Capsule reviews for 3-25-15

3-22-15

Going to try to write shorter reviews this month. These things are tough to write and again, I’m not sure who, if anyone, is reading them, and the primary reason I do this is so I don’t forget the comics I read.

LUMBERJANES #11 (Image, 2015) – A+. Significantly better than last issue. The two plot threads (Mal and Molly’s adventures in the Land of Lost Objects, and the other three Lumberjanes’ attempts to collect the easy badges) are both incredibly fun, and they present an effective tonal contrast to each other. I love how this story is developing Mal and Molly’s characters, but I want to see more of Jo; she doesn’t seem to have much of a personality to speak of.

ODY-C #3 (Image, 2015) – A+. Christian Ward is another candidate for the best artist in commercial comics. This story is Fraction and Ward’s adaptation of the Cyclops episode. The female Cyclops is pretty horrific. I don’t understand why Odyssia’s fake name is All-Men instead of No-Woman.

MS. MARVEL #12 (Marvel, 2015) – B+. I was looking forward to the Loki-Kamala crossover, but a month after reading this issue, I hardly remember anything about it. Bruno’s awkward crush on Kamala is cute, I guess, but I feel like this issue had very little long-term impact.

SILVER SURFER #9 (Marvel, 2015) – B/B-. The least fun issue of the series so far. I suppose the Surfer’s relationship with Galactus is probably an elephant in the room that couldn’t be ignored, but I preferred the more lighthearted stories in the first seven issues of this series. After reading this issue I didn’t see how this storyline could possibly be resolved in such a way as to allow the series to continue.

GOTHAM ACADEMY #5 (DC, 2015) – A-. Still easily the best DC title, although I continue to have difficulty remembering the storyline from one month to another. Kyle and Olive are a cute couple and Olive’s friendly relationship with Killer Croc is rather charming.

SPIDER-GWEN #1 (Marvel, 2015) – A+. Marvel’s second best debut of the year after Unbeatable Squirrel Girl. This is the first Spider-Man (?) comic in many years that I’ve enjoyed – I think the last time I read Spider-Man regularly was when JMS was still writing it and had yet to ruin his reputation. I am really impressed by Robbi Rodriguez’s artwork.

BATGIRL #39 (DC, 2015) – B+. My feelings about this series are complicated; see the post below this one for more information. While reading this issue, I still had a bad taste in my mouth from the Dagger Type thing, but after the major controversies that have developed around this series in the past week, I feel it deserevs my support and I’m going to keep reading it. I don’t remember much about this specific issue, though, and I have no idea where this Oracle plot is going.

INVINCIBLE #117 (Image, 2015) – B-. I remember rather liking this issue when I read it, but on reviewing it, I don’t think it’s all that good. I’m not convinced that Kirkman was that great of a writer to begin with, and since Invincible began, the average quality of superhero comics has improved significantly while Kirkman is still the same writer as ever. I thought the first page of this issue was especially annoying. I know that there’s a time-honored tradition of superheroes who are also comic book fans, but the scene in the comic book store was way too unsubtle; it was obvious that the comic store owner was a mouthpiece for Kirkman.

SHE-HULK #12 (Marvel, 2015) – A. This series will be missed. The resolution to the Blue File storyline was satisfying and unexpected. I love the idea that Nightwatch changed continuity so effectively as to fool even the reader. It’s just a shame that this series only got 12 issues. The closing scene was very sad, considering that there’s effectively no chance we’ll see this version of She-Hulk again.

MULTIVERSITY GUIDEBOOK #1 (DC, 2015) – A-. Until reading this issue I had no idea what was going on with Multiversity, and I still don’t entirely understand it, but at least I’m beginning to see the grandeur of Garth Ennis’s vision of the DC universe. This issue is full of fascinating ideas and hooks for possible future stories. One thing that particularly sticks in my mind for some reason is the radio universe that’s home to KRAKKL the Defender. Probably because of the left-hand border of the cover, I got the mistaken idea that there were going to be 52 issues of Multiversity, and I’m disappointed that this isn’t the case. I’d like to learn about all 52 of the worlds described in this issue.

