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Hellboy is bigger and better this summer

This week's comic review: Hellboy Library Edition Vol. 1, Tales Of The Starlight Drive In, Justice Society Of America: Thy Kingdom Come Vol. 1, Harvey Comics Classics Vol. 3: Hot Stuff, The Little Devil, Superman: Escape From Bizarro World, Black Adam: The Dark Age, Crawlspace Vol. 1: XXXombies and Countdown To Final Crisis Vol. 1<br />


Hellboy Library Edition Vol. 1
Mike Mignola, John Byrne
Dark Horse Books
$49.95 US (Hardcover)
**** 1/2 (out of five)


Hellboy is bigger and better this summer — both in theatres and on your bookshelf.

With just over a month to go until the release of the highly anticipated, Hellboy 2: The Golden Army, Dark Horse Books hits stores with a beautiful new volume of the first two Hellboy stories in an over-sized, hardcover library edition.

This first volume collects creator Mike Mignola’s first miniseries, 1994’s Seed Of Destruction (on which a good portion of the first Hellboy film was based), and the follow-up six-parter, Wake The Devil, along with scads of supplemental material, like sketches, character designs and an intro by comic writing icon Alan Moore.

Similar in design to the Art Of Hellboy and the breathtaking Sin City Library editions and featuring exceptional quality art reproductions, this volume, and its successive brethren, is one you’ll want on your shelves for years to come.

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Tales Of The Starlight Drive In
Michael SanGiacomo
Image Comics
$19.99 US (Paperback)
**** (out of five)


The only thing better than a good love story is a good love story about a drive in movie theatre.

Mike SanGiacomo, Cleveland Plain Dealer reporter and one of a handful of media types whose love of comics may even top mine, has been working on his love story for many years now. What was supposed to be an ongoing series of stories about the roller-coaster existence of the Starlight drive in went off the road and into the ditch thanks to the demise of its would-be publisher, leaving SanGiacomo and a group of almost two-dozen artists with a lot of work done and no home for it.

Thankfully, Image Comics got this drive in tale back up and running and the result was worth the wait.

From the introduction Adam, the little boy whose bedroom window faces the screen at the Starlight, and his first meeting Neil, the quirky projectionist with a whopping secret, Tales Of The Starlight sucks you in with its mix of solid characters and great nostalgia.

Every tale in this anthology, which includes contributions by Canadian artists Sam Agro, Mike Faille and Paul McCusker, ties into the movie being shown at the time and the eclectic mix makes for some interesting storytelling.

It also helps that SanGiacomo clearly loves his subject matter (though maybe not as much as he loves comics) and all that passion results in a pretty engaging read.

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Justice Society Of America: Thy Kingdom Come Vol. 1
Geoff Johns, Alex Ross, Dale Eaglesham, Fernando Pasarin
DC Comics
$23.99/$19.99 US (Hardcover)
**** (out of five)


There’s an “S” on his chest, a red cape on his back and bit of gray near his temples.

Has Kal-L, the Golden Age Superman who died in Infinite Crisis, returned?

The recently reformed Justice Society of America has a real conundrum on its hands when a rip in the multiverse delivers them a man claiming to be Superman. While the heroes don’t know where this older version of the Man of Steel came from, fans will instantly recognize him as the central character in Mark Waid and Alex Ross’ classic miniseries, Kingdom Come, in which a violent future played out that saw DC’s greatest heroes fight a civil war that apparently destroyed the planet (Earth 22).

The question he, and the Society, face is whether his appearance on our world (New Earth) is the harbinger of the dark future that his saw? When a series of mid-level DC villains start turning up with holes blown in their chests in a manner very similar to the M.O. of Kingdom Come big bad, Magog, it sure seems that way.

Writer Geoff Johns, along with Ross, Canadian artist Dale Eaglesham and inker Fernando Pasarin deliver an unsettling new chapter in JSA history.

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Harvey Comics Classics Vol. 3: Hot Stuff, The Little Devil
Edited by Leslie Cabarga
Dark Horse Books
$19.95 US (Paperback)
**** (out of five)


He is the devil and the devil is good.

The devil in question is, of course, Hot Stuff, the cherubic, trident-wielding hothead, who starred in his own Harvey Comics series from 1957 to 1982, which saw him get in thousands of adventures, most of which involved gags about his roaring hot body temperature, fiery demeanor and/or his penchant for exacting swift revenge against those who wronged him.

