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Some reviews, but I still have more to write

4-26-19

New comics received on 3/28:

FANTASTIC FOUR #8 (Marvel, 2019) – “First World Power,” [W] Dan Slott, [A] Aaron Kuder et al. For a long time I thought that Lee, Byrne and Waid were the three best Fantastic Four writers, but now Hickman is also a candidate as one of the three best, and possibly Slott as well. Simonson is not in my top three because his run was so short. This issue continues the plotline with Doom, Victorious and the imprisoned Galactus. The issue ends with Sue making Doom’s armor invisible and revealing his horribly mutilated body to the whole world. Meanwhile, Franklin (who now has blue hair for some reason) runs away from home and encounters Wendy and her friends from FF #239. That was not one of Byrne’s more memorable issues, and I had to check my copy of it to remember who Wendy and her friends were.

WONDER WOMAN #67 (DC, 2019) – “Giants War Part 2,” [W] G. Willow Wilson, [A] Cary Nord. Diana and Giganta continue their pursuit of the Titan, while Maggie finds a mysterious sword in a lake. In my mind this issue has become blurred together with issue 68.

BLACK HAMMER: AGE OF DOOM #9 (Dark Horse, 2019) – untitled, [W] Jeff Lemire, [A] Dean Ormston. Lucy and Abraham’s lives continue to get worse, while on Mars, Mark Markz’s lover is murdered. The highlight of this issue is the scene where Abe is reading a comic book, and some young punks tear it in half, spit in his eye, and beat him up. This scene shows how this version of Spiral City is totally devoid of hope. But the issue ends with Lucy recovering her powers.

THE AVANT-GUARDS #3 (Boom!, 2019) – I just lost power for no apparent reason, so I might as well write some reviews, since there’s enough daylight to see by. This issue, the Avant-Guards play their first game, against a team from a veterinary school. And they win in a blowout. This was surprising to me because I expect that in sports stories, the protagonists will start out really bad, but the other team is even worse. This series has some excellent characterization: the focal character this issue is Liv, who is incredibly cheerful. Also, this issue features some adorable dogs, though I’m not a dog person.

MOON GIRL AND DEVIL DINOSAUR #41 (Marvel, 2019) – “Bad Dream, Part Four: Face Your Fears,” [W] Brandon Montclare, [A] Natacha Bustos. Lunella finally gets Bad Dream to fall asleep, then returns him to his parents. This storyline was not bad, but not great either. It could have been a couple issues shorter.

ISOLA #7 (Image, 2019) – untitled, [W] Brenden Fletcher, [W/A] Karl Kerschl, [A] Msassyk. This series just earned a bunch of Eisner nominations. I think they’re deserved, although I have concerns about the pace of its storytelling. This issue, Rook and Olwyn descend into a mining village in the chasm, where all the children have been stolen. This new plotline is eerie and intriguing, and the art this issue is brilliant. There’s a two-page splash showing the massive scale of the mining operation, and a splash page with a bunch of weird flying owl-monkeys.

MARVEL RISING #1 (Marvel, 2019) – “Heroes of the Round Table!”, [W] Nilah Magruder, [A] Roberto Di Salvo. I’m glad this series is back, but this new debut issue has way too much exposition and not enough characterization or humor. At times it reads like a public service comic about college majors, and not a very well-written one either. When Squirrel Girl makes a speech about how English majors learn “very important skills for a super hero,” it feels as if she’s either talking down to the reader, or reading from a press release. Also, it’s very odd that ESU only has a single “Department of Science,” and I’ve never heard of a research university where journalism and communications were in the English department.

IRONHEART #4 (Marvel, 2019) – untitled, [W] Eve Ewing, [A] Luciano Vecchio. This issue wastes a lot of space on Midnight’s Fire’s origin story. I don’t care about him, I care about Riri. The beginning of the issue is better, where Riri gets increasingly annoyed at the dean’s officious interference, and her mother tells her a story about her childhood.

SNOTGIRL #13 (Image, 2019) – “Eyes on Me,” [W] Bryan Lee O’Malley, [A] Leslie Hung. My favorite issue in some time. Lottie is doing a pop-up event at a store, but her friend Meg shows up with her dog, who promptly shits on the floor. The “pewp” sound effect is perhaps the most memorable part of the issue. Lottie’s attempt to clean it up goes horribly wrong, and the pop-up event is ruined. Meanwhile, Cutegirl continues messing with Lottie’s mind. Things turn out reasonably okay in the end, but I can sympathize with Lottie when she says “I guess it’s just cool to know I’m the least important person in everyone’s life today!”

THE TERRIFICS #14 (DC, 2019) – “Terrifics No More! Part 4,” [W] Jeff Lemire, [A] Joe Bennett. The Terrifics fight the Dreadfuls and kick their asses. Then they decide to stay together even though their dark energy bond is broken, and Mrs. Terrific, Offspring and Element Dog become permanent team members. This is a heartwarming conclusion to Jeff’s run. I doubt that Gene Luen Yang will be able to maintain the same level of quality, though I’ll give him a chance.

HEX WIVES #6 (Vertigo, 2019) – “Ladies Liberty,” [W] Ben Blacker, [A] Mirka Andolfo. A very satisfying conclusion. The wives finally get their revenge on the husbands, then leave town to go learn about their true identities. I fear that this may be the last issue, but if it is, then at least the series has ended on a high note.

GLOW #1 (IDW, 2019) – untitled, [W] Tini Howard, [A] Hannah Templer. I have not seen the Netflix series that this is based on, but I ordered it anyway because I like the art style and the premise. Glow is about a group of female professional wrestlers and takes place in the ‘80s. The artwork in this series is really cute, and the dialogue is humorous. But what strikes me about this comic is the characters’ unfair working conditions. They have to rehearse every single day, after their day jobs. Then when they think they have a weekend off, they discover that they have to pay to work that day. It’s like they’re adjuncts or something.

DIAL H FOR HERO #1 (DC, 2019) – “The Hero Within,” [W] Sam Humphries, [A] Joe Quinones. This is DC’s second Dial H for Hero revival in the past decade. The protagonist this time is a teenager living in a boring dead-end town. The first hero he turns into is Monster Truck, a parody of Liefeld characters, and the Monster Truck sequence is drawn in a Liefeldian style. Dial H for Hero is less ambitious than China Miéville’s Dial H, but it’s more accessible, and it’s written by a writer who has previous comics experience.

SABRINA THE TEENAGE WITCH #1 (Archie, 2019) – untitled, [W] Kelly Thompson, [A] Veronica Fish & Andy Fish. By publishing this comic, Archie is essentially admitting that Chilling Adventures of Sabrina will never be finished. I liked that series, but the creators were not capable of delivering even one issue a year, and it’s high time to give up on it. Like Dial H for Hero, Sabrina series is less ambitious than its predecessor; in exchange, however, Sabrina has a creative team that can keep a regular schedule. This Sabrina series is a fairly standard high school drama, but with more sophisticated art and more realistic writing than a typical classic Archie comic. It also includes a horror subplot about a wendigo, so Sabrina’s magical powers are more than just a gimmick.

CODA #10 (Boom!, 2019) – untitled, [W] Simon Spurrier, [A] Matias Bergara. Matias Bergara received a well-deserved Eisner nomination for his art on this series. This issue, we learn that the bathtub mermaid witch has engineered all the events of the entire series in order to set herself up as a benevolent queen. Her goal was to defeat the Thundergog and acquire the imprisoned Ylf for herself, and she more or less accomplishes that this issue. So I guess it’s up to Hum and Serka to save the world.

MR. & MRS. X #9 (Marvel, 2019) – “Gambit & Rogue Forever Part Three,” [W] Kelly Thompson, [A] Oscar Bazaldua. This series appears to have been silently cancelled, which is a pity because it was really good, and probably the best comic with these characters. This issue, Gambit discovers that the McGuffin of the current storyline is Spiral’s baby. Meanwhile, inside her mind, Rogue confronts her past self and her psychic hang-ups. Confusingly, Rogue is also appearing in Captain Marvel right now, but that story is unrelated to this one.

BOOKS OF MAGIC #6 (Vertigo, 2019) – “A Twist in the Narrative,” [W] Kat Howard, [A] Tom Fowler. Tim heads to Faerie to find his mother and Ellie, a kidnapped classmate of his. This series’ plot continues to move at a glacial pace.

GODDESS MODE #4 (Vertigo, 2019) – “Dispose Pattern,” [W] Zoe Quinn, [A] Robbi Rodriguez. I feel kind of unmotivated to read this series, and I’m not sure why, because it’s good. Maybe the problem is that there’s just too much going on in the plot, and it’s hard to keep it all straight. The thing that stands out most in this issue is the woman who suffered a moral dilemma from working as a social media moderator.

BAD LUCK CHUCK #1 (Dark Horse, 2019) – “Disaster on Demand,” [W] Lela Gwenn, [A] Matthew Dow Smith. This series’ protagonist has exceptionally bad luck, like Calamity King from the Legion. A woman hires her to track down her daughter, who’s joined a cult. I ordered this comic on a whim, and I kind of wish I hadn’t, because it’s not all that interesting.

BUCK ROGERS IN THE 25TH CENTURY #8 (Gold Key, 1980) – “The Battle Over Planet Earth,” [W] Michael Teitelbaum, [A] Al McWilliams. This is the first Buck Rogers comic I’ve read. Before reading it, I thought that Buck Rogers was the bargain basement version of Flash Gordon, and I still think so now. This issue has a convoluted and unexciting plot, but some excellent artwork, especially in the space battle sequences. However, Al McWilliams’s backgrounds and interiors are pretty boring.

