2007 Wrap Party: Top 10 Requested Trades

Howdy, cowpokes!

I figured I'd close out 2007 and look forward to 2008 at the same time. This Christmas, I got a bunch of trade paperbacks and hardcovers that just look pretty on my bookshelf. I completed my set of DC's 52 trades (including World War III), made headway on Jack Kirby's Fourth World Omnibus collection with the first three volumes, ditto with Vertigo's Y The Last Man collections with volumes 5-9, started and finished X-Men: The Complete Age of Apocalypse Epic (4 volumes), and even got The Avengers: Operation Galactic Storm and Jae Lee's Hellshock in trade. But, as always, there are books out there on my "wish list"--stuff the Big Two have yet to release in trades for whatever reason (not even one volume of them--that's my caveat), that I really want to see. Without further ado, I'd like to fill you guys in on my 2008 Wanted Trades (and Hardcovers, too!)...

10) Secret Wars II Omnibus (Marvel Comics) Yes, my first choice may be reviled among comic historians, but the second Secret Wars effort from Jim Shooter & co, bringing the Beyonder to Earth and teaching him how to use the bathroom, was goofy 80s fun, and should be reprinted as threatened, with the deluxe Omnibus treatment, including all of the crossovers that Marvel can get the rights to (guessing that counts out Transformers and Micronauts to name two). If nothing else, it's an intriguing study in a line-wide crossover, and the do's and don't's of such an undertaking.

9) Essential Master of Kung Fu (Marvel Comics) It should happen. Marvel must get the rights for Fu Manchu from the Sax Rohmer Estate so that it can republish, in glorious black-and-white, its most masterful achievement of the 1970s. Created by Steve Englehart and Jim Starlin, innovated by Doug Moench and a host of artists including Paul Gulacy, Mike Zeck, and Gene Day, the adventures of kung-fu master Shang Chi, son of the most infamous criminal mastermind who ever lived, were a testament to the creativity present at the House of Ideas. The series actually outsold The Amazing Spider-Man at the apex of its run! What's more "Essential" than that? In the words of Stan Lee, "'Nuff said!"

8) The Incredible Hulk: Days of Rage (Marvel Comics) The Hulk has had some interesting stories in his 45-year history, but this is the one that made me a fan for life. After years, Bruce Banner had finally learned to control his inner beast, asserting his intellect in the Hulk's body, receiving a Presidental pardon, becoming the hero he knew he could be. And then, with the prodding of Nightmare, it all fell apart, and the Hulk became even more of a monster than ever before. Certainly an influence on World War Hulk, this story by Bill Mantlo and Sal Buscema, from Incredible Hulk #292-300, with flashbacks of the previous dozen or so issues, deserves to be in a format where it can be appreciated for all time.

7) Legion Lost (DC Comics) It may not matter anymore because of the recent continuity revamps that have affected the Legion. In fact, there's no group I can think of in recent history that has been revamped as much as the Legion, and yet I keep hearing good things about this 12-issue miniseries by writers Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning and artist Olivier Coipel. It's tough to find, so tough I haven't read it at all. In fact, I really can't say anything else about it. It may just be DC's very own Avengers Forever. Trade it already, DC?

6) Marvel Visionaries: Warren Ellis (Marvel Comics) Okay, I have given in. Although I don't care for much of what was ultimately done with the character as a result, Warren Ellis resurrected the character of Daimon Hellstrom from the ashes, taking over from writers Rafael Nieves and Len Kaminski and forming a truly dark book out of the final ten issues of Hellstorm: Prince of Lies, and even stretched the awesome to the seldom-heard-of Druid miniseries, in which Hellstrom guest-starred. Both of these works should be collected in one sturdy super-volume, with additional introspections by Ellis himself. It's just the kind of dark drama that Ellis is having fun with over in Thunderbolts. So why not? C'mon already, Marvel!

