Yesterday's Comics and Things

*Trade Waiting Dept: As I usually do with collected editions of comics I already read in serialized form, I flipped though the Seven Soldiers of Victory Vol. 4 trade yesterday. I’d suggest everyone at least flip to the back at some point, where writer Grant Morrison provides an interesting extra: an annotated version of about three or four pages from his script to Seven Soldiers #1. I’d love to see the whole script for that thing (even without annotations), but maybe they’re hoarding it for the Absolute edition or something (not that an Absolute edition is actually coming out - I’m just saying). Some nice tidbits on when and how the material was prepared (apparently the whole painted stretch set in the far past was written prior to Seven Soldiers #0), and art details you might have otherwise missed. Morrison also leaves himself open to more than a little snark, happily noting that the bit where Zatanna casts her big spell was the very last thing he wrote. Appropriate mystical touch, or desperation gambit? The world may never know, at least until we’re asked to buy the stuff again.

*I don’t know if anyone finished buying The Vault of Michael Allred -- I thought the wall of hype from Allred’s most popular period dominated issues #2-#3 to the point of dullness, without nearly enough commentary or unfamiliar art to balance it out -- but issue #4 is a pretty good finale, focusing largely on Allred’s commissions and side-projects, lots of stuff that hasn’t been seen much before, save for dedicated internet sleuths, I guess. Nine pages of Allred’s storyboards for the Madman movie are nice, but I tend to get more enjoyment out of seeing him draw random things like multiple versions of Starman (Starmen?). Lots of images of the Sandman cast, for some reason. Some of the unpublished projects are interesting too - I had no idea Allred had inked Jay Stephens on a Teen Titans Elseworlds special, written by Bob Haney, which is apparently complete and ready for action but has simply never been published. Also: pieces from a proposed Captain Mar-Vell project with Joe Casey, and a Superman/Batman thing with Paul Chadwick. Lots of promise (or frustration) in this one.

*Actual plain ol' pamphlet comics were kinda dull this week. I will recommend Usagi Yojimbo #100, though, if only for the unique feel it manages to convey - lots of easygoing, gentle humor among friends, filled with reminisce. I knew it was supposed to be a ‘roast,’ but I wasn’t aware it was actually going to be presented in-story as Stan Sakai having a banquet held in his honor, with different artists and writers taking the story’s reins whenever they’re called up to the podium. Except for Frank Miller, who sends Marv from Sin City crashing through a skylight - lots of other Dark Horse published characters lurk around in the background, by the way.

Many corny jokes, with Mark Evanier’s and Scott Shaw!’s piece probably both corniest and funniest, though I did like Sergio Aragonés’ piece a lot on a conceptual level. As usual, the bigger the names, the smaller the contributions, to varying effect - Miller’s page looks like it was created on 24 Second Comic Day, while Jeff Smith’s is infused with affection throughout its three panels. I’m not entirely sure how this is “the ultimate introduction to the world of the rabbit ronin and his inimitable creator,” since it doesn’t really tell you anything about Usagi Yojimbo the book in terms of characters of premise, but as an easygoing collection of gags and stories from talented veterans it has charm, maybe enough to interest those beyond the core readership.