To view this content, you must be a member of Peter's Patreon
Already a qualifying Patreon member? Refresh to access this content.
The Newest Oldest Blog In New Zealand
Crushing Comics includes definitive comic book guides, essays about characters and titles, collecting strategies, comic reviews, and more!
Even with plenty of drag and indie comics to focus on this month, I still found the time to squeeze in another new Marvel guide for all Patrons of CK. This guide follows a character who started off both dangerous and incredibly complex when she was introduced by Jim Starlin in 1975, and that’s never changed – although she has changed considerably in her nearly 50 years of comics. It’s time for a Guide to Gamora!
If I was totally off-base about my ideas of about Star-Lord when I got to work on his guide, working on a Guide to Gamora confirmed my assumptions and just made me love the character even more.
In fact, I’d go so far as to say that out of all of the Guardians of the Galaxy, Gamora is both the one who is closest to her comic version in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. That’s despite the fact that she is missing a critical element of her first 30 years of comics in the MCU.
I’m back with more of my Indie Comics Month with another new guide for all Patrons of CK! This guide is for perhaps the least popular of the Image flagship titles, but the one with perhaps the most straight-forward, self-contained, and satisfying runs of them all. It’s all explained in my Guide to ShadowHawk by Jim Valentino!
Guide to ShadowHawk by Jim Valentino
ShadowHawk was the only one of the Image launch books that I did not dabble in back in the early 90s, which means the character has always been a mystery to me – as were his serially-numbered 90s mini-series and what seemed like repeated returns from the dead.
I’m not sure I can explain why, other than that Jim Valentino was the least explosive of the Image Comics founders and launch artists at the time. I knew Jim Lee, Marc Silvestri, & Rob Liefeld from X-Men, and had at least seen Todd McFarlane on Spider-Man and Erik Larsen on Spidey and Hulk. However, Valentino mostly kept to his Guardians of the Galaxy (1990), which was set millennia into the future of Marvel Comics. With no crossovers into my beloved X-line, I hardly knew who Jim Valentino was.
Also, Valentino’s ShadowHawk simply wasn’t my style of hero. He looked like a shiny, armored Batman or a direct Darkkawk knockoff, roaming the dark alleyways of NYC. Even with a set of shiny Wolverine claws, he never seemed that interesting to me.
(Little did I know he was actually an indie version of totally different character I’d eventually come to love: Moon Knight!)
What I did know about ShadowHawk, likely thanks to regularly reading Wizard Magazine, is that he was HIV-positive. I was keenly aware of the AIDS/HIV epidemic in the early 90s. A debate over whether AIDS was a “plague” sent by god to punish sinners is what caused my permanent fracture with my Christian faith, and by the time of the reveal in ShadowHawk I was being certified as a peer sex educator.
I never knew anything more about ShadowHawk. Was he gay? Was he a future star of the musical RENT? Having that knowledge divorced from any other details of the character made his seemingly repeated death and return seem like it was in mildy-bad taste to me. I never knew the full story of ShadowHawk being HIV-positive, the numbering of his series, and his many incarnations until I researched this guide!
First, here’s the story, in Valentino’s own words from the back matter of Return of ShadowHawk (2004) #1: [Read more…] about New for Patrons: Guide to Shadowhawk by Jim Valentino
To celebrate this week’s release of Shazam! Fury of the Gods, I’m happy to present my Shazam Guide – The Captain Marvel of DC Comics – now available to all readers of CK!
Guide to Shazam, DC’s Captain Marvel
Read my original Shazam Guide launch post for an essay on Billy Batson’s origins and how DC has gradually lost the magic that once made Shazam and his family the most-loved (and highest-selling) heroes in all of comics.
If you’r thinking about reading Shazam for the first time you may find yourself daunted by the fact that he has been around for over 80 years. However, his Golden Age comics from 1940-1953 are almost wholly uncollected, and they are completely disconnected from his present day continuity.
DC revived Shazam in 2012 starting with a new origin and a large adopted family that match closely with the film continuity. However, I don’t think it’s worth starting there. There’s simply not that much material to read, and none of the stories are particularly satisfying. They often have a cruel, violent edge that is a total mismatch for the wide-eyed wonder of the character.
For a terrific, hefty Shazam read, try starting back in 1994 with Jerry Ordway’s The Power of Shazam. The first half of the nearly 50-issue series are collected as The Power of SHAZAM! Book 1: In the Beginning (2020 paperback, ISBN 978-1401299415 / digital) and The Power of Shazam! Book 2: The Worm Turns (2023 paperback, ISBN 978-1779521743), plus the entire series is available on DC Universe Infinite.
The title is set in pre-Crisis continuity, which isn’t presently relevant for Shazam, but it’s a complete and well-thought-out series that sees him as a part of the larger DC Universe alongside heroes likes Superman and Wonder Woman. I read much of the series while putting together this guide, and it’s enjoyable from start to finish.
Of course, you don’t have to take my word for it! My Shazam Guide covers every appearance the character has made from 1940 through last month, with links to collected editions and digital reading options for every major starring issue. Start at the launch of one of his many series, or just jump in randomly to an issue with a cool cover.
This guide exists thanks to the ongoing support of the astonishing Patrons of Crushing Krisis. They’ve had early access to the guide for the past month! Join for as little as $1 a month or $10.20 a year to get early access to dozens of existing guides and every new guide as it makes its first appearance on CK.
I’m taking a brief breather from my Indie Comics Month today to continue my weekly series of X-Men guide updates! After last week’s update to my Guide to Uncanny X-Men in the 00s, it’s time to take a look at its sibling title and what might be the most-definitive X-Men run after Chris Claremont’s in my Guide to New X-Men & X-Men Vol. 2 the 00s (AKA Guide to New X-Men by Grant Morrison).
Guide to New X-Men & X-Men Vol. 2 the 00s.
AKA Guide to New X-Men by Grant Morrison
There are two pieces of major collected edition news in this Guide to New X-Men update!
First, there is a new fifth printing of Grant Morrison’s New X-Men Omnibus out in just a few months! This is one Marvel’s most-reprinted omnibuses, which after years out of print is now as close to “evergreen” as any single run at Marvel Comics.
Second, Marvel finally finished their “Complete Collection” reprint sequence of this material last year with their X-Men by Peter Milligan: Blood of Apocalypse, which is effectively “X-Men by Peter Milligan Vol. 2.” The first collection included the volume number in the title, so it’s puzzling that this one does not.
The printing of this collection not only concludes Marvel’s reprint of this period, but finally makes one of the hardest-to-find and most-expensive original X-Men trade paperback collections obsolete!
The original Blood of Apocalypse collection was murderous to find 13 years ago when I started collecting, and it hasn’t gotten any easier since then. At the time it was one of the few collections I had to finally break down and pay over cover price to acquire. I just don’t think that many of them were printed relative to the print runs of collections on either side.
That doesn’t mean I only added two collections to this guide! I added much more detail to the New X-Men section, including breaking the pair of paperback printings into separate sub-sections. I clarified the recollection coverage of the Austen and Milligan period, including how issue #165 is orphaned in a Complete Collection of mostly Uncanny X-Men. I explicitly placed of the two annuals in this run in reading order. And, finally, I added digital purchase links and Marvel Unlimited reading links to bring this guide in line with the new Crushing Comics guides.
That means all of my X-Men team book guides are now up-to-date through 2008! However, there are still several more pages to update to cover the intervening 15 years of titles between there and the present day – plus, several solo guides to update as well. Make sure to keep an eye on the CK homepage each week for my newest guide updates.