BIRTHRIGHT #5 (Image, 2015) – untitled, [W] Joshua Williamson, [A] Andrei Bresson. The flashback sequence continues, while in the present day, Mikey kills the wizard Ward. At the end of the issue, Mikey’s childhood friend Rya travels through a portal to Earth, and we discover that she’s pregnant with Mikey’s child. This is shocking since by Earth chronology, Mikey should still be a child himself.

LEGION OF SUPER-HEROES VOL. 4 #10 (DC, 1990) – untitled, [W/A] Keith Giffen, [W] Tom Bierbaum & Mary Bierbaum. This was one of the only issues of v4 that I was missing, other than about eight issues from the very end of the run. As usual with v4, this issue includes a ton of concurrent plotlines. The main event of the issue is that Roxxas invades the Ranzz family plantation on Winath and seemingly kills a bunch of Legionnaires, though none of them actually died. (I spelled that “Roxas” at first thanks to Kingdom Hearts.) There are some very nice interactions between characters, like the scene where Imra tells Brainy that she’ll call him for dinner, and he says “Just send mine up.” Another highlight of the issue is the end, where Tenzil arrives on Earth with a bunch of Venturan Walking Money.

SYNERGY #1 (IDW, 2019) – various stories, [E] Megan Brown. An anthology of stories and pin-ups by female contributors to IDW’s Hasbro titles. The stories in this issue are a mixed bag, and it contains too many pin-ups and not enough comics. Overall it doesn’t justify its $7.99 price tag. However, I had to buy it because of Katie Cook’s autobiographical story. This story is brilliantly done, and provides some fascinating insight into my favorite pony writer. I especially like the scene where she tells her children “That’s Mommy in a pony suit” and “I wrote her backstory,” and her kids are unimpressed. I also liked the autobio stories written by Maighread Scott and Emma Vieceli, but I wish that this issue had consisted entirely of stories like these.

BLACK PANTHER #10 (Marvel, 2019) – “The Gathering of My Name,” [W] Ta-Nehisi Coates, [A] Kev Walker. Mostly another big fight scene. Like Ta-Nehisi’s previous Black Panther storyline, The Intergalactic Empire of Wakanda is wearing out its welcome a bit.

G.I. JOE: SIERRA MUERTE #2 (IDW, 2019) – “Sierra Muerte Part 2,” [W/A] Michel Fiffe. This isn’t bad, but it’s still not as interesting as Copra or Bloodstrike Brutalists. See my review of #1 for more on this series. Chad Bowers’s essays in the back of this series are making me more interested in rereading Larry Hama’s GI Joe, which was one of the first comics I ever read. However, Bowers’s extremely admiring attitude is a bit annoying.

GO-BOTS #5 (IDW, 2019) – untitled, [W/A] Tom Scioli. A weird conclusion to a weird and fascinating series. Tom Scioli’s work is a fascinating combination of a Gary Panter- or Fort Thunder-esque aesthetic with commercial media franchises. The issue ends by strongly implying that the Go-Bots are the ancestors of the Transformers, as with the line about the one dude creating “ an optimizedversion of my self.” The “they are all equal now” caption in the last panel is a reference to Kubrick’s Barry Lyndon.

INVADERS #3 (Marvel, 2019) – “War-Ghosts, Part III,” [W] Chip Zdarsky, [A] Carlos Magno. Another installment of the Randall and Nay Peterson plot. Randall dies at the end of the issue, although that’s hardly a surprise considering his age. This series was never very interesting, and I’m not getting issue 4.

DAREDEVIL #3 (Marvel, 2019) – “Know Fear Part 3,” [W] Chip Zdarsky, [A] Marco Checchetto. This storyline is essentially a retread of Born Again; the plot is that the Kingpin pushes Matt beyond his limits and forces him to doubt himself. The difference is that in “Know Fear,” the reader doesn’t even sympathize with Matt. We’re supposed to believe that Matt was framed for killing that dude, but we haven’t been given any evidence of that; the more we read, the more certain it seems that Matt really did kill him. As a result, I find myself resenting Matt for not turning himself in.  He really feels like a menace to society.

ASTONISHER #4 (Lion Forge, 2018) – “After the Fall,” [W] Alex de Campi, [A] Pop Mhan. This issue, the protagonist escapes from a mental asylum with the aid of his friends. I should have quit reading this series almost as soon as I started reading it, because I’ve never understood its plot or premise.

DETECTIVE COMICS #1000 (DC, 2019) – numerous stories, [E] Chris Conroy & Dave Wielgosz. The average quality of this issue was higher than that of Action Comics #1000. There were no truly great stories, but no awful ones either. I think the best one is Paul Dini and Dustin Nguyen’s “The Legend of Knute Brody,” about an epically inept crook who turns out to be Batman in disguise. In selecting creators for this issue, DC provided a representative sample of the past 50 years of Batman’s history. Denny O’Neil’s writing and Neal Adams’s art have not aged well, but they certainly deserve to be included here.

LEAGUE OF EXTRAORDINARY GENTLEMEN: THE TEMPEST #5 (Top Shelf, 2019) – “The Fairy Feller’s Master-Stroke!”, [W] Alan Moore, [A] Kevin O’Neill. At this point I’m only reading this series out of a sense of obligation and completism. This series never made any sense to me in the first place, and it becomes even more incomprehensible with each issue. And I say that as someone who enjoyed The Birth Caul and the second half of Promethea.

PUNKS NOT DEAD: LONDON CALLING #2 (IDW, 2019) – “…To the Faraway Towns,” [W] David Barnett, [A] Martin Simmonds. I thought the artwork last issue was a bit unimpressive, but  the art this issue is as amazing as in any issue of the first miniseries. This issue continues the existing plot, and also introduces a new character who can see Sid.

THE FORGOTTEN QUEEN #2 (Valiant, 2019) – untitled, [W] Tini Howard, [A] Amilcar Pinna. A flashback to Sarnai’s history with the immortal warrior queen. There are some nice lines in this issue, especially “Some men do not understand that the word for ‘respected and feared woman’ is simply: ‘woman.’” However, the protagonists of this series are a genocidal villain and her lover, and it’s hard to sympathize with either of them. I assume this comic has some larger purpose, which I am not aware of, within Valiant’s shared universe.

BIRTHRIGHT #6 (Image, 2015) – as above. Mikey’s parents have a heart-to-heart talk. Meanwhile, Mikey bonds with his brother, but then callously kills a mother bear that had already stopped attacking him. This scene reminds us that Mikey is actually evil, as we already knew.

DETECTIVE COMICS #499 (DC, 1981) – “Allies in the Shadows,” [W] Gerry Conway, [A] Dan Newton. Batman and Blockbuster are trapped in a West Virginia coal mine with a bunch of miners, and Batman has to keep Blockbuster calm until they can escape and go after the corrupt mine owners. This comic is effectively a Batman-Hulk crossover; you could replace Blockbuster with the Hulk without having to change anything else about the story. But that’s not a bad thing, because Batman and Blockbuster’s interactions are really interesting, and in general this is a very solid and well-drawn Batman story. This issue also includes an unimpressive Batgirl backup story by Burkett and Delbo.

In early April, I went to Davenport, Iowa for the International Comic Arts Forum. Highlights of this conference included seeing my old mentor and friend Ana Merino for the first time in over a decade, and hanging out at the airport with Ana, Jose Alaniz, and Jaime Hernandez. On Sunday, I skipped one of the artist talks to visit a nearby comic book store, Superstars & Superheroes. This is an amazing store; like the defunct Hoyt’s in Gainesville, it’s completely full of old comics, many of them at very reasonable prices. I bought a modest stack of comics there, including the following two, and I could have bought even more if I’d had time.

THE ADVENTURES OF LITTLE ARCHIE #29 (Archie, 1961) – “Dig Those Grubbers” and other stories, [W/A] Bob Bolling and Dexter Taylor. My copy of this issue is in such bad condition that I don’t want to remove it from its bag. The first of this issue’s two Bolling stories is Mad Doctor Doom and Chester’s second appearance. Like Barks’s “Land Beneath the Ground,” it’s about some creatures that live in the Earth’s crust. In the second story, Archie is late for school because he’s returning a baby bird to its nest. A nice pun in this story is that Archie encounters a bird fancier named Phoebe Finch. This issue also includes a bunch of Dexter Taylor stories. Taylor’s work on this series is always disappointing by comparison with Bolling’s, but I think he was better in the ‘60s than in later decades.

DOOM PATROL #104 (DC, 1966) – “The Bride of the Doom Patrol,” [W] Arnold Drake, [A] Bruno Premiani. One of the weirdest superhero wedding issues ever. Steve Dayton, Cliff Steele and Larry Trainor (Mento, Robotman and Negative Man) are all in love with Rita Farr (Elasti-Girl). After Rita falls in love with Steve and accepts his proposal, Cliff and Larry get all jealous and sabotage their wedding. Then Mento attacks the Doom Patrol’s headquarters, but it turns out “he” is really Madame Rouge. A battle between the Doom Patrol and the Brotherhood of Evil ensues, after which Steve and Rita get married after all. As this summary indicates, Arnold Drake’s Doom Patrol is just as bizarre and illogical as Bob Haney’s Titans; however, Drake’s Doom Patrol has the advantage of Marvel-style characterization. All the characters in this issue behave in embarrassing ways, but at least they have somewhat understandable motives for their actions.

New comics received on April 7, which was right after I got back from ICAF, so I was even more exhausted than usual:

PAPER GIRLS #27 (Image, 2019) – untitled, [W] Brian K. Vaughan, [A] Cliff Chiang. This issue advances a bunch of different plotlines, and then at the end, Erin encounters Jahpo. There are just three more issues after this one. I have no idea how Brian and Cliff are going to be able to resolve all the dangling plotlines.

