Saturday, September 2, 2017

Comics Lust 9/2/2017

Welcome back, Donist World Denizens! For those of you new to our site, I’m Donist, and I am joined by Donist World CFO the Reverse Obie* (my friends’ Boston terrier whose fur recently swapped colors) and by our marketing director/administrative assistant/party planner/heat hater Tulip (my dog, Reverse Obie’s sister). All righty, Denizens, are you ready for an extended weekend? We sure as heck are. Full disclosure: we had Friday off, too. So yeah, the Donist World executive team cut out of the corporate office (Mom’s basement) a little early on Thursday and hit up Rincon Brewery in Isla Vista for some beer and pizza. We stayed up a little later than usual to watch some Arrow on Netflix and had every intention of spending Friday writing the first official chapter of “Comics Lust,” which totally did not happen. Nope. Instead, we watched some TV, spent about three hours cleaning the balcony and the front and back patios, and a lot of time generally putting everything back in order in the aftermath of the dudes painting our complex. We then worked out—ever seen a dog with a six-pack?—and followed up with porch, beer, comics, dinner, beer, and more TV. We basically took a day off from thinkableizing or using our braininesses. It was glorious, but we’re back, we’re refreshed. So, wish the best for Houston and help if you can, grab a tasty beer or refreshing iced tea, relax, and while you’re at it check out some great comics. Thank you for reading!

*Obie, through his dabbling in arcane magics mixed with ancient corrupt business practices, has had not just the colors of his fur switched, but a complete overhaul of his work ethic as well…I think I’m kinda okay with the mishap.

In case you missed last week’s Introduction to “Comics Lust” where I explained the slight change in direction I’m taking with Donist World, what you need to know is that every week I will tackle a different topic and provide a bunch of comics I have read and recommend, or the names of titles I hope to read in the near future. I will then follow with a brief rundown of the comics I read that week. Cool? Cool. Let’s go.

Comics Lust

Monster Mash

As I mentioned in the Introduction, the monster comics were my jam, my jelly, my peanut butter, and my peanuts; I could not get enough of them. And when I talk about the monster comics of my youth, I am, of course, referring to the Universal Monsters, from Universal Studios: Dracula, Frankenstein’s monster, the Wolf Man, and the Mummy. I should also take a moment to thank my mom for including me in her love of the classic horror films and their extension into the uber-creepy Hammer Horror offerings that I still love to this day. My love of nightmarish creatures didn’t stop there. I also had Godzilla, Gamera, and the mishmash of weirdos hailing from Johnny Sokko and His Flying Robot to leave my imagination whirling as if I had done an hour-long session on a Sit ’n Spin.

One thing to remember is that my introduction to the world of monsters happened in the mid-to-late-‘70s. There was no such thing as “on-demand” viewing. There were no movie stores. We only had what happened to come across the antenna. Us poor primitives might as well have been beating rocks and bowing down before the might of a roaring fire compared to what we have available today. We actually had to chance upon a show while we turned the dial of the television—we also did not have remote controls…I know, the horror—or we had to have an ever-diligent parent (love you, Mom!) to scour the newspapers to find exactly when something of interest was on. These were dark times, indeed, but that is where having a healthy stack of monster comics became an essential tool for survival.

I remember having a few creepy comics like DC’s Weird War Tales, The Witching Hour, and The House of Secrets laying around, but my favorite monster comic and one of my oldest memories is of Marvel’s Werewolf by Night #18. In this issue, Jack Russell—no, I am not making his name up—is the Werewolf by Night, and he is pitted against another werewolf, a purple one, that he must battle as he fights to keep his animal side at bay. I loved this comic so much it eventually fell apart in my hands. Thankfully, I also had issue #43, which had Russell team up with none other than Iron Man to combat the horror of the beast known as the Tri-Animan. Having Iron Man appear in this issue, not only confirmed my appreciation of the superhero, it vaulted him to new heights of greatness in my eyes. Many writers and artists took a shot at telling Jack’s story, but Doug Moench and Don Perlin took the reins for most of the series. It has been nearly four decades since I read those comics, and I have the massive Werewolf by Night Omnibus squarely in my sights. I’m also happy to see a collection of three lengthy trades coming out starting in October 2017.

