Post-election reviews


This past Tuesday was one of the worst days in my life and one of the low points in American history, and it’s hard not to feel like everything we do is pointless. Strangely, though, that makes me more motivated to teach and write about comics. I may not be able to accomplish larger political or structural change all on my own. But I can at least try to advocate for greater inclusion and diversity in the comics industry, and these reviews are one way I do that. I see my fan writing about comics and my academic work on comics as interrelated components of a larger project. One of the goals of this project is to advocate for a more inclusive and progressive comics community, which can serve as a model for other types of communities.

New comics received on October 28:

SAGA #39 (Image, 2016) – untitled, (W) Brian K. Vaughan, (A) Fiona Staples. Not a whole lot happened in this issue. The best part is probably Hazel’s little-kid crush on the little ferret dude, but other than that, this issue seemed mostly about moving the plot along. I like how when one of the robots dies, its head displays a blue screen of death.

LUMBERJANES #31 (Boom!, 2016) – “Cut Loose,” (W) Shannon Waters & Kat Leyh, (A) Carey Pietsch. This may be the most important comic book in America right now, because of its appeal to a younger audience and its progressive stance on race, gender and sexuality. This issue is a fairly exciting continuation of the gorgon-cockatrice story arc, with some fun action sequences. For me, though, the most interesting thing in the issue was Molly’s worries about how her parents don’t approve of her friends. This confirms what we learned about Molly’s family last issue. I’m sad for Molly, of course. I’m also very curious as to how this comic is going to address issues of homophobia and sexism, because so far Lumberjanes has “addressed” these isues by depicting a utopian world in which bigotry doesn’t seem to exist.

MS. MARVEL #12 (Marvel, 2016) – “The Road to War,” (W) G. Willow Wilson, (A) Mirka Andolfo. A nice pick-me-up after the grim, depressing story that just ended. Willow’s depiction of Pakistan seems very authentic; I’ve never been there, but I get the impression that Willow has, and that she has more than a casual familiarity with Pakistani culture. Kareem is an adorable new character, and it’s obvious that he’s the Red Dagger. I also like the demonstration that Karachi’s problems are not as simple as Kamala thinks – and that Kamala, as an outsider, is not fully at home either in Karachi or in Jersey City. When Kamala says that she sticks out in Jersey because she’s too Pakistani, and in Karachi because she’s too American, she says the same thing I’ve heard from real-life children of immigrants. My only complaint about this story is it should have been at least one issue. I especially want to see Kareem again. As a piece of trivia, “Gabbar Singh is my copilot” is another reference to Sholay.

THE VISION #12 (Marvel, 2016) – “Spring,” (W) Tom King, (A) Gabriel Hernandez Walta. An eloquent conclusion to the best-written Marvel comic of the past twenty years. It’s not necessarily the most enjoyable Marvel comic, but it is the one Marvel comic whose writing has reached the highest aesthetic peaks. This issue, Virginia reveals that she mind-controlled Vision into attacking the Avengers, then commits suicide. It’s a final heartbreaking moment in a series that’s been full of them. And yet the series ends on a surprisingly positive note, with Vision raising Viv as a single parent, while trying to recreate Virginia. I hope we will see more comics like this from Tom King; he could be the next Neil Gaiman.

ANOTHER CASTLE #5 (Oni, 2016) – untitled, (W) Andrew Wheeler, (A) Paulina Ganucheau. In the epic conclusion, Misty defeats Badlug and becomes the new king of Grimoire. Overall, this was a fun series and I’m sorry that it was just five issues. I hope Andrew and Paulina will do either a sequel, or another series in the same vein.

FUTURE QUEST #6 (DC, 2016) – “Impossible Choice!”, (W) Jeff Parker, (A) Doc Shaner & Ron Randall; and “Code Name: Cobalt, Part Two,” (W) Jeff Parker, (A) Craig Rousseau. This is another fun issue, but the trouble is that this whole series has been a non-stop sequence of action scenes. As a result, it can be hard to remember what’s going on, or to distinguish between all the characters. I think we need an issue where the characters sit and talk and explain what’s going on. The art in the backup story is a bit too stylistically dissimilar from the art in the main story.

CHEW #59 (Image, 2016) – “Sour Grapes, Part 4,” (W) John Layman, (A) Rob Guillory. Just one issue left. So Amelia is really dead, but she finished writing the story that will kill everyone who’s eaten chicken. And Tony reads the story, killing off a large chunk of the population of the world, including Colby. So basically, this issue is almost as bleak and depressing as America on November 10, only a bit funnier. The one loose end is why the aliens hate chicken-eaters so much. The obvious reason is because they themselves look like chickens, but that’s so predictable that I wonder if Layman has something else in mind.