CONAN THE BARBARIAN #5 (Marvel, 2019) – “The Captain of the Ship of the Dead,” [W] Jason Aaron, [A] Mahmud Asrar. Conan is trapped on a derelict ship along with a bunch of corpses and an idol that turns people into monsters. Through sheer force of will, he survives until he encounters a pirate ship, then defeats the pirates singlehandedly and becomes their new captain. The moral of the story is that “Conan knew he was not meant to be alone”: despite being kind of a grumpy misanthrope, he needs other people’s company. This issue makes effective use of both Lovecraftian horror, and Jason Aaron’s grim humor.

GIANT DAYS #49 (Boom!, 2019) – untitled, [W] John Allison, [A] Max Sarin. Esther has to write a dissertation on American literature, but is plagued by writer’s block and tense relations with her parents. This was a funny issue with some heartwarming moments (“You should have more kids.” “You were plenty”), though I don’t remember much about it specifically. I think Esther’s “dissertation” is what we Americans would call a BA thesis.

MARVEL TEAM-UP #1 (Marvel, 2019) – untitled, [W] Eve Ewing, [A] Joey Vazquez. This issue is a team-up between Ms. Marvel and Spider-Man. It’s also a flip book, so one half of the issue tells the story from Kamala’s perspective, then the other half tells the same story from Peter’s perspective, and the two stories meet in the middle. This is a cute gimmick, though it’s not as brilliantly executed as Silver Surfer #11. Kamala and Peter are a natural pairing because of their shared interest in science.

DIE #5 (Image, 2019) – “Premise Rejection,” [W] Kieron Gillen, [A] Stephanie Hans. The heroes defeat Sol, but it turns out they don’t all want to go home, and also, all the dead people in the gameworld are the ghosts of former players. So that’s the end of the first storyline. This is a fascinating series, although you kind of need to read Kieron’s notes to understand it. But at least that’s an improvement over The Wicked + The Divine, where Kieron doesn’t even provide notes (at least not notes that help explain the story).

FEMALE FURIES #3 (DC, 2019) – “Nevertheless, She Persisted,” [W] Cecil Castellucci, [A] Adriana Melo. I read this because I was tired and felt like hate-reading something, and this is a very hate-readable comic. Auralie tries to escape Apokolips, but Barda and Granny Goodness force her to return to Willik, who promptly kills her. But not before she gives a depressing speech about how all she wanted to do was dance. This story’s title evokes Maxine Waters, but I would argue that it’s not a feminist story at all; it’s just torture porn. Auralie’s suffering and death are utterly meaningless, and are presented with a pornographic level of detail. The story denies her any kind of agency: even when she tries to help herself, she fails. I guess Auralie’s death is supposed to be what inspires Barda to become a hero, but that effectively means that Auralie is being fridged for the benefit of Barda and Scott, and fridging isn’t any better when it’s done on behalf of a female character’s narrative arc. Besides being horrible on its own, this story also tarnishes Big Barda’s character irredeemably, and it’s an insult to the memory of one of Kirby’s greatest Fourth World stories, “Himon” (Mister Miracle #9). In future it will be difficult to read “Himon” without perceiving Auralie as a helpless rape victim. Overall, this is a train wreck of a comic, and everyone involved with it should be ashamed.

GREEN LANTERN #6 (DC, 2019) – “Under Strange Skies,” [W] Grant Morrison, [A] Liam Sharp. Now this is closer to the kind of experience I want when I read a superhero comic. On Rann, Blackstar Hal Jordan kills Adam Strange in a duel. For a moment I thought Adam was really dead, but then I reached the panel where Hal winks at Alanna, showing that Adam is alive and Hal has a plan. And he does, thought it ends with him being sent to some limbo dimension, where he encounters Myrwhidden [sic]. This issue is full of nice moments. I like how Alanna gets to kill the villain at the end, and Controller Mu’s reference to Aleea as a “strangelet” is a brilliant pun.

POWERS IN ACTION #2 (Action Lab, 2019) – “The Impending Storm,” [W/A] Art Baltazar. Like all of Art’s work, this comic is light and accessible, but entertaining. It has the flavor of a classic superhero comic, with just enough innovation to not be a pure retread. I like the scene where the big strong dude tries ice cream for the first time.

BRONZE AGE BOOGIE #1 (Ahoy, 2019) – untitled, [W] Stuart Moore, [A] Alberto Ponticelli. I was so sleepy when I read this that I can barely remember it, but it’s good. As its title indicates, this comic is a mashup of several different genres of ‘70s comics. The protagonist of this first  issue is Brita Constantina, the teenage daughter of a character who’s essentially Conan the Barbarian. Brita knows about the 20th century because of her talking monkey companion Sniffer Ape, who’s very similar to Howard the Duck. Then she gets transported to the future, where she encounters a woman who resembles Misty Knight. I wasn’t alive during the ‘70s, but to me the ‘70s have always felt like the first modern decade, and the creators of Bronze Age Boogie effectively capture the atmosphere of ‘70s comics. They even include one page that’s half printed text and half illustration, which was a trademark of Steve Gerber.

IMMORTAL HULK #16 (Marvel, 2019) – “It’s Joe,” [W] Al Ewing, [A] Joe Bennett. I ordered this because I’ve been hearing good things about this series. This issue has one plotline where Bruce and Doc Samson are trying to find Rick Jones’s body, and another plotline where a reporter named Jackie McGee is looking for Bruce. Most of the issue is narrated via captions from Rick’s autobiography. Overall this is a pretty fascinating comic. It feels like both a horror comic and a classic Hulk comic at once.

ATOMIC ROBO: DAWN OF A NEW ERA #4 (IDW, 2019) – untitled, [W] Brian Clevinger, [A] Scott Wegener. The best line in this issue is on the first page: “The thing I’m having trouble with isn’t primordial cosmic beasts, but that their names are puns in English.” “They would work out to monster puns in any language. Such is their power.” There’s lots of other fun stuff in this issue. The main event is that Robo’s allies learn that he’s resurrected Alan, though the impact of this moment is lessened because I can’t remember who Alan is.

BLACK HAMMER ’45 #2 (Dark Horse, 2019) – untitled, [W] Ray Fawkes, [A] Matt Kindt. This issue is mostly a flashback sequence in which the Black Hammer pilots fight a Nazi werebat. Matt Kindt’s aviation art is pretty good, and this issue does a good job of capturing the sensibility of old Blackhawk comics. (It turns out I already mentioned in my review of #1 that this series is the Black Hammer version of Blackhawk.) But this series is not as interesting as the Black Hammer titles written by Jeff Lemire.

THE DREAMING #8 (Vertigo, 2019) – “Love, Part 2,” [W] Simon Spurrier, [A] Abigail Larson. This issue is kind of difficult, and not as fascinating as issue 7. Over the course of the issue it becomes clear that Daniel has been trapped in the same way as Morpheus was trapped by Roderick Burgess. Daniel vanishes with Ivy Walker, going I’m not sure where, and I think that’s the end of this storyline. A couple things worth noting: Daniel says that it’s every child’s fantasy to romance the babysitter, which is a reference to how Rose babysat him when he was a baby. This issue includes a reference to gu poisoning. This is an actual method of poisoning from Chinese culture, in which multiple venomous creatures are put into a sealed container, and then a poison is made from the last one that survives.

ADVENTURES OF THE SUPER SONS #9 (DC, 2019) – “The Good, the Bad and the Sons,” [W] Peter Tomasi, [A] Scott Godlewski. This issue is another parody of Western cliches, with Damian, Jon and Kid Lantern continuing their team-up with Jonah Hex. It’s a fun comic, but I still don’t like how this series is isolated from the rest of the DC universe.

MARVEL ACTION: BLACK PANTHER #1 (IDW, 2019) – “The Little Things,” [W] Kyle Baker, [A] Juan Samu. Before I get to reviewing this comic, it is really stupid how Marvel is outsourcing their kids’ superhero comics to IDW. I know Marvel has made multiple failed attempts at kids’ superhero lines, but that’s no excuse for giving up. Why can’t they try to replicate the success they’ve already had with Moon Girl? Anyway, this Black Panther comic is not bad, but it’s nowhere near as good as Shuri, and it’s not the best work Kyle Baker is capable of.

DOMINO: HOTSHOTS #2 (Marvel, 2019) – “Cold War Part 2,” [W] Gail Simone, [A] David Baldeon. I’m already losing my enthusiasm for this series, although I was very tired when I read this issue. This comic is a fun lighthearted romp, but Gail’s comics tend to leave me cold. They’re fun, but they lack the passion and enthusiasm I find in similar comics by other writers, and they seem like parodies of themselves.

RED SONJA #3 (Dynamite, 2019) – “The Gold Mine,” [W] Mark Russell, [A] Mirko Colak & Bob Q. The strategies and intrigues in this comic are exciting, but it still doesn’t feel like a Red Sonja comic, or even a barbarian comic. As previously noted, Mark Russell’s work is effective because he adopts the premises and conventions of each franchise he’s adapting, but he also turns those franchises into political allegories. For example, his Lone Ranger miniseries worked as both a Western comic and an allegory about border politics. But his Red Sonja shows no understanding of the barbarian genre or the character’s history, and therefore it falls flat to me.

