Lots and lots of reviews

2-23-13

AVENGERS #283 (Marvel, 1987) – B-. This was one of the last Stern-Buscema-Palmer issues I hadn’t read, but unfortunately it wasn’t all that good. The issue takes place entirely in Olympus and focuses on the Avengers’ efforts to heal Hercules, who is still in a coma after his brutal beating by Mr. Hyde. Besides Hercules himself, though, none of the Marvel versions of the Greek gods are particularly interesting, especially not compared to their DC counterparts. Fred Van Lente and Greg Pak actually did manage to infuse some life into these characters, but not until much later. As a result, this story is not particularly appealing, though the artwork and dialogue are up to this creative team’s usual standards.

CAPTAIN AMERICA #45 and #46 (Marvel, 2009) – B/B-. These were all right, but I’m still not a huge fan of Brubaker’s Cap. There is nothing particularly memorable about the first issue, besides a rather surprising suggestion of sexual chemistry between Bucky and Natasha. In the second issue, Brubaker writes Namor quite effectively.

As a very general statement which applies specifically to these two issues of Cap, I find that semi-recent back issues of superhero comics can be tough to read because A) they take themselves too seriously and B) most of the continuity from even five years ago is no longer current, so it’s hard to care about the stories. At this point I decided I’d had enough of new comics, so I decided to read some old ones instead, and I discovered that I was enjoying myself a lot more.

SUPERBOY AND THE LEGION OF SUPER-HEROES #234 (DC, 1977) – C+/B-. This was fun, but only for reasons of nostalgia, because Gerry Conway was a pretty poor Legion writer. He treated most of the characters like interchangeable parts; among his Legionnaires the only two who had distinctive personalities were Timber Wolf and Wildfire, who, not coincidentally, are the two Legionnaires who are most similar to Marvel characters. I think that Wildfire in particular, with his hotheadedness and his constant whining, is a favorite among casual Legion fans, despite or because of the fact that his negative personality is at odds with the generally optimistic tone of the franchise. Some people are just more comfortable with a hero who’s an annoying whiny jerk than with heroes who are genuinely heroic. Anyway, Wildfire is the only character in this issue who truly stands out. If Conway’s characterization was a big step back from that of Shooter or the early Levitz, then his plotting was also a step down from those writers or even Cary Bates. This issue’s plot, which involves Bounty and a composite Legionnaire character, is just not all that memorable.

AQUAMAN #50 (DC, 1970) – A+. The first story in this issue has some of the best Jim Aparo artwork I’ve ever seen. I associate Aparo with dynamic page layouts and action sequences, but not so much with visual fireworks or bizarre draftsmanship. This story, however, takes place in an alternative dimension, and Aparo depicts this place in a surrealistic, experimental style that reminds me of Ditko crossed with Breccia. There’s Kirby crackle everywhere and the backgrounds are drawn in a style resembling abstract art. Even for DC in 1970 this was some incredibly radical art. The story, by Steve Skeates, is not up to the level of the artwork, but it hardly needs to be. Aparo’s artwork here is so good that it actually overshadows the Deadman backup story by Neal Adams, even though that story is also very impressively drawn (in particular, Adams makes Ocean Master’s mask look awesome). Unfortunately, even back in 1970, Neal was a completely incoherent writer.

THE ETERNALS #13 (Marvel, 1977) – A-/B+. Kirby’s artwork in this issue is absolutely gorgeous, especially the two-page splash depicting the Deviants’ giant bomb. In terms of the artwork, at least, this series is worthy of the Kirby comics that it preceded it, and it shows that the King of Comics’s visual imagination was as powerful as ever at this late point in his career. The writing, though, is a problem. On the letters page, Mark Alan Joplin complains that the characters in this series have no motivation and no dramatic conflicts with each other, and he’s basically right. Neither Makkari nor Sersi nor Ikaris nor any of the other Eternals is a truly deep or memorable character, and out of all the characters Kirby created in this series, the only ones who have been productively used by other writers are the Celestials themselves, who barely count as characters since they never talk. In his Fourth World titles, Kirby did manage to create a setting and a cast of characters who were worthy of his artwork, but in Eternals, he failed to do so a second time.

