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By | Wednesday, April 3, 2013 | 4:16 pm | 68 Comments | Blog > Features

Hello TROglodyte’s and welcome to Vol. 3 of Lee’s Pull List! The all-sensational, super fantastic guide to the overwhelmingly crowded world of comic book publishing. Disclaimer time! All titles are paperback unless otherwise noted and the suggested retail price is just that: suggested. All of the dates are approximate and subject to change so you should always check with your local comic shop before planning your purchase. Side effects may include, but are not limited to: giddiness, blissful joy and anxiety over which awesome books to buy and which to sleep on.

Without further ado and absolutely no fan fare we begin!

 

MARVEL

 

uncanny x-force vol. 6

Uncanny X-Force Vol. 6: Final Execution Vol. 1

Ok, first things first: I generally write this column to highlight books that look cool, but, I’m going to use this time to gripe a little. Do we really need two volumes in the title? I realize the Vol. 6 is not necessarily in the official title, but, it still makes for a slightly redundant mouthful. My Comic Shop has taken it upon themselves to remove the second Vol. from the title and call it Part 1, Amazon and Indigo have called it Book 1 and Things From Another World is rocking the Vol. still. As for the book itself things are sounding a little ‘been there, done that’. It might be the end of the team, (how come teams are always on the verge of ending?), a new Brotherhood of Evil Mutants is deadlier-than-ever, (how can they always be deadlier than the last time? when are they just a regular, old threat?) and apparently their new attacks have been designed to hurt each member personally. Oh ya, the head of the Evil Mutants also knows all their weaknesses which doesn’t surprise me at all. Hopefully the actual writing is better then the plot.

SRP: 19.99
Contains: Uncanny X-Force #25-29
Indigo, Amazon – April 23
My Comic Shop, Things From Another World – April 10

 

road to oz

Road To Oz (HC)

Delivering Vol. 5 in a series of adaptations of the classic Oz books Marvel once again enlists Eric Shanower and Skottie Young to take the fanciful words and ideas of L. Frank Baum and give them life in four color panels. Anyone who’s read the first four and enjoyed them will surely jump on board for another outing. And for anyone who’s just curious, this is as good a place to start as any since we’re all pretty familiar with the story of Dorothy and Toto by now.

SRP: 24.99
Contains: Road To Oz #1-6
Indigo, Amazon – April 23
TFAW, MCS – April 10

 

 iron man 3 prelude

Marvel’s Iron Man 3: Prelude

There’s not one, not two, not even three, but, seven books coming out this month with Tony Stark’s affluent paws all over them, including a prose adaptation of Warren Ellis’ Iron Man: Extremis and, randomly, Iron Man 2020. Do you think they’re trying to capitalize on a new movie coming out? Maybe just a little. As you’d expect this is a quickly thrown together book that includes a two part adaptation of Iron Man 2 and a prelude to Iron Man 3. If you absolutely have to have everything featuring the metal-suited avenger then you’ll be getting this. The rest of us probably don’t need to bother and our money would be much better spent on the aforementioned Extremis, which is making it’s trade debut the same day as the prose novel.

SRP: 14.99
Contains: Iron Man 2 #1-2, Iron Man 3 Prelude #1-2
Indigo, Amazon – April 9
TFAW, MCS – April 11

 

incredible hulk vol. 7

Marvel Masterworks: The Incredible Hulk Vol. 7 (HC)

Sifting through countless X titles, Avengers books and a multitude of Iron Man titles I was hard pressed to find a fourth feature. Then I saw this little beauty. Just over 250 pages of classic, Hulk-smashing action featured in a classy hardcover volume. Sure beats random one-offs from Spider-Man or reading about Venom being a hero, (what?!!). There’s really not much that needs to be said – this one sells itself. Also check out, Marvel Masterworks: The Mighty Thor Vol. 4 coming out in paperback on the 24th for a more wallet friendly $25.

