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Underrated: A System to Organize your comics

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 system to organize your comics.


Okay, bear with me. A lot of the comic readers I chat with at my LCS fall into one of three categories; those using an app to track their comics, those with an eidetic memory or those who just do the best to remember what they have generally but buy based on a specific want list. I tend to fall into the latter category; I’ve a list of the books I’m hunting on my phone, but when it comes to the books I already have, I’m less prepared. I tend to rely on what isn’t on my list and memory… which is fine when I’m looking at comic runs that I know I’ve finished, but less ideal when I come across a book I’m not sure if I have and am not actively collecting.

So what are my options to help me file and organize my books?

An excel or google doc spreadsheet is one of the simpler and less flashy methods, but also one of the most effective if you’re just listing which issues you do and don’t have. The more comfortable with spreadsheets then the more you’ll be able to customize how much information about each comic you want to put in, but at the end of the day it’s all reliant on what you put in.

Of course there’s comic book collecting apps designed to help you organize your books such as CLZ that for $14.99 a year allows you to track your books with a barcode scanner or the Comic Book Collector’s Database. I can’t honestly give you much information about the apps because I don’t use them (and never have), but they’re an excellent option for those who want a little more of a user experience than a basic list or spreadsheet.

You could also probably pay someone to catalogue your books but why waste the money on that when you can buy more comics?

Ultimately how you track your books is entirely up to you; but if you’re new to the comic collecting and reading community then eventually you’re going to want to track your collection somehow because unless you’re really good at remembering what you have (I’m not) then you’ll probably end up with a couple doubles of books you probably don’t need doubles of (I’m looking at you Wolverine #36).


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

Underrated: Black Beetle: No Way Out

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


Another week, and yet another case of “Alex bought something for Underrated without knowing anything about it beforehand.” This week we’re looking at the first volume of Francisco Francavilla‘s Black Beetle: No Way Outanother book that I found at a thrift store for an absolute bargain price. Actually, bargain is understating things. I paid $1 for this book (technically $1.25, but at but 4 get 1 free it works out to a dollar). Which is an absolute steal of a deal for a hardcover trade.

Black Beetle: No Way Out is published by  Dark Horse, written and drawn by Francavilla, and takes the form of a modern reinterpretation of the old pulp novels of the 30’s and 40’s, with all the semi futuristic-steampunk technology and sleek lines that includes.

This throwback feeling permeates the entire graphic novel, genuinely allowing it to read as a pulp novel from a bygone era – but one with the tonal sensitivities of today. It’s within this area that Francavilla tells the story of a vigilante who is equal parts the Shadow, the Spider and the Black Bat – and though comparisons to Batman will be made, the only similarity there is that Batman is more prevalent in the cultural awareness of our medium than the other three characters previously mentioned. I’m not saying the comparisons are unfair, but that the similarities are more in line with the characters Batman took inspiration from rather than Bruce Wayne himself.

The story, then, that is told within No Way Out is very reflective of those pulp novels, especially the original covers that are used as story breaks between the individual issues. Francavilla’s artistic approach is very evocative of the art styles of the time – simple colours, thick lines and a sense of foreboding. With Francavilla handling both the writing and the art duties in the book, we’re given a tour-de-force of a creative offering as he delivers an incredible experience.

And that, ultimately, is why I loved this book so much. It’s an incredibly fun pulp story, a classic hero romp with a hero who in’t shy about using his guns. Of course that does leave a little room for folks to be concerned about a lack of substance in the plot, but I think for the most part that is a concern that can be put aside by the artistic offering.

This is a book that’s absolutely worth a read.

Yes, I only paid $1 for it, and yes, I only bought it because it was in a thrit store, but I am so glad that I did. Black Beetle: No Way Out is easily the best thing I have read all week – including the four other books I picked up – and I am frankly astounded that I had never read this before. I’m equally as astounded that I’d never even heard of the book before.  Consequently, this is a book I don’t see getting the love it deserves – that’s why the book is Underrated.


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

Underrated: Not Rushing Your comics Reading

Believe it or not, my time management has gotten pretty bad lately, and I’ve struggled to find time to read many comics, let alone actually write anything with any consistency. So because of that, I wanted to revisit an older column from last year that felt oddly relevant again.

