Comics Creators

The Trades Thread - Hardcovers, Graphic Novels, and More


Anyone else not got the usual FP email for this week and last?


I got this week’s and last. I think you had to re-sign-up a few weeks back as part of GDPR. If you drop me a PM with your email I’ll forward them to you.


Reading Mage The Hero discovered.

It has not aged well.

Is it worth persevering with? I’m 5 issues in and waverering about whether to read on.


I think it’s aged incredibly well.
I only first read it last year and I thought it had a great sense of self and personality.

The Hero Defined, to me, felt a lot more dated and impenetrable. The original is just a neat sorta King Arthur story. If it’s really turning you off, 5 issues in, I’d say give up the ghost.


I bought it very cheap on Comixology a few months back but haven’t read it yet. I knew of, but missed most of those 80s indie hits due to a lack of access (there was no LCS near me until late in the decade and I got most US comics by trawling dozens of newsagents that had random allocations of US Marvel and DC).

I followed up with one of them with Zot and loved it. I bought the Grendel omnibus and was disappointed, there are some nice ideas and artwork but there’s no real narrative. Mage is next.


Yeah, Grendel has no sense of form or structure. It’s a story of loosely hanging vignettes. Even the actual story-arcs are very haphazard.

BUT I do recommend Grendel Vs. The Shadow. It’s perhaps the most entertaining and well-crafted Grendel story and honestly just a fun as all hell read. It’s not in the omnibuses but it’s just a solid self-contained affair.

I love Mage: The Hero Discovered just because of how earnest it is in retelling the Arthurian legend…the sequel is okay enough, but the final part in the trilogy - The Hero Denied is quite good so far.


I’m just pretty bored by it to be honest.

There’s some nice touches for the time in terms of the art and breakdowns of the panels but the writing is very basic and the plot is super decompressed for that era.

I’m sure it would have been ground breaking at the time but it doesn’t hold up to other acclaimed series from that era, or 2000ad strips from a similar period.


You are right but I kind of conned myself because in the 80s I did get to a comic shop and bought one issue of Grendel, the first issue of the female version. It seemed to allude to much more of a legacy and standard narrative, expectations are always part of it.


I find it…comfy.
I don’t know, I’m a young sorta guy and only read it recently myself.

I think it’s just a neat little story with some fun flourishes.


Yeah, that’s how I was introduced to the series as well.
It’s a real shame because that main conceit could have been fun but it’s just…eh.

Grendel vs. The Shadow, though? Cracerkjack stuff.


This wider view can hit you as US comics have been dominated by the ‘big two’ approach. I never really took to ‘Casanova’ not because I thought it was bad but I felt I had read it all before in 2000ad and Deadline comics 20 years before. None of it was fresh. It reflected a lot of stuff Milligan, Morrison etc were doing back then.

If you hadn’t read that same material it probably did come across that way.


Yeah, that’s why I’m shying away from calling Mage revelatory or groundbreaking.
It’s not. But I maintain that it’s a nice King Arthur story set in modern urban environments.

Defined is so late 90’s it hurts.


I have to back the Grendel vs The Shadow - I read it with no knowledge of the former and still found it a great read.

Dealer Alert

Mostly for @Vikram :

Rumble: Volume 4: Soul Without Pity - Books Etc - £9.31


I still get Rumble in singles, Ben. I haven’t read the new arc yet. But, it still looks fab,

Grendel vs The Shadow was awesome. I agree.


Did you just read the first omnibus?

Dark Horse made the decision to put all of the Grendel stories in chronological order and not publication order, so you do lose the narrative flow. The first omnibus collects all of the Hunter Rose stories, most of which are short stories from the Black, White, and Red anthologies that were published well after the main series concluded.

My recomendation for Grendel would be to read “Devil by the Deed” in the first omnibus, then start reading the second omnibus (you could probably even skip the first story “Devil Child” and go right into the “Devil’s Legacy” storyline) and continue straight through the third and fourth omnibuses. Then go back and read the stuff in the first two that you skipped.

I’m a big fan of Grendel. To me, it fits right in with a lot of the 80s pre-Vertigo stuff like Sandman, Shade, and Alan Moore’s Swamp Thing.


Mage has been binned

I’m sure I would have enjoyed it at the time it was coming out and I tried to read on but my eyes were glazing over.

I found it too primitive, probably for the reasons Gar mentions upthread.

I also feel like there was about 2 issues worth of story and character development stretched over the 6 issues that I read.

I’ve now got 2 volumes to stick on eBay although I’m not sure how likely I am to get it sold looking at other listings. A lesson to read the first volume of something first before buying others.


Oh dear. I’m a big Matt Wagner fan and have been super trade waiting this one. I’ve bought all 4 trades so far. And, am waiting for the last 2 before starting to read them. Hopefully I’ll get on a little better with them.


Don’t let me put you off - Tom is a much harsher critic than I am and he’s enjoying it, so there’s the possibility you will get on just fine with it.


Yeah, i won’t refute much of the claims you’ve made, but I don’t feel them as much of a detraction.
I find it as a simple, slightly imaginative, and even somewhat charming story. Did it need to be around 15 issue? Nope, but read as a whole I felt like there was more than enough of a personality to make it a comfortable read.

And then the last few issues are pretty amazing, and the centerpiece moment of any King Arthur story is played to beautiful perfection.

Defined, however, really only is bearable if you really were interested in Kevin Matchstick’s story beyond the normal base limits of Arthur - because he delves into the 90’s, especially 90’s independent comics history hard. Dozen or so cameos from comic creators reimagined as mythological figures like Dave Sim and IIRC Dean Motter. There’s still something to love in there…but it is a less concentrated work.

Denied has so far brought everything back to its centered, focused, roots and it’s benefited from it.


Although @Vikram I do recommend reading Discovered with the original coloring first. A lot of moments, like the centerpiece moment, are ruined by the recoloring.