towards the end of the year.

Ray: This title had a lot of bad luck with its launch time, but I think there was genuine hunger for a proper Wolverine ongoing again. It’s getting a bit of the same effect as the JMS Thor relaunch. 

Glenn: Final spot in the top ten is for the launch of the big new event…Empyre which likely sells in the low to mid 50k range. Fine for an off shoot Young Avenger’s arc perhaps but not what Marvel wanted from this line wide event that turned into a game of ‘Empyre? What’s an Empyre? For reasons that are now self evident.

Ray: Yeah, this is honestly an unmitigated disaster. Let’s look a little down the list to find #2 at #16, selling likely in the 45K range, followed by #3 at #20 a little lower. This is not remotely what a high-level Marvel event should be selling, and it’s not a surprise they cut back the tie ins quite a bit before launch. I don’t think this is all on the pandemic, but King in Black should be a rebound for the company in December. 

Nightwing gets a significant boost from Joker War as well, charting at #11 with sales in the upper-50 range most likely. We’ll see if it keeps any of these sales post-Ric Grayson era. 

Glenn: This reminds me when Snyder’s stories crept into the other Bat books like Court and Death In The Family and everything got lifted as a result. Let’s party like its 2010 again!

Giant Size X-Men Magneto

Ray: Mutantkind’s greatest hero is back to bail Marvel out again. Giant-Size X-Men: Magneto is at #12. This side Hickman series has been very stable – likely due to the fact that every issue is a #1, but I think Hickman’s name has more to do with it. 

Amazing Spider-Man is one of those books that’s bulletproof, with two issues at #13/14 selling in the 50K range. But as we’ll talk about later, there are warning signs on the horizon for this title’s audience. 

Glenn: Much lower than the Slott run but yes the title itself will only go so low before it just sells by default.

Ray: Spider-Woman’s second issue, after that absurd first-issue launch before the pandemic that came out of nowhere, charts at #17. This is roughly similar to the trajectory Black Cat took, launching sky high and then taking a few issues to find a reasonable level. I predict in 12 issues or so, they’ll be in the same place. 

Glenn: Cancelled?

Ray: Batgirl also likely doubles its sales and lands at #18, selling in the 45K range thanks to a Joker War tie-in. Lots of indications that this might be a major storyline for Barbara with lasting repercussions. 

Glenn: A good build for the 50th and so far final issue. No word on where the character is going after this but there’s a lot of questions to be answered with regards to DC’s line.

Ray: Despite being a digital-first book that’s been reprinted, Batman: The Adventures Continue sticks around in the top twenty for its second issue, charting at #19. That’s above 40K sales, most likely, and it’s all due to the powerful nostalgia for the classic animated series. DC would be stupid not to do more in this world. 

Glenn: People love this version and it’ll do well in collections too. The initial release just makes this an easy win.

Ray: Strange Adventures still sticking around, landing at #22 with sales in the 40K range. King has come a long way since obscure characters like Vision and Omega Men were barely staying alive for their whole run – he can make any character a hit now. 

A new X-launch, X-Factor by Leah Williams, has a muted launch at #23, selling around 40K. This is a mystery title about the nature of death for mutants in the Krakoa era and features a team of cult-favorite B-listers, so these numbers are fine and well above where it would have launched pre-Hickman, I think. 

Good numbers for the latest Kirkman book at #24, as his fantasy epic Fire Power with Chris Samnee sells close to 40K. Not on the level of Oblivion Song, but keep in mind this one had an FCBD preview and a graphic novel prequel. Odd launch plan, which might have put some people on the trade path immediately. 

Glenn: Kirkman’s last superhero title, the exceptional Invincible could barely crack 15k monthly so this will likely do a lot better. Nothing Kirkman writes will be a dud, it’ll find its audience somewhere.

Ray: Now we’re in the area with lots of mainstays, including Immortal Hulk, Batman/Superman, Venom, Justice League, selling in the 30K-40K range. 

The next book of note is Empyre: X-Men #1 at #30, selling around 35K. This one had Hickman attached to the first and last issues, which likely lifted it well above your standard Empyre tie-ins. 

Spawn remains the top ongoing creator-owned title not launching this month at #31, selling about 35K, but other big names are coming for it soon. 

Glenn: Poor Spawn is ready for the power of Truth.

Ray: After a bunch of ongoings including the fast-rising Daredevil climbing up to sit among favorites like Superman, Fantastic Four, The Green Lantern, and Guardians of the Galaxy, we come to Catwoman #23 at #43, which wasn’t your standard fill-in issue. Written by the controversial duo of Blake Northcott and Sean Murphy, it got some mainstream attention and a lot of debate – but it didn’t seem to matter, as the title sells pretty close to its standard numbers, just above the index books. 

Glenn: Given how successful the White Knight line is, I thought Catwoman might have gotten more of a boost. Perhaps the controversy you alluded to cancelled out any boost it might have seen? It’s likely to remain on its current level as the next writer is not anyone huge but will maintain the title’s current trajectory just fine.

Ray: Remember when I said there was bad news for Amazing Spider-Man? The oversized Sins Rising Prelude, a key part to the current major storyline, lands down at #44, selling just over the index books. That’s a good 15-20K below the main series, which indicates that a lot of people are just continuing to buy the main book because it’s Amazing Spider-Man. After the upcoming Kindred story, it’ll be interesting to see if Marvel changes course. 

