Wednesday, 10 June 2015

Five Comics To Read Before Salt Lake Comic Con

posted on 6/10/2015 by the Salt City Sinner

Musky salutations, nerds and nerdettes!

We are a mere 15 weeks away from the triumphant return of Salt Lake Comic Con, or, as I like to call it, the North American Comic Con With The Fewest Virgins™. Throughout Utah and the surrounding region, fans are getting ready; assembling their costumes, slimming down to fit into said costumes, planning time off of work from from the IT help desk, and so forth.

If, like me, you are already starting to get excited about the goings-on and if you are wondering how you will pass the idle days between now and September 24 – 26, here are five suggestions on what to read, comics-wise, between now and then.


“Hang on a second,” I can hear you say, and not just because I've bugged your house. “Did you steal the title of your dumb-ass bloggue from this marvelous local comic book? What the hell is wrong with you, asshole?!” Whoa, buddy! Watch your language! And while you're at it, cool your jets! This silly bloggue was launched in March of 2009, years before 'Strangers' was more than a glimmer in creator Chris Hoffman's brain-wrinkles. And whereas Salt City Sinner chronicles the thoroughly depressing “adventures” of a lone jackass, 'Strangers' follows the much more exciting exploits of Utah superheroes Den Mother, Golden Spike, the Gull, Son of Bigfoot and Deputy Deseret. 'Strangers' is good clean fun with a decidedly Utah bent. There are only three issues so far (with a fourth well underway), but hey, that means you can still get in on the ground floor!

Unlike 'From the Dust,' the ill-fated comic book adaptation of the Book of Mormon, this title doesn't target an exclusively Mormon audience, and has better art and writing to boot. Pick your copy up at the 'Strangers' online store, and make sure to say hello to Hoffman and company at Comic Con!


2014 saw the launch of a new live-action adaptation of the Flash on the CW, and pretty much right out of the gate I was hooked. The Scarlet Speedster is more than just a spin-off show from the darker, broodier 'Arrow,' however.

The character was created in 1940 as the alter-ego of Jay Garrick, but the name and powers have been shared by several characters. Barry Allen (the most popular incarnation of the character) has been at it since 1956, with a twenty year break along the way, presumably to catch his breath. If you're a fan of the TV show, the classic comics are a good place to start, but if you're curious about recent events in the show's universe, or are just looking for a truly amazing read, “Flashpoint” is indispensable. Written by Geoff Johns, one of my favorite comics writers (and also one of the show's writers, producers, and developers), and with great artwork by Andy Kubert, 'Flashpoint' is available as a trade paperback new or used on Amazon for a pittance.


When Frank Miller took over Marvel's 'Daredevil' in 1981 as writer, he had been working on the title as an artist since 1979 and the book's sales were abysmal. Rather than scrap the character as there had been talk of doing, editor Denny O'Neil put Miller at the helm, and sales of the title shot through the roof.

The new Netflix adaptation of 'Daredevil' is based largely on Miller's 1993 – 1994 five-part miniseries 'Daredevil: the Man Without Fear.' 'Man Without Fear' is very similar to Miller's famous 'Batman: Year One' and follows the early years of Matt Murdock's journey from a kid blinded by chemicals that give him super-senses to the devil-horned, ass-kicking vigilante we know and love. Yes, Frank Miller is a horrible fedora-wearing right wing asshole, but he's also an incredibly talented writer and artist. If you're a fan of the Netflix adaptation, the source material is as good if not better (and if you're not a fan of the series, it's probably because you haven't seen it yet). Grab this one and you'll be glad you did.


'The Maxx' is a weird little treasure, created by Sam Kieth, that Image Comics published from 1993 to 1998. It follows the surreal exploits of the titular character, a possibly-rabbitoid street person who exists in both our world and an alternate reality called the Outback. 'Maxx' was adapted into a cartoon/motion comic format in 1995 for MTV's “Liquid Television,” where it warped countless brains and hopefully encouraged at least one or two gobsmacked burnouts to pick up some comic books.

Not only is the story arc of 'The Maxx' inventive, funny, and a little spooky, the artwork is distinctive and lovely. 'The Maxx' has been reissued (starting with volume one in 2014) in a gorgeous hardbound “Maxximized” edition that features newly restored artwork – if you were looking for an excuse to pick this title up, that's all the excuse you need.


I'll level with you – I really hate Mark Millar. Ever since I read his thoroughly awful, thoroughly stupid 'Wanted' (which spawned an equally dumb movie that shares nothing with the original text but the name), I've “wanted” nothing to do with him, HAW HAW HAW!

The exception that proves the rule in Millar's case is 'Superman: Red Son,' which is nothing short of absolutely brilliant. 'Red Son' rewrites the origins of Superman to examine what would happen if the Man of Steel were to land on Earth as an infant twelve hours earlier or later – putting him smack dab in the middle of the Cold War-era Soviet Union rather than the United States. Familiar characters – Batman, Wonder Woman, Lex Luthor, and others – are reinvented, and we watch as Superman rises from obscurity to become Stalin's right-hand man. Dig in, and you have my permission to never read another Millar comic for the rest of your life.

Well, there you have it – five juicy titles for you to read as you gear up for Salt Lake Comic Con (tickets for which, incidentally, can be purchased at their site, which also has a list of guests and copious things with which to waste your life -- er, pass the time).

Enjoy, and I'll see you there!

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