Monday, October 21, 2019

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

More places on earth need to sell secondhand comics. Each month, I go back-issue bin diving and see how many comics I can grab, with no more than the cost of a modern comic to spend. Then once I've devoured the four-colour goodness (or not-so-goodness as the case may be) I review it online. For October 2019 my $3.99(US) haul looks like this;

X-FACTOR #1 This comic is one of those "I've always wanted to own" jobbies, but until now I've never had the chance. I mean, it's the first issue of the FIRST EVER X-Men spin-off title right? Like it's not a comic must-have on that point alone, uniting the original X-Men - including the then-recently reborn Jean Grey, after her death in the Phoenix Saga.

Sadly, after reading this double-sized issue, it was better living in mystery. Now that's nothing against Jackson Guice, who draws the bejeebers out of this issue. In fact, it is great seeing Beast look like his classic self again under his pen.

It's just the twist of the team reforming under the cover of mutant investigators, consistently plays second-fiddle to the love dramas of Cyclops in 37 pages of drawn-out set-up around a 3-page battle.

It is also frustrating that Ice-Man and Beast get bugger all to do, and struggle saving half a dozen men on a construction site 'without Cyclops' leadership' when alone they've faced much worse - heck one was even an Avenger. They make similar remarks multiple times and it is just B.S. 

I was a HUGE fan of The Defenders. When that book ended and Angel, Ice-Man and Beast walked their separate ways, I thought when they inevitably landed back under the X-umbrella, they would still be treated as heavy-hitters. However, sadly this is the Cyclops show, and him chucking his wife and kid at short notice to catch up with his reborn ex-on the sly, is all the book really wants to tell us. Maybe that's why its called X-Factor.

In terms of 'X-Factor', this issue has little. Maybe if it took its name from the debut of Rusty inside, then it actually might do what it says on the tin. *****

SUPERMAN #164, 177, 181 Ed McGuinness maybe a Marvel artist now, but his DC days are still my favourite (except possibly his Deadpool run), and few DC dudes did he draw better, than Superman. His east meets west art style just suits the DC-verse more, especially the Man of Steel, Bizarro, and the manga-ised revamped Metallo going head to head with the Toyman, as he draws in these issues.

#164 sees Superman watch in disbelief as Luthor looks set to be voted in as American President (unknowingly foreshadowing the disbelief the world had at the last US elections) while Supergirl and Jimmy Olsen try to survive Bizarro. #177 is the ultimate manga tribute with the Toyman battle mentioned above and the biggest Pok√©mon homage ever. #181 sees Bizarro and Kal-El wake-up in each others body, which spells a headache for Lois and the JLA.

This is the key to what made Ed's run on this book with writer Jeph Loeb, so successful. These issues are light, fun and done-in-one stories that still tie into a larger plot from issue to issue. Too many comics now require a commitment of a six-month spend in order to get just one story. We need to be easier on newcomers, and fans on budgets (which is all of us) - and nothing can do that better than single-issue Superman stories, that show that anything and everything can happen around the Last Son of Krypton. *****

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