First reviews of 2019

(This post has been edited to add some more reviews I wrote but then misplaced.)

This project is now in its seventh year (2013 to 2019).

GREEN LANTERN: THE ANIMATED SERIES #0 (DC, 2012) – “True Colors,” [W] Art Baltazar & Franco, [A] Dario Brizuela. Hal and Kilowog fight a bunch of Red Lanterns. This comic is a series of dumb fight scenes, with no narrative complexity and no surprises.

FREE COMIC BOOK DAY 2018 (AMAZING SPIDER-MAN/GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY) #1 (Marvel, 2018) – untitled, [W] Nick Spencer, [A] Ryan Ottley. Peter and Randy Robertson look for an apartment, then they fight Rhino and Boomerang, then it turns out Boomerang is their new roommate. I’ve gotten sick of Nick Spencer’s writing, and this comic doesn’t do anything to make me want to read his Spider-Man run. The other “story” in this issue is a boring and confusing recap of some recent Guardians of the Galaxy stories. This piece was a very odd choice for an FCBD comic; it seems unlikely to appeal to anyone at all.

HUNT FOR WOLVERINE: CLAWS OF A KILLER #4 (Marvel, 2018) – untitled, [W] Mariko Tamaki, [A] Butch Guice & Mark Chater. Another boring issue with none of the things that make Mariko’s comics interesting. I shouldn’t have ordered this miniseries. Note to self: avoid buying Marvel comics that are part of dumb crossovers, just because of who the writer is. Crossover stories tend to prevent writers from doing their best work.

ETERNITY GIRL #6 (DC, 2018) – untitled, [W] Magdalene Visaggio, [A] Sonny Liew. I didn’t read this sooner because the previous few issues were confusing, and I couldn’t figure out what was going on in this series. But this issue is fascinating. It’s an extended meditation on change and multiplicity, as demonstrated by the stunning pages that show multiple versions of the same character at once. It also explicitly draws the connection between shapeshifting and transgender identity, because we learn that Caroline’s therapist Dani is transgender. This was a really powerful series, and perhaps Mags’s strongest work yet.

New comics received on January 7:

CONAN THE BARBARIAN #1 (Marvel, 2019) – “The Life & Death of Conan, Part 1: The Weird of the Crimson King,” [W] Jason Aaron, [A] Mahmud Asrar. Marvel’s first Conan comic since 2000 is an exciting start to a new era. This issue takes place in two different time periods, in Conan’s teenage years and in his old age, and the plot revolves around some creepy sorcerers who pursue Conan throughout his life. Jason Aaron really gets Conan. His Conan is somewhat similar to Thor in his lust for wine and women, but unlike Thor, Conan is not a hero, just a man with an iron will and a boundless appetite. More about Jason’s take on Conan later. Mahmud Asrar is a very effective Conan artist. His style reminds me a lot of Kevin Nowlan’s.

RUNAWAYS #17 (Marvel, 2019) – “That Was Yesterday Part 5,” [W] Rainbow Rowell, [A] Kris Anka. This series has always been somewhat dark, but this storyline has been even darker than usual. Gib decides to switch sides and help the Runaways defeat Bo and Rim, but Alex, as usual, betrays his teammates and decides to sacrifice Victor anyway. (Does he know that cutting Victor’s throat is useless? I don’t know.) The only really cute scene this issue is the panel where Old Lace, Molly and the cat are sleeping on top of each other.

PRINCELESS VOL. 7: FIND YOURSELF #3 (Action Lab, 2019) – “My Sister’s House,” [W] Jeremy Whitley, [A] Emily Martin. The sphinx asks Adrienne a riddle: “What is freedom?” Adrienne meets her brother-in-law. Kira doesn’t die. This was a good issue, but it was overshadowed by issue 4, especially by that issue’s ending. See below.

CROWDED #6 (Image, 2019) – “I Can’t Die in L.A.”, [W] Christopher Sebela, [A] Ro Stein. Charlotte and Vita escape Trotter’s poorly planned death trap and get safe passage out of LA, and also we learn that the campaign against her has been backed by bots. And that’s the end of the first story arc. Crowded is easily Chris Sebela’s best comic so far, and I hope we get more of it soon.

RAINBOW BRITE #3 (Dynamite, 2019) – untitled, [W] Jeremy Whitley, [A] Brittney Williams. Rainbow Brite gets a new, giant dog, and then encounters a handsome prince, or a royal guard at least. This is still a really fun comic, but I continue to be puzzled that Willow hasn’t appeared since issue 1. Given the obvious connection between the names Willow and Wisp, I expected they would both be protagonists.

GIANT DAYS #46 (Boom!, 2019) – untitled, [W] John Allison, [A] Max Sarin. The girls investigate a theft at the comic book store. This is a pretty good issue and a reasonably funny satire of comic book culture, but it’s nothing truly original.

WONDER WOMAN #61 (DC, 2019) – “The Just War Part IV,” [W] G. Willow Wilson, [A] Xermanico. This issue mostly continues the story from last issue. It does heavily feature DC’s version of Aphrodite, a character who, as far as I know, has only made cameo appearances before. Also, in this issue it becomes clear that Diana and Steve are a couple. I really don’t like Steve as Diana’s boyfriend; I preferred George Pérez’s depiction of him as a much older father figure.

CODA #8 (Boom!, 2019) – untitled, [W] Simon Spurrier, [A] Matías Bergara. This comic’s plot is mostly clear now. Serka has some kind of a curse that basically turns her into the Hulk, and also she was somehow created by the people who caused the magical apocalypse. But actually it’s more like the curse is her natural state, so she doesn’t actually want to be free of it. And therefore her marriage with the nameless hero is doomed. I was having trouble getting into this series, but now I really like it. The red and black two-page splash that shows Serka fighting a bunch of other monsters is perhaps the artistic highlight of this series, and that’s high praise.

MR. & MRS. X #7 (Marvel, 2019) – “Gambit and Rogue Forever, Part One,” [W] Kelly Thmpson, [A] Oscar Bazaldua. Mojo is one of Marvel’s funniest villains, and Kelly writes him pretty well. It looks like in this storyline Mojo will be inserting Rogue and Gambit (or Longshot) into stories from a series of different genres. This issue, they appear in a gangster movie and then a Gothic romance. As usual for this series, the heart of this story is Gambit and Rogue’s relationship, which Kelly writes extremely well.

