Geek of the Week 11/05/08

Sandman: The Dream Hunters
Kull #1, another character from Conan creator Robert E. Howard
X-men and Spider-man #1 of 4

Week in Geek 11/05

By Matt Baum

Ok, here’s a little peek behind the “This Week in Geek” curtain. I write this blog on Tuesday’s, usually, and try to make it feel like it instantly springs from my skull on Wednesday morning. Well it doesn’t. Most Tuesdays it’s fairly easy to reference something vague that happened or will be happening that week to make the blog feel perfectly timely for that Wednesday. This however is not one of those weeks. As I write this people all across the U.S. are not only anxiously awaiting their new comics but also voting for the new president of the United States. I did so this morning, there was free coffee, it was nice. So in an effort to make my blog feel natural for the Wednesday after an election I will write the following intro as if it’s Wednesday morning and we are all waking up to a new day with a new President. All you will need to do is copy the blog, paste it into your word processing program, fill in the blanks and booyaa, “This Week in Geek” remains your source for instant and reliable comic book and election news. Here we go…

After a long night of election coverage I awoke to not only another new comics Wednesday, but the end of a long and hard fought presidential election. America voted in record numbers yesterday in what will truly be remembered as a historic election indeed. It’s been almost a two year battle but it’s finally over and now we need to all come together not as Republicans and Democrats but as Americans and welcome our new President ______ _____ to the White House. I’m not going to go into who I voted for but instead say to President _____, the time for talk is over, now let’s see you what you’ve got.

Now the real bickering and political infighting can begin. We the people can finally get back to our daily lives and not have to worry about who’s qualified or who’s a terrorist or who’s too old. Election season is over, Christmas is coming, but most importantly, today is new comic day.

This week DC is celebrating the 20th anniversary of Neil Gaiman’s Sandman with two big books hitting the stands. Absolute Sandman vol. 4, which reprints issues #55-75, marks the end of the Absolute Sandman collection. These over-sized slip-cased reprints are bound in leather and make an amazing addition to any Sandman fan’s library. Also this week DC releases Sandman: Dream Hunters #1 of 4. See my picks of the week for more on Dream Hunters.

Marvel fans are in for another huge week with almost 30 new Marvel comics on the stands. However, the sneaky marketing guys at marvel are slipping in a few “special” issues that look just like your normal monthly title but may not be written or drawn by your normal monthly creative team. For instance, this week Marvel is releasing three specials, Avengers Initiative Special #1, Ms Marvel Special Storyteller, and the Punisher War Journal Annual. I’ve never been a big fan of special issues as they usually don’t have anything to do with the current storyline, they have a higher price tag and they usually aren’t created by the team that writes the monthly comic I enjoy. Avengers Initiative Special however, is an exception as it ties up a plot point that’s been building since issue one and is written and drawn by the normal creative team. I’m guessing they wanted to finish this story before the end of the Secret Invasion storyline. On the other hand, Miss Marvel and Punisher are perfect examples of my “Special Issue” stereotype. The Miss Marvel special is written by series writer Brian Reed, who I like, but has nothing to do with the current story and may even take place in an alternate reality. The Punisher War Journal Annual is handled by a completely different creative team, costs a dollar more than the regular monthly book and seems to have a really lame premise. I’ll give it a peek but I’m not blindly buying this one.

Also this week, Aspen Comics is publishing a very special 80-page book in memory of the company’s creator, Michael Turner. A Tribute to Michael Turner celebrates the work of one of the industry’s most beloved artists who tragically died of cancer earlier this year. Click here for more on Turner. Included in the book:
• A first time compilation cover by Michael Turner and Alex Ross.
• An introduction by Michel Turner’s mother Grace Crick.
• Special tributes from the Aspen Comics staff—the company Michael Turner founded.
• Over 40 all-new original pieces of art from the industry’s top creators and artists.
• Words of remembrance and unique tributes from the industry’s top writers, editors, and friends of Turner.
• A special section featuring fan art produced in honor of Michael Turner’s life and creations.
For more on the Michael Turner Tribute book click here.

Now here’s a look at the comics I’ll be picking up for the week of 11/05/2008. For a complete list of comics shipping this week click here. To find a comic shop near you click here.

Kull#1 – Another character from Conan creator Robert E. Howard
Adventure Comics Special: Guardian – New Krypton Part 3
Final Crisis: Resist one-shot
JSA – Best DC superhero-team book on the stands every month.
Secret Six – Tons of fun from superstar writer Gail Simone.
Guerrillas #2 – The Story of genetically altered apes fighting in Viet Nam. Thank you Image Comics.
Avengers Initiative Special #1
Cable #8
Invicible Iron Man #7 – new story-arc begins.
Marvel Zombies 3 #2 – Halloween is over but Zombies are fun all year long.
X-men and Spiderman #1 – See picks of the week.

As always, feel free to contact me and tease, yell, or suggest other comics I should be reading.

Now lets look at my speculator picks for the week. Remember, these books are by no means guaranteed to be worth millions but they will probably be hard to find in the near future.