ROCKET SALVAGE #3 (Boom!, 2015) – A-. Such a fun and adorable series. An excellent piece of YA science fiction. I don’t know why more people aren’t reading it.

ABIGAIL AND THE SNOWMAN #3 (Boom!, 2015) – B+/A-. I still think this is worse than Roger Langridge’s earlier work, but it’s still fun. I can’t believe Abigail’s father let his nine-year-old daughter go off essentially unsupervised to who knows where.

MANIFEST DESTINY #13 (Image, 2015) – B+/A-. Another fun issue, though it doesn’t advance the plot a whole lot. This issue contains more hints about Sacagawea’s pregnancy, but no actual new information.

MY LITTLE PONY: FRIENDS FOREVER #11 (IDW, 2014) – B+. The featured characters in this issue are Rainbow Dash and Spitfire, who I have trouble telling apart from any of the other Wonderbolts. Like many of Ted Anderson’s MLP issues, this story is rather simple and unsubtle, though very enjoyable.

LOKI: AGENT OF ASGARD #7 (Marvel, 2014) – B+. The clear highlight of this issue is Valeria Richards. Val is a difficult character to write badly, but Al Ewing does an especially nice job of capturing her combinaton of genius and childishness. However, I neither understand nor care about the plot.

MULTIVERSITY: THE JUST #1 (DC, 2014) – B-. This is the one where all the superheroes’ children are superpowered Kardashian-esque socialites. This is a cute idea, but I don’t think there’s enough material here for a full series. Ben Oliver’s artwork is too slick and polished for my tastes.

INVINCIBLE #114 (Image, 2015) – F. I don’t read superhero comics to see the good guys lose. Robot’s victory wouldn’t even be so intolerable except that Kirkman has bent over backwards to make the reader hate him. He’s a smug, condescending, sanctimonious jerk who refuses to acknowledge his mistakes or admit that he might be wrong. We all deal with too many people like that in real life; I can do without them in my entertainment media.

SAVAGE DRAGON #202 (Image, 2015) – D-. Last issue, Malcolm, Maxine and Angel had a threesome. In this issue, they invite Tierra too, and a full-blown orgy ensues. This sort of thing is only funny once. When it happens twice in a row, it becomes seriously disturbing, and you have to wonder why Erik is writing stories like this about characters who are barely legal and who are young enough to be his own children. I was already having mixed feelings about this series even before the controversy over Erik’s “vocal minority” comments. I honestly don’t know whether I’m going to buy issue 203.

MY LITTLE PONY: FRIENDS FOREVER #9 (IDW, 2014) – B-. I never bothered to read this because neither Granny Smith nor Flim & Flam are among my favorite characters. Neither of them seems like a sufficiently deep character to carry an entire story. I finally got around to it because I was running out of MLP TV episodes and I was desperate for more pony material. This issue was all right, but it didn’t tell me much about either character I didn’t know already, except that Flim and Flam love each other, which is not really surprising.

ROCKET RACCOON #8 (Marvel, 2015) – B-. This issue is cute, but rather predictable and trite. This series has declined in quality since Skottie Young stopped doing the art as well as the writing, and now it looks like it’s going to be cancelled and replaced with Groot.

PENNY DORA AND THE WISHING BOX #2 (Image, 2014) – C-. This series is just not much good, and I’m sorry I got fooled into buying it. The bizarre plot makes more sense now that I remember it was written by the writer’s daughter, but Michael Stock does not write convincing children, and Sina Grace’s artwork is unappealing. If you compare this series to something like Zita the Spacegirl or Smile, it ends up looking even worse. I’m sorry it’s too late to cancel my order of issue 4.

PENNY DORA AND THE WISHING BOX #3 (Image, 2015) – C-. See above.

