One week of reviews

11-1-18

A few more comics that I read after I finished writing the last round of reviews:

SUPERB #14 (Lion Forge, 2018) – “I Can’t Stand Up for Falling Down,” [W] David F. Walker, [A] Alitha Martinez. Kayla frees Jonah and they escape the prison-slash-school, but the villains plan on using Jonah and Kayla as bogeymen to demonstrate the danger of enhanced people. I guess this is the last issue… okay, I checked and it’s actually not, it just felt like it was.

PROXIMA CENTAURI #5 (Image, 2018) – untitled, [W/A] Farel Dalrymple. This issue we get a look at Orson, Sherwood’s brother. Somehow each of them thinks the other is dead, and Orson is at some kind of combat school, which makes me wonder if his name is a reference to Orson Scott Card. As usual, I love the art in this issue, but I’m mystified by the story.

DETECTIVE COMICS #866 (DC, 2010) – “The Medallion,” [W] Denny O’Neil, [A] Dustin Nguyen. Denny O’Neil was a problematic writer even in the ‘70s, and in the 2010s his shortcomings are even more obvious. This issue suffers from a boring plot and very poor dialogue and captions, and Dustin Nguyen’s art is wasted on Denny’s script. I didn’t realize until near the end of the story that the Batman in this issue is Dick instead of Bruce.

ENCOUNTER #6 (Lion Forge, 2018) – untitled, [W] Art Baltazar & Franco, [W/A] Chris Giarrusso. I guess I’m reading this series in reverse order. This is the one where Encounter and the dog meet Champion, who teams up with them to fight the Deconstructinator. There’s a running gag where the heroes keep getting the villain’s name wrong. Overall this is a really fun kid-oriented superhero comic, and I enjoy it more than other Baltazar/Franco titles.

RISE OF THE BLACK PANTHER #4 (Marvel, 2018) – “Stalemate,” [W] Evan Narcisse, [A] Javier Pina. I stopped reading this series with #3, and never started again until now. This issue concludes the story of T’Challa’s visit to Latveria. It clearly illustrates the difference between T’Challa and Doom, but it’s just an average comic.

MORNING GLORIES #44 (Image, 2015) – untitled, [W] Nick Spencer, [A] Joe Eisma. This issue takes place across multiple moments in time, and focuses on Ellen’s struggle with Ms. Clarkson to regain access to her (Ellen’s) daughter. Ms. Clarkson, the teacher with the dark hair, ponytail and glasses, is kind of a loathsome character. She’s presented as the embodiment of the cruel, sadistic teacher. This is not a bad comic, but my enjoyment of it is limited by my knowledge that the series was six issues away from going on permanent hiatus.

HUNT FOR WOLVERINE: CLAWS OF A KILLER #3 (Marvel, 2018) – untitled, [W] Mariko Tamaki, [A] Butch Guice. Daken, Lady Deathstrike and Sabretooth fight a bunch of zombies. in This series is not a good fit for Mariko Tamaki’s talents because it gives her little opportunity to display her skill with characterization. I shouldn’t have ordered it.

MAE #6 (Dark Horse, 2016) – untitled, [W] Gene Ha, [A] Paulina Ganucheau. I might have ordered this when it came out if I had realized who the artist was. Paulina Ganucheau’s artwork is just as bright and appealing as in Another Castle or Zodiac Starforce. However, the story is much darker; there’s a scene where a little girl gets eaten by a monster off-panel. The plot is that a human woman with super-strength finds herself in a fantasy world based on the Czech Republic. I will plan on reading more issues of this series if I can find them.

BAD COMPANY #1 (Fleetway/Quality, 1988) – untitled, [W] Peter Milligan, [A] Jim McCarthy. These stories reprinted from 2000 AD are about a company of weird-looking soldiers, kind of like the Creature Commandos. Unfortunately this is a Fleetway/Quality comic, so it’s printed on terrible paper, and the printing quality is so low that the letters are barely readable. I bought a few of these Fleetway/Quality comics because I didn’t know any better, but I’m never buying any of them again.

