November reviews

11-30

As usual I’m well over a month behind. I got all these comics on November 2, and I don’t remember them very well:

OH S#!T IT’S KIM & KIM #3 (Black Mask, 2018) – untitled, [W] Magdalene Visaggio, [A] Eva Cabrera. The Kims get thrown into a women’s prison, where they make their own separate escape plans. Lots of hilarious stuff happens. For example, the announcer for all the fights between prisoners is a giant corgi. Also, there’s a scene that reveals that Furious Quattro, Kim Q’s dad, is not only a transphobic jerk but also a literal James Bond villain – we see him suspending a heroine over a lava pit. Kim & Kim is one of the most fun series on the market right now.

DOOM PATROL #12 (DC, 2018) – “To Tame a Land: Into the Daemonscape,” [W] Gerard Way, [A] Nick Derington. This comic is so late that it references Milk Wars, which ended months ago, as occurring in the future. It also makes little sense on its own. This issue depicts Lucius and his parents are having a Dungeons & Dragons adventure, and the issue’s cover is an homage to the design of classic D&D modules. I don’t know what any of this has to do with anything. It would be nice if the next issue of this series comes out before another six months have passed.

FENCE #11 (Boom!, 2018) – untitled, [W] C.S. Pacat, [A] Johanna the Mad. Nicholas can only make the team if Aiden loses, but Aiden wins, and Nicholas’s dreams are shattered. Except it turns out he and Eugene are tied for the reserve spot. This comic is unusual because the protagonist loses more often than he wins – he doesn’t have an easy path to the top, like heroes in sports stories usually do.

NANCY DREW #5 (Dynamite, 2018) – untitled, [W] Kelly Thompson, [A] Jenn St.-Onge. After a very tense and exciting confrontation, Nancy saves the day and unmasks the villains, but the issue ends with Nancy getting arrested. And I don’t know when this cliffhanger will be resolved, because issue 6 hasn’t been solicited yet. I need to remember to show this series to a colleage who read Nancy Drew books as a child.

MAN-EATERS #2 (Image, 2018) – untitled, [W] Chelsea Cain, [A] Kate Niemczyk. Maude puts in a tampon for the first time, then her dad investigates a cat attack. And that’s the entire issue. The tampon scene is fairly powerful, but after finishing the issue, I was like “That’s all?” Besides lacking a plot, Man-Eaters #2 also fails to do anything to address the charges of gender essentialism and transphobia that have been leveled against this series. I still really like Chelsea Cain’s sense of humor and her skillful use of typography and design (e.g. the ad on the inside front cover), but Man-Eaters is shaping up to be the second most disappointing series of the year.

HEROES IN CRISIS #2 (DC, 2018) – “Then I Became Superman,” [W] Tom King, [A] Clay Mann & Travis Moore. And here’s the first most disappointing series of the year. There are good things in this issue: I like Tom King’s depiction of the Penguin, and it’s kind of cool how Harley Quinn defeats Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman. But this whole series is just an inappropriate use of the superhero genre. Tom King attempts to do a dark, gritty, realistic examination of superhero psychology and trauma, but this is doomed to fail because the characters in this series are superpowered people who wear long underwear. This series ultimately feels like a trivialization of the issues it addresses, just like Alpha Flight #106 was a trivialization of the topics of AIDS and homosexuality. I’ve heard some speculation that Tom King originally had very different plans for this series which were derailed by editorial interference, and I really hope that’s true.

WEST COAST AVENGERS #3 (Marvel, 2018) – untitled, [W] Kelly Thompson, [A] Stefano Caselli. This was a fun issue, but it’s hard to remember much about it since I already read issue 4. The West Coast Avengers fight a bunch of giant mutated women, and it becomes clear that BRODOK created them because he’s a crazy incel. (He also reminds me of Gideon Gordon Graves, who put his ex-girlfriends in suspended animation.) And then BRODOK turns Kate into a giant hawk.

HEX WIVES #1 (DC, 2018) – “Bewildered and Bothered, “ [W] Ben Blacker, ]A] Mirka Andolfo. This new Vertigo title is about a group of lesbian witches who keep getting killed by sexist men and then reincarnated. Their latest reincarnation is as a group of housewives in ‘50s America, hence the punny title. Like Lady Killer, this series satirizes the myth of American domesticity, by depicting seemingly perfect housewives who turn out to be horribly violent killers. In its deliberate use of nostalgia, it also resembles Blacker’s previous work, Thrilling Adventure Hour. It looks like this will be a fun series.

THE TERRIFICS ANNUAL #1 (DC, 2018) – “Masquerade,” [W] Gene Luen Yang, [A] Joe Bennett, plus other stories. In this annual’s first story, the Terrifics fight a bunch of monsters that look like real Stagg employees. This is Gene Luen Yang’s best DC comics story that I’ve read, although that’s not saying much, and it has some good characterization of Linnya and Michael in particular. The high point of the annual is “Origin of the Specious,” which I think is the only collaboration between Mark Russell and Doc Shaner. It’s not very political, unlike almost every other Mark Russell story; it’s just a poignant examination of Java’s origin and psychology. The last story in the annual is just setup for the current Tom Strong storyline in the main Terrifics series.

VAGRANT QUEEN #5 (Vault, 2018) – “The Bezoar of Kings,” [W] Magdalene Visaggio, [A] Jason Smith. Isaac captures Ellida, and then Lazaro beats them both up and leaves them to die. This was an okay issue, but this comic’s artwork hasn’t gotten any better.

ARCHIE MEETS BATMAN ’66 #4 (Archie, 2018) – untitled, [W] Jeff Parker & Michael Moreci, [A] Dan Parent. A fun issue, but pretty much exactly the same as the first three. Notable moments in this issue include The Siren’s “Doo doo doo what we say” song, and the suggestion that Betty is related to Aunt Harriet Cooper.

FAITH DREAMSIDE #2 (Valiant, 2018) – untitled, [W] Jody Houser, [A] MJ Kim. Last issue, Faith met a young girl, Monica, who was being tormented by ghosts. This issue, Faith introduces Monica to Dr. Mirage. This issue has a lot of effective character interactions and funny jokes, like when Monica wonders if she’s sitting on Dr. Mirage’s husband’s ghost (the ghost is visible to the reader, but not to most of the characters). Monica is a very realistic portrayal of a terrified young girl.

CHAMPIONS #7 (Marvel, 1976) – “The Man Who Created the Black Widow,” [W] Tony Isabella, [A] George Tuska. The Champions battle the Griffin and a new villain who turns out to be the son of Ivan, the Black Widow’s sidekick. (Ivan basically disappeared from the Marvel Universe after the ‘70s, I don’t know why.) This comic is a fun piece of ‘70s nostalgia, but it could have been much better with a more exciting writer. For example, Gerry Conway could have done some great stuff with characters like Black Widow, Hercules and the Beast.

