Category Archives: Random

Underrated: Batman: Blink

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: Batman: Blink

When you think of great Batman comics, stories like Hush, The Long Halloween and Court of Owls come to mind fairly quickly for most of us, and depending on what the person giving you recommendations has read you may also see The Dark Knight Returns, War Games, Knightfall, Bruce Wayne; Murderer and No Man’s Land pop up at various points in the conversation, too. All of which are fantastic choices and well worth reading – indeed, all of those tend to be pretty high on my own recommendation list when talking to customers at the comic shop. But what happens when you’ve read all the main stuff? Well, that’s where something like Batman: Blink comes into play.

This trade collects two stories, Blink and Don’t Blink about a blind man who can see through the eyes of anyone he touches. The first story has him helping Batman track down a killer, and the second explores what happens when the government finds out he can do these things.

Originally presented in Legends of the Dark Knight 156-158 and 164-167, the story is set during the early days of Batman’s career – there’s no specific year, but judging by the framing device of the story being read from Batman’s journal and the Dark Knight’s confidence and lack of technology I’d put it within the second or third year (at latest) which means that we’re seeing a Batman stripped of a lot of what we’re used to seeing of late. There’s a lot more detective work in this story, with writer Dwayne McDuffie allowing the process to be shown on panel rather than as a one off comment or so.

This is Batman as he was before he became the caricature of himself where he could easily defeat Galactus with enough prep time (yeah, I know, different universe, but I’m making a point with extremes), where he’s more a man than a god. You see him get hit by chairs, make mistakes and still push through regardless. This Batman is fallible, and the stakes seem higher because of it in a way that Batman verses a giant monster doesn’t; it’s the human touch, the smaller scale of the threat and the consequences of failure. Plus, the way McDuffie frames the story through Batman’s journal also allows the perspective of an older Batman critiquing his earlier self which adds in both a sense of foreboding and the odd wryly funny line. I also want to highlight the choices of letterer Kurt Hathaway here because the font choice he went with is brilliant; one can easily read the cursive handwriting whilst understanding exactly what it is you’re seeing. Cursive can be tough to penetrate for some folks at times (and I am one of them despite my own writing being hard to read), and when there’s no impediment to the story because of the narration and stylistic choice then you can’t help but become immersed in the narrative.

As you cans see above, the art has a very moody feel to it, with the colours trending toward the blues, greys and other muted hues for the majority of the book – which only serves to make the brightness that much more striking. The story was penciled by Val Semeiks with inks by Dan Green and colours by James Sinclair, and despite the first issue in the book being published almost twenty years ago, the art still has that fresh and vibrant feel. Yes, there’s a sense of classic comics art to the pages, but given the flashback nature of the story, it works in a very meta way as your own sense of “back in the day” creeps into your perspective when reading this trade.

Granted that might just be my old man eyes and memories, and younger readers may not have the same experience (not kids, but folks who haven’t been reading comics since the 90’s; y’all likely won’t have the same perspective, and that’s okay – it’s not a deal breaker for this story).

The main reason I bring up this trade is because until I saw it on the shelf for the price of a single issue, I’d never heard about the story. While it won’t make it into my Must Read section of Batman recommendations, it’s going to be closer to the top of the “oh, this ones really good, too” section. It’s an underrated story, and one that can be easily overlooked when on a shelf among the other great Batman stories.

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

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Underrated: A Once Crowded Sky

This week we’re revisiting a previous entry in the series with Tom King’s A Once Crowded Sky.

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: A Once Crowded Sky

It’s no secret how much I love comics. Or at least it shouldn’t be.

While most pretty much all of the comics I read can, to varying degrees, be placed on the superhero side of things, sometimes I’ll pick up the odd non-superhero comic.  I’m a big fan of the modern comic book re-imaginings of the early pulp heroes such as The Black Bat, The Spider, and The Phantom, although one could argue their closeness to the superhero genre renders the example moot, so let me be blunt; the point I am poorly trying to make is that I love superhero stories (of all varieties) in my comics more than any other type of story. 

Amazingly enough, I also read books.

If you look at my book shelf you’ll see a lot of fantasy, sword and sorcery, and historical fiction. There isn’t much set within the last one hundred years or so that I tend to pick up and read. I can think of, maybe, twenty books (or series) that I’ve read in the last fifteen years or so that are set within the last century, and only a handful of them were based around superheroes. One was an average Wolverine tale I read on Kindle, one is the hugely enjoyable Dresden Files series and another was A Once Crowded Sky by some dude named Tom King, which  is the subject of today’s column.

Although the story wasn’t quite mind blowing, it was remarkably well told, and had some incredible ideas within its pages. Perhaps the most interesting thing about the book is actually the way it is told. In a book with multiple point of view characters, each character’s point of view is laid out like a comic book; the book is set up like a text version of a collected comic book tie-in event across multiple issues. It’s a brilliant way to tie in the obvious influence and homage to the four colour medium, as is the occasional comic book page within the book itself.

A Once Crowded Sky is a relative anomaly for me; it’s a superhero story that I read, and enjoyed, that wasn’t in a comic book. Now, my sample size of superhero books is obviously incredibly small compared with that of superhero comics, but the thing I must stress here is it isn’t that I’ve had no access to superhero books, it’s that I simply have no desire to read about superheroes in any other medium that isn’t a comic book, and I have no idea why.

Maybe it’s because up until A Once Crowded Sky every superhero book I’ve looked as has been hard to justify the price tag. I found A Once Crowded Sky for $3 on a table of reduced hardcover books at a chain book store – it’s easily worth four times that amount, but would I have looked at it for more than $3? Seeing as how it took me two days to decide to pick the book up even for about the price of a comic, well, then probably not. Maybe I don’t like superhero books because they lack the visual nature of comics, which probably does have something to do with it, but I’m more then happy reading the Dresden Files novels and graphic novels, but then the Dresden Files and superheroes occupy two different genres. Maybe, and most likely, it’s because there simply hasn’t been much buzz about any superhero books.

So what’s A Once Crowded Sky about, and why should you read it?

“The superheroes of Arcadia City fight a wonderful war and play a wonderful game, forever saving yet another day. However, after sacrificing both their powers and Ultimate, the greatest hero of them all, to defeat the latest apocalypse, these comic book characters are transformed from the marvelous into the mundane.

After too many battles won and too many friends lost, The Soldier of Freedom was fine letting all that glory go. But when a new threat blasts through his city, Soldier, as ever, accepts his duty and reenlists in this next war. Without his once amazing abilities, he’s forced to seek the help of the one man who walked away, the sole hero who refused to make the sacrifice–PenUltimate, the sidekick of Ultimate, who through his own rejection of the game has become the most powerful man in the world, the only one left who might still, once again, save the day.”

Tom King’s debut novel has some lofty ideas, and some great presentation ideas that more than out weigh the at times overly wordy moments as King at times loses himself in backstory and internal monologues. There are flashes of his later brilliance in this 2012 novel, and it’s fascinating to see how he’s grown as a writer since this book. Despite having some rather interesting names for his characters (no, that’s not food – that’s my tongue in my cheek), it’s not hard to identify where their inspiration came from. Soldier of Fortune and Captain America do bear more than a slight similarity, after all.