THE TERRIFICS #11 (DC, 2019) – “The Terrifics No More! Part 1,” [W] Jeff Lemire, [A] Viktor Bogdanovic. The Terrifics are now free to live their own lives, yet none of them are happy. Plastic Man’s estranged wife and child want nothing to do with him, Rex doesn’t know what to do now that he’s depowered, and Linnya is back under her mother’s thumb. As a longtime Phantom Girl fan, I love the Linnya sequence. The depiction of Bgztl as an aristocratic, snooty world is very consistent with earlier appearances of this planet. This scene is also another example of how Linnya Wazzo is the exact same character as Tinya Wazzo – which is not a bad thing; I just wish they’d named her Tinya. All she needs now is a boyfriend who’s a criminal with a stubbly beard and a heart of gold. Along with The Quantum Age, The Terrifics is one of two current series in which Jeff Lemire is using concepts derived from the Legion. There are rumors that DC will finally be reviving the Legion soon, but the catch is that it’ll probably be written by Bendis. I fervently hope that someone else will be writing it instead, and Lemire would be an ideal choice.

TRUE BELIEVERS: CONAN THE BARBARIAN #1 (Marvel, 2019) – “The Coming of Conan!”, [W] Roy Thomas, [A] Barry (Windsor-)Smith. This is a replica of Marvel’s original Conan #1. I read this issue long ago in The Essential Conan, and I wasn’t impressed with it, but on rereading it, I like it a lot more. It introduces a lot of familiar Conan tropes, including savage battles, a creepy old sorcerer, and an alluring wench with a dark secret. It also foreshadows Conan’s future, since there’s a scene where he foresees himself becoming king of Aquilonia. BWS was still developing his unique style at this point, but the fundamentals of his art are very strong. I just wish I could afford the original version of this issue. I have every issue of Conan from #25 to #116, but it will be hard to extend my run back any further than that, because #24 is a key issue.

HEX WIVES #3 (Vertigo, 2019) – “Sleeping on the Gaslight,” [W] Ben Blacker, [A] Mirka Andolfo. I didn’t realize this before, but the protagonists in this series don’t know that they’re reincarnated witches, and the point of this opening storyline is that they’re discovering their powers and identities. This serie has been good so far; it’s a critique of ‘50s sexism, just like Lady Killer, but it’s not as lighthearted. The high point of this issue is the silent nine-panel page depicting one of the wives getting ready in the morning. It shows how much work she has to do just to appear natural.

ARCHIE 1941 #4 (Archie, 2019) – “Into the Fire,” [W] Brian Augustyn & Mark Waid, [A] Peter Krause. Archie heads into battle, but the enemy surrenders without firing a shot. Sadly, he next finds himself at the Battle of Kasserine Pass. Meanwhile, Betty and Veronica heal their rift, and we learn that Pop’s son died in the Spanish Civil War. This series is impressive because of its emotion and its historical accuracy.

<BOOKS OF MAGIC #3 (DC, 2019) – “In Memoriam,” [W] Kat Howard, [A] Tom Fowler. Tim summons a herd of sheep to keep himself awake. The school holds a memorial service for the teacher who was killed last issue by Tim’s mentor. Tim’s owl appears at the end of the issue. I guess this series takes place in a different continuity from the previous version of Books of Magic, because Hedwig’s origin is different. This is an enjoyable series, but so far the storytelling is very compressed.

UNNATURAL #3 (Image, 2018) – untitled, [W/A] Mirka Andolfo. Ignoring my usual rule, I’ve kept buying this even though I wasn’t reading it, because of my interest in European comics. (The same is also true of Infinity 8.) This issue, Leslie goes on a date with a pig dude, but just as he’s kissing her, she has a vision of her wolf lover, and decides to end the date. And then the story takes a series of very surprising turns. The pig dude tries to kidnap Leslie. She escapes, but falls unconscious and has a vision in which a creature in a wolf mask is sacrificing her. And then she’s accused of murdering her roommate Trish. So what started out as an erotic funny animal romance comic is now also a supernatural noir thriller. So far, Unnatural is maybe too unsubtle, but the plot is intriguing, and Mirka Andolfo’s art is excellent.

UNNATURAL #4 – as above. Things get even weirder. Leslie has a vision where her wolf lover is killing her. Then her gay friend Derek reveals that some people have been spying on her dreams and have kidnapped his boyfriend. And then the wolf dude shows up for real.

IRON MAN #96 (Marvel, 1977) – “Only a Friend Can Save Them,” [W] Bill Mantlo, [A] George Tuska. Iron Man battles Ultimo alongside Jasper Stillwell, who had been believed dead. Mantlo has a good handle on Stillwell’s weird style of talking. Meanwhile, Michael O’Brien becomes the new Guardsman in order to avenge his brother. This period of Iron Man was kind of intriguing, but not particularly good, and it includes a bunch of characters, like Michael O’Brien and Marianne Rogers, who are now forgotten.

UNNATURAL #5 – as above. My copy of this issue has a variant cover by Liberatore. This issue, Leslie escapes town and is told the backstory behind the series. The wolf dude is the descendant of an ancient albino wolf demon with blue blood, and Leslie is connected to him because she has blue blood too. This series is still developing the themes of sexual identity and heteronormativity that dominated the first two issues; however, those themes have now been overshadowed by the fantasy plot.

UNNATURAL #6 – as above except the date is 2019. This series mostly just develops the plots from the last couple issues, but we additionally learn that Jones, the pig dude from #3, is part of the anti-albino conspiracy. The two-page flashback sequence in this issue is drawn in a different style from the rest of the series, with no solid outlines, and it’s one of the artistic high points of the series.

SWEET XVI #6 (Marvel, 1991) – “The Party,” [W/A] Barbara Slate. I read this because I was about to interview Barbara Slate for an upcoming ICAF paper. This issue is the epic conclusion to the series. Cornelia holds her sweet sixteen party, which the entire series was leading up to. Cornelia’s party dress was designed by a reader, just like how Bill Woggon’s Katy Keene wore clothes that were based on reader submissions. But Cornelia’s love interest, Antony, can’t get there because he’s trying to find her the perfect gift. Antony eventually does show up after the party’s over, and he gives Cornelia the gift she really wants: a kiss.

SWEET XVI #2 (Marvel, 1991) – “Cornelia’s Sweet XVI Present,” [W/A] Barbara Slate. This issue sets up some of the plotlines that were resolved in issue 2, including Cornelia’s sweet sixteen dress and Antony’s desire to kiss her. In my interview with Barbara Slate, I’ve learned a lot of interesting information about this series, but I hope to publish that information elsewhere.

