Monday, March 12, 2018


JUDGE DREDD: THE COMPLETE CASE FILES VOL. 11 (2000 AD, First Printing, October, 2008; Softcover)

Collects the Judge Dredd stories from 2000 A.D. #523-570 (cover dates May 23, 1987- April 16, 1988)

Writers: John Wagner and Alan Grant

Artists: Brett Ewins, John Ridgway, Cliff Robinson, Robin Smith, Mike Collins, John Higgins, Liam McCormack Sharp, Steve Dillon, Barry Kitson, Jim Baike, Garry Leach, Will Simpson, Dave Elliot, and Brendan McCarthy

It all started for me with an Anthrax song and then the 2012 movie Dredd. That is what prompted my mad quest to procure every single Complete Case Files as well as the Restricted Case Files books in the winter of 2012-13 . Over the past few years I've slowly been reading these books and have realized that I may never finish reading them all.

The writing is solid throughout, with continuity that is as tight as a drum. It's the artwork which swerves all over the road here, from brilliant to what I politely call “deadline art”. Cliff Robinson's artwork is head and shoulders above the rest of the pack here. Judge Dredd was a weekly strip, and there was a rotating crop of artists in order to make the going to press deadline. As a weekly reader this probably didn't matter, but when reading a huge swath of issues in a row like you do with this book it can be jarring from one story to the next.

The highlight of this book is the 26 part epic, Oz, where former champion skysurfer Chopper makes a prison break. Jug McKenzie has been the champion for the two years since Chopper has been in prison and was talking a lot of smack, which caught Chopper's attention. With nothing to lose, Chopper hops on a skyboard and goes on a harrowing journey across the ocean to Australia to compete in Supersurf 10. Some of the arcs in this book were about as fun to read as chewing chalk, but this one was a real page turner that kept me awake until I finished it.

Dredd's a good character and a good concept, but in my case a little goes a long way. There is a sameness to it all, even when they switch gears and Dredd is fighting rats, mutant alligators or martial artists. Dredd is great when I am in a certain frame of mind. The problem for me is that this frame of mind is becoming less and less frequent right now.
Junk Food For Thought rating: 3 out of 5.

The OCD zone- This is the part where I go into tactile sensations and materials of physical media. Those with heart conditions, high blood pressure, or women who are pregnant should exit my blog at their earliest convenience, as their safety cannot be guaranteed beyond this point.

These books are wider than standard trade paperbacks. The material reprinted here is presented in a smaller size than it was in the original publications.

There is a cover gallery in the back of the book which features only nine of the twenty one covers that Judge Dredd appeared on out of the issues collected in this book.

Linework and Color restoration: This book is printed in black and white, which is becoming a problem as the full color (or colour, since this is British) double page spreads are now an every issue occurrence. Those are scanned and printed in black and white, resulting in a grayscale mess. Starting with the next Volume I noticed that they have switched to a full color, glossy paper format for this line of books. The first two pages out of each six-eight page story in this book are a murky grayscale abomination with gutter loss.

Paper stock: Uncoated paper stock. The paper used in the European printed versions (like my copy here) feels odd to the touch. I can't quite explain it.

Binding: Sewn binding. There is an annoying amount of gutter loss across the double page spreads, with the word balloons getting sucked right down the middle.

Cardstock cover notes: Super thick cardstock covers with a matte coating that is sufficiently resistant to scuffing.

Sunday, March 4, 2018

Review- RIP KIRBY VOL. 1: 1946-1948

RIP KIRBY VOL. 1: 1946-1948 (Library Of American Comics/ IDW, Fourth Printing, 2014; Hardcover)

Collects the Rip Kirby daily strips from March 4, 1946- December 4, 1948

Writer: Ward Greene

Artist: Alex Raymond

Newspaper strips are an acquired taste, but once you do acquire that taste you realize how much superior the storytelling capabilities of this tightly structured form are when compared to even my beloved comic books. The story never ends with newspaper strips. While newspaper strips have been reprinted since the early 1900s (those album-style reprint books were arguably the very first comic books), over the past decade we have seen a slew of high quality, high end reprint collections like this one.

