Comics: Christmas Help and Missing Hellblazers

Posted: December 16, 2010 in comic books, Jeff Holland, reviews, Threat Quality
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Thing 1: If you are stumped for a Christmas gift for the comics lover in your life, you could do a lot worse than Atomic Robo. Seriously. I know it can be hard to buy a comic for someone if you don’t really know their tastes, or worse if you don’t really know comics yourself. But after reading the free material on the website and the first collection (“The Fightin’ Scientists of Tesladyne”), I’m pretty sure there is nothing in here that a comic book reader wouldn’t love.

Even one of those jackasses who’s still dressing like Neil Gaiman and insisting that “The Crow” is great because come on, guy, it’s 2010 and is Depeche Mode even still together GAH! Anyway: The enthusiastic awesomeness of AR might be just the thing to get them to realize comics aren’t just for moping around like a wiener. (If you’d like a less confrontational gift, get them The Umbrella Academy: Apocalypse Suite, because it turns out My Chemical Romance singer Gerard Way is actually a pretty great comic book writer.)


Thing 2: As a teenager searching for comics to get out of the superhero comfort zone, I was lucky enough because Vertigo was really in its heyday, and its flagship character – chain-smoking blue-collar con-magician John Constantine – is pretty much custom-made for that purpose.

What amazed me reading a recent collection, “Rare Cuts,” made up of previously unreleased Hellblazer stories by two of the major series writers – Jamie Delano and Garth Ennis – along with some guy named Grant Morrison – was the “Constantine Timeline” in the back of the copy.

It reminded me that over three years, Paul Jenkins wrote the book, with art from Sean Phillips. This is a HUGE chunk of comics, from two well-regarded talents in the industry. And yet none of it has ever been collected. Wonder why that is? The vast majority of the series has been. Vertigo even goes back and fills in gaps in runs with new trades (such as “Rare Cuts,” “Resurrected,” and the monster Bloodlines collection that made all Garth Ennis’s run available).

But there’s this gaping hole where the second longest writer’s run on the book has completely vanished unless you want to dig through back-issue bins.

Which I guess begs the question: is it just that awful or something? Jenkins isn’t my cup of tea, exactly, but in a world where Brian Azzarello’s off-putting run is readily available, that’s just damned weird.


Thing #3: Thanks to the powerful catalog merger of the House of Montco and the House of Providence, I have more library access than ever, and you know what that means: reading a ton of Spider-Man comics.

And I gotta tell you, these last few years of Amazing Spider-Man have been pretty great.

NOBODY could have seen this coming three years ago, when this happened.

I mean, think about it, someone tells you, “Y’know, I might not agree that Spider-Man’s wife selling their marriage to the devil so that a bullet-riddled octogenarian could live a few more years was the best way to streamline the comics, but…damned if it didn’t do the trick!”

You’re not going to believe them, right?

But seriously, I’ve just read the first year’s worth of the “Brand New Day” era of Amazing Spider-Man, and hot-damn are these some good Spider-Man books. They’re funny, there’s a recognizable supporting cast, Spider-Man’s not nearly as angsty as he had been, the single title means you can follow a bunch of solid subplots, J. JONAH JAMESON BECOMES THE MAYOR (sorry, it’s a spoiler, but it’s just too damn great)…

Granted, a lot of this is simply the result of putting good writers (Mark Waid, Joe Kelly, Dan Slott) with strong senses of humor on the book after a long J. Michael Straczynski slog of a run, but hey, whatever it took.

So yeah, take this as the official TQP stance: “If you can ignore a previous story involving the devil buying a superhero’s marriage license, then you’ll enjoy Amazing Spider-Man!”

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