SILVER SURFER #7 (Marvel, 2016) – “The Infinite All-In,” (W) Dan Slott, (A) Mike Allred. This is the funniest issue in a while; it’s a ig pick-me-up after the depressing story a out Dawn’s mom. Like the est Slott-Allred Surfer stories, it’s full of funny SF concepts like a puppy- unny-kitten planet, a six-armed violinist, and a gam ling game in which the Surfer loses the a ility to say the second letter of the alpha et.

JUGHEAD #10 (Archie, 2016) – “Jughead Jones Is on a Date??!”, (W) Ryan North, (A) Derek Charm. Ryan North’s second issue of Jughead is another good one. Jughead’s date with Sabrina is a predictable disaster, and Sabrina retaliates by giving Jughead a bunch of curses, each of which backfires. It’s a simple story compared to some of Ryan’s other recent work, but it’s extremely well-executed. One funny moment is the scene where Sabrina cuts off some of Jughead’s hair, then casts a spell one of whose ingredients is “hair of jerk.”

MOON GIRL AND DEVIL DINOSAUR #12 (Marvel, 2016) – “Cosmic Cooties, Part Six of Six: Unrequited,” (W) Brandon Montclare & Amy Reeder, (A) Natacha Bustos. A pretty fun conclusion to this story arc. Lunella lets Kid Kree down gently, which perhaps shows that she’s getting more mature, and also builds a giant Lego dinosaur for situations when Devil Dinosaur’s mind is in her body. Though I’m not sure how that’s going to help anything. One thing I’ve noticed about Lunella is that she has trouble listening to anyone; she talks at people, not with them. Which is probably normal at her age.

WONDER WOMAN #9 (DC, 2016) – “The Lies, Part Five,” (W) Greg Rucka, (A) Liam Sharp. This issue is just all right. The shopping scene is fun, but I was not impressed by the romantic interlude between Diana and Steve. I have never liked these characters as a couple. I think Steve works much better as Diana’s best male friend than as her unrequited lover.

GIANT DAYS 2016 HOLIDAY SPECIAL #1 (Boom!, 2016) – “If Esther, Daisy and Susan Hadn’t Become Friends?”, (W) John Allison, (A) Lissa Tremain. This is obviously inspired by What If?, and it’s pretty much what it says on the tin. Without Daisy and Susan, Esther becomes friends with some horrible rich girls, but the other two protagonists conspire to give the girls their comeuppance. It’s basically just a longer issue of Giant Days, but that’s not a bad thing.

STRANGE TALES #163 (Marvel, 1967) – “And the Dragon Cried… Death!”, (W/A) Jim Steranko; and “Three Faces of Doom!”, (W) Jim Lawrence, (A) Dan Adkins. I read this comic before Steranko publicly expressed support for Trump. Steranko’s comments were annoying, but I don’t think they tarnish his reputation, simply because his comics career ended over 40 years ago. The Steranko who drew Nick Fury has little to do with the Steranko who shows up at conventions today. I’m certainly not going to give him any of my money, but I wasn’t doing that to begin with. Anyway, the Nick Fury story in this issue is typically brilliant, with some amazing action sequences, and it’s also the first appearance of Clay Quartermain. The Dr. Strange story has good artwork, but a boring story, in which the Living Tribunal is portrayed very differently from how he was depicted later.

DESCENDER #16 (Image, 2016) – “Singularities 5 of 5,” (W) Jeff Lemire, (A) Dustin Nguyen. The current story arc ends with Driller’s origin story, which, as usual in this series, is very sad. Despite his very limited brainpower, Driller is a sentient being who takes pride in his work and is capable of friendship, and he deeply resents being a slave. This whole story arc was a bit of an odd pacing decision, because it was a series of flashbacks that delayed the resolution of the cliffhanger in #11. But it really did enable me to get to know the major characters better.

DAREDEVIL #96 (Marvel, 1973) – “The Widow Will Make You Pay!”, (W) Gerry Conway, (A) Gene Colan. Another story from DD and Black Widow’s San Francisco period. Hornhead is beaten half to death by the Man-Bull, but Natasha chases him off and saves Matt. Then Natasha fights Man-Bull again and loses, but Matt gets out of his hospital bed to save her. It’s an exciting story. The art in this issue is a bit weird because Ernie Chan’s inking was poorly suited to Gene’s pencils, but Gene’s artwork is beautiful as always.

