Archive for March 2nd, 2011


Classic EBI #79: Even More of the Best Comics I’ve Never Read

In this week’s Everything But Imaginary, I do a little number crunching, hurt my brain, and discover…

Everything But Imaginary #389: Why Comic Geeks May Fail Math

But in this week’s classic EBI takes us back to September 8, 2004, I go back to take a look at comics that (at that point at least) I’d never read, but wanted to…

Even More of the Best Comics I’ve Never Read

That’s right friends, it’s that time again, time to play everybody’s favorite game “The Best Comics I’ve Never Read.” As longtime readers of this column will recall, once upon a time I asked you guys to give me a list of great comic books (preferably available in graphic novel form) that I haven’t read, so I could periodically come back and let you know what I thought of them. Rules of the game are simple — I pick up a trade paperback you guys recommend from time to time. If I like it, it moves from my reading list for myself to my reading list for you guys. If I don’t like it, it is consigned to the bowels of my comic book collection, next to early 90s issues of X-Force and any Spider-Man issues that reference a clone.

Returning to this list is Grant Morrison, a writer who did fantastic runs on JLA and New X-Men, but whose opus The Invisibles left me pretty cold. This time out it was suggested I give his run on Animal Man a try, something that was pretty easy to do since DC has recently collected the entire run in trade paperback form. Isn’t that thoughtful?

Animal Man was a cheesy character with the power to absorb the abilities of any animals in the viscinity. It was kind of a goofy power, but in the hands of a good writer even goofy powers can make for great stories, so when Morrison took his stab at the character, you at least knew you were in for something different.

Morrison gets major points in my book for inventive uses of the character’s powers and for giving him some solid characterization, something he’d never had before. He loses points, however, for lapsing into the political screeds from time to time. I don’t read comic books to get a political lecture. If that’s your thing, I imagine you’d enjoy it more, but that stuff made the book more distasteful in my eyes.

Still, there was a lot of good stuff, and I’m told that the really innovative things came towards the end of his run. (Of course, I was told how innovative The Invisibles was too…) I’m not ready to give up on Animal Man entirely, but I didn’t like the first trade paperback enough to give it a full recommendation. I’ll try to find volume two. Until then, Mr. Morrison gets an incomplete.

Next up is a book you guys may have heard me talk about frequently, since I finally read it not long after my last “Best Comics I’ve Never Read” column — Mike Kunkel’s brilliant Herobear and the Kid. I got turned onto this comic by our own Craig Reade in his Still on the Shelf column. This is the story of Tyler, a normal 10-year-old kid, who inherits a toy teddy bear and a broken pocketwatch when his beloved grandfather dies. Tyler is forced to cope with the loss of his grandpa and moving to a new town all at the same time, and just when his life couldn’t get any worse, he discovers an incredible secret. His teddy bear comes to life and turns into a 10-foot, certified cape-wearing superhero, Herobear, a character that is “100 Percent Good.”

With such a premise, it would be easy for this comic book to lapse into the sugary or the sappy, or even worse, the patronizing. There is nothing that will turn a child off of a story faster than the sensation that they are being spoken down to. This comic never does that, though. It’s sweet, but has a darker, more realistic side as well. It’s about a child with real problems and fantastic solutions. And most of all, it’s about the power that can be found in a good heart. If you’ve got children, I urge you to get this comic book and read it with them. You won’t regret it. Herobear and the Kid graduates to my recommended reading list, big-time.

Third is something that I’ve been hearing about for a long time here at CX, Sean McKeever’s Sentinel. I didn’t read any of the Tsunami comics when Marvel launched that doomed imprint, but the new Marvel Age digests are a nice (and inexpensive) way to catch up. I’m also not that familiar with McKeever — the only work of his I’m sure I’ve read before is the first Marvel Age Fantastic Four digest, which frankly didn’t wow me.

In Sentinel: Salvage, we meet Juston Seyfert, a teenager with an absent mother, a lousy school life and a couple of bullies who have picked him as their favorite target. One of his best friends is about to snap, the girl he likes is off to meet up with her college-age boyfriend… things just aren’t going well.

Until Juston finds a Sentinel, one of those giant robots built to hunt down mutants like the X-Men, repairing itself in his father’s junkyard. Fortunately, this is the only real link to the larger Marvel Universe in the title, which is fortunate because the story doesn’t need it. It stands on its own extraordinarly well. While some of the characters can border on the edge of caricature, most are full of real emotion and strong characterization. It’s incredibly refreshing to see a comic with a teenage protagonist whose father isn’t stupid, abusive or absent. Juston’s dad, to the contrary, is as loving and supportive a character as any father in comics.