But by using his own versions of these characters we’re all so familiar with, King is able to tell the story he wants without worrying about the guiding hand of either of the big two publishers impacting his story.

What we’re left with at the end of the day is a solid, and very enjoyable superhero novel written by a man who would go on to write some utterly fantastic comics. This book isn’t on that level, but it’s still well worth checking out should you come across it.

Someday, hopefully soon, superhero books will have their own section in the book store and when they do, that’s where you’ll find me.

Join us next week when we explore another Underrated aspect that may be at best tangentially related to comics!

By The numbers september 2020

By The Numbers

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! By the time this out, the election will be over. So either congrats President Biden or wow, how did you get an internet connection with all that doomsday radiation?

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.  He sees coming to the end of 2020 like a video game boss fight…shame that Ray is made of 99% comics and doesn’t videogame! Snake! Snake! Snaaaaaaaaaaake!

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: Its By The Numbers…now with actual numbers kinda/sorta. While exact sales are still elusive to us somehow, there are estimates that range from high end to low end. For the sake of this article and all future By The Numbers until actual numbers return, we’ll go by the lower end. At least there we know a baseline and can judge accordingly. In general, these sales are still just ballpark figures and lack the general trends of the sales charts prior to March. At least it gives us a rough idea of where we are.

Ray: You mean I don’t have to describe things in terms of how many Avengers they sold anymore? This will make counting change at the grocery store a lot easier.

Glenn: In my day, milk used to cost a half an Iron Man!

Batman: Three Jokers #2 review | Batman News

Top of the charts for the second month is Three Jokers, issue two sells at least 190k which is just over 100k drop. Not too shabby really and this seems like with an ending the next month this will not drop too much further. This is another big story that got a lot of interest and will sell forever in collections. Its a big win for DC and I know that because not only is the second issue here but the first recharts very high this month and while our source doesn’t have numbers on that it seems to have sold around 70-80k at least which is INSANE. Clearly these speciality projects from DC continue to bring in interest.

Ray: Geoff Johns certainly had one hell of a final act at DC Comics, if this is the end. I suspect these will be monsters in collections, and they’ll undoubtedly be ready to back up the money truck for a sequel. Get ready for Batman: Three Harleys!

Glenn: Number 2 this month is the anniversary issue, Detective Comics 1027 which was a giant anthology celebrating 1000 issues of Batman (more or less) in this book. It sold 175k which while it wasn’t runaway stream train that 1000 was this is still big numbers. Issue 1000 likely had an easier time cause 1000 is an easier number to promote than 1027 but the creative energy behind this one still had it deliver big, especially priced at 9.99.

Ray: This is at least 50K more than the Joker 80th Anniversary special did, so that’s huge. This didn’t have the #1000 branding that made those two issues absolute monsters, but the heavy-duty creative team on this one – all four recent iconic Batman writers going back almost fifteen years – made it a must-buy for Bat-fans

Glenn: Next is Venom which sells 130k as it continues its dominance as Marvel’s top book as we continue the march towards King In Black. While I expect Venom to continue its climb during that event and the event mini itself to sell incredibly well, I’m not quite as sure around the satellite tie-ins. I don’t think this is going to have the ever elusive Civil War tie-on magic touch but I could be wrong.

Ray: Too many tie-ins. As we saw for Empyre, there’s a consistent attrition the more you do. That being said, all indications are that King in Black is going to be the biggest Marvel event since Civil War II. 

Glenn: At 4 is the launch to the first Hickman led X-Men event, Swords Of X: Creation which does very well with sales over 115k. There’s still a lot of hype behind this run and there is similar success for other X-Books this month, this event is over 20 parts and those are all the main story, not skippable spin offs. It’ll be interesting how the whole thing does over this period of longevity.

Ray: Decent numbers, a slight increase over the main X-book. That being said, if this is the ceiling for the big launch chapter, I don’t think it’ll hold up sales-wise too well over the entire run. The first half has been a little loose with crossovers, with only the Ben Percy books directly leading into each other, so we’ll see how retailers respond. 

Glenn: The other Donny Cates Marvel ongoing Thor is at 5 selling around 110k which is the best the book has sold since the Jane Foster days. Its the Donny Cates effect which we’re going to see get bigger and bigger as we move towards King In Black and his already reportedly ridiculously successful Image book, Crossover.

Ray:  Cates is pretty clearly the biggest guy at Marvel right now and anything he touches turns to gold. I’m mostly shocked that Thor isn’t crossing over with King in Black!

Glenn: While not having quite the top ten dominance of some months, Batman takes no time off. Issue 98 sells at 6 with 100k sales and 99 sells 90k at 9. Unusual to see a drop as the story goes on but 100 will doubtlessly be a monster next month. The title after languishing in the 70k range for a bit has beefed up back to its former sales status. It didn’t have to content with Venom or Thor before (aka Donny Cates) but can’t keep a good bat down, especially in the middle of a hot story.

Ray: Some slight attrition for Batman, but it’ll rebound for sure – maybe to #1 next month. It’ll be interesting to see how much of these gains it keeps as time goes on and Tynion enters the second year of his run. 

Glenn: BIG jump for Spawn issue 310 with sales around 90k. This is the start of a new arc it seems but otherwise, I’m not too sure why it got such a jump. The title has been riding quite a wave of momentum since 300 but this sudden jump is odd…good for them though. They’re going to have some serious competition as the top Image book next month however.

Ray: Yeah, this seems random for such a big increase. I checked solicits to see if any iconic Spawn villains like Violator were in the current arc, but it doesn’t seem like that. Spawn will remain a mystery to us all.

Glenn: Web Of Venom: Wraith sells at 8 cause its written by Donny Cates and serves as a direct prequel to King In Black, not on the named character on the front. The combination of Cates and anything Venom relates is good for at least around 90k so yeah…Knull is indeed coming.

Ray: I barely even know what a Wraith is, so the fact that this one-shot did so well is a testament to just how big that whole universe is right now. It’s the equivalent of DC doing a Joker War: Anarky one-shot and it landing in the top ten . (Damnit, DC, why didn’t you do that????)

Glenn: Lonnie ran into Clownhunter, it didn’t go well.

Final book in the top ten is the launch of a new Iron Man title which is good enough for 80k which I think is around the same level the Slott run launched at. Standard Marvel relaunch in other words with a return to the 20-30k range next month.

Ray: Decent numbers, but early reception on this run’s status quo has been seriously mixed. I’m not seeing this being the run that turns around Iron Man’s trouble at getting a hit ongoing long-term. 

At #11, speaking of Joker War one-shots, we have the oversized anthology Joker War Zone, which sells at least 75K. Strong for an anthology tie-in, but this one had a lot going for it – elite creators including Tynion, Williamson, and Hollywood screenwriter John Ridley among others, and a lot of direct tie-ins into major 2021 stories. This one could become a collector’s item. 