SRP: 69.99
Contains: Incredible Hulk (1st series) #135-144, Avengers (1st series) #88, Marvel Super Heroes (1st series) #16
Indigo, Amazon – April 30 (you can save almost $30 by waiting)
TFAW, MCS – April 17

 

DC

 

punk rock jesus

Punk Rock Jesus

I agonized on whether or not to include this, but, in the end I had to. Just read the title, look at the cover art! How could I not? Putting forth what sounds like a highly blasphemous mini-series DC decided to give Vertigo the honors publishing it under their banner , which makes a lot of sense. Apparently an American-Idol style show is used to decide who the mother of the new messiah will be and apparently he grows up to be an angsty teenager who captivates the nation with his punk rock antics. Does this sound f*&^%d? Absolutely! Does it also sound entertaining as hell? Sweet Jesus yes! Can I get an Amen, brothers and sisters?!

SRP: 16.99
Contains: Punk Rock Jesus #1-6 and 10 new pages of story
Indigo, Amazon – April 9
TFAW, MCS – April 3

 

dc universe by alan moore

DC Universe by Alan Moore

This is basically an expanded re-release of the awesome DC Universe: The Stories of Alan Moore. Anyone who hasn’t read that yet, (whoever that could possibly be), needs to jump on this. Anyone who has read it may want to think about replacing their, I’m assuming, worn out copy. In addition to everything in the first version there is a Voodoo mini-series he wrote for Image in the mid 90‘s and a Deathblow mini-series from ‘99. I’m seriously considering getting this even though my bank account wishes I wouldn’t.

SRP: 24.99
Contains: 464 pages of 80‘s and 90‘s awesomeness from one of the greats.
Indigo, Amazon – April 9
TFAW, MCS – April 3

 

world's finest vol. 1
Worlds’ Finest Vol. 1: The Lost Daughters Of Earth 2

Featuring Power Girl and Huntress, (the titular daughters of Earth 2), this New 52 title shows how they came to be stranded on our Earth through flashback while showing them working together in the present to stop the Irradiated Man. Featuring art by George Perez and Kevin Maguire and words by Paul Levitz it’s definitely got some star power behind it. Let’s hope it all adds up to something awesome cause a book with Power Girl and Huntress, on paper, doesn’t sound like it’ll work, but, I’m still intrigued enough to add it to my pull list.

SRP: 14.99
Contains: Worlds Finest (3rd series) #0-5
Indigo, Amazon – April 16
TFAW, MCS – April 3

 

flash chronicles vol. 4
The Flash Chronicles Vol. 4

Collecting old Flash adventures in chronological order this is essentially a fancier version of Showcase Presents. For the uninitiated Showcase Presents is budge re-prints of Gold and Silver age adventures featuring some of DC’s biggest names. They are a cheap way to collect massive amounts of back issues with each book being roughly 500 pages. The chronicles are basically the same thing, but, they have the issues in full color, which, for some of us, is a big deal and can add to the over all enjoyment. Both the Showcase books and the Chronicle books are roughly the same price so it’s really personal preference as owning both books would be redundant.

SRP: 14.99
Contains: Flash (1st series) #119-124
Indigo, Amazon – April 16
TFAW, MCS – April 10

 

INDIES

 

army of darkness omnibus vol. 3

Army Of Darkness Omnibus Vol. 3 (HC)

Tales of Heroism gone absolutely wrong is how Dynamite chooses to describe this third Omnibus and considering the source material that sounds absolutely correct. For those of us who couldn’t get enough of the Sam Raimi classic Dynamite has been nursing our wounds since 2004, so, by this point, they probably know what they’re doing. Like the previous volumes this one also includes a beautifully gory cover gallery for further pervasive delight.