VIOLATOR #3 (Image, 1994) – C+/B-. I wouldn’t have been able to tell that this was an Alan Moore comic if I hadn’t known already. It’s full of ridiculous over-the-top violence and gore, and the only evidence that it’s written by Alan is the snappy dialogue. Most of Alan’s works at Image from this period were just guilty pleasures without serious intent. I admit there’s something oddly compelling about Greg Capullo’s art, even though his style is completely ripped off from McFarlane’s.

OMAC #3 (DC, 1975) – B-. This is not one of Kirby’s better works from the mid-‘70s. The artwork is as impressive as ever, but the plot is just a string of clichés. For example, in this issue all OMAC does is fight a generic Eastern European dictator.

COPPERHEAD #4 (Image, 2014) – B/B-. I don’t quite know what to say about this comic. It’s a fun read, but it’s not among the top tier of current Image titles, and I have trouble remembering what happened in any given issue after I’ve read it.

BUGS BUNNY #151 (Gold Key, 1973) – D-. This comic was a chore to read. Each story in it is a nearly plotless litany of bad jokes, and there’s little concern for plausibility or consistent depiction of characters; for example, one story has Yosemite Sam piloting a spaceship and then a submarine.

HAWKEYE #21 (Marvel, 2015) – A+. I missed this when it came out, because it was so badly delayed; it was solicited before I started ordering comics from dcbservice.com. I suppose this was worth the wait. Fraction and Aja are the best Marvel creative team of the decade and their run on Hawkeye is going to be remembered as an absolute classic. Barney’s death is a tragic moment, yet the last panel, where Pizza Dog appears out of nowhere, is a brilliant climax that makes me eager for the next issue.

YOUNG JUSTICE #33 (DC, 2001) – A+. Quoting my own Facebook post: “This comic includes a scene with four female characters of three different ethnicities, none of them depicted in an overly sexualized way, and they all talk to each other about things other than men. And this is a DC comic from 2001!” And there are at least three other female characters who have lines in the issue, for a total of seven. I don’t think PAD even did this deliberately or for any polemical reason; he just happened to want to tell a story involving a lot of female characters. In the ensuing Facebook discussion, Michael Pullmann mentioned how PAD actually had a harder time writing the female characters, because he had teenage daughters but no teenage sons. In general, I think YJ was perhaps the most female-friendly superhero comic of its time, and it’s light years ahead of most of what DC is publishing now. But in addition to having gender politics that are still progressive even today, YJ #33 is just a good comic; it’s a funny and pun-filled story in which the set of the TV show “Wendy, the Werewolf Stalker” is invaded by werewolves.

NEW MUTANTS #2 (Marvel, 1983) – B+. When placing my latest order at mycomicshop.com, I was surprised to discover I didn’t have this comic already. It must be one of the only Claremont comics from the early ‘80s that I hadn’t read. This issue is not particularly well drawn and is notable mostly for the writing, which, as usual with Claremont, is an acquired taste. This issue focuses heavily on Karma, a character who seems to have been written out of the series very early on.

UNCLE SCROOGE #268 (Disney, 1992) – A-. The Rosa story in this issue is better than the Barks story. “Island in the Sky” is wildly implausible and blatantly contradicts every other Barks duck story. It depicts Duckburg as a city where “science has advanced much farther” than anywhere else, to the point where Duckburg has commercial space travel and space stations. This is so hard to swallow that it affected my enjoyment of the story, which generally shows signs of having been written at the very end of Barks’s career. “Incident at McDuck Tower,” on the other hand, is an entertaining piece of work in which Donald falls off of Scrooge’s building while washing the windows, and has to save himself. It’s an effective demonstration of Rosa’s ability to draw action sequences.

BITCH PLANET #3 (Image, 2015) – B+. This series is really unsubtle and makes its point with a sledgehammer. This is clearly intentional but it’s not really to my taste. I do love the idea behind this issue, though. This story is an effective response to fat-shaming.

SANDMAN: OVERTURE #4 (DC, 2015) – A-. I still suspect this comic of being a cynical cash grab. JH Williams’s artwork is as gorgeous as ever, but the story is just not up to Neil’s usual level. I do like the callback to Sandman #4 with the line “I am Hope.”

