Ambidextrous 288: On Deck - What to do With Free Time

Ambidextrous #283- Seal the Deal

Probably the only thing that doesn’t suck about being unemployed is the almost obscene amount of time I now have to write and read comics…

Most of this is being devoted to the upcoming re-launch of The Many Adventures of Miranda Mercury, which is tentatively scheduled for late summer or early fall. We initially hit almost one-year prior, so we’ll be treating it as an official launch and essentially doing everything over again. The cool part about this is the opportunity to correct some things we screwed up, which will be laid out in punishing detail in an upcoming article. But we’re all plugging away on it, and the really nice thing is that many of us turned just that first issue into paying work elsewhere, which financially makes the book much easier to do. So more announcements coming, including some of the other things people are working on in the meantime. Turning our unexpected publishing hiatus into an unexpected benefit is the call of the day and will soon begin to creep its way into the column in bigger ways.

On top of that, I’ve been catching up on some of the trades gathering dust of my shelf. And as I’m making my way through them, or anticipating doing so…certain things occur to me that relate to certain relevant topics in and around the modern comics’ industry. I’m a firm believer that the books we’re reading tell a story not just about ourselves, but the positive and negative factors dominating the current industry. Because I’m a sequencing nut, this list is pretty much the order in which this material will be consumed, and feel free to include your personal “on deck” lists in the forum. Big one this week, so let’s get it going.


Been meaning to read this again for probably a couple years now, ‘cause it was obvious I didn’t fully appreciate it the first time. Think what happened is that I went so long without reading it, and hearing it built up as “the greatest graphic novel of all time” for so long, that the anticipation and expectation just killed it for me. That and the fact that people have been taking elements from the book for years, so some of the really cool concepts I’d probably seen for the first time in other places. Don’t get it twisted---I thought it was a great work, but honestly, I enjoyed V for Vendetta quite a bit more.

I’m told that’s okay to admit in public, but if not, apologies to anyone offended.

With the movie coming up, I wanted to use that as a perfect excuse to give it another read, but now I’m a bit torn. Honestly, I have little recollection of it at all, so part of me wants to try to experience the movie cold and then read it again during the post-game. Also done a lot more of my own writing since my first reading, so I’m expecting to be appropriately floored with a little more perspective under my belt. But does this moment come now or later? Hmm…will let you know what I ultimately decide, and hopefully the movie will almost live up to the billing. Because hoping for anything more than that is just a bit unfair to everyone involved.

Best Shots Extra: Joker
Best Shots Extra: Joker

My major question here, as I’m confident this will read great and look great---is what does the Joker sound like in my head now? Since the animated series, the character has always sounded exactly like Mark Hamill’s fantastic vocal rendition, but in the wake of Heath Ledger’s Oscar-winning turn, does his interpretation take over? Yes, I’m that big of a nerd that I even think of stuff like this, so let’s just keep it moving.


So this is how I go about “trade-waiting” comics nowadays, and mind you, this is only my personal method, that in a way is far less “waiting” and far more “buying things twice.” Since you can count on most of Marvel and DC’s output being collected (and in the case of Marvel, collected very quickly) if there’s anything I’m truly on the fence about from those publishers, here’s how it’ll usually go. Buy two or three issues, and if I’m feelin’ it and believe there’s a good chance that it’ll get collected, switch over to trades permanently. That’s what I did with this book in particular. If it’s something that I dig but don’t think it’ll make it to trade, I’ll just finish it out and keep the issues. For example, the recent Vixen and Hellcat minis, which were great and you should’ve bought already, but obviously you didn’t.

If it’s from an independent company and every purchase is vital to ensuring it even makes it to trade, I’ll buy every issue, and probably the trade as well. This is what happened with I Kill Giants, and hopefully it’ll happen with things like Four Eyes and The Great Unknown. If people want books like these to continue to exist, we have to go out of our way to support them in all their incarnations. Really, if I’m the least bit interested in it, I’m putting money down, because otherwise it’ll never get collected. With the new sales thresholds, making it to this point is going to be even more difficult, and I hope people realize that and stop coming up with creative excuses for why they don’t buy Indy comics.

If I can buy Secret Invasion and Final Crisis in both single issue and trade form, how embarrassing would it be if I didn’t extend the same courtesy to projects that actually need my money? Perhaps not the most fiscally responsible stance, but I really have no long-term interest in single issues, if it can be helped. I’m waiting patiently for the day when I can convert my entire collection into custom hardcovers, like I did with Priest’s Black Panther run.

And by the way, this Northlanders trade, which collects eight issues for only ten bucks, is probably one of the best deals in comics.

Black Summer-

Well, let’s hope that in eight or so years people aren’t publishing comics where superheroes decide that the best thing for the country is for the President to be murdered in the Oval Office…that would be terribly depressing, wouldn’t it?

Morrison’s Grindhouse (Batman & Final Crisis)-

Now that DCBS has delivered my R.I.P. hardcover, I’m officially ready to roll on my personalized Batman/Final Crisis double feature. I try to reserve final judgment on anything until reading it in full, as I read so many comics and trades a month that it’s hard to stay focused or committed to any one particular story, unless you know, I actually sit down and do it. So I’ve been looking forward to this for months, and I suspect that I’ll have a newfound appreciation for the material after reading the entire Batman run from start to finish, and wrapping it up with FC and all its important tie-ins fully integrated in their proper places.