The Sentinel itself, of course, makes for a lot of great plot points, such as when Juston uses it in public to try to make himself a hero — and learns a lesson. Not in the gooey “Afterschool Special” kind of way either but in a way that evolves from the characters.

I can’t wait to get my hands on the second (and sadly, final) TPB of this series. Yeah, comic books are a business, but I find it extremely sad that Marvel is turning to the umpteenth Gambit and Rogue series to try to make money while a gem like this is left sitting on the shelf. Read this one, friends, and let Marvel know you want it back.

Finally, as is the custom, I’m going to wrap this up with a new volume that neither you (the royal you, all of you reading this) nor I have mentioned before in one of these columns: Doug TenNapel’s Tommysaurus Rex, which secured a co-”Favorite of the Week” spot when it came out. I first became aware of TenNapel, best known for his Earthworm Jim video game, a few years ago with the release of his fantastic sci-fi graphic novel Creature Tech.

In Tommysaurus, he tells the tale of a boy sent to spend the summer with his grandfather to help him cope with the death of his beloved dog. He finds something much more incredible, though — a real-live dinosaur. This is a fine graphic novel with a lot of heart to it, and it doesn’t lapse into the pseudo-religious stuff that turned some people off from Creature Tech. It’s a straight fantasy with a good lesson, one that I highly recommend.

Anyway, that’s all I’ve got for now friends. What about you? Here is what’s on the list…


Black Panther: The Client
Cerebus Vol. 1
Doom Patrol: Crawling From the Wreckage
The Gypsy Lounge
Hulk: Boiling Point
Goodbye, Chunky Rice
Jimmy Corrigan: The Smartest Boy in the World
Jinx and Goldfish
Knights of the Dinner Table: Bundles of Trouble
Lone Wolf and Cub Vol. 1: The Assassin’s Road
Maus: A Survivor’s Tale
New Teen Titans Archives Vol. 1
Planetary: All Around the World
Record of Lodoss War: The Lady of Pharis
Red Rocket 7
Rex Mundi: Guardian of the Temple
Safe Area Goradze
Terminal City
Top 10
V For Vendetta


The Adventures of Barry Ween, Boy Genius series
Astro City series (Vol 1: Life in the Big City)
Bone series (Vol 1: Out From Boneville)
The Complete Peanuts
Creature Tech
Criminal Macabre
Daredevil: Wake Up
Dork Tower series (Vol 1: Dork Covenant)
Fables series (Vol 1: Legends in Exile)
Fantastic Four: Imaginauts
Hellboy: Seeds of Destruction
Herobear and the Kid
The Liberty Project
Meridian series (Vol 1: Flying Solo)
Preacher series (Vol 1: Gone to Texas)
Punisher: Welcome Back Frank
Road to Perdition
Sentinel: Salvage
Tommysaurus Rex
24 Hour Comics
Understanding Comics/Reinventing Comics
The Wizard’s Tale

Got any comics you want me to add? Want to talk about any of the ones we’ve already covered? Here’s your chance, friends. Give me an assignment. Add some books to that list! I’m always looking for a good read.

FAVORITE OF THE WEEK: September 1, 2004

Been a while since this title made it into a Favorite of the Week spot, but Ultimate Spider-Man #65 was one of the best single issues of that title ever. I was frustrated, even mad at how Gwen Stacy was killed a few weeks ago, and I thought the end of the Carnage storyline was lackluster, but this issue is all about aftermath. Peter, Mary Jane, Liz Allen. Flash Thompson and Kong in detention. That’s about the whole issue. And it gets so deep into character, so brilliantly revealing, this is one of the best issues of this comic yet. Once this was considered by many the best mainstream comic in America – it’s issues like this that got it that rep.

Blake M. Petit is the author of the superhero comedy novel, Other People’s Heroes, the suspense novel The Beginner and the Christmas-themed eBook A Long November. He’s also the co-host, with whoever the hell is available that week, of the 2 in 1 Showcase Podcast and the weekly audio fiction podcast Blake M. Petit’s Evercast. E-mail him at and visit him on the web at Evertime Realms. Read past columns at the Everything But Imaginary Archive Page, and check out his new experiment in serial fiction at Tales of the Curtain.

March 2011

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