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:  Not Rushing Your Comics Reading.


I never actually expected that I’d be writing a column focusing on the underrated aspects of comics on comics as a whole, but then I also never expected to be living during a global pandemic. The period of time during which comics ceased all publication drove me to reading a lot of trade paperbacks and other collected editions of series I had either never read, or hadn’t read in a long time; X-Men stories such as Operation: Zero Tolerance and The Dark Phoenix Saga, and a plethora of titles not from the Big Two ranging from Saga to a reread of Ninja-K. I’ve read a surprisingly large amount of Star Wars comics (more on those in the coming weeks), and have really cut down on my backlog of books to read (and consequently my collection has never been better organized).

But ever since the comic industry started to release books again, I’ve found that I haven’t actually read a third of what I’ve been picking up at my LCS. It’s not that I don’t want to read them, it’s that after so many months of reading a full story in one go, I’ve found that now I’m waiting until I have more than a single issue in a story to read so that I can get more of a fix in one go rather than waiting the 30 days between issues. I realize that this is also increasing the time between me reading the comics (I’ve got two issues of Once And Future next to me right now), but the fact that it’s already been more than 30 days between some issues is besides the point so I’m just prolonging the already extended period between issues.

Or something.

The truth is, I wasn’t intending to do this. I had every intention of reading stuff immediately after buying it, but… I’ve lost the urgency to read comics as soon as I get them now. Pandemic related? Maybe. But it’s the lack of urgency that’s allowing me to savour the stories again and let the issues build up so I can lose myself in a couple issues of Batman, No One’s Rose and other series I’ve been picking up.

It’s nice, honestly, to have lost the FOMO (fear of missing out) that so many of us experience with comics. Maybe because I haven’t fully gotten back into the routine of buying, reading and storing comics yet, but I’ve found a new way to enjoy the stories that I’ve loved for nearly 30 years. With patience (though I enjoy reading older stories in trade, I don’t expect I’ll ever become a trade waiter).

Of course, give me a couple more weeks, and I’m sure that I’ll wonder why I ever wrote this, but right now not rushing through my comics has given me a surprising amount of enjoyment from what I’m reading. It may not become my new normal, but I’ll make the most of it while I’m still enjoying the process.


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

Underrated: Not Rushing Your comics Reading

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:  Not Rushing Your Comics Reading.


I never actually expected that I’d be writing a column focusing on the underrated aspects of comics on comics as a whole, but then I also never expected to be living during a global pandemic. The period of time during which comics ceased all publication drove me to reading a lot of trade paperbacks and other collected editions of series I had either never read, or hadn’t read in a long time; X-Men stories such as Operation: Zero Tolerance and The Dark Phoenix Saga, and a plethora of titles not from the Big Two ranging from Saga to a reread of Ninja-K. I’ve read a surprisingly large amount of Star Wars comics (more on those in the coming weeks), and have really cut down on my backlog of books to read (and consequently my collection has never been better organized).

But ever since the comic industry started to release books again, I’ve found that I haven’t actually read a third of what I’ve been picking up at my LCS. It’s not that I don’t want to read them, it’s that after so many months of reading a full story in one go, I’ve found that now I’m waiting until I have more than a single issue in a story to read so that I can get more of a fix in one go rather than waiting the 30 days between issues. I realize that this is also increasing the time between me reading the comics (I’ve got two issues of Once And Future next to me right now), but the fact that it’s already been more than 30 days between some issues is besides the point so I’m just prolonging the already extended period between issues.

Or something.

The truth is, I wasn’t intending to do this. I had every intention of reading stuff immediately after buying it, but… I’ve lost the urgency to read comics as soon as I get them now. Pandemic related? Maybe. But it’s the lack of urgency that’s allowing me to savour the stories again and let the issues build up so I can lose myself in a couple issues of Batman, No One’s Rose and other series I’ve been picking up.

It’s nice, honestly, to have lost the FOMO (fear of missing out) that so many of us experience with comics. Maybe because I haven’t fully gotten back into the routine of buying, reading and storing comics yet, but I’ve found a new way to enjoy the stories that I’ve loved for nearly 30 years. With patience (though I enjoy reading older stories in trade, I don’t expect I’ll ever become a trade waiter).