DENNIS THE MENACE BONUS MAGAZINE SERIES #172 (Fawcett, 1978) – “All Year Long,” uncredited. This issue consists of a series of vignettes, each taking place in a different month. (Which illustrates a fundamental problem with this series: Dennis is the same age at the start of the year as at the end, and he never has a birthday.) Most of the vignettes are just silly gags, but they’re reasonably fun. However, there’s one scene where Dennis’s dad wears blackface, and the December story includes some blatant proselytizing.

ARCHIE #198 (Archie, 1970) – “Constant Replay” and other stories, [W] Frank Doyle, [A] Harry Lucey. A pretty good issue. There’s one story where Archie is supposed to send Veronica’s picture to a magazine, but instead he sends a picture of a dog. The way this happens is quite plausible. This issue’s last story includes a brief reference to student protests. The GCD observes that “Unlike the few other Archie stories where this was mentioned, Archie here expresses approval of the protests:  ‘Demonstrations turn me on!’ ”

BATMAN FAMILY #12 (DC, 1977) – “I Am Batgirl’s Brother!”, [W] Bob Rozakis, [A] José Delbo, plus other stories. A rather lackluster issue. The cover shows Batgirl, Robin and Man-Bat together, but in the actual comic they all appear in separate stories. The Batgirl story reintroduces Batgirl’s brother Tony Gordon. This character had made a few appearances in the ‘50s, and only appeared in one other story, in which he was killed. I’ve read the story where he dies, but I have no memory of it, so Tony must have been a pretty forgettable character. See http://thebatmanuniverse.net/james-gordon/ for more on him. The Man-Bat story is the highlight of the issue because it’s drawn by Marshall Rogers, but it has a ludicrous plot where Kirk Langstrom turns into a werejaguar. The Robin story is as bad as other Robin stories from this period.

CAVE CARSON HAS A CYBERNETIC EYE #9 (DC, 2017) – “I’m Glad I Spent It with You,” [W] Jon Rivera, [A] Michael Avon Oeming. This was my favorite Young Animal title besides Doom Patrol, but I fell behind on it, and never caught up. This issue is really bizarre and apocalyptic, and I don’t really understand it. It includes a scene where a man gets hit in the face with a human brain.

FIELDER #1 (Drawn & Quarterly, 2018) – “Bona, Monarch of Monster Isle,” [W/A] Kevin Huizenga. Kevin H. is one of my favorite current cartoonists – as well as the subject of my first academic paper that was accepted for publication, and the source of this blog’s name – and he just keeps getting better. He could easily have continued to work in the same vein as “Jeepers Jacobs,” but instead he challenges himself to try new stuff. This issue begins with a redrawn version of an old issue of Kona, Monarch of Monster Isle. It took me a while to understand what was going on in this story, and I’m not sure it’s a successful experiment, but it’s certainly a daring one. Next is “Get Up, Glenn,” part one of “Fielder, Michiana.” This story seems to be a continuation of the insomnia story arc from the Ganges series, except instead of having insomnia, Glenn can’t tell if he’s asleep or awake. My favorite thing in the issue is “Fight or Run.” It begins with a pair of half-page strips, “Fight” and “Run,” which depict stylized scenes from a fighting game. These strips look a lot like the fighting game story in Ganges #2. But on the next page, the “Fight” and “Run” comic strips grow arms and legs and fight each other by throwing characters and panel borders at each other. It’s hard to describe this precisely, because I haven’t seen anything like it before, but it’s fascinating. After another installment of the redrawn Kona story, the issue ends with “My Career in Comics,” a highly tongue-in-cheek account of Kevin’s career. In general, Fielder #1 is a fascinating and varied assortment of material, and it demonstrates why the virtual disappearance of the alternative comic book is unfortunate.