There is this feeling that I should write about it here, but eventually I think we should all just return to our corners on what will undoubtedly become another of comics’ endless debates/arguments about the merits of both the Batman run and Final Crisis. Like the OMD thing, once you say your piece a couple times, anything past that is just poking the bear, as there’s always going to exist a vocal minority that insists on taking the concept of the “never-ending battle” to embarrassing and exhausting heights. Sitting down and reading something with the intent of writing a column about it later (like the This is Why series) is always is a little more difficult anyway, cause I’m mentally constructing the article as I go along. With the first couple, I ended up reading the runs again after the articles were written, as I felt I’d done more writing than reading the first time around. So maybe this is one I should just read and enjoy in relative peace…

Marvel Boy HC-

Thinking I’ll also re-read the Wonder Woman book J.G. Jones did with Greg Rucka awhile back---just to break up the meaty chunk of Grant Morrison books and because FC has given me a taste for more of his artwork. And because the book still has one of the coolest covers of all time. Who doesn’t just want to step on Batman’s head every once in a while?


Lot of Brian Wood on the bookshelf usually, as he’s a great writer and his stuff always always, always gets released in trade form. Though honestly, even if he wasn’t involved with this, the design of the hardcover is almost worth the price on its own.

Image from Mark Millar's 1985
Image from Mark Millar's 1985

Bought the first half of this, then donated it while waiting for the inevitable trade, which just arrived. I think for all the noise about Millar and his somewhat politicized works, a book like this clearly demonstrates his incredible range. The description I gave to Lee Ferguson when we were talking about it was “charming,” which is exactly how I felt about the Speed Racer movie. Which is funny, cause I remember Millar hating that thing to death. Can’t wait to finish the whole series, as there’s something very endearing about it and it obviously was written with a lot of heart.

Bendis’s Grindhouse (Mighty Avengers & Secret Invasion)-

Same thing with the Morrison stuff, really need to read Invasion uninterrupted. In single issues, I remembered being more excited about the opening than the close, and the big thing I’ll be looking for on the re-read is to see how well Osborn was integrated into the main narrative. Because I was following Gage’s Thunderbolts arc at the same time, the surprise ending in the main mini wasn’t a huge stretch at all, as Gage did a very good job of laying in some very credible groundwork. Again, this is a product of reading so much stuff, because I don’t recall just how much Bendis was able to do in the context of the actual series. So looking forward to that, and prepping for it by reading his Mighty Avengers run leading up to Secret Invasion. I contend this will always remain one of his most important projects, because structurally, it was the comic people kept saying that he was incapable of writing. Which is dumb for people to keep saying about creators, but I suppose it sounds good.

By the way, hasn’t New Avengers been great since SI ended? Something similar happened to the book following Civil War, where it just seemed to find a really nice purpose and voice in the newly fashioned status quo. Here we go again I suppose, and nice to see in light of the recent price increase.


This is how strong my almost childish personal dislike of digital comics is---this has been running free online for several months, and yet I’ve never read a single chapter. But I bought the first collection pretty much instantly. That’s not how this whole digital comics thing is supposed to work, is it?

Preview: Punisher:  Frank Castle #67
Preview: Punisher: Frank Castle #67
Punisher MAX (full run)-

Just got the last four trades of this, so it’s time to sit down and read the complete sixty-issue run. I’ve considered doing a This is Why feature about this one, but see the concerns above in the Grant Morrison section. I’m also trying to alternate shorter and longer runs, because the longer ones will take two full columns to appropriately dissect. In any case, this series has truly ruined me for any other Punisher material, even the stuff Garth Ennis did before. Everything else feels so watered down and toothless, which is really a testament to the strength of this version, and Ennis, who has penned a number of undeniably classic runs now.

Omega the Unknown-

Since reading Farel Dalrymple’s Pop Gun War, I’ve purchased everything he’s done.

This trend continues here.

Youngblood HC-

Sorry to see Joe Casey departing the new Youngblood series, but with the recent option, it does make sense for Rob to fully return to the property. Plus, the founders returning to active duty seems to be the overall theme for Image Comics in ’09, and obviously, that’s a great thing for everyone involved. But considering how many times I read and re-read Liefeld’s very first issue, it’s a really cool thing that soon Joe Casey’s remix of it will be the version that everyone knows and is associated with any movie based on the property.

Also on the shelf waiting patiently to be read---

30 Days of Night: Juarez. Nova Annihilation HC. Young Liars: Daydream Believer. Criminal, vol. 3 & 4. Shazam: Monster Society of Evil. Jonah Hex: Face Full of Violence. Star Wars Rebellion, vol. 2. Star Wars Legacy, vol. 3. Locke & Key: Welcome to Lovecraft. Captain Britain and MI13: Secret Invasion. Red Hulk. Starman Omnibus. LOEG: Black Dossier.

So what’s sitting on yours…?

Thanks for reading, and how cool is it that the talkback now has a fully functioning reply button? Also, my website should be updated and include a link to the “lost” Miranda Mercury interview. Enjoy and I’ll be back soon.

The Fiction House

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