Of course, give me a couple more weeks, and I’m sure that I’ll wonder why I ever wrote this, but right now not rushing through my comics has given me a surprising amount of enjoyment from what I’m reading. It may not become my new normal, but I’ll make the most of it while I’m still enjoying the process.


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

Underrated: Black Beetle: No Way Out

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


Another week, and yet another case of “Alex bought something for Underrated without knowing anything about it beforehand.” This week we’re looking at the first volume of Francisco Francavilla‘s Black Beetle: No Way Outanother book that I found at a thrift store for an absolute bargain price. Actually, bargain is understating things. I paid $1 for this book (technically $1.25, but at but 4 get 1 free it works out to a dollar). Which is an absolute steal of a deal for a hardcover trade.

Black Beetle: No Way Out is published by  Dark Horse, written and drawn by Francavilla, and takes the form of a modern reinterpretation of the old pulp novels of the 30’s and 40’s, with all the semi futuristic-steampunk technology and sleek lines that includes.

This throwback feeling permeates the entire graphic novel, genuinely allowing it to read as a pulp novel from a bygone era – but one with the tonal sensitivities of today. It’s within this area that Francavilla tells the story of a vigilante who is equal parts the Shadow, the Spider and the Black Bat – and though comparisons to Batman will be made, the only similarity there is that Batman is more prevalent in the cultural awareness of our medium than the other three characters previously mentioned. I’m not saying the comparisons are unfair, but that the similarities are more in line with the characters Batman took inspiration from rather than Bruce Wayne himself.

The story, then, that is told within No Way Out is very reflective of those pulp novels, especially the original covers that are used as story breaks between the individual issues. Francavilla’s artistic approach is very evocative of the art styles of the time – simple colours, thick lines and a sense of foreboding. With Francavilla handling both the writing and the art duties in the book, we’re given a tour-de-force of a creative offering as he delivers an incredible experience.

And that, ultimately, is why I loved this book so much. It’s an incredibly fun pulp story, a classic hero romp with a hero who in’t shy about using his guns. Of course that does leave a little room for folks to be concerned about a lack of substance in the plot, but I think for the most part that is a concern that can be put aside by the artistic offering.

This is a book that’s absolutely worth a read.

Yes, I only paid $1 for it, and yes, I only bought it because it was in a thrit store, but I am so glad that I did. Black Beetle: No Way Out is easily the best thing I have read all week – including the four other books I picked up – and I am frankly astounded that I had never read this before. I’m equally as astounded that I’d never even heard of the book before.  Consequently, this is a book I don’t see getting the love it deserves – that’s why the book is Underrated.


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

Underrated: Black Beetle: No Way Out

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



black beetle no way outAnother week, and yet another case of “Alex bought something for Underrated without knowing anything about it beforehand.” This week we’re looking at the first volume of Francisco Francavilla‘s Black Beetle: No Way Outanother book that I found at a thrift store for an absolute bargain price. Actually, bargain is understating things. I paid $1 for this book (technically $1.25, but at but 4 get 1 free it works out to a dollar). Which is an absolute steal of a deal for a hardcover trade.

Black Beetle: No Way Out is published by  Dark Horse, written and drawn by Francavilla, and takes the form of a modern reinterpretation of the old pulp novels of the 30’s and 40’s, with all the semi futuristic-steampunk technology and sleek lines that includes.

This throwback feeling permeates the entire graphic novel, genuinely allowing it to read as a pulp novel from a bygone era – but one with the tonal sensitivities of today. It’s within this area that Francavilla tells the story of a vigilante who is equal parts the Shadow, the Spider and the Black Bat – and though comparisons to Batman will be made, the only similarity there is that Batman is more prevalent in the cultural awareness of our medium than the other three characters previously mentioned. I’m not saying the comparisons are unfair, but that the similarities are more in line with the characters Batman took inspiration from rather than Bruce Wayne himself.

