The comics industry is currently flush with amazing work by talented writers and artists. However, publishers are constantly going back and repackaging old material that deserves a spotlight or contains stories that readers may have missed when they were first released. These are the Best Reprinted Material of 2012 that contain stories originally published at least 10 years ago.
Though this collection’s name is a bit odd, this is another in DC’s line of Showcase Presents titles. Collections of black-and-white reprints of comics at bargain basements prices have been popular with several publishers over the years and this is DC’s line of that type of book. Mostly, these collections contain early adventures of a particular character or team. This specific collection contains the first twenty-one issues of Showcase, DC’s try-out title which launched in 1956. Though characters like the Flash and Green Lantern were launched after first debuting in stories in the pages of this title, plenty of obscure characters also attempted to reach audiences in these pages. For the first time, these forgotten characters like Fireman Farrell, Kings of the Wild, and the Space Ranger get a chance to shine alongside the Challengers of the Unknown and the earliest Lois Lane solo stories. This collection is a wonderful reminder of the mishmash of genre and style that the Silver Age was really all about and shows younger readers that superheroes weren’t always the dominant force in comics.
Years before Ed Brubaker would go on to create comics like Gotham Central, Criminal, and Fatale alongside artists Michael Lark and Sean Phillips, the three worked together on this four issue Vertigo miniseries. Recently rereleased by Image in a hardcover edition, Scene of the Crime tells the tale of Jack Herriman, a private eye working in San Francisco. Tasked with tracking down a missing woman named Maggie, Jack’s investigation leads him from a free love commune to the dark alleyways of the city. It’s a noir tale, something that Brubaker and his collaborates would come back to time and again. Start here to see all that inspiration in its nascent form.
Read Conor’s Book of the Month review for this title to get another perspective.
Ostensibly a spin-off of Grant Morrison’s Doom Patrol, Flex Mentallo: Man of Muscle Mystery was a four issue miniseries that had developed almost a mythical pressence. Some said that it was one of the best things Grant Morrison and Frank Quitely ever created together. Issues of the series ran for exorbitant amounts on eBay as DC refused to reprint this story for a decade and a half. Finally, it was released again this year and it is, indeed, a seminal work. An examination on the history of comics, the connection between stories and their readers, and the potential for where comics may go next are all handled with deft hands. The book’s recoloring brought a new color palette to a book which has gotten praise for its art for years. It seemed a bit unnecessary to have such a stark change but the material shines in either case.
Check out Josh’s Book of the Month review for another take on this book.
With a character as popular as Spider-Man, the pages of just a few ongoing comic series and miniseries simply cannot hold him. Creators have story ideas that are more than can easily be broken into 20 to 22 page chapters. That’s why Spider-Man has found himself the main character in a variety of long form graphic novels that have been released over the years. All of these have fallen out of print until this collection came along. Containing art by such comics luminaries as Berni Wrightson, Alex Saviuk, Charles Vess, and Ross Andru, these four self-contained tales are once again reprinted for new fans to discover.
When Darwyn Cooke and Ed Brubaker got their hands on Catwoman in 2002, they took a whole new slant on the character. Instead of the bombshell she’d been for much of the previous decade, there was an effort to make the character into a slinky femme fatale, alluring to all of the men in her life but inevitably disastrous for them as well. This tone fit Cooke’s artwork beautifully and allowed for a different interpretation of that character than had been seen before. Brubaker portrayed Selina as an anti-hero with a heart and kept the intrigue taut. This collection is actually a mini-omnibus, containing material previously released separately. Having it all reprinted in one place was a definite improvement.
7. The Bible
Originally a one-off edition released in 1975, this book full of stories from the book of Genesis penciled by Joe Kubert and Nestor Redondo is something that most readers didn’t even know existed. Oversized and released in hardcover, this edition showcases these artists’ beautiful art. Kubert’s contributions to this work include several one-page features on topics like what a Ziggurat was, schools in ancient times, and what ancient soldiers used in battle. He also designed the book’s cover. Redondo did everything else including interpretations on tales like Noah’s Ark and the Tower of Babel. Keeping this book in its original page size was the way to go as it allows the work to spread luxuriously across huge vistas, allowing readers to become immersed in the art. Noah’s flood and the creation of Eve are lovingly rendered. It’s a book to behold.