Glenn: Why this wasn’t just a regular issue or an annual baffles me, it would have doubtlessly sold better. I’ll be interested to see how the additional issues of Amazing sell once this ‘big’ story gets going.

Ray: More mainstays here including the long-runners of Flash and Wonder Woman and Kelly Thompson’s well-regarded Captain Marvel run, we come to Joker/Harley: Criminal Sanity Secret Files at #52. This sells just under 30K, which is pretty decent given that it was just a collection of backmatter for this Black Label title while it struggles to keep a schedule. Those two names on the cover, man. 

Empyre: Fantastic Four and Empyre: Avengers, the two prelude issues to the main event, are down here at #53/#54, selling about 27K. They were ordered nearly identically and are written by the writers of the main event, so this is probably where we’re going to see the main series bottom out next month or close. 

A nice jump for the oversized anniversary issue of Oblivion Song at #57, as the 25th issue sells in the 25K range and is the fourth highest-selling Image book of the month. 

X-Men: God Loves, Man Kills Extended Cut lands at #59, selling in the 25K range. This is pretty strong for a reprint of a book that’s been released many times, but it’s an all-time classic and very relevant today. 

Glenn: This is why Marvel (and DC to be fair) keep chugging these out, its easy money.

Glenn: The last of the Iron Man 2020 tie-ins, iWolverine 2020, launches at #60 selling in the low 20K range. This stars Albert and Elsie-Dee from the 1990s, so…not exactly a real sales pull here. 

Empyre: Savage Avengers, a one-shot starring Conan and Venom battling plant monsters, is down at #62. I think this might have done better if it was just an issue of the main series. 

At #64, we have the launch of Chu, the continuation of John Layman’s bizarre detective thriller Chew. It sells in the low 20K range, which is definitely a world better than the last series was when it ended up. Layman and Guillory’s classic got a lot more fans in trade, so they might have jumped on early this time, plus this was a spinoff, not a continuation. 

Glenn: This is one of Image’s bread and butter titles in terms of collections and more people have come to it since it ended. If Layman wants to do another 70 odd issue run, there won’t be any reason why he can’t, just continue the Smorgasbord editions!

Ray: Amid a lot of lower-selling Marvel and DC books, we get some more Empyre tie-ins. The Captain America miniseries launches at #70, selling around 21K. Not impressive at all. 

Glenn:  No one cares. Its a shame since Johnson is a good writer and would be a solid choice to be the next writer on Captain America after Coates leaves.

Ray: Just below that is Lords of Empyre: Hulkling – maybe the most important tie-in of the event, as it gives the supposed big bad’s motivation. The audience doesn’t really seem interested, despite a crack writing team of Chip Zdarsky and Anthony Olivera. Lots of good books got lost in this event, I think. 

Glenn: Like you said, this seems as important to the story as one of the main issues much like The Illuminati and Confession book ends to Civil War by Bendis and Maleev back in the day. The mighty Marvel hype machine has managed to get some people to check out the main book but otherwise its a passing interest at best.

Snake Eyes Deadgame #1

Ray: The sales on The Cimmerian from Ablaze, the mature-readers European Conan comic, continue to be impressive. The second issue of Red Nails is down at #75, selling about 20K. Marvel hasn’t fully resumed the Conan books yet, so this may be filling the void. 

Rob Liefeld’s Snake Eyes: Deadgame launches at #78 from IDW, selling just under 20K or so. Liefeld books are…acquired tastes, but he still has a very loyal audience and it shows in the sales – this is the only IDW book in the top 100. 

Glenn: Despite having a polarizing online persona, Liefield has 90’s X-Men/Image cred which means he’ll always be a sellable commodity. I think the reason he is how he is because he doesn’t have to care cause apart from some horrifying scandal, he’s bulletproof.

Ray: A lot of DC books down here and some of those top Boom books selling in the 16K range, until we get to our next notable book at #91 – Hedra, an Image one-shot by sci-fi cartoonist Jesse Lonergan. A bizarre and challenging book that many people loved even as they didn’t fully understand it, this issue sells in the 16K range – pretty amazing for a $5.99 book like this. No wonder Image is giving Lonergan a longer-form project late this year. 

Priest launches his first spin-off for Vampirella, the southern Gothic mystery Sacred Six, at #97. It sells in the 15K range, and I suspect the sales might have been blunted by the lack of a familiar character in the title – it sold less than the issue of Vampirella that came out this month from the same writer. 

Glenn: Makes sense, this will be for the hardcore fans/Priest loyalists only.

Ray: Similar numbers for the launch of Bliss #1 at #98 from Sean Lewis and Caitlin Yarsky, pretty common territory for Image books without a lot of hype. This isn’t a bad launch, but I believe it’s an eight-issue series and it’ll need to level out quickly. 

Glenn: A lot of the non high profile Image books are often left to fend for themselves. The creative team is fortunate that the series will likely be over before sales would make that decision for them.

Ray: #104 brings us a $4.99 reprint of Witchblade #1, which sells around 14K. Unto the breach we go, Glenn – right now, outside of the top 100 is scary territory.

Glenn: A lot of nostalgia for this one and it does have a little bit of name recognition outside of comics. This is likely one for the nostalgia generation.

I don’t want to go outside the top 100 Ray.

