Wednesday, July 20, 2011

A Series That Needs Reprinting: Atari Force

The latest issue of the Comics Buyer's Guide has a letter from someone commenting on which series they would like to see reprinted.  One of them he mentioned was Atari Force.  I couldn't agree more.

Atari Force sounds like a lame title.  I thought so when it came out in the early '80s.  It was originally shipped with Atari games in a smaller format, if memory serves me correctly, and then DC did it as a regular-sized comic book.  I stumbled across the first issue at the news rack, read a page and got hooked just about instantly.  Then I picked up every issue as they appeared, but for some reason the store stopped carrying it at issue four or five.  I have since picked up some back issues here and there, but it's obvious to me that if the rights permit it, DC should definitely reprint this fine sci-fi series ... which really had nothing to do with Atari in any noticeable way.

I believe one of the reasons I liked this so much was the same reason I liked Marvel's Micronauts.  It was rousing action with a science fiction twist (though Marvel's series was often based on Earth in modern times).  It read like nothing else on the stands at the time, too.  Sure, you could read about the Titans or their Marvel equivalent, but the stories of Atari Force stood out as unique.

Not every issue was a winner, however.  Why it only lasted about twenty issues is beyond me, though.  I can only think that this was a time period where everyone was so focused on superheroes that this easily fell through the cracks.  DC can rectify this slight, and bring back a piece of comic's history ... in color.  Is there a market to support it?  Hell, if people are still reading Spawn I think anything is possible.

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Sunday, July 3, 2011

The Best Trade I Ever Made

I was excited when Marvel, via its Epic line, announced it would be reprinting Akira.  This would be my chance to finally read the highly-praised Japanese series.  I was picking up the issues on a regular basis, too.  The comic book store I bought them from, The Encounter in PA, had ordered enough that it was doing store-made three packs of the first three issues at a special low price.  I picked up one of these as an investment.  It's an investment that paid off quite well.

A few months later I found myself at a comic book booth at a local flea market.  The guy had some good stuff, primarily Silver Age and newer.  One of the issues on the shelf was Marvel's Conan #1.  Being a huge Conan fan, this was a find.  It was also over-priced for its condition.  He wanted something like $108 for it. That was insane.

I asked the guy who ran the booth, a man in his fifties, if he could come down any on his price, as it was way too high for its condition. He informed me that was not out of the question.  He would drop it to $100.  Still too rich for my teen blood.

We started the traditional haggling, and in doing so he revealed he was after the hottest series going right now: Akira.  Brilliant.

Yes, Akira was hot, but it wasn't hard to find, and I had the first three issues.  I asked the man what he would give for those issues.

"I'd give you that Conan."

"I'll be right back."

I raced home, fearful that at any given moment he would realize the mistake he had made, or that someone would swoop in and claim that issue for himself.  I had never seen these issue in person before, and I knew it was fairly hard to find in Eastern PA.  If the right person spotted it, and had the cash, I was out of something I wanted in the worst way.

Fortune was with me that day, and three comic books I paid between six and nine dollars for snagged me one of the more sought-after issues of that time period.  I'm fairly sure this will remain the best trade I'll ever make, too.

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Saturday, July 2, 2011

Super Heroes Go To The Movies

Being a fan of comic books, I'm often asked if I've seen the latest super hero movie.  Inevitably, I haven't.  I haven't seen one since Iron Man, which I actually enjoyed, and I'm not rushing out to get to whatever's playing at the local theatre.

Hollywood's latest and greatest super hero movies seem to be (from what I can tell) keeping with the spirit of the source material.  When they do stray, it's not in any way that creates too much of a problem.  They seem to cram a lot in, which is a problem, but people who typically digest Hollywood entertainment are used to that sort of thing.  Hey, if one villain is good, thirty-five is even better.  There is a bigger problem with these movies, though, and that is the one that concerns me.

They aren't telling new stories.  Granted, I think the first Ultimate Avengers arc would make a great movie, as would the Born Again storyline from Daredevil, but I've read these, just like I've read about the origin of Thor and the first issues of the X-Men.  Yes, the movies changed things, but the basic stories are the same, and if I read them in a form that has no budget issues, what do I gain from seeing it on the screen?  Nothing.  That, of course, is where the dilemma lies.  If Hollywood did all new stories, it risks altering the character's history (not a big deal to people who don't read the comics), and it risks alienating the core fan base for whatever character it is doing.

This is a no-win situation for Hollywood, and it is one that has been created by those very vocal fans who cry foul the second a comic book is optioned.  Hollywood has, in turn, taken the best course of action. It takes a beloved story and creates just enough change to make it work for Hollywood audiences and offer something a little new, but not new enough to turn away the fans ... excluding me.  I can't say I blame Hollywood.  After all, nobody wants to spend millions on a film nobody will watch.

Of course, if the Avengers film is that first arc from Ultimate Avengers I will probably watch it.  The entire thing was written like a movie in the first place, and you got to admit that would be fun to watch on the big screen.

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