NIGHTHAWK #3 (Marvel, 2016) – untitled, (W) David Walker, (A) Martin Morazzo. I feel guilty for not buying series, because it only lasted six issues. I try to support Marvel comics with diverse protagonists, but sometimes I miss some. This issue is quite violent, but in an intelligent way, and David Walker writes some excellent dialogue.

CYBORG #5 (DC, 2016) – “Rubble & Revelations,” (W) David Walker, (A) Ivan Reis, Felipe Watanabe & Daniel HDR. I like this much better than the previous issue of Cyborg I read, though I still don’t understand the story very well. Notable things about this comic are Walker’s witty dialogue and Ivan Reis’s impressive depictions of robots.

DAREDEVIL #89 (Marvel, 1972) – “Crisis!”, (W) Gerry Conway, (A) Gene Colan. Matt and Natasha battle the Purple Man and Electro. This is another fun issue, but it’s tarnished because Matt behaves like a severe male chauvinist, while Natasha behaves like a helpless waif. Matt grabs Natasha’s shoulder to make her talk to him, and Natasha replies “Help me, Matt. It’s so hard to know what to do!” Readers at the time were aware that Matt and Natasha’s relationship was somewhat sexist. On the letters page, a reader named Jeff Weintraub complains that Matt and Ivan are male chauvinists and that they treat Natasha like a child. The editors’ response does not effectively address this concern, except by saying that Matt’s behavior doesn’t reflect the writer’s views.

New comics received on November 4, when I was 100% convinced that Hillary Clinton was our next President:

SOUTHERN BASTARDS #15 (Image, 2016) – “Gut Check, Part One,” (W) Jason Aaron, (A) Jason Latour. Roberta Tubb has finally arrived in Craw County, but even now she’s not the protagonist of the series; she spends the issue sitting in Boss’s BBQ and glaring at people. I’ve been waiting to learn more about this character since about issue 4, and I’m still waiting. The real protagonist of this comic is Coach Boss, and in this issue his position is in severe jeopardy after a bunch of embarrassing losses. The one principle he’s not willing to sacrifice is his belief in the integrity of the game of football. And by the end of the issue, he’s abandoned even that. This was a fun comic, but again, I want more of Roberta.

GOLDIE VANCE #7 (Boom!, 2016) – untitled, (W) Hope Larson, (A) Brittney Williams. Another fun issue, with some clever detective work and good characterization. I think the best scene in the issue is Goldie’s talk with her mother. Goldie’s mom’s expression when Goldie says “I want my tail to be orange” is kind of creepy.

SUPERMAN #10 (DC, 2016) – “In the Name of the Father, Part 1: World’s Smallest,” (W) Peter Tomasi, (W/A) Patrick Gleason. This was just an incredibly cute and fun comic. Clark and Jon’s team-up with Bruce and Damian is just what it ought to be. The fathers have an affectionate rivalry, but the sons hate each other on sight. Besides the interactions between the main characters, there are lots of other cute moments in this issue, including the Bat-Cow and Albert the cat, and Jon’s encounter with Maya at school. This issue reminded me of, not any official Batman comic, but the Black Cat’s webcomic Batman and Sons. This issue has the exuberance and love that are so common in fan works based on DC comics, but so rare in actual DC comics.

ANIMOSITY #3 (Aftershock, 2016) – “Animilitary,” (W) Marguerite Bennett, (A) Rafael De Latorre. Another good issue, though there’s nothing to really distinguish it from issue 1. So far my favorite thing about this series is all the funny talking issues. Highlights of this issue include the transgender cat and the humpback whale that says the name of its species.

THE WICKED + THE DIVINE #23 (Image, 2016) – “Pantheon Monthly,” (W) Kieron Gillen et al, (A) Kevin Wada. In a series that was already formally innovative, this is the most experimental issue yet. It’s the first comic book with interior art by Kevin Wada, who specializes in cover art. To accommodate his skillset, Kieron decided to format this issue like a fashion magazine. Wada’s artwork is used to illustrate a series of fake “articles” about interviews with the gods, written by real writers like Laurie Penny and Leigh Alexander. The quality of these articles is variable; some of them were difficult to get through. And as I have said before in other contexts, I’m annoyed when comic books include long blocks of text. If I wanted to read a magazine, I would read a magazine. However, while this experiment was not 100% successful, it was interesting, and this issue was a good example of Kieron’s drive to continuously challenge himself.

