This is the second time a book published by DC Comics has broken the rules and earned a place in my indie short box. This time, it’s Metalzoic by the legendary team of Pat Mills and Kevin O’Neill, and there’s not much about it you can call “mainstream”. Metalzoic takes place in a future where the Earth is ruled by intelligent, mechanical beasts patterned after modern and prehistoric animals — and boy, do they love to fight!
Yes, you just witnessed a brutal showdown between a gorilla with a saw blade on his head, and a lion with a chainsaw for a tongue and metal skis for feet. Do I really need to say anything about the story’s plot, or is that cool enough for you? Two of my favorite pages show a shark attacking a caravan of wooly mammoths during a trek across the ice.
It’s like some sort of psychotic nature special! I can almost hear David Attenborough narrating it for a BBC documentary.
O’Neill always delivers wonderfully twisted artwork, but he pulls out all the stops to illustrate Metalzoic‘s endless mecha-menagerie.
The story is interesting, especially since the main character — the saw-blade gorilla — is a brutal, amoral hell-raiser whose brawn and ferocity might be the only thing standing between the Earth and total destruction.
And just look at him go!
When all this takes place and how it came to be are slowly revealed throughout the story. We don’t get a clear timeline until about 50 pages in. It might have been helpful to see a historic summary earlier in the story, so here it is.
If you’re like me, and you wish Godzilla movies would cut out most of the human-related nonsense and just show more monster fights, then this 64-page epic adventure is the book for you!
Collector’s Guide:Metalzoic; DC Comics Graphic Novel #6, 1986. Though it’s often out of stock at MyComicShop, you can usually find it on Amazon for between $15 and $30.
T. Rex Generations stars four young rexes we meet under the watchful eyes of their parents as they hatch from eggs. In their youth, the rexes learn to survive, scavenge, and hunt. They meet a beautifully illustrated assortment of cretaceous creatures they must battle or escape. Author and artist Ted Rechlin creates even more dramatic page and panel layouts than in his 2017 brontosaurus book, which makes for great fight scenes. And in a world of monsters just as fierce as they are, not every rex will survive.
This book will delight dinosaur enthusiasts and comic book fans, and though it has a lot of physical conflict, it isn’t graphic or gory. Adults and kids can enjoy this all-ages action-packed story together.
My dislikes are mostly minor details: seeing the same double-splash page of empty landscape repeated where more story pages would be welcome; anachronistic phrases such as “so the siblings ease off the gas” that seem out of place millions of years before cars; and a couple spots of clunky exposition such as saying “as was previously noted…” when repeating something from a few pages prior.
My only major concern: why do the young rexes not get named until the final page? Characters we care about in a story usually get identified by name right away, and the parent rexes are identified just after the babies hatch. It isn’t clear why the younger rexes don’t get names until late in their adolescence, unless we see their climactic edmontosaurus kill as a rite of passage into adulthood. But even though a caption describes that as a “first kill”, it seems more likely that a predatory reptile who has been larger than a pickup truck for years has killed more than a few things. After a wild romp in the cretaceous, the last page left me with more confusion than conclusion.
None of that stopped me from enjoying this adventurous addition to my library of dinosaur books and comics. T. Rex Generations is a fun read and a joy to look at. The full-page and two-page illustrations of the rexes and dakotaraptor, edmontosaurus, and ankylosaurus would make great prints or posters.
Even though retail prices have come down from their 1990s peaks on Amazing Spider-man issues by David Michelinie and Todd McFarlane, collecting them all could still put a big dent in your wallet. Those readers on a sacred mission to collect every issue of Amazing Spider-man will overcome this challenge. The rest of us wouldn’t mind having them collected in three trade paperbacks.
Marvel complicated things by publishing the three paperbacks under two different banners. Readers searching in databases at retailers or libraries might find one, but not the other. Let us clear things up for you.
The first of the three is under the “Visionaries” banner. You can find many good stories from Marvel’s flagship characters in various Visionaries collections. The Todd MacFarlane one includes Amazing Spider-man #298-305, notable for taking Spidey’s black suit from the first Marvel Superheroes Secret Wars and bonding it to Eddie Brock to create Venom. Spider-man Visionaries Todd McFarlane #1 is listed at MyComicShop and Amazon.