I’m surprised that yet another Bettie Page number 1 charts so high at 114. Not sure if this is just rising to a higher spot because of the chaos or this somehow got some unusual interest. I really don’t think it was that long since the last one and not long since I commented that very same thing on that one.

Ray: Tons of covers and featuring Spider-Woman writer Karla Pacheco, so that definitely helped get this a bigger launch. 

Glenn: The Boys: Dear Becky’s second issue drops to 124. Likely not selling much more than the series was when it was around back in the day so high teen’s/low 20’s. This is fine for this property and will join an evergreen collection for Dynamite once t finishes.

Goddamned: The Virgin Brides seem unusually low for an Image book by Jason Aaron at 126 but this is basically a continuation of the series. It may have got a slight first issue bump but otherwise retailers likely are ordering this like it never reset number wise.

Ray: We’re talking years between the last arc of The Goddamned and this one, and that one didn’t catch on like Aaron’s other massively delayed Image book, so I’m not surprised it’s so low. This will likely do better in collections. 

Buffy the Vampire Slayer WIllow #1

Glenn: Spin off mini, Buffy The Vampire Slayer: Willow launches at 130, again lower than I expected given BOOM’s done well with this property and its by hot writer Meriko Tamaki. Of course this was planned to go before a pandemic hit and people are tightening their wallets lately so stuff like this might be a trade wait for most.

Ray: Yeah, this is definitely a trade-wait book. The franchise is doing well, but Mariko Tamaki’s biggest appeal is in the graphic novels and collection markets.

Glenn: 134 sees the latest AWA launch in Devil’s Highway by writer on the rise, Ben Percy. This might have done better at Image or BOOM but for a new company this is fine for a launch. The rest of the series will sell lower of course so it just depends what AWA’s expectations are.

Ray: Percy seems to be keeping very busy at AWA. This one doesn’t have the hook of Year Zero, but it’s in line with the other launches. The company isn’t breaking down any doors, but at the least it’s starting in a comparable position to many other mid-level publishers. 

Glenn: Turtles annual charts 15 comics lower than the main title at 135. I’m not sure how closely this was tied to the main story but unless its Batman or some such, annuals continue to be treaded as secondary concerns to the main audience in the current market. This was also priced at 5.99 though so swings and roundabouts.

Pretty decent standard Image launch in the form of Lost Soldiers at 136. We’ll see how much of the audience sticks around next month which is the true test for Image books these days.

Ray:  Ales Kot is one of those niche creators who retailers know how to order by now. This Vietnam-set thriller is in line with his other books. 

Glenn: The final issue of Middlewest hits this month and charts at 137. This has stayed pretty consistent through its run and now heads off to collection heaven where I now doubt it’ll become a valuable asset to Image’s impressive library.

Pretty good launch for a Scout book at 140 for It Eats What Feeds it, they’re not giving any of the big companies any sleepless nights yet but they seem to be establishing a decent audience.

Ray: This Bayou-set horror story didn’t get much hype, but it blew the rest of this month’s many Scout launches out of the water. People love horror. 

Glenn: Selling lower than the usual anthologies they put out, DC’s Cybernetic Summer comes in at 141. This one was kind of sprung on retailers and wasn’t in the original solicitations so that’s probably why its a little lower than usual. DC keeps putting them out though so they must be happy enough.

Ray: Yeah, the combination of the late announcement, the odd theme, and the lack of many a-list creators made it pretty guaranteed this would be the lowest-selling anthology. The Halloween one should be back to business. 

Glenn: Another decent launch from Scout in the form of Vlad Dracul at 144. Month in and month out we’re seeing a trend of vampires being a popular subsection of the horror genre which has quickly become comics second most popular.

Another Edgar Write Burrows property, The Monster Men comes from American Mythology at 145 which again is far better than they usually manage. Could be the horror hook or could be just everything is upside down right now, who knows?!

At 149 is a GI Joe One Shot: Complete Silence focusing on Snake Eyes. I know nothing about GI Joe apart from I’ve learned from memes. This seems again, better than the regular offerings from the franchise, Go Joe!

Power Rangers spinoff, Ranger Slayer is at 154 and while the main series is doing quite well, this is lagging behind. I think it has the same misfortune Willow have in terms of when it was released and comic buyers having to make choices with what spin offs to what books they can invest money in right now.

Ray: This was also a $7.99 comic, which is a hard sell for a Power Rangers book. Maybe Boom’s one weak spot is that their oversized comics tend to be highly-priced. Only two dollars less than the 144-page Detective Comics #1027. 

Glenn: Another decent start from a Scout Comic in Grit at 156. They’re doing something right.

Engineward #1

I’m surprised Engineward didn’t do better than 162 considering its by two verly well known creators in George Mann and Joe Eisma. The concept is very high science fiction which is something that usually only Hickman can sell to the masses so perhaps that’s why.

Ray: Engineward is a tough genre to sell, and didn’t seem to get the advance hype of other Vault books recently. The company is still rising fast. 

Glenn: Transformers: Secrets and Lies is your obligatory Transformers one shot for the month at 163. Even in a time of crisis, the Autobots have not abandoned us.

Canto and the Clockwork Fairies is a one shot from IDW that charts at 164, I have no clue what this is so I guess this is a success?

Ray: This is a bridge one-shot between the two arcs of IDW’s popular fantasy epic that was getting lots of reorders before the shut-down. Expect this one to chart again in the future. 