Publisher: Dynamite
SRP: 29.99
Contains: Army of Darkness (3rd series) #13-27
Indigo, Amazon – May 7
TFAW, MCS – April 24

 

BOOM_FANBOYSVSZOMBIES_V2
Fanboys Vs. Zombies Vol. 2

Similar to Punk Rock Jesus this one got me from the title and begged me to find out more. It sounds like fairly routine zombie territory: plague of the undead trapping a group of survivors somewhere, in this case the somewhere is the San Diego Comic-Con and the group of survivors are, well, nerds. Sounds like it’ll be full of meta-rific jokes, puns and one-liners backed with enough gore to fill a dump truck.  Maybe I should be more sophisticated or discerning in my choices but I chuckled at the cover, a take on a classic Walking Dead issue.  This seems to be a continuation to what was laid down in Vol. 1 so you might want to start there.

Publisher: Boom! Studios
SRP: 14.99
Contains: Fanboys Vs. Zombies #5-8
Indigo, Amazon – May 7
TFAW, MCS – April 24

 

AliensInhumanConditionHC
Aliens: Inhuman Condition (HC)

I know I shouldn’t like this or even care, but, I can’t help myself. Anything with even the slightest hint of a link to the 20th Century Fox property and I’m instantly intrigued. This one also has art by Sam Keith and the story by Chew author, John Layman, so I’m extra curious. The plot has something to do with androids being manufactured in secret and sent out to be tested against a hive of Xeno’s while their maker begins to wonder who’s more brutal – man or Xenomorph. Sounds…well, it sounds kind of lame to be honest, but, I don’t care. I want it. It seems to include 5 issues but only equals about 60 pages so I’m assuming this story was printed about 10-12 pages at a time as a second feature. Either way, I can’t wait to see what Sam Keith does with Xenomorphs.

Publisher: Dark Horse
SRP: 10.99
Contains: Material from Dark Horse Presents #12-17
Indigo, Amazon – May 7
TFAW, MCS – April 10

 

mars attacks idw

 

Mars Attacks IDW

At first I thought this was just a typo, of sorts, but, upon further research it’s exactly what the title says. The martians from Mars Attacks invade different properties from IDW. Goofy? Yes. But, that’s what we’ve come to expect from Mars Attacks and if it isn’t then apparentely I’ve completely missed the point. If you want to see what the martians do when they’re faced with Popeye, Kiss, Real Ghostbusters, Transformers and Zombies Vs. Robots then this is the book for you. Everyone else need not apply.

Publisher: IDW
SRP: 19.99
Contains: 162 pages of attack-tion
Indigo, Amazon – April 30
TFAW, MCS – April 17

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By | Sunday, March 31, 2013 | 10:23 am | 5 Comments | Blog > Reviews
 
Find This Book At:
Ebay (Search by Title)
Ebay (ISBN/Softcover)
Half.com (Softcover)
Amazon (Softcover)
View our database entry (coming soon!)
Includes Issues:Bart Simpson’s Treehouse of Horror #10-11
Issue Dates:September 2004 – September 2005
Creator:
Matt Groening

This review is spoiler-free! Skip To The Verdict? »

Treehouse1Two words I don’t want to read in another review anytime soon are “love” and “letter.” It’s not a very high compliment to pay a comic book that the best thing it does is remind you of better comics. Ultimately we’re not going to remember the love letter when we have its subject to admire.

Treehouse of Horror is not a love letter to Tales from the Crypt. Treehouse of Horror is the real thing.

Dead Man’s Jest starts with issue 10, featuring four stories respectively plotted or conceived by metal artists Gene Simmons, Alice Cooper, Rob Zombie and Pat Boone. The issue isn’t one of my favorites as I feel that it suffers for being a little indulgent of its guest talent, but nevertheless stands strong on stunning artwork and good writing.

The first story stands out visually, with bold pencils by Tone Rodriguez, dramatic inks by Andrew Pepoy and coloring by Joey Mason that brings the whole thing together to breath taking results. You could take any splash panel out of this story and proudly airbrush it on the side of your van. Some good gags here include Ralph Wiggum drawn as Hello Kitty and the revelation that Marge only wears her hair like that to hide Gene Simmons’ bass guitar.

