Weekly Book Buzz: Preparing for the Christmas Rush - Mania.com

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Weekly Book Buzz: Preparing for the Christmas Rush

We Review 100 Comic Books You Must Read

By Tim Janson     November 17, 2009

1000 Comics You Must Read by Tony Isabella
© Krause Publications


I’ve been writing the Book Buzz column for about 18 months now and this week is without a dout the lightest release week I have ever seen. We have a few releases of interest to genre fans but that’s about it. This is all in preparation for next week…Black Friday…the traditional start to the Christmas shopping season. Many retailers will even be rolling out deals before Friday and next week promises to be a huge week.
Onto this week’s slight new releases…
X-Files  (Wildstorm Graphic Novel)
THE X-FILES lives on in this new collection that serves as a "lost" season of the smash-hit TV series. Mulder and Scully are sent to San Francisco to solve a string of murders, then become targets of the Tong underworld and travel to the mysterious Badlands to investigate a series of disappearances in this title collecting THE X-FILES #0-6.
The Astounding Wolf-Man Volume 3 Robert Kirkman (Image Comics)
When Gary Hampton is mauled and left for dead, his life takes a drastic turn. Gary is cursed - when the moon is full he transforms into a beast of the night - a werewolf. When his life is torn apart, Gary Hampton must rebuild, but can he do so from behind bars?
Star Trek: The Art of the Film Mark Cotta Vaz (Titan Books Hardcover)
Director J.J. Abrams’ new vision of the greatest space adventure of all time, Star Trek features a young, new crew venturing boldly where no man has gone before, as it tells the story of how the brash Starfleet cadet James T. Kirk first meets a Vulcan named Spock, and earns the Captain’s chair of the Starship Enterprise. The film quickly became a critical and commercial smash hit worldwide, as audiences — confirmed Trekkers and newcomers alike — thrilled to a state-of-the-art action epic which both respected the legacy of Gene Roddenberry’s archetypal modern myth and forged ahead into an exciting future of its own.
Star Trek: The Art of the Film is a lavishly illustrated celebration of that new vision, tracing the evolution of the movie’s look through a stunning array of previously unseen pre-production paintings, concept sketches, costume and set designs, unit photography and final frames.
Clint Eastwood Icon: The Ultimate Film Art Collection David Frangioni (Insight Editions Hardcover)
Clint Eastwood is not only a man. He is a nameless vigilante, a vengeful detective, a bare-knuckle boxer, a Secret Service agent, and countless other definitive screen archetypes now embedded in our shared pop-culture consciousness. However you define him, Clint Eastwood has a powerful and extremely recognizable image that exists as something beyond the narratives of his films.
Clint Eastwood ICON presents an unprecedented collection of film art surrounding the legendary actor. This comprehensive trove gathers together poster art, lobby cards, studio ads, and esoteric film memorabilia from around the world. From his early roles as the nameless gunslinger in Sergio Leone’s Spaghetti Westerns, to the vigilante films of the 1970s and 1980s, through his directorial roles and latest releases, Clint Eastwood ICON captures the powerful presence and quiet intensity that turned Eastwood into the definitive American hero.
1,000 Comic Books You Must Read Tony Isabella (Krause Hardcover)
The volume of stunning artistry and memorable characters in this one-of-a-kind guide is staggering, and entices both avid collectors and casual fans. Readers will find comic books from various genres, produced between 1930 and the present, each represented by its cover and background details including publisher, year of imprint, series and issue numbers, intriguing story notes and the reason it was chosen for this unique book.
1,000 Comic Books You Must Read Tony Isabella (Krause Hardcover)
Longtime comic book writer and reviewer Tony Isabella presents a gift for comic book fans…his picks for the 1000 comic books you must read. Now note that this isn’t necessarily meant to be the greatest comics although certainly many would fall into that category, or perhaps most important might even be more appropriate. Isabella has segmented his book by decade beginning with the hero who started it all, Superman, an continuing with a look at each decade leading off with the 1940s and continuing to new Millennium. 
A picture of each and everyone of the thousand comics is included along with the issue #, artist and writer credits, publisher, and date. Isabella then gives a one paragraph note about why the issue was included in the book. The diversity of titles is extraordinary! As comic fans we sometimes get wrapped up too much into superhero titles. Comics, especially back in the 1940s and 1950s were an incredible mixed bag: action, war, horror, humor, detective, science fiction, romance, and westerns all enjoyed their eras of popularity and they are well-represented in the book. 
Yes the major issues are hit upon: .Marvel Comics #1. Flash Comics #1, More Fun Comics #52 (the First Spectre), Detective Comics #27, All-Star Comics #3…the key titles of the Golden Age are all included. But what’s also included is the lesser known books like Quality’s Police Comics #1; Jumbo Comics #48 with its fabulous Sheena cover; Frankenstein Comics #1; and Santa Claus Funnies in Four Color #128. I was especially pleased to see Isabella did not overlook many of the great 50s and 60s humor comics like The Adventures of Jerry Lewis and Bob Hope. Disney Comics are well represented as well.
Could I argue on a few things with Isabella? Sure..like how the new Millennium section gets a longer section than the 70s, 80s, or 90s and the decade is not even over yet. Still, the 60s gets it due justice as arguably the comic book industry’s most important decade with fifty pages of content. Sure we can say there’s books that should have been included. 1974 saw the first appearances of two of Marvel’s most popular characters of the past 25 years, The Punisher (Spiderman #129) and Wolverine (Hulk #180) and neither are included. But hey, that’s what makes books like this so fun. 
Isabella even gives you tips on how you can find these must reads. I’ll give you a tip , too, be a millionaire! Grade A
Kull: The Shadow Kingdom (Dark Horse Comics Graphic Novel)
The Shadow Kingdom was one of two original Robert E. Howard Kull stories that were published in his lifetime, this one in Weird Tales August, 1929. Howard’s other barbarian has always been a bit of the red-headed stepchild when it comes to Howard’s works. He’ll always take a back seat to Conan. The stories were written earlier in Howard’s career and before he had truly developed his style to perfection. Still Kull isn’t just an early draft for Conan…While Kull’s world was not as developed as Conan’s Hyborian Age milieu, Kull’s Thurian Age world was older and showed some early influence of H.P. Lovecraft on Howard with old Gods and Howard’s Serpent race would be utilized by both Lovecraft and Clark Ashton Smith in their own stories. 
The Shadow Kingdom is set just after Kull has taken the throne of Valusia. Yet the usurper has many enemies still plotting his downfall, not the least of which is the ancient race of Serpent Men, thought extinct. The Serpent Men are able to change their appearance to take on the guise of men and soon they have infiltrated Kull’s court. Kull meets for the first time his longtime companion and bodyguard, Brule the Spear-Slayer, a Pictish warrior who aids Kull against the Serpent Men.
As Howard stories go, The Shadow Kingdom is on the bland side. Again, Howard was only 23 when he wrote the story is a bit short of plot although its paced well thanks to a judicious amount of action scenes. Will Conrad’s art is very strong, particularly his take on the Serpent Men. Kull is perhaps on the lean side but why argue details. It’s great to see Kull back in comics again. While he’ll never eclipse Conan, he has a certain flair…a little more of a brooder and less emotional than Conan. Grade B


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Hobbs 11/18/2009 6:52:57 AM

Tim, you forgot to mention Sarah Palins book.  No better piece of genre fiction out there this week.


okay, just a joke.  I couldn't resist that one.



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