Rip Kirby is the first “modern detective”, meaning that he was the first post-Pulp detective who eschewed all of the various trappings of that genre. Kirby isn't a playboy, instead having a steady gal whom he keeps at arm's length while tapdancing around the various damsels in distress that he encounters. While he occasionally uses a gun and does engage in fisticuffs, it is his intellect and sleuthing which are his strengths. Nor is he a hard drinker, smoking only his pipe. Sherlock Holmes meets pulp detectives with a post-World War II optimistic sheen.

Alex Raymond is a god. His artwork is more streamlined here than on Flash Gordon, the result of meeting the deadline demands of a daily strip rather than just doing a Sunday page. One of the things that I love about reading old comic books and newspaper strips is the artist catching the feeling of the era on paper. The fashions, cars, and architectural styles of the day are on full display in a way that even a historically accurate period piece cannot replicate. There are nuances which historians miss which were matter of fact daily life for those who actually lived through it.

Rip's valet, Desmond, plays an increasingly important role as the strip progresses. A man with a criminal past yet still prim and proper, Desmond saves the day more than once. Chapter 7, Bleak Prospects (October 13, 1947- June 12, 1948), is a tale of kidnapping, back in the days when the idle rich could buy kids on the black market and get away with it..or almost get away with it. Rip Kirby saves the day, but this particular story arc has the most twists and turns in the entire book.

This is some great stuff. This book has gone through at least four printings, and with good reason. If you are tired of linewide comic crossovers, endless reboots, and stunts and gimmicks but are not ready to give up on comics, try reading some of this stuff. It has never been easier or more affordable to snag this material.
Junk Food For Thought rating: 5 out of 5.

The OCD zone- This book is presented in horizontal/ landscape format.

Linework and Color restoration: The restoration is overall very good, but there are several strips in Chapter 8, Terror On The Thames, where the bottom of the strip has been clipped off. I imagine that there were wild variances in the presentation of strips as they were syndicated nationwide. Newspapers likely trimmed strips so that they could fit them in the allotted space. My guess is that it depends on the source for the collection that was used for this book. Either that or the LOAC trimmed them to fit the format of this book.

Uncropped original.

The strip as reprinted in this book.

Uncropped original.

The strip as reprinted in this book.

Paper stock: Super thick matte uncoated stock. Perfect for zero light glare under any source. I experiment with incandescent, CFL, LED, and natural sunlight. I only use incandescent in my bedroom reading lamp (no overhead lighting), but there is no glare with any of the aforementioned sources.

Binding: Sewn binding with a built in ribbon. Some folks like the ribbon, as it is an elegant nod. I can take it or leave it. The book block has room to flex within the casing, allowing the book to lay flat without assistance from you.

Due to the horizontal presentation and weight of the book block you can see a slight sag as gravity takes effect over the years. You might want to store this one spine down if such things bother you. As for myself, I will be dead and gone by the time that this is a real concern and my kids can worry about it when they sell my collection off after I die of old age.

Dustjacket and Hardback cover notes: The casewrap has a texture to it that makes it feel like an old book. The logo is stamped on the front cover and the spine. The dustjacket has a matte coating.

Sunday, February 25, 2018


GREEN LANTERN: SECTOR 2814 VOL. 3 (DC, First Printing, 2014; Softcover)

Collects Green Lantern #194-200 (cover dates November, 1985- May, 1986)

Writer: Steve Englehart

Artists: Joe Staton with Inking by Bruce D. Patterson, Mark Farmer, and Bob Smith

In this volume we see the saga of Hal Jordan quitting the Green Lantern Corps come to it's logical conclusion amidst the crossover Crisis On Infinite Earths. I am not sure if I should use the SPOILERS tag for something over 30 years old, but be forewarned that I might blow the whole plot for you if you proceed any farther.