GREEN LANTERN/HUCKLEBERRY HOUND #1 (DC, 2018) – “The Test,” [W] Mark Russell, [A] Rick Leonardi. It’s 1972, and John Stewart is training with Katma Tui to be an intergalactic superhero. But back home in Detroit, he’s just another black man, and is facing constant racism and police brutality. After an encounter with Huckleberry Hound, another victim of discrimination, John is provoked into using his ring to save other black people from being killed by police. John fully expects that this will cost him his ring, but Katma lets him keep it, telling him that “knowing when to disobey is the most important skill of a Green Lantern.” This issue is a very powerful statement about race, and much like the Snagglepuss series, it’s just as much about contemporary America as it’s about the historical period it depicts. It’s also nice to see John and Katma interacting again – I like when Katma asks how to stop the chair from spinning. Prez Rickard makes a cameo appearance at the end of the issue.

WONDER WOMAN #52 (DC, 2018) – “The Enemy of Both Sides, Part One,” [W] Steve Orlando, [A] Aco. Diana teams up with Artemis and Aztek to fight Tezcatlipoca. I’m not familiar with Aztek’s continuity, and I don’t know how this issue relates to the Bana Mighdall plotline from issue 54. But this is an exciting and well-drawn comic. Whoever Aco is, he draws some nice panel compositions, and he makes productive use of Aztec art as an influence.

DOOM PATROL/JLA SPECIAL #1 (DC, 2018) – “Milk Wars: The End,” [W] Steve Orlando & Gerard Way, [A] Dale Eaglesham & Nick Derington. In the conclusion to Milk Wars, it turns out that Milkman Man is Casey and Terry’s son, and lots of other weird stuff happened. This comic is okay, but I never quite understood what was going on in Milk Wars.

BLACK PANTHER #2 (Marvel, 2018) – “Many Thousands Gone,” [W] Ta-Nehisi Coates, [A] Daniel Acuña. Most of this issue is a Star Wars-esque spaceship battle. At the end, we learn that the McGuffin of this story is a shard of the M’Krann Crystal. This was a competently written comic with some exciting action sequences, but it didn’t really excite me.

MARVEL TWO-IN-ONE #8 (Marvel, 2018) – “Slow Burn,” [W] Chip Zdarsky, [A] Ramón K. Pérez. Another fairly boring comic. This issue starts with a setup that reminds me of Black Hammer: Ben and Johnny are stuck in a small town in the middle of nowhere. Johnny finally figures out that Ben’s been lying to him about Reed and Sue being alive. He burns down his and Ben’s house in a fit of rage, then at the end of the issue, an evil Fantastic Four from another dimension show up.

PUNKS NOT DEAD #6 (IDW, 2018) – “About a Boy: Teenage Kicks, Part 6,” [W] David Barnett, [A] Martin Simmonds. Fergie and Sid escape the bird-monsters and head to London in search of Fergie’s dad. This conclusion doesn’t really resolve very much, but the next miniseries, appropriately called London Calling, has been solicited for February.

BRITANNIA: LOST EAGLES OF ROME #1 (Valiant, 2018) – untitled, [W] Peter Milligan, [A] Robert Gill. I ordered this because it was a new Peter Milligan miniseries, but then I kind of forgot to read it. This miniseries appears to be a sequel to an earlier series. It stars a Roman government official who’s ordered by Nero to recover the legionary eagles that were lost in the Battle of the Teutoburg Forest. This comic seems quite historically accurate, and it has some political relevance because it’s about a crazy all-powerful dictator, but overall it’s just average.

ENCOUNTER #5 (Lion Forge, 2018) – untitled, [W] Art Baltazar & Franco, [W/A] Chris Giarrusso. I continue to read this series in backwards order. This issue, Encounter meets some aliens who turn out to be from his own home planet.

AVENGERS #5 (Marvel, 2018) – “The Secret Origin of the Marvel Universe,” [W] Jason Aaron, [A] Paco Medina. This issue illustrates why I quit reading this series: it’s too cosmic and epic for its own good, and it has no characterization. This issue, we learn that Marvel Earth’s superheroes all evolved because of the radioactive blood of a dead Celestial. This revelation would have had more impact if there hadn’t already been a ton of other “secret origins of the Marvel Universe.” I thought Marvel superheroes came about because of the Eternals, or the Kree, or any of several other causes. Oh, also, this issue ends with all the Avengers growing to giant size to fight the Celestials, but who cares. This isn’t an Avengers comic, it’s a poor imitation of Grant Morrison’s JLA.

CAPTAIN AMERICA #2 (Marvel, 2018) – “Winter in America: Part II,” [W] Ta-Nehisi Coates, [A] Leinil Francis Yu. Cap fights a bunch of Nukes, but no one much cares, and Thunderbolt Ross orders him to stop. TNC’s Captain America, like his Black Panther, is more interesting on an intellectual than an emotional level, which is why I’ve gotten behind on my reading of both series.

INCREDIBLES 2: CRISIS IN MID-LIFE! AND OTHER STORIES #2 (Dark Horse, 2018) – “Crisis in Mid-Life! Part Two,” [W] Christos Gage, [A] GuriHiru, plus other stories. This comic is too wholesome for its own good. Its jokes are unfunny (except the businessman who’s angry about being late to work, because he’s merging and acquiring), and its gender politics are straight from the ‘50s. The Parrs feel like a sitcom family, not a real one.

MARVEL TWO-IN-ONE #9 (Marvel, 2018) – “Being Fantastic,” [W] Chip Zdarsky, [A] Ramón K. Pérez. It turns out that the fake FF are the Mad Thinker – who is perhaps my favorite FF villain, although he’s not used much – and his minions. Sue Storm appears at the end of the issue. I have the next three issues of this series, but I haven’t yet felt like reading them.

BLACK PANTHER #3 (Marvel, 2018) – “Many Thousands Gone” part 3, as above. T’Challa and his pals try to recover the M’Krann Shard, and there are more fight scenes. Manifold appears at the end. A flaw in TNC’s writing is excessive decompression; he writes a lot of issues where nothing happens.

