It’s been three whole weeks (edit: now four) since I wrote any reviews. Let’s hope I can still remember anything about the comics I read three weeks ago.
New comics I received on February 12:
MS. MARVEL #4 (Marvel, 2016) – The theme this issue is that Kamala is spreading herself too thin by leading three lives at once (counting her home life and school as two lives), so she creates some Ms. Marvel robots. This has pretty much the same results as when Pinkie Pie duplicated herself. And Kamala must have seen that episode of MLP, so she should have known what to expect. After the somewhat disappointing end of the gentrification story arc, I was confused as to where this series was going, but this current storyline is a reasonable next step. Aamir and Tyesha are an adorable couple, and I love Kamala’s parents’ reaction to the engagement announcement.
STARFIRE #9 (DC, 2016) – I’m very sorry to hear this series is not going to survive DC Rebirth, because it’s my favorite current DC title by far, and the best thing anyone has done with this character since the ‘80s. Elsa Charretier makes her DC debut with this issue, and she’s a lot better than whoever was drawing this series before; also, this series is a better use of her talents than Infinite Loop was. Cute moments this issue include the nude sunbathing scene and the introduction of Syl’khee, who seems to be based on Kory’s pet from the cartoon.
JONESY #1 (Boom!, 2016) – I was excited about this comic but I couldn’t quite get into it. It has obvious stylistic similarities to Adventure Time and to other Boom! comics, but I’m not sure what sort of vibe Sam Humphries and Caitlin Rose Boyle are going for. But I certainly intend to keep reading this comic, and I think I’ll understand it better after another issue or two.
JUGHEAD #4 (Archie, 2016) – In general, I didn’t like this issue as much as some of the previous ones, but it’s still quite good. Chip Zdarsky bought himself a new fur coat with the proceeds from this comic, if the latest Sex Criminals is accurate. This issue got a lot of publicity because it reveals that Jughead is asexual, which is really not surprising at all, except that I continue to think Jughead is really burger-sexual. The dream sequence this issue is some weird thing about pirates.
WEIRDWORLD #3 (Marvel, 2016) – This is an extremely well-executed and funny comic, and probably the best-drawn current Marvel comic. The overarching plot with Morgan le Fay is boring, but the dynamic between Becca, Goleta and Ogeode the demon cat is amazing. The scene with Goleta on the dance floor is one of the highlights of the series so far. It’s clear that Sam Humphries and Mike Del Mundo are having a great time with this comic.
ZODIAC STARFORCE #4 (Dark Horse, 2016) – I’m sorry to see this miniseries end because four issues is not enough time to spend with these characters. I somehow got the idea that a sequel was on its way, but it looks like I was wrong; Zodiac Starforce: By the Power of Astra is just the trade paperback collection. I love the exuberant energy and the colorful art style of this comic, but if it had lasted longer, we could have gotten to know the characters better. It’s like how when I started reading Lumberjanes, it was a while before I could tell the characters apart.
JEM AND THE HOLOGRAMS VALENTINE SPECIAL #1 (IDW, 2016) – Three weeks after reading this comic, the thing I remember best about it is the panel with Stormer clinging to the barista’s leg. But this comic is full of other funny scenes. The premise of this issue – that the Misfits and Holograms all drink a love potion – has a ton of comic potential which Kelly Thompson and Jen Bartel are able to exploit effectively. I guess the serious message of this story is that love is complicated and a love potion is not a permanent solution to anything.
GOTHAM ACADEMY #15 (DC, 2016) – The second scrapbook issue is less impressive than the first one. Probably the most interesting segment is the one by Zac Gorman, the creator of the webcomic Magical Game Time. As far as I know, this is his first comic originally published in print. But at just four pages, it’s too short to build any momentum. The other stories in this issue are kind of forgettable.
GANGES #5 (Fantagraphics, 2016) – Kevin Huizenga is my favorite current cartoonist, at least on an intellectual level. I haven’t read everything he’s done, but I find his work utterly fascinating and compelling, and my first published essay was about him. This issue, which is about insomnia and geology and a whole lot of other stuff, is a classic piece of Kevin H work. It has some explicit connections to “Glenn Ganges in Pulverize,” which is discussed in another of my published essays. I hope that all the issues of Ganges will eventually be collected in a book; it would be nice to have all this work continuously in print.
SPIDER-GWEN #5 (Marvel, 2016) – This issue suffers badly from the lack of Robbi Rodriguez artwork. The replacement artist, Chris Visions, draws in a very different and much uglier style. Also, this issue heavily features my least favorite Marvel character, the Punisher, though he’s correctly portrayed here as a villain rather than a hero. I still enjoy this series but this was kind of an off issue.
MY LITTLE PONY: FRIENDSHIP IS MAGIC #39 (IDW, 2016) – Another story that would have had a lot more impact if it had been published before “Crusaders of the Lost Mark” aired. This issue is reasonably funny, and I’m becoming increasingly impressed with Christina Rice and Agnes Garbowska’s work, but it suffers from not taking into account the recent changes to the characters involved.
ALL-NEW ALL-DIFFERENT AVENGERS #5 (Marvel, 2016) – This series is coming out too often. When a comic book comes out twice a month, each individual issue only feels half as special. The main reason I’m reading this comic is because of Kamala, and this issue includes one funny Kamala scene, in which she’s writing fanfic about Thor and Falcon. But then Kamala gets thrown out of the Avengers for no reason, which is implausible and is obviously not going to stick, and the rest of the issue is a boring fight scene. I feel kind of proud that I was able to identify Equinox the Thermodynamic Man before he was named.
THE AUTUMNLANDS #9 (Image, 2016) – I’ve been continuing to read this comic mostly out of loyalty to Kurt, but this issue was surprisingly enjoyable. The visit to the sheep village offers an interesting glimpse of the lives of people who are very different than either the wizards or the buffalo. This scene is also important to Dusty’s character arc, as it lets him see how the ground people live. There’s one very cute panel where all the sheep people (literal sheeple, I guess) are lining up to be shorn.
BLACK CANARY #8 (DC, 2016) – The premise of this issue is that Dinah and Vixen are trapped on an alien world and the rest of the band has to rescue them. I don’t understand how that happened; did I miss an unannounced crossover with some other series? I think the most memorable thing about this issue is the way Sandy Jarrell depicts Vixen’s powers – for example, when she channels an elephant, the iage of a giant elephant appears around her.
MARVEL TWO-IN-ONE #22 (Marvel, 1976) – I don’t hate Bill Mantlo as much as I used to, but this issue is not one of his better works, if he has any better works. “Touch Not the Hand of Seth” is hampered by a generic cookie-cutter plot and boring artwork. The story is further hindered by its focus on Marvel’s Egyptian gods, who were never as exciting as Marvel’s Norse or Greek gods.
