Reviews: The Longest Wednesday

My last DCBS shipment, until further notice, arrived on March 25. (DCBS has actually started shipping comics again, but only DC comics. This is partly why I’m leaning toward not using DCBS anymore after my outstanding orders are filled. More on that later.) I haven’t even finished all the comics from the March 25 shipment. I’m not in any hurry to finish the current week’s comics before the next week’s comics arrive, and also, I don’t want to run out of new comics to read; I think that would make me very sad. I’m probably going to wait to finish the March 25 comics until distribution has resumed and the next shipment of new comics is on the way. Hopefully, that will happen around May 20 as planned. Meanwhile, in the absence of new comics or local comic book conventions, I’ve been ordering a lot of back issues online.

LEGION OF SUPER-HEROES #5 (DC, 2020) – untitled, [W] Brian Michael Bendis, [A] Ryan Sook. I can’t be bothered to read the giant blocks of Interlac text on the first page. I wish Bendis would stop doing that. I used to be able to read Interlac, but I’m out of practice. This issue finishes the Legion’s origin story and also reintroduces R.J. Brande, who is female in this continuity. Bendis is getting a bit better at giving Legionnaires individual personalities; I especially like the scene where Blok is invited to join the Legion, and he answers in monosyllables. However, it is ridiculous that we still don’t know the characters’ names. I’ve started enjoying this series despite my general hatred for Bendis, but it’s still not a great Legion comic.

ONCE AND FUTURE #7 (Boom!, 2020) – “Old English,” [W] Kieron Gillen, [A] Dan Mora. With Saga still on hiatus, Once and Future is probably the best current ongoing title. This issue, the bad guys steal the original manuscript of Beowulf and use it to summon Beowulf himself. This plot twist introduces another essential English medieval text into the series. At the end of the issue, one of the villains reads the start of Beowulf out loud. I took a photo of this scene and shared it on social media, and it got positive reactions from people who hadn’t heard of Once and Future.

AMETHYST #2 (DC, 2020) – “Out of Place,” [W/A] Amy Reeder. Amy and Phoss escape from the Sapphire Realm on the back of a caterpillar and flee to the Aquamarine Realm. There Amy learns how to teleport between amethyst stones, and by using this ability, she discovers that her birth parents are still alive. Amy Reeder’s dialogue feels clumsy at times, but her artwork is highly imaginative. So far, this series is the only good Amethyst comic not written by Mishkin and Cohn.

FAR SECTOR #5 (DC, 2020) – untitled, [W] N.K. Jemisin, [A] Jamal Campbell. The flashback to Jo’s origin is perhaps the high point of the series so far. After suffering a lifetime of racism, Jo went into the army and then the police force, where she became an agent of racist violence against other oppressed people. Jo was recruited into the GLC because of her commitment to the justice that was denied to her: “Nobody ever goes to jail for this shit. It never gets better. It has too get better. I have to make it better somehow.” This expresses some major themes of Jemisin’s work: righteous anger at the treatment of oppressed groups by dominant groups, together with a conviction that a more equitable world can be imagined. On a lighter note, when CanHaz says that Jo is paying her salary in cat memes, that must be an allusion to Naomi Kritzer’s “Cat Pictures Please.”

MARVEL ACTION: AVENGERS #1 (Marvel, 2020) – untitled, [W] Katie Cook, [A] Butch Mapa. I’ve been unimpressed by the Marvel Action titles, but I had to order this one because I love Katie Cook’s writing. This issue has a silly plot, in which Thor breaks Black Widow’s ceramic figure, and he and Ant-Man have to replace it. But the issue is full of funny inside jokes, and Katie skillfully parodies each Avenger’s personality. This comic was lots of fun, and I hope Katie writes more of this series.

BASKETFUL OF HEADS #6 (DC, 2020) – untitled, [W] Joe Hill, [A] Leomacs. June decapitates Hank, then gets the heads to tell her the rest of what’s going on. She sets out to save Liam from Hank’s dad’s boat (named Skidbladnir, a Norse mythological reference), but it turns out Hank has set a trap for her, and the issue ends with June being thrown overboard tied to an anchor. This has been a very fast-paced and exciting series, easily the best of Joe Hill’s three current titles.