Marvel then moved the series over to the “Marvel Legends” banner. The first of the two Marvel Legends collects Amazing Spider-man #306-314, plus a story from Spectacular Spider-man Annual #10 with McFarlane art. This one may be our favorite of the series. We can’t find it at MyComicShop, but it is listed correctly on Amazon despite not having the right cover currently.
Marvel wrapped it up with a second Legends collection that includes Amazing Spider-man #315-323, #325, and #328. Although the listing on Amazon doesn’t have the right cover at the time of this post, it is the right book.
The collections are an enjoyable romp through Spidey’s rogues’ gallery, with drama, humor, and interesting developments in the lives of newlyweds Mary Jane Watson-Parker and her wall-crawling hubby. Michelinie breaks with the “hard-luck hero” tradition of Spidey. Peter Parker marries an incredibly fun, smart, super-model. He gets famous for his Spider-man photos in the Daily Bugle and goes on a book-signing tour. Peter and Mary Jane move into a nice place. They have some money for a change, and even Aunt May has a cool boyfriend now. This was a fresh approach to the character at the time. It reminded us that even though Parker has lots of bad luck, he still totally kicks ass.
Spidey looks great zipping through these books in a mass of webs with a look McFarlane seems to have invented. The webs have since been copied, but we don’t recall ever seeing anyone draw Spidey’s webs like McFarlane before these books.
The creative team brought back one of our favorite Spidey supporting characters: the Prowler. In the Prowler’s claws, mask, and swirling cape, you might be witnessing McFarlane get the ideas for his Spawn character worked out on the page in these Spidey stories.
The following bonus “pin-up” was also printed as a postcard by Marvel, and we’ve always loved this image.
Venom’s gleeful sadism and obvious mental illness are good signs he might be a keeper as a Spidey villain.
Another nut job and total loser from Spidey’s gallery of bad guys shows up: the Scorpion. The Scorpion never looked so awesome as he did in this story. Spidey must rescue J. Jonah Jameson from the guy in green armored tights with a fatal tail. It’s a hoot.
Spidey looks pretty awesome crouching in the snow in a graveyard.
And that’s all the photos we had time to snap before selling these wonderful books on eBay. We read them not long after they first came out, in their original single issue form. It was fun to read through them again and enjoy them in these collections. It’s a good chunk of Spidey stories that deserves a place on even a casual Spidey collector’s shelf.
IDW has lately been reprinting the earliest and original Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles comics from the 1980s. Back in the 80s, prices of first prints of the original comics skyrocketed, and they still retain a fairly high collector’s value. In response to their limited availability to all but the wealthiest collectors, First Publishing produced four full-color oversized graphic novels from the original black and white stories.
The unique and gritty visual style of Eastman and Laird’s reptilian martial artists comes through even in color. First did a wonderfully professional job on this production. They wisely included the Leonardo one-shot, since its story leads right up to the events of issue #10. And, First thoughtfully preserved the dramatic three-page fold out from issue #10. We have scans of the original black and white pages in our archives for comparison.
But all of the splash pages look great, and the binding and paper quality of these turtle tomes remains evident decades later. From the first issue to the battle with Triceratons in space to the hilarious Cerebus crossover, all of the Turtles earliest adventures rock hard in this graphic novel format.
Let us offer a few suggestions for those seeking some high-quality Turtles reprints. You can still find copies of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles TPB by First in stock at reasonable prices ($10-$15 for a Fine copy,) though you may need to go to eBay to get a complete set all at once! IDW printed the stories in single issues in full color as Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Color Classics, but it seems they left out the Leonardo one-shot to include issue #11 which more or less wraps up Eastman & Laird’s original plot line.
A second volume of color classics reprints some excellent adventures from the subsequent stories, including a reprint of the glorious Return to New York storyline this spring. Those who want these stories in black and white should get the excellent seven-volume Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Collected Book produced by Mirage in the 1990s. IDW more recently gave us The Ultimate Collection in hardcover which wisely includes the one-shots from the 80s as well as the original title.
Despite the availability of recent reprints, the old ones have managed to hold onto their collector’s value due to their limited runs and high production values. The First Publishing collection also gives you a much larger page size than, say, Mirage’s normal-zized Collected Book reprints.
Clearly IDW has much to gain by reprinting these collectible issues, but they also do readers a great service by keeping these classics in print. We sold both the First TPB set and the Collected Book set on eBay last year, but you can bet we would like another copy of Return to New York in our hands before all this is over!