Category Archives: From the Vault

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Skeletons From My Stack: Goddess Mode

Goddess Mode

Welcome to another edition of Skeletons from my Stack. A review series wherein I finally get around to reading graphic novels that have been sitting on the “to-be-read” stack on my nightstand for far too long. Thanks to a three day holiday weekend, I finally had a chance to read Goddess Mode. This limited series, written by Zoë Quinn and drawn by Robbi Rodriguez, was on my radar well before the first issue hit stands. Unfortunately, with all the other comics I was reading, I couldn’t afford to buy it in single issues. At the time, and outside of my review projects, I read titles by DC Comics exclusively, and as excited as I was for this unique series, I had no choice but to wait for the trade paperback. Meanwhile, the pandemic occurred and shutdown comic book production and shipments. Once things started to open back up, there was still a lull between my comic book store reopening and Diamond resuming shipments. Making the most out of a bad situation, I was finally able to purchase a copy of the Goddess Mode trade paperback from my local comic book shop.

Goddess Mode takes place half in the real world and half in the completely digital world of Azoth. In the technological realm of Azoth, science meets magic as Oracles battle against Daemons. Oracles, people whose minds have been dragged into Azoth, possess abilities unique to themselves. In order to escape from Azoth, an Oracle must defeat a Daemon, the dark pieces of corrupt code that feed on human suffering. The trade paperback starts with two pages that present the background details I just described in a clever play on a FAQ web page. Unfortunately, this section may have been misplaced. The beginning of this comic not only has really slow pacing but has little to do with the info provided on the first two pages. Further, many of the pieces of information that are mentioned in the opening FAQ are then restated in the first dozen dialogue-heavy pages.

“IF THEY WANT TO BE RELENTLESS, WE CAN BE DAUNTLESS”

The pace picks up soon after, though the book continues to be dialogue heavy. Quinn uses her wordy script to explore her characters. The amount of character development she manages, while still moving the plot forward and sprinkling in elements of mystery, is quite impressive. The Oracles were my favorite part of this mini-series. Unfortunately, by the end of the book, the Oracles don’t get the treatment they deserved. I found the climax to be very confusing. I re-read the last two issues twice, and I still can’t adequately explain the story’s true central conflict, the answer to the overarching mystery, or the Oracles’ true role in Azoth.

I love the contrast of colors between digital Azoth and the analog real world. The neon bright colors Rico Renzi uses for Azoth pop off the page. I also loved Robbi Rodriguez’s character designs. Every Oracle is unique and has their own distinct attitude that’s obvious just from the way they’re drawn. I got the best kind of cyberpunk Sailor Moon vibe (minus the matching school girl outfits) from the Oracles as I read through the book. Simon Bowland is due commemoration for his lettering skills. He not only has to fit a lot of dialogue into most panels, but has to do it across multiple fonts and formats. I do wish the action scenes were drawn a little clearer, specifically the Oracles using their special powers. Most of the fights wind up being talking heads and blurred bodies. When the Oracles use their powers, it’s not always obvious which one’s abilities are manifesting. Other times they use their powers in the background of a panel and the details become so small that it’s hard to tell what’s going on.

“WHEN LIFE IS DOING ITS DAMNDEST TO KILL YOU, EVERY DAY YOU SURVIVE IS A VICTORY.”

Goddess Mode’s story is entertaining but it struggles tonally. Quinn never really finds a balance between elements of mystery and action/adventure. The character development is great but the story itself winds up being confusing. The characters look great when they’re standing still but the visual quality and clarity declines when they’re drawn in motion. Luckily, the colors and lettering keep panels looking interesting even when it becomes hard to tell what’s going on. All in all, I’m glad I finally got around to reading this Skeleton from my Stack, but I don’t think I’d ever choose to read Goddess Mode a second time.

Story: Zoë Quinn Art: Robbi Rodriguez
Colors: Rico Renzi Letterer: Simon Bowland
Story: 3.5 Art: 5.0 Overall: 4.3


Purchase: comiXology AmazonKindleZeus Comics

Skeletons From My Stack: League of Extraordinary Gentlemen

The League of Extraordinary Gentleman

I’ve always been a huge fan of Swamp Thing. After reading the first few volumes of Saga of Swamp Thing, I became a huge fan of Alan Moore. I’ve since read a large chunk of Moore’s bibliography, but there’s one title I’ve shied away from. That title is The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen.