UNCANNY X-MEN #258 (Marvel, 1990) – This is the third of three consecutive fill-in issues by Jim Lee, whose style was already well-developed at this early stage in his career. “Broken Chains” has a typically convoluted Claremontian plot in which Matsuo Tsurabaya and the Mandarin are fighting over Wolverine, who is suffering from psychosis after being stabbed by Psylocke’s knife. The plot and characterization are not Claremont’s best – I think that the #230s to #250s were the low point of his X-Men run – but Jim Lee’s artwork is enough to make this an enjoyable issue.
New comics received on February 19:
LUMBERJANES #23 (Boom!, 2016) – I’m sorry to say that this series has gone down in quality since Noelle Stevenson left, and it’s no longer the second best comic on the stands. It’s still good, it just doesn’t have the same level of energy, and the plot doesn’t seem to be going anywhere. Which I guess that sort of makes sense, because the whole premise of this series is that it’s about a group of girls at summer camp. If the plot of the series progresses any further, then the summer will end, and the series will lose its raison d’etre. I think there are ways of working around that – like, maybe we could get some stories about what the rest of the world is like outside the Lumberjanes’ camp. But for now, it seems like the creators are happy with telling stories that don’t result in any lasting change and that just result in the status quo being maintained. That’s okay, I guess, but it may not be sustainable. Anyway, if we ignore all that, this is a pretty fun story – certainly better than the previous story arc – but it’s not at the same level as the first two story arcs.
POWER MAN AND IRON FIST #1 (Marvel, 2016) – I think this issue assumes too much familiarity with older Power Man and Iron Fist comics. I never read that series, so I have no idea who Black Mariah is, or why I should care. And I expect that most other readers of this comic will be in the same position. Other than that, this is a really fun comic; David Walker’s depiction of the two main characters is extremely entertaining. I wasn’t impressed by the one issue of Cyborg that I read, but I am impressed by the writing here. Sanford Greene’s artwork is also entertaining, and overall this comic seems like a reasonable first step toward rectifying Marvel’s lack of prominent titles with minority protagonists.
SEX CRIMINALS #14 (Image, 2016) – If Lumberjanes is no longer the second best comic on the stands, then this probably is. I know some people who hated the self-insertion scene in this issue, and I can see why, but I personally thought it was hilarious – especially the panel where Chip’s royalties from Jughead come in, and suddenly he’s wearing a new fur coat. Though other than that, there wasn’t a lot of substance to this issue. I find it hard to remember who all the characters are or what’s going on with them. I wish I had time to reread this entire story arc.
ASTRO CITY #32 (Vertigo, 2016) – This issue reintroduces Steeljack, the protagonist of the second longest-running Astro City story. It’s easy to forget this now that the entire story is available in trade paperback, but because of Kurt’s health problems, it took two whole years for Astro City #14 through #20 to come out. So I lived with Steeljack for almost as long as I lived with Charles and Royal from The Dark Age. Given that, I don’t know if I need to see him again. This new Steeljack story does arouse some feelings of nostalgia both for the original “Tarnished Angel” story, and for the bygone white ethnic blue-collar urban society that he represents. But I’m not sure where this story is actually going, or why we’re visiting Steeljack again, rather than meeting some character we haven’t seen before.
USAGI YOJIMBO #152 (Dark Horse, 2016) – I haven’t been overwhelmingly impressed by any of the recent Usagi issues, and this issue is another competent but unspectacular Usagi story. A village is in danger of flooding, so Usagi gets some local bandits to help build a dyke, and as a result the bandits become upstanding citizens of the village. There’s a cute ending that shows that one of the bandits has married a local woman and had a child, and the story is as exciting as any Usagi comic, but still, I think this series is in a bit of a slump. The letter column does suggest that Stan is building up to a longer story involving Europeans.
HARLEY QUINN #25 (DC, 2016) – This is mostly just another guilty-pleasure comic, but it’s also a significant moment in Harley’s character arc, as she beats the crap out of the Joker and announces that their relationship is over. This is a pretty powerful moment, but who knows if it’s going to have any lasting effect.
SILVER SURFER #2 (Marvel, 2016) – I just read Ramzi Fawaz’s discussion of the Silver Surfer as an example of “messianic melodrama,” and this series is the polar opposite of that. As many people have noted, it’s really a Doctor Who comic disguised as a Silver Surfer comic, and it lacks the melodramatic philosophizing that the Surfer is known for. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, because this series is much more fun than more conventional Surfer comics. In this particular issue, the highlight is Dawn’s jealousy over the Surfer and Alicia’s past history. The issue ends by reintroducing Shalla Bal, who is kind of the Surfer’s version of Dulcinea, in that her role as an unattainable love interest is more important than who she really is.
GRAYSON #9 (DC, 2015) – I ordered this because it was on clearance at DCBS and this series has gotten lots of positive reviews. This is a well-drawn and well-written issue that portrays Dick Grayson in a suitably gender-bending and sexually alluring way – there’s one splash page which is just Dick saying “Am I straight?”, which I assume is some kind of innuendo. I need to read more of this series to form an opinion about it.
AQUAMAN #39 (DC, 1997) – December 1997 was the month when every DC cover was a giant close-up of the protagonist’s face. As was common with PAD’s Aquaman, this issue has a very convoluted and bizarre plot, but it mostly revolves around Neptune Perkins and Tsunami and their daughter Deep Blue, and the villain, Rhombus, is under the impression that he’s Deep Blue’s real father. As was also common with PAD’s Aquaman, this issue has very funny dialogue and attractive artwork by Jim Calafiore. I need to complete my collection of this Aquaman run.
MIGHTY THOR #4 (Marvel, 2016) – This issue continues all the plotlines from last issue, including Odin’s madness, Malekith’s planned conquest of Alfheim, and Jane’s inability to deal with her cancer. At the end of the issue, the plot is in more or less the same place it was before. But this issue is still worth reading because Russell Dauterman’s art continues to be brilliant, and Jason Aaron writes Thor and Loki and Frigga very well.
SUPER ZERO #3 (Aftershock, 2016) – This issue seems a bit on the short side; it’s full price for only about 20 pages. The issue includes some very funny scenes, including one where Dru tries to summon a demon by sacrificing an animal, and can’t decide which of her pets to sacrifice. But at this point the joke is wearing a little thin, and I’d like to see Dru’s character evolve a bit.