CAPTAIN CONFEDERACY #3 (SteelDragon, 1986) – “Choices,” [W] Will Shetterly, [A] Vince Stone. I hate Will Shetterly’s politics and his online behavior, and I’ve blocked him on Facebook. However, his work is relevant to me because he was part of the ‘80s Minneapolis SF and comics scene. Indeed, the most interesting thing about this comic might be the ad on the last page for Comic City, which later became the Comic Book College, the first comic book store I ever visited. Maybe that local connection is why I bought this comic. It’s a superhero story taking place in an alternate universe where the Confederacy won the Civil War. That’s an interesting premise, but this comic’s art and writing are pretty average. This issue includes an Ant Boy backup story by Matt Feazell.

MARS ATTACKS #1 (Dynamite, 2018) – untitled, [W] Kyle Starks, [A] Chris Schweizer. I know Chris Schweizer from when I lived in Atlanta, but I’ve read very little of his work, and I didn’t realize what a talented artist he is. This issue is drawn in a sort of Clear Line style, and it’s beautiful, very colorful and detailed. Kyle Starks’s writing is also impressive. This series’ protagonists are a young ne’er-do-well, Spencer Carbutt, and his father, an elderly veteran. The father is extremely disappointed in his son, but when Martians invade and start killing people indiscriminately, the Carbutts have to overcome their mutual hatred enough to save each other. No familiarity with the Mars Attacks franchise is assumed.

GRIMM’S GHOST STORIES #21 (Gold Key, 1974) – “Cowards Yield,” [W] uncredited, [A] Win Mortimer, plus other stories. This issue consists of four horror stories that are all equally formulaic and boring. The most interesting thing about this issue is the third story, drawn by Oscar Novello. I hadn’t heard of this artist before, but he started his career in Argentina in the 1940s. His story in this issue is surprisingly detailed considering the low page rates he must have been getting, and he draws some good facial expressions.

SEX DEATH REVOLUTION #1 (Black Mask, 2018) – untitled, [W] Magdalene Visaggio, [A] Becca Farrow. This was the last comic I read this week because it’s really long. Sex Death Revolution has a transgender protagonist who’s dealing with mental illness, so it’s reminiscent of both Kim & Kim and Eternity Girl. I can’t remember what exactly happens in this issue, but its plot has something to do with black magic that can selectively edit the past. This is a rather difficult comic, but it could be Mags’s best serious work yet (I wouldn’t call Kim & Kim a serious work).

New comics received on November 10, at which point I was able to enjoy them a bit more because I was no longer terrified about the midterm elections:

RUNAWAYS #15 (Marvel, 2018) – “That Was Yesterday Part III,” [W] Rainbow Rowell, [A] Kris Anka. Nico encounters the spirit contained in her staff, which turns out to be a crazy world-conquering demon, and it forces Nico to make a bargain where it gets stronger whenever she uses a spell. Also, it really likes pancakes. Besides the pancakes, the highlight of the issue is the last panel, where the demon’s shadow is visible behind Nico’s shadow. Not much happens in terms of any of the other plotlines.

GIANT DAYS #44 (IDW, 2018) – “Esther Falls in Love with Elon Musk,” [W] John Allison, [A] Max Sarin. That’s not the real title. In a Valentine’s Day-themed story, Esther falls in love with a billionaire tech bro, but then dumps him because he’s invovled with hyperloops. The tech bro then falls in love with the girl who’s been making all the noise in Esther’s dorm. This was a fun issue, as usual, and I like how this series’s plot actually progresses over time. I wonder what’s going to happen to Giant Days when the protagonists graduate from university.

BLACKBIRD #2 (Image, 2018) – untitled, [W] Sam Humphries, [A] Jen Bartel. Nina and her talking cat investigate Marisa’s disappearance, and they encounter lots of weird people. This was an entertaining issue, but very similar to issue 1, although it’s nice to see Nina actually caring about something.

CROWDED #4 (Image, 2018) – “The American in Me,” [W] Christopher Sebela, [A] Ro Stein. Vita’s house burns down, thanks in large part to the apathy of the for-profit fire department. This is another example of how Crowded is just barely science-fictional. Privatized fire departments that charge extra for foam aren’t real, but they easily could be. Besides that, this issue also focuses heavily on Trotter, and it starts to show us why everyone hates Charlotte.

SPARROWHAWK #2 (Boom!, 2018) – untitled, [W] Delilah S. Dawson, [A] Matias Basla. I can’t remember the protagonist’s name, but she fights a bunch of monsters and travels through some bizarre environments. At the end of the issue she moults and grows bigger wings. This is an impressive series, and Matias Basla’s art is gorgeous. I particularly like the scene with the garden full of mazes and topiary monsters.

MOTH & WHISPER #3 (AfterShock, 2018) – “Suspended Bodies,” [W] Ted Anderson, [A] Jen Hickman. Nikki tries to infiltrate a factory run by Wolfe, the Big Bad (as TVTropes calls it), but Wolfe captures them and claims that their parents were working for him before they disappeared. Also, Nikki confirms that they’re genderqueer and their pronouns are they/them. This is a really fun series, but also rather grim: for example, Wolfe’s factory is used to harvest organs from live people.

THE GREEN LANTERN #1 (DC, 2018) – “Intergalactic Lawman,” [W] Grant Morrison, [A] Liam Sharp. It is a truth universally acknowledged that Grant Morrison is washed up, having become too cosmic and trippy that he can no longer tell a good story. So I expected this comic to be underwhelming, but I was surprised at how much I enjoyed it. This issue begins with a battle between some alien Green Lanterns and the Luck Lords of Ventura – a nice Legion reference. Then, in an echo of Hal Jordan’s origin, a dying Green Lantern lands on Earth and gives Hal his ring. And it turns out there’s something wrong with the Book of Oa. Unlike most recent Grant Morrison comics, this issue makes complete sense – although it’s not obvious how all the plot threads are connected – and it’s also fun to read. And Liam Sharp is a better artist than I gave him credit for.

ADVENTURES OF THE SUPER SONS #4 (DC, 2018) – “Lost Boys,” [W] Peter J. Tomasi, [A] Carlo Barberi. This issue’s cover is an homage to the cover of Brave and the Bold #93, the Batman-House of Mystery team-up. That’s appropriate because in this issue, after Space Cabby’s cab crashlands, Damian has to take a severly ill Jon to the “House of Secret Mysteries” for help. This is a really fun series, and I can’t wait to see what happens next. I forgot to say this before, but the girl Captain Cold is really cute.

MY LITTLE PONY: FRIENDSHIP IS MAGIC #72 (IDW, 2018) – “The Extra Ingredient is Pear,” [W] Thom Zahler, [A] Agnes Garbowska. Not the actual title. This issue is a quasi-sequel to “The Perfect Pear,” perhaps the best episode of the entire series. The Apples find Pear Butter’s apple pie recipe, and they try to recreate it for Granny, but they can’t quite get it right. After numerous failed attempts, each of which involves a flashback, Applejack figures out that the missing ingredient is a pear – because Pear Butter loved both sides of her family. Heartwarming.