GIANT DAYS #20 (Boom!, 2016) – “The One Where the Girls Go to IKEA,” (W) John Allison, (A) Max Sarin. That’s not the real title, but it might as well be. All the furniture in Esther, Daisy and Susan’s new apartment falls apart, and they have to go to IKEA to replace it. There are other stories that make fun of IKEA, including Power Girl #6 and Grady Hendrix’s Horrorstor, but this issue is effective anyway, mostly because all the jokes are very accurate. I think the funniest joke is that the articles of furniture have names like “disease” and “sinkhole.”

FLASH GORDON: KING’S CROSS #1 (Dynamite, 2016) – “The Mysterious Continent,” (W) Jeff Parker, (A) Jesse Hamm. This is a sequel to some of Dynamite’s previous King Features comics, but I don’t know which ones exactly. Like most of Jeff Parker’s comics, it’s an exciting story with good characterization. I especially like the scene where Zarkov calmly finishes his drink while Flash beats up the people who were trying to kidnap him. I think I used to know Jesse Hamm from CBR or some other forum.

THE FLINTSTONES #5 (DC, 2016) – “Election Day,” (W) Mark Russell, (A) Steve Pugh. This issue has an election theme. I don’t want to talk about that. I was feeling okay for most of the day, but this evening I started to suffer from election-related despair again. So let’s ignore that aspect of this comic. The other interesting part was Barney and Wilma’s struggles with infertility. This leads to an obvious question as to where Bamm-Bamm came from, and Mark Russell answers that question in a surprising and touching way.

OCCUPY AVENGERS #1 (Marvel, 2016) – “Occupy Avengers,” (W) David Walker, (A) Carlos Pacheco. Despite the promising title and creative team, this issue is disappointing. It reads like an inventory story. The plot is a clear reference to both Standing Rock and Flint, Michigan, but it’s framed like an ordinary superhero story, instead of a superhero story about politics. The villains responsible for the water crisis are common criminals, not elected Republican politicians, as in real life. Because of its inability to take a partisan political stance, Marvel is probably not capable of publishing a comic that treats the Flint water crisis or the Standing Rock pipeline crisis with the seriousness they deserve.

REVIVAL #44 (Image, 2016) – untitled, (W) Tim Seeley, (A) Mike Norton. The overall plot of this series is finally starting to make sense. Lester Majak tried to sacrifice Dana in order to cast a magic spell that would end death permanently. But because Dana was pregnant, his spell was too strong, and it turned all the dead people into zombies whose souls were separated from their bodies – hence the yellow ghost things. Besides explaining that, issue also reveals the origin of the Amish assassin. Easily the best line in the issue is “Are you guys ninjas?” “No, honey, we’re Amish.”

CHAMPIONS #2 (Marvel, 2016) – untitled, (W) Mark Waid, (A) Humberto Ramos. My expectations for this issue were quite low, so I was pleasantly surprised by it. The team spends the entire issue talking around a campfire, like in Tales of the New Teen Titans, and this leads to a lot of interesting character interactions. I thought that Mark had lost much of his ability to write teenagers effectively, but maybe I was wrong.

INSEXTS #3 (Aftershock, 2016) – “The Nature of Women,” (W) Marguerite Bennett, (A) Ariela Kristantina. I think I’ve bought every issue of this series, but I stopped reading it because of lack of motivation. I think I felt like this comic was just a wish-fulfillment fantasy or something. That was never true, though, and after reading this comic, I feel like this series is not just about hot sex and disgusting bugs. It feels like a serious investigation of gender, sexuality, and transhumanism. I need to finish the rest of the issues I have.

MARVEL SPOTLIGHT #18 (Marvel, 1974) – “Madhouse!”, (W) Steve Gerber, (A) Gene Colan. This Son of Satan story is heavily reminiscent of The Exorcist, which came out the previous year. Daimon goes to a faculty party with his girlfriend (?) and then has to cure a teenage girl of possession. The slightly unusual wrinkle is that she became possessed after her father slapped her because he disapproved of her boyfriend. There is maybe a faint implication that this was due to racism; the boyfriend only appears in two panels, but looks sort of Hispanic. Overall, this issue is not a major work of Gerber, but I still want to collect the rest of this run because I’m a Gerber completist.

CAPTAIN MARVEL #42 (Marvel, 1976) – “Shoot-Out at the O.K. Space Station!”, (W) Steve Englehart, (A) Al Milgrom. My collection of Captain Marvel volume 1 mostly stops at the end of Jim Starlin’s run, but it looks like Jim Starlin was succeeded by some good creators. I wonder how many other issues of Captain Marvel were written by Englehart. Both the writing and the art in this issue are very Starlinesque. The story is really weird, in a way that reminds me of “1000 Clowns” in Strange Tales #181. Mar-Vell and Rick visit an alien planet that, thanks to the Stranger’s intervention, has become a collection of Wild West cliches. It’s funny, in a stupid way.

