Off The Rack #78

Monday, February 12, 2018

My old partner and dearly departed friend Ron Norton came up with the title of these weekly musings. I seem to remember that it was after I left Vancouver and The Comicshop and moved to Ottawa to manage The Silver Snail in 1990. I can’t remember when I started numbering them but I was commenting on the comic books that I read for The Comicshpper, The Comicshop’s monthly newsletter way before off the rack #1. This is some time during the 1980s so who knows what this latest off the rack should be numbered at. I’ve thought about quitting many times but a handful of people who read them every week keep me going. I’m grateful for their feedback and encouragement. Thanks to Chris R, Charles dL, Doug S, Tom Mc, and Ryan J. It looks like I’ll stop when I’m no longer working.



X-Men Red #1 – Tom Taylor (writer) Mahmud Asrar (art) Ive Svorcina (colours) VC’s Cory Petit (letters). If you read the 5-issue mini Phoenix Resurrection you’ll not be surprised that the original Jean Grey is back on the racks. If you didn’t, you should read it to find out how she comes back from the dead, or you can just accept the fact that she’s back. This debut opens with a familiar situation where the X-Men rescue a young mutant from a mob of anti-mutant non-mutants. This leads to a flashback to another mutant rescue and the scary notion fostered by the general population that all mutants must be eliminated. That’s the cue for Jean to gather her Red Team: Nightcrawler, Namor, Wolverine/Laura and Honey Badger/Gabby. Including Namor was a surprise to me. I can see where Jean and the King of Atlantis will butt heads later. Most of this issue seemed like the same old mutants trying to live in a world that fears and hates them and it is, but then the villain is revealed and I want to see what the bad guy wants.



Superman #40 – James Robinson (writer) Doug Mahnke (pencils) Jaime Mendoza & Scott Hanna (inks) Wil Quintana (colours) Rob Leigh (letters). The Last Days part 1. Mark your calendars, February 8 is the day that Krypton exploded. It’s true. It says so in this comic book. This is a Superman and son story where Jon tags along to help save another planet on the verge of exploding. They run into a problem when they get there as the natives are not amenable to being saved. Me, I would have said suit yourselves, see you never and left them to their fate but not Superman. I would be a lousy super hero. I may mock this story but I really like Doug’s art so I will keep reading.


VS #1 – Ivan Brandon (writer) Esad Ribic (art) Nic Klein (colours) Aditya Bidikar (letters). That’s Versus in case you’re old like me and don’t get what the title stands for. I pulled this off the rack for the visual feast that is any comic book with art by Esad Ribic. The story is similar to The Hunger Games but with teams of soldiers fighting each other for fame and glory. I suppose video gamers would enjoy this but I’m reading this one because of the art.



Runaways #6 – Rainbow Rowell (writer) Kris Anka (art) Matthew Wilson (colours) VC’s Joe Caramagna (letters). Find Your Way Home part 6. This relaunch is starting out similarly to the original but instead of fighting evil parents they’re fighting an evil grandparent. The Runaway that saves the day surprised me. I can’t wait for Victor to get a body.



Swamp Thing Winter Special #1 – There are two stories in this 80-page giant. The Talk of the Saints by Tom King (writer) Jason Fabok (art) Brad Anderson (colours) & Deron Bennett (letters) is swamp monster versus snow monster but not what you may think. It was actually a really cool story. The second story is a first issue of a new Swamp Thing series by Len Wein (writer) Kelley Jones (art) Michelle Madsen (colours) that was supposed to be the sequel to Swamp Thing: The Dead Don’t Sleep the 6-issue mini that hit the racks in the spring of 2016. There is no letterer credit because the story is presented without words. Len had not completed a lettering script before he passed away. It is the power of his writing and Kelley’s art that makes what you see a understandable story even without any words. Len’s story pages are provided to fill things out for us and it’s cool to see how Kelley brings the story to the pages of the comic book. The Swamp Thing is my favourite occult character because of all the creators that have told his stories.