POWER MAN #33 (Marvel, 1976) – C-. I regularly show people pages by Don McGregor as examples of ineffective comics writing. A typical Don McGregor page has so many word balloons and caption boxes, each of them containing so many words, that the rhythm of the artwork is completely ruined. On top of that, he wrote purple prose like it was going out of style. A random example from this issue: “ The shadows die in a sudden burst of light, vivd and stark, like lightning bolts erupting upward from the cement. A second shaft seeks Cage’s flesh and rushes over him. The masonry shatters beneath his hands as if one can’t even depend on stone to remain constant.” What’s worse is that this caption, like most of the others in this issue, is unnecessary to understand the story; you can see that the masonry is cracking and there’s an arrow flying over Cage’s head. In fact – and this is a testament both to the clarity of Frank Robbins’s graphic storytelling and the excessiveness of McGregor’s prose – this issue would be much better if every single caption box was removed. Really the plot and the artwork of this issue are not all that bad; it’s just that McGregor ruined this story by smothering it in purple prose.

KING CONAN #2 (Marvel, 1980) – A-. This is an exciting story by my favorite Conan creative team – Thomas, Buscema and Chan – in which Conan confronts his greatest enemy, Thoth-Amon. The plot of this issue is rather convoluted and draws heavily on past continuity, but not to the point where it’s difficult to understand. I think my favorite thing about these King Conan stories is Prince Conn and his interactions with his father; Conn is just so cute, and his presence brings out Conan’s rarely seen tender side.

SUPER-VILLAIN TEAM-UP #7 (Marvel, 1976) – B+/A-. This issue is notorious for a scene in which Doom attempts to exercise his droit de seigneur with a peasant girl and is thwarted by the Shroud. This sort of scene, where rape is used to establish a character’s credentials as a villain, is usually very offensive. In this issue, though, the droit de seigneur scene is written and drawn in kind of a goofy style, to the point where it’s funny rather than frightening, and it makes the reader laugh at Doom rather than fear him. And the reader knows that Gretchen is not in serious danger of being raped because this is a Code-approved comic from the ‘70s. So this scene is in questionable taste, but I have read similar scenes that were much worse. If anything about this scene is offensive, it’s the fact that Gretchen is portrayed as completely helpless and doesn’t even get to say anything. The other memorable thing in this issue is the Shroud’s origin, which is clearly a hybrid of the origins of Batman and the Shadow.

YANG #10 (Modern Comics, 1977; originally Charlton, 1975) – B-. This series is strictly worse than Master of Kung Fu, in the Magic: The Gathering sense. In Magic, a card is strictly better than another card if it does everything the other card does, but also has additional abilities and/or costs less mana; for example, Lightning Bolt is strictly better than Shock because it does one more damage for the same amount of mana. Similarly, Master of Kung Fu has the exact same story as Yang, but with much better writing and artwork. Warren Sattler’s artwork on Yang is reasonably good, but quite pedestrian compared to that of Paul Gulacy or Gene Day, and Joe Gill’s writing is boring, which is no wonder given the rate at which he was churning these things out. The main thing I liked about this issue is the romance between Yang and the Dragon Lady-esque villain Yin Li, although this is hardly an original plot device.

MASTER OF KUNG FU #105 (Marvel, 1981) – A-. Speaking of which… Gene Day is one of the most underrated artists in Marvel’s history. His artwork is rich in detail and his page layouts are spectacular. He took advantage of the entire height and width of the page in a way that very few of his contemporaries did. Many of the pages in this issue remind me of Bryan Hitch’s widescreen style, in a good way. The plot of this issue revolves around Razor-Fist, one of Doug Moench’s silliest creations, but Doug somehow manages to inject a lot of excitement into a plot that could easily have been overcomplicated, humorless and stupid.

DEFENDERS #5 (Marvel, 1972) – A. Valkyrie is a rather dated character now, a stereotyped portrayal of a man-hating militant feminist, but in 1972 she must have been a far more original character. And in this issue Englehart writes her not as a walking stereotype but as a person with genuine depths. The issue revolves around her struggle both to find friends and to understand what she is. The plot, in which the Defenders battle a giant statue thing called Yandroth, is just an excuse for this. It would have been nice, though, if Englehart had written Val as a more self-sufficient person – at one point she says that the Defenders can’t reject her because then she’d have absolutely no one to turn to.

FANTASTIC FOUR #12 (Marvel, 2013) – B-. This is still an okay series but not a great one. The main thing I liked about this issue was the ending, where the FF are rescued from the past by the Preservation Front’s children. These characters look a lot like Alan Davis creations, especially the girl with the pink mohawk – I think I’ve seen this character somewhere before but I can’t recall where.