Glenn: Plus Joker War is on fire right now (and in the story too) and everyone seems to dig Clownhunter, even if its not quite Punchline level chaos.

Ray: Speaking of that James Tynion IV! Down at #12, we have his monster new Image debut, The Department of Truth, selling at least 75K. This is one of the best debuts for an Image book in recent memory save a few Millar books that had incentives. Of course, it won’t hold that title long given Crossover coming, but this is the latest feather in the cap of a guy having a career-best year. 

Glenn: This is great and will likely settle at around 30-40k or more. After 10 years being a high quality workhorse, Tynion has turned into a superstar and he deserves it.

Ray: Right under the latest issue of X-men, we have Fantastic Four #24, with a huge jump selling at least 75K. This was a special flashback issue drawn by Paco Medina illustrating the origins of the rivalry between Human Torch and Iceman, and was one of the best issues of the series, but I wouldn’t have expected it to do this well. A testament to how well-received Slott’s run has been, maybe?

Glenn: This seems unusually high, it could be quality catching up with the book like we’ve seen with Venom or it could be shenanigans, its hard to tell. Nice to see Slott’s new book doing so well though.

Ray: Marvel Zombies Resurrection returns from a long layover to have a strong debut at #14, selling at least 75K. The original franchise had a lot of fans and this had a lot of variant covers, plus zombies will always be hot. But the second issue is all the way down at #87, only selling 22K, so these first issue sales are clearly more illusions than anything. 

Glenn: DCeased this is not. Sure Marvel had the idea first bit that was a long time ago now and the franchise worse itself into the ground pretty quick, especially after Kirkman left to run Image.

Ray: A big jump for Amazing Spider-Man’s only issue this month, selling at least 75K as it approaches the big anniversary issues, but I still think these numbers are largely air, and we’ll talk about why further down the list. 

Glenn: The title shifts so much in sales it can be quite a whiplash. I guess this is also partly because this is the return of Norman Osborn and not counting Absolute Carnage this is the first follow up we’ve had to Red Menace so retailers maybe expected some level of interest for that.

Ray: At #17 we have another issue of Thor, which sells just over half of what the one above it did, and it’s followed by Strange Academy #3 at #18 – selling more than double what its second issue did, and about what its first issue did back in March! So clearly something a bit wonky is going on with Marvel sales again this month. 

Glenn: Shenanigans or momentum? It’s really hard to tell with Marvel these days but I hope for Strange Academy its somewhat genuine. We’ll know in future solits if it gets past issue 12.

Ray: It seems like Marvel sales as a whole are really good this month – or really inflated – as Fabien Niceiza’s Juggernaut miniseries lands at #18 selling at least 67.5K, which seems really high for a random X-men spinoff. 

Glenn: Could be because X-Men is having a moment and Juggernaut is an iconic character? Sales will drop to around 20k next month I’d imagine.

Ray: After another 65K of Thor #6 – these are apparently reorders, which is insane! – We come to Shang-Chi #1 at #21. This had Superman Smashes the Klan writer Gene Luen Yang on board, and the movie’s raised the character’s profile, but 63K is much more than I would have expected given current trends.

Glenn: Even Batman struggles to battle Donny Cates! Shang-Chi had a lot of momentum due to the film that now isn’t but he’s also been absent from any notable presence forever. Usually when a character is shelved for a long time, they lose any market presence but Shang-Chi may have been gone so long they moved passed that onto the ‘I’ve been gone so long they miss me’ phase. Another one likely to drop when we get to next month though.

Ray: The one-shot Immortal She-Hulk, spinning out of Immortal Hulk, sells at least 60.5K at #22 – basically the exact same level as this month’s issue of the parent series. Another piece of evidence for how much Ewing has revitalized this series. 

Surprisingly low debut for Black Widow #1 at #24. The lengthy delays couldn’t have helped – it was supposed to come out in April – but Kelly Thompson deserves better and I’m hoping it levels out quickly. 60.5K minimum isn’t bad, but it’s odd that this month’s Marvel releases are all very clustered around this level. 

Glenn: I think it’ll stabelise pretty fast but yeah I think the series and Thompson deserve better. The title will certainly have lost momentum but its strange that Marvel didn’t try to bump up the numbers for the comic featuring the comic starring their first female movie lead and instead decided to support *checks notes* Amazing Mary Jane.

Ray: #26 has a change of pace – and more Al Ewing – as the sci-fi thriller We Only Find Them When They’re Dead lands at #26, selling at least 60K. That’s another massive win for Boom as more and more top creators choose them as their new home. But it’s nothing compared to what Keanu will do here in a few months!

Glenn: Ewing has gained some serious cred following Immortal Hulk and Boom are riding an unreal wave of momentum so yeah this is excellent. Likely to be around the same levels of Something Is Killing The Children and Once and Future next month but they both outsell a lot of Image regulars.

Ray: It was Storm’s turn in the spotlight at #27 for the latest issue of Giant-Size X-Men, selling at least 55K. The gulf is starting to grow between this and the main Hickman X-book, but then that’s in a crossover. 

Glenn: It seems retailers are treating this like an ongoing as long there’s a recognisable character on the cover. Stable and decent enough.

Ray: A decent jump in sales for X-Factor #4, selling at least 50K at #28. This was the first official chapter of Swords of X after the launch one-shot, so clearly they’re all not going to be huge in this crossover. Still, it seems like every title will be getting a boost. 

Glenn: Boosts are good but the sales on some titles being higher than others is odd, doesn’t everyone want to read this story and be confused when they skip the books with lower sales?

Ray: Those inflated Marvel sales have wreaked havoc on the rest of the charts, as we see DCEased: Dead Planet #3 sinking all the way down to #29, selling 49K. Still strong, but much lower on the charts. 

Glenn: There is definitely something amiss with DC sales and its most likely to their new non diamond distribution model. These low end sales seem especially low end so all their sales could come with an asterix.

Ray: At #30 we have the latest Dark Nights Death Metal one-shot, Multiverse’s End, selling 48K. This one had James Tynion IV attached, but didn’t get too much advance promotion for its John Stewart-focused story. 

Meanwhile, Empyre limps to a close at #31, selling 47.5K for its final issue. Womp womp. Don’t worry, Knull is coming. 

Glenn: Empyre? We hardly know ya! Wakka, wakka.

Ray: #33 brings us a new licensed property for Marvel, The Rise of Ultraman, selling a pretty decent 47K right out of the gate. I think this will drop a lot coming up, but it still shows some interest for a property that hasn’t had any real presence in the American market for decades. 

Glenn: Really good for a licenced comic coming from a company not known for doing this type of stuff on a property well past its prime. Obviously Marvel sees money in this somewhere.

Ray: Nice jump for Justice League as it begins its Death Metal tie-in at #34. It sells at least 45.5K in a preview of what could be a Josh Williamson JL run, and that’s about 20K above what the last regular issue sells down at #61.

