Ambidextrous 295: Priced to Move

Ambidextrous 295: Priced to Move

Bone: One Volume Edition

Okay…so here’s my new personal stance on the cover price debate that’s been going down the last few months…

While I was typing up the final segment of last week’s column, it occurred to me that there was an opportunity to flip the discussion into something that was more appropriate for my particular forum. Meaning that it would attempt to incorporate the issue without things quickly dissolving into the usual unproductive back and forth that often drowns out many of our online conversations. So instead of wasting anymore time complaining about comics that cost too much, or speculating about what this will ultimately mean for the future of the entire medium, I’m going to start focusing a bit more on comics bucking the current trend by giving us more content for less money. This will become a running theme for a little bit, similar to the “fantastic five” thing I did awhile back which was tacked on to a string of columns.

Naturally, something like this is going to favor collected editions, as the price points are often much more attractive. One of the first things I did after getting laid off was slash my weekly comic budget and switch a bunch of my regular titles over to trade, and I'm sure a lot of you are doing the same. However, all trades are not created equal and this will be reflected in the upcoming listings. And having said that, I’ll be working extra hard to comb the weekly shipping lists to find those unbeatable bargains in singles format---I’m convinced they do in fact exist. To get things properly started this week, I’m going to identify some of the best deals on comics available right this very minute. By no means comprehensive, this list is highly influenced by my own current reading habits (obviously) so feel free to point out things I missed on the thread below. Books are listed in alphabetical order, and intentionally cut across genre and publisher.

Air, Vol. 1: Letters From Lost Countries (G. Willow Wilson/M.K. Perker)

144 pgs for 9.99

Okay, so you already know how I feel about this series---because I wrote an entire column about it, but this is still a pretty great deal for the bargain conscious. And if you like what you see, it only takes a few more dollars to get fully caught up.

Batman: Dark Victory (Jeph Loeb/Tim Sale)

392 pgs for 19.99

Lot of Batman collections are out, but this one offers an undeniable balance of both quality and quantity. Think we're talking about thirteen issues in total (couple of them oversized), plus a zero issue, plus extras. Twenty bucks is a terribly reasonable price to see Tim Sale draw Batman and literally every member of his rogues' gallery and supporting cast.

Bone: One Volume Edition (Jeff Smith)

1300 pgs for 39.95

This is the monster right here---there is probably no better deal in comics right now. An almost unimaginable amount of material (considering the price) that should keep you busy for days and days. Seriously, if you can find a better deal than this, please let me know.

The Darkness: Accursed (Phil Hester/Michael Broussard)

175 pgs for 4.99

Top Cow might be the only publisher to commit to the 2.99 price point for the entire year, and certainly is the only one to list a trade collecting six issues for less than five dollars. Their outreach initiative is called "Let Us Win You Over" and price points like this should give them a decent shot.

Fallen Angel Omnibus (Peter David/Various)

512 pgs for 24.99

Really cool that David was allowed to transplant this from DC to IDW. Obviously, he had many more stories to tell, and this 500+ edition collects twenty-one issues, a large majority of them fully painted by artist J.K. Woodward. Wonder if there's any chance of a similar treatment for the DC issues? In any case, a great primer for when the series returns guest-starring Joss Whedon created characters.

Gunsmith Cats Revised Edition, Vol. 1 (Kenichi Sonoda)

464 pgs for 16.95

This and Neon Genesis Evangelion were the only manga series I could afford to follow on VHS way back in high school, so I gladly picked up the former when Dark Horse began serializing it. One of these days I'll get around to replacing my row of colorful and space-hogging digests with these massive omnibus collections. Only for fans of female bounty hunters that shoot people, blow stuff up with grenades, and drive really fast cars.

Noble Causes Archives, Vol. 1 (Jay Faerber/Various)

598 pgs for 19.99

A bargain second only to the Bone collection mentioned above. Faerber's "soap opera meets superheroes" epic is concluding very soon, and when all is said and done, the entire series will be available for only forty dollars. Besides the economics of the whole thing, it's really great and proves what kind of superhero stories can be told without the typical corporate restraints. To this day I remember how cool it was that he killed off one of his main characters in his first full story.

Northlanders, Vol. 1: Sven The Returned (Brian Wood/Davide Gianfelice)

200 pgs for 9.99

Eight issues for under ten bucks always works, even if it isn't written by one of the most prolific creators in comics---which this series is. A great book with beautiful artwork that should even appeal to folks that don't think they care about vikings and/or historical fiction.

Popgun, Vol. 2 (Various)

470 pgs for 29.99

Profiled the first volume of this and got into a stupid argument for my trouble, but I still love the format and will continue to support it. This one wins out because of the lovely Paul Pope cover. Hopefully, this will become a true staple of Image's backlist as it gives new creators an opportunity to distinguish themselves, and allows seasoned vets a platform for more experimental work. The best of both worlds I'm sure we can all agree.

Queen & Country: The Definitive Edition, Vol. 1 (Greg Rucka/Various)

376 pgs for 19.95

There are slightly better price thresholds out there, but I'm very fond of my trio of Queen & Country Definitive Editions and think the content gives it enough of an edge to be featured. Twelve issues plus extras, and those twelve issues contain some of the best espionage material that the comics' industry has to offer. Some of Greg Rucka's finest comics work, and that's really saying something.

Okay---that should be enough to get things started and like I said before, this will become an almost weekly feature here, and you guys are always encouraged to point out anything I miss on a regular basis. Also, saw the official solicits for DC’s Wednesday Comics and just couldn’t stop grinning. Know everybody’s teeth began chattering over the sales numbers for this last month, but the industry is going to have a massive, massive summer and this initiative is going to be a large part of that. Anybody out there that feels this isn’t worth four bucks a pop (and you know who you are) I can only offer a tired sigh and what I’m sure will be an ignored plea to stop posting nonsense on the ‘net where everyone can see. Was never fond of math, but even I can tell this is not only a reasonable but fantastic price point for an oversized, unconventional project like this. And did you see the people working on it!? So yeah, please leave those that are rightfully excited about this in peace.

And now a word about our recent solicitation for a new Miranda Mercury colorist…

Colorist Update-

Just wanted to say thanks to Matt Brady for letting me run my “help wanted” ad here in the column last week, as the response has been tremendous. We’ve already heard from several people, all of them quite talented and eager to submit sample packages. Thus far, we’ve been very impressed with the material we’re seeing and it should only take a couple weeks to make a well-informed decision. Marc Deering’s personal e-mail will be accepting possible entrants until this Friday, April 24th, and then we’ll have to close things off so we can really concentrate on evaluating pages. So if you’re still interested, drop him a line in the next couple days and he’ll get you hooked up.

Thanks again to Brady, and to all the people that got in touch with us. I’m sure we’ll be talking about this in the future, as I’m intending to have this settled in early May.

Next week I should be running a This is Why feature about Grant Morrison’s JLA run, and changing the format up a little bit as those comics are just packed with tons of awesome moments that would take forever to adequately dissect…

The Fiction House

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