DC COMICS BOMBSHELLS #9 (DC, 2016) – The focal characters this issue are Mera, Stargirl and Supergirl, though there’s also a brief scene with Wonder Woman. The key moment in the issue is Stargirl escaping her captivity by her overly possessive father. The Wonder Woman sequences in this series are not my favorite, but I was still excited to hear that Marguerite Bennett was announced as the new Wonder Woman writer. At least she’s a lot better than Meredith Finch, though that is damning with faint praise.
ARCHIE #6 (Archie, 2016) – The plot this issue is that Archie is injured when Veronica’s home run hits him on the head, and this leads to some relationship drama. There’s funny stuff in this issue, but like many Mark Waid comics, it takes itself too seriously, and it’s not nearly as fun as Jughead.
TOTALLY AWESOME HULK #3 (Marvel, 2016) – I skipped ordering #5 of this series because there’s just too much competition for my dollar – Marvel is releasing too many interesting series, and this seemed like a series I could do without. But this issue was so fun that I changed my mind about the series and decided to order #6. The whole issue is just Amadeus and Fin Fang Foom beating each other up. But Frank Cho, despite all his personal and artistic failings, is really good at drawing monsters and sexy women, and Greg Pak’s writing is quite energetic, and as a result I enjoyed this comic despite myself.
DAREDEVIL #144 (Marvel, 1977) – The plot of this issue is that the Owl hires the Man-Bull to kidnap a scientist who can heal his crippled legs. It’s not a very interesting plot, and I had to look through this comic to remember what it was even about. I’m a big fan of Jim Shooter’s writing but his talents were wasted here.
FANTASTIC FOUR #136 (Marvel, 1973) – As with #169, reviewed above, I found this issue to be surprisingly good despite my general disdain for the ’70s FF. The main draw of the issue is John Buscema’s art, but it also has a weird and funny plot, where the Shaper of Worlds reshapes the world based on a criminal henchman’s memories of the ‘50s. The result is a world where adults and youth are at war, and black people are invisible (the writer, Gerry Conway, directly references Ralph Ellison’s Invisible Man). The weirdness and energy of this comic make it almost comparable to Kamandi.
At this point, it had been two whole months since I had bought any old comics, and I didn’t feel motivated to read the old comics I already had. So I ordered $50 worth of comics from mycomicshop.com. The comics arrived on February 25, and my weekly DCBS shipment arrived the following day.
THE LEGEND OF WONDER WOMAN #2 (DC, 2016) – I should have ordered this from DCBS, but I didn’t because I had the mistaken impression that it was getting bad reviews – I think I was confusing it with Wonder Woman ’77. So I ordered it from mycomicshop.com, and it was the first thing I read when the shipment arrived. I think Legend of Wonder Woman is the best version of Wonder Woman’s origin ever. The main innovation is that only twelve of the Amazons are immortal and the rest are immortal. This is a simple but brilliant way of addressing a nagging problem with earlier versions of DC’s Amazons: if they were all immortal, then what were they doing during the thousands of years they spent in isolation? It’s easier to believe in twelve immortals than in an entire society of them. Also, if the Amazons aren’t all the same age, then that explains how Diana can have a younger sidekick, which solves all the continuity problems with Wonder Girl. Besides all that, this series is just extremely well done. Ray Dillon’s art is beautiful, especially his facial expressions. And the plot is exciting. The notion of Diana as a rebel against her constricting, conservative society was sort of hinted at by Pérez, but here it’s the heart of the story. I can’t wait for the next issue of this, and I hope this version of Wonder Woman becomes the canonical one.
BEASTS OF BURDEN #4 (Dark Horse, 2009) – This was the only Beasts of Burden story I hadn’t read; I somehow missed it when it came out. This series is probably my favorite recent horror comic, besides Afterlife with Archie. These two titles are similar because they both combine a group of silly protagonists with genuinely horrifying plots. But Beasts of Burden has a somewhat different vibe from Afterlife with Archie, in that it’s not nearly as funny. The fact that the protagonists are animals only intensifies the horror, because they can see things that people can’t; they can perceive threats that the ordinary people of Burden Hill are blind to. Also, Jill Thompson depicts both the animals and their supernatural opponents in a completely convincing way. The villain this issue is a goth dude who can turn dead bodies into giant hulking dirt monsters, and the story ends with a brutal scene in which the villain’s body is engulfed in flames. I hope Evan and Jill will return to these characters sometime soon.
HERO CATS: MIDNIGHT OVER STELLAR CITY #1 (Action Lab, 2015) – My cat must not appreciate that I’m reading about other cats, because he walked over my keyboard as I was about to start writing this review. This is perhaps my favorite Hero Cats comic yet because it takes full advantage of the series’ comic potential. Midnight is literally a cat version of Rorschach or the DKR Batman, and the artwork of this series is heavily based on that of DKR. The creators, Kyle Puttkammer and Alex Ogle, treat this ridiculous premise with the correct balance of seriousness and levity; they allow the reader to realize on his or her own that a cat Batman is a ridiculous notion, rather than hitting the reader over the head with this fact.
TALES OF THE GREEN LANTERN CORPS ANNUAL #1 (DC, 1985) – This is the first of three TGLC annuals. The second and third TGLC Annuals are both classics because they each include a story written by Alan Moore. This annual does not, and is much less interesting. It’s a boring story in which a bunch of poorly characterized heroes fight a generic villain. Len Wein never managed to do as much with the nonhuman Green Lanterns as Steve Englehart did, and in this annual, Len is handicapped even further by having to split the writing duties with Paul Kupperberg. The one thing this comic does have going for it is 40 pages of Gil Kane artwork.
AMAZING ADVENTURES #7 (Marvel, 1971) – Neal Adams’s Inhumans run is unjustly forgotten because it’s as well-drawn as anything else he did in the early ‘70s. His artwork in this issue is dynamic and exciting. The plot here is not quite as exciting as the artwork, though it’s sort of interesting from a historical standpoint because it’s about black militants. The Black Widow backup story is less exciting, though the art, by Don Heck and Bill Everett, is surprisingly good.
MARVEL PREMIERE #46 (Marvel, 1979) – This is part two of a two-part Man-Wolf story arc that was continued from the cancelled Creatures on the Loose. It’s an excellent example of early George Pérez artwork. George’s style was more or less fully developed by 1979, and this story is full of his visual trademarks (like lines emanating from around a character’s head) and his perhaps overcomplicated costume designs. The writing, by David Kraft, is somewhat cliched and also a bit hard to follow, but at least it doesn’t significantly detract from the effectiveness of the artwork.
RICHARD DRAGON, KUNG-FU FIGHTER #2 (DC, 1975) – This is kind of bad, but in a fun way; its enthusiasm and its gritty urban setting make up for its lack of quality. Jim Starlin is really not suited to drawing martial arts action, and it’s a good thing that he stopped drawing martial arts titles not long after 1975. I don’t know why he got assigned to those titles to begin with. Still, this is a fun example of this genre, even if it’s nowhere near as good as Master of Kung Fu.