X-23 #6 (Marvel, 2018) – “Operation Kindergarten Clone,” [W] Mariko Tamaki, [A] Georges Duarte. Gabby poses as a high school student (although she looks too young to be in high school) in order to track down a creator of illegal clones. Hijinks and battles ensue. This was a really fun issue, though it was a quick read. Gabby and Laura’s interactions are the primary draw of this series.

BORDER TOWN #3 (DC, 2018) – “Child Sacrifices,” [W] Eric Esquivel, [A] Ramon Villalobos. There are two standout scenes in this issue. The first is Aimi’s confrontation with a racist, sexist, lecherous school principal. The second is the scene right after that, with the crazy Nazi survivalist and his equally bad son. Both these scenes depict the depth of racism and misogyny in today’s America, in a creepily plausible way. By comparison, the scene with the curandera is pretty cute. Border Town continues to be a challenging but important comic.

FARMHAND #5 (Image, 2018) – “The Antique Lady,” [W/A] Rob Guillory. It turns out that Ms. Thorne is seriously bad news, and unfortunately she just got elected mayor. Also, the mysterious green blight is spreading out of Freetown. This issue includes a reference to a drugstore called Guidry’s, which is cute because I have a friend who’s from Louisiana and is named Guidry. And in general, this series demonstrates a lot of local knowledge; it’s clear that Rob Guillory grew up in a town much like Freetown.

THE WICKED + THE DIVINE FUNNIES #1 (Image, 2018) – various stories, [W] Kieron Gillen et al, [A] Jamie McKelvie et al. A collection of humorous stories starring the WicDiv cast, by a large number of writers and artists. The best stories in the issue are 1) the first story, where the protagonists are dogs instead of gods – I just noticed the anagrammatic pun there. And 2) “5 Things Everyone Who’s Lived with Sakhmet Will Understand,” where Sakhmet brings her human dead people, instead of dead mice and birds. This issue is a lot of good clean fun.

OUTER DARKNESS #1 (Image, 2018) – “Each Other’s Throats Pt. 1: Captain on the Bridge,” [W] John Layman, [A] Afu Chan. In this space opera comic, a starship captain is fired for refusing an illegal order from his shipowner. He gets hired instead to command a new ship, whose engine is a demon fueled by human sacrifices. This comic feels like a gritty and unromantic version of Star Wars, with a very diverse cast, and I like Afu Chan’s art.

UMBRELLA ACADEMY: HOTEL OBLIVION #2 (Dark Horse, 2018) – “Miniature War in a Miniature Home,” [W] Gerard Way, [A] Gabriel Bá. Like #1, this comic is completely impenetrable and makes no effort at all to cater to new readers. I’m done with this comic. Even Gabriel Bá’s art isn’t a sufficient reason to put up with a story that makes utterly no sense.

BULLY WARS #3 (Image, 2018) – untitled, [W] Skottie Young, [A] Aaron Conley. This issue consists of a long dream sequence followed by some setup for the actual Bully War. This series is aimed at young kids, but it appeals to me because it demonstrates the cruelty and cynicism of actual children.

LEVIATHAN #2 (Image, 2018) – untitled, [W] John Layman, [A] Nick Pitarra. I was underwhelmed by the first issue of this series, and I didn’t quite get what Leviathan was supposed to be about. Issue 2 is somewhat clearer, and it was fun enough that I immediately went on to read #3. This issue, we learn that the inside of the earth is full of dinosaurs, and the government has created a robot army to destroy the dinosaurs, thinking they were responsible for the kaiju attack in issue 1. But the kaiju from last issue was a demon, not a dinosaur, and in mistakenly attempting to exact revenge on the dinosaurs, the army arouses the ire of a giant three-headed radioactive dinosaur. Also, the protagonist’s girlfriend isn’t dead. I was kind of unimpressed by Nick Pitarra’s art in #1, but this time around I like it; it’s rather Darrow-esque.

LEVIATHAN #3 (Image, 2018) – as above. The protagonist, Ryan, meets an exorcist who knows where the demon came from. We’re also introduced to a mad scientist who created a mutant scorpion to deal with the radioactive dinosaur. So basically all hell is breaking loose, and it’s pretty fun.

THE DREAMING #2 (DC, 2018) – “The Foundation,” [W] Simon Spurrier, [A] Bilquis Evely. Again, I didn’t read this issue immediately because I was unimpressed with issue 1. It was boring and overly convoluted. This issue is still pretty confusing, but it’s more entertaining than #1 was. The Dreaming is descending into chaos, as Daniel seems to be gone for good, and Lucien won’t give Mervyn any attention. Mervyn decides to fix things by summoning a new dream character named Judge Gallows. Also, the characters from House of Whispers make a cameo appearance.

BLACK PANTHER #4 (Marvel, 2018) – “Many Thousands Gone” part 4, [W] Ta-Nehisi Coates, [A] Daniel Acuña. Yet another issue that consists entirely of a giant fight scene. I’m mostly reading this series out of a sense of obligation, and I think I’m going to drop it.

THE DREAMING #3 (DC, 2018) – “The Glory,” as above. Judge Gallows holds a show trial and resurrects Brute and Glob. This was an okay but unspectacular issue. I like this series enough to continue ordering it for now.

THE PHANTOM #73 (Charlton, 1976) – “The Torch,” [W] Bill Pearson, [A] Don Newton. The writer is credited as “Ben S. Parillo,” an anagram of his real name. This issue has a complicated but competently written story in which the Phantom confronts an assassin, the Torch, and a mad scientist, Raven. What makes it a near-classic is Don Newton’s brilliant visual storytelling and draftsmanship. Don Newton’s issues of this series were probably the best Phantom comic books published in America.

FRED THE CLOWN #2 (Hotel Fred, 2002) –“Dummies” and other stories, [W/A] Roger Langridge. This comic consists of a series of short stories about a sad clown. Some of the stories are wordless, while others are narrated by captions, but the clown never talks. All these stories are brilliant and poignant, and they demonstrate Langridge’s mastery of visual storytelling. Some of them are even a bit experimental – there’s one where in each panel, Fred is described with an adjective beginning with a different letter of the alphabet, from A to Z.

