Bad Idea's Great Idea: A $1 Sampler As A Limited Commodity

On May 12, 2021, Bad Idea, a new comics publisher who recently blacklisted another store, published Hank Howard: Pizza Detective In "Caligula's Safe", one of the most aggravating headaches for a comics retailer in recent memory. Retailers could only sell Hank Howard: Pizza Detective In "Caligula's Safe" for the 24 hour period of May 12, 2021. After that, they would de-list the issue from their websites, remove the comic from shelves and take the comic out of customers' pull boxes. Those same retailers will eventually have to take all those issues and send them back to Bad Idea at some point in the future.

It's a transparent gimmick, but no publisher's above gimmicks, and I'm sympathetic to Bad Idea.

Bad Idea's Great Idea: A $1 Sampler As A Limited Commodity
Hank Howard: Pizza Detective In "Caligula's Safe" cover by David Lapham and José Villarrubia

As for Hank Howard: Pizza Detective In "Caligula's Safe" itself? It's good, but it makes more sense if you understand it as a Bad Idea teaser and not a traditional single issue comic. There's two eight page stories in it, a David Lapham pinup for The Lot (a forthcoming miniseries from Marguerite Bennett and Renato Guedes), and a OHOTMU-style write up of a character that may or may not even exist. There's even a back cover pinup by an artist that's new to me, Jorge Monlongo.

Of the two stories in the $1 issue, the title story is a fun black and white Dashiell Hammett pastiche from veteran writer Robert Venditti and crime comics lifer Lapham. The second story is the first in a series called Save Now from Matt Kindt, Tomas Giorello and Diego Rodriguez. The Save Now team was great when they kicked off an X-O Manowar reboot, and on Save Now, they haven't skipped a beat.

Hank Howard: Pizza Detective In "Caligula's Safe" is a fun, ephemeral issue. Venditti clearly enjoys pretending he's Hammett in an obviously low stakes story set in an off-brand Little Caesar's, and Lapham draws the pages with gusto.

Bad Idea's Great Idea: A $1 Sampler As A Limited Commodity
Hank Howard: Pizza Detective In "Caligula's Safe" page 1, courtesy of Bad Idea

You shouldn't pay crazy eBay prices for Hank Howard: Pizza Detective In "Caligula's Safe". Bad Idea promises they'll reprint that story in a December 2021 issue that presumably can be sold for longer than 24 hours, and by that point they'll hopefully have released the first issue of Save Now.

Bad Idea were savvy enough to make their sampler/teaser collectible, and therefore desirable. If you found it, cool, you got a taste of what's coming from Bad Idea this year. If not? Don't stress. Given time, you'll get to read it.

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About James Hepplewhite

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