INSEXTS #4 (Aftershock, 2016) – “Hunters,” (W) Marguerite Bennett, (A) Ariela Kristantina. This issue includes more hot sex and disgusting insects, as well as a fight scene with a werewolf. Ariela Kristantina’s art this issue is quite good; she is well suited for both the sex and the horror aspects of this comic. This series also feels like an interesting exploration of Victorian politics and culture, though I’m not sure it’s as well-researched as DC Comics Bombshells. I like how part of the issue takes place in a panopticon prison, though I don’t believe there was such a prison in London in real life.

SUPERMAN #358 (DC, 1981) – “Father Nature’s Folly!”, (W) Cary Bates, (A) Curt Swan. This is a weird one. The villain, Father Nature, looks like the mythological Green Man and claims to have been responsible for the creation of life on earth. Which is a huge cliché; I don’t even know how many comic books I’ve read that proposed an alien origin for life on earth. An odd thing about this story is that Superman keeps having visions of a particular shape (a tower with two upwardly curving arms). This reminds me of how the protagonist of Close Encounters of the Third Kind keeps having visions of a particular mountain. That film came out in 1977, so it may have directly inspired this comic. This issue also includes a Bruce (Superman) Wayne backup story, which is better than the main story, but still just average.

UNWORTHY THOR #1 (Marvel, 2016) – “The Hammer from Heaven,” (W) Jason Aaron, (A) Olivier Coipel. Jason Aaron’s Thor run has been mostly excellent, but a bit uneven. This issue is about the same level of quality as a bad issue of the main Thor series. It’s too full of fight scenes, and the only exciting part is the arrival of Beta Ray Bill at the end. Olivier Coipel is maybe a slightly bigger star than Russell Dauterman, but I think Dauterman is a much better artist.

BITCH PLANET #9 (Image, 2016) – untitled, (W) Kelly Sue DeConnick, (A) Valentine De Landro. This comic is even more important now than on the day it came out. It’s a very straightforward and blunt story that wears its politics on its sleeve, and that’s a good thing. It’s the kind of story we need right now. The bonus material in this issue includes an essay by my friend and colleague Rebecca Wanzo. One cool thing she does here is to translate Sara Ahmed’s difficult concept of feminist killjoys into terms that nonacademics can understand.

DETECTIVE COMICS #588 (DC, 1988) – “Night People, Part Two: The Corrosive Man,” (W) John Wagner & Alan Grant, (A) Norm Breyfogle. I read the first part of this story arc in February. This story is just boring. It doesn’t tell us anything new about Batman, and the Corrosive Man is an unexciting new villain.

ADVENTURES OF SUPERMAN #558 (DC, 1998) – “Another Typical Day,” (W) Karl Kesel & Jerry Ordway, (A) Steve Yeowell. This is a weird one. It’s written exactly like a Silver Age Superman story, only with modern artwork, slightly more intelligent writing, and less sexism. Steel and Kon-El exist, but all the characters wear ‘50s clothing, Lois doesn’t know Superman’s secret identity, and one of the central plot points is that Jimmy Olsen appears to have been turned into an alien. While this is a fun story, it’s also confusing, in that there’s no explanation of why the past 40 years of Superman continuity have suddenly been reversed. I guess this issue was part of a crossover event called “The Dominus Effect,” where every issue was based on a past era of Superman history.

ACTION COMICS #661 (DC, 1991) – “Stretching a Point,” (W) Roger Stern, (A) Brett Breeding. Both this and the previous comic have been in my collection for years, but I only just got around to reading them. This issue guest-stars Plastic Man, and Sterno correctly writes him as a stone-faced, humorless straightman, who just happens to have weird things happen to him all the time. Most other writers, besides Jack Cole and Kyle Baker, have written Plastic Man as a clown, and this is the wrong approach. I haven’t read a lot of Roger Stern comics lately, since I’ve already read most of his major works. I miss him.