WALT DISNEY’S COMICS & STORIES #238 (Dell, 1960) – “The Dog-Sitter,” [W/A] Carl Barks, plus other stories. This comic is unfortunately missing some pages, but only the Scamp and Chip & Dale stories are affected, so I don’t care that much. The Barks story is a screwball comedy in which Donald agrees to do a babysitting job for the nephews, but it turns out the “baby” is a dog. And then the dog gets loose and Donald tries to recapture it, but instead  catches a different dog. Much of the humor in this story comes from the dog itself, a shaggy, silent, staring monster. This issue also includes a Paul Murry Mickey Mouse story, but unfortunately the new character in this story, Thursday, is a horrible racist stereotype.

KORAK, SON OF TARZAN #13 (Gold Key, 1966) – “The Night Riders of Ras Kaffa” and “The Hidden World,” [W] Gaylord Du Bois, [A] Warren Tufts. I initially thought this comic was drawn by Russ Manning, but it’s actually by an even more rarely seen artist, Warren Tufts. This artist is best known for the comic strips Casey Ruggles and Lance, but also drew some comic books for Gold Key. His art in this issue is amazing, with dynamic compositions and Caniff-esque spotting of blacks. However, Tufts’s art for comic books must have suffered from the small size and poor reproduction of that format, compared to the comic strip format. The story in this issue is also interesting. Korak teams up with a cute Ethiopian princess to investigate an abandoned castle. Ethiopia was still a monarchy at the time. In the backup story, Korak meets a girl named Nanette who has the same origin as Tarzan.

BATMAN #288 (DC, 1977) – “The Little Men’s Hall of Fame!”, [W] David V. Reed, [A] Mike Grell. The villain in this story is the Penguin, one of my favorite Batman villains, but otherwise it’s pretty forgettable. The high point of the issue is probably the scene where Batman uses a pair of robotic wings to escape from a pit. Mike Grell’s artwork in this issue is quite good.

LETTER 44 #20 (Oni, 2015) – untitled, [W] Charles Soule, [A] Alberto Jimenez Albuquerque. Earth is about to be destroyed by an asteroid, and the previous President tries to use the disaster to build a power base, but the astronauts save the day. This was a fun comic, but it was hard to understand without having read the previous issues.

WONDER WOMAN #301 (DC, 1983) – “Dark Challenger,” [W] Dan Mishkin, [A] Gene Colan. I read this while I was reading Jill Lepore’s The Secret History of Wonder Woman, or perhaps shortly after finishing that book. I expected to dislike Lepore’s book, since she’s made some public statements that I violently disagreed with, but I ended up loving it. Lepore correctly points out that most post-Marston (and pre-Pérez) Wonder Woman stories tried to domesticate the character and run away from her revolutionary potential, but Wonder Woman #301 is at least not terrible. Dan Mishkin is a more feminist writer than most of his predecessors on the series. This issue, Diana trains a Greek visitor to Themyscira named Sofia, and then battles a skeleton in a Wonder Woman costume. This issue also includes a Huntress backup story which, unfortunately, is written by Joey Cavalieri instead of Paul Levitz. Cavalieri makes a mockery of Levitz’s Huntress series by depicting Harry Sims as a misogynistic, overprotective jerk.

AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #291 (Marvel, 1987) – “Dark Journey!”, [W] David Michelinie, [A] John Romita Jr. This issue begins with MJ refusing Peter’s marriage proposal, though obviously she later changed her mind about that. MJ goes off to visit her sister, who turns out to be in prison, while Peter battles a Spider-Slayer created by Alistair Smythe. Peter faces a dilemma when MJ asks him to visit her in Pittsburgh, even though Smythe is still at large, and he decides to go to Pittsburgh. But Smythe follows him there. This is a good issue, which ends on an impressive cliffhanger. I forget if I have #292.

SUPERMAN’S GIRL FRIEND LOIS LANE #103 (DC, 1970) – “The Devil’s Bride!”, [W] Robert Kanigher, [A] Curt Swan. In a story continued from last issue, Lois falls in love with a man who appears to be Satan, but is actually an alien who looks like the devil. Yes, really. He takes her to her home planet, and she’s about to marrry him until she realizes Superman still loves her. Like much of Kanigher’s work, this story is nonsensical and insulting to the reader’s intelligence. The one cute touch is that before getting married to the alien, Lois has to take a ritual bath called a “kvimha,” which is an anagram of “mikvah” and thus a reference to Kanigher’s Jewish heritage. This issue also includes a ‘60s reprint which, while not good, is at least less bad than the main story.

THE LAST AMERICAN #3 (Epic, 1991) – “An American Dream,” [W] Alan Grant & John Wagner, [A] Mike McMahon. It turns out that the radio broadcast from a fellow survivor was a fake, created by the robots in order to keep Ulysses from going nuts. So there really isn’t anyone else still alive, and I don’t know what can possibly happen in issue 4, other than Ulysses committing suicide. The protagonist’s full name is Ulysses S. Pilgrim; I wonder if the S stands for Scott.

Y: THE LAST MAN #55 (Vertigo, 2007) – “Whys and Wherefores Chapter One,” [W] Brian K. Vaughan, [A] Pia Guerra. This issue has the same title as Incredible Hulk #346. This issue, Yorick and Agent 355 are in Russia, and lots of other subplots are going on. This issue is so late in the series that I have no idea how it fits into the story.

JONNY QUEST #27 (Comico, 1988) – “Wilderness,” PW[ William Messner-Loebs, [A] Marc Hempel. This comic has a completely blank cover, which is justified because its story is set during a blizzard, but it also must have saved Comico a lot of money. Other than that, this issue is yet another sheer masterpiece. Jonny, Race and Bandit’s plane crashlands in northern Ontario in the midst of a snowstorm, and with Race badly hurt, Jonny has to survive on his own until help arrives. Meanwhile, Dr. Quest is frantically searching for the plane with no success. Jonny and Race do get rescued, of course, but the creators viscerally convey the terrible danger Jonny is in. The reader is actually more scared than Jonny, who reacts to his predicament with his usual resourcefulness and courage.

GROO THE WANDERER #28 (Epic, 1987) – “Gourmet Kings,” [W] Sergio Aragones, [A] Mark Evanier. Groo visits a town where the royal chef makes the best food in the world, although the common people are starving. After leaving, Groo visits another town where the king needs a chef to prepare a feast for a visiting foreign dignitary. And then things happen the way you’d expect. Groo goes back to the first town, kidnaps the chef, and brings him back to the second town, but it turns out that the visiting dignitary is the same king whose chef Groo just kidnapped. Several of the names in this story are Spanish words for food, like King Sopa (soup) and the village of Almuerzo (lunch).

