BG Roundtable: Trading Up

by Chris

Welcome to the second installment of Trading Up, where the expert dorks at the Bad Genious tell you what comic series are good enough to be put into trade paperback, but that publishers, in their ignorance, haven't gotten around to. We've changed the format a bit this time around to a more discussion oriented approach. Read on and be enlightened!

Let's start off with my recommendation this time around:

Chris: I'm actually going to combine two series for my entry this month since they're tied pretty closely together. I am recommending All-Star Squadron and Infinity, Inc.. With the popularity of Geoff Johns' JSA and Justice Society of America series these days, this would be the perfect time to trade both of these series. Johns' books, while new reader friendly, are, at the same time, very continuity heavy. They reference things that happened in both of these books, or I assume they do anyway...I've never read a single issue of either one. All-Star Squadron tells the stories of the JSA while Infinity, Inc. tells of the adventures of the JSA members' children. Many of the characters in these books are in the Justice Society today. Knowing the history of these characters would give me a much greater appreciation for the stories that Johns is telling.

I also have an ulterior motive for wanting reprints of Infinity, Inc.: I am a huge Todd McFarlane fan and he drew about 20 issues of that title early on in his career.

After Crisis on Infinite Earths, All-Star Squadron was canceled and replaced with Young All Stars, so I'd probably be interested in trades of this as well.

Doug: Actually, All Star Squadron is more than just the Golden Age Justice Society...it's pretty much EVERY Golden Age DC hero. The JSA members pretty quickly take a backseat to more obscure characters like Johnny Quick, Liberty Belle, and Robotman. Characters like the Freedom Fighters also show up briefly. But that actually makes it an even better idea for the trade treatment, since so many of those characters did start to show up in modern DC books post-ASS. You had Johnny Quick in Flash, the Freedom Fighters have been rebooted and had a couple of recent minis, and of course Liberty Belle and Johnny Quick have a daughter in the current Justice Society. The Shining Knight was also an ASS member and he was given the Grant Morrison treatment in 7 Soldiers.

Young All-Stars isn't nearly as essential...I think the only character from that book who shows up now is Iron Monroe, who is in Manhunter these days.

Chris: I'd never even heard of it before, but I came across it reading the Wikipedia page on ASS and figured I'd mention it since Roy Thomas wrote it and it was essentially a continuation.

Tyler: I have to admit I'd have a passing interest in Infinity Inc., since I had a friend growing up who collected it. I'd never read his issues, because they didn't have an "X" on the cover, but he maintained they were really good.

Then Devin popped in and gave us his $0.02.

Devin: Hitman needs to be finished. I think they only got about half of the series collected in trade and that was a while ago. It's a solid series, back from Ennis' glory days (i.e., when Preacher was coming out) and was about a superpowered (though he, like most of Ennis' super powered characters, rarely used them) hitman working in Gotham City. Some really great characters, hilarious plays on DC superheroes, and also quite possibly one of the top ten Superman stories. Where's the love for Tommy Monaghan (no, not the Dominos Guy)?

Doug: And Nat the Hat! And Baytor!

Chris: I'm not a huge Ennis fan. I loved his Punisher run, but his other stuff seems so over the top (I have pretty much zero interest in Preacher). Hitman, however, intrigues me.

Doug: Well, Hitman was a DC Universe book, so it does have to stay within the limits of good taste for that line of books. Which it does. Even if just barely.

Matt: I am not a huge fan of Ennis, but I would buy Hitman.

Doug: Hitman really is a great book. Sure, some of it is over-the-top, but a lot of it is really heartfelt and excellent.

Matt, our resident Alan Davis whore, proceeded to shock us by recommending a series that Davis didn't draw!

Matt: A series that I would love to see collected is the first volume of the Marvel UK Knights of the Pendragon series.

Marvel's description of the series: Since the days of King Arthur, and possibly earlier, the mystical Green Knight has granted Pendragon spirit-power to certain individuals in times of great need. In recent times, the Pendragon of Sir Gawain possessed policeman Dai Thomas. Dai, Captain Britain (Brian Braddock) and journalist Kate McClellan encountered the Green Knight, who was weakening due to mankind's environmental abuse. Dai sacrificed his power to bolster the Knight's failing strength. Shortly after, a Pendragon possessed Kate McClellan's son Cam, who fell into the clutches of the Bane, the Pendragons' arch foes led by Grace. Cam's teacher, Peter Hunter, formerly the Merlin Pendragon-powered hero Albion, gathered several Pendragons to fight the Bane: Union Jack (Lancelot), Kate McClellan (Guinevere), and author Ben Gallagher (Percival). Aided by Captain Britain, Iron Man (Tony Stark), and the Green Knight, the Pendragons prevented an attempted resurrection of Bane demi-god, the Red Lord (Bodb Derg), saved the Spanish town of Joselito from toxic devastation, and seemingly defeated Grace. Peter took the spirit from Cam, regaining his former powers.