At its weakest, Treehouse of Horror still succeeds as a remarkable pop culture artifact. When the the sheer craftsmanship is on this level, certain degree of post-modern terror is inherent to the very concept of seeing The Simpsons in nightmarish scenarios.

Issue 11 is among my favorites in part because it’s just such a beautiful piece of comic art, and in part because editor Bill Morrison recruited everybody for this one. John Severin, Al Williamson and Angelo Torres handle stories that place The Simpsons in classic E.C. plotlines, Bernie Wrightson recasts Swamp Thing with Homer in the lead in a Len Wein scripted remake, and Gene Colan gives us a Marv Wolfman-written Dracula story with Mister Burns in the titular role. It’s a breath taking lineup of talent, and you can get more than your money’s worth by just flipping through this issue and taking in the art.

Treehouse3The stories in this issue are direct revisits of classic four color horror tales, but, like Mel Brooks’ Young Frankenstein, they’re more than just spoofs. “Squish Thing”, assisted by Wrightson’s romantic inks and Wein’s script feels, at times, as tragic and haunting as the original Swamp Thing story. The final page of the E.C. section of the book is as effective a heart-stopper as you have any right to expect when you open up an issue of Tales from the Crypt or Shock SuspenStories.

Treehouse of Horror is only published once a year, and as much as I’d love to see more, this keeps the series condensed and prevents it from repeating itself. If we’re being totally honest, you can afford to skim most E.C. stories or skip to the ending after you’ve read a dozen or so issues. They covered the same material over and over again, and Warren’s Creepy and Eerie magazines were even worse.

Like Bruce Jones’ Twisted Tales and Alien Worlds, the fact that there are fewer than twenty issues of Treehouse of Horror to sort through make every issue that much more precious and unique. Every month, E.C. had to publish Shock SuspenStories, Crime SuspenStories, Tales from the Crypt, Haunt of Fear, and Vault of Terror, and that’s not counting the sci-fi and war titles. Three stories per issue, five issues a month and sooner or later a lot of the material starts to run together. Bill Morrison instead kept the series fresh with one stunning issue a year.

Morrison resigned from his position as editor in chief at Bongo Comics last year, which came as a disappointment, but Matt Groening retains sole publishing rights for Simpsons comics, and this explains why Treehouse is such a great series: it’s a creator-owned horror series published by the guy behind Life in Hell, the most subtly terrifying and nihilistic comic strip of all time.

I give Dead Man’s Jest my highest possible recommendation as a fan of horror comics, as a reader who grew up watching The Simpsons starting with the Tracey Ullman shorts, and as an admirer of pop art. Treehouse of Horror is not just an homage or a pastiche or a spoof or a love letter, it’s the real thing.

Treehouse5


Verdict:

4 out of 5 stars. The stories in issue 10 are more fun to look at than to read, but issue 11 is a solid 5. The whole series is required reading for anyone who wishes E.C. was still around, anyone who grew up with The Simpsons, and anyone who wants a glimpse of the weirdness that James Harvey’s Bartkira project is going to unleash on the world.

Essential Continuity:
As in the TV show, Treehouse of Horror is non-canon to the rest of the Bongo universe.

Read first:
Issue 11 is a good example of what Treehouse is all about, but with only 18 issues to the series, you could easily sit down and read the entire thing in a weekend.

Read next:
From Beyond the Grave has some really fun stories in it, like a surprisingly gory Jaws spoof and Lenny starring in the Roddy Piper role in a retelling of They Live!

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By | Friday, March 29, 2013 | 11:21 am | 3 Comments | Blog > Reviews
Find This Book At:
Ebay (Search by Title)
Ebay (ISBN/Softcover)
Half.com (Softcover)
Amazon (Softcover)
View our database entry (coming soon!)
Includes Issues:Usagi Yojimbo (Vol. 2) #1 – 6 (Full), # 7 – 8 (Selections)
Issue Dates:March 1993 – June 1994
Creator:
Stan Sakai

This review contains minor spoilers. Skip To The Verdict? »

They made it look so easy.  Back in 2006, in a universe where legal red tape seemed specifically designed to prevent us from having nice things like guest appearances by Wonder Woman in Smallville,  it sometimes seemed like a miracle to have characters from Stan Sakai’s Usagi Yojimbo regularly guest star in the second Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles as if it were no thing and copyright laws didn’t exist.

