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Two weeks of reviews

LOCKE & KEY: KEYS TO THE KINGDOM #3 (IDW, 2010) – untitled, [W] Joe Hill, [A] Gabriel Rodriguez. Tyler is trying to become a more vicious hockey player, while also romancing his crush Jordan. Meanwhile, Kinsey is having her own relationship problems. They both try to use the keys to solve their problems, while at the same time, Dodge is manipulating them both. This issue has a lot of different plotlines, but it’s held together by beginning and ending with Tyler’s hockey games.

LOVE AND CAPES: THE FAMILY WAY #5 (Maerkle Press, 2020) – untitled, [W/A] Thom Zahler. Mark and Abby go on a second honeymoon, leaving Charlotte and Amazonia to babysit the kids. Amazonia is appointed Leandia (i.e. Themyscira)’s new ambassador to Earth, resolving her character arc. But meanwhile, an evil cosmic entity is about to invade Earth, which leads us into:

LOVE AND CAPES: THE FAMILY WAY #6 – as above. The first half of the issue is a flashback to Abby’s second pregnancy, when Mark encountered his much older self from another world. Back in the present, Mark defeats Blackseed (i.e. Darkseid) by summoning versions of himself from alternate realities, one of which is a cat named Marrrk Spencpurr. Paul and Amazonia resume their relationship. James accidentally discovers his father’s secret identity, and in a touching conclusion to the series, Mark takes James flying for the first time. I really hope Thom does another Love & Capes miniseries sometime soon.

DEADLINE U.S.A. #2 (Dark Horse, 1992) – various stories, [E] Chris Warner & Jerry Prosser. We begin with another installment of Milligan and Ewins’s Johnny Nemo. When I read Strange Days, Johnny Nemo suffered by comparison to Brendan McCarthy’s flashier stories in the same issues, but it’s an excellent comic strip in its own right. The next story is by Ho Che Anderson, then there’s “Maxnasty” by Jamie Hewlett, which is visually stunning but is reproduced too small. Unfortunately this issue also includes D’Israeli’s Timulo, the comic where you have to rotate each page eight times to read all the text. Of the other strips in the issue, the best is Philip Bond’s Wired World, and the worst is Alec Stevens’s unintelligible Silence. Other artists  included are Shaky Kane, Nick Abadzis, Julie Hollings, Richard Sala, Steve Dillon and Evan Dorkin.

PLANETOID PRAXIS #3 (Image, 2017) – untitled, [W/A] Ken Garing. Some foreign humans reach the planetoid and immediately set themselves up as colonists, claiming ownership over the planet’s resources and caring little for everything that the protagonists have built. On the planet’s behalf, Onica refuses to deal with the new humans. Some masked gunmen show up and kill Silas’s pet lizard Koma.

2000 AD #501 (IPC, 1986) – “Slaine the King,” [W] Pat Mills, [A] Glenn Fabry, etc. Sláine recovers the Black Cauldron, the same one from the Mabinogi and the Disney film, and has to kill a horrible thing that comes out of it. Ukko says that the Cauldron won’t cook the food of a coward, which is a quotation from the medieval Welsh poem “The Spoils of Annwn.” Glenn Fabry’s artwork here is amazing. Next is Milligan and Ewins’s “Bad Company.” This story’s art is also beautiful, though in a less flashy way. The Dredd story is a split-personality murder mystery by Wagner, Grant, and Brendan McCarthy. Only the first two pages are in color, which is a pity because McCarthy’s coloring is his greatest asset as an artist. However, it is interesting to see what his art looks like without all the rainbow colors. After a three-page Future Shock, the prog ends with a Nemesis the Warlock chapter by Mills and Bryan Talbot, guest-starring the ABC Warriors. The lineup of talent in this prog is really amazing.

