One of the fun things about comics is the variety of tales told. These range from superheroes and science fiction to crime dramas. Stories run the gambit of being a single issue to being a long story arc, stretching out over several months. With this practice as the norm, one tends to forget that there are smaller, more personal tales that are just as impactful and thought-provoking.
In 1995, hot off the heels of the mega-successful mini-series Marvels, Kurt Busiek and Alex Ross began a new approach to telling superhero stories. With Busiek’s writing, Ross designs and covers, and artist Brent Anderson, Astro City was a comic series designed to tell the superhero story from a more human perspective. The series ran periodically until 2018 and was published by several different companies and had different editions.
In the aftermath of the recent Obi-Wan Kenobi TV series on Disney+, there has been renewed interest in the Star Wars prequel movies. Though not entirely beloved when they hit the big screen, new appreciation for those films has moved through the fandom at a rapid pace. Dark Horse Comics' Star Wars: Hyperspace Stories #1 continues this trend.
Nostalgia is a funny thing. Besides drawing on personal memories, it also can create a sense of appreciation for the present moment. In the early 1980s, comic book readers found themselves experiencing different aspects of the medium that hadn’t been explored before. Titles like GrimJack, American Flagg, and Judge Dredd challenged the mainstream series published by Marvel and DC Comics. Among these creator-owned properties was Aztec Ace.
Spider-Man turned 60 years old this month, with a history of many stand-out stories: his origin in Amazing Fantasy #15, the first appearance of Mary Jane Watson, the first appearance of The Punisher, the black costume origin of Venom, the break-up of the marriage in One More Day. Left off this list are stories that were groundbreaking not only for the character, but for the comic book industry as a whole. These stories - in their purest, unaltered form - are included in the new IDW softcover book, Gil Kane’s Amazing Spider-Man Artisan Edition.
What happens when soldiers of war return home, only to find that they no longer fit in? This is a question that every generation must answer, with no easy solution. Image Comics’ The Dead Lucky tackles this subject head-on in a unique and surprising way.
Nazis! Saboteurs! Airplane dog fights! Although these things can most likely be found in any number of 1940s serials, they can also be found in IDW’s The Rockteer: The Great Race. Dave Stevens’ famous character returns to wrap up his new 4-issue mini-series with style.
In early 1983, I sat playing under my family’s dining room table with my Star Wars toys, including a new action figure named Nien Nunb. Nien had arrived in the mail and was described as “Copilot of the Millennium Falcon in the upcoming film, Return of the Jedi.” On the television set, movie reviewers Siskel and Ebert had a special episode of their show spotlighting all three Star Wars films and their legacy. In the months and years that followed, I saw Return of the Jedi many times: from its original run in theaters (including a showing on opening day), to about a hundred viewings on a bootleg video tape that my brother acquired the next year. I’ve watched it through multiple re-releases, special editions, DVDs, and now streaming. In addition, I’ve read the novelization, the comics, had the bubblegum cards, action figures, and listened to the soundtrack over and over.
Dave Stevens was an illustrator with an incredibly diverse list of credits. He began his career as an assistant to Russ Manning, inking on comic strips like Tarzan and Star Wars in the 1970s. He also drew storyboards on various projects, ranging from Hanna Barbara’s Superfriends cartoon to movies like Raiders of the Lost Ark. In the early 1980s, he became one of the first independent comic creators to succeed with his own character; he created an adventure comic set in the 1930s that was inspired by classic pulp adventures: The Rocketeer.
Who doesn’t like a good, old-fashioned mystery? Especially when it takes place around the turn of the century and features tarot cards, as well as thought transference, small villages with strange residents, and spooky cemeteries? That’s what awaits the reader in the first issue of Dark Horse Comics’ The British Paranormal Society: Time Out of Mind.