Then again, connections matter. Back then the Ninja Turtles were wholly owned by their co-creator Peter Laird, who is a close personal friend of Usagi Yojimbo creator Stan Sakai, which made things much easier than they might have otherwise been.  It also helped that the two properties had by then shared a decades-old connection that made them, if not quite sister properties, then at least close cousins.

In 1987, the Turtles anthology Turtle Soup featured a Sakai-created meeting between ninja turtle Leonardo and Usagi, and Peter Laird later reciprocated in Usagi’s book. Another version of Usagi had also made appearances in the original Turtles cartoon. Heck, when Usagi Yojimbo stopped being published by Fantagraphics, it found a home with Laird and Kevin Eastman’s Mirage Studios, and back when that happened, in 1993, it felt only appropriate to see the new series begin with a story guest-starring the characters with whom  Usagi had for so long shared a relationship.

Yojimbo1That story, which headlines this book and is titled “Shades of Green”, begins when masterless samurai Miyamoto Usagi (a rabbit) and his friend and frequent traveling companion, bounty hunter Murakami Gennosuke (a hard-drinking, hard-living rhinoceros) are attacked a band of Neko Clan (a group of ninja cats who have served as both antagonists and allies throughout the book’s history) for no particular reason.  The two friends’ escape eventually leads them into the path of Kakera, a rat whose pseudo-mystical powers have caused him to be hunted down by the Neko.  Usagi and Gen’s new acquaintance requests the two friends’ aid, and after realizing that they won’t be enough, he uses his don’t-call-them-magic abilities to pierce the veil between universes and bring the turtles to Usagi’s world.

And that’s the setup.  As far as Usagi Yojimbo stories go, it’s not too different from stories Sakai has attempted in the past, and the turtles don’t add as much as one would think. Leonardo gets closest to influencing the plot, and gets a few moments where he reminisces of his past encounter with Usagi, while Michelangelo gets in a few jokes—including one where he questions the foundations of Usagi‘s world of anthropomorphic animals which is the highlight of the story—but aside from that, it’s not the sort of story that required the turtles, and could have worked just as easily without them.

What prevents “Shades of Green” from feeling completely weightless is the way that Sakai manages to use it to move his ongoing plots along.  While the thrust of the story is keeping Kakera (a character who had never appeared before, never appears again, and was, from all appearances, created solely to facilitate the crossover—heck, his name is the Japanese word for “Splinter”, the name of the turtles’ own rat master) away from the Neko Ninja’s clutches, the reason why the rat is being hunted is tied back to previous storylines, and the story ends with a kiss that sets up one of the book’s key relationships going forward.

Of course, even if that had not been the case, a lack of weight or plot progression isn’t necessarily the mark of a bad comic, and Usagi Yojimbo in particular has a history of making even its most trivial-seeming story feel worthwhile.  While this isn’t a story that, strictly speaking, had a reason to exist, it’s still quite enjoyable in a familiar kind of way.  In the end, as a fan of both properties, I’m glad to see them interact in this manner.

Yojimbo2

Shades of Death‘s other big story is “Shi”, which features another take on the tried-and-true Usagi formula of “Usagi visits troubled town, and solves the villagers’ problems via killing.”  This particular version features a love triangle between Usagi, a village girl tired of her provincial life, and her childhood sweetheart; a corrupt magistrate and his treacherous brother, who seek to kill everyone in the village; and a group of assassins with a pun for a name.  It’s not the best of its kind—part of the set-up of this story is that most of the villagers are annoying for different reasons, which logically results in a story with various annoying characters—but it’s still solidly built, and includes some nice set-pieces, particularly in Usagi’s battle with the assassins.