5) The Avengers: The Crossing (Marvel Comics) The 90's were a period where Marvel pushed out too many comics, and too many crossovers, and nobody celebrated excess like Terry Kavanagh and Ben Raab, both of whom show up guilty as charged in this "status-quo-shaking" epic starring the Avengers, Force Works (the West Coast Avengers by any other name), and War Machine. Betrayed by Iron Man, the Avengers are faced with the ultimate scheme of the time-traveling villain, Kang, and his band of ne'er-do-wells from the future, including analogues of some Avengers mainstays. Though later retconned in Avengers Forever, this storyline still holds a special place in the hearts of some fans, and a two-volume uber-collection would be a worthwhile effort. Plus, some of the creative people in this storyline have gone to bigger and better things, Mike Deodato and Jim Cheung among them.

4) Jack Kirby's The Demon (DC Comics) Come on, DC! You've been republishing Kirby's Fourth World stuff, Kamandi is on its umpteenth Archives volume, OMAC is getting a hardcover early next year...what's your excuse with Kirby's immortal demonic creation? Although certainly there's more mileage in the Ennis/McCrea Demon of more recent vintage, I haven't even seen these Demon epics, and I'm guessing very few others have lately, too. Releasing a hardcover edition of all 16 issues would be a godsend...or maybe a demon-send.

3) Essential Morbius, The Living Vampire (Marvel Comics) While Marvel's certainly been releasing the horror titles of the 70s in the Essentials format with relish, this morsel would truly make the collection complete. start with Morbius' appearances in the Spider-Man titles up through his cure (Peter Parker, The Spectacular Spider-Man #38), stir in Morbius' own solo black-and-white adventures from Vampire Tales and Marvel Preview, add a drop of his color solo series in Adventure Into Fear, then sprinkle in guest-shots with the Thing (Marvel Two-In-One #15), the Werewolf By Night (Giant-Size Werewolf #4), and Legion of Monsters (Marvel Premiere #28), and you'd have yourself a nifty volume featuring every single appearance of the living vampire at a bargain cost.

2) Spider-Man: The Complete Clone Saga Epic (Marvel Comics) The title sort of says it all, doesn't it? Love it or hate it, there was no higher point in the Spiderverse during the 1990s than The Clone Saga. Ben Reilly injected some much-needed drama and compelling storylines into the Spider-titles, bringing with him a host of new supporting cast members and villains, like Seward Trainer, Desiree Winthrop, Judas Traveller, Scrier, a rejuvenated Jackal, Kaine, Armada, and more (many of whom haven't been seen since). Although a scant few pieces of the overall puzzle have been traded to date (Clone Genesis collecting the original 70's saga; The Lost Years collecting that miniseries; Revelations which collected the saga's ultimate storyline; and some issues were collected in the Onslaught trades), the whole thing deserves the star treatment, with text pieces bridging the gaps and whatever's decided as relatively unimportant. The first trade should include "The Double" and "The Parker Legacy" (both backup tales first banded together in Lost Years #0), The Lost Years miniseries proper, the Ben Reilly cameos from the months immediately preceding the actual start of the new Clone Saga, then "Power & Responsibility," "The Exile Returns," and "Back From The Edge," plus Spider-Man Unlimited #7, getting the next volume ready for "Web of Life" and "Web of Death" as well as everything else that culminated in The Amazing Spider-Man #400, still what I consider to be the best Spidey book ever. And then it goes onward from there. Wouldn't it be great?

1) I...Vampire! (DC Comics/Vertigo) This book is as close to perfect as anything written by, oh, four main writers could be. Collecting The House of Mystery #290-291, 293, 295, 297, 299, and 302-319, the series followed Andrew Bennett, a British nobleman who was transformed into a vampire and who then transferred the curse to his lover, Mary Seward, who was overwhelmed by evil and turned against him, forming the Cult of the Blood Red Moon. Together with two humans, Bennett fought the cult in all their guises. The series was created by J.M. DeMatteis & Tom Sutton in 1981 and continued through a few other writers (Bruce Jones, then Dan Mishkin & Gary Cohn) before coming to its conclusion in 1983. It had great covers by Michael Kaluta and Joe Kubert. Tom Sutton stayed aboard for most of the run to provide interior art. The series would fit nicely in a 300-page trade or hardcover, with plenty of room for some nifty extras. It would fit better under the Vertigo banner than the traditional DC one, save for one appearance by Batman (Brave and the Bold #195, which is the only appearance Bennett made outside HoM).

What do you think, sirs?