Glenn: A 7.99 Sonic annual sells at 170, given the price and the book this is probably about right.

A new Green Hornet from *checks notes* no one worth mentioning charts at 171. This person does have their own set audience so if that’s what Dynamite wants for Green Hornet (spoilers: it is) then this is fine probably.

Ray: Everything else aside, Green Hornet is the one property Dynamite has never really been able to get any buzz going for. Too old-fashioned? Either way, this looks like yet another false start. 

Glenn: Oddly Nailbiter Returns 3 sells at 175 while the second issue sells at 182, I am not sure if that’s an anomaly or a very good sign but since I love the series I choose to believe the latter.

A new DS9 offering comes at 183 which would roughly make it roughly the same as most spin off Trek offerings.

Everglade Angels is more along the lines of what I might expect from Scout at 186. Its by the same writer as Green Hornet but their fans don’t seem as interested here.

Ray: Hoooooooo boy, this comic. The three people on the creative team are an accused sexual harasser, a CG-adjacent creator, and a domestic abuser. This was ordered before the controversy hit, but no second issue has been solicited and Scout actually put out an apology for releasing the book. 

Glenn: Faithless II, the naughty Azzarello comic from Boom launches at 198 so it seems retailers just ordered this like the next issue. This whole thing screams like its really meant for collections anyway.

Ray: This is the most niche of Boom’s books, featuring a strange mature-readers story in a company known for its all-ages books. Low sales make sense, especially in singles. 

Savage Dragon #250

Glenn: At 200 is the 250th issue of Savage Dragon. Its never been the success of its Image cousin Spawn but it has held a solid cult following for 25 years or so, retailers likely just ordered a few extras for speculators but I would say there would be very few people checking out the very story heavy book at this stage. They’re more likely just to check out the many, many, many, many (this time tomorrow), many collections.

Ray: Savage Dragon has never sold well in singles in decades, but the fact that it’s gotten this far is stunning. Long may it reign!

There’s a collection of Marvel Action Classic stories featuring Iron Man at #201, as IDW continues to get into the Marvel game of selling us old comics in new packages. 

Hey, look, it’s the launch of Robyn Hood: Justice from Zenoscope at #202! I assume the Sheriff of Nottingham has confiscated all the bras in Sherwood Forest. Glenn, strike up the band!

Glenn: I wish I could come up as good a joke as this. I can’t. I am ashamed.

Ray: At #205, we have Archie #713, which is the delayed conclusion to the Katy Keene arc. This is notable for being the last issue of the classic Archie series solicited. No further plans have been announced for the reboot-verse. The series has fallen a long way since the hype of the Waid relaunch. 

Glenn: Latest Archie solicits have been pretty bare bones overall. They seem to be using the pandemic as a chance to figure out things. Them putting out archive material and releasing day and date on Comixology might be an indication that they’re moving towards a largely reprint model.

Ray: The new dark superhero comic Dose from experimental publisher It’s Alive lands at #210, a good showing for a publisher that’s mostly known for autobiographical indie books. They’re one to watch, and this one was written by Bliss creator Sean Lewis.

A lot of business as usual down here until we get to #226, where we find a Belle vs. Black Knight one-shot from Zenoscope. I assume the Black Knight wants to steal the magical rose that will make Belle’s clothes fall off or something. Glenn, keep playing. 

Glenn: If the Black Knight doesn’t have big metal bazoomba’s, we riot.

Ray: Source Point released a lot of new comics this month, starting with No Heroine at #228. This vampire noir thriller featuring a hard-boiled female lead featured a lot of bits and pieces of more popular books, and that was enough to win the month for them for their lineup. 

Glenn: Here’s vampires again. Remember when they sparkled? Nope I don’t either.

Ray: The ape-mother thriller Xira from Red 5 Comics launches at #234, another odd entry from a company that hasn’t quite found its niche in the market. 

A company that definitely has its niche is Amigo Comics, which aims horror comics at latino fans and fans of color. Their latest entry, Ezequiel Himes, Zombie Hunter, lands at #240, above a few ongoing Image books like Pretty Violent.

I continue to be puzzled by the low sales for Wynd, with the second issue down at #243. Maybe the retailers just assume everyone will stick with the original plan for a trade? This is the furthest thing from what I’d expect a book by the hottest writer in comics to be doing.

Glenn: It will do better in collections either in direct or without. YA fiction is where its at and an LGBTQ+ comic by a creator from that community? It’ll be a licence to print money when its out there in collections.

Yasmeen #1

Ray: Not all Scout horror books are doing well, as the giant turtle-monster Loggerhead: Bloody Bayou one-shot lands at #244. One-shots are in an odd market all their own and retailers probably don’t know how to order them. 

Scout’s most acclaimed book of the month, the real-life thriller Yasmeen about a young refugee, lands at #246. Disappointing, but I think this one could find some second life once word spreads. 

At #249, it’s a book called “Attractive Cousins One-Shot” from the company behind Cerebus. I don’t know what this is and I’m not googling to find out. Next. 

Glenn: Well the last time I googled Attractive Cousins, the police had to have a word with me. So yes.  Moving on.

Ray: The latest installment of the Monstrous series, subtitled “Witch Hunt” and featuring Baba Yaga, lands at #251 for Source Point. 

Glenn: Surprised it didn’t get more sales after Baba Yaga’s appearance in Ant-Man and Wasp.