A little less compelling to Young Donist, but of vital importance to monster comics, was Marvel’s cult smash Tomb of Dracula, predominately written by Marv Wolfman and illustrated by Gene Colan. I had a few issues in this 70-issue run, but my favorite thing was the Power Records Dracula: Terror in the Snow comic and 45 rpm record combo that my brother and I played constantly. Dracula was a more complex title than your average seven-year-old could comprehend, but I still appreciated seeing the fanged gentleman in the flowing cape transform into bats and mist and other creatures of the night. What’s even more impressive were the times Jack Russell and the Prince of Darkness crossed paths in what always ended up being a knock-down-drag-out battle royale. If a full-blown comic book series wasn’t enough, there was also two short-lived magazines: Dracula Lives and Tomb of DraculaThree omnibus volumes were once available, but those are long since out of print. Thankfully, like Werewolf by Night, it looks like Marvel will start reissuing this tantalizing tale of terror come October 2017. Now, as an adult, I’m excited to see what all the hubbub was about for Tomb of Dracula; I have a lot of catching up to do.

In the ’70s, Marvel completely had the monster comics genre down, and if you’re going to talk about the Wolf Man and Dracula, then you absolutely cannot forget the third piece of the holy triumvirate: Frankenstein’s Monster. With The Monster of Frankenstein—later titled The Frankenstein Monster in issue #6—writer Gary Friedrich, followed later by Doug Moench, and an assortment of artists including Mike Ploog and Val Mayerik, delivered a tale of a monstrous being who just wanted to have his own place in the world and not to be tormented by men with pitchforks and torches. Over the course of the 18-issue series, our favorite, beleaguered creature ran across Dracula and countless other monsters making this comic a close second to my much-loved Werewolf by Night. Lucky for all of us, we can get the entire series as well as a host of other Frankie appearances in the readily available The Monster of Frankenstein trade paperback.

One title I wish I could have gotten ahold of as a kid was Tales of the Zombie, a black and white Marvel magazine that looks to have been Marvel’s answer to the Warren horror magazines of old. Although I have never read a single issue of the series, I was very much aware of Simon Garth the Zombie, as the character appeared on various sticker cards and even in a kid’s activity book I had. Unfortunately, reading this series means either locating the rare issues or finding a copy of the out-of-print Essential: Tales of the Zombie to get the whole story.

While we’re on the subject of hard-to-find Marvel titles, we have to remember Supernatural Thrillers starring The Living Mummy. I never read a single one of these issues, but man do I wish I did. Hopefully, ol’ N’Kantu makes a return to the land of the living some day in the future.

There are TONS of other monster comics out there, especially when you consider the brilliance of Jack Kirby, muck monsters, giant lizards, giant robots, and the myriad of other things that lurk in the shadows. There’s even a bunch of supernatural heroes and villains out there that are sure to give your grandparents cause to worry for your soul or to suspect you’re playing far too much Dungeons & Dragons or Magic the Gathering. But that, Denizens, is for another section…

The Week’s Reading List

Thanos #10 (written by Jeff Lemire, illustrated by Germán Peralta, colored by Rachelle Rosenberg, lettered by VC’s Clayton Cowles, published by Marvel Comics) I love Lemire. I love Thanos. But I’m probably off the book when Lemire leaves after issue 12. Still, this series is pretty fun. RECOMMENDED!

Deadly Class #30 (written by Rick Remender, illustrated by Wes Craig, colored by Jordan Boyd, lettered by Rus Wooton, edited by Sebastian Girner, published by Image Comics) Man, this series just gets better and better. Craig’s art is gorgeous, and this issue has some of the original class and some of the new class finally come together. It ain’t gonna be pretty. VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Saga #46 (written by Brian K. Vaughan, illustrated by Fiona Staples, lettered and designed by Fonografiks, Coordinated by Eric Stephenson, published by Image Comics) It’s Saga. You know I love it, and I think you do/will, too. This issue is pretty damn heavy, but a new romantic endeavor lifts the mood considerably. Still as great as ever. VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Grendel vs the Shadow (written and illustrated Matt Wagner, colored by Brennan Wagner, lettered by Michael Heisler, published by Dark Horse Comics, Inc.) Dude! Denizens! I can’t begin to tell you how much I loved this three-issue mini-series. Pulp, noir, crime, and one of my favorite characters, Grendel…I was born to love this comic. This made me not only want to get all of the Grendel Omnibus volumes but also take look into Wagner’s The Shadow stories. Freakin’ great! VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

The Uncanny Avengers TPB Vol. 1–4 (written by Rick Remender, illustrated by a ton of people, published by Marvel Comics) Rick Remender can do no wrong with me, especially when you look at his mighty volume of creator-owned work (see Deadly Class #30 above, for example). That said, although I very much enjoyed The Uncanny Avengers, there were certain plot points introduced in the third volume that just never materialized. Still, the Apocalypse Twins are awesome, as is the rather demented machinations of the Red Skull. What made this series a struggle for me was the onslaught of rotating artists and rushed work on what should have been a showcase series. Worth reading, but the art could have been more solid and Remender should have been allowed to tell the tale he wanted to tell. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!


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