Yojimbo3Rounding out the book are a handful of shorter stories.  The best by a considerable amount is “Jizo”, told from point of view of a statue of the guardian deity of children as it “observes” the events of the day after it is erected. “The Lizard’s Tale” is a humorous dialogue-less story focusing on the tokage, the lizards that make up a large part of the ecosystem in Usagi’s Japan. Finally, there’s a trio of tales starring young Usagi: the first, “Usagi´s Garden”, is a fable about respecting hard work.  The second , “Autumn”, features another Usagi standby, the tale where Usagi is involved in supernatural shenanigans which may or may not have happened but actually did.  Finally, there is “Battlefield”, about the consequences of war both large and small, which serves as a major turning point in Usagi’s journey towards maturity.

Usagi Yojimbo has got to be both the hardest and easiest series to review well.  On one hand, it has, for more than two and a half decades, been a series of consistently superlative craft on all levels.  On the other hand, it has for more than two and a half decades, been a series of consistently superlative craft on all levels.  What is there to say about that, once you’ve said it once?  And if the book is that consistent, why continue buying it?  Why not just buy a sampler, and stop before the law of diminishing returns sets in?

This book, at least, presents a good example of why and how the book manages to so consistently entertain: basically, it’s one of the most versatile books out there.  Depending on what issue one buys, Usagi Yojimbo can be a samurai epic, a detective story, a yarn, a fable, and no matter which it is, one can be almost certain that it will be good.


Verdict:

Issue after issue, one truth remains: Usagi Yojimbo is a very pleasant book. 4 out of 5.

Essential Continuity:
One thing stops this book from being eminently skippable from a mytharc perspective: it features the first meeting between Usagi and Chizu, who will become a major character down the line.

Read first:
Usagi Yojimbo Book 4: The Dragon Bellow Conspiracy, which includes several key events that end up driving the main story here and features the aforementioned Chizu’s first appearance.

Read next:
If you don’t care to look for the other 25 books collecting Usagi’s three comic book series, there’s Don Rosa’s The Life and Times of Scrooge McDuckIt’s like Citizen Kane for kids*.

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* Partly because it has actual references to Citizen Kane.

 

 

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By | Tuesday, March 26, 2013 | 6:36 pm | 5 Comments | Blog > Database Updates

DC

 

Hello faithful TROtskies!! Lee here stepping on Uncle Gorby’s toes for a minute to offer you the tiniest hint of an update. As I’m sure some of you are starting to realize I’m a huge fan of DC and if you didn’t know you do now.  So, I’ve been tasked with updating and completing the DC files. This is a massive task, like, Anti-Monitor massive. What this involves is updating cover images; creators; characters and other assorted information involving links and library numbers. Some of the books have literally no information and I’m starting from scratch, other books are easier to deal with. Over the course of the spring/summer I’m hoping to be able to get most, if not all, of the DC list completed and indexed making it easier for you, our most amazing readers, to find and catalog what you’re looking for. Below is a list of the titles that have been updated, or if you don’t feel like reading the whole list, roughly the first 6 pages have been completed. As always if any of you have suggestions please don’t hesitate to let us know.

