The Essential series is, for those who don't already know, a cheap black and white reprint series. Depending on how you want to check out old Fantastic Four, Marvel offers an expensive and impossible to read anywhere but at home Omnibus, an expensive and easy to carry around short Masterworks edition, or if you don't give a shit, but figure hey-why-the-hell-not, these Essential things. Continuing around 20 full length comics, it's either a great way to check out the "classics" or it's a great way to immerse oneself in a bit of mildly irritated ennui. Sure, you're supposed to respect old super-hero comics, you're supposed to shit your pants and talk about how Stan Lee's writing is on the Shakespearean level with his mastery of tragic heroes, you're supposed to look at whatever the Fantastic Four is doing now (exact same shit) and talk about how it's not as good as what was done before (exact same shit) and how today's comics are totally decompressed and not as deep, or smart, or point out that's why todays comics aren't as popular, because this shit is gold, it's unimpeachable brilliance, it was what made the Hernandez brothers want to write, so it must be perfect, so on, so forth, babbling endlessly, like a river brook.
Some of this is entertaining. Most of it is just long-winded and tiresome. Some of Kirby's panels and pages are totally fucking great. Most aren't. None of this is dramatically anything. When it came out, yes, it totally was. Yes, it was innovative, and different, and compared against the stuffed suit corporate fatcats over at DC--fill in the blank with what you always hear, insert something with the word renegade if you must. But the ongoing rapture for this? Born out of nostalgia. Bred by snobbery. Would you rather read 100 Bullets now? Would you rather watch The Wire? That doesn't make you any less intelligent, any less classy, or anything else. Just because Marvel and DC are reprinting everything they've ever published, that doesn't mean it's worth a second of your time. Would it be better in color? In a hardcover that weighs 14 pounds? Maybe it would be. But it would still be long-winded and only intermittently not boring.
Rising Stars, Volumes 1-2
Written by J. Michael Straczynski
Art by Christian Zanier, Ken Lashley, Livesay, Steve Nelson, Mario Alquiza, Alp Altiner, Danny Miki, Stuart Immonen, Brent Anderson, Keu Cha, Jason Gorder, Edwin Rosell & Victor Llamas
Published by Top Cow Productions, Image Comics & Joe's Comics, 2001-2002
Most of the time, when Rising Stars gets mentioned, it's to say that the beginning was pretty great, and then it all went south due to legal fights and bad art. Not true! It was never great.
End of review.
The Trial of Colonel Sweeto And Other Stories
By Nicholas Gurewitch
2007, Published by Dark Horse Comics
Although it's never been easier to go to the Perry Bible Fellowship website, which is where all of these comics can be found, that doesn't mean that it isn't a fabulous! wonderful! hilarious! pleasure in being able to buy this candy-colored hardcover edition of Gurewitch's work. There's not enough nice things in the world that can be said about Perry Bible--it's really fucking funny, and it's really fucking funny all the time. Whether you're watching an old alkie lose it all at the track after betting on a flying cartoon pony, or the greatest marriage proposal of all time, Nicholas Gurewitch is a guy who hasn't just earned your money, he's owed it. The laughter here is worth hundreds of dollars, yet Dark Horse wants less than twenty. These are great times.
-Tucker Stone, 2008