Allow me to explain why. I don’t tend to watch movies that are adapted from specific books I’ve read and enjoyed. Conversely, if I see the movie version of something first, I rarely care to read the book it was based on. That’s what happened with The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen. I saw the film in theaters, not knowing it was based on a comic book. I’ve since seen it again more times than I can count. I’d re-watch it every time it was on cable (which was, and probably still is, often).

So how did the graphic novel wind up on my to-read stack? I won a gift card to a local book store last year. They had a small graphic novel section, mostly Marvel and Superman trade paperbacks. Then I noticed the first volume of The League of Extraordinary and decided I’d at least buy it to add to my graphic novel collection. It’s sat on my stack for eight months. Now I’m dusting it off for this newest installment of Skeletons From My Stack.

The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen is a historical fiction comic series with steampunk elements. Writer Alan Moore fills the story with characters from classic literature. The series opens with Campion Bond, working on behalf of the mysterious Mr. M, tasking Wilhelmina Murray with recruiting a group of eccentrics and outlaws. The group, the eponymous League of Extraordinary Gentleman, is given a mission to retrieve a substance known as Cavorite before it can fall into the hands of England’s enemies. The story itself hasn’t aged well. That’s saying something considering it was originally published in 1999. There were many times where it seemed like Moore chose the most offensive bits of history even though they weren’t essential to the actual plot. It makes for a gritty story that skews closer to offensive than historically accurate.

I was surprised by the appearance of several literary figures not used in the film, including Auguste Dupin, Dick Donovan, and Mycroft Holmes. There’s also a plethora of minor references to many other works of literature, by authors such as H.G. Wells, Jules Verne, Anthony Trollope, H. Rider Haggard, Russell Thorndike, Johnathan Swift, and James Fenimore Cooper. I’m an avid reader, who has perused many of the classics, so I had a great time searching for the literary Easter eggs scattered throughout the issues. The series was also much gorier than I expected, but this just made the action scenes that much more exciting. This collected edition of the first arc also includes a short story written by Moore and featuring Quartermain.

Kevin O’Neill draws the book in a rather abstract style. For a period piece, I thought the colors were a little bright. The colors fit the art style, but didn’t necessarily fit the setting and themes of the story. The Illustrations are impressively detailed, though sometimes almost to too great an extent. This makes it hard to tell what’s going on at certain times while at others the details make for gorgeously rendered scenes. The various city-scapes are especially impressive. I also liked that the line work and hatching gives the images a sense of depth and texture.

Honestly, I think The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen is one of the rare examples of the film being better than the book. I did enjoy the nods to science-fiction within the book’s plot. It fits the narrative better than the standard bombing plot used in the film. I also preferred the comic’s version of Alan Quartermain over Sean Connery’s portrayal in the film adaptation. Yet of the two, the movie was all-around more enjoyable than the first volume of the comic. Having finally read The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen and finding I prefer the film, it turns out this comic probably should have stayed a skeleton on my to-be-read stack.

Story: Alan Moore Art: Kevin O’Neil
Color: Benedict Dimagmaliw Letterer: Mr. William Oakley

Story: 2.5 out of 5 Art: 3 out of 5 Overall: 2.5 out of 5


Purchase: AmazonKindlecomiXology

Check Out this Week’s New Comic Releases

Check out what comics you can get courtesy of Previews. As always, check with your local shop as to the availability of items.