TV STARS #2 (Marvel, 1978) – “The Great Cole Slaw Conspiracy,” [W] Mark Evanier, [A] Jack Manning, plus other stories. Like Sweet XVI, Marvel’s short-lived Hanna-Barbera imprint is largely forgotten today because it doesn’t fit into the standard narrative of Marvel’s history. Marvel’s Hanna-Barbera and Star imprints are also unusual because they mostly used former Archie and Gold Key creators, rather than Marvel regulars. This issue has two short stories written by Evanier, but neither of them is all that memorable. The first one has a running joke about cole slaw, and the second one stars Undercover Elephant. The third story is drawn by Dan Spiegle, but is unfortunately not written by Evanier.

VAMPS #1 (Vertigo, 1994) – “Freedom,” [W] Elaine Lee, [A] William Simpson. An erotic fantasy series about a gang of female vampires who are all slaves to the same male vampire, until they kill him and go off on their own. I’m not usually a fan of contemporary vampire stories, but this first issue is very entertaining. It’s sexy, violent, and reasonably feminst. I want to read more of this series as well as its sequel miniseries.

Next, I read some comics that I bought several years ago:

OUR FIGHTING FORCES #176 (DC, 1977) – “The Loser is a Teen-Ager!”, [W] Robert Kanigher, [A] George Evans. This is only the second issue of this series that I‘ve read since mid-2013. I don’t have much interest in DC’s war comics. I suppose I should look for the issues with Sam Glanzman’s USS Stevens stories, but I’m not even all that excited to read those stories. After reading Two-Fisted Tales and Frontline Combat, it’s hard to read DC’s war comics, with their much more romanticized and unrealistic depiction of war. In this issue’s main story, an orphaned teenage boy joins the Rebels. This story is not suited to George Evans’s talents because it doesn’t include any planes. The backup story is drawn by ER Cruz, who I’ve always liked. I think he was the first Filipino artist whose artwork I saw, in Conan #261 and #262. It’s about a soldier who’s about to be court-martialed for desertion, until he dies saving the men who are taking him to be tried.

TOM STRONG AND THE ROBOTS OF DOOM #5 (Wildstorm, 2010) – “Two Tribes,” [W] Peter Hogan, [A] Chris Sprouse. It makes me feel nostalgic to read a new Tom Strong story by Chris Sprouse, but other than that, this issue is boring and confusing. The only thing I like about it is the scene where Tom interacts with younger versions of himself and Dhalua.

UNCANNY X-MEN #9 (Marvel, 2012) – untitled, [W] Kieron Gillen, [A] Carlos Pacheco. This is the kind of comic that gets forgotten almost as soon as it’s published, because it’s part of a dumb crossover (Avengers vs. X-Men). Also, it’s almost entirely devoted to advancing plots that were probably abandoned by the next writer. There are some well-written scenes in this issue, and Xemnu the Titan, Marvel’s fluffiest villain, makes a cameo appearance, but overall this comic is of little interest.

DETECTIVE COMICS #731 (DC, 1999) – “Fear of Faith Part Four: Be Not Afraid,” [W] Devin Grayson, [A] Dale Eaglesham. Another comic that was destined to be forgotten almost at once. It’s part of a huge crossover, No Man’s Land, so it makes no sense out of context, and it’s also not particularly well written. Notably, this issue focuses more on Huntress than Batman.

BALTIMORE: THE CURSE BELLS #2 (Dark Horse, 2011) – “The Curse Bells,” [W] Mike Mignola & Christopher Golden, [A] Ben Steinbeck. I don’t remember why I bought this comic. There was a time when I wanted to collect all the Mignolaverse titles, but I quickly gave up on that. This issue is just a standard example of the Mignola formula; it has Nazis, occult rituals, and grim undead-fighting heroes.

WOLVERINE AND THE X-MEN #37 (Marvel, 2013) – “Battle of the Atom, Part 5,” [W] Jason Aaron, [A] Giuseppe Camuncoli. This issue is an example of the intrinsic problem with crossover stories: they interrupt the plot of each series that participates in the crossover, and they merge all the participating titles into one mega-title, stripping each of those series of what makes it unique. This issue is a Wolverine and the X-Men comic in name only. It’s entirely focused on the battle between the old and young versions of the original X-Men. Jason Aaron’s staple characters, like Idie and Broo, only make token appearances. His characteristic style of humor, which was the best thing about Wolverine and the X-Men, is totally absent. As a result, even though I loved WATXM, I had no interest in reading this issue when I bought it, and I didn’t get around to it until five years later.

B.P.R.D.: PLAGUE OF FROGS #3 (Dark Horse, 2004) – “Plague of Frogs, Part 3,” [W] Mike Mignola, [A] Guy Davis. This is better than a typical Mignola comic thanks to some excellent art by the underrated Guy Davis. The villain with a mushroom-shaped head is especially striking. But this comic’s story is forgettable.

New comics received on January 11:

CAPTAIN MARVEL #1 (Marvel, 2019) – “Re-Entry,” [W] Kelly Thompson, [A] Carmen Carnero. I have mixed feelings about this. I love Kelly’s writing, but this issue seemed too simple and lacking in complexity. The dialogue, in particular, just felt ordinary. This was a good issue, it just wasn’t as good as I expect from Kelly. But maybe I was overly tired when I read this – I had just started teaching the day before.

LAGUARDIA #2 (Dark Horse, 2019) – “The Travel Ban,” [W] Nnedi Okorafor, [A] Tana Ford. Future and her alien friends go to a protest against a travel ban on Africa, and they help to save three African immigrants who have been detained. This issue is obviously inspired by Trump’s travel ban, but there’s not a simple one-to-one correspondence between the real-world travel ban and Nnedi’s fictional version of it. America has banned immigrants from Africa because Africa is where the aliens are, and so white Americans’ fear of aliens becomes confusingly intertwined with our fear of humans of color. As with last issue, Nnedi’s prose and Tana Ford’s artwork are excellent; Tana Ford is very skilled at depicting weird-looking aliens. Also, I love the names Payment and Laundry.

THE GREEN LANTERN #3 (DC, 2019) – “Slave Lords of the Stars,” [W] Grant Morrison, [A] Liam Sharp. A member of Kanjar Ro’s species tries to auction off Earth to some villains. (Why is this character not named Kanjar Ro, I wonder?) The winner of the auction is the Shepherd, a villain who coincidentally looks just like the Old Testament God. The scene where Hal arrests God, and then hits him with a boxing glove, is one of the funniest things Grant has ever written. It’s better than the “don’t f*** with God” scene in Savage Dragon. The issue ends with Hal apparently executing the Kanjar Ro-esque character.