LEGION OF SUPER-HEROES #59 (DC, 1994) – B-. This is one of the last stories with the original preboot Legion, so it’s difficult to care about what happens to the characters when I know that they’re going to be wiped out of existence in about three issues’ time. There is a nice piece of misdirection here where we’re led to believe that one Legionnaire is being treated for potentially fatal injuries, and that that Legionnaire is Shrinking Violet, and she’s okay. But then we discover that there were two Legionnaires suffering from life-threatening injuries, and the other one was Laurel Gand, and she’s died. On the other hand, the impact of this moment was lessened for me because I don’t care about Laurel at all. I just see her as a stand-in for Supergirl.

SHOWCASE ’96 #8 (DC, 1996) – B+. This issue of a forgettable anthology title is surprisingly good. It includes a Superboy story by Kesel and Grummett, a Supergirl story which serves as a preview of PAD’s ongoing series, and a Legion story. The latter is not particularly good but at least it includes XS, perhaps my favorite DC character who has almost no chance of ever appearing again.

NEXUS #45 (First, 1988) – A-. This was the only one of the first 50 issues of Nexus that I didn’t have. “Return to the Bowl-Shaped World” is mostly setup for the major Gravity Well storyline in the next five issues; all that really happens in the story is that Nexus, Badger and Judah travel to the Bowl-Shaped World. It’s fun, though.

AVENGERS ANNUAL #11 (Marvel, 1982) – C+/B-. This is a rare Avengers story written by J.M. DeMatteis, but it appears to be a sequel to a storyline from Defenders. In this story the Avengers and Defenders fight a proxy battle on behalf of Nebulon and his wife Supernalia, both of whom end up committing suicide. There’s not much of interest here for a reader who’s not familiar with the story that this is a sequel to.

LEGION OF SUPER-HEROES #20 (DC, 2013) – D-. This was the second to last issue of the New 52 Legion, but the last one that I bought; I didn’t even bother with issue 21. There is nothing here of any redeeming value, other than Francis Portela’s artwork. As I stated above, I don’t read superhero comics because I want to see the good guys lose, and that’s especially true for Legion comics. But in this issue the Legionnaires suffer a series of humiliating defeats for no real reason. And I know that the storyline ends next issue with the virtual destruction of the 31st century. If DC can’t publish better Legion stories than this, then it’s probably better that they’re not publishing Legion comics at all.

STAR TREK #56 (Gold Key, 1978) – B+. I’ve never read a Gold Key Star Trek comic before, but this one was surprisingly good, mostly because of Alden McWilliams’s artwork. His art is realistic and dramatic and reminds me of Al Williamson or Russ Manning. (Incidentally, McWilliams and Williamson both mean “son of William.”) The story, by my near namesake George Kashdan, is fast-paced and kind of funny, though it’s not a literary masterpiece.

MULTIVERSITY: COSMIC NEIGHBORHOOD WATCH #1 (DC, 2014) – B+. This is so metatextual and bizarre that it’s difficult to understand on first reading. This is of course not unusual for a recent Grant Morrison comic. I feel like all his recent work requires you to have a Ph.D. to understand it. And I have a Ph.D. and I still can’t understand most of it. The main thing I do remember from this issue is the Thunderer character, who appears to be based on Australian Aboriginal mythology.

IRON FIST #6 (Marvel, 1976) – B-. In this issue Daniel Rand battles Colleen Wing, who is under the mind control of Angar the Screamer. I really don’t like this series that much; I think it’s easily the worst Claremont-Byrne collaboration.

REVIVAL #24 (Image, 2015) – B+. I read this issue a month ago and I don’t remember what happened in it, though I did enjoy it. I guess the big development this time around is that Dana and Ibrahim are now in a relationship. My main problem with this series is that I can’t keep the characters straight.

WIMMEN’S COMIX #3 (Last Gasp, 1974) – B-. This underground comic contains a diverse range of material by artists of widely varying levels of skill. I think the best things here are the stories by Diane Noomin and Trina Robbins.