IMAGE COMICS

ITEM CODEDESCRIPTIONPRICE
OCT190190CRIMINAL #11 (MR)$3.99
SEP198041EAST OF WEST #45$4.99
OCT190216MARKED #3 CVR A HABERLIN & VAN DYKE (MR)$3.99
OCT190217MARKED #3 CVR B HABERLIN & VAN DYKE (MR)$3.99
OCT190229OUTCAST BY KIRKMAN & AZACETA #43 (MR)$3.99

DARK HORSE COMICS

ITEM CODEDESCRIPTIONPRICE
OCT190333FIGHT CLUB 3 #12 CVR A MACK (MR)$3.99
OCT190334FIGHT CLUB 3 #12 CVR B FEGREDO (MR)$3.99
OCT190304MASK I PLEDGE ALLEGIANCE TO THE MASK #3 (OF 4) CVR A REYNOLD$3.99
OCT190305MASK I PLEDGE ALLEGIANCE TO THE MASK #3 (OF 4) CVR B JOHNSON$3.99

IDW PUBLISHING

ITEM CODEDESCRIPTIONPRICE
OCT190802KILL LOCK #1$3.99
OCT190767SONIC THE HEDGEHOG #24 CVR A GRAY & GRAHAM$3.99
OCT190768SONIC THE HEDGEHOG #24 CVR B HAMMERSTROM$3.99

DC COMICS

ITEM CODEDESCRIPTIONPRICE
SEP190564DIAL H FOR HERO TP VOL 01 ENTER THE HEROVERSE$16.99
FEB190586HOUSE OF SECRETS THE BRONZE AGE OMNIBUS HC VOL 02$125.00
SEP190594PROMETHEA THE DELUXE EDITION HC VOL 02$39.99
SEP190597SUPERGIRL TP VOL 02 SINS OF THE CIRCLE$16.99

MARVEL COMICS

ITEM CODEDESCRIPTIONPRICE
OCT190945DR STRANGE #1$3.99
OCT190948DR STRANGE #1 DELLOTTO VAR$3.99
OCT190860INCOMING #1$9.99
OCT190863INCOMING #1 GREENE VAR$9.99
OCT190861INCOMING #1 WEAVER VAR$9.99
OCT190981SPIDER-HAM #1 (OF 5)$3.99
OCT190983SPIDER-HAM #1 (OF 5) ART ADAMS 8 PART CONNECTING VAR$3.99
OCT191001VENOM #21$3.99
OCT191003VENOM #21 CRAIN TEASER VAR$3.99
OCT191002VENOM #21 RANDOLPH 2020 VAR$3.99

DYNAMITE

ITEM CODEDESCRIPTIONPRICE
SEP191062BETTIE PAGE UNBOUND #8 CVR A ROYLE$3.99
SEP191063BETTIE PAGE UNBOUND #8 CVR B CHANTLER$3.99
SEP191064BETTIE PAGE UNBOUND #8 CVR C MARQUES$3.99
SEP191065BETTIE PAGE UNBOUND #8 CVR D QUALANO$3.99
SEP191066BETTIE PAGE UNBOUND #8 CVR E PHOTO$3.99
OCT191289RED SONJA VAMPIRELLA BETTY VERONICA #7 CVR A BRAGA$3.99
OCT191290RED SONJA VAMPIRELLA BETTY VERONICA #7 CVR B HACK$3.99
OCT191291RED SONJA VAMPIRELLA BETTY VERONICA #7 CVR C STAGGS$3.99
OCT191292RED SONJA VAMPIRELLA BETTY VERONICA #7 CVR D PARENT$3.99
OCT191293RED SONJA VAMPIRELLA BETTY VERONICA #7 CVR E SANAPO$3.99
OCT198338RED SONJA VAMPIRELLA BETTY VERONICA #7 SANAPO FOC BONUS VAR$3.99

BOOM! STUDIOS

ITEM CODEDESCRIPTIONPRICE
AUG191384FAITHLESS TP (MR)$17.99

From The Vault: Wolverine: Bloodlust

wolverine_bloodlust_vol_1_1We all have comics that stand out to us for one reason or another. Whether it’s because of an emotional connection, or whether the comic spoke to your very core, all that should matter to you is that that specific comic is important to you. During my recent adventure digging through my long boxes, and (finally) setting up an inventory system so that I can keep track of the comics I own. In the process of doing that, I came across a comic that I hadn’t read in more than ten years; Wolverine: Bloodlust.

The comic was published in November of 1990, but I first read it close to seven years later where I found the second part of the story in the British reprint magazine Wolverine: Unleashed #8. Although only the second half of the story, the impact that the second half had on my young self cannot be understated.