John Stewart has been the Green Lantern of Sector 2814 since Hal Jordan quit The Green Lantern Corps (in the first of the three volumes of trades in this line). Stewart is still learning the ropes but has a good grasp on the powers and his role. There is no doubt that he is a hero. The Guardians Of The Universe have a crisis of their own during the COIE and have become a warring action, with Guy Gardner recruited to become a Green Lantern to carry out a mission.

Gardner is a Green Lantern for “the new generation”, an anti-hero rebel type who is wholly unlikable and completely unheroic. He's a definite precursor for the '90s “!!! totally extreme!!!” style heroes which leave me cold.

There are some nice character development moments with the relationship between Green Lanterns John Stewart and Katma Tui. While the events in these comics play out clearly, there is a feeling as we hit issues 199 and 200 that universe-wide changes have occurred in the aftermath of COIE that are not fully explained here. DC was in the process of trying to reset their universe, a then-innovative and bold concept which has now been done ad nauseum, and they were in a hurry to clear the deck. The Guardians were about to embark with their forgotten other halves, the Zamarons, to proceed with some kind of Dark Crystal style merging.

The series continues with #201 in Tales Of The Green Lantern Corps Vol. 3 trade paperback, long out of print but not too pricey. DC's collected editions department makes no sense, with it's scattershot approach to collecting material. They seem to be trying to rectify that lately but their production errors (missing pages, dropped word balloons) are keeping them a dozen or so years behind Marvel's collected editions program.

It took me a while, but I finally read all three of these books. The first volume was the strongest of the bunch, with the second one still being enjoyable. This third volume has cemented Green Lantern as a B-lister in my mind.
Junk Food For Thought rating: 3.75 out of 5.

The OCD zone- This is the part where I go into tactile sensations and materials of physical media. Those with heart conditions, high blood pressure, or women who are pregnant should exit my blog at their earliest convenience, as their safety cannot be guaranteed beyond this point.

Linework and Color restoration: Comic book restoration amateur hour. While the original color palette is faithfully maintained, the linework is washed out. Marvel hasn't done a job this bad since 2004.

Paper stock: Bright white glossy coated stock. This is not optimal for material with flat coloring. Marvel stopped using paper like this for vintage material around 2006.

Binding: Perfect bound trade paperback.

Cardstock cover notes: Laminated cardstock cover.

Sunday, February 18, 2018


TALES FROM THE CRYPT (VOL. 1: THE STALKING DEAD) (Super Genius, First Printing, 2017; Hardcover)

Collects Tales From The Crypt #1, 2, plus one new story, “Leather Or Not(cover dates November, 2016- March, 2017)

Writers: Christina Blanch, Danica Davidson, David Anthony Kraft, Onrie Kompan, Scott Lobdell, Stefan Petrucha, and Bernie Wrightson

Artists: Kyle Baker, Bob Camp, Dean Haspel, Russ Heath, Miran Kim, Steve Mannion, John McCrea, Jolyon Yates, and Bernie Wrightson

Colorists: Laurie E. Smith, JayJay Jackson, Miran Kim, and Dee Cunniffe

Papercutz has mismanaged the Tales From The Crypt property for over a decade now. Their previous attempt at tween-friendly, Scholastic Book Fair level Horror was a disservice to the legacy of EC. This new series, released under their Super Genius “adult” imprint, is a step in the right direction but still comes up a day late and a dollar short.

The two Bernie Wrightson stories are from the early '70s and are reprinted here with modern computer coloring. The rest of the artwork is a mixed bag, with some of it good and some of it Bluewater Comics level bad. The writing is solid, with Undertow being the best example of how to incorporate the old school EC ironic twist ending with a modern day concept.