THE GIRL IN THE BAY #3 (Dark Horse, 2019) – “Time’s Shadow,” [W] J.M. DeMatteis, [A] Corin Howell. I am losing confidence in JM DeMatteis – see the review of Impossible, Inc. below – but The Girl in the Bay remains interesting. I think what I like about it is its nostalgic evocation of the ‘60s, and specifically of ’60s Orientalist mysticism. In that sense, this comic reminds me of Rogan Gosh or Kim Deitch’s story “The Road to Rana Poona.” The plot of this issue is pretty much what you would expect.

SECRET SIX #2 (DC, 1968) – “Plunder the Pentagon!”, [W] E. Nelson Bridwell & Joe Gill, [A] Frank Springer. The original Secret Six were six talented people with severe vulnerabilities – a  dark secret, a terminal medical condition, a crippled child, etc. A mysterious person named Mockingbird solved their problems for them, but now they have to perform secret spy missions on Mockingbird’s behalf, or he’ll reveal their secrets, stop their medical treatment, etc. The catch is that one of the Secret Six is Mockingbird, and we don’t know which one. The premise of this series is spectacular, and ENB and Joe Gill take full advantage of it. This issue has a super-complicated plot that revolves around a Soviet attempt to steal blueprints from the Pentagon. The Secret Six have to foil the plot, while also trying to guess which of their number is Mockingbird. As the issue goes on, the plot becomes too complicated to follow (and also very implausible), but that’s part of the fun. This is a really enjoyable issue, and I need to track down the rest of this short-lived series.

STAR WARS #35 (Marvel, 1980) – “Dark Lord’s Gambit,” [W] Archie Goodwin, [A] Carmine Infantino. Just after Episode IV, Luke has to visit a planet called Monastery to obtain its support for the Rebels. However, Darth Vader is also trying to recruit the same planet for the Empire. Also, the handsome young woman who invites Luke to Monastery turns out to be secretly working for Vader. When writing this comic, Archie clearly did not know that Luke was Vader’s son or Leia’s brother. As a result, there is a love triangle between Luke, Leia and Han, which feels very creepy in hindsight. And Vader feels like just a generic Marvel villain. Also, Infantino’s art had already gone into a steep decline by 1980.

JOURNEY INTO MYSTERY #4 (Marvel, 1973) – multiple stories, [E] Roy Thomas. This issue begins with a Lovecraftian horror story by Ron Goulart and Gene Colan. Sadly, this story’s coloring is way too bright and cheerful, and as a result it fails to generate any sense of horror. Gene was capable of drawing excellent horror comics, but he didn’t do so in this case. The second story, despite its all-star creative team of Steve Gerber and P. Craig Russell, is very slight. The last story, by Gardner Fox, Don McGregor and Win Mortimer, is the best, because it’s about a man who grows a face on his chest. However, this revelation would have been much more shocking  if it had come on the last page rather than the first page, which is where the creators put it.

DATE WITH DEBBI #1 (DC, 1969) – “Detention’s the Thing!” and other stories, [W] Steve Skeates, [A] Samm Schwartz. An uninspired Archie ripoff, with nothing especially new or interesting about it.

MARVEL PREMIERE #18 (Marvel, 1974) – “Lair of Shattered Vengeance!”, [W] Doug Moench, [A] Larry Hama. Doug Moench may have been the second worst writer of purple prose in ‘70s comics, after Don McGregor. (You could also put Gerber on that list, but at least his prose was good.) Despite that, this is an interesting comic. Larry Hama’s art is pretty exciting, and this issue includes an important moment in Danny Rand’s life. He encounters his father’s killer, Harold Meachum, who gives Danny more information on their shared past before being murdered by a ninja. Just them, Meachum’s daughter walks in and mistakenly thinks Danny killed her father. I’ve never liked Iron Fist as much as Master of Kung Fu, but it’s a good example of the kind of comic that Bronze Age Boogie is based on.

STRANGE SPORTS STORIES #4 (DC, 1974) – “The Challenge of the Faceless Five,” [W] Cary Bates, [A] John Rosenberger. This comic is an interesting experiment, but not an especially successful one. The first story would be ridiculously implausible even without the SF element. Its protagonists are a team of five baseball players who have played together since first grade and have neverlost. Also, they’ve played “every second of every game, without substitutions.” Not even Bill Russell’s Celtics were that good. The story gets worse from there. A fortuneteller reveals that the five “Unbeatables” are going to become an elite planetary security force, and will then take on some alien invaders and lose because of overconfidence. So in order to save the world from that fate, they have to lose a basketball game… to their own future sons. Um, yeah. As this story demonstrates, Cary Bates was incapable of writing anything other than superhero comics in the Silver Age DC style. The backup story, by Denny O’Neil and Irv Novick, is about the police officer son of a boxer who was murdered by the mob. Despite its obvious resemblance to Daredevil, this story is much better than the lead story because its supernatural element is more understated.

IMPOSSIBLE INCORPORATED #5 (IDW, 2019) – “The Beginningless Beginning,” [W] J.M. DeMatteis, [A] Mike Cavallaro. I enjoyed the first couple issues of this miniseries, but it quickly ran out of steam. It tries to do too many things at once, and doesn’t succeed at any of them. Its plot is so cosmic that the reader’s sense of wonder is overwhelmed. What I liked about the first couple issues was their exploration of Number Horowitz’s relationship with her father, but the rest of the series didn’t deliver enough of that. I will think twice before ordering JM DeMatteis’s next miniseries.

M.A.R.S. PATROL TOTAL WAR #4 (Gold Key, 1967) – “Operation Deep-Freeze,” [W] Leo Dorfman, [A] Mike Roy. Another comic I bought in Davenport. Unfortunately the previous issue of this series was the last one with Wally Wood art, and this issue has a vastly inferior creative team. This issue is a reasonably entertaining war comic with SF elements, kind of like GI Joe, but it’s not great.

GIRLS’ ROMANCES #83 (DC, 1962) – various stories, [E] Phyllis Reed. After reading The Ten-Cent Plague back in March, I’ve gotten interested in reading more romance comics. These comics are easy to dismiss because, in addition to being targeted at a marginalized audience, they tended to have very tame stories that preached conventional moral values. But these comics were aimed at girls, even though they were mostly created by adult men, so they’re an important part of the story I’m trying to tell in my next book. And I’m guessing that the genre was more diverse and intriguing than one might think. In this issue’s first story, the protagonist falls in love with a man who already has a girlfriend, and decides to leave him alone, even though he’s interested in her too. The second story is about a man who falls in love with his dead brother’s widow, and they don’t get together in the end, though there’s a suggestion that they will later. The third story is about a romance that fails because the woman has much more money than the man. The fourth story (whose splash page is by John Romita) is actually kind of progressive. The woman is a rich heiress, and the man is a poor sailor. In the middle of this story, she tells him that someday he’ll own his own boat, and “then my family will sit up and take notice!” That results in this exchange:

HIM: Is that what you’re counting on? That I’ll “better” myself so that I can become acceptable to the Fairbanks?

HER: Well, there’s nothing wrong with that – I mean – you don’t want to work with your hands for the rest of your life, do you?

HIM: That’s exactly what I want to do! I happen to love working with my hands – and if that’s not good enough for you, it’s lucky we found it out now!
She learns her lesson from this, and they do end up together in the end, but this story is an acknowledgement that love isn’t always enough. In general, this comic was much more intriguing than I expected, and I want to collect more comics like it.

FANTASTIC FOUR #145 (Marvel, 1974) – “Nightmare in the Snow!”, [W] Gerry Conway, [A] Ross Andru. Stranded in the Himalayas after a plane crash, Johnny and Medusa encounter an abominable snowman named Ternak who wants to take over the world. Reading this issue again, I realize that Ternak is very similar to Gorilla Grodd. This is an okay issue, but not great.

BEETLE BAILEY #21 (Dell, 1959) – multiple uncredited stories. At ICAF, Andy Kunka was kind enough to give this to me, as well as another issue of Beetle Bailey that I haven’t read yet. I want to know where he gets all these old Dell comics, so I can go there myself. This comic isn’t the best, but it’s much more interesting than the regular Beetle Bailey strip because of its longer stories, which provide more room to develop the humor. Compared to Sad Sack (or at least the one issue of Sad Sack that I’ve read), it’s a bit more plausible, and it shows more knowledge about the military.

New comics received on April 12:

UNBEATABLE SQUIRREL GIRL #43 (Marvel, 2019) – untitled, [W] Ryan North, [A] Derek Charm. It’s very unfortunate that this is a War of Realms crossover, because most of its readers will have no idea what War of Realms even is. However, Ryan North does his best to explain all the necessary background and to avoid assuming any prior knowledge of continuity. All the reader has to know is that frost giants are invading Canada and only Squirrel Girl can stop them. Other than that, I think the highlight of this issue is Doreen’s snow uniform. I wish I remembered why there’s an Ultron tree at Doreen’s parents’ house.

RONIN ISLAND #2 (Boom!, 2019) – untitled, [W] Greg Pak, [A] Giannis Milonogiannis. This series has already been extended from five to twelve issues, and that honor is well deserved. This issue, the invading samurai take over the island in order to “save” the villagers from the invading zombies. The invasion and colonization are bad enough, but what’s worse is the samurai’s racist behavior. But then the zombies show up, and Kenichi and Hana are faced with a series of moral dilemmas. Like Mech Cadet Yu, Ronin Island is an exciting adventure story, but it also has realistic characterization and complex politics.

UNSTOPPABLE WASP #6 (Marvel, 2019) – untitled, [W] Jeremy Whitley, [A] Alti Firmansyah. Nadia spends most of this issue trying to atone for all the stuff she did in the last two issues. Meanwhile, Priya discovers she has plant-growing powers, and Shay and Ying have lunch with Shay’s mother, who turns out to be a horrible person. The scene with Shay’s mother is the heart of the issue. In just a few pages, she emerges as the most distasteful character Jeremy has ever created. She’s a self-absorbed, arrogant body-shamer who cares more about her daughter’s appearance than her daughter’s feelings. It’s deeply satisfying when Ying tells her off.

