Waited for the Trade: Fear, Fighting, Killing & Birth

by Dan

I don't wait for trades. Trades wait for me. In a big random stack next to my bed. Okay, so the X-O Manowar hardcover is new and I did wait for the trade on BPRD, but I've kept Goon Vol. 0 and the second K Chronicles compendium waiting a good ol' while. The question is, why?

Fear of a Black Marker: Another K Chronicles Compendium - The second collection of Keith Knight's cartoon strip is even more fun than the sheep lovin' good time of Dances with Sheep. Many of the strips are comedic, observational, slice-of-life tales. Nothing is slap-your-knee, laugh-out-loud funny, but every page leaves you smiling. Knight addresses everything from family to race to politics to his hip hop band, Marginal Prophets (check out their album Bohemian Rap CD for some fun stuff). 130 pages of smart, funny, well-drawn, wordy strips that everyone can relate to. A

Check out more Keef-tastic stuff here.

The Goon Vol. 0: Rough Stuff - Eric Powell's first self-published three-issue attempt at telling the story of the Goon. All the basics are here, but as the title suggests, it's all a little rough. The Goon and Franky are drawn in a mostly recognizable fashion, but the Goon's giant overbite in these early appearances is oddly distracting. The intro page to this collection actually makes note of the artistic changes and goofs on oddball creative decisions (even by Goon standards) in an incredibly funny, self-deprecating way. But, dammit, I want more talking chainsaws! B+

BPRD Vol. 8: Killing Ground - I have a hard time getting into the Hellboy series. I blame my inability to comprehend metaphor. But these BPRD books about the supporting cast are just rip-roaring fun. This volume is a bit frustrating as nothing in particular gets resolved. More than anything, it's just some excellent horror comic with a crazy Wendigo, two mystery men infiltrating the BPRD headquarters, a hero showing his true fangs and lots and lots of blood. Killing Ground does move the major plot points forward, but just doesn't give any satisfactory conclusions. B

X-O Manowar: Birth - This is a collection of X-O Manowar #0-6 with a new 10 page story. I actually read these issues about six years ago and I think I enjoyed it more in its original format. I don't know if the idea of a 6th century Visigoth in 20th century New York with the most powerful alien suit of armor ever just didn't work as well the second time around, or if the technical flaws in this hardcover edition ruined the fun.

At first, I thought it was just a case of bad lettering in the original comics. However, a page-to-page comparison shows that for this edition, Valiant Entertainment chose to shrink the panels to the point where the lettering now butts into the panel's border. Additionally, they've noticeably cut off the tops and bottoms of many splash pages. Finally, a big draw of these editions is supposed to be the recoloring by the original colorists. Sadly, the changes are too subtle to make any impact.

But for all those complaints, there is a lot of good too. The art from Joe Quesada and Steve Ditko, #0 and #6, respectively, is outstanding. And there really is something refreshing (or is it just nostalgia kicking in?) about the shared universe that Valiant did so well and Valiant Entertainment is honoring by releasing these hardcovers. The first hardcover was Harbinger, a team of super powered kids fighting the good fight. No one would be lost reading X-O without that, but when the kids show up in the fourth chapter here, it adds a wonderful extra layer. B-


The General said...

I'm actually curious to leaf through the X-O Manowar book. I remember that, when the Valiant stuff was originally released, I could never get into it, but I often found it was the coloring of all things that turned me off. Knowing that the stuff is recolored makes me curious to see if it has more appeal now.

Brandon said...

I picked up the first ten X-O issues several years ago for around $5 (I'm cheap). It was worth the Lincoln, but not much more. I keep telling myself that I may pick up the remainder of the issues, but alas, nothing has entered my el-cheapo price range.