This is a quick read with a low MSRP. You could certainly do worse. This series is far from being a worthy successor to those legendary EC Comics. It's a shame that they can't get Stephen King, John Carpenter, and other legendary writers and artists to do these comics to give the series the high profile that it deserves. There are a few “names” attached to this series but it deserves better. I'm not giving up on this new series just yet. I'll hang around for the next book before making up my mind.
Junk Food For Thought rating: 2.5 out of 5.

The OCD zone- This is the part where I go into tactile sensations and materials of physical media. Those with heart conditions, high blood pressure, or women who are pregnant should exit my blog at their earliest convenience, as their safety cannot be guaranteed beyond this point.

The volume number and title are found nowhere on this book. Not on the cover, the spine, the title page, the indicia...nowhere. I listed it for ease of reference and web searches, but aside from Diamond's Previews and Amazon, this book is simply titled Tales From The Crypt.

Paper stock: Thick glossy coated stock with a slight sheen.

Binding: Sewn binding.

Hardback cover notes: Thick boards with a thick laminated casewrap. No dustjacket required.

Monday, February 12, 2018


IMAGE FIRSTS COMPENDIUM VOL. 1 (Image, First Printing, January, 2015; Softcover)

Collects Wytches #1, Outcast #1, Nailbiter #1, Southern Bastards #1, The Fade Out #1, The Wicked + The Divine #1, Low #1, Shutter #1, and C.O.W.L. #1 (cover dates April-October, 2014)

Writers: Scott Snyder, Robert Kirkman, Joshua Williamson, Jason Aaron, Ed Brubaker, Kieron Gillen, Rick Remender, Joe Keatinge, Kyle Higgins, and Alec Siegel

Artists: Jock, Paul Azaceta, Mike Henderson, Jason Latour, Sean Phillips, James McKelvie, Greg Tocchini, Leila Del Luca, and Rod Reis

Colorists: Matt Hollingsworth, Bettie Breitweiser, Adam Guzowski, Jason Latour, rico., Matt Wilson, Greg Tocchini, Owen Gieni, and Rod Reis

Image Comics has done one of the best brand turnarounds in the history of comics. A dozen years ago this company was an also-ran, home to a few moribund properties and endless failed concepts. That changed around the turn of this decade. Comics were enjoying renewed attention due to the glut of movies and creators were looking to pimp their “IP” to get it optioned for movies or television. Creator owned comics are where the new ideas are these days.

This book collects the first issue of nine different titles. There was a second volume the following year, but I don't have that one. I'll review each first issue collected in this book in pellet review format.

Wytches makes a great first impression but falls short. I checked out the first trade from the library and couldn't even be bothered to finish it. The first issue is a strong hook but the subsequent ones couldn't sustain my interest, even for free. 3

Outcast is an interesting Exorcist riff recycled enough times where it might fool youngsters. It's interesting enough as its own thing and might be worth checking out. 4

Nailbiter is a solid concept that I would pick up if I were still buying boatloads of books all the time. 4

Southern Bastards is worthy, a real deal concept that seems like it would go over great as a Netflix series. 4.5

The Fade Out- Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips can do no wrong. This is another one of their five star concepts. I read the first trade some time ago but need to go back and finish reading the series. There is so much going on in comics that things get lost in the shuffle, even when they shouldn't. 5

The Wicked + The Divine is a spit shined Cadillac firing on all cylinders. It's available only as a digitial checkout from the library. While I am loath to reading comic books on a screen, I am even more loath to spending money on still more comic books these days. 5

Low is complete and utter garbage. 0

Shutter is a forgettable concept told in an unconvincing manner. 0.5

C.O.W.L. is regurgitated pretentious crap, a “smart” post-superhero dystopian sort of thing that should be avoided at all costs. Buying comics like this shows the terrorists that they can win or something like that. -1

So there you have it. While I buy very few new comics series these days I have to take a peek at newer stuff once in a while. I'll never be a “all new comics suck” kind of guy, but I am also not a seeker in the respect of being like the fans who jump from new thing to new thing. I can't do it all. Lord knows that I've tried.
Junk Food For Thought rating: 2.78 out of 5.

