Friday, July 23, 2021

New Zeal and Ardor!

How long do we have to wait until this new Zeal and Ardor album drops? The correct answer is too f*&king long! 


This has been a strange year, because over halfway through, and I've read very few actual novels. Instead, all my reading time is spent reading comics. Not a bad thing, and this certainly isn't the first time this has happened, but between starting the A Most Horrible Library podcast, and the brief resurrection of Drinking with Comics, I've fallen back in love with the medium in a way I haven't felt in years, specifically Marvel Comics, which I thought I'd left behind me after the 2015 Secret Wars event tapped us old-timer Marvel Zombies on the shoulders and whispered, "The old continuity you cling to is gone. Rest easy, this is for a younger generation now."

I've been digging in back issue bins for the first time in at least 15 years. I've also been seeking stuff out on eBay, both in attempts to fill in long-forgotten gaps in series I'd thought I'd given up on. It's made me realize I've come to regret giving away or selling back so many comics over the years. And I've been re-reading a bunch of old-school series as I acquire these missing pieces.

I remember seeing a full-page ad for this book back when I was a kid and thinking it looked troubling. A mutant kid killing one of his friends/teammates? Wow. I only read New Mutants here and there as a kid, so a lot of the character development was lost on me when I did pick up the book, and I never quite understood how Fallen Angels fit into the overall continuity of the ongoing Mutant Books, most penned by my beloved Chris Claremont still at that time. Now I know.

Fallen Angels was a New Mutants spin-off mini-series that ran back in 1987. A couple years ago I found issues 5-8 somewhere and picked them up, but it wasn't until two weeks ago I tracked down 1-4, and now completed, I've finally been reading this weird little adventure that features Roberta DaCosta AKA Sunspot and Warlock - always a character that made me go "WTF?" when I was a kid. Like a lot of comics from this era, this is a bit over-written, however, once you adjust to the difference in style, it's pretty fun.

This is a more recent title. A five-issue series by Jason Latour, Robbie Rodriguez and colorist Rico Renzi. Robbie and Rico are the visual team responsible for the short-lived but fantastic Vertigo series FBP, aka Collider. I fell in love with their style on that book, and when they came up with the initial design for Spider-Gwen - a character I shouldn't have really cared about at all at the time based on my reading habits - I gushed. 

I love this character's design. 

At the time of the series, and when it came out, I bought issues 1 and 2 and then stopped. Recently, I found 3-5 in the bins at The Comic Bug and started reading through it. Pretty cool alternate universe set-up, where Peter Parker is dead, Gwen was bitten by the radioactive spider, and Frank Castle is a cop! Also, MJ and Gwen play in a band called, what else? The Mary Janes, and have a hit song called "Face it, Tiger."

I don't know that I'll go back and read anything after this small series, but these five issues are bringing me great joy at the moment, so who knows?

With my recently reestablished love of Spider-Man, I've been going back in and just snatching rando issues from the three 80s series I would read off and on, and which I'm realizing I am missing so many issues I once had. In particular, I've been finding quite a few issues of Peter Parker: The Spectacular Spider-Man, most issues in the 130s and 140s. Here's a recent acquisition that ties together several other disparate issues I had, so I can now read a short little stint. Remember: back in the 80s and before, trade collections were next to non-existent, so the editorial edict for these books wasn't for the creators to do 5-issue arcs. What we'd get is one-offs, larger threads that played out amidst the monthly stand-alones, and, in Spidey's case, arcs that ran across all three of his titles at the time (Web, Spectacular, and of course, Amazing). 

The good news is, almost all of these books run between $2.99 and $3.99, so it's not like I'm breaking the bank. And sifting through the back issue bins has been a strangely calming routine. I can get all stressed out at work, stop by the bug and spend 30 minutes flipping through issues, and all that bad shit is gone when I walk out the door.

Also, motivated by the "Book Club" section on the latest episode of the Marvel's Pull List podcast, I decided it was finally time to re-read Grant Morrison's New X-Men run, so I dusted off the first of my three hardcovers and blew through the first arc E is for Extinction, as well as the 2001 annual that introduced Xorn. Oh, reading this is making me remember just how much I love Morrison's take on the X-Men.


Anthrax - Among the Living
Dio - Holy Diver
Chicago - 25 or 6 to 4 (single)
Black Sabbath - Paranoid
King Woman - Celestial Blues (pre-release singles)
Jethro Tull - Benefit
Ministry - Animositisomina
Godflesh - New Flesh in Dub Vol 1
Zeal and Ardor - Stranger Fruit
Mastodon - Crack the Skye 


I'm back on the journey into Shadow Play, Book Two, and for the first time since last year about this time, I am IN! The book is occupying a lot of my thoughts and time, and what's more, I finally found the voice for a new element I'm adding. Also, there is way more written than I thought, and it's way better than I remembered. So while I'm still letting a new nosleep series idea percolate, my main focus has finally shifted back to where I need it to be!

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