It’s been a looooooooooong layover for Abrams and Abrams Spider-man, but there’s still some interest as the massively delayed fourth issue sells 41K. I wonder where the final issue will chart once our kids take over this column in decades to come and it’s finally released. 

Glenn: Selling on name alone at this point. Unless they need new red shirts for Spider-Verse III: The Versing, we’ll never see these characters again or have this story referred to again ever.

Ray: Slightly low numbers for the other Death Metal tie-in this month, as Speed Metal charts at #40 with sales of 39K. I wonder if retailers ordered this more like a Flash epilogue than a true chapter of the main mini, but it’s a pretty key chapter and an important issue for Wally West fans. Watch this for reorders. 

Right below at #41, actually, is Dark Nights Death Metal Trinity Crisis, selling 38.5K. This one was by Snyder and Manapul and was essentially a key issue of the main series. Retailers missed the boat on this a bit, so I’d expect all these skip-month tie-ins to get reorders in the coming months.

Glenn: Again, screwy sales for DC around.

Ray: At #42 we have Amazing Spider-Man: The Sins of Norman Osborn, an oversized chapter in the Sins Rising story that sells 38K – only half of the main series issue this month. This indicates the actual level of interest for the series is pretty low, as every time they do a spin-off it loses a lot of sales. Doesn’t bode well for the .LR issues coming soon. 

Glenn: This was the end of the current arc too so a lot of people picking up Amazing 850 will likely be more than a little puzzled. It was also terribgle

Ray: Next book of note is Empyre Fallout: Fantastic Four at #47, selling 33.5K. This was the higher-selling of the main two, probably because people just like Slott’s FF and treated this like a bonus issue. 

Maestro #2, which had a surprise top ten debut last month, levels out to 33K for its second month at #48. Not spectacular, but easy to see why they greenlit a second mini. 

Glenn: Yeah, all things considered this is very good.

Ray: At least 33K in reorders for Venom #27, so this continues to be a monster at #49.

A surprise entry at #50, Giant-Size X-Men: Tribute to Wein and Cockrum. This is the classic story to Giant-Size X-Men #1, redrawn by dozens of today’s top creators as a tribute to the two late creators. It’s a passion project for the company, and enough fans were interested to generate at least 33K in sales. 

Glenn: Not quite free money but an interesting idea and enough of a success that we may see similar future projects.

Ray: Jeff Lemire’s Immortal Hulk: The Threshing Place one-shot lands at #53, selling at least 31K. This issue doesn’t really have anything to do with the main series, so it likely got most of these sales on Jeff Lemire’s name and the title’s popularity alone. Impressive, and just above this month’s issue of Strange Adventures. 

Glenn: This seems to have sold more like a Lemire comic than an Immortal Hulk comic. Marvel are seemingly fine with these as we’ve got a third Immortal Hulk one shot coming in January.

Ray: Immortal Hulk has a pretty big presence this month, as #0 sells at least 28K at #60. This is a reprint of two famous Brian Banner-related comics with about 15 pages of original framing segments, so there’s some meat to this issue. 

Empyre Aftermath: Avengers is down at #69, selling at least 26K. Unlike the FF one, this wasn’t a direct tie-in to any ongoing book and even the hype of the Hulkling/Wiccan wedding didn’t really drive any interest to it. Empyre seems destined to be forgotten rather quickly. 

Glenn: What’s an Empyre? Is it a bird?

Ray: No real bump for the final issue of Josh Williamson’s Flash at #70, selling 26.5K and about 1K above the previous issue. Retailers knew how to order this by now and it’s been a long time without any renumbering, so this comic’s main strength is its consistency. 

Glenn: Insanely consistent for its 100 issue odd run, a rarity to be saluted in the modern comic era.

Ray: Another Black Label launch at #75, as Tom Taylor launches Hellblazer: Rise and Fall. This pitch-black classic Constantine tale sells 25K for its oversized first issue, a pretty good number for a character who’s struggled to really carry a title since he came over to the DCU. 

Glenn: This seems to be where more specialised Black Label books live that star characters that are a bit more off the beaten track. Still a good number and of course it’ll do oodles in collections.

Ray: A Justice League Annual, an epilogue to Robert Venditti’s short run, lands at #78 selling 24K. Decent, but this one didn’t have much to drive sales beyond the name on the title. It was an old-school story with no ties to the main book. 

A new Umbrella Academy spinoff, subtitled You Look Like Death, is Dark Horse’s top title this month selling 23K at #81. This is undoubtedly a pretty big boost due to the successful Netflix TV series. 

Glenn: Umbrella, Lemire and Hellboy paying Dark Horse’s bills at the moment with Gaiman popping in to treat everyone to ice cream now and then.

Ray: A big boost for Ice Cream Man at #82, as it sells at least 22.5K. I believe this one had a lot of incentives for a bizarre story involving a very disturbing series of storybook parodies. 

Chip Zdarsky’s new horror title Stillwater lands at #83, selling 22.5K for its first issue. This is above average for an Image debut, but a bit below where I’d expect it to land given Zdarsky’s fast-growing reputation as a top writer. Reviews are fantastic for this chilling immortality tale, so expect heavy reorders in coming months. 

Glenn: This is a lot lower than I expected. I didn’t expect it to be Undiscovered Country or Department of Truth but I thought it would crack 40k easy. Too much noise from everywhere? Who knows but I think it’ll do well in collections and find itself a stable, loyal audience fast.

Ray: A Cyclops tale by Jay Eddin in X-Men: Marvels Snapshot is good enough for 21.5K in sales at #88. This was the most acclaimed of these Snapshots so far, so don’t be surprised if it becomes a collector’s item. 

Last month’s huge sales for Horizon Zero Dawn #1 weren’t a fluke, as the second issue sells 21.5K at #89. Titan may just have a regular book in the top ten thanks to this popular game.

MORE Thor reorders at #90, with #4 picking up an additional 21K. 

Glenn: Insane.

Ray: Josh Williamson’s fabulously bizarre Bat-Mite/Mxy story in Batman/Superman Annual #1 lands at #92, well below the main series but likely to pick up steam once people hear how funny it was. 

Glenn: These characters are an acquired taste and annuals always do lower than main books these days so no big surprise.

Ray: The movie might be delayed, but Wonder Woman 1984 gets a comic book special! Repurposed from a Walmart giant, this comic with two original stories is good for 20.5K in copies at #93. 

Glenn: With no movie to help it out, this was left to fend for itself and the results show.

Ray: 19.5K in reorders for Venom #26 at #97, as anything Donny Cates continues to be the hottest thing in town. 

At #99 we have the debut of Dan Panosian’s witch thriller An Unkindness of Ravens, selling 19K from Boom. It’s well below some of the top debuts from Boom, but it’s also a world higher than Boom teen-oriented books used to debut. The company continues to grow like crazy. 

Glenn: Plus this is a writer with no real presence in the market so nothing to sneeze at in regards to a debut.

