Tuesday, January 21, 2014

TRADING POST: Reviewing As Many Retro Comics As $3.99 Will Buy

In honour of the Justice League, my pull-list has a 'Floating Chair'. However, rather than being a chance for the world's greatest to call in a specialist ally, I use it to play a little game. Jump online, and see how many comics I can win in online auctions, bidding no more than the cost of a modern comic in total, then review them online.

For the month of January my $3.99 haul looks like this;

DC COMICS PRESENTS #31 If there's one comic I loved and miss in equal portions to The Brave and The Bold, it is Superman's version of the infamous Batman gig; DC Comics Presents. And being completely honest, I've been after this cover for years. I mean it's Robin getting a Kryptonian piggy-back - how can you turn away from this stuff?!

The craziness continues on the inside, as Dick Grayson breaks into a circus at night in order to find out why a performer he grew up with him snubbed him in broad daylight. Busted by Half-and-Half, a strong person who is literally half man and half woman, plus a squad of mind controlled circus stars, including one familiar super-man, Robin must save his friend and Kal-El without becoming the third ring attraction himself.

'Check, chum' and 'Looney bin' take you back to an age where comics were a bit lighter and fun then many take themselves today. What keeps the plot suspenseful, despite the casual cheese and elephant-lifting is the creative team. In every spot lies a legend; Ross Andru and Dick Giordano supply the cover, Gerry Conway writes, and on the interior art Giordano returns with DC's 'Kirby' José Luis García-López! Who doesn't want to see Lopez's Robin? 

Throw in a back-up on the fate of the original Robotman (not the one from Doom Patrol), and forget it - this is a done-in-one issue that doesn't clown around.

Trading Post Rating: Great talent still makes a great read all these years on. *****

THE DEFENDERS #96-98 When I was too young to know better, I put the majority of my comics in the trash. While I brought these three issues as much for the sweet Michael Golden Ghost Rider cover to #96 as I did for just plain digging The Defenders, it wasn't 'till I read issues 97 and 98 I realised I'd just bought two copies of those ditched comics back.

The three issues continue The Six Fingered Hand storyline. While Doctor Strange, Gargoyle and co traipsing the globe to tackle the demons that oppose them is a little drawn out in issue 96, the Rider keeps things ticking. Throw in Devil-Slayer, Man-Thing and the Avengers (inc future Defender Beast) and by issue 98, that tick is working overtime.

While the splash page trip through dimensions on the left is still as cool now as it ever was, this time around age allowed me to add understanding to my 'wow' of the tale's supernatural and surreal. From Dr Strange's duel inside Man-Thing's body to Hellstrom and Nighthawk's beef with the faith healer, age helped things feel fresh (hey, getting older does have an advantage)! Especially Hellcat's slide into insanity, originally put down to 'being a weird girl' as a kid, is now dramatic and cool. 

Written by J.M. DeMatteis, drawn by Don Perlin and Joe Sinnott, these three issues are enough to make me a Defenders fan all over again.

Trading Post Rating: Hellstrom and Doc are as magical as ever, just some parts need a little more spark. *****

 What do you think? 


  1. Hey, that's a great gimmick! -As many back-issues as you can get for as much as a regular comic costs today. Good one. I never even thought about it like that- I go to The Flea-Market all the time and pick up 4, or 3 for a dollar books from the bargain-bins... But I'll usually spend five to ten bucks and get a huge stack of cool shit, (and the occasional dud) and I used to make YouTube videos about my haul... But, yeah- that's a nice way of looking at it.
    DC Comics Presents was great! That's how Superman met He-Man! -I reviewed one once that had Wonder Woman in it, #76: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Wug5x42S7Qk
    But, anygay- that cover IS fantastic. What with bare-legged Robin riding piggy-back.
    You used to throw your comics away?!? Like some standard magazine??? WHAT???
    That's crazy, you're crazy...
    Hey, and I just picked up the Gargoyle miniseries the other day. And yeah, that Hellcat- what a weird girl! Hahaha!!! -Classic. DeMatteis is so great! Did you ever read Defenders: Indefensible from 2007-ish? FAN-FUCKING-TASTIC. I really enjoyed Larsen's run on the title too.
    -Nice haul!

  2. I wish we had 4 for a dollar bins King - that would be awesome! Sadly here it can be a bit of a slog as second hand stores want full price for so many - it's crazy. Luckily we have trademe.co.nz though so that helps.

    DC Comics Presents is also where I met Vixen for the first time - and that is one lady whop has always needed more press.

    I only through comics away once - I just cleaned my room and threw heaps out. Some I had drawn my favourite characters into the blank spaces on the cover - so they wouldn't have lasted, but yeah others I just ditched for no real reason. The first Hobgoblin appearance was also amongst them - so been kicking myself ever since really.

    Glad you liked the feature, and thanks for the comments and vid!

  3. Awww, man- and I bet S&H is a bitch for you even if you can find things cheap online, right? Shit- here, if it did not come out in the last nine years, you have trouble giving it away! Sure- there are still some hold-outs who think EVERY comic is worth money just because it's "old" but they never sell shit! The few places I go with bargain-bins always have new stuff- which is good- at least it means lots of other people are buying older comics too and not just dismissing them as crap because they aren't on glossy pages with computer-colours... I'll take dot-matrix on yellowed newsprint any day! (Not that I don't love me some new books too- I'm not crazy! ...maybe a little crazy)
    Even when I was young- I always took real good care of my comics- before the "collectors boom" even... I never folded, bent, creased, or drew in anything... I guess I was just an anal-retentive little bastard.
    Amazing #238? Ouch- that one can sell to upwards of $140...

  4. I started taking care of mine about the time Marvel started doing Transformers. By then it was a little too late for the likes of Amazing #238. It always made me wonder what an egg cream was. Even today we still don't have them down under.

    I like the old colouring ways too - sometimes it just feels more 'comic' when you can see the blue ink dried overtop of the black.

    Thanks again King!