SUPERMAN #389 (DC, 1983) – “Brother Act!”, [W] Cary Bates & Paul Kupperberg, [A] Curt Swan. A convoluted and barely coherent story about Cory Renwald, a secret agent who I guess was Clark Kent’s foster brother at some point. There are subplots about Lana and Lois’s rivalry, and about Perry White’s failed marriage.

WORLD’S FINEST COMICS #321 (DC, 1985) – “The Time of Your Life,” [W] Joey Cavalieri, [A] José Delbo. Batman and Superman team up against Chronos. This story is not interesting to begin with, and is made even worse by Joey Cavalieri’s habit of purple prose. Cavalieri seems to have been imitating Alan Moore’s prose style, but he was no Alan Moore. Also, Delbo’s artwork is overwhelmed by Alfredo Alcala’s inking. I wonder why DC didn’t use Alcala as a penciller rather than an inker. I guess he must have been a very fast inker, despite his hyper-detailed linework.

JUSTICE SOCIETY OF AMERICA #6 (DC, 1992) – “Give Me Liberty…,” [W] Len Strazewski, [A] Mike Parobeck. The JSA travel to Bahdnesia on a ship and encounter the last surviving Bahdnesian. This series was influential because it helped revive the JSA characters, and also because Parobeck’s art helped popularize the animation-influenced style of superhero art. However, it’s only an average series in its own right.

VALOR #22 (DC, 1994) – “End of an Era Part Two: The Center Cannot Hold!”, [W] Kurt Busiek, [A] Colleen Doran. Valor tries to prevent the 20th century from being destroyed by time paradoxes. “End of an Era” is depressing because it got rid of the old version of the Legion, not because those characters were unpopular but because their continuity had been broken beyond repair. The Legion’s history from 1986 to 1994 is a case study in why excessive adherence to continuity is a bad thing.

New DCBS shipment received on June 11:

LEGION OF SUPER-HEROES #6 (DC, 2020) – untitled, [W] Brian Michael Bendis, [A] Ryan Sook. This issue has gotten some hype because it introduces two new Legionnaires, Monster Boy and Gold Lantern. Objectively this issue is rather bad; it has an incoherent, boring plot and no characterization to speak of. But this comic is still exciting, because it’s such a nostalgic pleasure to see the Legion again. And Ryan Sook’s Legion is diverse and visually exciting.

ADVENTUREMAN #1 (Image, 2020) – untitled, [W] Matt Fraction, [A] Terry Dodson. The first half of this issue is a pulp-influenced story in the vein of Doc Savage and the Shadow, starring a team of ‘30s superheroes. At the halfway mark, we learn that this story is a pulp novel that a woman named Claire Connell is reading to her young son. After Shabbat dinner with her father and six sisters (a really cute touch), Claire goes to work at a bookstore, where she gets drawn into a mysterious conspiracy. This issue is a really exciting debut. Both the WWII-era and modern-day sequences have some fascinating characters. As Fraction explains in his author’s note, his goal is to recreate the pulp adventure genre without its racist and sexist elements. Even the Punjabi character in the pulp novel is portrayed in a respectful way. The problem with this comic is that it’s too long for the single-issue format, and I got tired of it before it was over. Also, Terry Dodson’s art is highly skilled, but perhaps too slick and immaculate for its own good.

SOMETHING IS KILLING THE CHILDREN #7 (Boom!, 2020) – “The House of Slaughter Part Two,” [W] James Tynion IV, [A] Werther Dell’Edera. Erica meets one of her fellow monster hunters, and he decides to use little Bian, the sole survivor of the monster attacks, as bait, over Erica’s objections. Otherwise this issue mostly updates the existing plotlines. This issue includes a preview of Wynd #1. I was hoping to get this on my last visit to Heroes, but it was already sold out.