The OCD zone- This is the part where I go into tactile sensations and materials of physical media. Those with heart conditions, high blood pressure, or women who are pregnant should exit my blog at their earliest convenience, as their safety cannot be guaranteed beyond this point.

Paper stock: Semi-glossy coated stock. Closer to matte but it has a slight sheen.

Binding: Perfect bound trade paperback.

Cardstock cover notes: Laminated cardstock cover.

Friday, February 2, 2018


MARVEL MASTERWORKS: GOLDEN AGE ALL-WINNERS VOL. 4 (Marvel, First Printing, 2011; Hardcover)

Collects All-Winners Comics #15-19, 21, Vol. 2 # 1 (cover dates Spring, 1945- August, 1948)

Writers: Bill Finger, Otto Binder, William Woolfolk, and other unidentified writers

Artists: Alex Schomburg (covers), Mort Lawrence, Art Seymour, Al Bellman, Vince Alascia, George Klein, Al Avison, Clem Weisbecker, Mike Sekowsky, Maurice Gutwirth, Syd Shores, Allen Bellman, Mort Leav, Carl Burgos, Al Gabriele, Bob Powell, Louis Ferstadt, Carl Pfeufer, and other unidentified artists

Superheroes weren't selling very well after World War II. With the wind taken out of their sales, these comics come off as also rans, plodding along with writing and artwork that was vastly inferior to the earlier issues in this series.

By the time that we reach #17 there is a massive uptick in quality. Gone are the rush jobs done by the second tier comic book journeymen of the day, in is the more refined artwork by the likes of Al Avison, George Klein, and others. The writing in that issue is also head and shoulders above the previous two collected in this volume. Issue 18 is even better than #17.

Unlike DC's Justice Society Of America over in All-Star Comics, the All Winners Squad didn't really work together as a team until #19. This issue aped the JSA formula so well that had they employed it earlier they might have saved the title. There was no #20, and #21 occurred because the title took over the numbering from another title. 

Don't worry, kids! Those gorillas which Bucky is gunning down turned out to be wearing bullet proof vests later...not that Bucky knew it at the time. No PETA in the 1940s.

This was a common practice back among magazine publishers then, as they had to pay to file a new magazine title with the Post Office. Ditching titles while keeping numbering was common through the 1960s. This makes the relaunched #1 in 1948 even more curious. Was it a last ditch effort to save the series? An oversight? We can only guess now, as nearly everyone who worked on these comics is dead and gone. Record keeping wasn't much of a consideration in the comic world back then.

The Human Torch gives The Gay Blade a what-for in 1948.

#21 sees the All Winners Squad battle Future Man, a menace from the year One Million AD. He gives the team a run for their money. The relaunched #1 from 1948 was the best issue out of all four volumes in this line of books. We finally get to see the Blonde Phantom! I would love to read more of her exploits. Alas, Marvel has mothballed all plans for this Golden Age line of Masterworks, citing the unwelcome combination of soft sales and high restoration costs. I hope that they reverse that decision one day, as there is a lot of material that deserves to be restored and rereleased.
Junk Food For Thought rating: 3.75 out of 5.

The OCD zone- This is the part where I go into tactile sensations and materials of physical media. Those with heart conditions, high blood pressure, or women who are pregnant should exit my blog at their earliest convenience, as their safety cannot be guaranteed beyond this point.

Linework and Color restoration: Think of the post-2007 Masterworks as definitive Blu-Ray editions, with painstakingly restored linework and a color palette that is 100% faithful to the source material. Those who claim that the colors miss the “artistic choice” of so- called Ben Day dots are nuts.

Paper stock: Thick semi-glossy coated stock.

Binding: Rounded book casing and Smyth sewn binding allow this book to lay completely flat in one hand as Godzilla intended.

Dustjacket and Hardback cover notes: Spot varnish on the dustjacket, faux leather casewrap with dye foil stamping.