The story, then, that is told within No Way Out is very reflective of those pulp novels, especially the original covers that are used as story breaks between the individual issues. Francavilla’s artistic approach is very evocative of the art styles of the time – simple colours, thick lines and a sense of foreboding. With Francavilla handling both the writing and the art duties in the book, we’re given a tour-de-force of a creative offering as he delivers an incredible experience.

And that, ultimately, is why I loved this book so much. It’s an incredibly fun pulp story, a classic hero romp with a hero who in’t shy about using his guns. Of course that does leave a little room for folks to be concerned about a lack of substance in the plot, but I think for the most part that is a concern that can be put aside by the artistic offering.

This is a book that’s absolutely worth a read.

Yes, I only paid $1 for it, and yes, I only bought it because it was in a thrit store, but I am so glad that I did. Black Beetle: No Way Out is easily the best thing I have read all week – including the four other books I picked up – and I am frankly astounded that I had never read this before. I’m equally as astounded that I’d never even heard of the book before.  Consequently, this is a book I don’t see getting the love it deserves – that’s why the book is Underrated.


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

Week in Review: July 8-14, 2013

Another great week in comics, with the beginning of DC’s Trinity War, the debut of Titan Comics’ Chronos Commandos, plenty of great superhero and pulp books, and even a review of Guillermo del Toro’s summer blockbuster. Check out what we’ve been up to at Graphic Policy this past week:

Graphic Policy Radio
July 9, 2013–a discussion with Emma Houboix about Sailor Moon, manga, FF, Matt Fraction on Hawkeye, and group representation in comics.

Comic Reviews
Hellheim #5–Oni Press’ Scandinavian monster mythology continues to great applause by Andrew.

Miss Fury #4–Dynamite’s time-travelling Nazi-fighter gets mixed reviews.

East of West #4–sci-fi/western continues with great art and emotional storytelling.

Pathfinder #8, TMNT New Animated Adventures #1–Sean gives us a tour of the first in a new TMNT series, and Pathfinder makes a splash for RPGers.

Breath of Bones: A Tale of the Golem #2–Andrew gives us the details on the lauded second issue of one of Dark Horse’s most touching books.

Black Beetle #4–Francavilla’s pulpy pulp superhero…how have I not picked this up myself?! Seriously, it seems you can’t miss this book; don’t skip Andrew’s review, either.

Star Wars #7, Breath of Bones: A Tale of the Golem #2–Wood’s incredible Original Trilogy era saga continues, with a more emotional look at the Rebel heroes.

Eerie #3–Sean takes a tour of Cousin Eerie’s assorted offerings from Dark Horse’s weird horror/sci-fi anthology, with high marks.

A1 #2, Chronos Commandos: Dawn Patrol #1–Brett gives us a tour of Titan Comics new line, including dinosaur fighters and an unstoppable anthology of weirdos.

Occupy Comics #2, 12 Reasons to Die #2, Ballistic #1–Brett reviews the political Kickstarter comic, a horror-crime comic of gangsters and soul hunters, and a very strange buddy adventure book.

Ghosted #1–Scott introduces us to Image’s incredibly violent, noir thriller…

Sheltered #1–…and to their new apocalyptic comic, with mixed reviews.

Justice League #22, Daredevil #28, Batman #22–Sean brings us up to date on two amazing comics from the Big Two, and fills us in on the Trinity War’s first shots.

Movie Review
Pacific Rim–Guillermo del Torro’s Kaiju-and-robots movie of the summer is here, but is it any good? Brett’s got some opinions on the matter; feel free to share yours in our comments section!

Book Review
Father Gaetano’s Puppet Catechism: A Novella–explore post-war Sicily, where puppets come to life at an orphanage…nothing could go wrong with that plot, right? Check out Sean’s review of Mike Mignola (HellboyB.P.R.D., etc.) and Christopher Golden’s chilling novella.

Classics Revisited
Watchmen–this new monthly column, Classics Revisited, hits the ground running, as we take a look at Alan Moore and Dave Gibbon’s truly incredibly 12-part graphic novel, Watchmen.

That’ll do it for this week folks, but make sure to stay tuned to Graphic Policy for news and reviews of what’s going on in the comic book industry and Geekdom at large.

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