WONDER WOMAN #68 (DC, 2019) – “Giants War Finale,” [W] G. Willow Wilson, [A] Cary Nord & Ronan Cliquet. Diana and Giganta have a heart-to-heart talk while fighting the Titan, but then Maggie appears, brandishes the sword, and tells it to shove off. This ending is a little anticlimactic, but it leads into the next story. Willow’s characterization is getting really good. Maggie is a fascinating new character.

SHE COULD FLY: THE LOST PILOT #1 (Dark Horse, 2019) – untitled, [W] Christopher Cantwell, [A] Martin Morazzo. Some time after the end of the last series, Luna is getting a lot of therapy, while Verna and Bill are trying to sell the device they stole, and no one knows where Dana Church is. And Kido may or may not be alive. I’m excited that there’s a sequel to one of the best miniseries of last year. However, reading this comic makes me worried about Christopher Cantwell’s mental health. This comic is a brutal and unsettling depiction of mental illness and PTSD, to the point where it’s almost closer to the horror genre than the SF or thriller genres. The scariest thing in this issue is the girl with the braces that look like scalpels.

THE LONG CON #8 (Oni, 2019) – untitled, [W] Dylan Meconis & Ben Coleman, [A] E.A. Denich. It’s becoming difficult to keep the characters in this comic straight, but this issue focuses on Flix Bixby, a fictionalized version of Wil Wheaton. This issue he has to go on trial to prove he’s “really” is Chip Nimitz, the character he played. The trial sequence ends with a gay kiss which is illustrated like a panel from a shonen manga. Also, the judge of the trial, Flavia Happenstance, is based on Octavia Butler. The other highlight of this issue is the sign that says GATEKEEPING IN PROGRESS. That phrase is another example of how this series is a very witty satire of fan culture, based on insider knowledge.

CAPTAIN MARVEL #4 (Marvel, 2019) – “Re-Entry, Part 4,” [W] Kelly Thompson, [A] Carmen Carnero. Makhizmo/Machus/Nuclear Man forces Carol to fight Rogue, and Carol loses on purpose so that Rogue can use her powers. It looks like Carol has won, but it turns out Machus has an ace up his sleeve. Confusingly, this is not the same Rogue who’s currently appearing in Mr. & Mrs. X. I’m glad that Kelly was nominated for an Eisner, because she hasn’t been getting as much recognition as she deserves. However, though this Captain Marvel storyline is well-executed, it’s not my favorite of her works.

WONDER TWINS #3 (DC, 2019) – “Monkey Business,” [W] Mark Russell, [A] Stephen Byrne. The Wonder Twins have to fight the League of Annoyance again. Meanwhile, Gleek is traumatized by memories of his circus career, during which he had to ride a bike through a flaming hoop. At the end of the issue, Gleek has to do exactly that to rescue the Wonder Twins and save the day. Zan and Jayna’s kindness to Gleek is what eventually saves them, which demonstrates the moral of the story: “You save the world one act of kindness at a time.” This issue is a dmeonstration of Mark Russell’s writing skill, specifically his ability to create satisfying plots and to integrate the theme of his story with the plot.

OUTER DARKNESS #6 (Image, 2019) – “Each Other’s Throats,” [W] John Layman, [A] Afu Chan. At the end of last issue, things were looking really bad for the Charon’s crew: they were trapped on an ice planet along with a demon. This issue they somehow make it off the ice planet alive. But now Sato Shin, who is possessed by a different demon (if I understand correctly) is enslaved to the disgruntled first officer, Satalis. Also, the Charon crew don’t actually kill the first demon, they just discorporate it for a hundred years, which explains last issue’s opening sequence. That’s the end of the first story arc. I’m really enjoying this series, even though or rather because all the characters are awful.

RAT QUEENS SPECIAL: SWAMP ROMP #1 (Image, 2019) – untitled, [W] Ryan Ferrier, [A] Priscilla Petraites. The Rat Queens travel into a swamp to search for a creature called the Slog Chimp. This issue is fairly enjoyable, and it makes a genuine effort to emulate the atmosphere of Rat Queens volume 1, but it’s not great. I’m going to keep reading Ryan Ferrier’s Rat Queens for now, but I have low expectations for it.

AGE OF CONAN: BÊLIT #2 (Marvel, 2019) – “The Mad Quest,” [W] Tini Howard, [A] Kate Niemczyk. I really liked Tini Howard’s Assassinistas, but I haven’t been equally impressed by anything else she’s written. Age of Bêlit is not as interesting as other lady pirate comics, like Raven: The Pirate Princess or Polly and the Pirates, and it doesn’t tell us anything about Bêlit that we didn’t already know. Issue 3 of this series will be my last.

CATWOMAN #10 (DC, 2019) – “VRRRRROOOMMM,” [W] Joelle Jones, [A] Fernando Blanco. That’s probably not intended as the title, but it’s the only text on the title page, besides the credits. This issue is enjoyable, but I can’t remember much about it specifically. It continues the plots with the Penguin and the evil political matriarch. There are more panels depicting cats in this issue than in the last few issues combined.

HOUSE OF WHISPERS #8 (Vertigo, 2019) – “Eight-Legged Griot,” [W] Nalo Hopkinson & Dan Watters, [A] Domo Stanton. Shakpana continues to cause mayhem on Earth, while in the Dreaming, Erzulie and her allies go to see Anansi. The issue ends with Erzulie challenging Anansi to a storytelling contest. The theme of this issue is that stories have power. I love the scene where Uncle Monday is telling a story about a jaguar, and he puts his finger into the panel that depicts the story, and the jaguar bites him on the finger.

X-23 #11 (Marvel, 2019) – “Dear Gabby Part 1,” [W] Mariko Tamaki, [A] Diego Olortegui. Laura and Gabby invade a facility that’s making more clones of them. Then they have a major falling out, because Laura wants to stop the production of additional clones, and Gabby doesn’t. Gabby runs off by herself. Laura and Gabby’s relationship is the whole point of this series, and this new storyline is going to present a severe challenge to that relationship.

ORPHAN AGE #1 (Aftershock, 2019) – “Childhood,” [W] Ted Anderson, [A] Nuno Plati. Ted Anderson’s second creator-owned series takes place in a postapocalyptic world where all the adults died. Twenty years later, the preteen protagonist’s village is invaded by religious fascists, and she has to escape. This premise is not as original as that of Moth & Whisper, but tis first issue is exciting, and I really like this comic’s artwork and coloring.

BY NIGHT #10 (Boom!, 2019) – untitled, [W] John Allison, [A] Christine Larsen. The two protagonists travel into the alternate dimension, where they finally find Chet Charles. At this point I’m only reading this series because it’s too late to stop.

LOVE & ROCKETS #6 (Fantagraphics, 2018) – various stories, [W/A] Gilbert Hernandez & Jaime Hernandez. I somehow missed ordering this, but it was given away for free at ICAF. As I mentioned, one of the highlights of the show was hanging out with Jaime Hernandez. I’ve met him before but haven’t talked to him very much, and it was really nice to get to know him a bit more. This issue includes a lot of random miscellaneous material. I think the best things in it are the scenes in the Beto stories where Guadalupe interacts with Gato’s ghost.

SUPERMAN CONFIDENTIAL #3 (DC, 2007) – “Kryptonite,” [W] Darwyn Cooke, [A] Tim Sale. This story takes place at the beginning of Superman’s career, and focuses on his relationships with Lois and Luthor. It’s very well written, and Tim Sale’s artwork is beautiful. I haven’t read much of his work because I don’t like Jeph Loeb’s writing, but he’s a brilliant artist, whose style is very dissimilar from the standard DC house style.

B.P.R.D. HELL ON EARTH #107 (Dark Horse, 2013) – “Wasteland Part 1 of 3,” [W] Mike Mignola & John Arcudi, [A] Lawrence Campbell. A few years ago I bought a bunch of BPRD comics because I thought I wanted to get a complete collection of it, but the problem is that I don’t actually like this series. It’s boring and repetitive. At least this issue has some cool-looking monsters. Also, I like the moment where a woman tells a child “Only five? You look so grown up, I thought you were at least seven!” That’s a very realistic line of dialogue.

SUPERMAN #383 (DC, 1983) – “Your World or Your Life, Superman – One Must Die!”, [W]. Cary Bates, [A] Curt Swan. This is a reasonably enjoyable issue, but not all that memorable. A giant armored robot named Robrox attacks Superman for no reason. It turns out that Robrox has discovered that Superman is contaminated with radiation, and if Superman uses his heat vision, he’ll cause a chain reaction that will kill everyone on earth. Man, Cary Bates’s plots are tough to summarize. Meanwhile, Lois goes on a trip to the Middle East to get away from Superman.

ADVENTURE COMICS #451 (DC, 1977) – “The Secret of the Sinister Abyss,” [W] David Michelinie, [A] Jim Aparo. Topo kidnaps Aquababy, and while looking for him, Aquaman runs into Starro. As it turns out, this issue was only Starro’s second appearance, and it depicts him as an unimpressive villain who’s no match for Aquaman. It wasn’t until the ‘90s that Grant Morrison established Starro as one of the most fearsome villains in the DC Universe. This issue also has a Martian Manhunter backup story by Denny O’Neil and Mike Nasser. It’s most notable for the horrible expression on Superman’s face in the last panel.