AMETHYST #3 (DC, 2020) – “En Route,” [W/A] Amy Reeder. Maxixe, Prince Aquamarine, is forced by his mother to join Amy and Ploss. The three of them visit a nomadic market, but Amy’s old crush Prince Topaz shows up and breaks the market up. At the end of the issue, Amy and her companions reach the Opal Realm. This is a fun issue. Its highlight is the montage sequence where Amy and her friends are traveling through a bunch of weird realms. This scene demonstrates Amy Reeder’s visual imagination. However, this series deserves more than six issues. It’s still too soon for Amy to confront Dark Opal – there hasn’t been enough setup. It seems like Reeder has had to compress her plot to fit the limited space available.

MILES MORALES: SPIDER-MAN #17 (Marvel, 2020) – untitled, [W] Saladin Ahmed, [A] Javier Garron. Miles helps out a boy who’s being bullied, then he fights some CRADLE agents, and discovers that his mother sympathizes somewhat with Kamala’s Law. I think Outlawed is a terrible idea, especially now that real-world events have made it seem irrelevant. But this issue doesn’t demand too much knowledge of Outlawed’s plot, which may explain Marvel’s odd decision to release it before all the other Outlawed titles.

UNDISCOVERED COUNTRY #6 (Image, 2020) – untitled, [W] Scott Snyder & Charles Soule, [A] Giuseppe Camuncoli & Leonardo Marcello Grassi. The protagonists mostly succeed in escaping the Destiny Man and continuing their journey down the spiral, but Uncle Sam gets killed. Part of this issue is by a guest artist. Camuncoli must have needed a break, considering the amount of detail in his art.

ICE CREAM MAN #19 (Image, 2020) – “Haunting for Beginners,” [W] W. Maxwell Prince, [A] Martin Morazzo. A highly experimental issue that’s designed to look like an instruction manual. It’s entirely in black and white, and each panel is a step in a set of instructions for becoming a ghost. In the first sequence, a little boy in a ghost costume witnesses a suicide. The next sequence takes place thirty years later, when the boy is an adult with a cheating wife. He almost commits suicide himself, but decides not to. In the last sequence, the now-78-year-old protagonist dies and becomes an actual ghost. The issue ends with an index. “Haunting for Beginners” is an impressive formal experiment, and it’s also quite a touching story.

NEW MUTANTS #10 (Marvel, 2020) – “Parasomnia,” [W] Ed Brisson, [A] Flaviano. The New Mutants visit a fictional Eastern European country, where a young mutant girl’s powers are causing her nightmares to manifest. This issue isn’t as bad as #6, but it’s not good either. It looks like Hickman is no longer writing New Mutants, and I’m going to quit ordering it.

WELLINGTON #4 (IDW, 2020) – untitled, [W] Delilah Dawson & Aaron Mahnke, [A] Piotr Kowalski. More boring Mignolaesque horror. There’s nothing particularly appealing about this series, and I’m still annoyed by its lack of historical accuracy. I’ve already complained in previous reviews that the Duke of Wellington’s clothes don’t look period-appropriate, and beyond that, there’s nothing to suggest that the writers have more than a shallow knowledge of Wellington and his era.

DRYAD #2 (Oni, 2020) – untitled, [W] Kurtis Wiebe, [A] Justin Osterling. I expected to dislike this even more than the previous two comics, but it’s surprisingly good. The town is being invaded by mysterious creatures armed with science fiction weaponry, and to combat the invaders, the mother pulls out a giant ray gun of her own. This raises some glaring questions about just what kind of world this series is set in. I also like the contrast between the two  generations of characters. I think I actually will keep reading Dryad.

2000 AD #549 (Fleetway, 1987) – “The Rammy, Part 6,” [W] Alan Grant, [A] Carlos Ezquerra. This prog starts with a Strontium Dog story, a murder mystery in which the victim is named Vint Skully – presumably a reference to Vin Scully. Next is a Bad Company chapter in which Kano, the leader of the Bad Company, is believed dead and has become a legend. The Judge Dredd story is “Judge Dredd in Oz, Part 5,” starring Chopper. It has stunning art by Brendan McCarthy, but the villains are a bunch of grotesque giant birds with stereotypical Mexican accents. This theme of offensive Mexican stereotypes will come up again in later progs. Next is a Nemesis story where Torquemada visits Toledo in the time of the original Torquemada. This story is drawn by John Hicklenton, whose art is unique and stunning, if very disturbing. He had a real talent for body horror. His major work is 100 Months, an autobiographical work about his own terminal illness. The prog ends with a Zenith chapter that I’ve already read. I believe it’s the last chapter of Phase 1.

