Annual Inventory… Final Edition

Over at the old stand, once a year or so I’d take a look at the comics on my current reserve list.

That reserve list ends as of the 28th of this month, when my beloved old comics retailer Zanadu closes for good. They have been offering to help customers set up a new pull box at another retailer, but honestly? I can’t think of anywhere I’d want to change TO. Time Travelers is gone, Comics Dungeon is gone, Games Plus is gone. I can’t think of a comics shop that isn’t at least forty minutes away by car.

Apart from all that, I don’t really want a reserve list anyway.

I am not at all sentimental about the format of monthly comics, certainly not as they exist today. (All right, I have been known to get a little misty about the old 100-pagers and DC Giants and so on.)

But the vast, vast majority of monthly comics I own have been sitting in longboxes, unread since the original day of purchase. Sometimes for YEARS.

Meanwhile, Marvel, DC, and the rest of the publishers out there have adopted a cycle of collecting every six months’ worth of a title into a paperback, and lately they are experimenting with hardcovers collecting a year’s worth of stories (omnibus editions of two or three paperbacks at a time, generally.) Those I can shelve, and they get reread. (Even one reread already makes it a better financial return for me than a monthly 32-page comic.) I have entire series runs that I bought new in this format, my shopping habits no different than when I pick up a new book from a favorite author.

Moreover, comics I missed the first time around are now available in book form, as well. Even the really obscure stuff.

And finally? The ability to order over the internet lets me get these books for pennies on the dollar, often as soon as six weeks after publication. Certainly no more than within a year of the initial release.

So what all this means is that we actually have more comics coming into the house than ever before. Here’s the accumulation of the last six months or so… and these are the ones I’ve already READ, waiting to be shelved. There’s another stack almost as tall in the to-read pile on the nightstand in the bedroom.

Every one of these was acquired for half of the cover price, or less. Usually considerably less. None of them from my comics retailer.

So why maintain a pull list at all?

Well, because I’m also sentimental about my retailer.

The crew at Zanadu Comics have been enormously supportive of me and my students, and I felt like I should throw them some business. But if they’re closing, I have no qualms about letting the pull list go. It’s kind of a relief, honestly.

Here’s what was on it, as of day before yesterday, when I cleaned it out for the last time. (They applied my initial boxholder’s deposit from over a decade ago to the pile, as well, so I wasn’t even out any cash.)

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Aquaman. This is on the list mostly out of inertia, although I do enjoy it. Originally, it was on the list because I wanted to support the continued presence of an Aquaman title. I’ve been a fan of Aquaman since I was six years old. In fact, it started with the cartoon.

My first Aqua-purchase wasn’t a comic, but the Big Little Book Scourge of the Sea. I’ve been keeping up with all the incarnations since then.

DC is pretty good about getting the newer stuff into book collections, although they haven’t got any of the sixties stuff from Steve Skeates, which is what I really would like to see. When Jeff Parker took the book on a few years ago, it very much echoed that Skeates-Cardy-Aparo vibe, and Dan Abnett kept to that approach when he took over. (Cullen Bunn’s brief tenure was treated as a one-off aberration, as it should have been.)

But, to my great annoyance, this approach is being scrapped in favor of another interminable storyline about palace intrigue in Atlantis. Which has been DONE TO DEATH.

The reason for the makeover is painfully obvious.

Even though I get why DC is doing this, and certainly it’s good business for them to steer things closer to the movie, it still annoys me. I think they could do the movie makeover and still keep the fun of Aquaman and Mera living in Amnesty Bay.

Will I keep up with it? In trade paperback, yeah, probably. I imagine I’ll be converting the longbox of monthly comics to book form, as well. I like Dan Abnett’s writing and though the art team hasn’t been terribly consistent, everyone has been good.

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Archie. Originally I picked this up on the strength of Mark Waid’s name — I think he is probably the best mainstream comics writer working today, and one of the very few who can still produce a complete comics reading experience in 22 pages.

The current storyline wraps up this month, though, I’m told, and I think that’s a good jumping-off place. Although I’m impressed that Waid has made me care about these characters at all, I don’t feel the need to keep current with things in Riverdale. (Or should I say Riverdale-Prime? There are so many weird alternate iterations of it these days I can’t keep up.)

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IDW Star Trek titles. The interesting thing about Trek in comics, if you have any grasp of comics history, is that though the license has made the rounds of at least six different U.S. publishers — to say nothing of the various comics produced in foreign markets — they’ve generally been pretty consistently good, and especially from the 1980s onward, the publishers have been given the freedom to experiment and do stories that you couldn’t get from TV or the movies or even the licensed novels.

IDW has actually taken that further than any publisher before… AND they get all the older stuff back in print, too. It’s the best of both worlds.

I have been getting both of the ongoing titles, Boldly Go and New Visions. I have to admit that I’m not enjoying New Visions as much as I was.