MY LITTLE PONY: FRIENDSHIP IS MAGIC #88 (IDW, 2020) – untitled, [W] Ted Anderson, [A] Tony Fleecs. Silver Streak wins the Draytona Breach, but only because he doesn’t stop to help an injured Rainbow Dash. This ending reminds me of the ending of the original Cars, where the villain wins the race, but it’s a hollow victory. Also, Sacks Roamer is captured and the dragon statue is recovered. This was a fun story. Next issue, whenever it finally comes out, will be the start of Season Nine.

INCREDIBLE HULK #182 facsimile (Marvel, 1974/2020) – “Between Hammer and Anvil!”, [W] Len Wein, [A] Herb Trimpe. I’ve heard this is a really good issue, but the original issue is prohibitively expensive because it includes an early cameo appearance by Wolverine. So I was excited when this facsimile edition was announced, and now that I’ve read it, I agree that it’s a classic. After parting company with Wolverine, Hulk meets an old homeless black man named Crackajack Jackson. Hulk and Crackajack, both outcasts from society, become instant friends. But their friendship is short-lived: Crackajack is killed by his own son, a convict turned supervillain, and the story ends with Hulk writing Crackajack’s name on his tombstone. Crackajack only ever appeared on a few pages, but he’s a memorable character, and his friendship with Hulk is truly touching. As an aside, Hammer and Anvil have a really cool gimmick – they’re a black man and a white racist who are attached to each other by a chain. Sadly they only appeared a couple more times before being murdered by Scourge. This issue’s letter column includes a bunch of letters on whether it’s appropriate to show naked people in comics.

CROWDED #12 (Image, 2020) – “Glad Girls,” [W] Christopher Sebela, [A] Ro Stein & Ted Brandt. This is the last monthly issue, but there’s only one more storyline left anyway. Vita and Charlie find a clever and funny way to escape the missile silo, but they leave Dog beind, and Vita has to go back for it. Sadly, when she returns with Dog, Charlie has cancelled Vita’s contract and has hired a new Dfendr who is none other than Circe the assassin. It’s going to be hard to wait for the next trade. Crowded is Sebela’s best comic yet by far.

SEX CRIMINALS #28 (Image, 2020) – “As Badal as I Wanna Bedal,” [W] Matt Fraction, [A] Chip Zdarsky. This issue is Kuber Badal’s origin story. As we learn, Badal can only get off by making other people suffer, and his goal is to use sex powers to change the past. This is another extremely well-done issue, but I’ve been losing enthusiasm for this series, and under the present circumstances, I found it hard to fully enjoy this issue.

SCOOBY-DOO TEAM-UP #22 (DC, 2017) – “Nothing is Impossible,” [W] Sholly Fisch, [A] Dave Alvarez. The Scooby Gang team up with the Impossibls to fight Frankenstein Jr, who has been mind-controlled by the Mad Inventor. Unusually for a Scooby comic, there is no  mystery villain, although the Mad Inventor does deliver the “meddling kids” line. This issue is entertaining enough, but not memorable.

HILLBILLY #5 (Albatross, 2016) – “The Midnight Devilment of Tailypo,” [W/A] Eric Powell. This issue’s lead story is a retelling of the old Tailypo legend, in which a hunter cuts off a monster’s tail and eats it, and then the monster pursues the man, demanding its tail back. There’s also a backup story, drawn by Steve Mannion, starring the Iron Child, who we later learn is the same character as Rondel the hillbilly himself. I got tired of this series quickly, perhaps because I found the dialogue annoying. However, Eric Powell’s draftsmanship is really good, and he’s a gifted visual storyteller.