Camelot 3000 Deluxe Edition – new cover, creators, isbn etc.
Camelot 3000 – new cover, creators, isbn etc.
The New Teen Titans: The Terror Of Trigon – new cover, creators, characters, isbn etc.
Legion Of Super-Heroes: An Eye For An Eye – new cover, creators, characters, isbn etc.
Batman: The Wrath – new cover, creators, characters, isbn etc.
Nightwing: Year One – new cover, creators, characters, isbn etc.
The New Teen Titans: The Judas Contract – new cover, creators, characters, isbn etc. etc.
Batman: The Greatest Stories Ever Told Vol. 1 – new cover, creators, characters, isbn etc. etc.
Showcase Presents: Captain Carrot – new cover, creators, characters, isbn etc. etc.
The New Teen Titans: Terra Incognito – new cover, creators, characters, isbn etc. etc.
The New Teen Titans Archives Vol. 4 – new cover, creators, characters, isbn etc. etc.
The New Teen Titans Archives Vol. 3 – new cover, creators, characters, isbn etc. etc.
Justice League Of America Vol. 9 – new cover, characters
Showcase Presents: Teen Titans Vol. 2 – new cover, characters, creators, CBDB link
Showcase Presents: Robin The Boy Wonder – new cover, CBDB link
Jack Kirbys OMAC One Man Army Corps Omnibus – new cover
Batman In The Seventies – new cover, characters
Huntress: Dark Knight Daughter – new cover
Superman Archives Vol. 6 – new cover
Showcase Presents: The Haunted Tank Vol. 2 – new cover
Batman: Strange Apparitions – new cover, creators, characters, isbn etc. etc.
The Spirit: Femmes Fatales – new cover
The Robin Archives Vol. 2 – new cover
The Best Of The Spirit – new cover
Superman: The Man Of Tomorrow Archives Vol. 2 – new cover
Batman: The Annuals Vol. 2 – new cover, creators

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By | Sunday, March 24, 2013 | 8:41 am | 32 Comments | Blog > Reviews
Find This Book At:
Amazon
View our database entry (coming soon!)
Publication Date:March 2013
Creators:
Tony Trov, Johnny Zito, Rahzzah

This review contains some spoilers. Skip To The Verdict? »

I knew very little about Moon Girl going into this book. I was aware she was EC Comics’ only superhero created by none other than Max Gaines, the “father of the modern comic book,” in the late 1940s. He’d left All-American Comics, where he published the (not coincidentally) very similar Wonder Woman and started his own line—Educational Comics, specializing in wholesome genre tales. After Gaines’s tragic death, the company was inherited by his son Bill, who would take their magazines in a drastically different direction and cement EC Comics’ place in history as the home of Tales from the Crypt and Crime SuspenStories.

It’s easy to tell from the stories and from the notorious name changes of Moon Girl’s magazine that the younger Gaines had no idea what to do with the character. The first issue went out under the name Moon Girl and the Prince, referring to Prince Mengu, who definitely belongs high on any list of useless superhero sidekicks. For a few more issues it was simply Moon Girl, then when it became clear that the superhero fad was on a downturn and crime stories were on the rise, it became Moon Girl Fights Crime. Finally, Gaines retired the Moon Girl character quietly and revived the rag as a romance magazine. The hero’s name, however, lived on somewhat in the title: A Moon, a Girl…Romance. A few issues later, it became Weird Fantasy, one of the flagship anthology titles of the new EC, and the rest is history.

The original Moon Girl has never been reprinted, but some scans are available online (see below). The stories are fun and pulpy, but fairly mediocre, and they definitely don’t rank among the best work of their excellent creative team—writer Gardner F. Fox and penciller Sheldon Moldoff. There are a few clever send-ups to the old stories in this reboot miniseries from Red 5 Comics, but they aren’t indulgent and they don’t hinder the storytelling.

I’ll be honest: with Moon Girl, I expected just another drop in the bucket of superhero “revisionist” books with nothing more interesting to say than “Look! Superheroes can be screwed up too! Blood! Gore! Sex! Is this literature now?” This book could have easily been sunk by taking itself too seriously. Instead, it’s mercifully self-aware of the inherent absurdity of its genre. This comic is very dark and very violent, but it also has a brain.

Is it a masterpiece? Well, no, but it has a lot going for it. Rahzzah’s lush art is a feast for the eyes. He draws women a bit more buxom than is perhaps necessary, but they aren’t contorting themselves into the absurd Liefeld-esque positions that have become prevalent in far too many books nowadays. The action scenes are bizarre and sometimes hard to follow, but the internal logic keeps it on the rails. By the same token, Zito and Trov’s writing is hardly revolutionary, but they’ve conceptualized their world well. The scenes rarely drag, and while the occasional line of dialogue rings sour, I was only taken out of the story a few times, when the book’s villains would monologue about their political motivations. Which brings me neatly to the book’s events and themes.