DECORUM #2 (Image, 2020) – “Singularity Now” and other chapters, [W] Jonathan Hickman, [A] Mike Huddleston. The artwork in this issue is amazing, especially the sequence depicting a god that manifests itself as a bunch of Kirby crackle. This sequence is even colored with fake Ben-Day dots. However, this issue’s plot makes very little sense.

BITTER ROOT #8 (Image, 2020) – “Rage & Redemption Part Three,” [W] David F. Walker & Chuck Brown, [A] Sanford Greene. This issue continues the series’ basic plotline and presents no real surprises, but it’s well done. I especially like the gospel music scene. I think I’ve already mentioned how this series reminds me of Clan Destine, perhaps because of the giant character who uses formal language. This issue includes an interview with Ebony Elizabeth Thomas, author of the very important book The Dark Fantastic.

NO ONE’S ROSE #2 (Vault, 2020) – untitled, [W] Zac Thompson & Emily Horn, [A] Alberto Albuquerque. The sister gets fired from her “junior liberator” job, but subsequently discovers that her plants are growing super-fast. It becomes clear that the dome’s leaders are manipulating the environment to maintain their own power. The sister and brother debate over the best way to change their society. I remember I read another comic by Zac Thompson and didn’t like it, so I’m surprised at how much I enjoyed this issue. The themes of dictatorship and revolution are not new, but the plant-based technology is cool, and the art is very effective.

LOIS LANE #11 (DC, 2020) – “Enemy of the People Part Eleven,” [W] Greg Rucka, [A] Mike Perkins. I couldn’t follow this issue’s story. I can’t remember who Jessica Midnight is, and I don’t remember who the bad guys are. I’ll be glad when this miniseries is over. It’s not one of Rucka’s better works.

KILLADELPHIA #6 (Image, 2020) – “Sins of the Father Part VI: For God and Country,” [W] Rodney Barnes, [A] Jason Shawn Alexander. The good guys beat Vampire John Adams, and James Sangster Sr. accepts his death. I have very mixed feelings about this series – it seems like a comic I ought to support, but its vampire plot is stupid. I’m not sure if I want to keep ordering it.

THE FILTH #3 (Vertigo, 2002) – “Structures and Ultrastructures,” [W] Grant Morrison, [A] Chris Weston. This issue starts with a metatextual sequence that looks backward to Animal Man and forward to Multiversity. In this sequence, some comic book characters run into the two-dimensional barrier that separates them from the real world. After that point, the issue’s story becomes incoherent. It’s about a man who’s alternately known as Greg Feely and Ned Slade, and at the end of the issue his cat dies. What this could possibly mean is beyond me.

FLEENER #1 (Bongo, 1996) – “The Land of the Kookamonga!”, [W/A] Mary Fleener. An epic-length, surrealist, silent story about a tribe of island people with trapezoidal bodies. This story doesn’t follow rational logic, but it makes a weird sort of sense, and Fleener’s art is fascinating and weird. The centerfold of the issue is a board game. This issue includes a letter from a reader who drove to Paris, Illinois to see a Mary Fleener painting, only to discover that it was by a different woman of the same name. That reader was my friend Craig Fischer.