Ray: More Amigo at #256 as their longest-running series, Nancy in Hell, gets a one-shot titled “Hell’s Door”. Odd books, but this company has been going strong for a while. 

The Hollywood/comic book satire Backfired lands at #260 for Source Point. Most of Source Point’s books fit neatly into a classic comic book genre, and this one didn’t, so it makes sense that it’s more of a niche book. 

Zombie Tramp down at #265! 264 spots to go before she conquers the world. 

Glenn: Oh no, she dropped a fair bit.Don’t worry Zombie Tramp, we still love you.

Ray: Another Scout one-shot at #266. It’s the…creatively named “Murder Hobo: Beaten, Broken, and Buggered“, which is an ultra-violent medieval fantasy comedy. They can’t all be winners, folks. 

Source Point’s black-and-white mature-readers reinvention of Sleepy Hollow, “The Hollow”, lands at #274 for its debut issue. This company’s roll-out of so many books in one month likely cannibalized some of the audience. 

Glenn: Yeah no kidding.

Ray: Fan-favorite movie The Nightmare Before Christmas got a manga sequel a few years back, and there’s a zero issue released this month at #278. It’s interesting that the story has continued in multiple mediums, including video games and comics, but never a whiff of a sequel.

Glenn: Some of the voice cast has sadly passed on but hey, you never know. I’d love to see Jack and Sally’s kids/abominations bringing Halloween to another holiday. 

Ray: After a bunch of ongoing low-selling books, we get a new launch – Offworld Sci-Fi Double Feature from Antarctic, which lands at #291 followed immediately by the second issue. 

At #295 we exit the world of comics with sales estimates, and head into the brave unknown – everything down here is selling so low there’s no estimate available. That includes things like “Storm Kids: Hyperbreed” at #300. 

Glenn: I wish I could say we’re now playing a game to see what titles Ray is making up but they’re all real folks. This is the true horror.

Ray: American Mythology continues to put out comics based on a lot of public domain books, including the new launch Zorro: Timeless Tales at #307. Not likely to be Bruce Wayne’s favorite comic, but the old Spanish hero still has a fanbase. 

Glenn: Joker set up a subscription for him cause lolz.

Ray: Image is getting into the game of reselling us old comics, with the Image Giant-Sized Artist Proof of Oblivion Song #1. It’s down at #318 – for a whopping $20 a copy!

Glenn: *spits water on Ray*

Ray: While Archie is done with new comics for the title character for now, their digests are still going strong. They launch a new series called Archie Showcase Digest at #322. As always, these are not geared towards the direct market. 

Bigs and Tiny, an oddball superhero comic from new publisher Blackbox, charts at #325. As usual down here, it’s a scrum of small-press companies battling for a tiny share of the market. 

At #328, it’s “Warcorns: Combat Unicorns for Hire“, a one-shot from Source Point. I’m done, Glenn. Tell my friends I loved them. 

Glenn: Don’t you die on me!

Ray: A very odd entry at #330, the Batman #50 Michael Turner cover. So this is a variant cover of Batman #50, drawn by an artist who died a decade before Batman #50 was released, and released by a company other than DC (Aspen) for $99.99. It’s strange down here, Glenn. 

Glenn: I think it might be haunted.

Ray: Silver Sprocket, one of the most indie-geared companies on the stands, releases a $10 one-shot called One Million Tiny Fires at #334. It’s described as a “Queer cosmic horror tale” from cartoonist Ashley Franklin

Likely far less artistic is the Gold Digger 35th Anniversary Special from Antarctic right below it at #335. 

More Source Point books at #336, with the debut of the high-fantasy all-ages adventure Skylin, which really deserved better. Check this one out on Comixology if you get the chance. 

Source Point also debuts the second edition of their sci-fi thriller Norah at #339. 

Absolute Flipbook #1 is at #340 from Red Giant. But a flipbook of WHAT????

Glenn: At this stage? I’d guess demon penguins.

Ray: A trio of Red Giant books down here, as Darchon, Duel Identity, and First Defense take over the 344-346 slots. I have not heard of any of these books. 

Broken up by the $9.99 monster epic Kona from It’s Alive at #349, we also get the debuts of Katrina and Magika from Red Giant. They dropped a lot of books this week, which I have also never heard of. 

Remember Sublime? I ‘member! Their Rock & Roll Biography is at #351. 

Glenn:…Who?

Ray: It’s a bunch of new debuts including Shadow Children, “Starring Sonya Deveraux Spidershark Snakebear”, “Tales of a Well-Hung Man”, Wayward Legends, and Wayward Sons down in the 350s. 

Glenn: I’m calling the police.

Ray: Closing us out this month is a $5 one-shot titled You Will Be Okay Anti-Anxiety One-Shot from Silver Sprocket. After seeing some of these entries, I don’t know that I am. 

Glenn: Agreed. We will never speak of this again.

Ray: Looking ahead to August, the big two continue to get back to normal. While Marvel cranks out Empyre tie-ins aplenty, DC drops some of the biggest books of the year – including the likely monster-level Batman: Three Jokers, which will duel with Batman and Batman’s event comic for the #1 book of the month. 

Over in indie-land, we’ve got some big debuts like Jason Howard’s Big Girls, and a new Mega Man series from Boom. 

What will rise? What will fall? Find out next time on…By the Numbers!