AQUAMAN #17 (DC, 1996) – “Numbers,” [W] Peter David, [A] Jim Calafiore. Aquaman and Dolphin travel to Hy-Brasil, one of the lost cities of Atlantis. Aquaman fights and defeats the guardian of Hy-Brasil, who kills himself, and Aquaman becomes the new guardian and is expected to marry the old guardian’s widow. PAD’s Aquaman is extremely fun; it’s closer to fantasy or SF than superheroes, and it creates a sense of strangeness and wonder. It also has great dialogue, and the two main artists, Calafiore and Marty Egeland, are both quite underrated.

FANTASTIC FOUR #153 (Marvel, 1974) – “Worlds in Collision!”, [W] Tony Isabella, [A] Rich Buckler. The FF and the super-female-chauvinist Thundra battle the super-male-chauvinist Makhizmo. The story ends with Thundra’s Femizons and Makhizmo’s male chauvinists achieving gender equality. Putting these two worlds on the same level feels like false equivalence. This issue is okay, but Roy Thomas wrote a better version of this story in Avengers West Coast #75 (one of the first comic books I ever read).

SCOOBY-DOO TEAM-UP #21 (DC, 2017) – “Happy Harley Daze!”, [W] Sholly Fisch, [A] Dario Brizuela. The Scooby Gang and Harley Quinn investigate some appearances by the Ghosts of Christmas Past, Present and Future. The Joker shows up to complicate matters. This isuse is full of funny jokes – for example, two of the suspects are Doug Chippendale and Sarah Shaker from the antique department. Oh, and Harley has two pet hyenas who she calls her babies.

WEIRD WESTERN TALES #58 (DC, 1979) – “Weep the Widow,” [W] Gerry Conway, [A] Dick Ayers. While pursuing some homicidal Union army deserters, Scalphunter meets a widow whose husband was killed in the war, and who is terrified of any kind of violence. The deserters appear, and Scalphunter is about to kill them and rescue the widow and her son. But the widow decides to coldcock Scalphunter with a frying pan so that he won’t commit further violence. As a result, the deserters burn the widow’s house down, she and her son barely survive, and Scalphunter kills the deserters anyway. I guess this story is a meditation on the awfulness of war, but the widow’s decision to attack Scalphunter was extremely stupid and counterproductive, and she deserved to have her house burned down. Her actions can only be excused if we assume she was so traumatized as to not be responsible for her own behavior.

SUICIDE SQUAD #45 (DC, 1990) – “The Jerusalem Serpent,” [W] John Ostrander & Kim Yale, [A] Geof Isherwood. Kobra announces that the next Kali Yuga will begin in Jerusalem,  and the Suicide Squad travels to Israel to stop Kobra’s plot. This issue includes some excellent dialogue scenes between pairs of characters – Ravan and Bronze Tiger, Captain Boomerang and Deadshot, Amanda Waller and Vixen. It also introduces the Israeli superhero team Hayoth. Neither Ostrander nor Yale are or were Jewish as far as I know, but they must have had nontrivial knowledge of Judaism, judging by the Hayoth’s names and powers. For example, one of them is named Rambam, after Maimonides’s nickname, and he swears by the Ineffable Name.

GRUMBLE: MEMPHIS AND BEYOND THE INFINITE #1 (Albatross, 2020) – untitled, [W] Rafer Roberts, [A] Mike Norton. I’m glad to see this back, if only for one month. This issue, Eddie and Tala begin their plot to rescue Tala’s mother from prison, and they get drafted into an elaborate rescue mission run by a bunch of aliens. I think the best part of this issue is the giant hairy aliens with no visible faces.

MISTER MIRACLE #21 (DC, 1977) – “Command Performance!”, [W] Steve Englehart, [A] Marshall Rogers. These creators were perhaps the greatest Batman creative team ever, but Mister Miracle is not Batman. This issue has some nice page layouts and effective artwork, but it doesn’t feel Kirbyesque. Its plot is that Barda is dying, and Scott tries to revive her by fomenting a revolution in Armagetto.