Ray: And at #100, it’s the latest issue of Fire Power, which seems to have leveled out just under 20K – another hit for Kirkman that should run for as long as he wants it to.

Glenn: Its not like he’s short for money…

More reorders for Thor at 104 for issue 2 and 106 for issue 3. Normally I’d chalk this up to stock dumping but I think its just the Donny Cates magic creating some momentum and interest in the book,

Seven Secrets drops quite a bit to 112 with sales at least in the 16k. That’s still very good, its not that far behind one of Image’s most successful books, Undiscovered Country although that book is on its 8th issue mind.

Some reorders for the first issue of Strange Academy’s first issue at 120 with another 14.500+ orders. This launched high so these are good reorders and as we saw above there was an odd bump for the book. Perhaps the great concept is catching on?

Free money for a facsimile edition of the first appearance of Iron Man at 121 with sales around 13.5k.

Third generation writer/artist Emma Kubert makes her comic debut at 125 with the first issue of Inkblot with sales at least around 12.5k which is pretty standard for an Image launch from a creator who is known but not huge. The Kubert name definitely still draws a lot of attention and I can’t recall any other third generation creators off the top of my head so Emma Kubert has the advantage of being a trailblazer in a way too.

Ray: Kieron Gillen always said that if an Image book launched above 10K, it was probably good for the run. Given that, Emma Kubert is probably pretty happy with this

Glenn: At 131 we have Cyberpunk 2077: Trauma Team by Cullen Bunn. This is a tie-in to a hotly anticipated game so likely helped get numbers of around 12k which isn’t bad for a comic of this type. With the game now delayed to December (as of this writing) people will be taking their Cyberpunk 2077 content where they can!

Ray: This is a great debut for Dark Horse, and definitely more due to the game’s hype. Still, another win for Bunn as he continues his quest to have a comic at every company. 

Glenn: The Stranger Things: Science Camp mini launches at 146 with sales around 10.5k. This is the first comic tie-in that goes beyond the first season but only features one of the kids in a side story so there could have been some interest lost there. These are still decent enough and likely do very well in collections. Given that Dark Horse keeps rolling them out, they must be happy enough.

Ray: These all sell pretty close to each other, but I think we might see a bump for the upcoming crossover with Dungeons and Dragons

Glenn: A new book from AWA in the form of Grendel Ky at 148 selling around 10k. This seems to be where AWA’s starting point is despite having a well known creator like Tommy Lee Edwards on board.

Ray: This was the first one without an a-list writer on board, too, so it’s pretty clear they’ve found their level as a company for now.

Glenn: Vampirella: Trial Of The Soul One Shot manages around 9.5k at 155 which is about right for anything not being put out by Priest.

Ray: Bill Willingham isn’t the sales draw he used to be, especially not on non-Fables stuff. 

Glenn: Heavy from Vault sells lower what I might expect at 157 with around 9.5k. Max Bemis is a known entity but then again Vault is still growing but they’ve been making good headway too so I’m not too sure what went on here…

Ray: Vault continues to rise as a company. This book is basically John Wick meets The Good Place, so that concept is a little out there. Bemis is doing his thing!

Glenn: A collection of comics put out by the Ice Cream Man creative team starring the sinister frosty host sells around 9.5k. This isn’t too bad considering this material is already out there and even though this book comes with good intentions, people likely are avoiding any and all reminders of our current mess.

Ray: Nothing says feel-good quarantine comics like the team behind the most disturbing book on the stands! A lot of people heard about this but didn’t get the original comics, so there’s definitely a market here. 

Glenn: Firefly: Blue Sun Rising sells a shade lower than the main series at 159 with again around 9.5k in sales. These zero issues always get treated oddly by retailers no matter what the property and no matter which company it is. Its not low enough below main issues to cause concern however which suggests a solid cult audience for the book.

Ray: Double the price, too, so that didn’t help. Firefly is still pretty healthy as a franchise, but we’ll see what happens with the time jump to the post-Serenity continuity

Glenn: The last of the Sandman tie-in books, Dreaming: Waking Hours sells around 9.5k too at 160. This line of books didn;t exactly set the world on fire but will likely do healthy enough in book store markets.

Some reorders for the first issue of Star Wars: Bounty Hunters at 165 selling around 9k. Perhaps retailers are prepping their shelves for the second season of Madeloreon not realizing that all we want is a baby Yoda comic.

Spy Island from Dark Horse, the new comic from Chelsea Cain has a muted debut at 167 with sales around 8.6k but this is what the company can do outside of its main dependants and Cain has a somewhat erratic history in her short career in comics.

Ray: Spy Island was scheduled to launch right before the shutdown, too, so that probably hurt its momentum. 

Glenn: Speaking of Dark Horse, they launch a new Bill & Ted mini to tie in with the new movie at 173 selling around 8.4k. The laid back surfer dude time travellers are very much a cult thing so I doubt any company could have done much better.

Ray: This was always going to be a lower seller, but it’s good to see two popular creators like Evan Dorkin and Roger Langridge put out a new book for some fan favorites!

Glenn: The True Believers theme this month is X-Men related but considering this imprint has likely done all the big issues we’re starting off with a Havok one at 175 selling around 8k and going down from there. Its still worth Marvel’s while doing these of course as it costs them very little to nothing to produce and it takes away precious shelf space among other things.

Typical Aftershock launch in the form of Lonely Receiver at 186 from two creators that aren’t well known. It manages around 7.4k sales.

Nipping at its heals is new horror offering from Vault in Autumnal which does 7.4k too at 187. In very short order, Vault has caught up to Aftershock and their books seem to have better acclaim and staying power.

Ray: Vault is really having a great year and they seem to be developing a pretty strong brand for horror in general. 

Glenn: At 200 is a curious one, Doctor Who: Time Lord Victorious which is part of a very ambitious multi platform crossover telling the story of an alternative tenth Doctor gone rogue. The Who comics never manage to gain much momentum in the direct market and this sells around those which surprises me as the comic is just one small part of the story. It does around 6.6k and I’d wager the tie-in audio dramas which do very well for the BBC and BigAudio will do far, far better.

Another new Aftershock offering, Miles To Go debuts at 208 selling around 6.3k. Pretty standard for a small press publisher with no name power in the title. The concept sounds interesting but people are still watching their wallets out of lockdown.

Star Trek Hell’s Mirror is a J.M Dematteis written tale about fan fave villain KHAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAN in the mirror universe. Star Trek comics always kind of sell low and this is an alternate reality version so despite having a legendary writer it is what it is. It manages around 6k at 215.

Sort of staying with Star Trek we have Orville: Launch Day at 216 also selling in the 6k mark. This now cancelled show has a very loyal cult audience. Will we see enough support from them for comic tie-ins years after the show is gone like Firefly? We’ll see.

Ray: It’s been so long since The Orville aired that I imagine the tie-ins are sort of falling by the wayside. 

Glenn: Mostly reorders and ongoing indie books now until we get to Marvel Tales: Captain Britain at 325 which sells around 5k. This of course is just a newly packaged reprint and the classic version of Captain Britain hasn’t had a prominent role in Marvel for years so the muted response here is no response but again has very little downside for Marvel.