Liked what you read? Let us know here or on Twitter @glenn_matchett or @raygoldfield sementI7����

Underrated: Vengeance Of The Moon Knight: Shock And Awe

This is a column that focuses on something or some things from the comic book sphere of influence that may not get the credit and recognition it deserves. Whether that’s a list of comic book movies, ongoing comics, or a set of stories featuring a certain character. The columns may take the form of a bullet pointed list, or a slightly longer thinkpiece – there’s really no formula for this other than whether the things being covered are Underrated in some way.

This week: the multi-part crossover event Vengeance Of The Moon Knight: Shock And Awe.


I was actually going to write about a totally different book for today’s column, but when I was recording a podcast yesterday, I spend the best part of an hour and a half playing with a Moon Knight figure from Marvel Legends, which then led me to checking what Moon Knight books I owned. Not many, if I’m honest. My options were either this, the sequel or Midnight Son because I don’t have the Warren Ellis run in trade and I was too lazy to dig through my comic boxes to find it (even if I know exactly where it is).

This is the same image on the trade’s cover, and
I didn’t realize it wasn’t until it was already uploaded…

So, Vengeance Of The Moon Knight: Shock And Awe was the book that I ended up grabbing.

I remember really enjoying it the first time I read the series, ten or eleven issues set right at the end of the Dark Reign era of Marvel Comics which found Norman Osborn as the head of S.H.I.E.L.D. and the “official” Avengers being made up of a group of villains in disguise (Bullseye as Hawkeye, Mac Gargan’s Venom as Spider-Man, Daken as Wolverine and a few others I can’t remember off the top of my head). This sits in the background of this story, with Moon Knight’s antics being set to a backdrop of billboards and advertisements for the villains heroes. The real conflict in the book comes, as with so many great stories featuring Moon Knight, from whether he can control his dissociative identity disorder or if his bloodlust will rear it’s ugly head once again.

The book opens with Jake Lockley in control as Moon Knight, gently letting his comrades and friends know that Marc Spector is gone. Moon Knight’s reputation for excessive violence in his vigilante activities is played to great effect in this book – both by the supporting characters being surprised that there’s no blood on his white costume, and be his constant refusal to maim and kill, which adds to his internal struggle as the primary antagonist shows up in the book.

You don’t need to have read a lot of Moon Knight comics in the past to enjoy this book, nor its subtle dig at Batman’s willingness to use excessive force when facing off against multiple criminals, because this is a self contained story about a man looking for redemption on the biggest stage possible for his previous actions.

This isn’t one of the defining runs in Moon Knight’s history, but it is a lot of fun – and that’s why it’s a great candidate for today’s Underrated column. Check it out if you ever get a chance.


Join us next week when we look at something else that is, for whatever reason, Underrated.

Underrated: X-Men: The Onslaught Saga

This is a column that focuses on something or some things from the comic book sphere of influence that may not get the credit and recognition it deserves. Whether that’s a list of comic book movies, ongoing comics, or a set of stories featuring a certain character. The columns may take the form of a bullet pointed list, or a slightly longer thinkpiece – there’s really no formula for this other than whether the things being covered are Underrated in some way.

This week: the multi-part crossover event X-Men: The Onslaught Saga.


If I’m totally honest, my Golden Age of X-Men comics is from the mid 90’s to the early 2000’s. This wasn’t exactly when I first started reading the X-Men, that was around 98/99, but because I was largely reading UK reprints, I wasn’t reading the current comics – they were probably always a good two to five years behind what was being published and sold in comic shops depending on the story being presented in the magazine. The reprint magazine had space for three comics in it – this wouldn’t always be three concurrent issues, but was often an issue of Uncanny X-Men and X-Men that were published within the same month and an issue of Uncanny from the 60’s or 70’s). These reprint magazines are actually responsible for the weird dichotomy in my head of knowing the stories very well, but having no context for what issue they came from (yes, the reprint did tell you what comics they were reprinting, but it was much like a tpb; you don’t really notice unless you look in the fine print if the covers).

Over the years, I’ve slowly been picking up and working on completing a run of X-Men comics from issues 100-500, though my focus for years was around 250-400, but because I’ve been largely focused on Uncanny X-Men, I don’t have a lot of the issues that form the giant crossover – if I even have all the Uncanny issues (look, I was often going by cover art and price when picking books up, not sequential numbering, so I have holes everywhere in my collection), so for a story that I really want to read I’ve been picking up collected editions just to be able to read or reread them. There’s collecting for the joy of the hunt and collecting to (re)read the stories – sometimes those things are one and the same, and sometimes they’re not, because I have no intention of risking damaging the early Uncanny issues I own, I’ve also been looking for collected editions of The Dark Phoenix Saga and so on.

Despite having several issues of Uncanny X-Men that comprise the Onslaught Saga, there was a lot I didn’t have, and won’t be getting any time soon, so when I saw this trade for sale at my comic shop I decided to pick it up so I could scratch the itch I had to read it in its entirety.

The Onslaught Saga was a story that came was featured in the reprint magazines just as I had started to read them, and so I ended up missing most of what took place in the story (everything, honestly, other than the aftermath), and so consequently a lot of it was relatively new to me. Sometimes the journey is as important as the conclusion (especially given how two decades later most of the characters in the story are still around).