FLASH GORDON #33 (Gold Key/Whitman, 1980) – A+. This is the third part of Al Williamson’s adaptation of the Flash Gordon film, and it is every bit as gorgeous as the previous two. The story reads like a plot summary, which it basically is. But the artwork reveals absolute mastery of anatomy, facial expressions and backgrounds. Al’s landscapes and cityscapes are breathtaking, and his combat scenes include an absurd number of characters, all in dramatic poses. This story should be reprinted in a giant IDW hardcover edition so that the artwork can be enjoyed at an appropriate size.

WOMANTHOLOGY: SPACE #2 (IDW, 2012) – B+/A-. Easily the best story in this issue is the last one, which explains, in a surprisingly plausible way, why cats are an absolute necessity for space travel. (They can control their own density, they exist in a state of quantum indeterminacy between being inside and outside, etc.) The artist, Maarta Laiho, shows a lot of visual creativity in her depiction of various aliens and their cats. The first story, about Valentina Tereshkova, is rather poignant, although I couldn’t help comparing it unfavorably to Nick Abadzis’s Laika. I have no comment on the second story.

MARVEL ADVENTURES: IRON MAN #3 (Marvel, 2007) – B+/A-. I bought some issues of this series at a Gainesville book sale several years ago, but never read them due to lack of interest. This issue, though, was surprisingly good. Fred Van Lente introduces the villain of this issue, Plant-Man, in a way that creates a pleasant shock of recognition for existing readers, but no prior acquaintance with this character is necessary to understand the story. Plant-Man is a pretty cool villain, much like Jason Woodrue but far less creepy. The story is cleverly plotted: at the beginning of the issue there’s a passing reference to defective batteries that explode when overheated, and at the end of the issue Tony and Pepper find themselves in the plant that was making those batteries, and guess what happens. So this was pretty fun.

MARVEL ADVENTURES: IRON MAN #4 (Marvel, 2007) – A-. Another fun story in which Justin Hammer and Spymaster try to publicly discredit Stark Industries, but their plan fails because Hammer’s harassed and abused secretary turns out to be friends with Pepper Potts, and she tells Pepper all about Hammer’s plot. The secretary is named Mavis Lash, which is an obvious homage to Wolff & Byrd. There is some minor sexism in the way Pepper and Mavis Lash are portrayed in this issue, but at least Pepper seems to be a competent and intelligent character, and she ultimately saves the day. This issue is clearly inspired by the classic Justin Hammer storyline in the #120s of Iron Man, but Van Lente comes up with an original take on the basic plot of Hammer taking control of Tony’s armor.

After reading this issue, I also read issue 6 of the same series, but I was about halfway through it when I realized it was missing some story pages. So I cannot include that issue on my list of comics I’ve read.

THE ALL-NEW BATMAN: THE BRAVE AND THE BOLD #3 (DC, 2011) – B-. This was cute but insubstantial. A team-up between the Mirror Master and the Mad Hatter is a surprisingly good idea (since they both have a “through the looking glass” gimmick), and it’s odd that no one’s thought of it before. However, the execution could have been better. In particular, the ending, where Batman and the Flash escape the looking glass by thinking backwards, just doesn’t make sense, though I guess that’s appropriate since neither does Alice in Wonderland. I feel like the animated version of Young Justice has a narrative depth that’s missing from this series.

SAGA #18 (Image, 2013) – A+. As usual this was the first comic I read on Wednesday. This issue provides a bittersweet but satisfying conclusion to the first two years of the series. The climactic moment of this issue, where Marco shoves Alana off the tower, didn’t entirely convince me. When he says “my wife can do anything,” it seems somehow a little patronizing. But the last page, where we see a now toddler-aged Hazel walking, becomes one of the most heartwarming moments in recent comics history when you think of everything Marco, Alana and Hazel have endured just to get to this point.

LOKI, AGENT OF ASGARD #1 (Marvel, 2014) – B+. I have to read this because I spent an entire class on Loki last week. This comic is part of Marvel’s current aggressive effort to promote Loki, and includes some extremely blatant fanservice, such as the two panels of Loki in the shower. This would be extremely annoying if the character involved were female, but I have much less of a problem with fanservice directed at female or gay readers. Loki has been an excellent tool for attracting readers from underserved demographics, and it’s encouraging that Marvel is continuing to use him in the role. Moving on to the actual merits of the comic, Al Ewing shows a solid grasp of the character and his take on Loki is a logical extension of Kieron Gillen’s. The story seemed kind of basic, though, compared to Gillen’s extremely deep, complex plots. I figured out pretty early that Thor was acting out of character, though I attributed this to poor writing rather than brainwashing. I hope that Ewing can come up with a plot that’s worthy of his protagonist.