Sex Criminals: Sexual Gary is a one shot special just before the long going Image series comes to an end at 237 selling around 4.8k. This is a very specialist title that due to its adult nature has always had a small following in single’s only to do much better in collections.

Ray: Ah, Sex Criminals. You provided almost as much comedy as Zombie Tramp

Glenn: Hotline Miami Wildlife (??!?!!?!?!) from Behemoth comics (?!?!?!?!??!?!) is at 243 at around 4.6k which I’d say is very good considering I’ve never heard of either.

Ray: This is apparently also a video game tie-in, but not as popular of one as Cyberteam 2077. Definitely the best showing Behemoth has made on the charts. 

Glenn: I would have thought there’d be more interest in the dollar reprint of the first issue of Ed Brubaker’s Catwoman run at 245 selling only around 4.4k but I suppose this is like 4 crisis events ago now or so…

Ray: Yeah, especially since the last few runs on the character have followed up on that run for the first time in a while, bringing Selina’s sister back from limbo. 

Nailbiter Returns seems to have stabilized a little bit, landing at #250 with sales of at least 4.2K. This is apparently being solicited as the next volume in the numbered Nailbiter trades, so everyone involved is just treating it as the next arc. 

A strong showing for Albatross at #257, but they had help – Fearless Dawn Meets Hellboy is one of their top-selling books ever thanks to a crossover with Dark Horse. It sells at least 4K, but other countries down below push it even higher, maybe into the top 200. Fearless Dawn appears to be a monster-hunting lady in a sexy costume. 

Glenn: The dedicated Hellboy audience will help a good bit in this instance. Albatross continues to make good headway.

Ray: There’s Zombie Tramp at #261! We were getting worried. 

#264 has Goosebumps: Secrets of the Swamp, selling at least 3.8K. These books aren’t meant for the direct market, but I expected a little more out of this one. It’s not only a secret to one of the most popular books, The Werewolf of Fever Swamp, but it’s written by successful YA novelist Marieke Nijkamp

At #267 we’ve got 3.6K copies of a Spider-Man #1 Facscimile edition, reprinting the wildly popular Todd MacFarlane run from the 1990s. Marvel getting some more use out of that backstock!

Glenn: I think they reprinted another version of this not too long ago? I may be misremembering its hard to keep track what they reprint and what they don’t.

Ray: Amid a lot of reorders and oddball books, we come to the Batman/The Maxx: Arkham Dreams Lost Year Compendium at #284. This crossover between the obscure Image series from the 1990s and the world’s most popular superhero was massively delayed even before the shutdown, and this one-shot reprints the three issues that came out before the return of the series next month. It sells 3.2K, not bad for a $7.99 reprint.

Glenn: Especially since the material isn’t that old and this a Sam Keith vehicle more than anything.

Ray: At #285 is the Batvark Penis one-shot from that mad mind of Dave Sim. It sells 3K, and we’ll leave it at that. 

The British publisher Heavy Metal is getting back into the single-issue game, and their first wave launched this month with Brooklyn Gladiator being the top seller at #288. It sells 3K, which is an okay launch. But it’s going to be really hard for any new or new-ish company to get a foothold in this chaotic market. Their next launch, the crime thriller Fishkill, is down at #292 selling 2.8K. 

Glenn: They likely will fare better in the UK bookstores that sell they likes of 2000AD and such. Then again those shops may be cutting orders due to the current situation but these British institution types usually find a way to survive.

Ray: At #300, it’s the Belle: Ghosts and Goblins one-shot from Zenoscope. I wonder if the ghosts and goblins are sexy ladies. 

Glenn: They better be.

Ray: Another Heavy Metal launch, Suneater, at #304 selling 2.4K. I wonder if launching all of these at the same time may have kept any of them from breaking out. 

Hey, it’s more Sexy Lady Belle at #311, with the Belle: Hearts and Minds one-shot. Glenn, strike up the band!

Glenn: There she goes her ample bosom giving Zenescope fans from feeling so lonesome…

Ray: Zenoscope has a pretty big presence around this level with their annual Halloween special, Tales of Terror Quarterly: Hellfire, landing at #314 selling 2.2K. I wonder if the devil is a sexy lady. 

Glenn: He’s a sexy man in Taylor’s Constantine so either way.

Ray: IDW is definitely learning from Marvel how to make a great reprint, and they’ve started a series of TMNT reprints focusing on classic stories of the four main Turtles. The first, Best of Raphael, is at #317 selling 2.2K. 

After a bunch of reprints and low-sellers, we come to the latest Conspiracy one-shot from Zenoscope, this one titled Black Knights: Satellite at #328, selling 2.K. 

Next up at #329 is a new series from Devil’s Due, Arkworld, selling 2K. It claims to have invented a new genre called “Archeopunk”. That’s setting the bar high! It actually picks up another 2K of sales from a second edition five spots lower, so this seems to have been a hit for Devil’s Due. 

Glenn: I have no idea what that word means. I hate it.

Ray: #336 sees the launch of the new Mad Cave series, Stargazer. The alien abduction thriller charts 1.8K, but Mad Cave is one of the many companies trying to find a foothold in a crowded market right now.

Source Point had a lot of launches this month, starting with the post-WWI thiller Broken Gargoyles at #338, selling 1.8K. Got to say, this company’s aggressive promotion and strong digital program have helped them catch up to some much larger companies pretty quickly. Check them out – they put out some good books. 

Red 5, another small company, launches their Loch Ness thriller Riptide: Draken at #342, selling 1.8K. This is a pseudo-sequel to a tsunami thriller they did a few years back, but it’s more like an anthology under the same branding. 

A new horror comic from Clover Press, Possessed, lands at #346 selling 1.6K. I don’t even know some of these publishers anymore!

Glenn: I guess the pandemic caused some room at the bottom of the charts since DC and Marvel cut a few books allowing room for oddities.

Ray: The latest mini-digest of original stories, Betty and Veronica Friends Forever: Good Citizen, is at #348 selling 1.6K. As always, this is only a fraction of what the company is hoping to do long-term. With Archie going day-and-date with Comixology, they probably have less invested in the direct market than any other company.

Glenn: They’ve made some vague promises about big things next year but yeah, they seem to be focusing on the archive stuff they sell to the outside market. That’s what pays the bills.

Ray: After a lot of reorders, we find the next Source Point original, the all-ages adventure Bug Bites. This bizarre story of children kidnapped for a monster cooking competition, lands at #364 and sells 1.4K. 

Glenn: Now I want to know if its monsters who cook children or children who cook monsters.

Ray: Right behind it at #365 is the Mad Cave teen thriller Dry Foot, set in the Miami crime scene of the 70s and also selling 1.4K or so. It’ll be interesting to see which of these many launches find a larger audience. 

A new Zorro series with a pirate theme, “Galleon of the Dead” launches at #367 from American Mythology at 1.4K. I’m mostly surprised this character has never been snapped up by Dynamite. 

