Off The Rack #121

Monday, January 7, 2019

I hope you all are having a happier New Year than I did. Our Aunt Helen passed away just before the end of 2018 out in Victoria and my Grandma passed away January 4. Both ladies were in their nineties and lived full and loving lives. That eases my sadness a lot. Another big loss for me was when The Comicshop in Vancouver closed its doors forever on January 4 as well. The Comicshop was where I started my comics retailing career in 1980, working there for 10 years. It was where I was head hunted to manage The Silver Snail in Ottawa where I worked happily from 1990 to 2015. I took over writing “off the rack” from Chris Brayshaw in the late eighties and continue to express my thoughts on the comic books that I read every week. I have talked to both Keith Bickford and Brent Stratichuk, the two stalwart lads whose capable hands I left the ‘Shop with and they are doing okay. I tried to console them by sharing my experiences when The Silver Snail in Ottawa closed after 25 years. The Comicshop lasted 44 years and it will be missed by everyone who became a part of the family generated there over those years.

Endings give way to new beginnings and I hope the start of 2019 begins to look better for everyone.

Penny presented me with The Complete Far Side for Christmas and I finished reading all three volumes by New Year’s Day. Aside from delighting in Gary Larson’s warped sense of humour again I greatly enjoyed the letters that were included alongside some of his cartoons. I especially liked the letters to newspaper editors complaining about some of them. I wonder how much more outrage we would be able to see now with the prevalence of social media. There are also a few pages of Gary writing about his time doing the strip which made me appreciate them even more.


Tony Stark: Iron Man #7 – Dan Slott with Jeremy Whitley (writers) Valerio Schiti (art) Edgar Delgado (colours) VC’s Joe Caramagna (letters). Stark Realities part 2. As exciting and beautifully drawn as this issue is I have to wonder when Tony Stark is going to stop trying to fix the world’s problems with tech that can then be hacked and endanger innocent lives. Remember when Reed Richards used to do that too? Uh oh, Dan Slott also writes Fantastic Four so I guess we’ll be seeing this plot device used again.



Marvel Knights: 20th #5 – Matthew Rosenberg & Donny Cates (writers) Niko Henrichon (art) Laurent Grossat (colours) VC’s Cory Petit (letters). What seems to be a fight of misunderstanding turns out to be a shocking revelation when the Black Panther and the four woke super heroes meet. You can tell that this isn’t the “real” Marvel U because the Kingpin would not have been able to overpower Doctor Doom like that. The twist at the end persuaded me to keep reading.



Immortal Hulk #11 – Al Ewing (writer) Joe Bennett (pencils) Ruy Jose (inks) Paul Mounts (colours) VC’s Cory Petit (letters). This issue would feel right at home in a comparative religion class. What is the nature of hell? That’s where the Hulk finds himself after his fight with the Absorbing Man. I appreciate the higher level of writing that this book has. It stimulates my brain.



Archie #701 – Nick Spencer (writer) Marguerite Sauvage (art) Jack Morelli (letters). Archie has a new girlfriend? I like the possibilities that this new relationship has to offer. The mystery surrounding the disappearance of Reggie’s dad is going to shock the town of Riverdale and that’s more than enough reason to keep reading this book.



Books of Magic #3 – Kat Howard (writer) Tom Fowler (illustrator) Jordan Boyd (colours) Todd Klein (letters). It was nice to see the tribute to Stan Lee by the Distinguished Competition.



Action Comics #1006 – Brian Michael Bendis (writer) Ryan Sook (art) Brad Anderson (colours) Josh Reed (letters). Invisible Mafia part 6. You would think that with this story’s title that when we finally meet the villain plaguing Superman that it would be some Don Corleone type guy. Nope, no Italians here. It’s round two of Superman versus the Red Cloud. I liked how the big blue boy scout tried to reason with the big red deadly gas bag. The last page made me smile with its homage to Action Comics #1. Ryan Sook is making this book a real treat to read.



Runaways #17 – Rainbow Rowell (writer) Kris Anka (art) Matthew Wilson (colours) VC’s Joe Caramagna (letters). That Was Yesterday Part 5. Time’s up. The bad guys are back and they are going to wipe out humanity. Things get very complicated as these young heroes try to save the world. There’s a hint to a time travel solution and I really hope they don’t go that route. I like how one of the bad guys and one of the good guys flip the script. I can’t wait to see what happens next.



Man Without Fear #1 – Jed MacKay (writer) Danilo S. Beyruth (art) Andres Mossa (colours) VC’s Clayton Cowles (letters). I stopped reading Daredevil a little while ago. It was one of my favourite titles for a very long time, but the addition of a sidekick and the bad guy with the multi-fingered hands turned me off. Then I find out that they “killed” DD and launched this new title. This first issue runs the gamut of all the incarnations that the blind super hero has had. It was neat for me because I’ve been around for all of it. I don’t know that a new reader would appreciate all the changes and might even get confused by the different costumes. So Matt Murdock isn’t dead. He’s lying in a coma and his best friend Foggy Nelson comes to visit. This gives Jed MacKay a chance to tell you what makes Daredevil tick. I couldn’t help but notice that the ghost tormenting Matt was wearing yellow and thinking what a coincidence it was that the Flash wears red and one of the Flash’s arch villains wears yellow. I liked this enough to want to see how they’re going to bring back the Man Without Fear. We don’t have to wait long because #2 hits the racks on January 9.



Champions #1 – Jim Zub (writer) Steven Cummings (art) Marcio Menyz & Erick Arciniega (colours) VC’s Clayton Cowles (letters). I like this team of teen super heroes even though they are basically the Young Avengers. The biggest change in this relaunch is that the team has way more members. The original core members are still around but all the new faces had me wondering where they came from. Then there are the changes to some familiar characters. Amadeus Cho is now Brawn. Did something happen to his brain? Sam Alexander lost his Nova powers? Where did Snowguard come from? Is she Canadian? I’m sure if I kept reading all these questions will be answered as the kids go global in their mission to make a difference. Certainly the surprise villain on the last page piqued my curiosity.



Heroes in Crisis #4 – Tom King (writer) Clay Mann (art) Tomeu Morey (colours) Clayton Cowles (letters). The cover shows Harley Quinn holding a smoking gun, standing over Wally West with one foot on his chest. If that doesn’t get you to buy this comic book I don’t know what will. We’re four issues in to this murder mystery and I am slowly gaining some comprehension as to what Sanctuary is and how it relates to what’s happening. My favourite thing this issue: the new Batgirl.



Conan the Barbarian #1/LGY #276 – Jason Aaron (writer) Mahmud Asrar (art) Matthew Wilson (colours) VC’s Travis Lanham (letters). The Life and Death of Conan part 1. For a time in my teens I was a rabid Robert E. Howard fanatic. I scoured book stores old and new for anything he wrote. I devoured his Conan books and cherished the ones with the covers by Frank Frazetta. I didn’t start buying the Marvel original run of the comic book with #1 but purchased the very first issue (#4) that I saw on the spinner racks. I am waiting for the release of Volume One of the Conan Omnibus soon. Re-reading those Roy Thomas stories and relishing Barry Smith’s art again is going to be a pleasure. I’m glad Jason Aaron is writing this new book. If anyone can capture the sense of adventure that R.E.H. did it’s Jason. Mahmud Asrar’s art is right up there with John Buscema so it’s an easy decision to add this to my “must Read” list.


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