Welcome back. Like a lot of comic book fans, I have a bookshelf full of trade paperbacks and graphic novels. I’ve been having fun writing about the books on my shelf- why I bought them, why I liked them, and whatever other thoughts pop into my head. I hope you’re having fun reading about them, too.

Swamp Thing Vol. 1-6

You might have noticed in the first two articles that I collected a lot of series from
the ‘70s and ‘80s in trade. These are series that started before I was born or came out
when I was too young to buy them. But I’m not regretful. As an adult, it’s been great to
go back and buy them as trades. I get to pick and choose, bringing home only the best.
I’ve even been fortunate to buy a few series of books as they’ve been released. One of
the first series I collected this way was Alan Moore’s Swamp Thing. A new printing of
Saga of the Swamp Thing was released in July of 2000. I bought it and was blown away,
much as I suspect happened to the readers who bought the original issues back in 1982. I followed the series through the end of the Alan Moore run.

Sandman: Endless Nights

Neil Gaiman wrote seven different stories, drawn by seven stellar artists for this prestige original graphic novel. Each story focuses on an individual member of the Endless. It was a truly incredible piece of work. And it’s the book that changed my mind about Frank Quitely, who I hadn’t liked before.

Wonder Woman: Amazonia

This is an average Elseworlds story featuring Wonder Woman as a circus performer. It’s also oversized which is why it’s out of alphabetical order. I stuck it between a couple of hardcovers (Sandman and Spirit) so it wouldn’t be bent as easily.

Spirit Archives Vol. 1-8

Some day this will be complete. I’ve loved every volume I’ve bought, even the ones drawn by fill-in artists while Will Eisner was away during World War II. After all, the fill-in artists are guys like Lou Fine. But I’m way behind because it’s not often that I have an extra $50 lying around for buying a single book.

Spirit Vol. 1-2

This is the Darwyn Cooke series from a couple of years ago. It’s actually one of the first new series that I decided to buy in trade rather than as individual issues. We even splurged for the hardcover collections instead of waiting for the inevitable softcovers. That’s because Ana is a big Darwyn Cooke fan and she’s the one who brought home the first volume shortly after it was released.

Starman: Sins of the Father

Once again, this is a pretty typical entry on my DC shelf. I honestly prefer single issues to trades for most series. But sometimes the early issues are too scarce or too expensive.
So I fill in my collection with a trade for the opening arc. I did that for Fables, Justice League and Starman. I started collecting Starman around issue 29. It quickly became one of my favorite titles and is still at the top of my all-time list. I find that I have a lot in common with Jack Knight. He was right there beside me, struggling with the same questions of career and family that I was. He loved life and odd little artifacts. I co-opted some of his personal philosophy as my own. We even share an on-again, off-again goatee. But, unlike Jack, I don’t have any tattoos.

Superman: World of Krypton, Death of Superman, Superman/Batman Vol. 1

The next time I prune my trade paperbacks, I expect this section will shrink. I recently
read and enjoyed John Byrne’s Man of Steel and early Superman stories. So I thought
I’d take a shot at the World of Krypton mini-series that came out around the same time.
I still like Byrne’s depiction of Krypton as a science-dominated yet sterile society. I
especially like the fashions, which seem suitably alien. But the story was not good at all.

And the back-up stories from the late ‘70s were just as bad.

I didn’t dislike Superman/Batman Vol. 1. I even bought the series for a little while. I
just don’t see myself reading it again.

The one keeper in this bunch is the Death of Superman. I loved DC’s early ‘90s epics, such as Knightfall and the Death of Superman. They had great scope and emotion. They were suitably grandiose. They earned the name “epic.” And I re-read this story every couple of years.

Watchmen

No comic book bookshelf is complete without Watchmen (unless you have the original
issues sitting in a longbox somewhere). It is truly one of the best comic book series
ever. Though, truthfully, I re-read the Death of Superman more often than I re-
read the Watchmen. It may be great, but it’s sometimes oppressively pessimistic.

Wonder Woman: The Contest, Second Genesis, Lifelines and Hiketeia

I noticed something when I did a similar set of articles about the comics in my longboxes a couple of years ago: I have more Wonder Woman comics than Batman comics or Superman comics. That’s true of my bookshelf as well. There are two Batman trades, three Superman trades (two which I’ll probably get rid of) and four Wonder Woman trades. The first trade collects the William Messner-Loebs story in which Diana loses her role as Wonder Woman to Artemis. The next two collect the first year or so of John Byrne’s run on the title. The fourth is the best of the bunch, and one of my favorite stories for any superhero. It’s an original graphic novel by Greg Rucka, with Batman and Wonder Woman on opposite sides. It’s well worth checking out.