TITS & CLITS #6 (Last Gasp, 1980) – various stories, [E] Joyce Farmer & Lyn Chevli. This issue’s first story, by Beverly Hilliard, is a sort of gender-swapped version of Weekend at Bernie’s. Next is a faux-mythological story by Karen Feinberg and Joyce Farmer. It’s described as being “from the Book of Notable Women.” Feinberg published other excerpts from this book elsewhere, but I don’t think it ever existed as a book. The highlight of the issue is Sharon Rudahl’s “More Than a Woman,” about tensions between second-wave feminist principles and the desire for motherhood. The issue also includes Roberta Gregory’s “Bedroom Politricks,” about sleeping with a new lover for the first time, and several other short stories by Farmer.

SAVAGE SWORD OF CONAN #136 (Marvel, 1987) – “Seventh Isle of Doom,” [W] Larry Yakata, [A] Andy Kubert. This issue’s main story is really not very good. It’s awkwardly written, and it ends with a dumb scene where Conan sleeps with a princess and then maroons her on an island. The interesting question this story raises is who Larry Yakata was. No biographical information about him is available, and there’s specualtion that he was either Larry Hama or Jim Owsley/Christopher Priest. Andy Kubert’s style in this story is barely distinguishable from his father’s. There’s also a Kull backup story by Chuck Dixon and another obvious pseudonym, Fraja Bator.

2000 AD #565 (Fleetway, 1988) – “The ABC Warriors,” [W] Pat Mills, [A] Simon Bisley, etc. This is the last prog I have whose cover is newsprint rather than glossy paper. The cover design is the same as that of progs #600 and up, so this prog feels like a transition between eras. The ABC Warriors story has brilliant draftsmanship by Simon Bisley. I was only familiar with this artist’s painted art, and it seems he’s equally good at line art. After an early review of Star Trek: The Next Generation, we continue with a Strontium Dog story guest-starring Durham Red. Then there’s part 21 of Dredd in Oz, thankfully without the Mexican stereotypes; a Nemesis chapter drawn by David Roach; and a Future Shock drawn by Belardinelli.

TANK GIRL FCBD: A BRIEF HISTORY OF TANK GIRL (Titan, 2018) – “A Brief History of Tank Girl,” [W] Alan Martin, [A] Brett Parson et al. A series of vignettes about Tank Girl and a man who she punches in the face every year on her birthday. One of the vignettes includes some satirical comments about the Tank Girl movie. This issue is okay, but to me the most intriguing thing about Tank Girl is Jamie Hewlett’s art, and the stories by Martin without Hewlett are much less appealing.

SUPERMAN #43 (DC, 1990) – “The Evil Factory,” [W/A] Jerry Ordway. Superman #41 was one of the first comic books I ever read, and of course when I read it, I knew nothing about the Kirby comics it was based on. Reading Superman #43 now, I can see how the entire issue is adapted from Kirby’s Jimmy Olsen. Superman teams up with Guardian to rescue Jimmy’s mother from Mokkari and Simyan. Jerry Ordway doesn’t add a whole lot to Kirby’s mythos, but he shows a good understanding of Kirby. While reading this issue, I noticed that Kirby created two different characters named Mokkari and Makkari.

THE RED WING #2 (Image, 2011) – “Learning to Fall,” [W] Jonathan Hickman, [A] Nick Pitarra. This was Hickman’s first creator-owned work that I was aware of, although I haven’t read it until now. Like Decorum, The Red Wing is quite hard to decipher, except that it seems to be about space pilots and Mayan mythology. Nick Pitarra’s draftsmanship on this issue is less accomplished than in Manhattan Projects.

THE FLASH #218 (DC, 1972) – “The Flash of 1000 Faces,” [W] Cary Bates, [A] Irv Novick. Thanks to the Pied Piper, Barry forgets his own secret identity and can’t take his mask off. This story is average, but the real attraction of the issue is the GL/GA backup story, “Green Arrow is Dead!” by O’Neil and Adams. This story is beautifully drawn, and the three-parter that appeared in Flash #217-219 was an effective (temporary) farewell to GL and GA. My favorite moment in “Green Arrow is Dead!” is when Dinah fall  off a building, and Hal manifests a giant Green Arrow to catch her. Sadly we just lost Denny O’Neil, a towering figure in the comics industry.