Glenn: Is he public domain? I could google it but I’m lazy…

Ray: Virtually every issue of Wynd continues to get reorders at some level, with the third issue down at #368, so there’s clearly some long-term interest in this all-ages fantasy from the creators of The Woods. 

There are a few interesting reorders down here, including 1.4K in reorders for Nebula #1 at #371. This series got two issues out before the shutdown and never resumed, so why are retailers reordering it now? Could it resume shortly – finally?

Glenn: Magic 8-ball says ‘no chance’.

Ray: The Bayou-based horror series It Eats What Feeds It launches at #383 from Scout, selling 1.2K. This is one company that sort of feels like it’s going backward, mainly due to the lack of any digital program. Other, newer companies like Source Point are lapping it. 

The experimental square-bound one-shot Burning Tree, more an art book than a traditional comic, lands at #386 from Source Point. All their books seem to launch at a similar level at this point, with this one selling 1.2K. If that’s their basic level, it lets the company experiment a bit more. 

Lots of Marvel reorders and some from other companies down here, including some from years back, until we get to 800 reorders of the Street Fighter 2020 Swimsuit Special at #422. Clearly the audience wanted more of that stupid sexy Zangief

Glenn: If M. Bison was drawn like Raul Julia they might get more attention.

Ray: Another reprint of an unfinished comic, Amazing Spider-Man: Daily Bugle #1 at #436, getting 700 additional copies. This was by the writer of Incognegro, one of comics’ most acclaimed indie writers, so they’d be dumb not to finish this.

Glenn: Ray come on now, look at who they have writing Amazing Spider-Man. Of course they’re dumb enough.

Ray: It’s almost entirely reorders down here, with the next one of note being Gwen Stacy #2 selling an extra 600 copies at #463. So retailers are clearly hopefully this miniseries from Gage and Nauck will resume at some point. There are also some orders for the first issue and the second issue of Nebula around this level too. 

Glenn: Smells like stock dumping of series Marvel have given up hope on getting finished or have quietly abandoned.

Ray: Victor Crowley Hatchet Halloween Tales from American Mythology is down here at #482, selling 500 copies for a niche Halloween comic a month early. I don’t know what a Victor Crowley is.

Glenn: Relative of the demon from Good Omens perhaps? 

Ray: 500 reorders for the unfinished Dark Agnes series from Marvel at #502 as well. This just goes to show how much Marvel has dropped the ball on their line in the aftermath of the shutdown. It’s basically just them and Valiant that hasn’t really rebounded fully yet. 

On the heels of a movie adaptation announcement, the first issue of Matt Rosenberg and Tyler Boss’ 4 Kids Walk Into a Bank charts again at #519, selling 400 extra copies. This was a rare hit for Black Mask, so they’re undoubtedly very happy to see it reappear. 

Remember Saga? I remember Saga! The on-hiatus-indefinitely series from BKV and Fiona Staples shows up again with 400 copies of its Image Firsts dollar comic at #521. 

And it would be all reorders all the way down if it wasn’t for #540, where we find “Margo: Intergalactic Trash Collector Attack Space Vampire” from Fantagraphics, selling 300 copies. Fascinating. I’m so confused. 

Glenn: This gets published but my love letter to classic crime fiction can’t? I feel robbed.

Ray: And it’s reorders all the way down with the first issue of Empyre: Captain America being our very last comic at #549. I can’t believe Cap lost to an intergalactic trash collector. 

Glenn: The garbage man can Ray, the garbage man can.

Ray: Looking ahead to October, we’ve got quite a few heavyweights, with Batman #100 doing battle with the final issue of Three Jokers and the next issue of Death Metal. But don’t count out Rorschach #1, which will be trying to follow up on the massive success of Doomsday Clock and contend for that #1 slot. Plus, there’s a new White Knight series focusing on Harley Quinn and the return of Scott Snyder’s first hit – American Vampire. 

Over at Marvel, it’s another big X of Swords month, plus two jumbo-sized Amazing Spider-Man issues. And then there’s the debut of Kieron Gillen’s Warhammer 40,000 series. 

Over in indie-land, we’ll see new Image launches from Rick Remender, Steve Orlando, and Sina Grace as everyone battens down the hatches in advance of Crossover crash-landing in November. 

What will rise? What will fall? 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

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Graphic Policy is always on the hunt for talented contributors. If you’re interested in becoming involved with one of the internet’s most unique, fastest-growing entertainment and pop culture websites, now’s your chance!

Please note that all of the positions offered by Graphic Policy are volunteer positions. Our staff runs this site because we love comics, politics, pop culture, games, movies, television, and geekdom.

We can not guarantee anything but your name in the writing credits (perfect for someone building a portfolio), but we will work with you to help you cover and write about the things you’re interested in.

Graphic Policy will open up its ability to obtain review copies, press passes and more for those who regularly post to the site. Your posts belong to you and you are free to post them here and other sites as well!

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Underrated: Daredevil: Know Fear

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 Daredevil: Know Fear

Daredevil is one of those characters that I’ve heard a lot about, but haven’t really delved into his history and stories on a consistent manner – the one miniseries I own is Daredevil: End Of Days, which is good, but probably not a solid indication as to what to expect when starting to get into the character. Indeed, most of my exposure to Daredevil probably comes from the Netflix TV show rather than the comics, and so I didn’t delve into this run for quite some time – it wasn’t until a couple of friends effectively forced me to read it that I finally did (and if you listen to Those Two Geeks, you’ll know Joe has been insisting I read this for awhile).

As I said, the Daredevil I’m most familiar with is the one from Netflix, and so for me this was a perfect starting point. No, I had no idea what came before – and it didn’t really matter – but the series, written by Chip Zdarsky, seems to be geared toward those more familiar with the live action series rather than with a deep knowledge of the character. Again, I could be wrong, and maybe the comics had been more closely aligned to what I’m familiar with before the first issue of Zdarsky’s run.

Know Fear, drawn by Marco Checcheto and coloured by Sunny Gho, finds Matt Murdock at one of the (many) low points in his life as he tries to get back into the hero game again after a near death experience. The first issue leads off with Daredevil struggling against three robbers, and sets up one of the driving plot points of the story as one of the robbers dies at the hospital – but how? And who could want to frame Daredevil for murder?

Zdarsky uses this run to take a look at the career of a hero as they bounce back from a traumatic accident, and through that lens we can see our own struggles to get back to where we want to be after suffering a setback or two. Of course, most of us don’t put on red tights and run around rooftops, but that’s neither here nor there when you look at the spiritual and emotional turmoil that Matt Murdock is going through – and that’s where Zdarsky’s able to relate the character to the audience so well. We’ve all struggled to pick ourselves back up, and we’ve all tried to do the best that we can in the face of overwhelming odds…

There’s a couple of key reasons why I wanted to highlight this volume today; the first is that it’s a very accessible volume for new readers coming from the Netflix show, like myself. Secondly, it’s a really introspective dive into a character that left me feeling as if I’d been reading Daredevil for years. Thirdly, it’s got a grim, dark sense to it that’s oddly beautiful in its way as Daredevil struggles to find himself amidst the chaos of his new life.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got the next volume of this underrated gem to check out. Whether Zdarsky’s run on Daredevil will be held in the same esteem as Bendis, Nocenti and Miller, well only time will tell. But I bloody love it.