Avengers #679 – Al Ewing, Jim Zub & Mark Waid (writers) Kim Jacinto (art) David Curiel (colours) VC’s Cory Petit (letters). No Surrender part 5. This issue clears up two mysteries. Who is the Grandmaster’s opponent and why they are playing this game. The change in art styles was made less annoying because of the consistent colouring of David Curiel. I also noticed a difference in the writing too and you can see that Al Ewing is listed first in the writing credits this issue after Mark Waid had been during the first four. It’s interesting to me that I noticed these differences.



Infinity Countdown: Adam Warlock #1 – Gerry Duggan (writer) Michael Allred (art) Laura Allred (colours) VC’s Cory Petit (letters). I’ve know Adam Warlock since he went by just plain Him. My favourite run of stories was when Jim Starlin drew Adam and all the weird and wonderful alien cast like Pip the Troll and Gamora. The character is tied to the soul gems and with the new Avengers movie focusing on Thanos and the soul gems in the Infinity Gauntlet it’s time to exploit the heightened interest by putting a bunch of Infinity Countdown books on the racks. This one teams Warlock with Kang and when Kang is involved time travel is sure to follow. Ugh. If you’re nostalgic for the comic books that were written in the late sixties you’ll like this. I’m going to read the next part in Infinity Countdown Prime, which hits the racks on February 21, but if it’s as stilted as this book I won’t be impressed enough to read the rest unless they have creative teams that interest me.



Daredevil #598 – Charles Soule (writer) Ron Garney (art) Matt Milla (colours) VC’s Clayton Cowles (letters). Ron Garney is not a flashy artist like Jim Lee but his gritty style really fits the urban setting of this book. Now that Wilson Fisk is the mayor of New York City he will be appointing various commissioners to help him run the place. It’s very interesting to see who the big man is inviting to the table. Meanwhile the artist villain Muse is getting under the mayor’s skin but it looks like the Kingpin has plans to deal with him that are sure to make things deadly for Daredevil. I love all the shenanigans.



She-Hulk #162 – Mariko Tamaki (writer) Jahnoy Lindsay (art) Frederico Blee (colours) VC’s Travis Lanham (letters). The banner across the top of the cover says “Jen Walters Must Die”. That’s pretty ominous. What we have this issue is a psychotherapy session where we get to see where Jen’s head is at. It results in a minor transformation that will change the character. I look forward to seeing what’s next.



Amazing Spider-Man #795 – Dan Slott & Christos Gage (writers) Mike Hawthorne (pencils) Terry Pallot (inks) Marte Gracia (colours) VC’s Joe Caramagna (letters). Threat Level: Red part 2. What the hey? Loki is Sorcerer Supreme now? Then what is Doctor Strange up to? We find out what kind of red threat Spidey will be facing soon but the ads for Amazing Spider-Man #797 seems to indicate that it’s only temporary. That kind of downplays the threat don’t you think?



Spider-Man #237 – Brian Michael Bendis (writer) Oscar Bazaldua (art) Brian Reber (colours) VC’s Cory Petit (letters). This issue is all about the difficulties with family ties. Miles and his evil uncle and Lana and her evil mother Bombshell don’t see eye to eye but the adults are in control. You won’t get Spider-Man fighting the Hobgoblin like it shows on the cover but Hobbie is in this issue at least.



Motor Girl Volumes 1 & 2 – Terry Moore (story & art). I started reading the story of Samantha Locklear as floppies but had to stop partway through because the store could only order the few subscription service copies that was needed and not even an extra rack copy or else we would not make a profit. I’m glad that the whole thing was collected quickly and made available in these two trade paperbacks so that I could finish reading. Sam is a marine vet who served in Iraq and came home scarred both physically and emotionally. It’s a story of her struggle to heal. It’s got apes and aliens and is a whole lot of fun. One of the perks of working in a comic book store is that I can read them without having to pay for them. I bought Terry’s Rachel Rising omnibus soft cover when that was available and I bought these too. He is one of the very few comic book creators that I will spend my hard earned money on.



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