Giant stack of comics

Since my last update I have read the following comics, most of which I bought at Comic-Con:

BLACKHAWK #268 – The best of the three stories in this issue is the last, in which Olaf’s plane is shot down by the enemy and he ends up in the home of a Jewish family. This story is told entirely in rhyme, like Groo #77. The other two stories in this issue are kind of trite and predictable, but at least one of them is drawn by Doug Wildey. Grade: B+

AQUAMAN #36 – Spectacular art by Nick Cardy, but not one of Bob Haney’s better or weirder stories. One odd thing about this issue is that Aquagirl appears at the beginning of the story, but then completely disappears and plays no role in the resolution of the plot, showing up again only in the last panel. Grade: B

CHEW #34 – This issue is as hilarious and bizarre as usual, but also significantly advances the plot by showing us the Vampire, a character who can absorb the food-related powers of others. I bought this issue at the convention and had both Layman and Guillory sign it. Grade: A+

INVINCIBLE #36 – This is one of my favorite comics right now, and I’m actively trying to assemble a complete set of the back issues. This is a pretty good issue; it opens with a beautiful two-page splash of Mark flying, and features some interesting character interactions. Grade: A-

OMAHA THE CAT DANCER #20 – This was the last issue of the Kitchen Sink Omaha series I was missing. Omaha is one of my favorite comics I’ve discovered over the past few years. I genuinely have little interest in either erotic or funny animal comics, but Omaha is an exception to that, mostly because it has such warmth and heart and such depth of characterization, and secondarily because it makes me feel nostalgic for my hometown of Minneapolis. This particular issue has some absolutely heartwarming and/or heartbreaking moments, starting with Omaha’s parting from Jack and ending with her reunion with Chuck. One of the cool things that happened during my Comic-Con trip was that I got to hang out with Omaha’s creator, Reed Waller, as we were waiting for a plane. Grade: A+

MY LITTLE PONY: FRIENDSHIP IS MAGIC #9 (COMIC-CON EXCLUSIVE EDITION) – I was stupid enough to pay $10 for this, but it was almost worth it. The opening story is a brilliant piece of work by the most important creative team in contemporary comics, Katie Cook and Andy Price. It’s child-friendly but also contains a lot of inside jokes only older audiences will get, e.g. “For Want Of” brand nails. The backup story, starring Sunset Shimmer, was fairly accessible even though I haven’t seen Equestria Girls yet. Grade: A+

ADVENTURE TIME/PEANUTS FCBD EDITION – I’ve had this for over a year, but I was finally inspired to read it because of all the positive things I heard about the Adventure Time comics while at Comic-Con. I still don’t feel I understand the appeal of Adventure Time — it just seems kind of absurdist and nonsensical to me. Still, this issue contained some interesting work, especially the story by Michael DeForge, an artist whose work I’m becoming quite curious about. The other half of the issue was not all that great; I think I would rather read actual Peanuts strips than IDW’s adaptations. Grade: B+

BRAVEST WARRIORS #1 – I attended one of the YA/kids’ comics panels, and Mike Holmes was the only person on the panel whose work I wasn’t familiar with. So I went and bought this issue at the BOOM! booth and got Mike Holmes to sign it. The issue turned out to be an interesting and funny piece of work. It makes a lot more logical sense than Adventure Time does, at least. Grade: B+

AGE OF BRONZE #33 – My store sold out of this before I could get it, so I bought it directly from Eric Shanower and had him sign it. This issue brings the Troilus and Cressida story almost to a conclusion. I haven’t enjoyed this story as much as earlier Age of Bronze story arcs because it seems fundamentally incongruous with the rest of Eric’s material. Even though Eric does the best job he can of adapting it into an ancient context, it is still essentially a medieval story, which comes from a society with very different values than those of ancient Greece. Still, as I just mentioned, Eric does a good job of integrating this story into Age of Bronze, and his storytelling and artwork are as perfect as ever. Grade: A

CAPTAIN MARVEL (2012) #1 – I think this series is the best comic with a female protagonist that Marvel has ever released. Kelly Sue DeConnick writes Carol Danvers as a competent and confident character, a hero deserving of the Captain Marvel name (I use “hero” here as a gender-neutral term). I am kind of annoyed by Kelly’s decision to retcon a new character, Helen Cobb, into existence only to immediately kill her off, and I don’t particularly like Dexter Soy’s artwork. Grade: A

ADVENTURES OF LITTLE ARCHIE #32 – At $2.50 (marked down from $5 on Sunday), this was one of the best deals I got at Comic-Con. I’ve read the first two stories before, in the Little Archie trade paperback that was published several years ago, but they were worth reading again; the second one, “Time Taxi,” was one of Bob Bolling’s personal favorites. Besides a couple lesser stories by Dexter Taylor, there is also a third Bob Bolling story, involving an alien princess who was apparently based on LBJ’s daughter but who looks like something out of Alex Raymond’s Flash Gordon. I have had a lot of difficulty finding any issues of Little Archie with Bob Bolling artwork, so I’m particularly thrilled when I do find one. Grade: A+

SAVAGE DRAGON #3 – I had Erik Larsen sign this and several other issues of Savage Dragon. This very early issue seems more like a generic Image comic than an issue of Savage Dragon, though Erik’s characteristic storytelling style is evident to some extent. One bizarre thing about this issue is that Frank Darling’s wife’s pregnancy is a significant plot point. In the current Savage Dragon storyline, the child who Frank’s wife was pregnant with is now a young man, and is about to become a father himself. Stories where characters age in real time are weird like that. Grade: B-/C+

DETECTIVE COMICS #470 – I didn’t think this issue was as classic as the six Englehart/Rogers issues that immediately followed it, though that might just be because I’m intimately familiar with those issues, whereas I hadn’t read this one before. Walt Simonson’s artwork is not his best, largely due to boring inking by Al Milgrom. The story is mostly notable as the first appearance of Silver St. Cloud. Grade: B/B+

INVINCIBLE #24 – A fairly average early issue, mostly devoted to a fight scene involving Angstrom Levy and that one big blue-skinned villain whose name I can never remember. I generally think the soap opera stuff in Invincible is more interesting than the fights, as is the case with early Spider-Man stories, though Kirkman would later write some genuinely thrilling and scary fights. Grade: B+/A-

1 FOR 1: MIND MGMT #1 – This one was given away for free at the Dark Horse booth. I fell asleep while reading this comic, though that was more because I was exhausted after teaching than because the comic was boring. However, I do find Matt Kindt’s storytelling to be somewhat slow-paced and minimalistic. I’m interested in this comic less because of the actual story than because of the artwork and especially the publication design. I find it fascinating that Matt Kindt is deliberately trying to make the single issues different from the trades, so that it’s worth buying them both. In this issue, for example, each page is formatted to look like a blank comic art page and has an excerpt from the “MIND MGMT FIELD GUIDE” on the inside edge. Grade: B

SUPERNATURAL LAW #29 – Batton was selling back issues at his booth for a dollar each, and I bought three of them. This one was absolutely hilarious. In this issue, Wolff and Byrd’s client is a 12-year-old boy who is clearly based on Herbie the Fat Fury (even being called a “big fat nothing” at one point), but who turns into a Hulk-like creature when his mother nags him too much. Batton exploits this situation for all its comic potential. Grade: A+

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