MIRACLEMAN: APOCRYPHA #2 (Eclipse, 1992) – “Prodigal,” [W] Kurt Busiek, [A] Christopher Schenck, plus other stories. This issue includes three short stories, with a framing sequence by Gaiman and Buckingham in which the three stories are described as fictional works written by characters in Miracleman’s world. The best of the stories is “Prodigal,” about a young man who leaves his village of insane paranoid survivalists to visit the larger world, but later comes back to his village and is promptly murdered. “The Janitor” has some nice art by Alan Smith, an artist who has only one other GCD credit. This issue also includes an order form for Miracleman #23 through #28, at $3 each. I hope nobody ordered issues #25-28.

WONDER WOMAN #23 (DC, 2017) – “The Truth Conclusion,” [W] Greg Rucka, [A] Liam Sharp. I forgot to read this when it came out, so I never knew how “The Truth” ended. This issue Diana learns that Themyscira is a prison for Ares, and when she left Themyscira, she couldn’t come back because she could have led Ares back to the wider world. Also, Veronica Cale’s daughter decides to stay with Ares. Liam Sharp’s art in this issue is quite good.

TALES TO ASTONISH #97 (Marvel, 1967) – “The Sovereign and the Savages,” [W] Roy Thomas, [A] Werner Roth, and “The Legion of the Living Lightning,” [W] Stan Lee, [A] Marie Severin. I read this just after Stan Lee died. The Namor story in this issue is very average. The Hulk story is somewhat better. The Hulk meets a man who offers him friendship and acceptance, but it turns out the man just wants to recruit him on behalf of a cult of lightning-controlling terrorists. One of the members of the Living Lightning cult in this issue was the father of the West Coast Avenger also named Living Lightning.

New comics received on November 17:

FANTASTIC FOUR #3 (Marvel, 2018) – “Family Reunion,” [W] Dan Slott, [A] Sara Pichelli & Nico Leon. This is such a sweet, heartwarming comic. Reed, Sue and the kids are overjoyed to see Ben and Johnny again. Of course they also have to battle a horrible cosmic menace, but as usual, Reed comes up with a brilliant idea that saves the day. Dan Slott’s characterization in this issue is brilliant. He focuses on the six main characters, of course, and the highlight of the issue is Franklin reluctantly agreeing to use his powers. But lots of the other characters get their own cute moments. For example, on just the next-to-last page we see T’Challa suggesting that Val should meet Shuri, while one of the Atlantean kids asks Bobby Drake to explain “not canon.” I don’t know why we had to wait two months for this issue, but it was worth the wait.

MS. MARVEL #36 (Marvel, 2018) – “Silk Road,” [W] G. Willow Wilson, [A] Nico Leon. Most of this issue consists of a flashback to the 13th century, starring characters who bear a strange resemblance to Kamala and her friends. It’s very rare for a Marvel comic to depict non-Western history, but other than that, this issue was pretty boring. Because of Willow’s health problems, this might be the last issue for a couple months.

MISTER MIRACLE #12 (DC, 2018) – untitled, [W] Tom King, [A] Mitch Gerads. I was apprehensive about this issue because I heard someone say something bad about it, and also I hate Tom King’s other current series. But this issue ended up being a beautiful conclusion to a classic miniseries. The Apokolips war is still going on, and Scott is still having visions of Darkseid, but he’s managed to come to terms with his trauma and mental illness. Also, Scott and Barda have a second child on the way. The issue ends by raising and then dismissing the suggestion that the reality in this comic is less “real” than the mainstream DCU. Overall, Mister Miracle is a brilliant story about living with trauma – not “overcoming” it – and it’s easily the best DC comic of 2018.

THE QUANTUM AGE #4 (Image, 2018) – “Life and Death and the End of Time,” [W] Jeff Lemire, [A] Wilfredo Torres. Not the real title. We get Hammer Lass’s origin story, which creates another connection to the main Black Hammer series: Hammer Lass got her powers from Lucy, the 21st-century Black Hammer. Then it’s back to the Quantum Leaguers’ confrontation with Talky Walky, who refuses to release Archive to them. But Hammer Lass comes up with the idea of going back in time to prevent the Martian invasion and save the League. And I hope that works, because my major problem with this series is that almost the entire League is dead, and it’s not a Legion comic unless there are at least 24 members (which is, of course, the most members a group can have before its taxes go way up). The issue ends with the League traveling to the end of time and encountering the Time Trapper, excuse me, I mean Chronokus, who turns out to be Colonel Weird.

UNBEATABLE SQUIRREL GIRL #38 (Marvel, 2018) – untitled, [W] Ryan North, [A] Derek Charm. After establishing that none of them are Skrulls, Doreen and her friends confide in Tony Stark, but then when they go back and see him again, they discover that he’s an impostor. One fun thing about this issue is its use of computer science. Doreen and her pals come up with an algorithm for proving that they can trust each other, and a major plot point in this issue is the security, or lack thereof, of Tony’s computer system. Throughout this series, Ryan has done a great job of teaching the reader about computer science without being either pedantic or overly technical.

EXILES #10 (Marvel, 2018) – untitled, [W] Saladin Ahmed, [A] Javier Rodríguez. In the conclusion to the Arabian Nights story, the Exiles defeat Shahriyar/Doom, who makes Nocturne his successor as caliph. My only problem with this storyline is that it was too short; I wanted to see even more of the Arabian Nights universe. The issue ends with the team being attacked by a bunch of dead former Exiles, including Khan.

WONDER WOMAN #58 (Marvel, 2018) – “The Just War Part I,” [W] G. Willow Wilson, [A] Cary Nord. I was obviously thrilled at the prospect of Willow writing Wonder Woman, but this issue is a bit underwhelming. It’s a well-written and well-drawn Wonder Woman comic, but it’s similar to Greg Rucka’s Wonder Woman; it even guest-stars Rucka’s pet character, Veronica Cale. The plot is based on that of “The Truth,” with Ares returning from his captivity under Themyscira. I don’t see much about this comic that’s characteristic of Wilson, but I look forward to seeing how she puts her own stamp on this series.

RAINBOW BRITE #2 (Dynamite, 2018) – untitled, [W] Jeremy Whitley, [A] Brittney Williams. This is an excellent kids’ comic and also a fun piece of nostalgia, since I grew up watching this show. Murky Dismal and his bumbling sidekick Lurky are just as I remember them, although I had actually forgotten Lurky until I reencountered him here. My main concern about this comic is the unfortunate color symbolism. I was thinking Wisp and Willow would somehow both become Rainbow Brite, but instead this issue ends with the white girl, Wisp, becoming Rainbow Brite, and her black friend, Willow, is nowhere to be seen. It’s also rather dubious that shadow is evil, while white light is the ultimate power. I’m making this comic sound worse than it is, though, and I’m sure that Jeremy knows what he’s doing, and that we’ll see Willow again soon.