THE WRONG EARTH #5 (Ahoy, 2019) – “The Wrong Earth Chapter Five,” [W] Tom Peyer, [A] Jamal Igle. It turns out I forgot to order issue 3, so now I know why issue 4 was a bit confusing. This issue, Dragonflyman enlists Jordan, a henchman of the Joker character, as his new partner, while Dragonfly tries to keep Stinger from going nuts. (Note, Dragonflyman is the campy one, Dragonfly is the grim one.) It’s interesting how as the series goes on, each of the two Dragonflies is slowly adapting to his new world. The backup story in this issue is a waste of space; it’s just a standard grim-and-gritty superhero story, and it misses the point of this series.

UNBEATABLE SQUIRREL GIRL #40 (Marvel, 2019) – “Invaders… from Another World!”, [W] Ryan North, [A] Derek Charm. It turns out that Skrull Girl (I just thought of that name), a.k.a. Gillian, is a refugee from Skrull society, which this issue depicts as a grim, militaristic dystopia. I don’t know if this is consistent with past depictions of the Skrull society, because I can’t think of another story where we get to see that society from an insider’s perspective. Tony and Doreen come up with a plan to stop the other Skrulls from finding Gillian, and then Doreen reveals that she’s still alive. This is a very fun issue, and it’s full of cute shapeshifting gags.

MILES MORALES: SPIDER-MAN #2 (Marvel, 2019) – untitled, [W] Saladin Ahmed, [A] Javier Garron. Miles teams up with the Rhino to fight Tombstone, who is kidnapping children and forcing them to commit crimes. I liked this better than issue 1, though that may be due to greater familiarity with the character. It’s a well-written and exciting Spider-Man story. Rhino is written much more sympathetically than usual.

BLACKBIRD #4 (Image, 2019) – untitled, [W] Sam Humphries, [A] Jen Bartel. Nina has an unhappy reunion with her mother, then decides to grow up and start taking matters into her own hands. I really like this series, especially the art, but like Unnatural, it’s taking a different direction than I expected. I thought there would be more focus on Nina’s psychology, rather than on the magic system and magical politics.

DIE #2 (Image, 2019) – untitled, [W] Kieron Gillen. This issue is mostly a series of fight scenes and introductions to the characters. Kieron’s essay at the end of the essay provides a lot of fascinating information about the characters’ powers and how their powers relate to their respective dice. However, it might have been better to deliver this information in the comic itself, rather than in the ancillary material.

HOUSE AMOK #4 (IDW, 2019) – “Waiting for the End of the World,” [W] Christopher Sebela, [A] Shawn McManus. Dylan tries to escape her awful insane family, whose delusions keep getting worse and more internally inconsistent. The issue ends with the bus being chased by police. This series has just one more issue to go.

MOTH & WHISPER #5 (AfterShock, 2019) – “Parental Guidance,” [W] Ted Anderson, [A] Jen Hickman. Niki defeats Wolfe and transfers control of his operation to the Non Grata, and that’s the end of the series. I’m surprised this series is over already because it seemed to have a lot of unexplored storytelling potential.

ADVENTURES OF THE SUPER SONS #6 (DC, 2019) – “Tomorrow Sometimes Dies,” [W] Peter Tomasi, [A] Scott Godlewski. Jon and Damian encounter Space Ranger and Hukka. In a cool Legion reference, the issue ends with Jon and Damian being taken to Takron-Galtos. There are some funny scenes in this issue, especially Damian’s hunting monologue on page one. The trouble with this series is that it’s been overtaken by events in the main Superman titles; it seems like Bendis has already increased Jon’s age to 17. So this version of Jon Kent seems to have already been rendered obsolete.

ATOMIC ROBO: DAWN OF A NEW ERA #1 (IDW, 2019) – untitled, [W] Brian Clevinger, [A] Scott Wegener. The new Atomic Robo miniseries has several concurrent plot threads: Bernard goes back to the underworld to look for the subterranean creature he fell in love with (if I’m remembering correctly), Robo teaches his AI, and the Tesladyne team welcomes some new apprentices. I like the scene where Vikram and Lang are trying to leave on vacation, and Elizabeth runs in and says there’s an emergency. I also like this exchange betweeen Robo and his AI: “If all history is a myth, then how can I know what is true?” “You can’t. But you can read a lot of history and always ask yourself: who benefits from telling this version?”

THOR #9 (Marvel, 2019) – “The Woman with the Vibranium Gun,” [W] Jason Aaron, [A] Mike del Mundo. A spotlight on Roz Solomon, who has become one of Jason’s pet characters. Roz becomes an agent of Wakanda rather than SHIELD, and investigates the Frost Giants and Dario Agger. I like how Roz actually isn’t all that sorry about the Frost Giants she killed. She’s a pretty impressive character.

FAITH DREAMSIDE #4 (Valiant, 2019) – untitled, [W] Jody Houser, [A] M.J. Kim. Faith, Dr. Mirage and Monica Jim escape from hell. This is a fun issue, but nothing all that surprising. The highlight of the issue is the tiny snake demon saying “Don’t demean me with petting!”

ARCHIE MEETS BATMAN ’66 #6 (DC, 2019) – untitled, [W] Jeff Parker & Michael Moreci, [A] Dan Parent. The good guys win, with the aid of Pureheart the Powerful and the other superhero versions of Archie characters. This was a fun series, but it was very formulaic, and I’m not sorry it’s over. I mentioned it in class yesterday as an example of crossover fanfic, although of course it’s not fanfic.

OUTER DARKNESS #3 (Image, 2019) – “Away Team,” [W] John Layman, [A] Afu Chan. This series seems clearly intended as a dark, gritty version of Star Trek. This issue, some redshirts encounter some hostile aliens and get killed, but it’s okay because they can be resurrected. I like how the “mathematicians” on the ship are responsible for rescuing the dead crew members’ souls.

X-23 #8 (Marvel, 2019) – “X-Assassin Part 2,” [W] Mariko Tamaki, [A] Diego Olortegui. Laura and Gabby rescue the clone and bring her/it back to the X-Mansion. Gabby brings the clone some cookies. This was a quick and fun read.

