Stephen King’s The Stand is one of the most epic, disturbing and uniquely American tales of horror. And the Marvel Comics’ faithful adaptation only adds to the value of King’s story. In the not-too-distant future, after a government-created super virus wiped out 99 percent of the country’s population (covered in The Stand: Captain Trips), the one percent that survived are on a path through a dead nation towards the end of the world - with a battle between good and the evil Randall Flagg waiting for them there. This is good horror and there’s nothing funny about the funnybook medium it’s presented in.
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There have been several books about Schulz and Peanuts (as opposed to collections of the strips) over the years, early examples being 1965’s Gospel According to Peanuts, and 1975’s Peanuts Jubilee. Published a year before Shultz’s death, 1999’s A Golden Celebration featured running commentary by the master himself. With its similarly large format, decade-oriented organization sprinkled with trivia, that book could have been an inspiration for the newest addition to the canon of Peanuts appreciation: Celebrating Peanuts.
What can any new book bring to this already crowded subject? Surprisingly, a nostalgic sense of joy. This book wants the work taken seriously, focusing on two key aspects: Schulz as hard-working artist, and Peanuts as pop culture phenomenon.
It’s a single volume in a large hardcover format, accompanied by a slipcase. It doesn’t offer all of the comics, but it offers a heck of a lot. Celebrating Peanuts seems aimed at fans (at all levels of fanaticism) who want comprehensive and colorful overview of the entire run of Peanuts in a single volume.
For readers of Dark Horse’s The Umbrella Academy—a comic book series about a dysfunctional family of super-powered siblings adopted by an eccentric genius (think The Royal Tenenbaums meets the Justice League)—this black-and-white paneled umbrella with a simple, classic design is wicked cool. It’s a practical geek possession because it not only serves as a secret handshake amongst fans, but it also, you know, stops rain from falling on your head. But if you have a comic reader on your list unfamiliar with the Academy, do them a solid and give both the umbrella and the new trade paperback, Dallas. $24 for the umbrella and $14 for the comic. [www.tfaw.com]
The director of Clerks, Mallrats and the more-recent Zak and Miri Make a Porno is a well-documented fanboy, so he’s a natural fit for writing duties on this Batman vs. Joker comic. Although the storyline involves Onomatopoeia, a super hero serial killer who only speaks in sounds, it’s really an excuse for Smith to explore the relationship between Bats and his big bad. The dialogue is clearly Smithian and spiked with sarcasm and pop-culture references—although the Caped Crusader is chattier than normal. The story reads like Smith had a great time writing it, and the final scene between the two main characters makes the whole book worth the price of admission.
Batman fans rejoice! This collection is more than just reviews and stories, it’s memorabilia in its own right. Any fan of the Masked Crusader will thoroughly enjoy this book, with its tales of the creation of Batman, photographs and illustrations of Gotham, and even a style guide on dressing Catwoman. Museum in a book, indeed. The Batman Vault will benefit anyone who enjoyed Dark Knight too, providing the history of both Bruce Wayne and the Batman franchise. Bruce is 70 years old and has plenty of stories to tell.
// Notes from the Road
"With vibrant performances by artists including St. Vincent and TV on the Radio, the first half of the bi-annual Boston Calling Festival brought additional excitement to Memorial Day weekend.READ the article