In the Limelight

December is the time of year when gift-giving is on our minds as we hunt for the perfect presents for friends and family. If you are seeking gifts for the comic book lovers in your life, the Gemstone staff would like to offer some interesting suggestions of trades and graphic novels that they might enjoy. In this case, the selections come from our Vice-President of Publishing, J.C. Vaughn.

Planet of the Apes Archive – Volume One
By Doug Moench, Mike Ploog, Tom Sutton, and Herb Trimpe
BOOM! Studios, $49.99

Since they acquired the Planet of the Apes license several years ago, BOOM! Studios has produced two superb, full series based on the timeline of the original movies, a pair of tie-ins to the more recent film trilogy, and a number of inventive crossovers with properties ranging from Star Trek to Green Lantern

Now they’ve unleashed a volume that no serious POTA fan should be without. Planet of the Apes Archive is a series of beautifully produced hardcover volumes that collect the material from Marvel’s black and white magazine series from the 1970s. The material is published in its original size, making each volume similar to a Marvel omnibus.

While beginning with the second book in the series it will include the adaptations of the original movies, this first volume collects Terror on the Planet of the Apes, a long-running, serialized story written by Doug Moench and illustrated by greats Mike Ploog, Tom Sutton, and Herb Trimpe.

Set in an era of relative equality between apes and humans, there are still dangers a plenty for a pair of friends, Jason (a human) and Alexander (a chimpanzee). When Jason is framed for the murder of a high-ranking ape’s wife, the duo flee their former lives and end up in a series of tumultuous adventures.

Packed with different segments of ape society and all sorts of threats – including giant brains and mutant drones – Terror is a highly imaginative, brilliantly illustrated series. In many ways, it paved the way for the incredible work that BOOM! would later do in their own original material by showing a much different world within the context established by the films. This volume is a wonderful introduction to the world of Planet of the Apes in comics.

Flight of the Raven
By Jean-Pierre Gibrat
EuroComics/IDW Publishing; $29.99

Unlike the epic Corto Maltese saga by Hugo Pratt, when EuroComics editor Dean Mullaney announced Jean-Pierre Gibrat’s Flight Of Raven, most on this side of the Atlantic had never heard of it. Thanks to Mullaney, his team, and IDW Publishing, that glaring oversight has now been corrected.

This beautiful illustrated original graphic novel is stunning. Set in the waning days of the German occupation during World War II, it’s the story of Jeanne, a French Resistance fighter, and François, a cat burglar, who helps her attempt to rescue her sister from the Gestapo.

The ambiguous world of French politics during the occupation serves as the muddy ground on which the story is staged, and Gibrat’s use of Parisian rooftops and even the river Seine makes Paris more than just the setting of the tale. Instead, like the shifting political sands, it’s a vibrant story element itself.

It’s impossible to take a serious look at this book without commenting on the color, which is another vital component in the storytelling. The bright, sunny days suggest that the world doesn’t change too much for the approaching storm of the Allied invasion. The firelit nights keep the story close and personal. It’s an amazing combination.

If you’re looking for a strong heroine, a solid story, and beautiful art, look no further.

The Fade Out
By Ed Brubaker, Sean Phillips, and Elizabeth Breitweiser
Image Comics; $49.99

Writer Ed Brubaker and artist Sean Phillips have a superb record as collaborators. With Sleeper, Criminal, Incognito, and Fatale under their belts, they turned their attention to post-World War 2 era Hollywood for the setting of their latest noir efforts.

There are three trade paperbacks which collect the series, but if you can find the hardcover that presents the whole series in one volume, grab it. The story is populated with the people behind the silver screen, the back-biting, the political intrigue, the backlots, the bars, and, oh, yeah, murder.

As usual, Brubaker and Phillips have not only delivered a fully developed noir sensibility, they’ve given us a mystery with a great hook, one that is steeped in the world and the compromises that have always surrounded the movie business and those desperate for fame. Elizabeth Breitwiser’s colors complete the atmosphere in incredible fashion.

The Adventures of Dieter Lumpen
Jorge Zentner and Rubén Pellejero
EuroComics/IDW Publishing; $49.99

Perhaps best defined by Hugo Pratt’s Corto Maltese, there is a grand tradition of the adventurer in European graphic novels. Dieter Lumpen is certainly an adventurer, but unlike his fictional counterparts he doesn’t seek out adventure. Instead, while he desires only “a quiet life,” danger and intrigue almost relentlessly seek him out. The results make for some seriously compelling reading.

Created by the team of writer Jorge Zentner and artist Rubén Pellejero, the tales of Dieter Lumpen began in 1985 and ran through 1994. Combining a slice-of-life approach with traditional adventure comic storytelling, the tales of Lumpen’s globetrotting life throw the character into situations ranging from outright deadly danger to philosophical contemplation. Turkey, India, the Caribbean, China, and Venice are among the backdrops for the subtle figure.

The story and the art combine seamlessly to create an intriguing world and a character who is more often than not swept along with events rather than one who deliberately dives right in. Much like Ernest Hemingway in prose, Zentner and Pellejero consistently keep things deceptively simple. One doesn’t have to consume all that much 

Winterworld: Better Angels, Colder Hearts
By Chuck Dixon, Butch Guice, Tomas Giorello, Tommy Lee Edwards, and Esteve Polls
IDW Publishing; $29.99

The cold reality portrayed in Winter World may be brutal, but it sure is beautiful in the hands of artists Butch Guice, Tomas Giorello, Tommy Lee Edwards, and Esteve Polls (and colorist Diego Rodriguez).

For those who remember the original Chuck Dixon-Jorge Zaffino three-issue Winterworld miniseries from Eclipse, and for those who are arriving on the frozen tundra for the first time, this stories collected in this volume are highly accessible. The world, though different than the one we know, is easily understood, and the characters are appealing.

Regardless of experience with the property, it throws the reader straight into the dangerous and demanding environment of a world frozen over. Survival is the name of the game, and there are plenty of threats waiting to take down those who let their focus wander.

Chuck Dixon delivers yet again with the latest in a seemingly unending series of scripts that make the reader want to keep turning the page (You remember, the way comics are supposed to be?).

­- J.C. Vaughn

Stay tuned for more holiday gift suggestions from Gemstone’s comic-loving staff.

Editor's note: And of course we hope you'll consider our books for your holiday gift-giving needs as well, including The Overstreet Comic Book Price Guide #47, The Overstreet Guide To Collecting Horror, The Overstreet Guide To Collecting Concert Posters, The Overstreet Guide To Collecting Video Games, The Overstreet Guide To Collecting Movie Posters, The Overstreet Guide To Cosplay, The Overstreet Guide To Grading Comics, The Overstreet Guide To Collecting Comic & Animation Art, and The Overstreet Guide To Collecting Comics