MY LITTLE PONY: FRIENDSHIP IS MAGIC #16 (IDW, 2014) – B+/A-. I’m planning to write an essay on transmedia strategies in the MLP comics, and I’m going to have to discuss or at least mention this issue, because it does some fascinating stuff with fourth-wall breaking and homages to other media. The film noir sequence alone is worth the price of the issue, and the Star Trek homage was also pretty cool. On the other hand, I’m not sure I ever understood the plot, and it’s resolved in an overly saccharine way.

INVINCIBLE #108 (Image, 2014) – B-. I can’t really evaluate this issue without seeing where this story is going. I’m going to say B- because this story made me deeply frustrated with the main character, apparently on purpose, and I’m not sure why Kirkman is writing Mark this way. As I mentioned in my review of the previous issue, it has been really obvious for quite a while that Robot is evil and that he’s trying to manipulate Mark in some way. In this issue, Robot’s plans come to fruition as he tricks Mark into stranding himself in an alternate universe. The infuriating part is that Eve realizes Mark is endangering himself unnecessarily and begs him not to go with Robot, and not only does Mark ignore her perfectly reasonable advice, he even insinuates that she’s acting irrationally because of pregnancy hormones. I mean, I suppose it’s natural for people in a relationship to fight, but that is just inexcusable. Mark has grown so much as a character since this series began, and now he’s starting to regress. It’s like impending fatherhood has turned him into a petulant child again, making him obsess over the nonexistent danger of Angstrom Levy while blinding him to much more serious threats. Maybe by the end of this current story Mark will have learned better, but I’m afraid he’s going to either die or turn into a villain. With Kirkman, neither outcome is outside the realm of possibility.

An intriguing thing about this issue is how Kirkman presents everything, including Mark and Eve’s fight as well as Robot’s chilling series of murders, without any authorial commentary. He seems to want us to form our own opinions about each situation in the story, and rather than coming down on the side of any particular character, he wants us to decide who to side with. This appearance of impartiality is a key element of his writing style both here and in Walking Dead.

ASTRO CITY #9 (DC, 2014) – A+. Depending on how Kurt resolves this story next issue, it could be the best Astro City story ever. I have never seen such a sustained and nuanced examination of feminism in any mainstream comic. It’s a little annoying that this story is narrated by Samaritan and not Vic herself. Samaritan’s narration seems to grasp the key point, though: the essence of Vic’s crisis is that she needs to solve her problems herself, rather than relying on men to do it for her, because what is at stake is not just her own future but the very notion that women can take care of themselves. Winged Victory’s story seems like a metaphor of many struggles that real women are facing today, including in the comics industry (the Scott Lobdell/MariNaomi incident is the first thing that comes to mind). The irony, though, is that it seems like Joey is going to make the crucial discovery that will save Vic, and I wonder how Kurt will handle this and how it will play into the overall themes of the story. I can’t wait for next issue. I should also note that the scene with the old Japanese woman is just heartbreaking and uplifting all at once, and this story deserves an Eisner nomination for that scene alone.

SAVAGE DRAGON #193 (Image, 2014) – C-. This issue claims to be the start of a bold new direction, but there’s very little here of any interest. The whole issue is just some typical fight scenes (though I admit Tantrum is an intriguingly bizarre villain) and awkward interactions between Malcolm and his classmates. One scene in particular, where Malcolm’s friend Lamarr says some shockingly racist things about Asian people, is rather disturbing, because Malcolm just says “Whoa, dude, not cool” and that’s the end of the conversation. It’s disappointing that Malcolm doesn’t condemn Lamarr in stronger terms. Reading over my past reviews of Savage Dragon, I get the feeling that this series has been declining in quality for a while, and I am actually starting to consider dropping it.

BATMAN: LI’L GOTHAM #11 (DC, 2014) – A-. To paraphrase something someone said to me the other day, there are currently two DCs, DC New York and DC Burbank. When we complain about DC’s creative stagnation or ask whether DC has done something stupid lately, we are talking about DC New York. DC Burbank, on the other hand, is producing some genuinely high-quality and original work, of which this series and Batman ’66 are the primary examples. This issue opens with an utterly adorable story in which Bruce and Damian visit Ra’s and Talia. This story is more a series of jokes than a plot, but that’s forgivable when the jokes are this good. Particular highlights include Bruce making fun of Damian’s lack of chest hair and Talia serving python dumplings (ssscrumptious). The serious side here is that all of this suggests a much more positive relationship between Bruce, Damian and their family than we usually see in the comics. There are even subtle hints that Bruce and Talia still love each other despite being separated – they appear to be sleeping in the same room. I didn’t enjoy the second story nearly as much, but it did have some cute homages to other versions of Batman.