CRIMINAL #1 (Image, 2019) – untitled, [W] Ed Brubaker, [A] Sean Phillips. This latest Criminal series is just called Criminal, and it again focuses on Teeg Lawless, who has become one of the central characters in the series. Teeg’s son Ricky steals jewelry from an old man who turns out to be a friend of the local crime boss, and Teeg has to come up with $25,000 to repay his son’s debt. And then he realizes that his dead partner had been hiding part of the proceeds from their crimes. The last page reveals that Teeg is going to be shot dead within a year. Brubaker and Phillips’s work is perhaps somewhat formulaic, but it’s a very effective formula.

BITTER ROOT #3 (Image, 2019) – untitled, [W] David F. Walker & Chuck Brown, [A] Sanford Greene. This issue just continues the plotlines from last issue. I’d like to see more of the girl Sangerye who wants to be a jinoo hunter, but she hasn’t gotten much panel time. This issue introduces a new character (I think) who has a pack of adorable goblin-dog-robot guards.

BY NIGHT #7 (Boom!, 2019) – untitled, [W] John Allison, [A] Christine Larsen. This series is more than half over, and I’m still not sure what it’s about. I’m going to finish reading it, but it’s failed to develop the kind of distinctive identity that Giant Days has. This issue, the two protagonists rescue Barney from the mob or whatever, and they fight a giant monster that looks like a cross between a cat and a chicken.

BULLY WARS #5 (Image, 2019) – untitled, [W] Skottie Young, [A] Aaron Conley. Rufus wins the Bully Wars and decides to abolish bullying in his school. I’m obviously not the target audience for this series, but it was Skottie’s weakest work yet, and I could probably have skipped it.

SPIDER-GWEN: GHOST SPIDER #4 (Marvel, 2019) – “Like Stars from the Sky,” [W] Seanan McGuire, [A] Rosi Kämpe & Takeshi Miyazawa. Gwen attends funerals for two characters I’ve never heard of before. I suppose this issue is well written, but this entire series has been meaningless for readers who aren’t following Spider-Geddon. Spider-Girls was just as closely tied to Spider-Geddon, but it made more sense on its own, and its characters were more interesting. I’m done with this series.

EUTHANAUTS #5 (IDW, 2019) – “Ashes to Ashes,” [W] Tini Howard, [A] Nick Robles. This issue is very well drawn and includes some interesting meditations on death, but this series’ plot never made sense to me, and that wasn’t for lack of trying. I’m glad this is the last issue.

DOMINO #10 (Marvel, 2019) – “Ivory Tower,” [W] Gail Simone, [A] David Baldeón et al. I’ve been buying this series but only reading it intermittently, which means I should probably not bother with the follow-up series, Domino Hotshots, but I might as well give that a try. This issue, Gail rescues Longshot from I’m not sure who.

THE DREAMING #5 (DC, 2019) – “The Balance,” [W] Simon Spurrier, [A] Bilquis Evely. We see part of Dora’s origin, and we get a flashback to Daniel leaving the Dreaming, perhaps for good. Meanwhile, the other good guys make an unsuccesful attempt to overthrow Judge Gallows. This is a fun issue; it was certainly a lot better than the previous five comics I reviewed. It was nice to see Morpheus again, if only in a flashback.

LEAGUE OF EXTRAORDINARY GENTLEMEN: THE TEMPEST #3 (Top Shelf, 2019) – “Dawn is But Dark’s Endeavor,” [W] Alan Moore, [A] Kevin O’Neill. This issue comes with 3D glasses for the Blazing World segment, but I promptly misplaced them. I’m starting to get a general idea of what’s going on in this series, but I’m not sure it’s worth the trouble of untangling all the references and plotlines. I just read the original novella The Blazing World, and I didn’t enjoy it very much.

Next I read some comics that I had bought a year or two before:

MIGHTY MORPHIN POWER RANGERS: PINK #2 (Boom!, 2019) – untitled, [W] Brenden Fletcher & Kelly Thompson, [A] Daniele Di Nicuolo. I quit reading this series after the first issue, but it’s better than I gave it credit for. I still think the premise of the Power Rangers franchise is really dumb. I thought it was dumb even when I was a kid, and I haven’t changed my mind. However, Brenden and Kelly’s characterization is excellent, and they write some exciting action scenes. This issue reminds me of Kelly’s Nancy Drew.

BLACK CANARY #12 (DC, 2016) – “Rock & Roll Suicide,” [W] Brenden Fletcher, [A] Annie Wu & Sandy Jarrell. This is the last issue. It consists of a series of flash-forwards to progressively later periods of Black Canary’s life. Then when she’s on her deathbed, we realize that all these flash-forwards are visions that were somehow caused by Ditto, and Dinah returns to the present and defeats the Big Bad, Ravanahatha. This was a well-done issue, but this series never really fulfilled its potential.

MIGHTY MORPHIN POWER RANGERS: PINK #3 – as above except that Tini Howard is credited with the script. Nothing to add here that I didn’t say about issue 2.

18 DAYS #8 (Graphic India, 2016) – “Arjuna’s Hunt,” [W] Sharad Devarajan, Gotham Chopra & Ashwin Pande, [A] Saumin Patel. A flashback to the origin of Arjuna and Duryodhana’s rivalry. This series is interesting, but only because the Mahabharata itself is interesting, and because I have limited familiarity with it. If I knew more about this comic’s source material, I doubt I would find anything new or exciting in this adaptation.

THE DISCIPLINE #1 (Image, 2016) – “Venus and the Satyr,” [W] Peter Milligan, [A] Leandro Fernandez. Melissa, an unsatisfied trophy wife, encounters a creepily seductive man who turns out to be some sort of fish monster. They also fight a satyr. There are numerous references to Goya’s paintings. Leandro Fernandez’s artwork in this series is brilliant, as usual, but I have concerns about this comic’s plot.

THE DISCIPLINE #2 – as above except the title is “Naked Shame.” It turns out Orlando is a member of something called the Discipline, and they’re at war with creatures called Stalkers, including the satyr from last issue. My problem with this series is that Orlando is a seriously creepy, disturbing character, a borderline rapist. He seems just as bad as his enemies, if not worse. Also, the BDSM content in this series does not appeal to me. It almost feels as if this comic was intended for 50 Shades of Gray fans.

STRAWBERRY SHORTCAKE #2 (IDW, 2016) – “The Baby Berrykin Baking Challenge,” [W] Georgia Ball, [A] Amy Mebberson. This comic is inoffensive enough, but it’s way too cute for its own good. It lacks the self-awareness of the MLP franchise. I’m glad I quit reading this after two issues.