Somewhat lost among the lexicon of Harvey luminaries, like Richie Rich, Casper, Baby Huey, Little Lotta, Sad Sack, etc., Hot Stuff stood alone because of his devilish appearance that both endeared him to some and made him a target of scorn for others.

Now, in slightly more enlightened times, Hot Stuff gets the star treatment once again, with his own whopping Harvey Comics Classics volume from Dark Horse Books, containing over a hundred short stories and one-page gags on clear and crisp newly pages of art reproduced from the original pages.

Do yourself a favour and take this chance to catch up with a sadly forgotten American comic book icon.

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Superman: Escape From Bizarro World
Geoff Johns, Richard Donner, Eric Powell
DC Comics
$27.99/$24.99 US (Hardcover)
**** (out of five)


Lex Luthor might be Superman’s smartest enemy, while Doomsday is the strongest, but none may be as unsettling to the Man of Steel as his twisted reflection: Bizarro.

This backwards-talking clone of Superman is every bit as mighty, however his warped mind has led him into plenty of trouble, including his latest act: Kidnapping Jonathan Kent, Superman’s adoptive father.

The dynamic writing duo of Geoff Johns and Hollywood director Richard Donner team up with gifted artist Eric Powell (The Goon) to deliver one of the most memorable Man of Steel epics in years as our hero tracks Bizarro to a strange planet, a Bizarro world, where everything is backwards and Superman isn’t beloved by the zombie-like masses, but reviled.

And in true Bizarro fashion the key to saving his pa and getting them out alive may not be to stop the bad guy — but to help him?

Also featuring a trio of classic Bizarro tales (to fill out what would otherwise only be a three-issue collection), Escape From Bizarro World is a classic.

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Black Adam: The Dark Age
Peter J. Tomasi, Doug Mahnke, Christian Alamy
DC Comics
$21.99/$17.99 US (Paperback)
*** 1/2 (out of five)


Black Adam is a man who has lost everything.

His beloved wife, Isis, has been murdered and he’s wanted for committing genocide as payback for her death and, perhaps worse than all that, he’s lost the ability to transform himself from mere mortal to nigh-invulnerable being.
But he does have a plan.

Now Adam will risk his life, travel to the ends of the world and take on old friends and new enemies in an effort to do the impossible — to make Isis live again.

Spinning out of the events of the hit weekly series, 52, comes a compelling new chapter in the life of one of the DC Universe’s most compelling and conflicted characters, courtesy writer Peter J. Tomasi and artists Doug Mahnke and Christian Alamy.

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Crawlspace Vol. 1: XXXombies
Rick Remender, Tony Moore, Kieron Dwyer
Image Comics
$12.99 US (Paperback)
*** 1/2 (out of five)


Zombie porn. Or is it porn with zombies?

Either way, the first volume of Crawlspace is one of the most unusual examples of genre blending you’re likely to read.

Of course, that’s not necessarily a bad thing.

Creators Rick Remender, Tony Moore and Kieron Dwyer deliver what the book jacket so cleverly calls “Boogie Nights Of The Living Dead” as the action at a 1970s porno movie set overlaps with the chaos of the city of Los Angeles being overrun by the walking dead.

Full of over-the-top violence, gratuitous nudity and everything else you’ve come to expect from both horror and porno flicks, XXXombies is wrong in just the right way.

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Countdown To Final Crisis Vol. 1
Paul Dini
DC Comics
$22.99/$19.99 US (Paperback)
*** (out of five)


Final Crisis is finally here.

Of course comic book fans had plenty of notice that last week’s big event series was starting, most notably the weekly series that began with the title, Countdown, and halfway through became, Countdown To Final Crisis.

Every week there was another little clue as to what Final Crisis is and who the central characters were, but it also served as a handy weekly wrap-up of the events in the DC Universe, so if you didn’t read a particular series, you’d still be able to play connect the dots.

This first volume, collecting weeks 51-39, begins with a hero’s death, sees a supporting character get his very own powers, sees another hero make a deal with the devil and asks the question: Where is Ray Palmer?

With an diverse range of artists working with head writer Paul Dini and his supporting scribes, Countdown can be a bit haphazard at times, but it does fulfill its role of advancing the DCU towards Final Crisis well enough that readers who want the whole picture should give it a read.

 
 
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