MARVEL COMICS PRESENTS #76 (Marvel, 1991) – “Weapon X Chapter Four,” [W/A] Barry Windsor-Smith, plus other stories. This issue’s four stories were drawn by Barry Windsor-Smith, Paul Gulacy, Bryan Hitch and Dave Cockrum. That’s an amazing lineup of talent for such a bottom-drawer title. The highlight of this issue is Weapon X because of its stunning artwork and coloring, and I think Hitch’s Death’s Head story, written by Simon Furman, is the second best. I vaguely remember getting this issue from the library when I was a little kid.

IMMORTAL HULK #33 (Marvel, 2020) – “The Thoughtful Man,” [W] Al Ewing, [A] Joe Bennett et al. In a segment drawn by Nick Pitarra, the Hulk from Planet Hulk convinces the original Hulk to free himself from Xemnu’s mind control. Pitarra was a good choice of guest artist bceause he’s skilled at body horror and his art is fundamentally weird. Rick inspires the Hulk to defeat Xemnu in an extremely gruesome fight, but then we learn that Rick has been mind-controlled by the Leader all along. I think the most memorable thing in this issue is the”Xemnu’s Magic Planet” theme song, which includes the line “where the sun is black as hair and the mountains are not there.”

THOR #472 (Marvel, 1994) – “If Twilight Falls…”, [W] Roy Thomas, [A] M.C. Wyman. I have very few issues of Thor from between #400 and #500, since the series went into a massive decline after Simonson left. At least this issue is written by Thomas and not DeFalco, but it has a boring plot and unappealing art, and it feels somehow like a relic of the early ‘90s. I’d still pick up more issues of this Thor run if theye were very cheap.

SILVER SURFER #3 (Marvel, 1987) – “Heaven,” [W] Steve Englehart, [A] Marshall Rogers. By 1987, Rogers’s art only barely resembled his art from his Batman run. This issue the Surfer meets the Runner, an Elder of the Universe, and Mantis shows up at the end. The idea of the Elders of the Universe was introduced by other writers, but it seems like it was Englehart who developed them in detail.

ATOMIC ROBO: SHADOW FROM BEYOND TIME #1 (Red 5, 2009) – “Horror on Houston Street,” [W] Brian Clevinger, [A] Scott Wegener. In 1926, a young Robo meets Charles Fort and H.P. Lovecraft. The latter is accurately presented as an awful racist who speaks in hysterical, archaic language. Fort enlists Robo’s aid against an extra-dimensional monster that’s possessed Lovecraft. Shadow from Beyond Time is my favorite Atomic Robo miniseries because of its extremely clever narrative structure, although that structure is not yet evident in this issue.

SWAMP THING #3 (Vertigo, 2000) – “Kill Your Darlings,” [W] Brian K. Vaughan, [A] Roger Petersen. A grown-up Tefé is working on a fishing boat. One of the crewmen starts killing the others. The captain overreacts to this and hangs his prime suspect, who is his daughter’s boyfriend and the father of her unborn child. But it turns out that the real murderer was another crewman, things go to hell in a hurry, and everyone dies except for Tefé and the captain’s daughter, but the latter’s baby is killed. This is a rather tasteless and gruesome piece of horror, and it has nothing to do with Swamp Thing. Tefe’s powers have almost no effect on the plot. As its title indicates, this issue also has a theme of metatext, but BKV doesn’t do anything exciting with this theme. The one thing I did like about this issue is the captain’s daughter, a woman whose tyrannical father has prevented her from becoming her own person, but this character suffers some unfortunate fridging.

GREEN LANTERN #26 (DC, 1964) – “Star Sapphire Unmasks Green Lantern!” and “The World Within the Power Ring!”,  [W] Gardner Fox, [A] Gil Kane. Star Sapphire tries to get Green Lantern to marry her by forcing him to admit defeat and thus weakening his will. Of course it doesn’t work. Star Sapphire is a much more forceful character than Carol Ferris, who is portrayed in this story as a total wimp. Fox was a rather sexist writer, but he was capable of writing interesting female characters, especially Hawkgirl. The backup story is the first appearance of Myrwhydden, the evil wizard trapped in Hal’s power ring. Grant Morrison recently did a brilliant revival of this character.