CAPTAIN GINGER #2 (Ahoy, 2018) – “Chapter Two,” [W] Stuart Moore, [A] June Brigman. Things go from bad to worse on the ship, with litterboxes overflowing and feral cats breeding out of control. Captain Ginger decides to go on a mission with Mittens to find the other ship. There have been lots of recent comics with cat protagonists – Hero Cats, Action Cat, even Beasts of Burden – but Captain Ginger is the best such comic, at least in terms of its depiction of cats. The cats in this comic are as realistic as Terry Pratchett’s Greebo. The high point of this issue is when the first officer places a call to engineering, and on the screen we see an adorable kitten saying “Mew?”

UNSTOPPABLE WASP #2 (Marvel, 2018) – untitled, [W] Jeremy Whitley, [A] GuriHiru. Nadia teams up with Viv Vision and Ironheart, then goes out to a fancy dinner and a wrestling match with Jan. This is a nice day-in-the-life issue. It’s full of great character moments, and it feels substantial even though not many major events happen. This issue repeatedly demonstrates Nadia’s awkwardness and lack of self-consciousness, as illustrated by her habit of falling asleep in unusual positions, though Jeremy has explained that there’s a psychological reason why she does that. The issue ends with AIM troops attacking the GIRL headquarters.

INFINITY WARS: INFINITY WARPS #1 (Marvel, 2018) – “Moon Squirrel and Tippysaur,” [W] Ryan North, [A] Natacha Bustos, plus other stories. I bought this comic because of the first story, which is a clever mashup of Squirrel Girl and Moon Girl, and also the main character’s sidekick is a dinosaur-sized orange squirrel. The rest of the issue isn’t as good. Mariko Tamaki and Francisco Herrera’s “Green Widow” is the worst-drawn Marvel story of the year; the artist’s female anatomy resembles that of a ‘90s Image comic. Jim Zub’s Fantastic Four story is competent but boring.

HOUSE OF WHISPERS #3 (DC, 2018) – “Walk on Gilded Splinters,” [W] Nalo Hopkinson, [A] Domo Stanton. Erzulie saves King Monday from being eaten by crocodiles, then transforms into one of her alternate forms or aspects, Erzulie Dantor. Meanwhile, the two human lovers are suffering from the Cotard delusion, where you think you’re dead, and lots of other people in New Orleans are falling victim to the same thing. This continues to be a really good series, though I wish it wasn’t tied to the Vertigo universe.

BY NIGHT #5 (Boom!, 2018) – untitled, [W] John Allison, [A] Christine Larsen. Barney steals the girls’ footage, while back in the other dimension, the goblin dude is tried and sentenced. I like this series, but I still don’t understand what it’s about, and it’s not grabbing me as much as Giant Days does. But I didn’t get Giant Days at first either.

THOR #7 (Marvel, 2018) – “Young Thor’s Lament,” [W] Jason Aaron, [A] Tony Moore. In a flashback, a much younger Thor travels to Midgard and falls in love with a mortal woman named Erika. But when he leaves Midgard and comes back, he finds that forty years have passed and Erika has died of old age. It turns out this was all a plot by Loki to make Thor give up on Midgard, but it backfires; instead, Thor honors Erika’s memory by becoming more attached to Midgard than ever. This issue reminds me a bit of the filk song “Thong of Thor.”

BITTER ROOT #1 (Image, 2018) – untitled, [W] David F. Walker & Chuck Brown, [A] Sanford Greene. A really interesting new series. It takes place in the ‘20s but isn’t explicitly about the Harlem Renaissance. Instead, it focuses on a lineage of black adventurers and demon-fighters. One of the protagonists is a woman who wants to join her brothers in fighting demons and stuff, but her elderly mother or grandmother won’t let her. I’m excited to read more of this.

PLASTIC MAN #6 (DC, 2018) – “Moon and Back,” [W] Gail Simone, [A] Adriana Melo. One of the primary villains turns out to be a Durlan, but Plas defeats the villains and is reunited with Pado Swakatoon. However, Plas’s ex-girlfriend still wants to kill him. This was a really good miniseries, and I hope that there’s going to be a sequel, as implied on the last page.

CATWOMAN #5 (DC, 2018) – “Copycats, Part 5,” [W/A] Joëlle Jones. This issue includes no cats at all, but it’s still good. In two parallel plotlines, the villain, Raina Creel, murders her husband, while Selina tries to break out of the mental hospital but fails.

LONE RANGER #2 (Dynamite, 2018) – “Finders Keepers,” [W] Mark Russell, [A] Bob Q. Much of this issue focuses on Tonto. Mark Russell distorts the historical record by having Tonto play football for Carlisle Indian School – even though Carlisle didn’t start sponsoring football until 1893, whereas this series is clearly set in the 1880s at the latest. As evidence of the latter, this series’s plot revolves around Texas’s barbed wire conflicts, which happened in the early 1880s, and it shows the Texas Capitol building, which was finished in 1888, as still under construction. This anachronism is an acceptable piece of artistic license, but it’s worth mentioning. Anyway, Mark Russell’s depiction of Tonto’s character is very effective. Instead of a stereotype, his Tonto is a complex man who knows how to manipulate white people’s misperceptions about Native Americans for his own benefit.

GIDEON FALLS #8 (Image, 2018) – “Killer Smile,” [W] Jeff Lemire, [A] Andrea Sorrentino. We get a flashback to Daniel/Norton’s abusive upbringing in an orphanage. Then the priest has a vision where he learns the name Norton Sinclair, and discovers a cache of hidden photos of Daniel. During the vision sequence, there’s yet another of Sorrentino’s trademark bizarre page layouts: it’s a two-page spread with hundreds of tiny panels, some of them identical. Meanwhile, Dr. Xu still can’t get Daniel out of the mental hospital. It’s still not clear how the two plotlines or worlds of this series are related, but they’re starting to bleed into each other.

SUPERGIRL #24 (DC, 2018) – “A (Super)girl Walks Into a Bar,” [W] Marc Andreyko, [A] Evan “Doc” Shaner. Supergirl visits an outer-space bar where she and Krypto team up to fight some aliens, and then she meets a Coluan who looks a lot like Brainiac 5. I bought this comic because of Doc Shaner’s art, which is amazing. His page layouts remind me a bit of Darwyn Cooke’s even. He’s easily DC’s best current artist. The Ambush Bug cameo in this issue was also cute. But the plot didn’t grab me enough to make me want to continue reading this series.