IMAGINARY FRIENDS #1 (Vertigo, 2018) – “The Cat’s Paw Part 1,” [W] Tim Seeley, [A] Stephen Molnar. Like Revival, this is a horror comic set in the rural Upper Midwest. The protagonist is a young woman imprisoned for a murder that was actually committed by a rogue imaginary friend. Oh, and it turns out that imaginary friends are actually “interdimensional mental parasites.” So this series has the same premise as Imagine Agents, except it’s horror rather than humor. I don’t think this series is as promising as Revival, but I kind of regret that I didn’t stick with it. One thing that struck me in this issue is that the protagonist and her childhood friend are from Cannon Falls, Minnesota, and the friend is worried about having to go to school with rich, cool kids from the bigger towns of Faribault and Owatonna. I grew up in Minneapolis (technically St. Louis Park), and to me, Faribault and Owatonna were the middle of nowhere.

GRUMPY CAT & GARFIELD #3 (Dynamite, 2017) – untitled, [W] Mark Evanier, [A] Steve Uy. The two title characters somehow have their personalities reversed so they become cheerful and sunny. Mark Evanier is a better Garfield writer than Jim Davis himself, so this is an entertaining comic, even though it’s based on a stupid Internet fad.

SCOUT PRESENTS: THE MALL #0 FCBD (Scout, 2018) – “The Mall,” [W] Don Handfield & James Haick III, [A] Rafael Loureiro. Like Paper Girls, The Mall is based on ‘80s nostalgia, but the similarity ends there. The Mall is full of cliches, its plot is implausible, and its dialogue is wooden. I’m glad I didn’t pay for it.

New comics received on January 17:

LUMBERJANES #58 (Boom!, 2019) – “The Life of the Party,” [W] Shannon Watters & Kat Leyh, [A] AnneMarie Rogers. Another fantastic issue of what is still the best current monthly comic. April plans a live-action play for Jo’s birthday, while Barney and Molly try to keep Jo away from camp while April is preparing. But it turns out Jo realizes April is planning a surprise party, and is trying to miss it on purpose, because she hates April’s parties. At the end of the issue, the boating party encounters the selkies from much earlier in the series, who have somehow lost their captain, Seafarin’ Karen. (This is effectively set up earlier in the issue by a casual mention of Seafarin’ Karen.) Overall, this is a thrilling story which demonstrates how thoroughly Watters and Leyh have developed their characters. As I mentioned before, AnneMarie Rogers’s linework looks strange and rather crude, but she does a great job with facial expressions.

CAPTAIN GINGER #4 (Ahoy, 2019) – “Chapter Four,” [W] Stuart Moore, [A] June Brigman. Ginger and Mittens escape the space station thanks to Deena, who stowed away. On the way back Mittens sings a song which expresses his father’s personal philosophy: “Killin’ mice, killin’ rats, killin’ helpless creatures.” This is one of the funniest moments in the series, and it’s funny because that’s the kind of song a cat actually would sing. Meanwhile, one of the kittens is transformed into a hyperevolved super-kitten, like the Star Child in 2001. So it has cosmic awareness, but it’s also obsessed with mice. The super-kitten creates a habitat where the cats can live comfortably, and then flies away. The issue and the first storyline end with Science Cat receiving a message from a group of space dogs. This was a fun conclusion to the first story. I hope the series comes back soon.

FANTASTIC FOUR #6 (Marvel, 2019) – “Herald of Doom” part one, [W] Dan Slott, [A] Aaron Kuder. I wasn’t excited about yet another Dr. Doom story, but at least this story is well-written and well-drawn, and Dan Slott came up with a take on Doom that hasn’t been done yet. This time Doom is the hero, fighting to save Latveria from Galactus – though it turns out he attracted Galactus to Earth to begin with. We’re also introduced to Victorious, Doom’s new prodigy, who is kind of like Kristoff Vernard but not exactly. Dan Slott’s FF has been really fun so far, and he’s achieved the hardest task for any FF writer: telling stories that don’t feel like rehashes.

CONAN THE BARBARIAN #2 (Marvel, 2019) – “The Savage Border,” [W] Jason Aaron, [A] Mahmud Asrar. Jason Aaron’s Conan is similar to Roy Thomas or Kurt Busiek’s Conan, but Jason emphasizes Conan’s sense of humor more than either of his predecessors did. My favorite thing in this issue is the caption on page three: “Conan swore he would claim the heads of seventeen Picts in honor of his fallen comrades. One of whom had been a dog.” This is kind of the same sort of humor as Jason’s Thor, but Jason also understands that Conan is a very different character from Thor. He’s brutal, grim, and distrustful of civilized people, but he’s also a loyal ally and an inspiring leader. In this issue, Conan is captured by a tribe of Picts, who hate Cimmerians, but wins their loyalty and leads them in a fight against pack-hunting snakes. I don’t remember if the Picts have appeared in any story before, but in this issue they seem more like Amazonian natives, whereas the real-life Picts were proto-Scots.

PRINCELESS VOL. 7: FIND YOURSELF #4 (Action Lab, 2019) – “The Legend of the Black Knight,” [W] Jeremy Whitley, [A] Emily Martin. For most of this issue, the images depict Adrienne’s fight with the Black Knight, while the captions retell the Black Knight’s origin, but without revealing their name or gender. This makes it kind of obvious that the Black Knight is female, but what I didn’t expect was that she would turn out to be Adrienne’s mother! That’s perhaps the biggest surprise in this series yet. I’m excited to see what happens next.

THE WICKED + THE DIVINE #41 (Image, 2019) – “The Difficult Sophomore Album,” [W] Kieron Gillen, [A] Jamie McKelvie. The gods rescue Lucifer, Inanna and Mimir, and build new bodies for them. Cass apparently solves the mystery of the Great Darkness. Not a bad issue.

WONDER WOMAN #62 (DC, 2019) – “The Just War Finale,” [W] G. Willow Wilson, [A] Xermanico. Diana brokers a peace deal which requires the Amazons to leave Durovnia. This was a pretty good issue, but this entire storyline has felt excessively tethered to previous writers’ continuity. Hopefully now that it’s over, Willow can explore more of her own ideas.

BABYTEETH #14 (Aftershock, 2019) – “Heck,” [W] Donny Cates, [A] Garry Brown. The protagonists meet Satan, who, perhaps not surprisingly, enjoys eating cat soup. And he claims that the baby’s actual father is God. This was a pretty funny issue, but I think this series, and Donny Cates’s work in general, was overhyped.