Y: The Last Man Vol. 1-3

These were a gift from Captain Comics. I don’t remember the exact details- whether
I did him a favor or won a contest or something- but I do know that these came in the
mail courtesy of Andrew Smith. He was convinced that I would like them. And he
was right. I read this shortly before going on a family vacation and spent small parts
of that subsequent vacation buying back issues from Calgary to Vancouver until I was
all caught up. I’m not a huge Vertigo fan. I find that the imprint is sometimes too
dark and, in its own way, as unrepresentative of reality as Pollyanna. Yet there are a
few Vertigo series that rise above the rest of comics. Y: The Last Man is one of those.

Alan Moore’s Wild Worlds

Collecting Alan Moore’s Wildstorm work. It’s a real haphazard affair. It has
some of Alan Moore’s worst work (the Spawn/Wildcats crossover). And it has
some stories that rank right there with his best, like Majestic at the end of universe.

Astro City: Life in the Big City

It’s amazing how many of my favorite series fit this profile. I hear about them a year or so late, pick up the first trade, buy the rest in back issues and continue collecting the singles. You can add Astro City to that list. The last couple years of Astro City haven’t been up to standard but these first issues are among the finest ever made. They introduce us to the Samaritan, Winged Victory and the city itself. They teach us to dream and to inspire others to dream. They renew a sense of wonder- of beauty and awe.

Danger Girl: Odd Jobs

I bought the original Danger Girl series as it came out. When it came out. But I missed
these odd jobs- specials published outside of the main title. It’s a surprisingly good
volume, featuring stories by Phil Noto.

Gen 13

Yes, I like Gen 13. I like Wildcats and Wildstorm and J. Scott Campbell and Jim Lee.
This might even be the first series where I bought the initial trade before switching to
individual issues.

Top Ten: The Forty-Niners

I’ve mentioned it before but it keeps coming up as I peruse my bookshelf: I miss the days when you could count on DC for several high quality original graphic novels every year. There’d be a great superhero story, like JLA/JSA Virtue & Vice. And there’d be a great Vertigo book like Sandman: Endless Nights. And, right around the same time, there was this excellent story set in the past of Alan Moore’s Top Ten. The story was about the heroes returning from World War II and the new city that was built as their home (the government wanted some separation between superheroes and the normal populace). We read of their struggles, their triumphs and their loves. It’s one of the best stories I’ve read.

This is a mismatched pair. The first volume is Chris Claremont’s arc on Wildcats. The
individual issues were hard to find and expensive so I grabbed this very early trade
instead. The second volume is a mini-series from this past decade that introduced a new
character, Nemesis, to Wildcats. It was really well done and it told two simultaneous
stories: Nemesis’ introduction to the team in the present and her shared history with
Majestic throughout the past.

Whew! That’s it for the DC shelf and part three. But there’s more to come. I still have
all of Marvel to go plus quite a few miscellaneous series.

Views: 159

Comment by Travis Herrick (Modular Mod) on October 1, 2010 at 10:38am

Swamp Thing: You know I just got the first volume about a month or so ago, as I had never read any of it. The guy at my LCS gave me a copy of the reprint of the first Alan Moore issue, and I said, "Okay, now that is pretty cool." so I am finally ready to read it.

Sandman: I've tried it a few times, but it has never been my cup of milk.

Spirit Archives: Maybe some day, like you I don't have the money for archives very often. Hopefully I can find them on sale.

Spirit: I have the originals, and I loved them pretty much until Cooke left. Then I felt the quality went down.

Staman: What can I say about this that hasn't already been said? One of the few series that lasted quite a  while that I actually have all of the single issues. An all-time favorite for certain.

Astro City: Life in the Big City: I cam late to this series as well, and my introduction was this trade. Even when the new series came out I still didn't collect it I just read a friend of mine's copy. I think I finally started buying them on me own around issue four of the second volume. Another favorite.

Gen 13: Hey we pretty much all have that series that we like that everyone else seems to hate.

Top Ten: Forty-Niners: I seem to be off kilter with everyone else on this one. I liked it, but didn't love it like pretty much the rest of the world.