STAR SLAMMERS #3 (IDW, 2014) – untitled, [W/A] Walt Simonson. Uncle Walt has been working on this series off and on for his entire career, but this IDW series is the definitive remastered edition of all the Star Slammers comics from Marvel, Malibu and Dark Horse. The material in #3 originally appeared in a 1983 Marvel Graphic Novel. I had trouble following this issue because I hadn’t read the previous two, but the art in it is stunning. It includes some very ambitious page layouts that depict the Star Slammers’ Silvermind, which is similar to the Eternals’ Unmind. These pages remind me of the fractal page in Thor #341 where Fafnir hypnotizes Lorelei. Walt’s best-known works are in the fantasy or superhero genre, but he’s also extremely good at drawing space battles.

BATMAN #323 (DC, 1980) – “Shadow of the Cat!”, [W] Len Wein, [A] Irv Novick. Batman tries to arrest Catwoman for stealing some Egyptian cat artifacts, but she protests her innocence. The real culprit proves to be Cat-Man. There’s a subplot involving Gregorian Falstaff, and there’s also a scene where Lucius Fox argues with his younger and more radical son. This reminds me a lot of Robbie and Randy Robertson’s similar arguments.

WALT DISNEY’S COMICS AND STORIES #249 (Dell, 1961) – “Stranger than Fiction,” [W/A] Carl Barks. Donald is annoyed that the nephews are reading science fiction stories about teleportation, so he gets Gyro Gearloose to invent a real teleportation device. This results in a bunch of funny gags. This issue includes an early example of Tuckerization. The book the nephews are reading is Ten Seconds to Mars by Spicer Willits. That name references John Spicer and Malcolm Willits, the first two fans who learned Barks’s name and corresponded with him. ( Of the three other stories in this issue, the only notable one is a Mickey Mouse story by Fallberg and Murry.

At this point I received an order from Heroes Aren’t Hard to Find, including a graphic novel as well as five Slott Spider-Man issues. The latter were the first new comic books I had gotten since DCBS shipments stopped.

AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #648 (Marvel, 2011) – “Big Time,” [W] Dan Slott, [A] Humberto Ramos. Spidey fights the Sinister Six alongside the Avengers, but then gets thrown out of his apartment and has no luck finding a roommate. Luckily he gets hired by a tech startup run by a man named Max Modell. There’s also a backup story written by Paul Tobin. #648 was the start of Slott’s solo Spider-Man run, and it’s a great start. One of my favorite things about Slott is how he constantly keeps the reader interested. On nearly every page there’s a funny joke or a touching piece of characterization or a clever new piece of continuity. The highlight of this issue is when Peter saves the day by realizing that it’s the first day of Daylight Savings Time, so the Avengers have an extra hour before Doc Ock’s bomb goes off.

UNCLE SCROOGE #233 (Gladstone, 1989) – “Outfoxed Fox,” [W/A] Carl Barks. Uncle Scrooge wants the land Donald’s house stands on, but Donald won’t sell because he doesn’t want to give up his garden. Scrooge tricks Donald and his neighbor, Jughead Jones, into digging up their gardens and tearing down their houses in search of a made-up treasure. The nephews turn the tables on Scrooge by convincing Donald and Jughead to do the same to Scrooge’s own house. I have no idea whether the name Jughead Jones was a coincidence or an intentional reference to Archie comics. If Barks used the name on purpose, I don’t understand why. The Jughead in this story has nothing in common with Archie’s best friend. This issue also includes two European stories.

JONAH HEX #65 (DC, 2011) – “Snowblind,”[W] Jimmy Palmiotti & Justin Gray, [A] Jordi Bernet. Jonah Hex is caught in a snowstorm and has to spend the winter living with an eccentric hermit, who he protects from wolves and bandits. On the last page, we learn that Jonah was supposed to capture the hermit for a reward, but he decides not to. This issue is a quite effective piece of storytelling, but Bernet’s art is less effective in color than in black and white.