JOOK JOINT #2 (Image, 2018) – untitled, [W] Tee Franklin, [A] Alitha Martinez. This issue is pretty much the same as last issue. It continues the story of Heloise, the abused wife, as she tries to use the Jook Joint’s power to get rid of her husband. This series is a powerful depiction of spousal abuse, though I have mixed feelings about its writer.

CEMETERY BEACH #3 (Image, 2018) – untitled, [W] Warren Ellis, [A] Jason Howard. Most of this issue is a long fight scene. There’s almost no dialogue until the last four pages, which supply all the conversation and characterization that’s missing from the rest of the issue. There’s nothing here that makes me want to continue reading this series.

THE BRAVE AND THE BOLD #159 (DC, 1980) – “The Crystal Armageddon!”, [W] Denny O’Neil, [A] Jim Aparo. I’m surprised this wasn’t included in the Batman: Tales of the Demon trade paperback, because it’s a chapter of the Batman/Ra’s al Ghul saga, and it came out after some of the stories that were reprinted in that book. This issue includes all the classic Ra’s al Ghul tropes: the Lazarus Pit, Talia and her passion for Batman, and the League of Assassins. The plot is that Batman and Ra’s team up to save the world from the “Hatter formula,” which is obviously inspired by ice-nine from Kurt Vonnegut’s Cat’s Cradle, because it has the exact same effect. Denny’s Ra’s al Ghul stories were some of his best writing, and it’s exciting to discover a Ra’s al Ghul story by Denny that I hadn’t known about.

AQUAMAN #32 (DC, 1997) – “Sea of Green,” [W] Peter David, [A] Jim Calafiore. As far as I know, this issue was the first Aquaman/Swamp Thing team-up, though there was another one in 2014. These characters are a natural pairing because they’re both guardians of nature, and because plants depend on water. I don’t remember much about this issue’s plot, but PAD writes Swamp Thing very well.

FANTASTIC FOUR #160 (Marvel, 1975) – “In One World – and Out the Other!”, [W] Roy Thomas, [A] John Buscema. The Thing battles Arkon. Then with Lockjaw’s help, Ben follows Arkon’s trail to an alternative reality where there are only two members of the Fantastic Four. The Jim Zub story from Infinity Warps #1 is also about a two-member Fantastic Four, each with two sets of powers, but that may just be a coincidence. There’s also a plot where Reed sells a 51% interest in Fantastic Four, Inc. to a man named Albert DeVoor. That looks like an anagram for something, but it’s not.

REVIVAL #10 (Image, 2013) – untitled, [W] Tim Seeley, [A] Mike Norton. Ibrahim steps in a bear trap, while Cooper and Derek are kidnapped by two crazy redheaded men. This was a pretty good issue, though my enthusiasm for this series has lessened now that I know how it ends. A depressing moment in this issue is when Dana and Em’s dad says, referring to Ibrahim, that “he seems like a nice guy, but all I need is one of them for a son-in-law.” This is an unpleasant reminder that despite this character’s positive aspects, he probably would have voted for Trump.

ARCHIE GIANT SERIES #549 (Archie, 1985) – “The Flying Barracuda,” [W/A] Bob Bolling. Mad Doctor Doom creates a flying robot barracuda that seeks out gold. Chester creeps into Little Archie’s bedroom and steals a lock of his hair, so the barracuda can hunt down Little Archie too. Archie cunningly (or accidentally) destroys the barracuda, by using a kite with a gold fishing lure to cause the barracuda to be struck by lightning. The highlight of the story is the last panel, where Archie goes to bed wearing a helmet so Chester can’t steal his hair again, and also sets up a picture of Chester for his dog to look at. Unfortunately, Bob Bolling’s artwork is impaired by Chic Stone’s lifeless inking.

RAW #1 (Raw, 1980) – various stories, [E] Art Spiegelman and Françoise Mouly. I got Raw #1 and #3 at the Shatter Daze sale for just $2 each, and I think they actually charged me less than that. As I told the person running the sale, these two comics alone justified my entire trip to the sale. Raw #1 is a massively important comic; it could be seen as the starting point of alternative or “art” comics, and thus also of the rise of comics to literary status. The high point of the issue is “Manhattan,” Jacques Tardi’s first story published in America. It doesn’t have much of a plot – it ends with the narrator committing suicide for unexplained reasons – but it’s a bleak, gritty, realistic depiction of Times Square in the ‘70s. The huge size of Raw #1 allows the reader to see Tardi’s beautiful art in all its glory (while also making the comic very difficult to store). The other great story in this issue is Spiegelman’s “Two-Fisted Painters,” which is contained in a much smaller booklet that’s bound into the comic at its centerfold. This sort of formal experimentation was a trademark of Raw, and this issue also has a removable sticker on the front cover, although I haven’t dared to remove the sticker. Anyway, “Two-Fisted Painters” is an absurdist murder story that’s also a brilliant metatextual reflection on the use of color in comics. When I read old Spiegelman stories, I’m reminded that his career is bigger than just Maus. It’s a shame that he’s produced so little new work since 1991. Other artists featured in this issue include Joost Swarte, Mark Beyer, Mariscal, and Drew Friedman, and there’s even a rare example of an actual comic by Françoise Mouly, although it’s a formalist experiment that includes no original artwork.

MIRACLEMAN #8 (Eclipse, 1986) – “Miracleman Confronts the Electric Terror,” [W/A] Mick Anglo, plus other stories. Because the Eclipse offices were flooded, the story originally intended for #8 was postponed to #9, and #8 instead consists of reprints of classic Miracleman stories. The only new material in #8 is a new framing sequence and a preview of a new Eclipse series, New Wave. The reprinted material is not bad, but not great either, and Miracleman #8 is only worth owning for the sake of completism.

PROXIMA CENTAURI #6 (Image, 2018) – untitled, [W/A] Farel Dalrymple. More stuff happens in this issue that doesn’t make sense. I wish I had time to go back and read Farel’s entire oeuvre from scratch, but even if I did that, I think I still wouldn’t understand his plots.

REVIVAL #13 (Image, 2013) – as above. Dana goes on a date with Ibrahim, while Em babysits Jordan and Cooper. I don’t remember whether Dana and Ibrahim’s romance ever amounted to anything.

NINE PRINCES IN AMBER #1 (DC, 1996) – “Book One,” [W] Terry Bisson, [A] Lou Harrison. An adaptation of Roger Zelazny’s most famous novel. This adaptation is not particularly well-written or well-drawn, and that’s not surprising since neither of the creators was a specialist in comics. But it’s been a long long time since I read Nine Princes in Amber, so this comic was a nice reminder of how much I enjoyed the novel.

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