SAGA #34 (Image, 2016) – I was afraid that this issue, like the previous three issues, would introduce yet another new plot thread. Instead, it continues all three of the plotlines from the last three issues. The most compelling of the three plots is the one with Hazel, because she’s an utterly adorable and engaging character. For most of the series Hazel has been more of a prop than a character, with little ability to influence the story, but now she’s old enough to start becoming a protagonist in her own right. I wonder if the cute mistakes in her speech (e.g. “no thank you to killing my teacher”) are because of her age or her multilingualism. As usual, this issue ends on a cliffhanger that leaves me very worried about what’s going to happen next; I think Hazel’s teacher’s attempt to help her escape is going to do more harm than good.
UNBEATABLE SQUIRREL GIRL #5 (Marvel, 2016) – I just noticed that the cover says Unbeatable Squirrel Girls, plural. When I read this comic, I had just gotten home after another long week of work and I was having trouble even staying awake, but I’m pretty sure that this comic was an effective conclusion to the Dr. Doom story arc. The explanation for why the CS students have been traveling through time is surprisingly plausible. I think that all the time travel stuff that happens in this issue actually makes logical sense, though I’m not going to drive myself nuts by trying to verify that. And the sight of twenty or more Squirrel Girls in one panel is quite striking. This scene reminds me of the Calvin & Hobbes story where Calvin meets two future versions of himself. Also, the old Squirrel Girl is a really cute character. On the last page, I don’t understand why Mew isn’t trying to eat Tippy Toe.
MOON GIRL AND DEVIL DINOSAUR #4 (Marvel, 2016) – As I was reading Ramzi Fawaz’s “urban folktale” chapter in The New Mutants (more on this book later), I started to wonder if Lunella Lafayette is Marvel’s first black protagonist who doesn’t come from a background of urban poverty. The answer is no – when I asked this question on Facebook, people mentioned earlier examples like Night Thrasher, Captain Marvel (Monica Rambeau) and Brother Voodoo. Still, it’s nice that Lunella comes from a fairly well-off background, because I think there’s often a stereotypical association between black superheroes and environments like Harlem – and I think Ramzi points this out when he discusses the X-Men story where Storm visits her childhood home in Harlem. So anyway. My enthusiasm for this series has waned a little bit, but I’m still enjoying it. The personality conflict between Amadeus Cho and Lunella is exciting and also depressing. One thing that makes Lunella a fascinating character is that she’s not a traditionally lovable child – she’s actually kind of a brat, and she’s quite disaster-prone. But her intense willpower makes the reader cheer for her anyway.
PATSY WALKER, A.K.A. HELLCAT #3 (Marvel, 2016) – It’s kind of unfortunate that this came out on the same week as Squirrel Girl and Moon Girl, because that means the other weeks of the month are less special. And when I read all three of them consecutively, each suffers by comparison with the others. This was the least impressive issue yet, and I couldn’t instantly recall what it was about, but it was still fun. I think the best part of the issue is the panel with Patsy in bed, where we learn that she sleeps with a giant plush cat and that she has a ball of yarn on her bedside table.
JEM AND THE HOLOGRAMS #12 (IDW, 2016) – This issue is most important for the scene where Blaze comes out as transgender. Blaze is one of a growing number of trans comic characters, and the increase in trans representation can only be a good thing. Given the kind of comic this is, it’s inevitable that the Misfits, despite being the villains of the series, are completely willing to accept that Blaze is transgender. But the scene before that, where Clash helps Blaze confront her fears, is really important – it lets the reader know that it’s okay to be worried about what other people might think of you, and if they’re not willing to accept you, then it’s their problem. Besides all that, this is another exciting chapter of the Dark Synergy story, and Sophie Campbell’s art is as brilliant as ever.
HEAVY LIQUID #2 (DC, 1999) – I read the first issue of this series in 2013, and I already had the second issue at that time, but I never got around to reading it because of its extreme length and density. I still think this series is much less accessible than Battling Boy. The artwork is less striking and the plot is confusing – the eponymous heavy liquid is a McGuffin whose exact purpose is not clear to me. Paul Pope’s artwork here is notable for its atmospheric moodiness, especially in the scene in the sushi bar, and he draws some good action sequences. But I’m not in a big hurry to get the other issues of this miniseries.
YOUNG JUSTICE #32 (DC, 2001) – As usual, this issue is really, really cute and funny. Anita goes on a date with Lobo, who has been hypnotized so that he switches from nice to mean whenever anyone snaps their fingers. (I was going to say whenever someone hits him on the head, but I was thinking of Groo #74.) During the date, Anita reveals her origin, and other hilarity ensues. I am running out of YJ comics I haven’t already read, which is a shame.
FAITH #2 (Valiant, 2016) – I’m sorry I missed the first issue of this. I haven’t been reading any other Valiant comics, but this comic has been getting a lot of positive press, and it seems pretty important because of its inclusion of a female protagonist with a non-standard body type. The only thing about this issue that really stands out in my memory is the panel with the line “something something adulting real world connections paying rent,” but as I look through it again, I remember that Marguerite Sauvage’s artwork on the dream sequences is quite good. I plan on continuing to read this title.
HERO CATS: MIDNIGHT OVER STELLAR CITY #2 (Action Lab, 2015) – This is basically the same joke as the previous issue. One thing I do specifically remember about this issue is Midnight saying that most cats sleep 70% of the time, while he never sleeps. This just proves that he is literally a cat Batman. I wonder if there will be similar miniseries for any of the other Hero Cats. I kind of hope so.
BITCH PLANET #7 (Image, 2016) – This series is always difficult to read because it’s so brutal and depressing, and in a way which forces the reader to reflect on the brutal and depressing nature of contemporary America. Like, this issue begins with a scene where some black kids get shot for trespassing on corporate property, and no one cares. It’s very very important that Kelly and Valentine are writing about these issues, though, and this comic is not supposed to be fun. I think Bitch Planet is the most openly political comic currently published by a mainstream company, and that makes it important. Though it occurs to me that Lazarus is also an extremely political comic and I’ve stopped reading it, and I think the reason why is because Lazarus offers essentially no hope for progressive change. In contrast, Bitch Planet offers the hope, not only that things can get better for the protagonists, but also that reading the comic can be a way of promoting progressive change in the real world. In that sense, Bitch Planet’s backup features are at least as important as the comic itself, because they create a space where feminist readers can come together. (Incidentally, one of the backup features in this issue is by my friend Kate Tanski.)