JOSIE AND THE PUSSYCATS #2 (Archie, 2016) – untitled, (W) Marguerite Bennett & Cameron DeOrdio, (A) Audrey Mok. I’m reading four current comics written by Marguerite Bennett (though I’m backed up on DC Comics Bombshells), and none of them is anything like the others. Her versatility is impressive. In this issue, the Pussycats foolishly sign a contract that forces them to play at a punk bar every night. What impresses me about this issue is the use of metatext; the characters know they’re in a story and act accordingly. My favorite example of this, which I shared on Instagram, is Valerie’s line that begins “We can always chicken out…”

MARVEL TWO-IN-ONE #40 (Marvel, 1978) – “Conjure Night!”, (W) Roger Slifer & Tom DeFalco, (A) Ron Wilson. Despite the undistinguished creative team, this Thing-Black Panther team-up is enjoyable. It begins with a fun scene where Ben makes pizza for several other people. Then there’s another funny scene where Ben visits the class that T’Challa, in his Luke Charles identity, is teaching at a mostly black public school. Ron Wilson’s artwork is a good imitation of that of George Perez, and the story shows at least some sensitivity about race. Unfortunately the plot is kind of dumb.

ACTION LAB: DOG OF WONDER #4 (Action Lab, 2016) – “The Comet’s Tale, Part One,” (W) Vito Delsante & Scott Fogg, (A) Reilly Leeds. This comic is okay, but I don’t like the artwork at all. It reminds me of a coloring book. I want Rosy Higgins back.

That was the last comic book I read before my country was plunged into an unimaginable crisis, with harshly negative results for my mental health. By Friday, I was not feeling 100% okay, and I’m still not, but at least I was able to read some comic books.

POWER MAN AND IRON FIST #10 (Marvel, 2016) – untitled, (W) David Walker, (A) Sanford Greene. One of my sources of comfort in this current crisis has been the realization that black people have been dealing with this shit for hundreds of years, and they’ve survived. If they can, then so can I, and it’s my responsibility as a white person to show support for less privileged populations. This particular comic book is comforting right now because it acknowledges the continuing trauma of racism, but it’s joyful anyway. David Walker’s writing is exuberant and fun, and Sanford Greene’s art is really impressive this issue, especially in the two-page splash with all the superheroes. The heartwarming moment this issue is Luke shaking hands with the former criminal for whom he found a new job. I do wonder if David is no longer allowed to use Jessica Jones or Danielle. It’s odd that they’ve suddenly vanished from this comic with no explanation.

MEGA PRINCESS #1 (Boom!, 2016) – “Mega Princess,” (W) Kelly Thompson, (A) Brianne Drouhard. The latest in a series of princess comics, this one is about a ten-year-old multiracial princess who gains the powers of all princesses ever. It’s an extremely cute and fun comic, and I look forward to reading more of it. I do feel like there’s a bit too much going on at once. It’s hard to tell what exactly is the central theme of this comic, or where the story is going.

GOTHAM ACADEMY: SECOND SEMESTER #3 (DC, 2016) – “Second Semester, Part 3,” (W) Brenden Fletcher, Becky Cloonan & Karl Kerschl, (A) Adam Archer. I’m a bit confused as to what was happening in this story – why did the Witch Club want all those books? But overall, this is a fun issue of a great comic. . The poem on the first page is amazing; it creates an aura of mystery and intrigue. And I love the goldfish bowl full of Clayface.

PRINCELESS: RAVEN: THE PIRATE PRINCESS #11 (Action Lab, 2016) – “Issue Eleven,” (W) Jeremy Whitley, (A) Rosy Higgins. Wait, is this the same artist who draws Action Lab: Dog of Wonder? Because it doesn’t look like the same art style. Anyway, this is a fun issue, though it could have used a recap page because it returns us to the main storyline after several issues of flashbacks. I did think there were a couple moments in this issue that were too preachy. But the panel with the line “Do not assume that because I wear a dress and laugh and like things that are feminine I am weak” got a positive response when I shared it on Instagram.

LUMBERJANES/GOTHAM ACADEMY #6 (DC/Boom!, 2016) – untitled, (W) Chynna Clugston-Flores, (A) Kelly Matthews & Nicole Matthews. This series never lived up to its potential, but this issue is a satisfying conclusion to the story. I think the best moment is Ripley hugging Maps goodbye. I hope there will be a sequel to this miniseries, but with a different writer.

SPACE BATTLE LUNCHTIME #6 (Oni, 2016) – “Cannibal Coliseum,” (W) Natalie Riess. This miniseries is really good. Cannibal Coliseum is pretty much what you’d expect; it’s a combination of Battle Royale and a cooking show, with aliens. I complained before about Natalie’s lack of visual creativity, but I was wrong. There are a ton of bizarre-looking aliens in this issue, and the two-page splash with all the spaceships is very impressive. It is a bit disappointing that Peony has to be saved by Neptunia instead of saving herself, but at least she managed to stay alive until Neptunia showed up. And Chef Magicorn is an awesome villain.

