Amazing Spider-Man Omnibus (GN 2007) Stan Lee, Steve Ditko
I know this is blasphemy, but I often think the first 38 issues of The Amazing Spider-Man are all we need, period. Don’t get me wrong, I like many of the later issues and storylines, but beyond about issue #125 or so, it’s all over for me. That’s the old guy in me speaking out, I guess, but there’s something timeless about the Lee/Ditko issues (all collected in this omnibus) that really never was recaptured again in quite the same way: the quirkiness of Peter Parker, the isolation, loneliness, the pure fun of being Spider-Man and the heartbreak it caused. I love these issues. (Still, although it’s good - and here’s another blasphemy - this is not Steve Ditko’s best work. We’ll reserve that conversation for another time.) Yes, there are some clunkers here, but there’s also magic. If you’ve never read these first 38 issues, do yourself a favor.
Mind MGMT Vol. 2: The Futurist (GN 2013) Matt Kindt
Star Trek: Leonard McCoy, Frontier Doctor (GN 2010) John Byrne
Star Wars, Vol. 1: In the Shadow of Yavin (GN 2013) Brian Wood, Carlos D’Anda
Both titles discussed at Graphic Novel Universe
Mara (GN 2013) Brian Wood, Ming Doyle
Impossible Tales: The Steve Ditko Archives Vol. 4 (GN 2013) Blake Bell, ed.
The Horror! The Horror! Comic Books the Government Didn’t Want You to Read! (NF 2010) Jim Trombetta, ed.
The Horror! The Horror! is an informative look at the horror comics “scandal” (for want of a better term) of the 1950s for those of us who weren’t there (like me) and those who were. Trombetta has assembled an impressive representation of many of the offending stories (or types of stories) and covers that created all the fuss. Trombetta’s essays, while interesting and informative, do tend to run a little long at times, but they’re certainly worthwhile. Less worthwhile, however, is the accompanying DVD (a 30-minute television documentary on the dangers of these comics), which is a mildly interesting curiosity at best. One of the more annoying aspects of books like this is certainly present here: text descriptions of comic covers that are either not included in the book or several pages away without citing the page number. Still, this is an important volume for comics history.
Molly Danger Book One (J GN 2013) Jamal Igle
Delilah Dirk and the Turkish Lieutenant (GN 2013) Tony Cliff
Rachel Rising: The Shadow of Death (GN 2011) Terry Moore
Recommended by my friend Derek at The Comics Alternative, Rachel Rising is a horror comic that has now become for me a must-read. In black and white (and all the creepier for it), Rachel is the creation of Terry Moore, whose Strangers in Paradise I enjoyed, but always felt if Moore got a little edgier, I might enjoy his work more. May I say that with Rachel Rising, Moore has delivered.
The Fifth Beatle: The Brian Epstein Story (GN 2013) Vivek Tiwary, Andrew C. Robinson
Not only is The Fifth Beatle a wonderful tribute to Beatles manager Brian Epstein, it’s also a very moving story gorgeously illustrated by Andrew Robinson. Sometimes Tiwary pushes the metaphors a little too much, but the book still works quite well.