MARVEL SUPER-HEROES #11 (Marvel, 1992) – I bought this issue because of the third story in it, but the first story, starring the Vision and the Scarlet Witch, was a pleasant surprise. As I was reading it, I was thinking that the artwork kind of looked like early Mike Mignola, and then I checked the credits and realized that it was Mike Mignola. It’s not his best artwork, but still, you can tell it’s him. The second story in this issue, starring Namor, is just filler material, though it has a mildly funny ending. The main attraction of this issue is the last story, which is the unpublished 24th issue of the original Ms. Marvel series. This is not Claremont’s best Carol Danvers story. It includes a gratuitous shower scene (though that’s true of many other Claremont comics, come to think of it) and Claremont makes Iron Man behave in an annoyingly sexist way; he literally tells Carol to her face that “this is the wrong business for a woman.” Still, this is a reasonably good Carol Danvers story, and Carol was easily Marvel’s best female protagonist of the ‘70s.
MARVEL PREMIERE #28 (Marvel, 1976) – This is the first and last appearance of the original Legion of Monsters, consisting of Ghost Rider, Morbius, Man-Thing, and Werewolf by Night. Unfortunately this story is by Bill Mantlo and Frank Robbins, who were not exactly known for their horror comics – just imagine if this issue had been written by Steve Gerber and drawn by Mike Ploog, for example. And the plot has more to do with science fiction than horror. You would expect that the protagonists would get together to fight some sort of tentacled Lovecraftian menace, but instead they fight a golden-skinned alien. Still, this issue is enjoyable because it’s a team-up between four unique characters who differ radically with each other, and Mantlo and Robbins have a reasonable amount of fun with this setup. It’s too bad this was the only Legion of Monsters story.
NEW MUTANTS #48 (Marvel, 1987) – I wish I’d read this after reading Ramzi’s chapter on the New Mutants, rather than before. This issue is a New Mutants version of “Days of Future Past,” in which the kids are stranded in an alternate future where all the superheroes except Cannonball and Moonstar have been killed. It’s okay, but not my favorite New Mutants story. Probably the best scene in it is the page where Magneto is cleaning Dani’s room.
DETECTIVE COMICS #602 (DC, 1989) – This is part two of “Tulpa,” in which Batman enlists Etrigan’s help against a Tibetan demon called Mahakala. It’s a fairly well-executed piece of work, but I wouldn’t call it a classic Batman story.
X-MEN: WORST X-MAN EVER #1 (Marvel, 2016) – I think this is the first new X-Men comic I’ve read since Wolverine and the X-Men ended. I’ve had zero interest in the franchise lately, and I think it’s probably true that Marvel is deliberately de-emphasizing the X-Men because of their corporate feud with Fox. I bought this issue because the premise sounded interesting, even though I remember hearing some bad things about the writer, Max Bemis. This turns out to be a rather sarcastic and mean-spirited comic. The protagonist, Bailey, is delighted to find out that he’s a mutant, until he discovers that his mutant power is the ability to blow himself up, and he can only do it once. Leaving the X-Mansion in despair, he tells his parents, “At least I have you guys,” and in the next panel, his parents are stepped on by a Sentinel. It seems like the whole point of the comic is to make fun of this poor kid. The artwork is really nice, though – Michael Walsh’s style is similar to that of Marguerite Sauvage – and the issue ends on a somewhat more hopeful note, so I might as well read the rest of this miniseries.
ALL-NEW ALL-DIFFERENT AVENGERS #6 (Marvel, 2016) – See previous comments about twice-a-month shipping. In this issue we finally learn the reason for the Vision’s strange behavior, and to my surprise, it has nothing to do with anything that’s been happening in Vizh’s own series. And then the Avengers fight Kang and win, obviously. There’s some good character development in this issue, including some progress in Kamala and Sam’s relationship. I really really don’t want them to be a couple – Sam is not nearly mature enough for Kamala – but it would be nice if they could be friends.
STRANGE ADVENTURES #216 (DC, 1969) – This was the last Deadman story in Strange Adventures. In this story, Deadman, having just witnessed the Hook’s death, now has to find a new purpose in life – or afterlife, I guess – and Rama Kushna gives it to him. Neal Adams’s artwork here is some of his absolute best; there’s one amazing page where the five individual panels combine to form a giant portrait of Deadman’s face. I’m pretty sure I’ve read this story before in the ‘80s reprint miniseries, but I didn’t remember it very well and it was fun to revisit it. This issue also includes a reprinted backup story which is just boneheadedly stupid.
AQUAMAN #51 (DC, 1970) – Jim Aparo’s early issues of Aquaman were among the best work of his career, and this issue is no exception. It takes place in the same otherworldly dimension that appears in issue #52, which I reviewed in 2013. As depicted by Aparo, this dimension looks truly bizarre; it’s full of random Kirby crackle and amorphous abstract shapes. Another bizarre thing about this story is that it includes a scene where two laborers named Jimm and Steev see Aquaman passing by, but then they have to get back to work or else “Dikk will have our heads.” This is an obvious self-insertion by Jim Aparo and Steve Skeates, and the funny thing about it is that it has nothing to do with the main story and is not referenced again. Besides the Aquaman story, this issue includes a Deadman backup drawn by Neal Adams. It’s too bad that this story is also written by Neal Adams. The artwork in this story is excellent, but Neal’s writing was just as incompetent and incoherent in 1970 as it is in 2016.
THE GODDAMNED #3 (Image, 2016) – I’m still kind of unimpressed by Jason Aaron’s writing in this comic. It’s just a lot of black humor and bleak despair, and I’m not sure if the plot is going anywhere. What redeems this comic is R.M. Guera’s artwork, which is just beautiful. He ought to be nominated for an Eisner.
I HATE FAIRYLAND #5 (Image, 2016) – This issue has such a perfect and ironic ending (Gert kills the queen of Fairyland, but discovers that she now has to become the new queen) that I actually thought it was the last issue of the series. I guess not, though. Overall, this first story arc was a lot of fun, in a sick way, and I think I enjoyed it more than most of Skottie’s less ironic work.
TOIL AND TROUBLE #2 (Archaia, 2015) – I ordered all the other issues of this series, but not this one, and so I had to order this issue from mycomicshop.com before I could read the next four. I had trouble remembering what was going on in this series, and the recap didn’t help much. It’s a fairly interesting rewritten version of Macbeth, but I think the art is better than the writing.
CHEW #55 (Image, 2016) – This overly long series is finally approaching its conclusion. The issue begins with a massive false alarm: the first page shows us “the death of Amelia Mintz,” which, as we learn two pages later, “does not happen this issue.” (So will it happen in another issue?) What does happen is that Mason Savoy hangs himself and leaves a note instructing Tony to eat him. I’m not sure where exactly this is going, but for the first time in a while, I’m excited for the next issue of Chew because I want to find out what happens next, and not just because of the gross-out humor.