WONDER WOMAN #10 (DC, 2016) – “Year One, Part Four,” (W) Greg Rucka, (A) Nicola Scott. This may have been the best comic of the week. Nicola Scott’s art is some of the best of her career, thanks in part to Romulo Fajardo’s coloring. The story is simple – Steve and Etta take Diana to a mall in order to help her get used to America – but it’s executed perfectly. I like how Greg introduces the two children early in the issue, in order to increase the impact of the scene where Diana saves them from terrorists. Also, I don’t know if the mall in this issue is supposed to be Horton Plaza in San Diego, but that’s what it reminds me of.

SHADE THE CHANGING GIRL #2 (DC, 2016) – “Earth Girl Made Easy,” (W) Cecil Castellucci, (A) Marley Zarcone. I’ve been lukewarm about the Young Animal comics because they all seem quite confusing. This is another deeply strange and confusing issue, but in a good way. Unlike with Doom Patrol #1, I feel like I understand what’s going on. Cecil clearly knows Peter Milligan’s Shade very well, but is approaching that series from the viewpoint of a teenage girl, although Milligan’s Shade was already quite feminist.

SUPERMAN #290 (DC, 1975) – “The Man Who Cried Super-‘Wolf’!”, (W) Jim Shooter, (A) Curt Swan. I can’t think of any other Superman stories from this era that were written by Jim Shooter, although he did write a bunch of Legion stories at this time. This is an average issue, in which a janitor named Sam Stern (a possible reference to the Leader?) tries to warn Superman about an impending peril, but fails because of his reputation as a liar. Probably the best moment is when Clark Kent intentionally burns his finger to give himself an excuse to switch to Superman. But he doesn’t realize that his powers are gone, so when he says “Yeoww! I burned my finger,” the pain is genuine. This issue also includes a backup story written by Elliot S! Maggin, in which Mr. Mxyzptlk causes everyone in New York to speak a different language. This reminds me of Mark Waid’s “Tower of Babel” story in JLA.

GREEN ARROW #13 (DC, 2002) – “The Sound of Violence, Part One: Frequency,” (W) Kevin Smith, (A) Phil Hester. I bought this because it’s the first appearance of Onomatopoeia, a villain who speaks in sound effects. Onomatopoeia is an awesome villain, and the writing in this issue is sometimes very witty, but there are things about it I don’t like. For example, early in the issue there’s a somewhat exploitative scene where Black Canary runs out of her bedroom naked.

SUICIDE SQUAD #25 (DC, 1989) – “Sea of Troubles,” (W) John Ostrander, (A) Grant Miehm & Karl Kesel. A typically high-quality Suicide Squad story. The A plot is that the Squad is on a mission against General Haile Selassie Frelimo of the country of Ogaden (a name that combines several African news stories). One of the new characters on this mission is Shrike, who establishes herself as a fascinating and seriously bizarre character, before getting killed. In the B plot, Amanda Waller resigns as director of Task Force X and is replaced by J. Danfield Kale, obviously named after then-Vice President J. Danforth Quayle, who turns out to be an actor.

MASTER OF KUNG FU #99 (Marvel, 1981) – “Bitter Harvest,” (W) Doug Moench, (A) Gene Day. This is a little tiresome because of Doug Moench’s long-winded writing, but still fun. Shang-Chi teams up with Rufus Carter to foil a plot to blow up the docks of Aberdeen. Meanwhile, Leiko investigates some crimes that appear to be the work of Jack the Ripper.

THE BRAVE AND THE BOLD #158 (DC, 1980) – “Yesterday Never Dies!”, (W) Robert Kanigher, (A) Jim Aparo. This was probably one of very few times that Jim Aparo drew Wonder Woman. He was not a great WW artist, but it’s interesting to see his take on this character. The story, about a terrorist who tries to stop a trade deal between the U.S. and France, is rather boring, but there are some mildly interesting interactions between Bruce and Diana.

MY LITTLE PONY: FRIENDSHIP IS MAGIC #48 (IDW, 2016) – “Accord, Part the First: From Chaos to Chaos,” (W) Ted Anderson, (A) Andy Price. Andy is one of my favorite current artists, and his art has only gotten better as this series has gone on. In this issue, he turns an average story, in which Discord becomes an incarnation of order, into a bravura performance. As usual, this issue is full of in-jokes, Easter eggs, and cute moments; for example, there’s one panel where Spike is dreaming about a bucket of Kentucky Fried Crystals, and above him is a picture of Twilight’s old library.