THE STEEL CLAW #3 (Quality, 1987) – untitled, [W] Ken Bulmer, [A] Jesus Blasco. This issue’s stories are about Dr. Deutz, a mad scientist who turns into a monster and frames the Steel Claw for his crimes. These stories are exciting and beautifully drawn. However, a comparison with the Steel Claw: The Vanishing Man hardcover reveals the violence that was inflicted on these stories in order to turn them into comic book form. The Steel Claw comics were published in the British format, and to make them fit American comic book pages, Quality had to chop up and rearrange panels and add new artwork. The result is a complete distortion of the artist’s intentions.

2000 AD #608 (Fleetway, 1988) – “Contact Part Two,” [W] Alan Grant, [A] Mark Farmer. In the first story, Psi-Judge Anderson travels to a planet of telepathic aliens. I’m not sure if I’ve seen Mark Farmer’s pencils before. His style is similar to Alan Davis’s. Next there’s a funny Future Shock about three-eyed aliens, and a selection of Judge Dredd daily strips drawn by Ian Gibson. The Dredd story is “Our Man in Hondo Part One’ by Wagner and Colin MacNeil, set in Japan. Unfortunately this story is full of outdated Japanese stereotypes, and even the lettering is done in a faux-Oriental style. Even Claremont and Miller’s Wolverine miniseries was less offensive than this story. The best stories in this prog are John Brosnan and Kev Hopgood’s “Night Zero,” a science-fictional hard-boiled noir story, and Mills and Hicklenton’s Nemesis chapter.

SUPERMAN #27 (DC, 1988) – “Of Course, You Know This Means War!”, [W] Roger Stern, [A] Kerry Gammill. Superman visits Australia to deal with the fallout from Invasion!, then returns to Metropolis exhausted. Later, Gangbuster fights Brainiac and Guardian. I’m pretty sure that the Gangbuster in this issue is not José Delgado but Superman, who’s unknowingly posing as Gangbuster in his sleep, and that this explains why Superman is so tired. This issue isn’t a classic, but it’s reasonably fun.

BIRTHRIGHT #28 (Image, 2017) – untitled, [W] Joshua Williamson, [A] Andrei Bressan. Mikey battles Lore. Meanwhile, on a train, Aaron and Rya encounter a man who turns out to be Lore’s agent, resulting in a fight that derails the train. The last page of this comic reminds me of the opening sequence of Uncharted 2.

SPIDER-WOMAN #41 (Marvel, 1981) – “La Morte de Jessica,” [W] Chris Claremont, [A] Steve Leialoha. Jessica Drew and Lindsay McCabe go to a Renaissance fair, where Jess has a vision in which she’s Morgan Le Fay and she witnesses Arthur’s attempted execution of Guinevere. This issue is kind of like a more extended version of Jean Grey’s Mastermind-induced visions in X-Men #133-134. Claremont seems to have liked to use dreams and visions as a way of putting his protagonist into a setting other than the main one of the story. I don’t know if the Arthurian continuity in this issue matches that of other Marvel comics like Iron Man #149-150. On page 3 we see some of the sources Claremont and Leialoha are using for their version of Camelot. They’re mostly the usual ones, like Malory and T.H. White.

DETECTIVE COMICS #847 (DC, 2008) – “Batman R.I.P. Heart of Hush Part 2 of 5: The Last Good Day,” [W] Paul Dini, [A] Dustin Nguyen. This issue starts with a flashback to Hush’s childhood, focusing on Hush’s jealousy of Bruce Wayne. The key scene is when Thomas and Bruce are canoeing at summer camp, and then Thomas’s overprotective mother shows up and demands that he come home. Then Batman and Robin fight some Lewis Carroll-influenced villains, including a walrus and a carpenter, and there’s also a scene with Zatanna and Catwoman.