Kull #1; Dark Horse; Written by Arvid Nelson; Art by Will Conrad; Covers by Jose Villarubia, Andy Brase and Joe Kubert; $2.99

Why it’s hot: Dark Horse comics has a long history of producing top notch comic adaptations of the famous stories of Fantasy writer Robert E. Howard, best known for creating Conan the Barbarian. Kull follows the adventures of the pirate, turned gladiator turned King of Atlantis while he rules his kingdom with both sword and scepter. Howard created Kull before Conan and portrayed the character as philosopher-warrior, much different than Conan’s silent brutish nature. Kull was the thinking man’s Barbarian and was last seen in the pages of the Marvel Comics Kull the Conquerer in 1985. Conan fans rejoice, King Kull is back on the comic stands.

Why it’ll go fast: Like the Conan and Solomon Kane comics Dark Horse has done an excellent job at bringing Howard’s characters to comic format while sticking close to the source material and maintaining high art standards. Kull looks like another winner with amazing covers by fantasy artist Jose Villaruba and writing duties by Rex Mundi creator and writer Avrid Nelson. Rex Mundi doesn’t have a huge following but it’s fans are die-hards and will probably follow Nelson straight to the pages of Kull. The only problem will be finding copies of issue #1. Conan was the by far the most well known of Howard’s characters and issue #3 of the latest Conan comic checked in at 97 on the top 100 selling comics for September. Solomon Kane checked in at 147 on the top 300 and it wouldn’t surprise me to see Kull ordered somewhere in between there. I would guess the average shop will order 2-5 copies of Kull #1 based on these numbers making it tough to find if you didn’t pre-order your copy.

X-men and Spider-man #1 of 4; Marvel; Written by Christos Gage; Art and cover by Mario Alberti; $2.99

Why it’s hot: X-men and Spidey is a four issue limited series that tells four different stories about four different X/Spidey team-ups through four different time periods of the character’s lives. Issue #1 features the Blob and Kraven the Hunter attacking the newly formed X-men and a young Spidey on the streets of New York. Those of you, who like me, long for a Spidey story before the Brand New Day revamp will be thrilled.

Why it’ll go fast: Christos Gage is no longer a hot up-and-comer but is quickly becoming a fan-favorite writer and paired with Mario Alberti on art duties, this comic has a heck of a creative team. The other part of X-men/Spidey that excites me is the chance to read a Spider-man story that takes place in the mainstream Marvel U untouched by the many revamps the character has seen in the past 10 years. I would argue that even though there are some good stories coming out of Amazing Spidey, after the events of the Brand New Day storyline, it just doesn’t feel like my Spider-man comic anymore. That is not to say that another return to the Spidey-status-quo is in order. For now, those of us who don’t recognize Spider-man anymore can pick up X-men/Spidey and remember the good-old-days.

Sandman: The Dream Hunters #1;DC/Vertigo; Written by Neil Gaiman; Covers by Yuko Shimizu and Craig Russel; $2.99

Why it’s hot: I’ll let DC comics pitch this one for you:
In honor of the 20th anniversary of Neil Gaiman’s landscape-altering series THE SANDMAN, one of Gaiman’s most frequent collaborators, Eisner and Harvey Award-winner P. Craig Russell (THE SANDMAN: ENDLESS NIGHTS), inimitably adapts Gaiman’s prose story the SANDMAN: THE DREAM HUNTERS into a sequential, 4-issue comics event! Released 10 years ago, THE SANDMAN: THE DREAM HUNTERS was a prose novella accompanied by illustrations from Japanese artist Yoshitaka Amano. Winning the 1999 Bram Stoker Award and the 2000 Eisner Award, it told the tale of a humble young monk and a magical, shape-changing fox who find themselves romantically drawn together.
As their love blooms, the fox learns of a devilish plot by a group of demons to steal the monk’s life. With the aid of Morpheus, the King of All Night’s Dreamings, the fox must use all of her cunning and creative thinking to foil this evil scheme and save the man that she loves.

Why it’ll go fast: Sandman is widely considered the best comic series ever written so the news that after 20 years there’s more story to tell, or at least adapt, is good news. There’s been plenty of Sandman tie-ins since the series ended but not any that were written by Gaiman himself. Sandman was one of those comics that reached across nerd lines and spoke to everyone, namely women. Most of the female comic fans that I know had their first comic experience with Sandman and have followed Gaiman ever since. I would expect people who haven’t read comics for a long time to come looking for Dream Hunters #1. The question is, do the retailers still believe in Sandman? Some of the highest selling Vertigo comics barely break the top 100 comic selling comics each month but see much higher sales tin trade-paperback collections. I’m guessing most retailers will order light on issue #1 and plan to sell the heck out of the collected version.

That’s all for now true believers. Until next week, keep the questions coming. Also, check out my other blog The Comic Speculator, where I discuss classic yet still affordable back-issue comics. If you have any questions about these books or anything else in the comic book world feel free to contact me or post your question in the Comic Book community forum. Want to know what your comics are worth? Join Worthpoint for free and post your titles in the “Ask A Question” section. Remember to post the title, issue number and cover price.

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