IRONHEART #2 (Marvel, 2019) – untitled, [W] Eve Ewing, [A] Luciano Vecchio. Another excellent issue. Eve discovers that some villain has been forcing kids to steal phones, apparently for the purpose of doxxing politicians. And one of his victims is Daija, who was Riri’s mentor when she was in high school. This is actually quite a plausible plot, and it’s made even more powerful by Eve Ewing’s skill at characterization and dialogue, as well as Luciano Vecchio’s effective facial expressions. Ironheart may be Marvel’s best debut series since Exiles.

HOUSE OF WHISPERS #5 (Vertigo, 2019) – “Rumors of Glory,” [W] Nalo Hopkinson, [A] Dan Watters. Shakpana keeps spreading chaos, while the good guys try to stop him, and it turns out that the one little girl may have saved the world by stealing his book. One thing I like about this series is its immersion in West African mythology, which has rarely been depicted in American comics except in the most superficial way. For example, one caption says that Shakpana’s real name is Sopona, but that to avoid drawing his attention, he’s usually called Shakpana or Babalu Aye. I’d heard of Babalu Aye before ( but I was surprised to learn that he was the same deity as Shakpana.

ISOLA #6 (Image, 2019) – untitled, [W] Brenden Fletcher, [W/A] Karl Kerschl, [A] Msassyk. It’s nice to see this series again; it’s been a while. As usual, this comic’s artwork is beyond gorgeous. Karl Kerschl should get an Eisner nomination for Best Artist. However, perhaps Isola’s major flaw is its slow pace. Not much happens in this issue except that Rook infiltrates an army camp to steal supplies, and a young soldier sees her talking with Olwyn.

MY LITTLE PONY: NIGHTMARE KNIGHTS #4 (IDW, 20;19) – untitled, [W] Jeremy Whitley, [A] Tony Fleecs. We learn Eris’s origin. Luna and Tempest Shadow convince Daybreaker that she’s actually Princess Celestia, turning her good. Capper appears to betray his teammates, showing a cat’s typical loyalty, though it seems like it wasn’t a real betrayal. This has been a really good series, though it’s one of the darkest pony stories yet.

ISOLA PROLOGUE (Image, 2019) – “Isola Prologue,” [W] Brenden Fletcher, [W/A] Karl Kerschl, [A] Msassyk. This 50-cent comic is a collection of the Isola preview stories that appeared as backups in Motor Crush. I’ve read these stories before, but I’d forgotten about them, and they didn’t make much sense on their own before I read the full Isola series. So it was nice to have a chance to revisit this material.

ENCOUNTER #10 (Lion Forge, 2019) – untitled, [W] Art Baltazar & Franco, [W/A] Chris Giarrusso. Encounter and Kayla defeat Plagnor Zox (sp?) by making him realize he’s killed his own siblings, and the series ends. This is a surprisingly grim ending. This series was entertaining, but it wasn’t that great.

SUPERB #16 (Lion Forge, 2019) – “The Uncertainty of It All,” [W] David F. Walker, [A] Alitha Martinez. The issue begins with a flashback to Jonah learning to read, then the fight scene from last issue continues. The “leader” of Jonah’s team continues to act like a petulant little kid, endangering his own leadership position. The Cosmosis backup story in this issue is pointless.

BLACK BADGE #6 (Boom!, 2019) – untitled, [W] Matt Kindt, [A] Tyler Jenkins. This issue begins with a series of pages colored mostly in pink and blue, detailing the origin of the Pink Badges. I thought Kindt was going to then go on and give us the origin of the other scout troupes, using other colors to distinguish between each of the stories. That would have been really cool, but it didn’t happen. Instead, the rest of the issue is devoted to the fight between the Pink and Black Badges. Also, we learn that one of the Black Badges is a girl. I’m surprised by this “revelation” because I thought we were already supposed to know she was a girl.

INVADERS #1 (Marvel, 2019) – untitled, [W] Chip Zdarsky, [A] Carlos Magno & Butch Guice. Namor is going nuts and trying to destroy the surface world again, and his old Invaders teammates have to save him. To be honest, I thought this comic was a bit tedious, and I’m not all that invested in any of the characters. I’ll give this series a few more issues, but I’m not committed to it yet.

MIDDLEWEST #3 (Image, 2019) – untitled, [W] Skottie Young, [A] Jorge Corona. This series’ two themes – child abuse and Wizard of Oz-style fantasy – start to come together, as the abusive father, Dale, goes looking for his son. Meanwhile, Abel continues his quest, passing through a covered bridge and defeating a troll. The worldbuilding in this series is pretty effective; I like the idea that all covered bridges in the Middlewest have resident trolls. However, I think the worldbuilding would be even better if Skottie were drawing this comic himself.

CATWOMAN #7 (DC, 2019) – “Something Smells Fishy,” [W] Joëlle Jones, [A] Elena Casagrande & Fernando Blanco. The Penguin comes to Catwoman’s town. I’m disappointed that Joëlle Jones has already stopped doing the artwork, but this was an excellent issue anyway. The opening sequence is a good example of visual storytelling. On pages one to three, we see Selina at a jewelry store, watching the jeweler examine some earrings. Then on pages four and five we see her walking away from the jewelry store wearing the same earrings, while three police cars speed in the other direction. The reader is left to imagine what happened in between. Also, the Penguin’s name is never mentioned in this issue, yet the reader can immediately tell that it’s him. Sadly, this issue only includes one panel that depicts a cat, and it’s hard to tell that it’s even a cat.

GIDEON FALLS #10 (Image, 2019) – “The Hypostatic Union,” [W] Jeff Lemire, [A] Andrea Sorrentino. We finally get the backstory behind the Black Barn. It turns out that in the 1880s, a serial killer used a black barn as a hideout, and his name was… Norton Sinclair. Then, after some pages with really bizarre layouts, Norton and the priest finally encounter each other. This series reminds me of Trillium because of its unusual page layouts, and also because its plot involves a meeting between two people from separate worlds. Gideon Falls is certainly Jeff’s most experimental comic since Trillium.

CONAN THE BARBARIAN #19 (Marvel, 1972) – “Hawks from the Sea!”, [W] Roy Thomas, [A] Barry (Windsor-)Smith. Conan accompanies Prince Yezdigerd in besieging Makkalet to recover the Living Tarim. I’ve read this issue before as part of the Essential Conan, but I hadn’t read it in color. And this issue reads much better in color, because its second half was reproduced directly from BWS’s pencils. According to the letters page, this is because the inker, Dan Adkins, was unable to finish in time. Printing directly from pencils was an unusual experiment, and it did not succeed. The art in the second half of the issue is ugly and difficult to parse. Other than that, this is an excellent Conan story, and it shows how much BWS’s style had evolved in the two years since #1.