MARVEL TWO-IN-ONE #36 (Marvel, 1978) – Like many issues of Marvel team-up titles, this issue is the conclusion to a previously cancelled series, which in this case is Skull the Slayer. As I noted in an earlier review, Skull the Slayer was a pretty boring series that wasted its potential, and as a result, this issue is also kind of unimpressive. At the end of the issue, Skull and his friends go off into limbo, and the reader is not overly sorry to see them go. At least the artwork by Ernie Chan is fairly good.
AQUAMAN #3 (DC, 1994) – This is the first issue after Aquaman gets his harpoon-hand, and there’s a rather disturbing panel where he uses it to catch some shrimp for lunch. The plot of the issue is that Aquaman invades Pearl Harbor to see Admiral Strom, resulting in a fight with Superboy. Since Aquaman is in his native environment, he wins, but he’s so rude about it that the reader ends up rooting against him. This issue demonstrates that PAD’s Aquaman was a grim and gritty ‘90s comic, but also that it was more fun than most such comics.
L.E.G.I.O.N. ’93 #54 (DC, 1993) – This series was consistently good but never absolutely spectacular, which is why I haven’t made more of an effort to collect the entire run. This issue is notable for some very effective artwork by Barry Kitson; some fascinating insights into the society Talok, one of my favorite Legion planets; and some miniature repair bots that say “splice, sew, stitch” repeatedly.
FEARLESS DEFENDERS #2 (Marvel, 2013) – I don’t know whether this series sold poorly because it was a couple years ahead of its time, or just because it didn’t live up to its potential. There are some interesting character moments in this issue involving Misty Knight and Valkyrie, but overall the writing is just kind of bland, which is a common problem I have with Cullen Bunn’s comics.
NEW MUTANTS #48 (Marvel, 2012) – This revival series was an affectionate tribute to the original New Mutants, but it never managed to generate as much passion as the original series did. In this issue, Doug is extremely depressed and also believes he’s been possessed by a demon, and he tries to commit suicide, but it doesn’t work, and that’s about it. Characterization is not Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning’s strongest suit, and that means they have some difficulty writing series like Legion and New Mutants that are historically known for having strong characterization.
ELEKTRA: ASSASSIN #1 (Marvel, 1986) – This is an important work of both Frank Miller and Bill Sienkiewicz, and Bill S’s artwork here is amazing. The story, however, is so confusing and convoluted that I had to use Google to figure out what was going on. It looks like this series is mostly based on events that occurred in the last few issues of Frank’s original Daredevil run, but this is not immediately clear. I do have the other seven issues of this miniseries, and I will get to them eventually, but they’re not a high priority.
ADVENTURE COMICS #331 (DC, 1965) – Compared to the previous comic, this one has much more modest intentions, but is also much more fun. “The Triumph of the Legion of Super-Villains” is part two of a story in which Dynamo Boy becomes the leader of the Legion. In the last issue, he expelled all of the other members for nitpicky breaches of the constitution, and in this issue, he recruits the Legion of Super-Villains instead, intending to turn the Legion into a team of super-criminals. Dynamo Boy’s ultimate goal is not quite clear, and of course he’s defeated in the end anyway. This is a very entertaining story, whose only major flaw is that the Legionnaires barely appear in it at all. As usual for DC comics in this era, this issue also includes a reprinted backup story which is really dumb, although it ends with a mildly cute moment in which Clark realizes that Lana is a good friend to him.
THE BRAVE AND THE BOLD #75 (DC, 1967) – This issue has a beautiful Neal Adams cover, but the interior art is by Andru and Esposito. The guest star this issue is the Spectre, and the villain is Shahn-Zi, an ancient Chinese wizard who is trying to possess the son of the mayor of Gotham’s Chinatown. As expected, this story is full of Orientalist stereotypes, but its portrayal of Chinese Americans is surprisingly sensitive for a comic from 1967. The writer, Bob Haney, portrays the two central Chinese Americans (Bill Loo and his son Danny) as human beings rather than walking stereotypes. Also, generational conflict is a major theme of Haney’s work, especially Teen Titans, and in this issue Haney demonstrates awareness that Asian Americans have the same generational conflicts as other Americans. All of this redeems what could easily have been a really embarrassing comic.
SUPERBOY #188 (DC, 1972) – The Superboy story in this issue is an imaginary story in which Superboy’s rocket lands in the African jungle, and he grows up to become a super-Tarzan. This was the second Karkan story and also the last; at the end there’s a suggestion that we might see Karkan again, but we never did. More importantly, this issue includes the first Legion story by Dave Cockrum. In “Curse of the Blood Crystals,” Mordru possesses Chameleon Boy and tries to get Cham to kill Superboy, but Superboy prevents this by burying Cham underground, since Mordru’s magic has the same weakness that Mordru himself does. Because this story is written by Cary Bates, it has little characterization to speak of, but Dave’s artwork is fairly effective. It’s very strange to read a Cockrum Legion story where the characters are all wearing their Silver Age costumes.
TALES OF SUSPENSE #88 (Marvel, 1966) – The last three comics I read were mostly interesting from a historical perspective or because of the artwork, but this comic is genuinely good, and still holds up today. Reading this issue reminds me that ‘60s Marvel was just better, on average, than ’60s DC. The Iron Man story in this issue is a fairly standard one, in which Tony and Pepper Potts try to escape the Mole Man’s realm, but Stan Lee’s writing and Gene Colan’s artwork create a powerful sense of excitement. In the Captain America backup story, an unidentified villain lures Cap into an ambush by making him think that Bucky is still alive. This isn’t quite as good as the Iron Man story, but it does have some nice action sequences by Gil Kane.
New comics for March 4. This was a pretty light week.
ANOTHER CASTLE #1 (Oni, 2016) – This was reasonably fun but did not quite live up to expectations. From the title, I was expecting it to be an explicit homage to Mario, but it turns out to be a rather straightforward fantasy story, and so far it seems similar to Princeless but worse. The only obvious Nintendo reference is that the decoration on the crosspiece of Misty’s sword looks like a Super Nintendo controller. Probably the highlight of the issue is the panel with Gorga’s hair-snake eating a scone.
GIANT DAYS #12 (Image, 2016) – So I guess I was wrong about this being a twelve-issue limited series, because this is clearly not the last issue, and issue 14 has already been solicited. I seem to have missed the announcement in September that it was an ongoing series now. This issue is just slightly reminiscent of Lumberjanes, as the girls go on a camping trip and make a horrible mess of everything. And then when they get home, Esther decides to quit school. I think maybe the reason why I have difficulty reviewing this series is that it’s really more of a gag strip than an ongoing series; it does have a plot, but the plot is less memorable than the jokes.