DETECTIVE COMICS #874 (DC, 2011) – A-. I don’t really understand the story here, but it’s exciting. The real highlight, though, is Francesco Francavilla’s art. I don’t care for his writing, but when paired with a better writer than himself, he can do some incredible stuff. Like some other recent superstars of American comics (Risso, Moon and Ba), he has a more European than American sensibility. I remember when I spoke to him at a convention and asked him who his influences were, he named some Italian cartoonists – I can’t remember who, but I think either Gianni de Luca or Ivo Milazzo.

SUICIDE SQUAD #49 (DC, 1991) – A/A+. This is an important issue in the development of Barbara Gordon’s character. In the wake of the Batgirl #41 cover scandal, a writer at a website called “Chicks on the Right” wrote: “You know, instead of screaming about “OMG IT’S A SCARY COVER – I MUST PROTEST!” maybe some of these SJWs could take a moment to think about a story in which a heroine like Batgirl does get raped and assaulted by the Joker. Maybe you show how it affects her and the internal battle she has in dealing with it. And as time progresses, you show her overcoming the trauma and going through the healing process and working to become an awesomely kickass superhero again and she beats the Joker spectacularly in spite of everything he’s done to her.” (See http://www.donotlink.com/e9kb). The thing is, that’s exactly what happens in this issue, except that the person Barbara beats up is not the Joker himself, but another criminal who’s guilty of similar offenses. It’s good that we’ve had stories like this because it was essential to show Barbara confronting her trauma and getting past it. Thus, the above quotation reveals the writer’s ignorance of the character’s history.

UNCLE SCROOGE ADVENTURES #6 (Gladstone, 1988) – B+. “Oddball Odyssey” is a weird-looking Barks story because it used an experimental style of design, in which there were no panel borders and the word balloons were rectangular. Gold Key apparently required Barks to draw two stories in this style, “Oddball Odyssey” being one of them, but he never used it again. The Gladstone reprint of this story does have panel borders, but it keeps the rectangular word balloons, which look very strange. The story itself is about Magica De Spell’s attempt to steal Old #1 by using Circe’s wand to turn Scrooge and the nephews into animals. It’s fairly entertaining but is not one of Barks’s greatest works. The William Van Horn backup story, about a balloon race, is probably better than “Oddball Odyssey.”

KEVIN KELLER #9 (Archie, 2013) – C+. A boring, generic piece of work. My main problem with Kevin Keller as a character is that he has no flaws; he’s completely perfect. This almost suggests to me that his homosexuality was seen as a crippling flaw in itself, so that the character had to be made unrealistically perfect in all other aspects in order to compensate.

MARVEL UNIVERSE GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY #1 (Marvel, 2015) – C-. This is a fairly fun read, but thoroughly forgettable. At least it has Rocket Raccoon and Groot in it.

BRAVEST WARRIORS #30 (Boom!, 2015) – B+. I still haven’t seen the YouTube series this is based on, but I want to keep reading it because I like the sardonic humor and the colorful art style. This issue contains two stories, both depicting the main characters as children.

THE SPIRIT #60 (Kitchen Sink, 1989) – B+. The best story in this issue is the first one, which is the conclusion to a longer story arc in which a crusading politician tries to frame Commissioner Dolan for corruption. The other three stories here are of varying quality, and some of them include a significant amount of work by uncredited assistants.

JUSTICE LEAGUE OF AMERICA #260 (DC, 1986) – C-. This is from the much-maligned Detroit Era, and it hardly seems like a Justice League story at all. It’s mostly about characters like Vixen and Steel, who don’t really seem like Justice Leaguers to me, and Martian Manhunter, whose personality was quite poorly defined at this time.

CHEW #46 (Image, 2015) – B. I kind of think the joke in this series is starting to wear thin, and I hope it’s approaching some sort of conclusion. As of this issue, we don’t know whether any of the characters who were injured in #45 are going to live.