MARS #10 (First, 1984) – “No Rust (Just Reality)”, [W] Mark Wheatley, [A] Marc Hempel. This issue, Morgana and a furry woman named Fawn get captured by a giant spider. This issue has very little connection to the last two issues of Mars I reviewed, and I’m not sure how we got here from issues 5. There’s also a backup story starring Dynamo Joe. This story is heavily manga-influenced, but not that good.

Comics received on October 26:

MOON GIRL AND DEVIL DINOSAUR #36 (Marvel, 2018) – “Save Our School Part 5: You’re Not Asking the Right Questions,” [W] Brandon Montclare, [A] Natacha Bustos. Thanks to a series of mix-ups, Lunella passes the test and saves the school, despite the Kingpin’s best efforts. Also she defeats the Wrecking Crew. I don’t understand how the school got saved because Princess switched ithe tests. I feel that this point was not explained well. In general, this story was mildly better than Fantastic Three, but still not as good as the Ego storyline.

RAT QUEENS #12 (Image, 2018) – untitled, [W] Kurtis J. Wiebe, [A] Owen Gieni. The Rat Queens and Maddie continue their quest to save Sadie. (Note that Rat Queens is one of three current comics with a character named Sadie. The others are Thrilling Adventure Hour and Babyteeth.) Meanwhile, Dee finds that she’s become a goddess. The other gods and goddesses she meets are probably the best thing about this issue. This current storyline is an improvement over the first ten issues of this volume, but it’s still not as good as Rat Queens volume 1.

BOOKS OF MAGIC #1 (DC, 2018) – “What’s Past is Prologue,” [W] Kat Howard, [A] Tom Fowler. This comic more or less captures the spirit of Rieber and Gross’s Books of Magic, but it’s not spectacular. I’m not sure how this series fits into continuity. It seems like this series starts right after the original Books of Magic miniseries, and replaces the previous Books of Magic ongoing.

HIGH HEAVEN #2 (Ahoy, 2018) – “High Heaven: Chapter Two,” [W] Tom Peyer, [A] Greg Scott. This may be the best comic of a rather mediocre week. David Weathers tries to escape heaven, but runs into a truly hideous-looking angel. The angel shows him the better version of heaven, and also hell, which looks a lot better than either heaven. Also we learn more about David’s history, and it turns out that his new roommate is his worst enemy from his mortal life.

BEASTS OF BURDEN: WISE DOGS AND ELDRITCH MEN #3 (Dark Horse, 2018) – untitled, [W] Evan Dorkin, [A] Benjamin Dewey. A new dog character, Tommy, leads the Wise Dogs to the location of the evil men. Tommy has some cute interactions with the other dogs, but then we learn Tommy is an “eldritch man” posing as a dog. This is another really exciting issue.

THE TERRIFICS #9 (DC, 2018) – “Tom Strong & the Terrifics, Part 3,” [W] Jeff Lemire, [A] José Luis. The Terrifics and the Strongs battle Doc Dread, the Dr. Doom to the Terrifics’ Fantastic Four, across several realities. Jeff Lemire draws a poignant contrast between Tom, the family man, and Mr. Terrific, whose family was killed. At the end of the issue we learn that Doc Dread is apparently Java. This was a fun issue.

USAGI YOJIMBO #172 (Dark Horse, 2018) – “The Hidden, Part 7,” [W/A] Stan Sakai. Usagi and Ishida fight an epic battle with the shogunate agents. In the course of their fight, the Japanese Bible is seemingly destroyed, and the agents let Usagi go. At the end of the issue, we learn that Inspector Ishida actually saved the Bible, and that he himself is a crypto-Christian. I get the impression that this story has personal relevance for Stan  because he’s a Japanese Christian himself, though I can’t find proof of that. An interesting comparison could be drawn between Stan Sakai and Gene Luen Yang, as East Asian cartoonists whose work is inflected by Christianity.

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