So, right off the bat, I want you all to know that one day, I will shut up about Stray Bullets, or at least only write about it once a month. But this is not that day. In my mania about Stray Bullets, I went out and bought the collected edition of the original 40 issues plus this month’s brand new issue, Stray Bullets Über Alles. It was 60 bucks, which is steep but there’s two things going in favor of this book’s price. The first is that if my math is right (and it usually is), this collection shakes out to a little less than $1.50 per issue, which you can’t beat in today’s market. The other is that if I go back and look at the other collections I’ve bought recently, like Fantastic Four Doomed (Fraction/Bagley, et al), that ends up being more like $3.00 per issue, which is normal cover price, just collected and with some process in the back. One reason it might not be that pricey is the list of things they left out.
Some reasons this might be a more affordable collection: It’s not hardcover. I ordered a copy from my LCS fully expecting a sharp-cornered, glossy hardcover. I’m actually pleased it’s softcover – I prefer reading from softcovers; I feel like they fit better in my hands somehow. The pages are glossy, but still not too thick or anything. However, it’s also missing both the cover of each issue as well as the letters and backmatter. The cover images are all at the beginnings of the chapters, at least.
Okay, so that’s the packaging. It’s literally just the credits, the table of contents, and then 41 issues of black and white comic. It bears stating that the reprinting of this comic includes a lot of clean-ups to Lapham’s art, making each panel as crisp as the first time it was drawn. Maybe even crisper.
The real draw of this volume is that it is literally the perfect starter pack. If a reader wanted to jump on to, say, American Vampire: Second Cycle (which they absolutely should, AV is great), they would have to read five separate trades, and god forbid one of them go out of print. With SB, there were several oversize printings of the first few arcs, seven issues at a stretch, and those went out of print. Then there were regular TPB size volumes of all the issues, including the Amy Racecar specials. And then those went out of print. Über Alles gives you each one of them, for under two dollars an issue, in one place, plus the brand new issue.
If you’re new to this universe, it’s the perfect spot to jump on. The price is slightly prohibitive, and since it’s only sold through Diamond, you can’t even get it for a discount on Amazon. Your best bet is to convince your local librarian to order a copy for the library that you can borrow, to buy it yourself, or to convince the owner at your LCS to let you read the shelf copy in the corner. The first and second scenarios could work. The third... probably not. Regardless, you will not regret this purchase.
Writer/Artist/Creator: David Lapham Publisher: El Capitan/Image Comics Price: $59.99 Release Date: 3/12/14