It’s an embarrassment of riches for yours truly, the ol’ Pulpster! Not only do my shelves both physical and virtual strain from the weight of my passion, but comic shops remain the densest concentration of sheer blistering awesome that you can find this side of cocaine, but with way less bleakness and regret. It’s all pulp, baby! Comics is life but life ain’t comics, so the point to all this sheer damn …brutal relentlessness… of our reality, especially now, is to find moments to kick back and just, dammit, relax with something grin-inducing.
Thrill with me then, won’t you? Today I’m proud Heroes Union Member Number 003652, according to the code on the back of my copy of THE HEROES UNION BINGE BOOK #1. From what I understand, this comic is the pet project of a dude who’s basically ME, or more than a few of you. Darin Henry grew up reading comics, loved them to death and I guess came into the means to hire some of his childhood heroes to, you guessed it - make comics. He’s got comics legends like Sal Buscema, Ron Frenz, Roger Stern and David Michelini working to realize his dream.
How cool is that? How many of us always wanted to do something exactly like that? Darin Henry has gone and done it, creating the Binge Books brand at Sitcomics to be home for this new superhero shared universe. Respect, brother, seriously. I have been anticipating this comic since the announcement and today I got it into my sweaty mitts and fell back thirty-five years in time. I was twelve years old again, hanging out, summertime, comics, slurpees, hell yeah.
Quoting from the State of the Union text page at the end of the book,
“…taking the triple-sized format of Golden Age comics, tossing in the freewheeling fun of Silver Age comics, mixing well with the classic styles and storytelling complexity of comics’ Bronze Age…”
we are presented with a clear mission statement. Did Heroes Union deliver?
C’mon, are you serious? This is Stern and Frenz and Buscema! You’re not going to get a finer team of comics workhorses than these guys, who show us just how much these dudes still bring the business with storytelling chops and character design. Ultimately, I find they straddle the Ages well - this has the lighter tone of the Silver Age while hinting at continuity suggestive of Bronze Age stories. That leaves us with a fast pace, colorful characters and a satisfying introduction to the world. There’s not a lot beneath that surface, but I think that’s a choice and I don’t ding the creative team for it. They covered a lot of ground and did some very heavy lifting, and as the character-focused books are released I expect them to round things out.
It stands to be said that Binge Books is embracing the “family comics” approach that the Silver Age comparisons promise. The bombastic voice in the back pages calls to mind ol’ Stan The Man, congratulating me on my fine taste while promising dizzying excitement to come. Simply buying the comic grants you membership to the Union, as your unique Member Number on the back page confirms, next to the “TRUTH, UNITY, JUSTICE” Heroes Union seal. On the cover and by the indicia is a ratings system unique (I think) to Binge Books, declaring this to be rated Action Hour, explained as “suitable for anyone allowed to watch broadcast TV after 8pm” - which brought me back again to memories of Knight Rider, The Fall Guy, Riptide that classic of all classics, Airwolf. We even get a tiny lesson on some terms used in business (leaning on the labor union definition here) as we’re shown how each team member’s name is at least partly derived from one.
In addition to bearing the Action Hour rating, I must note with great pleasure that the seal of the Comics Code Authority is stamped in a proud place on the cover of THE HEROES UNION #1. I find myself oddly tickled by this.
This is a thick 64 pages of story, so the “BINGE AGE OF COMICS!” tag line is apt (while again calling to mind Stan Lee and Roy Thomas, who provides a back-cover pull quote). The format is somewhere between the 22-page single issue and the 4 to 6 issue softcover trade collection, and at $4.99 I find that a hell of a deal. We get the equivalent of a 3-issue mini-epic and it introduces not only the main team, but also some of the B-team and support characters, backstory for the Union itself and for some key players, intergalactic strife and heroism, teasers for two related Binge Books (Blue Baron #1 and Startup #1), not to mention the next issue, featuring none other than David Michelinie joining this all-star power band!
While I might have preferred a stapled comic on something more akin to classic newsprint, I get they wanted to put a comic on the shelf that will look as slick and new as any shelfmates. They even say as much in the part of the Ages quote I didn’t post (it made the whole quote kind of boring, actually), that they basically also reflect the Modern age in their print production. Okay, I guess I’ll let them have that. They give us a glossy card stock cover with mass-market magazine type paper, pretty standard but yeah, modern. Colors pop like hell, of course; a great job overall by the production people.
I also want to call out the Special Note above the indicia (see below the cover image at bottom), a gentle plea to those who’ll read HU#1 as a pirated digital copy, to do the right thing. I am a firm believer that you should pay for your comics, and THE HEROES UNION BINGE BOOK gives you such value for your buck that laying down your coin should be a no-brainer. Those of you that have done, or may do - hit me up on Twitter @AverageMonkey and let me know what you think of the comic. Am I way off base? Letting nostalgia cloud my judgement? Is THE HEROES UNION hitting your palate like it did mine, or somehow else? Hit me up!
Plenty of Pulp, by Max Cage, for Wednesday Pull List