SHOWCASE #93 (DC, 1970) – “Never Trust a Red-Haired Greenie,” [W/A] Mike Sekowsky. This issue stars Manhunter 2070, aka Starker, a futuristic bounty hunter. It’s a fairly mundane thriller story with science fiction trappings. The most interesting thing about it is the titular red-haired greenies, who remind me of Kono and the Sklarian people from the v4 Legion. The issue ends on a cliffhanger that was never resolved, and Starker’s only later appearances were in the 1990 Twilight miniseries and the Judas Coin graphic novel. Showcase was cancelled after this issue, but was revived with the same numbering in 1977.

PROPHET: EARTH WAR #3 (Image, 2016) – untitled, [W] Brandon Graham & Simon Roy, [A] Grim Wilkins. I really liked Brandon Graham’s work, and I was frustrated when he committed career suicide with his “diss track” comic. It’s a shame that his toxic behavior ruined his successful career, especially since besides being a brilliant artist himself, he was also a great developer of new talent. Grim Wilkins, who drew this issue, is one of the many artists he promoted. In general this issue is similar to any of Brandon’s other Prophet comics, and I’m not going to try to explain its plot.

DC NATION #0 (DC, 2018) – “Your Big Day,” [W] Tom King, [A] Clay Mann, plus two other stories. This 25-cent comic seems more calculated to repel new readers than attract them. It begins with a story where the Joker puts a man through horrible psychological tortures, then murders him in cold blood. This story is brutal and horrific, and I don’t know what kind of person would enjoy reading it. Next is a Superman story which has excellent art by José Luis García López, but is unfortunately written by Bendis. The most interesting story is the third one, which introduces a bunch of different Justice Leagues with different specialties (magic, science, etc.). This story almost makes me want to read the “No Justice” storyline.

SILK #6 (Marvel, 2016) – untitled, [W] Robbie Thompson, [A] Tana Ford. Silk tells Mockingbird about an encounter with the Green Goblin. This comic makes a valuable attempt to depict Silk’s struggles with mental illness, but its story is overly compressed, and overall it’s not nearly as interesting as Spider-Woman or Spider-Gwen.

BLOODSHOT: SALVATION #11 (Valiant, 2018) – untitled, [W] Jeff Lemire, [A] Doug Braithwaite. In the present, Bloodshot’s daughter Jessie is stolen from her mother Magic by a villain. In 4002 AD, a talking dog tries to convince Bloodshot to kill a man who will become a villain in the future… it’s complicated. At the end of the issue, Bloodshot surprisingly does kill the man in exchange for being sent back to the present. Like all of Jeff Lemire’s work, this is a gripping and powerful comic.

BLOODSHOT: SALVATION #12 – as above. Bloodshot returns to the present and saves Jessie, but spares the evil government official who was behind Jessie’s kidnapping. The series ends on a bittersweet note, with Bloodshot and his family back together but on the run from the government. This series was followed by Bloodshot: Rising Spirit, which is not written by Lemire.

BATMAN #29 (DC, 2017) – “The War of Jokes & Riddles Part 4,” [W] Tom King, [A] Mikel Janín. Bruce Wayne hosts a dinner meeting between the Joker and the Riddler. The issue is structured around the sequence of courses of a formal French meal, from hors d’oeuvres to coffee. I haven’t been impressed with Tom King’s Batman, but this issue is clever.

G.I. COMBAT #192 (DC, 1976) – “The General Has Two Faces,” [W] Robert Kanigher, [A] Sam Glanzman. It’s hard to go back to DC war comics after reading a bunch of Two-Fisted Tales. Compared to Kurtzman’s war comics, Bob Kanigher’s war comics are jingoistic, implausible, and immature. They don’t feel like an accurate depiction of war, no matter how many of the creators were veterans. At least this issue has Sam Glanzman art. In this issue’s first story, the Haunted Tank crew are trying to hunt down Rommel, and they end up in a German castle full of fugitive students. There’s a backup story by Bart Regan and Ric Estrada, about an OSS agent.

UNCANNY X-MEN #264 (Marvel, 1990) – “Hot Pursuit,” [W] Chris Claremont, [A] Mike Collins. Mike Collins may have been the worst artist to work with Claremont on X-Men. In this issue’s main plot, Forge teams up with a female cop named Jonesy to fight some Genoshan agents. Then the same Genoshans attack X-Factor’s headquarters. There are interesting things in this issue, but it includes too many different plotlines at once. It’s rather jarring how on the last page, the Genosha plotline is temporarily forgotten, and Claremont instead focuses on the amnesiac Colossus and his girlfriend, who have played a very minor role in the rest of the issue. It feels as though by this point in the series, Claremont didn’t have a clear agenda. Luckily the next issue begins the storyline that introduces Gambit.

BATMAN #485 (DC, 1992) – “Faces of Death,” [W] Doug Moench, [A] Tom Grindberg. Black Mask kidnaps Lucius Fox, and Batman has to rescue him. Tom Grindberg’s art in this issue is quite atmospheric and moody, but otherwise this is a really average issue. Doug Moench’s second stint on Batman wasn’t that much better than his first.

T.H.U.N.D.E.R. AGENTS #4 (IDW, 2013) – untitled, [W] Phil Hester, [A] Andrea Di Vito. The THUNDER Agents and Iron Maiden battle some kind of giant robot demon. This series was one of two different THUNDER Agents revivals published around the same time, and neither of them was especially exciting. Neither of them had as much energy as the original series, or even the two ‘80s revival series.

THE MAXX #20 (Image, 1995) – untitled, [W/A] Sam Kieth, [W] William Messner-Loebs. This issue is the conclusion to the main storyline with the Outback and Mr. Gone. There was only one more issue, which I think was some kind of epilogue. It’s a bit hard to understand this issue’s plot out of context, but Sam Kieth’s artwork is beautifully weird, with contorted page layouts and bizarre hairy creatures. The Maxx was the first Image comic that made any attempt to be artistic or introspective, and it was the precursor to Image’s transformation into a serious comics publisher.

JOSIE AND THE PUSSYCATS #105 (Archie, 1982) – “Voice of Experience,” [W] Frank Doyle, [A] Stan Goldberg. This issue’s first two stories are both about Alexandra Cabot, the Pussycats’ managers sister, who has magical powers and a talking cat. I don’t understand why Archie needed this character when they already had Sabrina. Otherwise, this is a generic Archie comic.

SWEET TOOTH #11 (DC, 2010) – “In Captivity, Conclusion,” [W/A] Jeff Lemire. It’s stupid of me to read this series out of order, because this issue includes some essential information that I was missing when I read some of the subsequent issues. This issue consists of a flashback sequence in which Tommy Jepperd is imprisoned in the research facility, while his wife Louise is giving birth. Tommy escapes from captivity but can’t save Louise and his son from dying in childbirth (or so they tell him). His captors offer to return his wife’s body if he brings them a live hybrid child. Which explains why Tommy kidnapped Gus. Also, we learn that all the children born since the global pandemic are hybrids. Like every other Lemire solo work, Sweet Tooth #11 is gripping and powerful. I already have some of the last issues of Sweet Tooth, but I kind of don’t want to read them yet.

New comics received on April 19:

LUMBERJANES #61 (Boom!, 2019) – “The Fright Stuff,” [W] Shannon Watters & Kat Leyh, [A] AnneMarie Rogers. When the girls get chased by a monster at night, Riley is thrilled, but Mal is terrified. So Mal asks Riley how to be braver – which is a great idea on the writers’ part, because these two characters have never interacted very much. Riley takes Mal to the woods to look for the monster, but her plan works too well, because Mal gets stuck in the Land of Lost Things. This issue is a promising start to the next storyline. Lumberjanes no longer has any semblance of an ongoing plot, and the characters are never going to leave camp until the series gets cancelled, but who cares. Incidentally, we learn from this issue that Riley has two twin siblings as well as a brother named Declan. That breaks the pattern where all Riley’s siblings were named after science fiction protagonists.

THE MAGNIFICENT MS. MARVEL #2 (Marvel, 2019) – untitled, [W] Saladin Ahmed, [A] Minkyu Jung. Kamala is traumatized by watching her parents melt in front of her, but she still has to fight Josh as well as a giant three-headed lizard monster. And then after Kamala does find her parents alive, some alien dudes tell her that she’s their planet’s chosen one. This is an exciting issue, and Saladin powerfully depicts Kamala’s horror when she thinks her parents have been killed. This issue is still not quite as good as Willow’s best storylines, but that’s an unfair standard.

ASSASSIN NATION #2 (Image, 2019) – untitled, [W] Kyle Starks, [A] Erica Henderson. While trying to protect their boss, the assassins reminisce about the first people they killed. I was unimpressed with this issue at first, but I really liked the flashback sequences, which demonstrate some impressive visual economy.

CALAMITY KATE #2 (Dark Horse, 2019) – untitled, [W] Magdalene Visaggio, [A] Corin Howell. Kate is driving her friend crazy, but all she cares about is her monster-hunting rivalry with Javelin. This is another fun issue, and Calamity Kate might be my second favorite Visaggio comic after Kim & Kim. I really like the scene where Kate’s friend (whose name I forgot) is teaching her daughter to tie her shoes – it reminds me of the difficulty my parents had in teaching me to tie my shoes.