DETECTIVE COMICS #770 (DC, 2002) – “Purity Part 3 of 3,” [W] Greg Rucka, [A] Steve Lieber. Batman fights some Chinese drug dealers, whose leader has a beak and wings. There’s also a Josie Mac story by Judd Winick and Cliff Chiang. This issue is rather forgettable. The best thing about it is Andrew Robinson’s cover art.

STAR SLAMMERS #1 (IDW, 2014) – untitled, [W/A] Walt Simonson. This issue introduces the Star Slammers, a group of intergalactic mercenaries. We first see them when they’re hired to help out the losing side of a war. Only three of them show up, but that’s more than enough to win the war, even when they’re betrayed by the side that hired them. As in issue 3, Walt’s draftsmanship, page layouts, and costume designs are amazing.

THE GOON: ONCE UPON A HARD TIME #1 (Dark Horse, 2015) – untitled, [W/A] Eric Powell. The Goon beats up a lot of people and drinks himself into a stupor. His friend Frankie grows increasingly worried about him. As in issue 2, Eric Powell’s art is extremely effective. I think the closest artist to him is Kevin Nowlan, but Powell’s art is more painterly than Nowlan’s.

GREEN LANTERN #167 (DC, 1983) – “Ring Against Ring!”, [W] Joey Cavalieri, [A] George Tuska. In the lead story, some Green Lanterns go rogue because they’ve heard that the Guardians are intentionally depriving them of rings that don’t have a weakness to yellow. This story is no better than you would expect from its creators. The backup story, “Successor” by Todd Klein and Dave Gibbons, is much better. It’s about a horse-like Green Lantern who retires  and is replaced by his robot butler. Gibbons is a great visual storyteller, and he draws some cute horses.

ACTION COMICS #364 (DC, 1968) – “The Untouchable from Krypton!”, [W] Leo Dorfman, [A] Ross Andru. The best thing about this issue is Neal Adams’s cover. Ross Andru’s interior art is also good, but far more old-fashioned-looking. “The Untouchable from Krypton!” is part of a continuing story in which Superman contracts Kryptonian leprosy and has to leave Earth. There’s also a Supergirl story by Otto Binder and Kurt Schaffenberger, in which two of Supergirl’s acquaintances both marry the same man and immediately die. To investigate their deaths, Supergirl gets engaged to the man herself. This story’s premise is extremely dumb, and the resolution to the mystery is also ridiculous.

PLANETARY #7 (Wildstorm, 2000) – “To Be in England, in the Summertime,” [W] Warren Ellis, [A] John Cassaday. This is quite possibly Warren Ellis’s best individual comic book, although you have to have read lots of other comics in order to understand why. Jack Carter, i.e. John Constantine, is dead, and the members of Planetary attend his funeral. For Ellis, Carter is the embodiment of ‘80s comics, which in his view were principally about the horribleness of Thatcher’s Britain. The examples Ellis has in mind are mostly the work of Moore, Gaiman and Morrison; for example, there’s a panel where two stand-ins for Morpheus and Death are feeding pigeons. The murderer turns out to be a character based on Miracleman, who’s angry because he liked his old, boring, respectable self and was unhappy with being deconstructed and turning grim and dark. At the end, Jack Carter reveals himself to be alive, and he visually transforms himself into Spider Jerusalem. Here Ellis is making an implicit declaration of independence: he’s tired of the ’80s school of comics, and in Transmetropolitan (and Planetary) he’s trying to do something different. This issue may be faulted for demanding too much insider knowledge of comics, but it’s an extremely ambitious and clever piece of metafiction.

DAREDEVIL #10 (Marvel, 2012) – “Underground Crime,” [W] Mark Waid, [A] Paolo Rivera. Daredevil fights the Mole Man, who dug up Jack Murdock’s grave because his own lost lover (or stalking victim, rather) was buried nearby. Matt shows a total lack of sympathy for the Mole Man, but he really doesn’t deserve any. Paolo Rivera’s art in this issue is excellent. The issue begins with a scene where Matt escapes from a monster which we never see fully – we only see its eyes, tongue and teeth.