The Knights of Pendragon set up a base of operations at Camelaird farm in Wiltshire with assistance from Tony Stark. Union Jack, Kate, and Ben fought Bane ivory poachers in Wakanda with help from the Black Panther, Mister Fantastic, and the Invisible Woman. The Bane conspired to separate the team, and picked the Pendragons off one by one. With Ben and Union Jack dead, and the Black Panther hospitalized, Albion was then executed as part of a ceremony to resurrect the Red Lord. Adam Crown (King Arthur) sensed their deaths and traveled to Avalon. The Green Knight resurrected all the dead Pendragons, as Adam summoned every Pendragon past or present, including the Black Panther, Captain Britain, Dai Thomas, and Iron Man, in order to fight the Bane's army. Adam drove the Bane spirit out of Grace, forcing the enemy to withdraw. Ben Gallagher died in combat, prompting Kate to leave the team and finish Ben's book.

This series was written by Dan Abnett and John Tomlinson with early art by Gary Erskine. Erskine's art is rough in some places but the writing is sharp throughout. There have been many King Arthur-type stories in comics but this one is tops.

Chris: This series, in fact, is on my list of stuff I'd like to see traded. I love fantasy and I love superheroes. This sounds like a perfect combination. Of course, since you picked it, Matt, I was expecting to see that Alan Davis had handled some of the art chores!

Matt: Most of Alan's stuff has been traded. He did do some of the covers however!

Once Matt had saved his reputation in the eyes of the BG, Patrick stopped by

Patrick: One run I would like to see is some more of Busiek's run on Thunderbolts. There has only been a collection of the first 6 issues or so. This was a good run, that would read good in trade. So why haven't they done it?

Matt: I agree. I would pick up those Thunderbolts trades.

Chris: There was such a smooth transition from Busiek to Nicieza on the first run that those should be collected as well. Plus, the series had some great artwork by Mark Bagley and Patrick Zircher (who is highly underrated).

Mr. O: That's a great series, and really does need trading. I think there are two Busiek trades out there, Justice like Lightning and then one other.

Patrick: I think the other trade is just the first 3 issues, which are also in Justice Like Lightning.

Mr. O: Ah ok, so not worth tracking down then.

We were then graced with the sage wisdom of Old Man Doug...

Doug: I'd like to see an Essential Inhumans trade paperback. With the Inhumans having such a high profile in the Marvel events of the past few years, it seems like a great time to catch people up on their Silver Age adventures, all of which could be collected in one Essential volume. You could include their key early appearances from Fantastic Four, their nine issues of Amazing Adventures, and the 12-issue Inhumans series from the mid-1970s. Maybe even include the pair of one-shots they had in the early '90s (pre-Marvel Knights Jenkins/Lee).

Chris: Personally, I don't have much interest in the Inhumans and I really don't like the Essential format (they were drawn with being colored in mind and, dammit, I want to see it colored!). However, I'm sure there are a number of fans out there that would snatch this up in a heartbeat.

The it was time to hear from our British contingent:

Yassir: Shade, the Changing Man really deserves to be traded. It was such a wacky, surreal series that also spoke about America. I think it would read great in trades as there were things set up early on that had a pay off much later.

Doug: Plus, the original artist on the book was Chris Bachalo, who has a pretty high profile now.

Yassir: Yup, although his art then is miles apart from how it is now.

Chris: There's one trade out already, The American Scream, that collects the first six issues, but yeah, this is another series I'd love to read.

Last, but not least, the other half of our British pair:

Mr. O: Deathlok, which was part of the Marvel Tech line that lasted less than a year, was a stand out book, with gritty art by Leonardo Manco and a great writing by Joe Casey. This was while Joe was still on the rise, and hadn't quite made the "A" list. He was an up and coming writer, writing with passion and mixing classic storytelling with new and interesting ideas.

The series only lasted 11 issues, but all where brilliant, well crafted, and beautifully drawn. It was the stand out book in this awful line. The story was grounded in the family of a S.H.I.E.L.D. agent who worked on the Deathlok project and his son who's body was telepathically possessed by the Deathlok cyborg "essence". I don't really remember the whole story and for this reason alone I'd love there to be a trade of this series out there.

He isn't the greatest character out there, he doesn't have a huge following, but books like this, little gems in the rough, always need to be brought to greater attention and more people should experience a job well done. Even Kurt Busiek at the time said he loved it, and couldn't wait to get the next issue, as it was such a well crafted tale.

Chris: Yup, I remember reading this when it came out and thinking it was intelligently written with gorgeous artwork. It was head and shoulders above the rest of the M Tech line. As I still have the singles, I might not buy the trade, but I'd recommend it highly to others.

Doug: Have they ever collected the original Deathlok stories from the 1970's? As many times as they've tried the revive the concept, you would think they'd reprint those stories.

Mr. O: I think there was a Deathlok Essential, at some point, but I'm not sure. This Casey run was really my introduction to the character.

After some investigation, Mr. O came back: Nope I must have been imagining it.

Well, that takes care of this installment of Trading Up. Check us out next time when we tell publishers what they should be putting into trade!

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