I tested positive for Covid-19 last week, and it clobbered our plans for St. Valentine’s Day. I am relieved that I was vaxxed and boostered; my symptoms weren’t that bad. But my isolation period overlapped our Valentine plans, and that was a bummer.
My wife, Kathe, is always a very thoughtful gift-giver, and one of the St. Valentine’s gifts she gave me this year was a pack of 10 DC Comics from discount retailer Ollie’s. This pack collected ten recent comics and sold them at a discount. The promotional packaging proclaims it is up to a $49.90 value.
Do you know Ollie’s? This is a discount/close-out retailer. They famously had a bunch of hardcover comic collections from DC and Marvel on sale at absurdly low prices a few years ago. It turns out the DC sales force had been trying to sell these books to comic shops for years, and finally just unloaded the inventory. As we don’t have a comic shop in our town, it’s an easy stop for casual and hard-core comic fans.
As anyone who’s tried to gift comics to a comic book fan knows, it’s always hard to figure out what they already have and what they haven’t yet purchased/read. Kathe was surprised that there were many comics in this 10-pack that I hadn’t read.
And it’s an odd collection. It’s like a time capsule, but not an ancient one. In fact, it’s like a time capsule that was just put together a year or two ago, and then you were impatient and wanted to open it right then. This stack of DC Comics had a bit of “stale anticipation” of all the stuff that seemed exciting but has since gone in another direction. That’s understandable; the company has been through so many changes lately.
Action Comics #1000 (June 2018) is a fun comic with short stories by top creators. The last story in this one was a tease for Brain Bendis’ then upcoming stint of the Superman titles. I really enjoyed that run, but it’s astonishing at how quickly it all went by.
Likewise, Superman #21 (May 2020) was published right at the tail end of Bendis’ run. One of the things it focused on was Superman abandoning his Clark Kent identity. The idea was that we’d get “so many” stories exploring that new development. That didn’t really seem to happen either.
This packet included two copies of Batman #93 (June 2020), one with the regular cover and one with the retailer variant. This issue features the character Punchline and the writer James Tynion IV, both of whom seemed to be so important to the Batman franchise at the time. I’m unconvinced that Punchline became the breakout character she was meant to be. Writer Tynion recently left Gotham City for the greener pastures of Substack, and the Batman title has the feel of re-starting with a “bold, new era” with new creators yet again.
Strange Adventures #2 (June 2020) was the start of writer Tom King’s Adam Strange adventure. It’s hard not to like Tom King after hearing him on John Siuntres’ Word Balloon Podcast every so often. But this series, full of such promise, kind of fizzled for me. On the other hand, I’m really enjoying his latest DC Black Label series, The Human Target, with the very talented Greg Smallwood.
I do believe I read Multiversity #1 (October 2014) when it came out, but it was fun to re-read. Included in this packet was the sketch cover variant. (Anybody wanna draw something on it?) This comic is “typical” Grant Morrison horizon-expanding madness, starring characters like the Superman of Earth 23, the Aquawoman of Earth 11 and machines made of frozen music. I confess I don’t keep up with the company wide crossover events like I used to, but it’s hard for me to articulate the difference between this one and the newest upcoming crossover or JLA Incarnate.
On the other hand, we’ll reschedule our St. Valentine’s brunch. I’m really looking forward to that.