Zito and Trov chose to tell their story nonlinearly. I’m not sure why. We’re thrown right into the thick of the action—the first panel is a splash page of Moon Girl punching her nemesis Satana through a window. This was not a particularly good first impression and I expected the rest of the book to be just another dull beat-em-up. Thankfully, I was proven wrong. As the action progressed and the world came into focus I found myself enthralled just trying to piece the puzzle together of these characters’ motivations and why all this was happening. Backstories are told through flashbacks, but I think with maybe a few issues more of breathing room the story would have been more effective if told from beginning to end.

Identity is a prominent theme in the story, with Moon Girl torn between her civilian guise of Clare Lune, her superhero career (which spawned a major counterculture movement), and her supposed past as Russian princess Klara Luna. By the end of the book, I wasn’t sure if the Russian backstory was true at all or just another false memory created by Satana, Sugar Plum Fairy, and Tiki Bob—three admittedly awesome and menacing “villains.” One thing this book makes clear in the generous bonus material that comes after the story—which includes an underground zine featuring pieces attributed to Sartre and Ginsberg—is that the counterculture movement which Moon Girl spawned is split into many factions with many motivations. The hero and villain distinction is arbitrary and media-driven. That’s a cool idea. But I wish that facet of the world was explored more in the actual narrative rather than in the bonus section. What were all those other heroes up to?

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With my first read, I found the ending to be rather sloppily mounted. Something happens to Moon Girl’s brain, then stuff blows up and Sugar Plum talks in circles about what being a superhero means. The last page felt like it should be uplifting with Clare and her friend Star driving off into a new life but I was still trying to parse what exactly just happened a few pages ago—I was no longer as connected to the work as before.

However, on my second read, a lot of subtleties became clear, and what I thought was a half-baked ending turned out to be rather poignant. This is a classic pitfall in superhero books as well as disaster films. All the action feels important, but if the story doesn’t give us an anchor to hold onto—usually a specific character’s perspective—it feels empty. Books like this that come to mind include Black Summer, The Dark Knight Strikes Again, and any of the big event books from DC or Marvel. On the flip side, when Grant Morrison was writing JLA there’d be an earth-threatening crisis every few issues. And Watchmen’s climax has become somewhat notorious for confusing readers. But those books both feature a well-rounded cast and themes that are made clear not through pedantic monologues but through character interactions and world development. Something I noticed while writing this is that I’ve read all of those aforementioned books twice, and the second readings were necessary to pull all the disparate pieces together. The same was true of Moon Girl.


Verdict:
As a revisionist superhero tale, Moon Girl is thought-provoking and sometimes devastatingly clever, particularly when taking into account the bonus material in the back. In fact, I actually recommend reading the bonus section first. As a work of art, the book has its faults but I don’t regret reading it at all and definitely think it’s worth your time. I just wanted more. I know brevity is the soul of wit, but in this case, even after I’d finished it and let the chapters coalesce into what turns out to be quite a complex and intelligent whole, I still felt like there was more story to be told. I give it a 3.6 out of 5.

Essential Continuity:
As a self-contained work it is the only relevant continuity to itself, so yes.

Read first:
Again, I recommend reading the expansive bonus section in the back of the book to get acquainted with this world before starting the story.

Also, here are some links to articles about the original Moon Girl with some story scans. The modern series does not take place in these old stories’ continuity or anything like that, but these articles are still helpful for contextualizing the work. And Sheldon Moldoff art is always worth a look.

Read next:
If you want to read more from Johnny Zito and Tony Trov, they have also collaborated on a book called D.O.G.S. of Mars.

Rahzzah is on DeviantArt and Tumblr.

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