Monday, January 30, 2023

RBA #1 Veraldarvíg (March 2019)

When I first saw Pulp Fiction in 1994, a good fifteen years before I ever left the country, I fell in love with the "Royale With Cheese" discussion. I mean, the whole movie, but also, I still put mayonnaise on my waffle fries (but not french fries. I'm not a total heathen.) Now that I get to travel abroad with some regularity, I like to enjoy "the little differences" between countries. And being a lifelong comics geek, I always try to find some venue for a foreign four-color fix. Too often, I just muddle through imported copies of the same western comic book editions that I can find anywhere, or newsstand magazines that collect several modern comics, sometimes translated to local tongue. I find that more than a bit boring, because the older editions are much quirkier pieces of pop art, and I also like to find vintage material from the land I'm visiting. Ideally, I'll locate some hole in the wall on a back street that's the impure, adulterated experience. Like this multi-fandom spot in a quasi-strip mall in Reykjavík that looked more like a duplex, guided by a crude sandwich board sign from the sidewalk.
From visiting a local flea market and some book stores, it was pretty clear that Iceland wasn't historically big on super-heroes. There's a lot of Disney comics, adventure heroes like Tarzan, and of course the European staples Tintin and Asterix. This shop was no exception, plus a lot of fantasy, viking stuff, and some very quaint softcore behind a curtain that barely showed more than ankles and mid-drifts. Most of the stock were on wooden bookshelves, and as per usual, most of the western heroes were imports. I think I scored a hardcover annual a piece for my best friends-- I belive one was a British Hulk and the other a French Iron Man, or vice versa. I found a few oddball floppies stored in some sort of plastic clothing hampers for myself.
We eventually made our way to Nexus, the biggest comic/fan chain on the island. This particular location was in the basement of a multi-story mall, exactly where I would want it to be. You had to take a staircase that was flanked on one side by life-size statues of the Gal Gadot Wonder Woman, Spider-Man, and Deadpool. The view from the entry is deceptive, because the store snakes around to the left with expansive areas for more comics, gaming, and LARPing gear. They also had lit columns with stock images of Wonder Woman, Batman, Sailor Moon, Hellboy, MCU heroes, Darth Vader, and more. It was no Forbidden Planet, but London has nearly 9 million people to Reykjavík's 325K, so proportionately much grander, if taken on a per capita basis.
Most appealing to me was a small selection of trade paperback made specifically for Nexus stores featuring western comics translated into Icelandic. I texted Fryhole to see if he wanted Þór Bok 1, a trade collecting Thor: Son of Asgard, but he preferred a local Viking hardcover edition, Vargöld fyrsta bók.
For myself, I got a real treat, the first collection of the 1997 reboot of Réttlætisbandalag Ameríku, or as translated from Icelandic, "American Justice Alliance." We of course know it better as the start of Grant Morrison and Howard Porter's run on JLA from 1997. It collects the trades we know as "New World Order" and "American Dreams," as well as most of JLA Secret Files & Origins #1, under the title "Veraldarvíg," or "World Slaying." Period covers are reprinted for each chapter, and it appears Iceland was getting their monthlies more or less at the same time as us. Secret Files entries for the JLA members are used as interstitials to help with pagination.
After the first arc, there's the bio page for Superman Blue, followed by his short story "trial" for reentry into the JLA, so more or less in chronological order ahead of the membership drive in #5. Marian Manhunter's secret file by Don Hillsman III is ahead of the Neron/Asmodel two-parter. We continue on through #9, then the Starro lead story from Secret Files, and then the 3-issue Paradise Lost mini-series starring Zauriel by Mark Millar and Ariel Olivetti is also reprinted. My copy had a folded insert tucked into the back cover with the Multiversity map and advertising blurbs for other DC collections, which came standard for the edition based on copyright information in the trade's indicia. The package cost me 3,999 Krona or so, which would currently be about $28, though I think I paid more. Everything is pricier on an island. Anyway, a swell collection and souvenir. I wish there was an English language edition on glossy stock I liked as much as this one.