PETER CANNON, THUNDERBOLT #4 (Dynamite, 2019) – “Watch Part Four,” [W] Kieron Gillen, [A] Caspar Wijngaard. According to my DCBS order forms, I did receive issue 3 of Peter Cannon, but I can’t find my copy anywhere. I even looked under my bed and didn’t find it, though I found a different comic I was missing (see below). This has never happened to me before, and I’m not sure whether to buy another copy or not. Anyway, issue 4 is a homage to Eddie Campbell’s Alec. I may have missed some of the references in this story – for example, I’m not sure who Doctor K is, though he seems like a blend of Walter Kovacs and Alan Moore. But in general, the creators perfectly capture the visual appearance and the atmosphere of Campbell’s early work, and this issue is delightful. Sadly, thanks to the news that Dynamite allowed a certain horrible person to commission covers for them, I will have to seriously consider boycotting them.

PLANET OF THE NERDS #1 (Ahoy, 2019) – “Journey to the Planet of the Nerds,” [W] Paul Constant, [A] Alan Robinson. In Ahoy’s latest ongoing series, some bullying jocks are transported from 1988 to 2019 thanks to accidental cryogenic freezing. They wake up in a world where the nerds have won the war against the jocks. ‘80s (and ‘60s, ‘70s and ‘90s) nostalgia has become a common theme in comic books, appearing most notably in Paper Girls, but this series does it really well. It takes the familiar theme of movies like Animal House and Revenge of the Nerds, and transports that theme into a world where nerd culture has a very different meaning. I look forward to seeing where this series goes.

MIDDLEWEST #6 (Image, 2019) – untitled, [W] Skottie Young, [A] Jorge Corona. Abel gets into a comfortable routine at the carnival, but of course it doesn’t last, because there’s a storm coming, and the storm is Abel’s dad. Magdalena tries to hypnotize Abel to cure his anger, but she only succeeds in trapping Abel inside his own mind, just as his dad arrives. This is another excellent issue, though I still think Jorge Corona doesn’t quite have the ability to fully realize Skottie’s visions.

MILES MORALES: SPIDER-MAN #5 (Marvel, 2019) – untitled, [W] Saladin Ahmed, [A] Javier Garrón. On this issue’s first page, Miles orders a Jamaican beef patty on coco bread with cheese and pepperoni. I have had patties often, but have never heard of a patty with cheese and pepperoni. It seems like this combination is unique to New York. It sounds a bit disgusting, but also tasty, and it’s a natural combination of two different cuisines – kind of like Korean tacos. In the rest of the issue, Miles gets involved in a gang war, lies to his girlfriend about his secret identity, and worries about how to maintain his supply of web fluid. As I write this summary, I realize that despite having a different protagonist, this Miles Morales series is very similar to a classic Spider-Man comic.

FARMHAND #7 (Image, 2019) – untitled, [W/A] Rob Guillory. We begin with a flashback to Zeke’s mother’s death, then we return to the present day, where the plots and intrigues and subterfuges continue. I’m getting the impression that the Jedidiah seed is alive and has developed some kind of collective intelligence. Another high point of ICAF was Rob Guillory’s chat with Qiana Whitted. I asked him about the Easter eggs and hidden messages that he includes in his work, and he said (quoting my own Tweet): “They were inspired by Watchmen and Jim Mahfood’s work. He mostly does them on his own initiative. They’re usually the last thing he does when working on pages.”

GIDEON FALLS #12 (Image, 2019) – “The Laughing Man, Part One,” [W] Jeff Lemire, [A] Andrea Sorrentino. This title got a well-deserved Eisner nomination for Best New Series, and I think I’m going to vote for it – though Bitter Root, Crowded and Isola would also be excellent choices. This issue, Father Fred visits a Wild West version of Gideon Falls, then a steampunk version of the same town. And he starts making a diagram of how all the Gideon Fallses relate to each other. As usual, Andrea Sorrentino provides some bizarre page layouts.

MORNING IN AMERICA #2 (Oni, 2019) – untitled, [W] Magdalene Visaggio, [A] Claudia Aguirre. The Sick Sisters break into a house to investigate the mysterious disappearances, but one of them gets carried off by some kind of monster. This series is fascinating so far; the characters all have distinctive and memorable personalities, though I can’t remember their names. Morning in America is another example of a comic based on ‘80s nostalgia, and it has a certain similarity to Paper Girls, though its premise is very different.

SHURI #7 (Marvel, 2019) – “A Friend in Need Part Two,” [W] Vita Ayala, [A] Paul Davidson. This issue is not as good as Nnedi’s issues, but it might be Vita Ayala’s best comic yet. It focuses on a high school student who becomes a supercriminal because his family is desperately poor. It shows a keen understanding of contemporary poverty, and the ending, where Shuri offers to provide Augustin with opportunities once he gets out of jail, is heartwarming. I’d like to see more comics where superheroes show compassion to criminals, instead of beating them up.

XENA, WARRIOR PRINCESS #1 (Dynamite, 2019) – untitled, [W] Vita Ayala, [A] Olympia Sweetman. I probably shouldn’t have ordered this. I’m not a fan of the Xena franchise, and I’m no longer willing to buy a comic just based on Vita Ayala’s name. (And I am sometimes willing to read a licensed-property comic if I’m not familiar with the property it’s based on – a notable example is Jem.) This comic is not bad, but it doesn’t give me enough of motivation to keep reading the series.

BLACK BADGE #9 (Boom!, 2019) – untitled, [W/A] Matt Kindt. This issue starts with a flashback to an earlier generation of Black Badges on a mission in Cold War Berlin. Then the current Black Badges find themselves in a mysterious village that looks like something out of The Prisoner. I’m not quite sure what’s going on here.

WEST COAST AVENGERS #10 (Marvel, 2019) – untitled, [W] Kelly Thompson, [A] Moy R. I’m noticing a number of comic artists without actual names – Moy R, Bob Q and Dozerdraws all come to mind. Of course this is not a new trend; there’s also Herge, David B, Spain, etc. WCA #10 is the last issue, and that is very unfortunate because this has been a really fun series. Besides the shrimp planet, the highlights of this issue are two metatextual moments: Hawkeye’s shirt getting torn for no reason, and the ending, where Kate says “Who’s the Dutch Oven and why’s he saying he can get us cancelled?” and then the caption says THE END! I couldn’t remember who the Dutch Oven was, but I guess he’s a rejected applicant from an earlier issue.

HIGH LEVEL #3 (Vertigo, 2019) – “The Outlands,” [W] Rob Sheridan, [A] Barnaby Bagenda. The art in this series is quite good, and I really like the interactions between the two main characters. However, this comic has a boring plot and a boring premise. And this issue ends with the main characters being kidnapped by bounty hunters. This sort of deliberate interruption to the plot is very annoying. The protagonists’ only goal is to get to High Level, and now they have to spend a whole issue escaping from their captors, without getting any closer to High Level. Overall, while this comic has some good qualities, I feel justified in giving up on it.

AQUAMAN #47 (DC, 2019) – “Unspoken Water Part 5,” [W] Kelly Sue DeConnick, [A] Robson Rocha. In an epic fight, the sea gods sacrifice themselves to defeat Namma, and Aquaman becomes a god himself. This was an okay storyline, but I want to see more of Kelly Sue’s version of Mera.

DAREDEVIL #4 (Marvel, 2019) – “Know Fear Part 4,” [W] Chip Zdarsky, [A] Marco Checchetto. This issue unfortunately guest-stars the Punisher, a character I hate with a passion. I consider him a supervillain, not a hero. The point of this story is to explain the difference between Daredevil and the Punisher, but Frank Miller already did that in Daredevil #183-184. I didn’t order issue 5.

AMERICAN CARNAGE #6 (DC, 2019) – “Faith,” [W] Bryan Hill, [A] Leandro Fernandez. This comic deserves a trigger warning, because it begins with a five-page sequence in which Wynn advocates white supremacy. This sequence is well-executed and makes sense in context, but it’s disgusting to read. It makes me want to reach inside the comic and wring Wynn’s neck. After that, it’s hard to remember anything else about this issue, but it ends with Richard getting his cover blown. On the subject of white supremacy, the New Yorker just published an interview with a scholar named Eric Kaufmann who advocates “white identity politics” and denies the existence of structural racism. I think that people like Kaufmann are just as bad as Wynn, and even more dangerous because their racism is less obvious.

LUCIFER #7 (DC, 2019) – “A Slight Detour to Hell,” [W] Dan Watters, [A] Max Fiumara & Sebastian Fiumara. Yet another completely incomprehensible issue. I should have given up on this comic after issue 1. I’m sorry I ordered issue 8.

THE WAR OF THE REALMS: WAR SCROLLS #1 (Marvel, 2019) – various stories, [E] Will Moss. I ordered this because of Zdarsky and Quinones’s “War of the Realms,” a tribute to their Howard the Duck series. It’s only four pages, but it’s a lot of fun, and it reminds me how much I enjoyed that Howard comic. There’s even an appearance by Biggs the talking cat. However, the other stories in this issue are forgettable, even the one by Jason Aaron and Andrea Sorrentino, and this comic doesn’t justify its cover price. I wonder how Sorrentino found the time to draw his story for this issue, while also drawing Gideon Falls.

THE WAR OF THE REALMS #2 (Marvel, 2019) – “The Midgard Massacre,” [W] Jason Aaron, [A] Russell Dauterman. I meant to order every issue of this series, but I forgot to order issue 1. Maybe that’s not a bad thing, because these crossover events are always disappointing. At least this issue is a reunion of the greatest Thor creative team since Walt Simonson. And there are some cute callbacks to other Jason Aaron comics – for example, the catcalling snakes from Doctor Strange’s mansion make a cameo appearance. But as usual with crossover comics, the fight scenes are the least interesting thing in this issue.