The basic plot of the story focuses around Xavier losing control after the events of Fatal Attractions (you don’t need to worry about having read that – I still haven’t, though it is in my To-Be-Read pile), and the combined efforts of New York’s heroes to put a stop to his rampage. It’s pure 90’s awesomeness – there’s more destruction that you can shake a stick at, but the story never pulls away from the core focus of the intimate struggle that the heroes face when dealing with an evil Xavier.

The version I read was the X-Men: Milestones trade (pictured above), and it told a very comprehensive story. There was at least one issue missing, but it was tangentially related (Wolverine #105 was a story about Wolverine helping rescue civilians during the battle), so I assume there could be other tie-ins skipped that don’t further the plot, which keeps the tale on point. Which is good because it’s a big trade, clocking in at over 200 pages (closer to 300, I’d guess without counting/checking). It’s easily the best way to read the story, unless you already have the single issues in your collection.

Which I don’t – yet. Oddly, despite my love of the X-Men from the 90’s, I’ve got a lot of holes to fill, which should be pretty easy given how many are in the back issue bins. After all, 90’s comics aren’t all bad, there’s just a huge number of them in longboxes across the country because so many were printed to satisfy a demand that disappeared almost over night. So that just makes them worth less than the comics from the 70’s and 80’s, but it doesn’t mean they’re not any good.

X-Men: The Onslaught Saga eventually leads into Operation: Zero Tolerance, another story I’m also fond of from that era of X-books, and likely subject of another column at some point in the future, as it holds up fairly well to this day.


Join us next week when we look at something else that is, for whatever reason, Underrated.

Underrated: Green Valley

Did you read this book yet? Allow us to remind you why you should with a rerun of a column from last year.


This is a column that focuses on something or some things from the comic book sphere of influence that may not get the credit and recognition it deserves. Whether that’s a list of comic book movies, ongoing comics, or a set of stories featuring a certain character. The columns may take the form of a bullet pointed list, or a slightly longer thinkpiece – there’s really no formula for this other than whether the things being covered are Underrated in some way. This week: Green Valley


Published by Image, Green Valley was written by Max Landis and features art by Giuseppe Camuncoli, inks by Cliff Rathburn and colours by Jean Francois Beaulieu. The wonderful hardcover collection in my hands collects nine issues and will set you back $29.99 (I paid for this out of my own pocket, and happily so, even though I probably had access to the single issue review copies).

So what’s the story about?

GreenValleyHC.jpg

The knights of Kelodia are the finest in the land, but they’ve never faced a POWER like the one that resides in the Green Valley. Now they’re about to embark on the adventure of a lifetime—to stop a wizard and slay his dragons—but there’s no such thing as magic or dragons…is there? 

You may have noticed by reading this column that I tend to enjoy stories set in and around medieval times, even though I don’t tend to read that many comics set in that era (or at least I didn’t until this year). So when my LCS suggested I pick this up (it was on the counter and the owner told me I’d like it) I did so without question because sometimes I don’t want to read superhero comics.

One of the first things I noticed was that the hardcover itself just feels utterly wonderful in your hands.  The above image is of the hardcover, with the comic art inset slightly into the gold and green cover of the book itself in an effect that really doesn’t translate as well in the image as it does in person, but it does give you a hint about the nature of the story, which aside from the cover and text on the back I entered utterly blindly – and I fell in love.

green valley interior 2.jpg
green valley interior.jpg

Green Valley is the kind of book that you will want to read in a single sitting – it grabs you right from the start as you’re introduced to the legendary Knights of Kelodia (all four of them) as they face down a barbarian horde in a brilliant sequence that’s full of dry humour, a genuine feeling camaraderie from the knights  and tense knightly masculinity all wrapped up in some beautiful visuals that are some of the nicest pure-comic pages I’ve seen in quite some time. Were I reviewing this here, I’d be giving this at least 9’s across the board and telling you to buy this without question – the story and art genuinely took me by surprise and had me forget that I really should be doing a bunch of other stuff for the hour or so I sat enraptured in this story.

Without spoiling anything, it’s tough to explain why I loved this story, but that won’t stop me from trying. Green Valley is a very intelligently written book, with dialogue that is, at times, so sharp you could loose a finger. There are moments that span the gamut of human emotion for the characters, and will have you laughing out loud and pumping your fist as the story goes on – just as you’ll feel gut-punched at certain other moment. Max Landis has written one hell of a story that deserves a very special place on your shelf.

Now excuse me while I go reread it (no, I’m not saying that for effect – I’m actually going to reread it now).


Unless the comics industry ceases any and all publication look for a future installment of Underrated to cover more comics that aren’t cracking the top 100.

Underrated: Black Hammer: Secret Origins

This is a column that focuses on something or some things from the comic book sphere of influence that may not get the credit and recognition it deserves. Whether that’s a list of comic book movies, ongoing comics, or a set of stories featuring a certain character. The columns may take the form of a bullet pointed list, or a slightly longer thinkpiece – there’s really no formula for this other than whether the things being covered are Underrated in some way. This week: Black Hammer: Secret Origins


A lot has been said about Black Hammer, Jeff Lemire’s homage to the classic hero comics of yesteryear, and much of that praise can be found on the back of this very collection. Scott Snyder, Charles Soule, Cullen Bunn, Dan Jurgens and more are all effusive in their praise for a comic that Mark Millar called “the most brilliant comic I’ve read in years.”