LOKI: AGENT OF ASGARD #8 (Marvel, 2015) – B-. The cover says “Loki: Agent of Axis,” but the indicia says “Agent of Asgard.” I’m continuing to buy this series mostly out of habit. The plot of this issue is difficult to understand without having read the Axis crossover; on reading it, I felt like I’d missed an issue, even though I hadn’t. This issue does include a cute homage to My Little Pony.

TERRIBLE LIZARD #4 (Oni, 2015) – B. This series is still fun, but there’s not enough of a plot here to sustain it for more than one more issue. The major revelation this time around is that Wrex is a dimensional vortex whose existence causes other bizarre monsters to appear, which seems like an obvious reference to Godzilla.

ASTRO CITY #21 (Image, 2015) – A+. A satisfying conclusion to another great storyline. Kurt is doing some of the best work of his career here. The thing I didn’t like is what Quarrel chooses to do after retirement: she decides to manage Crackerjack’s recovery, which implies that she’s continuing to live in an essentially codependent relationship with him. I would have been happier if she had decided to become a physical therapist, in order to help people other than Crackerjack.

SAGA #26 (Image, 2015) – A-. Not a whole lot happens in this issue. It feels like BKV and Fiona are just marking time until the next big event, whatever that might be. Probably my favorite part of the issue is when the dragons get to talk. I have trouble remembering this or any of the other comics I read on the week of the 13th, because I was really tired when I read them.

MS. MARVEL #13 (Marvel, 2015) – A+. One of the best issues yet. Kamala and Kamran are such an adorable couple. I suspect, though, that Kamran is too good to be true; probably he’s going to turn out to be an alien or a shapeshifter or an alien shapeshifter.

SPIDER-GWEN #2 (Marvel, 2015) – A+. This is shaping up to be yet another brilliant success from Marvel. Peter Porker, the Spectacular Spider-Ham guest-stars in this issue and it actually sort of makes sense; there’s even an amazing pun about cannibalism. Robbi Rodriguez continues to be an amazing artist.

HELP US! GREAT WARRIOR #2 (Boom!, 2015) – B-. I didn’t enjoy this nearly as much as the last issue. This is something of a one-joke series, and it’s also a very quick read. I’m going to keep reading it, though, in the hope that it will become more complex.

HOWARD THE DUCK #1 (Marvel, 2015) – A+. This is the first good Howard the Duck story not written by Steve Gerber, and I think Steve would have approved of it, if he could have read it. I believe this is Chip Zdarsky’s first credit as a writer, and it displays the same sense of humor as some parts of Sex Criminals, suggesting that Chip has been partly responsible for the plot and dialogue of that series. The “training montage” may be the best part. I do wonder what happened to Bev. I suspect that when Howard tells Tara that he’s been going through a rough patch lately, this is somehow related to Bev’s absence.

DESCENDER #1 (Image, 2015) – A. An excellent debut issue by Jeff Lemire and Dustin Nguyen. Other than Animal Man, I haven’t read much of Lemire’s work – I have Underwater Welder and Essex County lying around, but haven’t gotten to them yet. But I love Dustin Nguyen’s artwork and this issue is a great example of it. This story is in a very different vein from his last work, Batman: Li’l Gotham, but there is a clear stylistic similarity between the two. I also like the story, which reminds me of Astro Boy.

NAMELESS #1 (Image, 2015) – C+/B-. Another Grant Morrison comic that’s so convoluted and bizarre that I can’t make head or tail of it. And this is just the first issue. With most Grant Morrison comics, I feel like I would understand what was going on if I read the entire series in order, but with this series, I can’t do even that. I’m sorry that I already preordered issue 2 before reading issue 1. The trouble with preordering comics two months in advance is that sometimes I get stuck with the second and third issues of a series even after I’ve discovered that I don’t like the first issue.

HUMANS #1 (Image, 2014) – A-. I’ve never heard of the creators of this series, Keenan Marshall Keller and Tom Neely, and I only bought it because it was included in a package deal. Surprisingly, I loved it. The Humans is pretty much a modern-day version of a ‘70s underground comic (the work of Spain is an obvious stylistic touchstone here), except that all the characters are apes for unexplained reasons. Keller and Neely do a great job of capturing the sensibility of the ‘70s counterculture.