CLASSIC STAR WARS: THE EARLY ADVENTURES #6 (Dark Horse, 1995) – “The Second Kessel Run,” [W/A] Russ Manning. I believe this issue consists of newspaper strips cut up and rearranged in comic book form. Luke, Han and friends have to save the planet of Kessel from being destroyed by a scientist’s terraforming project. Luke has a cute flirtation with the scientist’s daughter. Russ Manning’s artwork in this issue is excellent, although it’s reproduced too large. However, Manning’s graphic style does not fit with the style of the Star Wars films. Manning’s spaceships and machines look slick, aerodynamic and futuristic, but they’re juxtaposed with costumes and ships that are borrowed from the films, and that look dingy, dilapidated, and overly complicated. The result is a clash between two incompatible design styles, and Manning’s own designs come off looking old-fashioned by comparison to the designs from the films. Al Williamson did a better job of matching his own style to the visual aesthetic of the Star Wars franchise.

AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #651 (Marvel, 2011) – untitled (Big Time), [W] Dan Slott, [A] Humberto Ramos. Spidey and Black Cat invade the Kingpin’s headquarters and fight the Hobgoblin. As a countermeasure to the Hobgoblin’s powers, Spidey uses a device that blocks out sound,  and this leads to some funny complications. The dialogue in this issue is also excellent; Slott is really good at writing Spider-Man’s witty banter. The main story ends with Peter realizing he’s finally hit the big time, hence the title of the story arc. There’s also a backup story where Alistair Smythe recruits the Scorpion to help him get revenge on JJJ.

CHEW #25 (Image, 2012) – “Major League Chew Part 5,” [W] John Layman, [A] Rob Guillory. Tony Chu has been kidnapped, and the kidnapper auctions him off, with his cibopathic powers, to the highest bidder. Amelia Mintz saves him. At the end of the issue, Colby is assigned Poyo as his new partner. This issue begins with a scene where Colby’s boss basically rapes him. This is funny in context, but may be offensive to some readers.

ADVENTURE COMICS #442 (DC, 1975) – “H is for Holocaust,” [W] Paul Levitz, [A] Jim Aparo. Aquaman has to save a hijacked ship before the U.S. government can nuke it, which would devastate Atlantis’s environment. There’s a subplot about an insurrection in Atlantis. This story is okay, but not as good as other Aquaman stories from this period. This issue also includes a Seven Soldiers of Victory story, drawn by José Luis Garcia-Lopez from an unpublished Golden Age script. JLGL’s art is only average, and Joe Samachson’s script is extremely stupid and childish. Samachson was still alive at the time, though he had long since abandoned his writing career.

SUICIDE SQUAD #50 (DC, 1991) – “Debt of Honor,” [W] John Ostrander & Kim Yale, [A] Geof Isherwood et al. This issue begins with a confusing scene in which Rick Flag abandons his friend Jess Bright after a mountaineering disaster. This scene is shown more fully in Secret Origins #14, which I don’t have. Jess Bright survives, but suffers extreme injuries and becomes the supervillain Koshchei the Deathless. Many years later, Bright kidnaps Flag’s posthumous son by Karin Grace. The Squad have to save the boy, even though Koshchei tries to stop them by resurrecting their many dead teammates. This is a very exciting issue that effectively draws upon the series’ previous four years of continuity.

DETECTIVE COMICS #759 (DC, 2001) – “Unknowing Part Two,” [W] Greg Rucka, [A] Shawn Martinborough. I’m surprised this issue is so old because its cover art and design look extremely up to date. Rucka’s run on Detective Comics feels like the beginning of the contemporary era of Batman, as opposed to the previous era that was dominated by crossovers like Knightfall and No Man’s Land. This issue, Batman tries to unravel the Mad Hatter’s mind control plot, and Bruce Wayne’s bodyguard Sasha Bordeaux tries to assist him, even though Batman doesn’t want her help. There’s also a Slam Bradley backup story with beautiful art by Darwyn Cooke and Cameron Stewart, though it’s a bit hard to tell which of them did what. I think this was Darwyn’s second published comic book story, after Legion Worlds #2, and not counting Batman: Ego.

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