THOR #12 (Marvel, 2019) – “The War of the Lokis,” [W] Jason Aaron, [A] Mike del Mundo. This comic must have been accidentally published under the wrong title, because Thor doesn’t appear in it. The entire issue is about Loki’s confrontations with his past selves. I’m getting kind of sick of Loki, and I didn’t find this issue very interesting. Also, it would be nice if a comic named after Thor would have Thor in it.

TRUE BELIEVERS: AVENGERS – ENDGAME! #1 (Marvel, 2019) – “Endgame!”, [W] Stan Lee, [A] Roy Thomas. I ordered this because I don’t already have Avengers #71, which is reprinted in this issue, although Avengers #71 is within my price range and I might get it someday. In “Endgame!”, Kang plays a game against the Grandmaster in which the prize is power over life and death. Kang wins, but decides to use his power to kill the Avengers instead of reviving his beloved Ravonna. And he doesn’t even succeed in killing the Avengers, because he’s defeated by the Black Knight, who’s not an Avenger yet. Because this is a Roy Thomas comic, it also includes an unnecessary appearance by Golden Age characters. This is not among Roy’s best Avengers stories, but it’s good, and Sal Buscema’s art is more exciting than I expected.

SPIDER-MAN: LIFE STORY #2 (Marvel, 2019) – “Our Fathers’ Way,” [W] Chip Zdarsky, [A] Mark Bagley. Again, I forgot to get issue 1 of this series. Chip Zdarsky has written a lot of comics lately that I did not enjoy, but this issue is good. It includes a lot of shocking plot twist, and it takes advantage of the “what if” format in order to do things that couldn’t be done in a regular Spider-Man comic. (The premise of this series is that it tells Spider-Man’s life story if he had aged at a normal rate.) I plan on continuing to read this series.

JUSTICE LEAGUE OF AMERICA #118 (DC, 1975) – “Takeover of the Earth-Masters!”, [W] Elliot S! Maggin, [A] Dick Dillin. This was the comic book I found under my bed (see the review of Peter Cannon #3 above). In this issue, the JLA fight a bunch of shapeshifting creatures called Adaptoids. It’s a pretty average issue, but it has some OK characterization, though not as much as an Englehart JLA issue.

DENNIS THE MENACE BONUS MAGAZINE SERIES #182 (Fawcett, 1978) – “The Secret Santa,” uncredited. Dennis and his friends convince themselves that Mr. Wilson is Santa Claus. This comic is really cute and well-executed, but there’s not much difference between one Dennis the Menace comic book and another.

PRETTY DEADLY #7 (Image, 2015) – untitled, [W] Kelly Sue DeConnick, [A] Emma Rios. I honestly never liked this comic. My reviews of issues 1 through 4 were all negative, and I never got around to reading the other issues. In this issue, as in the rest of the series, Emma Rios turns in some brilliant page layouts, but Kelly Sue’s dialogue is awkward and unnatural, and her plots and characters make no sense. Also, this series includes a World War I sequence which is historically inaccurate and implausible.

ANGELA: QUEEN OF HEL #3 (Marvel, 2016) – “Greatest Hits,” [W] Marguerite Bennett, [A] Kim Jacinto & Stephanie Hans. This is another of those comics I shouldn’t have ordered. This issue has some good ideas in it, such as its depiction of Marvel’s Heaven, but it’s mostly just a retread of Kieron Gillen’s Journey into Mystery.

MERCURY HEAT #7 (Avatar, 2016) – untitled, [W] Kieron Gillen, [A] Nahuel Lopez. This, on the other hand, is a comic I regret not buying more of. Like most Avatar comics, it’s full of gruesome and exploitative violence, but it also has excellent dialogue and brilliant ideas. For example, the protagonist has a heads-up display that shows ads while she’s in the middle of combat, and she has the ability to edit her own memories. This is not one of Kieron’s major works, but it’s not bad either.

FURTHER ADVENTURES OF NICK WILSON #1 (Image, 2018) – untitled, [W] Eddie Gorodetsky & Marc Andreyko, [A] Stephen Sadowski. I have no idea why I ordered this. It was probably just because it was a #1 issue from Image, and it looked vaguely interesting. It turns out to be a trite, unfunny superhero parody, about a superhero who loses his powers and can barely make a living. I’m glad I didn’t order any more issues of this.

PEEPSHOW #9 (Drawn & Quarterly, 1996) – “Fair Weather Part Three,” [W/A] Joe Matt. A school-aged Joe Matt is dragged to church by his parents. Then he shows an older kid a hole in a wall that can be used to spy on naked girls (is this where the series’ title comes from?), and in exchange, the older kid gives him a copy of Action Comics #1. But of course it turns out to be the 1970s oversized reprint. This is a beautifully drawn comic, it’s less unpleasant than some of Joe Matt’s other work, and it captures the boredom and pettiness of childhood.

SUB-MARINER #20 (Marvel, 1969) – “In the Darkness Dwells… Doom!”, [W] Roy Thomas, [A] John Buscema. The army chases Namor into the Latverian embassy, where Dr. Doom deprives Namor of water in order to obtain Namor’s armies for himself. Namor manages to set off the sprinkler system and escape. This comic is exciting, but not that much different from any other Namor-Doom story. However, Big John’s artwork is brilliant. I think I’ve always taken him for granted, maybe because I was exposed to his work when I was too inexperienced to appreciate it, or because he so rarely got to draw in his own natural style.

STRAY BULLETS: SUNSHINE AND ROSES #1 (Image, 2015) – “Kretchmeyer,” [W/A] David Lapham. Beth meets a new love interest named Kretchmeyer. But it turns out Kretchmeyer is an assassin, and he’s the cause of a gang war between Scottie and Del. (Scottie was responsible for the murder that Ginny witnessed in Stray Bullets #2, reviewed earlier.) Mayhem ensues. The highlight of this issue is a half-page panel where Kretch and Scottie are both pointing guns at Beth’s head, and Beth says “Nobody fucking move.”

MARVEL PREMIERE #40 (Marvel, 1978) – “Battle with the Big Man!”, [W] Marv Wolfman & Bill Mantlo, [A] Bob Brown. This issue stars Torpedo, a boring new character. His only distinguishing features are that he used to be an NFL player, and that he’s married with children. The plot is just as forgettable as the character. Torpedo never got his ongoing series, but became a supporting character in Rom, which was also written by Mantlo.

G.I. COMBAT #157 (DC, 1973) – “The Fountain,” [W] Robert Kanigher, [A] Sam Glanzman. The Haunted Tank liberates a village with a fountain that has miraculous healing powers. This story has some nice artwork and visual storytelling, but it has the same problems as any Kanigher war story; see the above review of G.I. Combat #192. Early in the story, General Jeb Stuart prophecies that Lieutenant Jeb Stuart will come out of this mission a different person, but that prophecy is not fulfilled in a satisfying way. This issue’s first backup story, by Raymond Marais and Ric Estrada, is a retelling of the Nibelungenlied. It’s written confusingly, and makes little sense even if you know the story it’s based on. There’s also a USS Stevens backup by Glanzman. This piece has some lyrical writing and gruesome artwork, but it’s not a story, just a riff on “This is the House That Jack Built.” I know that Glanzman’s USS Stevens stories are classics, but I’ve never gotten into them.

YUMMY FUR #1 (Vortex, 1986) – three stories, [W/A] Chester Brown. This reprints the first three of Chester’s self-published minicomics. These stories are totally illogical and absurdist, and are only of interest as a demonstration of how Chester’s style evolved.

DEADPOOL #4 (Marvel, 2013) – “The Quick and the Dead and the Really Dead,” [W] Brian Posehn & Gerry Duggan, [A] Tony Moore. Deadpool fights a bunch of zombie versions of dead presidents. This comic’s humor is blunt and unsubtle and, in my opinion, not funny. As with BPRD, there was a brief period when I was trying to collect Deadpool comics, but it turns out I don’t like Deadpool.

NEW MUTANTS #49 (Marvel, 2012) – “Fight the Future Part 3,” [W] Dan Abnett & Andy Lanning, [A] Felix Ruiz. The New Mutants battle a future version of Cypher. This series was a nice throwback to Claremont’s New Mutants, but it wasn’t all that good, and I have little interest in collecting the rest of it.

POWER PACK #54 (Marvel, 1990) – “Dino-Might or Boys and Their Toys!”, [W] Judy Bogdanove, [A] Jon Bogdanove. Jack Power is bored, so he invites Franklin Richards to visit the mall and see a dinosaur exhibit. It turns out the exhibit was set up by the Mad Thinker. Hijinks ensue. This issue suffers from awkward dialogue and an implausible plot. On the other hand, it’s a lot of fun. And it’s the only example of a team-up between Jack and Franklin, who are a natural big brother-little brother pairing. This issue includes a cameo appearance by Calvin and Hobbes, and a number of its background characters appear to be based on real people, but I don’t know who.

BEEP BEEP THE ROAD RUNNER #22 (Gold Key, 1971) – “The Conked Condor” and other stories, uncredited. Besides having terrible writing and art, this comic bears no resemblance to the cartoons it’s based on. The Road Runner cartoons were unforgettable because they had a simple but perfect formula, and because their humor was purely visual and aural, with no words except captions and ACME product labels. This comic throws the Road Runner format out the window. It violates at least four of Chuck Jones’s nine rules for the Road Runner cartoons – “no outside force can harm the Coyote,” “no dialogue ever,” “the Road Runner must remain on the road,” and “all action must be confined to the Southwest American desert.” Not only do the characters speak, but the Road Runner speaks in rhyme, and for some reason he has three sons who also speak in rhyme. And this issue includes stories that take place in a city, a haunted house, and a mountain range. I don’t know what the creators of this comic thought they were doing, but they didn’t succeed.

 

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