Thursday, March 11, 2010

My Reading Pile - September, 1995

Big changes were in store for me at this point in time. I was about to turn 23 and and had begun my first month of law school. I was getting to know a brand new city (Halifax) and meet new friends. Luckily, I was a mere 10 minute walk from Strange Adventures, a truly terrific shop. My student loan hadn't gone through so money was tight, but I still managed to buy a good number of books. Here's a look at some that I grabbed that month:

Sandman Mystery Theatre #32 was the closing chapter of the Hourman arc. This was another fine storyline in an excellent series. It was great the way various JSAers were bought into this series. I had come to Sandman Mystery Theatre a year or so late, but had managed to pick up the entire run on the cheap via back issue bins as they were selling for well below cover price. I bought this series religiously until cancellation, and continue to miss it dearly.
Earlier in the decade, I had started delve into the world of non-Big Two publishers (although I never got into the likes of Image, Valiant or Acclaim etc...). By this time, Dark Horse had taken over the Madman title (under the Legend imprint) and it was one of my very favourites series at the time. I couldn't really explain why it worked, but it was certainly unlike anything I had ever see up to that point. It was both new and retro and the character designs were amazing. The publishing schedule drove me crazy and I eventually fell off the bandwagon.

The was the time of the 'Year One' annuals at DC. I recall that these books were very pricey, but that many of them were quite good. The Scarecrow origin in the Batman Annual was very strong, and I retelling of the Green Arrow origin was quite good. I'm not the world's biggest Superman fan, but the outer space adventure from Action Comics Annual #7 struck a chord with me, as I often find the building of the Superman mythos to be more intriguing that the man himself. If memory serves, this was also the only year for a Spectre Annual during the Ostrander run.

Kurt Busiek's Astro City #4 was the 2nd Astro City book that I ever bought, and I was completely hooked. I had grown up on superheroes, but this series made everything new again. I really liked the way he built a universe from the ground up, but at the same time dropped the reader right into the middle of the action. It allowed us to learn about this world as it was happening, allowing for some of the blanks to be filled immediately while we'd have to wait patiently for other details. Over time, frustration over the publishing schedule got the better of me, and I drifted away from Astro City. I still have a lot of fondness for it - mainly because it made me feel like a kid again without insulting my intelligence.
Power of Shazam was also another series I was loving big time. It was a really fresh take on the residents of Fawcett City. I was now at the point in my comic book enjoyment where I didn't really care where characters and stories fit into continuity (Zero Hour burst that bubble for me), and I was only concerned with enjoyable stories. I don't recall issue #9 being a real standout, but I was loving the reintroduction of Captain Nazi and I've always loved the design of Black Adam. Jerry Ordway was obviously having a blast on this series, and it is unfortunate that not enough fans went along for the ride.
So - what did I miss that month? You may have noticed that there wasn't a single Marvel title. Looking at Marvel's schedule that month, I can understand why. The only book I regret not buying was Waid's Captain America - the rest looks like junk. There was plenty of great DC and Vertigo stuff I missed. I was not reading Starman, or the Invisibles or Sandman or Hellblazer... well, you get the point. It would have taken a millionaire to keep up with all of the great stuff DC put out back then. Marvel wasn't even in the same league.


benday-dot/craig said...

If only I had been collecting comics during that period of your Halifax life Scott I probably would have run into you during one of your trips to Strange Adventures to pick up Sandman Mystery Theatre or some such title. Funny isn't it. I, a native of the city and its surrounds had never even been to Strange Adventures before while you actively were picking up some great comics from there before returning to Toronto. I had only started visiting the shop when I finally started back into comics around 2003 or so, long after you would have finished at Dal Law. All my earlier comic collecting came from spinner racks or other now defunct and far inferior stores. Today I visit Strange Adventures regularly if only for a chat with fine folks working there. Thanks! Craig.

Matthew Johnson said...

That's neat, I was living in Halifax (and shopping at SA) around the same time while my then-girlfriend/now-wife was finishing her History degree at Dal. My buying list of the time only overlaps with yours in one item (Astro City) but all of them are books I've bought from time to time.

Scott M said...

Great to see some SA memories. If I ever get back to Halifax, I will certainly make a pit stop there.

I recall two other not so great places. One was up on Quinpool at Oxford, and the other was right downtown (was it called 'Something' 2000?)

I bought quite a few new comics at the Daily Grind coffee shop, as I lived right on Spring Garden Rd.

craig said...

That other Halifax shop you mention is Odyssey 2000. It was one of the oldest and longest running comic shops in the city. But it fostered a rather sterile environment, wasn't too welcoming or kid friendly, and when SA came along and encouraged an environment completely opposite to that Odyssey became second fiddle, drifted away from comics and into games, action figures and the like, and today has drifted away all together. It closed its doors for good with not much more than a whimper sometime last year. Craig

Scott M said...

That's it! Thanks Craig. I didn't think much of that shop at all - it was pretty 'game and figure' driven by the time I got to town. IIRC, the managers fit the "Comic Book Guy" stereotype pretty well.

Jeremy A. Patterson said...

You should check out the Legion of Super-Heroes Annual from that year: Profiles on most of the members of that version of the team at the time and featurettes spotlighting individuals!