Pre-Aftersmash Hulkish thoughts


Thought it was time to stop re-editing stuff into and out of the previous segment and just start a new post. This one's inspired by Lance Eason and paolo, posters on the Hulk Message Board.

First up, some thoughts on Rick Jones' "death": although I'm sure he's not dead, the threat of the death was an interesting and evocative point, as Lance said. After all, the Hulk came into being through a selfless act--Dr. Robert Bruce Banner's rescue of Rick Jones by pushing him into the trench on the G-bomb testing site. Banner might think all of the Hulk's actions are worth his initial sacrifice to save Rick...with the threat that his actions here, preaching to Miek, now contributed indirectly to Rick's possible death, well, that's got to be more than Banner and the Hulk can take. Plus, again, thanks to Lance--there's some nice symmetry to the end of this story with Rick and Bruce in reversed roles, the former having the opportunity to save the latter's life this time around. Nice catch, Lance!

Second, some thoughts about Miek: yes, he's set up as a dark double to the Hulk, with the parallels to the Hulk and following the credo of "Never stop making them pay." Simply put, things happened such that Miek's entire hive is effectively extinct with the current generation. (Nevermind the hive he tried to have with No-Name Brood--Humbug took care of them in Heroes For Hire #15.) He believes that if his people are going to die out, what use is there in living...what use is there in the whole universe living? But he's got a hangup about what he can do about it, so rather than doing the dirty work himself, he'd rather manipulate the being he sees as given to him tailor-made for destruction. (Remember his continued denials that he was the Sakaarson and the World Breaker, from the very first moment such thoughts were brought up.) And he wants everyone, everywhere to pay for the death of his hive. That's his motivation; he's a nihilist, but overall, a cowardly one. Time will tell whether he will actually learn from his mistakes, learn to take matters in his own hands, or throw in with another party willing to do what the Hulk wouldn't.

Okay, time for paolo and the Sentry fight. A lot of people still quarrel and call the fight a stalemate, that it didn't really solve anything. I call BS. I'm looking at it this way: these two had an all out, balls-to-the-wall brawl, expending so much energy each at a sustained length such that it actually caused them both to revert to their regular mortal forms. Hulk burned off his gamma. Sentry burned off....Sentry juice. (That sounds icky.) Who had enough energy left at the end of that to deliver the final punch? The Hulk, Bruce Banner--his eyes were still green with gamma energy. Sentry...didn't show any signs of Sentry-ness at the end. His energies were expended all the way, after taking what the Hulk dished out--the Hulk took what the Sentry had, metamorphosed back to Banner, and kept going. How is this not a mark in the "W" column for the Hulk? *sigh*

There seems to be something for every Hulk fan in the next few months. (SPOILER WARNING for those who want to stay surprised!) Kate Waynesboro seems to have rejoined the ranks of S.H.I.E.L.D. in Warbound #1, and there are rumblings the big bad of that mini is none other than the Leader. (Greg Pak has been quoted as saying that #3 of the series will have plenty of Bill Mantlo-era goodness.) On top of that, in the newly-christened The Incredible Hercules series, rumor has it it won't be long before the Pantheon crashes the party. And of course we'll have our fair share of Sakaarian coolness in both Warbound with the Hulk's group on Earth, and the post-apocalypse Sakaar in the spinoff Skaar, Son of Hulk.

Something else good did come out of WWH, and it's found in the four-issue miniseries World War Hulk: Gamma Corps. If you didn't follow this mini, you need to pick it up, either in the single issues or the inevitable trade paperback collection. Frank Tieri and Carlos Ferreira crafted a tale bringing together different characters with DNA from gamma-endowed creatures spliced in. They each have their own unique stories to tell and some are even tied into the Hulk mythos from before they got their new abilities. They're all corralled by General Ryker from Paul Jenkins' short run on the Hulk book. It's a good story backed up by solid art, and it introduces some characters that should have a good impact on future Hulk stories. And how about the irony of the character of Mess! Definitely a diamond in the rough, here. Highly recommended!

For my New Year's resolution, I'd like to see more of Bruce Banner in the Hulk book. Greg P., as much as you said Bruce would be an important part of the mythos, a few placeholder panels and the feeling of importance is no substitute for some genuine dialogue and psychology! Maybe Jeph Loeb will achieve more of a balance...if the red Hulk is Banner....