GODDESS MODE #2 (Vertigo, 2019) – “Reality 101 Failure,” [W] Zoë Quinn, [A] Robbi Rodriguez. Cassandra encounters some other Oracles, or MMORPG players with special Internet powers. This issue is further proof that DC’s decision to hire Zoë Quinn was not just a publicity stunt; she is in fact a brilliant writer. Her worldbuilding is fascinating and plausible, and she shows a deep understanding of Internet culture and computer technology.

BLACK PANTHER #8 (Marvel, 2019) – “The Gathering of My Name,” [W] Ta-Nehisi Coates, [A] Kev Walker. T’Challa is supposed to steal some vibranium from an enemy flagship, but after meeting the slaves who are being held hostage on the ship, including a cute little kid, he can’t resist also stealing the entire ship. This was a pretty good issue. I love the image of the kid wearing a Black Panther mask, and Kev Walker’s art is very impressive.

DICK TRACY: DEAD OR ALIVE #3 (IDW, 2019) – “Tracy Underground,” [W] Lee Allred & Mike Allred, [A] Rich Tommaso. On the run from the law, Tracy encounters Brilliant Smith, who sets him up with some crimefighting equipment. The radio that functions by quantum entanglement is a typical Allred touch. This series is quite well-executed, but it’s becoming a bit tiresome, and Tracy is kind of unsympathetic.

SPECTACULAR SPIDER-MAN #124 (Marvel, 1987) – “When Strikes the Octopus!”, [W] Roger McKenzie, [A] Greg LaRocque. I just started playing the recent Spider-Man video game, and it made me want to read some Spider-Man comics. This issue satisfied my Spider-Man craving, but it’s not all that good. It’s just a standard Dr. Octopus story, in which Spidey battles Doc Ock to stop him from destroying the city with a nuclear reactor.

SPIDER-WOMAN #12 (Marvel, 1979) – “The Last Tale of the Brothers Grimm!”, [W] Mark Gruenwald, [A] Carmine Infantino. A weird and fairly pointless issue that has nothing to do with Spider-Man at all. Jessica Drew is kidnapped by two minor villains, the Brothers Grimm, and their mother, and after a lot of backstory, it turns out that the Brothers Grimm are actually robots. I previously encountered the Brothers Grimm as members of the Night Shift, a team of minor villains many of whom first appeared in Spider-Woman.

AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #193 (Marvel, 1979) – “The Wings of the Fearsome Fly!”, [W] Marv Wolfman, [A] Keith Pollard. Spidey fights the Fly, a minor villain who I believe was later killed by Scourge. Also, as Peter Parker, he gets fired from the Daily Bugle, and then Ned Leeds punches him. Meanwhile, the Burglar subplot that culminated in issue 200 is going on in the background. This issue is okay, but Marv Wolfman was worse than any previous Spider-Man writer.

SISTERHOOD OF STEEL #4 (Marvel/Epic, 1985) – “The Girls’ Night Out!”, [W] Christy Marx, [A] Mike Vosburg. This is surprisingly good. It’s kind of like Conan, but from the perspective of the female warriors who he keeps meeting. This issue focuses on two junior members of an all-female military company, as they collect their pay and go out drinking. Notably, it shows a woman having casual sex and enjoying it, and such a depiction was unusual in commercial comics at the time. Christy Marx is best known as the creator of Jem, but her only other comics work that I’m familiar with is her unsuccessful New 52 Amethyst series.

SPECTACULAR SPIDER-MAN #6 (Marvel, 1977) – “The Power to Purge!”, [W] Gerry Conway, [A] Ross Andru. A Dreaded Deadline Doom reprint of Marvel Team-Up #3, which I already reviewed for this blog. There are a couple new pages, but they contain nothing of interest.

CREATURES ON THE LOOSE #33 (Marvel, 1975) – “Deathgame!”, [W] David Kraft, [A] George Pérez. Gentleman George Pérez, the greatest superhero artist besides Kirby, just announced his retirement due to health issues. I’m grateful to him for all the pleasure he’s given me, and I wish him all the best. This very early work does not reflect his true abilities, because Klaus Janson’s inking is utterly unsuited to George’s style. Also, the plot is boring and forgettable. It’s a Man-Wolf story, but I can’t remember much else about it.

STELLAR #2 (Image, 2018) – untitled, [W] Joe Keatinge, [A] Bret Blevins. I did read issue 1 of this series, but I can’t remember anything about it, and this issue doesn’t include a recap. So I couldn’t tell what was going on here, except that Stellar was fighting some people and having a flashback about her friend Umbra. I was right to give up on this series after one issue.

SOUTHERN CROSS #4 (Image, 2015) – untitled, [W] Becky Cloonan, [A] Andy Belanger. I had to check my “Master List of Comics Reviewed” to make sure I’d read the first issue of this, because I couldn’t remember anything about it at all. I was confusing it with Invisible Republic, another series I bailed on after the first issue. It turns out that according to my review, Southern Cross #1 had such a boring plot that I couldn’t remember anything about it even immediately after I read it, and that’s true of issue 4. Nothing much happens in this issue at all. That’s too bad, because the issue does contain some excellent artwork and some radically unusual page layouts.

AVENGERS #1 (Marvel, 2012) – “Wake the World,” [W] Jonathan Hickman, [A] Jerome Opeña. Jonathan Hickman’s take on the Avengers is essentially a continuation of his Fantastic Four run, and is drawn in a similar style. However, as I previously argued with respect to Jason Aaron’s Avengers, an Avengers comic needs to have more than just epic cosmic superhero stories. It also needs to have characterization, and for that you need characters like Hawkeye and Vision and Wanda, as well as the big three of Cap, Thor and Iron Man. This issue has no character interaction to speak of, so it fails for the same reason Jason Aaron’s Avengers did. As far as I recall, Hickman’s Avengers was never a huge success and didn’t have nearly as big an impact as his Fantastic Four, and since FF, his career has gone downhill.

WORLDS’ FINEST #9 (DC, 2013) – “Raid,” [W] Paul Levitz, [A] George Pérez, Cafu & Yildiray Cinar. This series is notable for containing some of George’s last art on an ongoing comic. Unfortunately, he only drew eight pages of this issue, and Paul’s writing is not nearly good enough to carry the rest of the issue.

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