When those final few pages had concluded, I remember my twelve year old self sitting there being stunned. This was a story that really highlighted Wolverine‘s struggle with his inner beast, and for me to read it at such a formative stage in my comic book reading is something that I only really appreciated recently just how great a job this story does of highlighting the conflicted nature of Logan‘s soul. 

I will always look upon this story with rose tinted glasses, but even with those removed this remains a cracking tale.

After rereading this comic (is it long enough to be called a graphic novel?) today I realized that my love for this story wasn’t just my rose tinted glasses in full effect; it really does hold up more than twenty five years after it was first published in December of 1990. The artwork has that perfect mix of fluid detail with an easy to follow visual style. Basically, it’s classic Alan Davis. While I undoubtedly love this comic for what it means to me personally, it is still a very solid comic in it’s own right. logan-vs-neuri-small.jpgThere are some great action scenes in this comic that are wonderfully illustrated; by giving a really brutal feel to the fights, with Wolverine very rarely emerging unscathed. His clothing is frequently torn to shreds and even though there’s very little actual blood depicted here, the fights feel really brutal. As you can see in the two panels above, there’s a sense of ferocity and speed here that really plays to the nature of Wolverine‘s character, and when the fights are over, the toll that they take on the X-Man is visible. Remember, this was a time before Wolverine could heal from almost any wound in a matter of a few pages.  wolverine-bloodlust-scan In the late 80’s and early 90’s, he was actually vulnerable; yeah, he could heal fast, but that was it. Within the pages of Wolverine: Bloodlust alone, there were times where he had to either ignore the damage his body had suffered, or stop to allow himself time to heal. Indeed once, had it not been for a timely intervention, the damage sustained was too much for Wolverine‘s mutant healing factor to endure.

Wolverine: Bloodlust is a comic about contrast. Not only in the way it highlights the dual nature of Wolverine‘s inner struggle between man and beast, but also the colour pallet used in the comic; for the most part the comic uses little colour; indeed the colour pallet used is quite muted, often with a more visible (I won’t say vibrant because it’s not) background colour that’s used to highlight the barely coloured foregrounds giving a remarkably striking effect.

By utilizing a lack of colour within the comic Bernie Jaye is able to effortlessly show you just how brutal the Yukon can be, and yet the pages where he does use colours to emphasize how at peace the Alshara (an Astral Plane sort of thing) is when compare to the rest of the story is wonderful. When he returns from the Alshara to more more mundane world the sense of loss from Wolverine is visible in the way in which Alan Davis draws the character. Just as the use of colour shows how wonderful the Nirvana-like Alshara is when compared to the world we live in, the last page shows the natural beauty of the Yukon in a way that brings the dual nature of the comic to a brilliant close; by using the same colour scheme as the mundane world, we see another type of beauty. The stark natural beauty of our own world, if we choose to see it.

Wolverine: Bloodlust‘s final page remains to this day one of my favourite concluding pages to any comic. It’s a brilliant conclusion to a brilliant comic.
image1 (1).JPG

Retro Review: Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season 8 #1 The Long Way Home Pt 1

BTVS Season 8 #1So we wanted to try something new…or rather something vintage at Graphic Policy.  Comics as a medium have become a growing force in popular culture, enjoyed by people of many ages. Collectors can attest to their admiration for how the medium has changed visually, narrative-wise and so on over the years. In the spirit of this admiration we are very proud to introduce the Retro Review. An occasional curating of some classic or forgotten gems over the years, dusted off favourites, served up on tap and presented for analysis.

One of the landmark pop cultural icons of the 90s was Buffy the Vampire Slayer, originally a kitschy movie which debuted 1992 about a vally-girl heroine turned warrior against the forces of darkness. Buffy the Vampire introduced the  archetype of the subverted damsel in distressed turned chosen one. Though not presented exactly to her creator Joss Whedon’s initial expectations, the concept found its fullest expression and enjoyed its greatest success during its seven season television adaption which ran from to 1997-2003. The series end was book-ended with a seismic shift in the series mythos when Buffy makes the choice to share her power with other women around the world.