The Fotonovel approach is starting to wear out its welcome with me, and I think I’d rather John Byrne go back to the more original Trek books he was doing.

On the other hand, Star Trek: Boldly Go, from Mike Johnson and various artists, is just getting to be more and more fun. It’s ostensibly about the movie crew of the Enterprise after the events of Star Trek Beyond, but it’s so much MORE than that. Johnson isn’t afraid to draw on the last six decades of Star Trek lore, and he is twisting it in delightful new ways.

He’s done stories riffing on the original Mirror Universe saga, and gradually building on that until we’ve reached the current “I.D.I.C.” story about all the various parallel versions of the Trek crew colliding.

Really, it ought to be called Crisis on Infinite Treks, or something. But it’s a hoot and a half.

Will I be keeping up with them? I daresay the 20 issues of New Visions I have here will be sufficient, but I certainly am going to keep up with Boldly Go in trade paperback, and any other Mike Johnson-written Star Trek as well, probably.

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That’s it for the official pull list. But to my delighted surprise, Zanadu also pulled the first two issues of Quarry’s War, from Hard Case comics, because they knew I’d want them.

There’s a reason I’ve stuck with that shop for so many years.

This miniseries is actually really cool and I’ll have more to say about it… next week, along with other Hard Case offerings. See you then.

6 Comments

  1. Edo Bosnar

    Whoa! The Night Force complete collection slipped right past me, I never knew that had actually been released. Well, that’s going on my want list… and so is Quarry’s War. Although I’ll be waiting for the tpb, obviously.

    On Star Trek, I have to say so totally agree with this: “…I think I’d rather John Byrne go back to the more original Trek books he was doing.” I can’t believe he’s still churning out those fotonovel-type books; when the first one came out, I thought it was just a one-off thing he wanted to try before moving on to other stuff. Otherwise, though, I *loved* the minis he did before that – my favorites were the Romulan story and Crew. I wish he would go back to doing some more like them, like another alien spotlight focusing on, say, the Andorrans or the Orions, or another look at what some of the other crew members, like Uhura, Sulu or Chekhov, were up to during that period between the original series and the motion picture.

  2. Louis Bright-Raven

    RE: Byrne — It seems like he’s just not particularly interested in drawing comics anymore. The market doesn’t seem to support him like it used to, and he apparently makes far more income doing commissions for fans than what the publishers are willing to pay him. It doesn’t help that many of his books in recent year just haven’t sold particularly well. Whether that’s because today’s audiences treat his style as too old fashioned or there’s some sort of backlash because of social media in some fashion… *shrugs* who knows?

    I myself would like to have seen more Danger Unlimited, Trio, Babe… but it apparently is not meant to be.

    1. Le Messor

      I’d also love to see more Byrne comics, but as you say – he’s doing commissions only now. I think I read once that he’s officially announced that (not just ‘seems like’).

      That said, I found Trio disappointing, and FX. I hadn’t heard of the other two. Honestly, I don’t think it’s today’s audiences, I think Byrne has lost some of his mojo.

  3. As I mentioned in my first post, I don’t buy single issues any more. But i reread lots of mine–in total way more than I was buying before I moved up here to Durham NC.
    Re: Archie-Prime, I’ve often though a story where all the Archie versions (Agent of P.O.P., Pureheart, Jughead the Time Cop, zombie-fighting Archie etc.) were tied together somehow.
    I agree the palace intrigue has been overdone, though it didn’t disappoint me as much as you. I have almost all the Skeates run in those little digests DC did in the 1980s, but not the last one or two.

  4. Le Messor

    I don’t even know what’s on my pull list at any given time. 🙂
    It’s spread between the two comic shops here (there are at least three others that sell comics, but not as a primary business), and one of them doesn’t have it centralised under my name.

    I can’t think of a comics shop that isn’t at least forty minutes away by car.
    Sheer looxury!
    Okay, they might be closer than that, but both of them are clear across town. As I often say; ‘If there’s a bright centre to this city, I live at the point it is furthest from.’

    Those I can shelve, and they get reread. (Even one reread already makes it a better financial return for me than a monthly 32-page comic.)

    I read every comic I own at least twice; and that’s before I even put them away. Pretty much for the sake of the financial return. 🙂

    They applied my initial boxholder’s deposit from over a decade ago to the pile

    Your what? Did you have to pay to start up a standing order?

    IDW has actually taken that further than any publisher before… AND they get all the older stuff back in print, too. It’s the best of both worlds.

    I love your juxtaposition of the First Mission (annual) with the Final Mission annual. 🙂 Also, hey, I read Starfleet Academy! The only Trek series I read regularly.
    Although, if IDW is only printing Borg stories, that’s not so interesting. (That’s a BoBW joke, but it’s kinda lost by now.)

    also pulled… because they knew I’d want them

    I love it when comic shops do that.

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