REVIVAL #37 (Image, 2016) – This may have been the best comic of the week. It has an interesting structure where we see a fantasy sequence depicting what a particular character wanted, and then another sequence depicting what they actually got. And then the issue ends with General Louise Cale, who always gets what she wants. This series has been going on for a while but it hasn’t lost any of its narrative momentum.
BATGIRL #49 (DC, 2016) – This issue has gotten a fair amount of publicity because of a scene that suggests that The Killing Joke never actually happened. There is now a widespread consensus, at least among more enlightened fans, that The Killing Joke was a terrible mistake and a black mark on Alan Moore’s career, and it’s good that DC is moving away from it. Otherwise, this issue is pretty average. For some reason it has five different artists.
NO MERCY #7 (Image, 2016) – I’m a little surprised by the way this series has played out; I kind of expected that the characters would all reunite eventually, but instead they’re all having their own separate adventures. The thing I remember most about this issue is Gina’s dad, who is a classic example of a Trump voter. He barely conceals his racist attitude toward Kira, and when he sees Gina with her eye missing, he literally blows his stack. I didn’t know Carla Speed McNeil was so good at drawing angry people, but she is. In another plot thread, two of the other kids end up in a rebel camp commanded by a certain Arturo Bolon Ts’akab. According to Google, Bolon Ts’akab is an authentic Maya deity, so it looks like Alex de Campi has been doing her research.
DESCENDER #10 (Image, 2016) – Reading this issue, I realized that the main draw of this series for me, besides Dustin Nguyen’s exquisite art, is Tim. He resembles Astro Boy (and Urasawa’s version of Astro Boy in particular) not just visually but also in terms of personality – he has Astro Boy’s wide-eyed optimism and innocence. The key example of this in the current issue is when he says that finding Andy is all that matters to him. Given my research interests, I obviously love the moment where the other Tim says that reading books on paper feels fake to him.
DC COMICS BOMBSHELLS #10 (DC, 2016) – This was just an average issue. The one thing about it that does stand out to me is the repetition of the line “oh, receive my soul.” It’s clear that music is really important to this series, considering how much of it there is, and I’m not sure why – Marguerite Bennett is clearly including all this music for a reason, but I don’t know what it is. The giant dove wearing a suit is a really cool visual effect.
A-FORCE #3 (Marvel, 2016) – This series is becoming somewhat repetitive; at this point, the protagonists have been fighting Antimatter for three issues straight. I hope that next issue the plot will start to go in a different direction. As with many Marvel comics, the characterization in this comic is far more interesting than the fighting. I like how the characters, especially Medusa and Nico, are starting to have serious personality conflicts, and Jen’s “EVERYONE SHUT UP!” was probably the best moment of the issue.
THE SPECTRE #7 (DC, 1993) – This volume of The Spectre is a major work of John Ostrander, one of my favorite underrated writers, and I’m not sure why I haven’t collected it more aggressively. The main way in which The Spectre differs from other Ostrander comics like Grimjack and Suicide Squad is that it’s a lot more brutal and unsubtle. Like its primary influence, Fleischer and Aparo’s Spectre, this series is extremely harsh and histrionic and it always operates at a very high emotional pitch, and that makes it a bit hard for me to get into. In this particular issue, Madame Xanadu – who is depicted here as a much more villainous character than she usually is – steals the Spectre’s powers, but realizes that they’re too great a burden for her to bear. In the space of a few pages, Madame Xanadu castrates one guy with a giant pair of scissors and throws another guy into a vat of toxic waste, causing all his flesh to burn off. It’s no surprise that this issue does not have the Comics Code seal on the cover; what is surprising is that The Spectre was never a Vertigo title. Again, this high level of violence was also a trademark of the Fleischer-Aparo Spectre.
UNCANNY X-MEN #235 (Marvel, 1988) – As I was about to read this issue, I posted a Facebook status asking if the period between X-Men #227 and #268 was the low point of Claremont’s original run. Some people agreed that it was, while others disagreed strongly, and one person pointed out the original Genosha story, which begins in this issue, as one of the highlights of that period. I think my problem with the late ‘80s X-Men is that it was lacking focus. It hardly seemed like a team comic, because all the team members were separated, and there were too many simultaneous subplots and no major storylines. Anyway, this issue is fairly good, and it’s one of Claremont’s more openly political stories. He draws a barely concealed analogy between Genosha and South Africa, observing, for example, that Genosha refuses to acknowledge the citizenship of any other country. This issue also has some very effective art by Rick Leonardi, who was far better than Marc Silvestri, and should have become a superstar.
SUPERBOY #69 (DC, 1999) – I have so many unread issues of this Superboy run that I didn’t know which to read first, and as a result I wasn’t reading any of them, so I just decided to read this one at random. In this story, Superboy revisits Hawaii after a long absence and discovers that he’s been replaced by a new hero named Kana, and there are new people living in his former house. This issue creates a powerful sense of nostalgia for the early issues of this series, even though at the time, those issues were only about five years in the past. There’s a poignant moment where as Superboy is flying away from his old house, he observes that it’s as if he never lived there at all. I know that’s how I feel whenever I have to move. On a lighter note, the bank robber who dresses up as Darkseid is very funny.
GREEN LANTERN #170 (DC, 1983) – This issue is from the very end of the bad period of this series, which lasted from Denny O’Neil’s departure to Len Wein’s arrival. But it’s much less bad than some of the other issues from that period. This issue consists of a short framing sequence and a longer inset story by Gary Cohn and Mike Sekowsky, which I assume started out as an inventory story; it was also one of Sekowsky’s final works. In this story, a Green Lantern and his wife get killed, then his son inherits his ring and tries to avenge him but also gets killed, and the ring passes down to a political activist who’s been in prison for many years. Given the time frame and the fact that the story ends with the word “power” (i.e. “amandla”), it’s hard not to see this character as a stand-in for Nelson Mandela.
NEW X-MEN #131 (Marvel, 2002) – I think this was the only Morrison X-Men that I had not read. Morrison was probably the second best X-Men writer after Claremont. Now that I’ve read Ramzi Fawaz’s book, I can see how Grant was continuing to explore some of the questions that Chris initially opened up – he was exploring what mutation meant as an identity, and how it intersected with other marginalized identities. Most of this issue, though, is devoted to exploring the love triangle between Scott, Jean and Emma. It’s kind of unfortunate that like most other writes since Claremont, Morrison writes Jean as a boring, unapproachable and lifeless character. Until her original death, she was one of the best characters in the entire Marvel universe, and since her resurrection she’s been so boring that she might as well have stayed dead. And I hate Scott with a violent passion, but his twisted and adulterous relationship with Emma is interesting in a perverse way. This issue’s subplot focuses on Beak and Angel, two characters who had a lot of potential that was mostly wasted, although in Angel’s case Grant was responsible for that.
