7.29.2008

BG Roundtable: Trading Up

by Chris

With trade paperback collections of old comic series becoming all the rage over the last 5 to 10 years, comic fans have seen numerous old series come back into print. Not only does this make it easier to read complete series of old comics without having to hunt down back issues (although some fans live for that kind of thing), but we also get to see the artwork in all its remastered glory. The downside to this is that the remastering is expensive to do. Publishers do not want to shell out their hard earned money on to remaster just any old comic series and then have the trades sitting unwanted on comic store shelves. They must be discerning in their selections. The fan in all of us has a little list tucked away inside their brain of the comic series we’d love to see get the trade treatment. This week, in what may be a recurring roundtable, my fellow Geniouses and I have each submitted one title we think fandom in general deserves to be exposed to in the trade format.

Matt, our resident Alan Davis fanatic, had this to say: The geek in me would love to see some collected Cloak & Dagger and the early Claremont/Trimpe Captain Britain series, but I think I may be the only one interested in those. One of the runs that I am anxiously awaiting to be collected is Alan Davis' second run on Excalibur. Unfortunately, the Classic Excalibur series of trades is now in danger of being discontinued. On the forum at the Marvel Masterworks Resource Page, VP David Gabriel said, "Excalibur, I think we've done all we can for now."

It would be such a travestry that this run may never be collected. I think that Marvel should put out an Alan Davis Excalibur Visionaries (or something like that) series of trades reprinting his second run, without those horrible fill-in issues. His run is fantastic and imaginative. Alan tied up all the loose ends from the early collaboration with Claremont, but also takes threads from his earlier work on Captain Britain with Jamie Delano and Alan Moore. His stories covered why Excalibur was prone to interdimensional visits, what happened to the Technet and Crazy Gang, why the Captain Britain Corps was created, what happened to Jamie Braddock and Sat-r-nyne, what happened to the Warpies, and he also had Rachel take Excalibur to the "Days of Future Past" timeline to stop the Sentinels. He also introduced a bunch of new characters like Micromax, Kylun, Cerise and Feron. It would reprint Excalibur #42-52, 54-56 and 61-67.

Doug, the old wise man of the group, followed with this: One of my favorite series of the 1980s was Whisper by writer Steven Grant. There were a few issues published by Capital Comics, then the series moved to First Comics (where I discovered it) and ran for 37 issues. Among the artists were Norm Breyfogle, Vince Giarrano, and a young guy named Steve Epting, who has made a bit of a name for himself since then. The series was about a young woman named Alexis Devin, who found herself reluctantly pulled into the world of international espionage and shadow politics; it was very much an indictment of the political shenanigans going on with the Reagan administration and the CIA. Even though Alexis dressed like a ninja, she wasn’t one; she was constantly in over her head. Grant experimented with narration and storytelling in ways I had never seen before. There was a recent Whisper one-shot from BOOM! Studios which Grant wrote, but it featured a new character. With so many of the other First Comics properties (Nexus, Grimjack, American Flagg!, Badger, Jon Sable) returning as either new stories or collections of the old stuff, I think Whisper would make a great collection and it’s just as relevant today as it was then. I wonder if Steve Epting would be willing to contribute a new cover?

Brandon, in a shocking turn of events, did not choose something Star Wars or Punisher related: American Flagg! is probably my favorite series of all time. The lack of trades and the just-released, but slow-to-the-presses-for-three-years, hardcover collection of the first twelve issues has been detrimental for the title. I hope the release of this hardcover will spur more interest in making more trades. This title holds up better than most of the "classics" that are heralded over and over again in the fan community. Howard Chaykin was way ahead of his time. It had it all: action, sex, humor, and intrigue. You can see Chaykin’s footprint in many of the best titles today because he helped broaden the vocabulary of comic book writing and drawing. Despite owning all of the singles issues and being a notorious cheapskate, I would buy the collected editions. Who knows? Maybe Chaykin would return to the property for a new miniseries. I can dream.

Mr. O, the sole Brit voice in this particular roundtable installment, picked something a little more recent: Though there have been two trades produced of the Marvel Knights’ Black Panther series, I do believe that this is a series that deserves the attention of the Collected Editions department. A highly intelligent, politically charged series that was, for me, the highlight of the first year of Marvel Knights and one that is suited more to the trade than to the single issue format. With the jumps in time and the nonliniear storytelling, you can, at times, be frustrated with it in its serial form, but read as one piece, you just enjoy the craftwork of Priest and his artist cohorts.

The later issues toned down the nonlinear storytelling, but did bring in the "numbered story arcs" and, for me, this was the first time I had seen them, again a format suited to the collected edition, as we have finite story arc ready for the trade paperback treatment.

A book with beautiful art, great scripting and storytelling, and with enough of a cult following to make it a success, I really think that this run should be sitting on the book shelves of comic shops and books stores around the world.

Unlike my fellow Geniouses, I went with a book that I’ve never read, but have heard great things about. Strikeforce: Morituri was published by Marvel Comics from 1986 to 1989 and ran for 31 issues (followed by a five issue mini-series entitled Electric Undertow. Written by Peter B. Gillis with art by Brent Anderson, it concerned a future Earth where alien invaders had conquered the human race and are in the process of stripping the planet of its natural resources. A method of giving humans superpowers is developed with the one drawback that the process kills the person within a year. Everything I’ve read about this book makes it sound like an amazing sci-fi story with strong themes of humanity, heroism, and sacrifice. When I’ve read posts discussing the book, they were all positive and, at the same time, regretful that it only lasted 31 issues. Because the writer is not a big name in the industry, I have a feeling that it’s unlikely Marvel will ever put this out in trade, meaning I’ll have to hunt down the back issues. If they did put out a trade, though, I’d snatch it up in a heartbeat.

What series do you think needs the trade paperback treatment?

1 comment:

Mister said...

Strikeforce Morituri is a book I've heard really good things about too Chris, but for some reason I was getting it mixed up with another book, as I was sure it was written by Kurt Buisek and that there was a trade!

The story and name where the same, but the writer was different.

It does seem like a book that deserves the trade treatment, as it is an interesting concept, and there just aren't enough decent sci fi comics out there.

Doug the Whisper series seems pretty interesting too, with the resurgence of First properties, maybe this one will get dusted off and reprinted too.