Flash forward five years to 2008 and the story has found its continuation albeit in comic form courtesy of Dark Horse comics.  Penned as Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season 8. We see the titular heroine in her brave new status quo. Both Buffy and her peers now find themselves holding the reigns of what once the Watcher’s Council. Adopting the operations and agenda of the now defunct organization, the Scoobies (as they are affectionately called by the fandom) have moved forward with their own vision. A vision where power is more distributed and things are less well…patriarchal.  Instead of one chosen slayer (or two thanks to the hiccups of seasons 2-7) there are now an estimated 1800 Slayers working with mentors in squads worldwide fighting the good fight.

A few fan favourites return as we get a look into their new operation and status quo. The Nick Fury-esque Xander Harris coordinates with Buffy remotely as she takes a squad of freshly called slayers to investigate a new seemingly demonic mystery. The team has a mixed roster of Watchers (but don’t call them that) mystics and slayers.  The story is subtitled “the Long Way Home” and is narrated by Buffy who shares her longing for her home Sunnydale, simpler times and perhaps hesitation at her station in this new landscape.

Buffy

Speaking of Sunnydale, the US military makes takes an active interest into matters as they happen upon the Sunnydale crater (Sunnydale was destroyed in the series finale). General Voll laments at the sheer destructive power that Buffy has wrought on the world, and tacitly rebrands intelligence of Buffy’s slayer squads as terroristic “cells”.  Sunnydale has always interested me, the theatre for most of the supernatural drama Buffy and her friends have endured, the longstanding nonchalance or perhaps ignorance of its citizens (with regard to its danger and weirdness) has been a striking and mostly unaddressed facet of the TV series (until season 7) since its beginning. Seeing the immensity of the crater, you realize it is truly emblematic of the consequence of its supernatural ignorance.

SD Crater

 

It is nice to see a military / government response to this new world order Buffy has spearheaded. It is an intriguing and organic thematic flourish from Season 4’s introduction of the Initiative. The raised profile of Buffy’s organization is poised to redefine human/ superhuman relations in the Buffyverse and raise the stakes for the time being. I always felt there was not enough of this element on the show and I was happy to see it explored in this series extension.

A long time Scooby villain re-emerges from the crater as with whom General makes a strategic partnership with. This villain is revealed to be the witch Amy Madison the military’s apparent answer to Buffy and company’s seeming threat and beachhead into the world of the supernatural. Those who know this carry may smell a grudge match on the horizon which stirs anticipation for issue 2.

Amy

I have written elsewhere of the risk of cross media integration, and this series is a strong successful example of that.  The tone and humour of the TV series carries over seamlessly into the comic and as strange as it sounds you really feel as though you are reading an episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Lastly there is a lot to be said for the art. Georges Jeanty has an incredible knack for capturing the likeness of the characters we know and love. His covers are also vivid, and worthy of being a poster on any superfan’s wall.   The promises of the new medium also built up anticipation for the series at the time. BTVS has been known it’s schnazzy special effects. The venture into the comic platform seemed poised to lift the lid of that. Buffy the Vampire Slayer season 8 was an exciting time indeed.

Final Thoughts

5 years seems to be the magic number for this franchise. We saw a cross media jump from film to TV in the interim of 1992-97. And another from TV to comics from 2003-2008. Perhaps when (or if) this comic series wraps up we’ll see another such leap. Perhaps a Netflix reboot?…please? Joss willing of course.

 

Writer: Joss Whedon, Artist: Georges Jeanty

Story 9: Art: 10 Overall 9.5  Recommendation: Buy (And Cherish)

From the Vault: Star Wars Omnibus: Wild Space, Vol. 1

“From the Vault” is a periodical column used to explore pre-2000s comics (though we might skirt that ‘guideline’ a bit), especially reprint collections and the random gems of comics publishing.

18449Dark Horse Omnibus Editions
Today we’re taking a look at Dark Horse’s recently published Star Wars Omnibus: Wild Space, Volume 1, an aptly named, 480-page behemoth collection of “rare and previously uncollected stories from UK publications, toy pack-ins, cereal boxes, Star Wars Kids magazine, and even issues that were originally published in 3-D!” (back-of-book synopsis). Wild Space was published on June 4, 2013, so it’s fresh in my mind and on the bookstore’s shelves, and it’s been such a successful endeavor that Dark Horse has a second volume on the way in October.