 

Interesting reading as always, Chris. Oh yeah, I also enjoyed those huge arcs of DC in the '90s with the death of Superman, breaking Batman's back, and the rest.

Comment by Chris Fluit on October 1, 2010 at 11:32am
Thanks for the comments, Travis. It seems like we have a lot in common.
Comment by Jeff of Earth-J on October 1, 2010 at 3:46pm
SWAMP THING: I have the same problem with Swamp Thing that I have with many another comic series, namely, whenever I’m in the mood to re-read it, I start over at the very beginning. Although I may have the best intentions to read the entire, run, oftentimes my fervor cools and my drive peters out midway through. Consequently, I have read the early issues many, many times, but the frequency tapers off the further into the run I get.

SANDMAN: See Swamp Thing.

AMAZONIA: I’ve read this one only once. I don’t recall much about the story, but I do recall I bought it more for the art in the first place.

SPIRIT ARCHIVES: This started out for me as a Swamp Thing/Sandman read-the-early-issues-in-an-endless-loop paradigm but for the past couple of years, whenever I’m in an Eisner mood, I’ve been very good about picking up where I lest left off. I still haven’t worked my way all the way through it, but I am making progress.

Spirit (Darwyn Cooke): I was enjoying this well enough but ultimately dropped it when I decided I really need to concentrate on finishing the Eisner stuff first.

STARMAN: I prefer trades to single issues, but have the entire series in single issues. Perhaps we should compare notes.

WORLD OF KRYPTON: John Byrne and Walt Simonson are good friends, yet the covers to this series represent one of the few times they have collaborated (Byrne, pencils; Simonson, inks). I’d like to see them team up on the interior of an entire book sometime.

WATCHMEN: A non-comics-reading friend asked me about The Watchmen recently. He was talking about the movie, of course, but I wrote a letter describing the virtues of comic book, too. Haven’t heard back from him since. (He’s not much of a reader.)

ASTRO CITY: I’ve read the entire run of Astro City, but only once. One of these days I’ll sit down and read the enire thing again from start to finish. I do have the “Life in the Big City” tpb (in addition to the individual issues) because I chose it as a free selection one time when joining the SFBC. I’ve loaned it out a couple of times.

THE FORTY-NINERS: Never read it but always meant to. Again, I’ve read all (well, most) of the ABC books once only and plan to read them again in a marathon session at some point in the future.

Keep the bookshelf reviews coming! (I’ve got bookshelves, too.)
Comment by Chris Fluit on October 1, 2010 at 6:54pm
STARMAN: I prefer trades to single issues, but have the entire series in single issues. Perhaps we should compare notes

I thought we already did that. Didn't we embark on a Starman reading project together on the old board?
Comment by Chris Fluit on October 1, 2010 at 6:55pm
Keep the bookshelf reviews coming! (I’ve got bookshelves, too.)

You bet. I'll take a short break next week in order to spice things up with a bit of variety. But I'll definitely be back with more installments (including my Marvel shelf) after that.
Comment by Travis Herrick (Modular Mod) on October 2, 2010 at 8:55am
Thanks for the comments, Travis. It seems like we have a lot in common.

Sure thing. Knowing our two reading habits, I *think * we will part ways once you get to your Marvel books.
Comment by Jeff of Earth-J on October 2, 2010 at 11:20am
I thought we already did that [compared notes].

What I meant (kind of tongue in cheek) was trading my single issues for your tpbs. :)
Comment by Chris Fluit on October 2, 2010 at 12:05pm
Oh, I misunderstood. I'd be willing to do it if you're at all serious about it.
Comment by George on October 3, 2010 at 12:57am
The Spirit magazines from Warren and Kitchen Sink (published in the '70s and '80s) can sometimes be found in comic shops for a few bucks. It's an affordable way to acquire a lot of these stories, even though they are in black and white and they're not in chronological order. That's how I discovered them. Maybe that's why Eisner's work has always looked better in B&W to me.
Comment by Rob Staeger (Grodd Mod) on October 4, 2010 at 5:14pm
Those Spirit Archives are amazing. I don't have as many as you have -- I've got 1, 2, 4, 5 and 25, a collection of the dailies -- but it's just amazing watching the vocabulary of comics grow before your eyes.

The Darwyn Cooke Spirit stories are a joy as well. Sooner or later I'd like a hardcover of those; for now, I've just got the singles, because I couldn't wait!

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