SHE-HULK #1 (Marvel, 2014) – A. This issue covers much the same territory as Dan Slott’s She-Hulk series, in that it focuses equally on Jen’s roles as lawyer and as superhero. The difference is that Charles Soule’s She-Hulk has a far more serious tone and that Soule seems to know a lot more about the law. The issue opens with a scene in which Jen is denied a bonus, and then fired, because her law firm hasn’t been getting business from her superhero friends. This seems shockingly plausible, especially when the senior partners basically tell Jen that they don’t see her as a real lawyer and that they expected her to figure that out herself. This sense of plausibility continues into the rest of the story, where Tony Stark’s lawyers (without his knowledge) try to prevent Jonas Harrow’s widow from obtaining justice. Overall Charles Soule has a novel and original take on this character, and I look forward to reading more of this series. I also greatly enjoyed the artwork by Javier Pulido. His artwork reminds me of that of Marvel’s leading current artists, David Aja and Chris Samnee, in that it almost has a Clear Line sensibility. Everything is made up of flat fields of color and the use of computerized shading is kept to a minimum. He also creates a unique and memorable page layout for the two-page spread where Jen meets Legal for the first time.

MANHUNTER #37 (DC, 2009) – B-. I like the idea of this Manhunter series, but this issue was hard to understand without having read the rest of the series recently. I couldn’t remember who any of the characters were besides Kate and Riley. I do get the sense that this story would be pretty enjoyable if I understood it better, and this must be one of the rare DC comics featuring a superhero who’s a middle-aged woman with a teenage son.

INCREDIBLE HULK ANNUAL #18 (Marvel, 1992) – C+/B-. These early ‘90s Marvel annuals must have been very annoying for the writers, who were expected to produce a 30- to 40-page story that tied in with two or three other series, without having any important links to the regular continuity of the series. The annual format can be spectacular when it allows for the creation of work that exceeds the scope of a regular issue (e.g. Superman Annual #11, or the two Spider-Man annuals with Frank Miller artwork), but the annual that’s part of a crossover is probably unworkable. This sort of annual is essentially a 64-page fill-in issue. As a case in point, this Hulk annual is just average. It has a lot of PAD’s trademark corny humor, and it was nice seeing Rick and Marlo again after not having read a new PAD Hulk story in many years. But too much of the issue is wasted on setting up a boring plot that can’t be resolved in a satisfying way, because it has to continue into three other annuals. This annual also includes several filler stories that range from bad to horrible.

MY LITTLE PONY: FRIENDS FOREVER #1 (IDW, 2014) – B+/A-. I was initially very excited about this issue because of the combination of Carla Speed McNeil and My Little Pony. Then after buying the issue, I flipped through it and it seemed too garish for my tastes. After actually reading it, I find I was right that this story is told in a very campy, over-the-top style, and it’s over way too fast. However, there is a lot of funny stuff here, and Carla has an effective grasp on the visual appearance and facial expressions of the characters. Along with Andy Price, she is clearly the most gifted artist to have drawn this series (apologies to Thom Zahler). Still, I think this issue would have been more fun if the story had been closer to what’s depicted on the cover.

FANTASTIC FOUR #588 (Marvel, 2011) – A/A+. I previously said that I’d now read every issue of Hickman’s FF, but I forgot about this one. The first half of this issue is a silent sequence showing various characters’ reactions to Johnny’s death in the previous issue. Nick Dragotta’s artwork here is very powerful, but the impact of the scene is decreased by the reader’s knowledge that Johnny would come back to life a year later. The truly memorable part of this issue is the second half, where Spider-Man talks to Franklin about the deaths of their respective uncles. Hickman’s version of Franklin was a highly believable character (unlike Valeria, who was not supposed to be) and his interaction with Spider-Man seems very plausible and age-appropriate. Also this story has Franklin eating a hot dog while suspended from a web harness, which is insanely cute.

ROCKET GIRL #3 (Image, 2014) – A-. This series is starting to grow on me. Easily the highlight of the issue is that we finally learn the reason for the Teen Police Force: “Never trust anyone over 30.” Which, really, is the same basic idea behind the Legion of Super-Heroes: that teens are more trustworthy and less corruptible than adults. The actual plot of the issue is less interesting than the characters, though we are starting to see disturbing hints that Quintum Corporation rules the entire world of the future.