I would agree with everything said on the back of the book, honestly. Jeff Lemire is one of the dozen or so writers whose work I will read without caring what it is because I know the quality of writing will always be very high (of course there are some things that just don’t do it for me, but not because they’re bad – but because it’s not entirely my cup of tea). Black Hammer is one of those things that is both really good (better, honestly, than I expected), and entirely my thing.

In short, it’s one of the best things that I have ever read from Jeff Lemire.

So what exactly is the book about? I’ll use the blurb from the back of the book to explain:

Wiped out of their superhero universe by a multiversal crisis, the forgotten heroes of Spiral City now live as a dysfunctional family on a mysterious farm in a small town from which they have no escape.

If it sounds intriguing, well you’ll be happy to know that’s only the very tip of the iceberg. The premise is good, and promises an interesting look at what life looks like after (forced) retirement, but it’s the way that the characters come to life on the page that’s truly gripping. Some have accepted their new lot in life, and are even making the best of what cards they’ve been dealt as they adjust to life after superheroics.

And some, well, some have never given up trying to get home.

The way that Lemire frames the opening parts of Black Hammer (as I write this I have the following three volumes on my read pile, but I’m just looking at volume one today) is that escape is hopeless, and anything other than acceptance is foolishness. But if that were you, would you accept what you’ve been given or do your damnedest to get back to the home you knew, even if it may not be as peaceful as where you are?

The answer, ultimately, would depend on a couple key differences; whether you were at least content with the new life you had or if it was driving you to insanity. Within the pages of Black Hammer, there are characters nearing their breaking point (or in some cases may have already gone beyond the breaking point), and it’s fascinating watching them all struggle to navigate the normal that they now find themselves in.

Black Hammer has spoken to my love of modern takes on distinctly Golden Age heroes. With a Justice League like group of characters locked in mysterious pocket dimension where they’re forced to live normal lives on a farm, we get to explore what happens to a hero on a forced retirement. Not everybody I know is a fan of where this comic is going, and how it’s been getting there, but every issue has been a win for me – which is another reason this appears in this issue of Underrated. But the tinges of something lingering just beneath the surface give a genuine sense of unease to the comic. Black Hammer is very much a slow burn, but it’s going to be incandescent when we get the pay off at the end…


Unless the comics industry ceases any and all publication look for a future installment of Underrated to cover more comics that aren’t cracking the top 100.

Underrated: Tokyo Ghost: The Atomic Garden

This is a column that focuses on something or some things from the comic book sphere of influence that may not get the credit and recognition it deserves. Whether that’s a list of comic book movies, ongoing comics, or a set of stories featuring a certain character. The columns may take the form of a bullet-pointed list, or a slightly longer thinkpiece – there’s really no formula for this other than whether the things being covered are Underrated in some way. This week:  Tokyo Ghost: The Atomic Garden.


I had never heard of Tokyo Ghost: The Atomic Garden. until I saw the cover of the trade at my LCS, which doesn’t really mean much other than sometimes I miss things. Something about the cover caught my attention as I was putting it on the shelf. There was something about a motorcycle rider stuck full of arrows that made me stop and wonder what the hell I was putting on the shelf, so I flipped the book and read a synopsis that was just curious enough to be immediately interesting, saw Rick Remender’s name and immediately purchased the book.

It never made it to the shelf.

The synopsis that helped to hook me in: The Isles of Los Angeles 2089: Humanity is addicted to technology, a population of unemployed leisure seekers blissfully distracted from toxic contamination, who borrow, steal, and kill to buy their next digital fix. Getting a virtual buzz is the only thing left to live for. It’s the biggest industry, the only industry, the drug everyone needs, and gangsters run it all. And who do these gangsters turn to when they need their rule enforced? Constables Led Dent and Debbie Decay. This duo is about to be given a job that will force them out of the familiar squalor of Los Angeles to take down the last tech-less country on Earth: The Garden Nation of Tokyo. You can check out the first issue on Image’s website from this link if you’re curious.

The promise of a story that deals with the dangers of technology wasn’t lost on the person who works with technology every damn day across two jobs and sees the impact of it on another as digital comics are an always present conversation piece at the shop (usually in how they don’t compare, but then that’s to be expected given the people in the conversation are literally buying physical comics at the time).

Remender takes our current obsession with technology to an extreme with Tokyo Ghost, imagining a world that reminds me of the dystopian future of the Matrix with the worst of a Hollywood drug den spread across LA. If Snake Plisken was here, he’d be trying to escape. Through the haze and horror of a tech addicted world, Remender focuses on a Constable, Led Dent, and his tech-free partner Debbie Decay. We see Debbie try to break Led’s all encompassing tech addiction by forcing him to detox… it’s an oddly uncomfortable story that’s all the more powerful by the striking nature of the addiction.

Look, I know you’re reading this on your phone, tablet, laptop or whatever. But this is a book that’ll remind you to go outside in an oddly non-preachy way. It doesn’t hurt that the art is perfectly suited to do what it needs to do; whether in the hell of LA or the relative paradise of Japan… this is a book that you really should be reading.

That the story is good is a byproduct of it’s message – and that’s one we probably all need to listen to (he says as he goes back to surfing the interwebs, where, incidentally, I discovered this is volume one of two, so maybe technology isn’t all bad…).


Join us next week when we look at something else that is, for whatever reason, Underrated.

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