Happy mid-December CHU community! Thanks for all the positive feedback regarding my first article, and a big super-special thanks to Anthony for harboring my unsolicited opinions.
This article is designed to give you perspective, albeit just my perspective, on some recent comic book releases both in terms of quality and investment potential.
**WARNING** There are likely spoilers. Read these books before proceeding if that sort of thing may be problematic.
The Flintstones #1-6 (W)Mark Russell (A)Steve Pugh
Cannibal #1-3 (W)Jennifer Young & Brian Buccellato (A) Matias Bergara
Many critics gave this series a favorable review, and I will add to that cacophony here. I expected to like this, as I could immediately see the value in placing the writer of God Is Disappointed In You and Prez, Mark Russell, at the helm of The Flinstones. As someone with a tattoo of Bart Simpson, I fully appreciate the role of The Flintstones in the emergence of satirical cartoons. Russell does contemporaneous social commentary with humor and skill, and his take on The Flintstones is exactly what one would expect. The modernized subversive slant on The Flintstones property is fantastically clever. However, Russell’s writing can be a bit choppy, which likely results from his relative inexperience scripting comics.
The real gem in The Flintstones, though, is the amazing detail and scale of the artwork. Steve Pugh shines with his full-page dinosaurs and renderings of Bedrock. The characters are also well-designed in their resemblance that allows for recognition but does not feel like imitation of the originals.
My only real complaint, and I hope Mark Russell reads this, is Philip needs more page time! I freaking love that turtle! More Philip!!!
My ruminations about the investment potential of this series faced tireless equivocation since Issue 1. I like this enough to collect it in my PC, but given the secondary market performance of Prez I have reservations about expecting a future financial payoff.
The problem with Prez is not inflated print runs or bad writing and art, but another angel of death for comic book value- cancellation. Prez was stopped mid-stream, which we all know is terribly uncomfortable. Mark Russell is now hyper-aware of this somewhat unique obstacle for comic book writers. In a recent interview with iFanboy.com he gave the cancellation calamity credit for his decision to make each issue of The Flintstones a self-contained story. From a speculation point of view the stand-alone nature is a big plus.
I think the ceiling is fairly low on The Flintstones. There are no first appearances that may have an impact in the larger DC Universe- except maybe Philip- who should totally have his own title already. The low print runs and high quality will likely buoy these from the long-box dollar bins, and they may hover a little over cover if Russell keeps writing comics successfully. Keep an eye out for a good time to short-term flip as people become increasingly aware that this is written by beloved Prez writer and jump on the boat a little late.
Cannabal starts with a title page resembling a chalkboard-style menu concisely detailing the main plot and leaves the reader undeniably expecting a story about people that eat people. The introduction also serves the reader some food-for-thought noting the moral dilemma someone afflicted involuntarily with cannibalism might face. This premise alone makes for a compelling comic, and to continue the food analogies, I would compare this to a quick snack of tortilla chips and melted nacho cheese. Delicious but overprocessed.
However, this comic far surpasses those expectations. The forthcoming nature of the introduction is utterly deceptive, maybe intentionally so. This story is much more in the realm of a 7-layer Truffle Dip than a simple slathering of nacho cheese over tortilla chips. The complexity immediately becomes apparent in the opening story page where there is cavalier discussion about killing hogs. At first appearance, this sets the scene- a rural swampy area with a local watering hole and guys conversing about their hobbies. On second glance, there is a metaphor here that sets up a nuanced denial of crisis. Thankfully, the mental gymnastics do not hinder but instead help the entertainment value of this comic.
So far this has been a really fun and stimulating read. The level of mystery and horror in the storytelling is reminiscent of how I feel reading The Walking Dead. The level of emotion in the art is superb, and the hints of manga are refreshing. I truly am excited about reading Issue 4.
The timing of Cannabal is near perfect, riding the coattails of The Walking Dead and likely ending a story arc at the beginning of summer 2017 when everyone should be adequately freaked out again about Zika.
The concept and emotional ramifications are perfect for a television series, and I would not be at all surprised to see this picked up by AMC or HBO. Also, I think the writers are interested in making this a relatively long-lived series. Combining these factors with first-rate storytelling and art, I think this has a fairly high ceiling. It’s definitely worth picking up at least the first arc and monitoring news for a screen adaptation. Similar to speculating on The Walking Dead, I would grab any issues with first appearances.