TUKI: SAVE THE HUMANS #1 (Cartoon Books, 2014) – B-. Nothing Jeff Smith has done since Bone has been anywhere near as good as Bone (though Shazam: The Monster Society of Evil came pretty close). This series is not an exception to that. It’s funny and well-drawn, but it has a lot of room for improvement. My real problem with this issue, though, is the production values. This issue’s lettering and trade dress are hideous – for example, the word “save” on the cover is in a stencil font, which is inappropriate for a story about cavemen. And you have to turn the comic sideways to read it, which is extremely annoying. I wish Jeff would hire a better graphic designer.

MY LITTLE PONY: FRIENDS FOREVER #14 (IDW, 2015) – A-. A very good Spike/Luna story written by Jeremy Whitley. It explores prejudice against dragons in a thoughtful and intelligent way. The best thing about this issue is that it explicitly addresses the second season episode “Dragon Quest,” where Spike decides he’d rather be a pony than a dragon. I’ve always found this rather disturbing, and in this issue, a new character tells Spike that this is bullshit: “Just because there are some dragons that are bad guys doesn’t mean you can be a good guy and still be a dragon.” I think that ought to have been the message of “Dragon Quest” in the first place.

PRINCELESS: PIRATE PRINCESS #2 (Action Lab, 2015) – B+. Another good story by Jeremy Whitley. My main complaint about this issue is the scene at the end, which makes it blatantly obvious that Adrienne and Raven are a potential couple. I find it annoying when a romantic pairing is telegraphed in such an unsubtle way.

SILVER SURFER #10 (Marvel, 2015) – B+/A-. In this story Dan Slott and Mike Allred somehow find a way to resolve the Galactus plotline without forcing Norrin and Dawn to break up permanently. I still think that this storyline is too heavy and depressing and that this series ought to have a lighter and funnier tone. Also, I don’t think that Norrin and Dawn make sense as a couple.

RAGNAROK #4 (IDW, 2015) – A-. An impressive piece of work. I’m glad this series is still readable even without the female dark elf protagonist from the first couple issues.

HARLEY QUINN #12 (DC, 2015) – A-. Amanda Conner’s writing is worse than her art, but still, this is a pretty hilarious comic. The clear highlight of the issue is the scene where PG and Harley travel through a dimensional portal and come back two weeks later, with PG about to get married to Vartox. I look forward to Harley Quinn and Power Girl #1, which will explain what happened during those two weeks.

COPPERHEAD #5 (Image, 2015) – B-. Another average issue. My interest in this series is waning.

BATMAN #415 (DC, 1988) – C+. This is a Millennium crossover, and that in itself is a problem. It does not make sense for Batman to be fighting alien superhero robots from before the dawn of time. There have been effective Batman stories with science fiction premises, but this is not one of them. And while Jim Starlin wrote some good Batman stories, he was a very odd choice as a Batman writer. Jim Aparo’s artwork in this issue isn’t much good either.

THOR #6 (Marvel, 2015) – A-. This issue strongly implies that the new Thor is Rosalind Solomon, a character I’m not familiar with. In fact, this is implied so strongly as to make me suspicious; I think Rosalind Solomon may be a red herring. Russell Dauterman’s art is still the best thing about this series, but the Jane Foster scene in this issue is heartbreaking. Offhand I can’t think of another Marvel or DC character who’s gotten breast cancer.

REVIVAL #25 (Image, 2015) – B+. I was inspired to read more of Revival after moderating an ICFA panel during which Barbara Lucas read a paper about this series. This is a pretty good issue, though there’s not much to distinguish it from any other issue of the series. May Tao is the only Hmong comic book character I can think of.

REVIVAL #7 (Image, 2015) – B. A fairly average issue. The trouble with reading a series like this out of order is that none of the plot twists in the early issues are surprising.3-22-15

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