MARVEL ADVENTURES: SPIDER-MAN #22 (Marvel, 2007) – C+/B-. I may have read this story while too tired to appreciate it, but I thought it was a rather formulaic story, lacking the innovative twists on classic Marvel continuity that were the best thing about the Marvel Adventures line. This story is about a rivalry between the Green Goblin and the Hobgoblin, and it reminded me a lot of Amazing Spider-Man #63, which also involves a fight between new and old versions of the same villain. The one thing I did like about this issue was J. Jonah Jameson’s humorously evil behavior – at one point he thinks Peter is dead and is heartbroken, but only because he forgot to have Peter sign a waiver of liability.

MARVEL CHILLERS #6 (Marvel, 1976) – B. The story here is pointless, and unfortunately guest-stars Red Wolf, a walking stereotype if I ever saw one. The appeal of the issue is the artwork by John Byrne. This was one of his earlier stories for Marvel and it shows the primary virtues of his artwork, such as big dramatic action sequences (including one impressive two-page splash) and realistic-looking machinery. However, the inking by Frank Springer is not up to the level of the pencils.

CAPTAIN AMERICA #207 (Marvel, 1977) – C+. I tried to like this but I couldn’t. Kirby’s Cap was unpopular at the time because of its lack of narrative sophistication compared to Englehart’s Cap. This was apparently such a common opinion that this issue’s letter column even includes one letter which begins “I’ve had it with this drivel demeaning the King’s writing abilities!” Now I think that Kirby was a brilliant writer, though his prose style is certainly an acquired taste. The problem is that this Cap series was not the proper outlet for his talents. The plot of this issue is that Cap gets kidnapped by an evil South American prison warden, the Swine. This is just not all that exciting, and the Swine is a cartoonishly evil villain. This issue does have some impressive action sequences, but I feel that the subject matter was not worthy of Kirby’s talents.

USAGI YOJIMBO #15 (Fantagraphics, 1989) – A+. More of “The Dragon Bellow Conspiracy.” I don’t have much to add to my review of #13, except to say that this is a fantastically exciting story. The sequence of Usagi’s escape from Lord Tamakuro’s castle is just thrilling. There’s one particularly cute moment early in the issue where Usagi is having a practice fight, and we cut away from the fight to Lord Tamakuro telling Captain Torame that Usagi’s opponent has never been beaten. Captain Torame replies “The match is over, sir,” and then we cut back to Usagi’s opponent being carried off the field. It’s an effective demonstration of Usagi’s skill. Another random note is that Ino, the blind swordspig/masseur, is a major character in this issue. Stan wrote him out of the series permanently at the end of the Fantagraphics run, perhaps wanting to give him a happy ending. One character in the issue refers to Ino as s a pig; in more recent times, characters in Usagi rarely if ever acknowledge that they’re all animals.

GREEN LANTERN #58 (DC, 1968) – B+. I have a hypothesis that I might appreciate John Broome’s Silver Age DC comics more if I think of them as Golden Age SF stories with superhero trappings. Broome’s style of writing has more to do with classic SF than with Marvel-esque superhero comics. The main thing I like about his writing, I think, is the narrative depth. Each of his issues of GL typically has at least a couple plots going at once, and he effectively suggests that GL lives in a rich and complex universe. This issue, for example, includes both a main plot involving a flaw in Hal’s ring, and a subplot in which Hal romances Eve Doremus, and these plots end up intersecting at the end. Unfortunately, Hal’s romantic interactions with Eve end up underscoring that he’s kind of an asshole; he seems to have a habit of serially romancing women (he specifically mentions Carol Ferris and Joan Colby, a character who only appeared once) and then dumping them because they prefer Green Lantern to him. Looking at Broome’s take on Hal Jordan, I understand the basis for Ryan Reynolds’s version of the character.

AVENGERS #86 (Marvel, 1971) – A-. This is generally a well-written and enjoyable Avengers story. The plot is kind of silly, revolving around a genius ten-year-old who wants to blow up the world because everyone hates and fears him. But as with most of the best Avengers stories, what makes this issue work are the interactions between the characters, both the Avengers themselves and the Squadron Supreme. My major problem with this issue is the ending, in which Brain-Child is transformed into a boy of normal intelligence and appearance. This is more or less the same ending as in Flowers for Algernon, yet there is no suggestion that Brain-Child might be worse off as a normal kid, and the implication is that the people who hated him for his massive intellect and his grotesque appeareance were right to do so.

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