UNCLE SCROOGE #276 (Disney, 1993) – This is one of the last reasonably priced Don Rosa comics that I didn’t have already; if I want to collect more Disney and Gladstone issues with Don Rosa stories, I’m going to have to start paying more. The Rosa story in this issue is “The Island at the Edge of Time.” The title refers to a newly formed volcanic island that’s located right on the International Date Line. Because the island is made of gold, Uncle Scrooge and Flintheart Glomgold compete to be the first to claim it. (Incidentally, “Flintheart Glomgold” might be my favorite character name in any comic ever.) The ending of this story is easy to predict as soon as one of the nephews mentions that the west side of the International Date Line is always one day earlier than the east side. The ending is also unusual in that Scrooge doesn’t get the treasure.
NEW MUTANTS #9 (Marvel, 1983) – This may be the last Claremont New Mutants that I hadn’t read. Now that I’ve finished Ramzi’s chapter about this series, I kind of want to go back and reread this series. I think I used to consider it a lesser work of Claremont, but as Ramzi shows, it’s fascinating in its own right. Maybe my favorite thing about this comic is Rahne and Dani’s relationship, and the highlight of this issue is an adorable moment where Rahne and Dani are in the bathhouse together and they talk about their hair, and then Rahne splashes Dani with water. This sort of cute moment happened all the time with the X-Men, but not nearly as often with the New Mutants because their lives were so full of constant tragedy, and it’s nice to see them relax for a bit.
SILVER SURFER #7 (Marvel, 1988) – This issue reunites the classic Batman team of Steve Englehart and Marshall Rogers, but by this time Rogers was not nearly the artist he had been, and his talents were not suited to this kind of comic. Also, this is not one of Englehart’s better stories, and it’s mostly interesting because it explains what happened to the Infinity Gems between Marvel Two-in-One Annual #2 and Thanos Quest. (Which I’ve never read, by the way.) This issue also guest-stars Englehart’s pet character, Mantis, who is not nearly as interesting as Englehart thought she was.
MARVEL PREMIERE #20 (Marvel, 1975) – Oddly, this issue has a completely different creative team from the previous issue, even though it continues the story from that issue. I have no idea why. In this issue, Iron Fist fights Batroc, and then we learn that the ninja who’s been helping him is not Colleen Wing but her dad. Probably the most notable thing about this comic is that it includes the first reference to Misty Knight, though she doesn’t appear until next issue.
MARVEL MILESTONE EDITION: FANTASTIC FOUR #5 (1992, originally 1962) – The nice thing about these Marvel Milestone Editions was that they were complete facsimiles of the issues they reprinted, with the original letters pages and ads and even the original back covers. Owning these reprints is the next best thing to owning the originals. This one is a reprint of FF #5, the first appearance of Dr. Doom. Besides the fact that it’s the first appearance of Dr. Doom, this issue is best remembered for the ridiculous scene where we learn that Blackbeard the Pirate was really the Thing. This story is ridiculous, but in a funny and exciting way, unlike most DC comics of the time, which were ridiculous in a stupid and insulting way. I especially love the scene where Reed and Ben have been transported into the past and they need some period-appropriate clothing. Then they encounter some pirates who conveniently happen to be fighting over some clothes they’ve just stolen, and Ben interrupts the pirates and raises his fists and says “I say they’re mine! Wanna make somethin’ out of it?” From an objective standpoint, a scene like this is pretty dumb, but it’s delivered with such energy and narrative economy that the reader is convinced by it nonetheless.
SUB-MARINER #48 (Marvel, 1972) – This issue suffers by comparison with the classic run of issues by Bill Everett that immediately followed it. But this issue is fairly good anyway, mostly because of the Gene Colan artwork. It begins with a kind of funny scene where Namor brings a runaway girl back home, but then gets attacked by her drug dealer friend, who looks kind of like Angar the Screamer. The main plot of the issue is that Dr. Doom uses Namor as a proxy in his fight with Modok.
INHUMANS #4 (Marvel, 1976) – I also have the next two issues of this series, but to my surprise, those issues were not drawn by George Perez – it looks like this issue was the last one that he did. It’s a good example of his early style, though the plot and some of the costume designs are pretty bad. The story this issue centers on a character named Shatterstar, not to be confused with the much later X-Force member by that name.
X-MEN AND THE MICRONAUTS #1 (Marvel, 1984) – I resisted reading this for some years because half the issue is written by Bill Mantlo. My distaste for his writing is such that I’ve never much liked the original Micronauts series, despite the beautiful Michael Golden artwork. But even the Micronauts half of X-Men/Micronauts #1 is still interesting because of Butch Guice’s art, which is only a little less impressive than Golden’s, and the X-Men half is mostly just a normal X-Men story by Claremont. It includes several cute moments, such as a scene where Kitty and Illyana complain about having too much homework. At this point, there are so few classic Claremont X-Men comics I haven’t read, that it’s exciting just to discover one that’s new to me.
UNCANNY X-MEN #234 (Marvel, 1988) – This is another issue from Claremont’s worst period, but it’s still not bad. The issue begins with a fight between the X-Men and the Brood that takes place in a bar. There’s an awesome running joke where two of the bar patrons are making out, and they’re so wrapped up in each other that they don’t even realize the fight is going on. And then when they realize the bar has been completely destroyed, they look surprised for a second and then they go back to kissing. Anyway, the main plot of this issue is not Claremont’s best; it’s kind of a retread of the Brood storyline from issues 162 to 167. A very surprising thing about this story is that the X-Men end up killing most of their Brood opponents, and the only X-Man who has any moral qualms about this is Havok; even Storm is fine with it.
THE BRAVE AND THE BOLD #78 (DC, 1968) – The guest star this issue is Wonder Woman (and also Batgirl, who’s apparently not special enough to be mentioned on the cover). This may be one of the last times Wonder Woman appeared in another title with her old costume; the new costume era began a couple months later. This issue has some surprisingly effective art by Bob Brown, but the story is incredibly dumb even for Bob Haney. In order to catch the villain Copperhead, Wonder Woman and Batgirl pretend to have fallen in love with Batman, but then they fall in love with him for real. In terms of blatant sexism, this story is at least as bad as Batman #214.
And that is the end of an entire month’s worth of reviews.