For those unfamiliar with the Dark Horse Omnibus line, a little background might be in order. Dark Horse officially describes the Omnibus books as, “a way to showcase actual novel-length stories or series, and to provide homes for “orphaned” series, single-issue stories, and short stories which would otherwise never be collected, or which might fall out of print.” These books aren’t entirely dissimilar to Marvel’s Essentials or DC’s Showcase Presents, but have more in common with DC’s Archive Editions, since all Dark Horse Omnibuses (let’s not go with a silly, faux Latin plural here) are color reprints. In addition, Omnibuses are 6.1 x 9 inches, as opposed to most TPBs which are usually between 6.4 x 9.4 and 6.7 x 10.2 inches depending on hardcover, softcover, various other printing decisions. This means that Dark Horse can offer full-color book that are usually the same page-length as DC’s Archive Editions (between 250 and 500 pages, usually close to 350+) for a low price of $24.95. Combine that price with the fact that some of the individual issues collected in the Omnibuses are sometimes difficult to find, and this makes Dark Horse’s line one of the best reprint collection TPB series on the market, without a doubt!

In addition, whereas Marvel Essentials and DC Showcase are not the very best put together books in terms of craftsmanship, with terrible glue blinding that falls apart quite easily and doesn’t at all attempt to stand the test of time (most of the people reading those are collectors! We cry when our stuff breaks…), the Omnibus books—like most of Dark Horse’s TPBs—are excellently bound, very sturdy. Omnibus quality books are the norm for Dark Horse, and their enjoyability is greatly enhanced by knowing you’re getting hundreds of pages of quality, acid-free glossy (comic book grade) full-color paper bound so that you don’t have to tread carefully when reading or transporting.

Marvel and Star Wars
There’s a whole heck of a lot in this volume, so I should say “spoilers,” but then again the stories included herein were written between 1977 and 1998. To begin with, I have to say that if you’re a Star Wars fan—and you certainly should be—there I two things to consider: (1) the Expanded Universe (EU) is perhaps the greatest realization of the Star Wars vision begun back in 1973 when Lucas was developing his galaxy (nope, I’m not going to use the belabored “far, far away” quote, it’s just too low hanging a fruit) , and (2) Star Wars and comics go hand in hand, and comics and the EU go hand in hand.

Back in 1977, three months before the movie came out, Marvel published in comics format the first half of the original movie, oh yeah, and it’s illustrated by Howark Chaykin. Well Star Wars clearly did incredibly well, and the comics did just as well, since for a whole year the only way to get more Star Wars was through the comics (Splinter of the Mind’s Eye, the first SW novel, wasn’t published until 1978). In fact, Star Wars was so financially beneficial for Marvel in the late 1970s that Jim Shooter, Marvel’s 9th Editor-in-Chief starting in 1978 has claimed that their Star Wars comics kept Marvel financially afloat during the difficulties of the late 1970s (story is detailed in Star Wars Insider #142, July 2013, p.42-49).

Most of you are probably comfortably familiar with the knowledge that Dark Horse is the SW publisher of comics, but let it not betrouble your brain that Marvel held that title for nine years (1977-1986), during which time they published 104 issues of an on-going series (plus three annuals) in which #1-6 were A New Hope and #39-44 were Empire Strikes Back adaptations. Return of the Jedi was adapted in a separate four-issue series. Additionly, Marvel also published Marvel Illustrated Books: Star Wars (2 issues, 1981-1982) and in their short-lived 1977-1979 Pizzazz magazine they included six-page Star Wars shorts; Marvel UK published Star Wars Weekly, which ran from 1978 to 1983 for a 102 issues.

So, yeah, Marvel and Star Wars sort of go hand in hand, and Marvel’s creator were largely responsible for developing the Expanded Universe in those first 9 years, interestingly they stopped published SW comics in 1986, the same year as Dark Horse’s first comic. Dark Horse bought the Star Wars comics license and began producing Star Wars comics in 1991, with Dark Empire, and has since produced 84 series and one-shots, which comprises hundreds (thousands? Don’t know, I didn’t feel like counting them all!) of additions to the SW universe. Despite Dark Horse now publishing plenty of fantastic comics (at least one new SW book comes out a week), Marvel’s still remains classics, and especially those produced in the UK are difficult-to-find-yet-bad-ass addition to the Star Wars saga.