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

Join Our Team!

Graphic Policy is always on the hunt for talented contributors. If you’re interested in becoming involved with one of the internet’s most unique, fastest-growing entertainment and pop culture websites, now’s your chance!

Please note that all of the positions offered by Graphic Policy are volunteer positions. Our staff runs this site because we love comics, politics, pop culture, games, movies, television, and geekdom.

We can not guarantee anything but your name in the writing credits (perfect for someone building a portfolio), but we will work with you to help you cover and write about the things you’re interested in.

Graphic Policy will open up its ability to obtain review copies, press passes and more for those who regularly post to the site. Your posts belong to you and you are free to post them here and other sites as well!

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Underrated: X-Men: Fatal Attractions

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: Fatal Attractions.

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again – my Golden Age of X-Men comics is from the mid 90’s to the early 2000’s. Despite this being several years before I actually started reading comics, it’s one of the eras I remember most fondly. I started reading comics in the late 90’s, and I was largely reading the UK reprint magazines Wolverine Unleashed and Essential X-Men. There was also a Spider-Man book, but that’s neither here nor there because it’s the two X centric books that are relevant today. Because I could only find the reprint magazines I wasn’t reading the current comics – the reprints were probably always a good two to five years behind what was being published and sold in comic shops (it would be another two years before I finally found a comic shop) 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, X-Men or one of the other X-books if a crossover was involved 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 I rarely paid attention).

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 Fatal Attractions, there was a lot more that I didn’t have, and won’t be getting any time soon because I’m focusing on other things and so when I saw this trade for sale at my comic shop I decided to pick it up so I could finally read the full story.

Fatal Attractions was reprinted in the reprints shortly before I started picking them up, maybe a year or so, so it’s one of those stories that I’ve always heard about but had never actually read. The most famous outcome, that of Magneto ripping Wolverine’s adamantium from his skeleton through his pores, was one I was familiar with but otherwise the story was largely a mystery to me.

The basic plot of the story involves the X-Men going to Avalon, Magneto’s asteroid home, to stop him from waging his war on humanity for the mutant cause – this is a gross oversimplification and misses a lot of the nuance in the story (some could consider that summary a spoiler based on the blurb on the back of the book, but frankly despite Magneto being “dead” at the beginning of the book, we all know he’s still a prominent feature in the Marvel universe so that shouldn’t be a surprise).

The version I read was the X-Men Milestones: Fatal Attractions trade (pictured above), and it told a very comprehensive story. It’s a heavy volume, like most of the Milestone books, with a hefty price tag ($45 US dollars), but is one of those books that really is worth the price tag. Can you find the issues in question for less than the price of the trade? Yeah, maybe. Eleven comics for $45 isn’t unheard of (and works out at roughly $4 an issue), and given that these were released in the height of the 90’s comic book boom, you’re more than likely to be able to find them in dollar bins if you look long enough – but I don’t always have that patience, and I’ve found that I enjoy reading the trades more than the single issues when reading big crossover stories.

Oddly, despite my love of the X-Men from the 90’s, I’ve got a lot of holes in my collection to fill, which should be pretty easy given how many are in the back issue bins, and a lack of desire to branch out into anything that isn’t specifically Uncanny X-Men or X-Men which is why I love these big collected editions so much. 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: Fatal Attractions eventually leads into Phalanx Covenent, another story I’ve never actually read (but is sat on my To Read pile) and likely subject of another column at some point in the future, as it holds up fairly well to this day. These stories may seem like an entirely unfamiliar era to many, because the characters we’re used to seeing have gone through a lot of changes over the years, but the reasons we love them are still evident.

Plus, the story is damn fun.

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

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Underrated: Judge Dredd Megazine

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: Judge Dredd Megazine

Initially launched in the 90’s as a monthly companion to the weekly anthology comic 2000 AD, Judge Dredd Megazine is a much easier beast to keep track of when you’re importing it (via Diamond and my comic shop) than a weekly comic that would likely cost more than the average Marvel or DC book. Judge Dredd Megazine usually sets me back around $12-17 depending on the exchange rate when I’m picking it up. It’s more than I remember paying for it when I was in England, but not honestly all that much more – and it’s significantly cheaper than flying over to pick it up.

The megazine, a play on words with magazine and Judge Dredd’s home city of Mega City One, generally comes with an additional comic that collects stories previously published within 2000 AD or the megazine itself. I always factor this bonus material into the overall price when the exchange rate is less favourable for me, and still have never felt that I’ve over paid in a large part because of the (48ish page) supplemental insert – plus, the fact that you get around 80-90 pages of anthology comics plus a few text based features as the main draw means that value for money is certainly there.

At this point, I feel it’s worth talking about the way the stories are presented in the megazine, rather than the stories themselves because this is an anthology comic there is always a story that has just begun, or is still early enough in its progress that you can catch on without worrying too much about what you’ve missed. Honestly, it’s probably exposure to Judge Dredd Megazine and 2000 AD as a kid that has enabled me to just pick up a story mid way through and enjoy it without worrying too much about What Came Before as long as the story flows and makes sense (which likely lead to my firm belief that, as much as possible, comics should always be new reader friendly). The stories are written and drawn by some incredibly talented people – the credits for Judge Dredd Megazine #417 include Michael Carroll, Dan Abnett, Phil Winsdale, Chris Roberson, Andrea Mutti, Ales Kot, Mike Dowling and more – with each creator bringing their own unique style and skillset so that the aesthetic of the book’s stories can change noticeably every ten issues or so, but because of the editorial and design team (in #417, that’s editor Matt Smith and designers Sam Grettonm Oz Osbourne and Gemma Sheldrake) there’s a consistent level of quality and visual presentation within the bones of the book that it still feels like the same megazine you know and love.

It’s a unique, yet oddly wonderful, feeling to be able to miss tens of issues and be able to dive right back in. If you’ve ever seen a good friend for the first time after years apart, then that’s the feeling I’m talking about here.

The reason I’ve been reticent to talk about the stories within the book is because there’s no real guarantee that you’ll see the same characters again once the story has been told, although there’s always going to be a Judge Dredd story featured within the megazine, the other three or four stories rotate on a regular basis with the only constant being the quality of what you’re reading. Most are sci-fi in some form, though there has been a more classic fantasy or steam punk story sneak in here and there, so if you’re not into anything but capes and cowls then you may not find anything you like here, and that’s okay. But if you’re wanting to branch out and expand your reading to offerings from across the pond, this is one of the best ways to get a sample of some great comics.

This may not be an underrated gem in the UK, but on this side of the pond? It absolutely is.

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

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