Shepherded by Marv Wolfman and George Perez, the New Teen Titans were a comic book phenomenon when they were first published back in the early 1980s. The series’ soap opera tensions alongside epic battles drew readers in and held them fast. This second omnibus ends with perhaps the pinnacle of that formula, a storyline titled the Judas Contract. In it, alliances are corrupted, heroes change identities, and a betrayal rocks the Titans. It’s all great stuff. The only downside to this collection is that it’s missing issue #38, which it was solicited to contain. DC did say that the missing issue will be in the next omnibus in this series, currently slated to be released next summer.
Hayao Miyazaki may be synonymous these days with gorgeous and lyrical anime films, but he has also been a manga artist working with only pencil and paper. During his non-animation free time, he wrote and drew this seven volume series concerning Nausciaä. A princess of the Valley of the Wind, Nausciaä’s tale is about the dangers of over industrialization, rebelling against nature, and how humanity can survive with the world seemingly destroyed. Originally released from 1982 to 1994, VIZ just released a beautiful two book hardcover set which contains the entire story. Larger than a regular manga, Nausciaä is beautiful in its packaging beyond the story found within. It’s a tale told by a master storyteller and it’s even more involved and thoughtful than the movie that was made from a mere fraction of the source material.
In 1987, the French comic artist Moebius went to a lunch with Stan Lee at the San Diego Comic Con. At the end of the lunch, he’d agreed to do the art on a Silver Surfer miniseries which would be written by Stan himself. Released the following year, this collaboration resulted in a beautiful two issue miniseries that was reprinted this year as Silver Surfer: Parable. With its plot involving Glactus’ return to Earth and the religious fever that he brought to humanity, the story is every bit as compelling as Moebius’ gorgeous line work. Also included in this edition is a Stan Lee written and Keith Pollard drawn Silver Surfer graphic novel titled The Enslavers. It certainly helps make this a meaty collection, but the true draw for this book is allowing readers the opportunity to pour over Moebius’ version of Galactus.
While any of this year’s IDW Artist’s Editions could have easily made this list, this similarly formatted book by Titan Books makes the list due to its creators and its subject. Featuring gorgeous art by Walter Simonson and words by Archie Goodwin, this book is an adaptation of Ridley Scott’s original Alien film. Presented entirely as direct reproductions of Simonson’s original artwork, this book is huge and shows how past artists didn’t always take exquisite care of their original artwork. Complete with coffee stains and White Out, this book reveals the process of making comics in the late 1970s and allows modern readers to view a piece of comics history.
Head over to Conor’s Book of the Month review of the similar Wally Wood’s EC Stories Artist’s Edition to read about a similar title.
2. Batman: No Man’s Land, Vols. 2, 3, & 4
Though a set of No Man’s Land trades was released a decade ago, they were incomplete and left out supporting chapters to the tale. DC decided to go back and right this wrong with their new line of No Man’s Land paperbacks which contain every side tale restored to its proper place in continuity. No Man’s Land remains among the most wide-ranging Batman tales ever told with several shining moments, including Batman: Legends of the Dark Knight #125, a story that remains my favorite single issue of Batman. Used as inspiration for parts of this summer’s The Dark Knight Rises, this is one story that expands the scope of what a superhero line of books can do given a coordinated effort.
Nicknamed “The Good Duck Artist” by legions of fans, Carl Barks wrote and drew Disney comics for years. Specializing in tales featuring Donald Duck, Uncle Scrooge, Huey, Dewey, Louie, and all of their supporting cast of characters, Barks created many of the ideas and concepts that would later become known to many a DuckTales viewer. The Complete Carl Barks Disney Library is a series from Fantagraphics which, when the last volume is published, should house every single Barks comic from 1942 to 1966. Published out of order to get the best stuff available to fans first, Only a Poor Old Man is actually volume 12 in this series while A Christmas for Shacktown is volume 11. Choosing to release the greatest stories first was a shrewd plan, as it makes these refurbished volumes indispensable for new and old fans alike. These tales are worth keeping in a giant money bin.
Make sure you check out Conor’s Book of the Month review for Only a Poor Old Man to read a more in-depth review.