But not everything in Wild Space is Marvel’s, as there are at least half Dark Horse licensed stories as well. But background is always fun, and you folks probably know all about SW and DH, right?

Wild Space, Volume 1
In this section I’m just going to give you a synoptic taste of the stories collected herein.

The first half of the book is devoted to Marvel reprints from Pizzazz and Star Wars Weekly, extremely difficult to find for an American collector, and just as rewarding narratively. These stories take note of quotes and references from the first film, and turn those into entire narrative arcs, written by folks like Roy Thomas and Archie Goodwin, with art by Howard Chaykin, Carmine Infantino, and other big shots! These stories include a planet-sized computer that generates element-controlling androids; Imperial tomfoolery on an ice-planet which foreshadows Hoth; the story of both how Chewie had been an Imperial captive and how Han had to dump Jabba’s spice load. There are also more random stories which find Luke and Leia trapped on a planet once home to an ancient, powerful civilization, and which hosts a weapon capable of cutting an Imperial Star Destroy in two! Sound familiar? Yeah, it’s sort of like what’s currently happening in Darth Vader and the Ninth Assassin… These early stories were not only a smart way to make a quick profit on the Star Wars hype, but they also point to the fact that early SW fans and SW comics writers really didn’t have a clue where Lucas’ saga was going; somehow, still, after decades, most of these stories could probably be squeezed into canon continuity, and some have been. Additionally, these early stories are a must-read for SW fans because they expand on the emotions of the characters, allowing us to glimpse the post-victory emptiness and loss of Luke and Leia (not really Han, though) following the kabooming of the Death Star—for me, this is important, because it’s the start (yeah, in 1977!) of what the EU is all about; namely, taking this incredible space fantasy beyond the superficial pew-pew-ing and medium-shaping special effects.

And if you thought getting a glimpse at a dozen or so early Star Wars comics (not the Marvel on-going, which you can get in 4 other Omnibus volumes called A Long Time Ago…), then the second half is sort of like a fangirl and -boys wet dream. These include SW tales by Alan Moore and Steve Moore (who taught Alan how to write comic scripts), who brings their infinite comics voodoo to bear on some of the weirdest Star Wars stories I’ve read today, which call on the paranormal and mystical side of the Star Wars universe, the feeling of the Force as intuited by Original Children tykes and seen more recently in the Star Wars: Clone Wars television show. They’re probably the highlight of the Omnibus, but that doesn’t mean that the various Star Wars 3D and Star Wars Kids issues are any worse. The 3D issues (sadly that effect, which I’m told wasn’t very effective, doesn’t carry over into the Omnibus) explore Luke’s mourning his Aunt and Uncle by returning to Tatooine days after the Death Star explosion to give his farm to a random thug…yeah. We also witness the discovery of Hoth, an early battle with Darth Vader, the Rebels rooting out a spy amongst them, the acquisition of a new X-Wing fleet thanks to Han steeling an ancient pirate treasure, a funny story in which C-3PO becomes a total jerk, the tale of Lando becoming Jabba’s palace guard (with a maze for kids to complete!), and the comics additions to the 1996 Shadows of the Empire multimedia project. Finally, there’s a silly Apple Jack’s cereal box advertisement!

In putting all of this together in one book, Dark Horse, led by collection editor Randy Stradley (also Star Wars Zone Editor), have created an archival marvel of the comics world, for both SW and comics fans alike (though preferably both). If I’m being totally honest, it’s the Dark Horse Omnibus line (and I love for DC Showcase, despite its flaws, and their better Archive Editions) which inspired me to want to be a comics editor, and I have Randy Stradley to thank for setting an example of editorial prowess that is truly incredible. He’s a man worth his weight in rare Star Wars comics.