BLACK PANTHER: WORLD OF WAKANDA #1 (Marvel, 2016) – “Dawn of the Midnight Angels,” (W) Roxane Gay, (A) Alitha E. Martinez. The lead story in this issue is probably the first story in any Marvel or DC comic in which every named character with a speaking part is a black woman. The Atlantean terrorist gets a couple lines, but he has no name. Other than that, Roxane Gay, like Ta-Nehisi Coates, is not a fiction writer by trade, and her story is kind of trite. But it also shows promise, and I’m curious to see where it goes. I don’t like the backup story as much, but Killmonger’s rise to power is an eerie parallel to Trump’s.

THE AUTUMNLANDS #13 (Image, 2016) – “At the Temple of the Sun,” (W) Kurt Busiek, (A) Benjamin Dewey. Still a disappointing series, but at least this issue was fairly readable and fun. I feel like this storyline could have been finished in at least two fewer issues.

ADVENTURES OF SUPERMAN #497 (DC, 1992) – “Under Fire,” (W) Jerry Ordway, (A) Tom Grummett. An early chapter of the Death of Superman. This issue is mostly one fight scene after another, but at least they’re good fight scenes. Reading this issue, it occurred to me that Tom Grummett is something of an heir to Curt Swan.

SHADE THE CHANGING MAN #5 (DC, 1978) – “The Captive of Changing Captors!”, (W/A) Steve Ditko, (W) Michael Fleisher. It’s been a while since I read a Ditko comic. This is sadly not his best. There are a few scenes that showcase Ditko’s artistic brilliance, but overall, this issue does not really exploit the radical potential of Shade or his milieu. I feel like Charlton Action Featuring Static did a better job of what this comic is trying to do.

SUPERIOR SPIDER-MAN #27 (Marvel, 2014) – “Goblin Nation, Part One,” (W) Dan Slott, (A) Giuseppe Camuncoli. The first part of a storyline in which Doc Ock, in Spider-Man’s body, battles Norman Osborn. Dan Slott’s Spider-Man has something of an uneven reputation, but at least this comic feels like a Spider-Man comic. It’s full of character interaction and politics as well as action sequences. It reminds me somehow of Roger Stern’s Hobgoblin Lives miniseries. I should collect more of this Spider-Man run.

SHADE THE CHANGING MAN #15 – I read this not realizing that I already own another copy and have already read it.

NO MERCY #11 (Image, 2016) – untitled, (W) Alex de Campi, (A) Carla Speed McNeil. This series suddenly just became a lot more important, because of the way it unpacks and critically examines American national myths. It reminds me of Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk, in that it displays the shallow foundation on which America’s claims to superiority are based. The scene with the parents who are visited by Duane Okonkwo is the most interesting thing in the issue. I assume these are the parents of the two kids who hate each other.

JONESY #8 (Boom!, 2016) – untitled, (W) Sam Humphries, (A) Caitlin Rose Boyle. The second excellent issue in a row. Suffering from writer’s block, Jonesy’s friend Susan tries to get into a club to see her favorite songwriter, Sister Cee Cee. The trouble is that she’s underage. Mayhem ensues. Besides being funny (I love the panel with Jonesy and Susan hidden in Sister Cee Cee’s hair), this issue has a genuine message about creativity. Also, it’s funny how the club represents a kid’s notion of what an over-18 venue must be like. Instead of alcohol and drugs, it has a pizza bar, a ball pit, a petting zoo, etc.

FAST WILLIE JACKSON #4 (Fitzgerald, 1977) – various stories, (W) Bertram Fitzgerald, (A) Gus Lemoine (these credits come from the GCD pages for other issues of this series). Like Zwana, Son of Zulu, this is a fascinating example of a pioneering but unsuccessful African-American comic. It’s a blatant Archie knock-off, in which almost all the characters are black. It looks almost exactly like an Archie comic, both in its publication design and in its art style. There is even a theory that Gus Lemoine may have been a pen name for Henry Scarpelli or another Archie artist, though that seems to be false, since Gus Lemoine has some credits on real Archie comics. Unfortunately, the weak point of this comic is the storytelling. All the plots are terrible, and the jokes fall completely flat. That might be why this series only lasted seven issues. But this comic is still an interesting predecessor to today’s kid-oriented comics with black protagonists, e.g. Princeless and Jonesy.

FINALLY no more comics left to review. Starting now, I resolve to at least try to write reviews every Thursday night.

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