Saturday, November 27, 2004

...Holiday miscellany... Turkey day went well, despite our stupid water heater giving up the ghost while my parents and brother were in town, and my dad managing to puncture the van's tire in a 5-minute drive from our house. Baby Peter ate his first meat ever (turkey of course) and all was fine in the universe.

ITEM! The cover of the new Marvel Team-Up #2 (another fun little issue) is that rarity from today's Marvel Comics -- a fantastic cover. This iconic image ranks up there with some of the other classic "Wolverine looking mad" covers such as Hulk #340 and Wolverine #1 (the '82 Miller miniseries). Unfortunately, too many of Marvel's comics these days, as many other blogosphere pundits have noted, sacrifice effectiveness for bland, generic pinup shots.

This Ultimate Spider-Man cover from a year or so back could be from almost any Spider-Man comic of the past 5 years. For some reason Marvel decided that rather than have enticing comics that have anything to do with the STORY, they'd just put file art on the cover. Used to be I could tell by glancing at the cover of a comic if I'd read it. With these shots, purty art though some of them are, I have no clue. Anyway, it's good to see Marvel inching slowly back toward providing covers that actually make you want to read the comic. A cover needs to be more than just a pretty picture to work effectively. Maybe word balloons on covers will return next and we'll get more gems like this one:

ITEM! Awesome fanboy reading indeed is the new DC Comics Encyclopedia. I actually scored a review copy of this massive tome from the beautiful folks at DK Publishing. Here's my thoughts: DK Publishing’s “The DC Comics Encyclopedia” puts a comprehensive eye to the 70-year history of DC Comics, home of the adventures of Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman and many others.
DK is known for its graphics-heavy, huge encyclopedic looks at everything from the animal kingdom to wines of the world to basketball.
Now it digs into DC’s comic archives for an alphabetical look at their superhero universe, using hundreds of vintage illustrations and comic samples. It results in a colorful encyclopedia that should appeal to comic lovers.

Want to know how tall Batman is supposed to be? (6 foot 2 inches.) How many superheroes have been called The Flash? (At least three, not counting ones from the future, apparently.) Detailed profiles highlight thousands of characters. Old, forgotten heroes ranging from The Whip to Dr. Occult to Kamandi even get their moment in the sun. The book also does a nice job of spotlighting “key storylines” from over the years, referring fans on to further four-color reading.
It’s not a perfect volume — on a casual read I found a few errors that probably only a dedicated fan would notice, such as wrong dates and a few omissions. However, a book like this is made for the hardcore fans, so a little closer proofreading might have been useful. A few characters are omitted entirely, notably John Constantine — who’ll be played by Keanu Reeves in a big-budget movie coming in 2005, so he’s hardly completely obscure.
Yet for the sheer spectacle of it all, of whiz-bang biographies of heroes and villains from Air Wave to Zatanna the Magician, “The DC Comics Encyclopedia” is hard to beat. It’s one of those books that’s great joy to return to again and again. Any comic fan would be pretty pleased to find this hefty volume in their stocking.

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