The Good, The Bad, and The Jar Jar
You’ve already heard the good; it’s called Star Wars Omnibus: Wild Space, Volume 1! If you’re curious to check out this omnibus now—and why on Kashyyyk wouldn’t you be?—Comic Book Resources even has a preview, which showcases one of Alan Moore’s stories and two of the Star Wars Weekly tales.

There’s really nothing bad to say about this book, other than voiceless complaints. For example, because Wild Space, Volume 1 brings us various Star Wars Weekly issues, ESB #149, assorted selections from Star Wars Kids, and even a cereal box advertisement, it whets my appetite and pangs my hunger for filling in all those spaces! It’s probably unlikely that an Omnibus filling in the gaps will be published anytime soon, if ever, really, because the stories are really more for hardcore Star Wars fans and collectors, rather than a general readership (though, really, anyone with some SW smarts would enjoy these stories, I think). And while Wild Space, Volume 2 is on its way in just two months, it won’t be filling many of those gaps, since it’ll featuring mostly stories about Han and the bounty hunters, and plenty of rarer gems from Dark Horse’s publication run (no Marvel comics there!) The contents can be seen here, and if you’re aching for more Star Wars comics via the Omnibus line, fear you should not have, for plenty available there are. Currently 32, a list of which is found here.

And now, for the Jar Jar: There were several editing oversights that kept out the usual Omnibus-style page delineations and cover sheets with artistic information, a minimal issue that was probably overlooked by many, but which bothered me as it caused at least one major confusion by not explaining the continuation of an unfinished narrative into a completely different series. There were also several unlabeled comics in the second half. I mean, if they could give a one-page cereal advertisement comic a cover sheet, surely they could have made sure all of their stories were seen to in similar manner. Then again, this is the first editing mishap I’ve caught in the Dark Horse Omnibus line, aside from a few typos left over from the original issues.

Overall, Star Wars Omnibus: Wild Space, Volume 1 is a fantastic addition to the fan’s collection, another way Dark Horse is showing that it truly cares about the Star Wars franchise, an archival and editing marvel collecting some of the most charming, zany, and incredible early Star Wars stories which fill in important cracks in the Expanded Universe’s history, as well as more recent pieces from Dark Horse (including a cereal advertisement!). Dark Horse has never failed to prove that the license to produce Star Wars comics should stay with them, and this is just one exotic, well-priced taste of why.

From the Vault: 2 Guns

2Guns_2ndShot_CVRA pulp story about cops and thieves and the men that are something in between. Trench has targeted a local bank to rob, and asked Steadman in on the job. Trench figures it’s a great way to score — considering it’s a cover for mob money. They’ll be thieves ripping off thieves. But what Steadman doesn’t know is that Trench is a DEA agent. And what Trench doesn’t know is that Steadman’s a Naval Intelligence officer. They’re both cops! And neither one knows that they’re not robbing the mob, they’ve been set up to steal $50 million from the CIA!

With the movie set to release this weekend, I felt it was well past time that I check out the comic book the movie was based on. Released by BOOM! Studios way back in 2007, 2 Guns is a fun if not twisty tale that holds up even after all of these years.

The basic story is straightforward. It’s a heist caper with double (and triple) crosses. It’s those crosses that pile on and on is one of the things that makes it a fun read (no matter how over the top they get). While you’re guessing what will happen next (and it’s rather predictable really) you never know where those double crosses will wind up. The story is pulp fun, meant to be enjoyed and not analyzed. A ride to enjoy the view.

There’s also the interaction between the main characters that’s entertaining. The trust and lack of it creates some fun scenes and overall the banter and situations have a cinematic quality about them. That’s a testament to writer Steven Grant‘s abilities. It’s no shock the comic has turned into a movie.

The art by Mat Santolouco is a solid addition as well. It fits the tone and situations and combined with Grant’s writing it increases the enjoyment.

Even after some time, 2 Guns is still an entertaining story, full of pop fun and more double crosses, twists and turns than you know what to do with. With a few months left of summer, it’s perfect to pick up now and round out your summer reading list.

Story: Steven Grant Art: Mat Santolouco
Story: 7.5 Art: 7.75 Overall: 7.5 Recommendation: Buy

BOOM! Studios provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

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