I’m back from the comic shop this week and I got one new comic plus a hard cover collection:

  • Supernatural: Beginning’s End – 4
  • Invincible: Ultimate Collection Volume 5
  • And now for a review of something I’ve read recently.

  • “Strange Tales” by Various
  • Marvel Comics doesn’t bother with volume numbers anymore so it makes their comics hard to distinguish from one and other because they keep reusing titles. This version of “Strange Tales” is from the recent three issue series that featured a whole bunch of “Alternative” cartoonists doing their take on various Marvel heroes.

    I’ve seen this sort of thing before and it usually doesn’t pan out well because mainstream super heroes are not the strength of alternative cartoonists. Anthologies like this are frequently a mixed bag at best but this one is a little stronger than usual. Most of the stories are interesting or amusing. Only a couple of them fell flat with me.

    Unfortunately the cartoonists were only give a hand full of pages each to work with and that is not much space to really say anything. Some succeeded despite the small page count but most of the cartoonist went for “Amusing” rather than saying something interesting. Amusing has its place but can get tiresome as it did here. That’s not really a criticism of the quality of the stories but of the concept of the book in general.

    If this volume only contained these stories I probably wouldn’t have even picked it up. It was the inclusion of Peter Bagge’s “The Megalomaniacal Spider-Man” from 2002 that made me buy this. I have the original comic from back then in my collection and it’s a favorite of mine. It’s a brilliant piece of satire in which Spider-Man gives up being a super hero and develops an Ayn Rand influenced “Look out for number one” philosophy. “A” level stuff from Bagge and I love having it in hardcover. Also included is his “Incorrigible Hulk” from 2002. Not as good as the Spidey story but still good.

    The Peter Bagge story proves to me how good this book could have been if all of the cartoonists were given as much space as Bagge. Maybe they couldn’t have been as brilliant but their being hamstrung from the beginning gave them no chance at all.

    So in the end this volume really was a mixed bag. Not because of the quality of the work but because of the quality of the ambition of the project. Still, I’d advise picking it up if you are a fan of alternative cartoonists and maybe the support will make Marvel be more ambitious if they try it again. Plus there is a lot of amusement to be found and that really is a good thing.