Heroes & Villains: ‘Batman #89’ + Han Allred’s ‘Space Face: Mind of a Madman’ Documentary on Mike Allred

These things usually get written on Tuesday night sometime after I get done with my regular job and before The Flash starts on the CW. I find it beneficial to have time carved out for writing and the added ticking clock of the self-imposed deadline helps as well.

At some point during that hour, my weekly pull list is hand-delivered to me because I hate leaving my house. Getting a slight jump on Wednesday’s reading helps to ensure I can write about comics that are timely should that week’s releases dictate it…but mostly I just enjoy getting a (small) sneak peek at what Wednesday has in store. I mean, isn’t it every comic book fan’s dream reading something first?

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This week, I was perusing my Instagram feed and saw that today’s Batman #89 was being limited to ONE PER CUSTOMER by my local shop. It was already on my pull list but I had to fire off a text, “Da fuq is going on with Batman tomorrow?” I was told it was the first appearance of (HOT NEW CHARACTER REDACTED) and that they anticipated a run on the book tomorrow.

We’re a staggering twenty-seven years past the Death of Superman hullabaloo when the world collectively went ape shit trying to get as many black poly-bagged copies (complete with commemorative armband!) as possible. I have vivid memories of getting laughed out of my local shop when I went in looking for a copy a week or so after release. It was the era of Comics For Fun & Profit (But Mostly Profit) and it’s amazing how that ethos has shaped the secondary market for almost three decades now. Even after the bottom fell out.

Mind you, I’m not claiming that I was immune from all this. The first membership I had at a comics shop was designed solely to ensure that I would never again know the sting of missing out on a book that would one day make me a millionaire. I bought variants, multiple copies, and books I would never read based on the hot tips as published in the trade magazines of the day. It was a wild time to be into comics.

As I mentioned above, the industry kind of imploded. That copy of X-Men #1 you bought with the five connecting covers (plus the sixth “deluxe” edition) now couldn’t be given away. Your nest egg embossed copy of Fantastic Four in which the Human Torch goes white-hot supernova was a painful reminder that you should have started paying into your employer’s matching 401k program long ago.

These days if I just so happen to get a book that’s going to appreciate in value, it’s a nice bonus. I’ll probably never sell it and there’s even less of chance that I’ll pay to have it graded. I read comics because they’re fun and they’ve always been fun. The insanity of the 1990’s speculator boom was fun at the time even though it was ultimately a bit harmful to our local comics shops.

Will Batman #89 be the next “first appearance of Harley Quinn”? Definitively not (it’s a one-panel cameo), but you should for sure check it out because the creative team is doing a great job on it.

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Kickstarter Alert! Space Face

Switching gears slightly, I wanted to call some attention to Han Allred’s Kickstarter campaign for his documentary Space Face: Mind of a Madman which is about his father THE Mike Allred.

Around the time the comics industry was going coo-coo bananas for holographic variants I discovered Allred’s Madman comics. The books were probably some of my earliest exposure to the world of small press comics and Allred’s work connected with me in a way that the Big Two comic publishers hadn’t. The books were fun, hip, and just what I needed at the time.

Amazingly, Allred’s work has remained consistently excellent in the decades since. Seeing Allred’s name on a book is a guaranteed way to get me to purchase it and the same goes for this documentary which I’ll be backing forthwith. Man, I sure hope that’s the appropriate use of “forthwith.”

Check it out HERE.

 

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