2000 AD #610 (Fleetway, 1989) – “Night Zero,” [W] John Brosnan, [A] Kev Hopgood, etc. In #608, Night Zero/Tanner’s client got killed, but by now she’s somehow alive again. She and Tanner go to see her friend, but have to fight some overly polite guns and a tiger first. This is quite a funny story. The next story is a comparison of two different versions of an old Dredd story, “City of the Damned” from #404. Steve Dillon’s original version of this story was lost, and he had to redraw it from scratch. Later the original pages were rediscovered, and in this prog the two versions are presented side by side. This provides the reader with a rare and fascinating opportunity to examine the creative choices made by a cartoonist. The Dredd story is part 3 of “Our Man in Hondo,” and it’s just as offensive as part one. Steve Dillon’s “Hap Hazzard” is a humorous one-shot story about two men who try to get out of accompanying their significant others to a high school reunion. The last story is the first chapter of “Zippy Couriers,” depicting how Shauna McCullough quits her corporate courier job and starts her own business.

THE MANHATTAN PROJECTS: THE SUN BEYOND THE STARS #3 (Image, 2015) – untitled, [W] Jonathan Hickman, [A] Nick Pitarra. Yuri Gagarin and Laika have an adventure on an alien planet. This issue has some really impressive art, but it’s hard to follow, and it has no apparent connection to the main Manhattan Projects series.

SENSATION COMICS FEATURING WONDER WOMAN #14 (DC, 2015) – “Nine Days,” [W] Karen Traviss, [A] Andres Guinaldo. Diana tries to stop a war between two fictional South American countries, despite interference from the goddess Eris. This issue is boring and incoherent, and it presents the war in a “both sides” fashion. It’s one of the worst issues of this series.

THE INVISIBLES #7 (Vertigo, 1995) – “Arcadia Part 3: 120 Days of Sod All,” [W] Grant Morrison, [A] Jill Thompson. King Mob and the Marquis de Sade try to get into the sealed castle from The 120 Days of Sodom. Meanwhile, Ragged Robin visits Rennes-le-Chateau, which is famous due to being part of the myth behind The Da Vinci Code. Lord Fanny and Jack Frost fight some guy with a smudged face, and there’s also some more of the plotline about the Shelleys and Byron. At the end of the issue Ragged Robin is shown the head of John the Baptist. This issue is very complicated, but at least it’s understandable and interesting, unlike The Filth.

LUCIFER #46 (Vertigo, 2004) – “Stitchglass Slide 1: The Weaving,” [W] Mike Carey, [A] Peter Gross. A giant sentient spider meets an abused little boy with a severe anger management problem. With the boy’s help, the spider attracts a mate, who is much larger than him. Both the boy and the spider are weird but endearing characters, and I’m curious to see what happens to them. There’s also a subplot about Lucifer and Mazikeen.

THE RED WING #4 (Image, 2011) – untitled, [W] Jonathan Hickman, [A] Nick Pitarra. The protagonist sacrifices himself, I’m not sure why, and the series ends with a scene about his son. This issue makes no sense at all if you haven’t read #1.

ADVENTURES OF SUPERMAN #478 (DC, 1991) – “Moon Rocked: Time and Time Again, Phase Seven,” [W/A] Dan Jurgens. I read this a long time ago, possibly in trade paperback form, and I still remember it fairly well. In this issue, Superman visits the 30th century for at least the second time in the Time and Time Again crossover, but this time it’s the v4 version of the 30th century. With the help of some Legionnaires, Superman fights Dev-Em and stops him from destroying the moon, but the crossover’s main villain, the Linear Man, blows up the moon anyway. The aftereffects of this action were depicted in LSH v4 #19. It’s weird that such a major event in Legion continuity happened outside the Legion’s own series. Saturn Girl is heavily pregnant in this issue, but mostly stays out of combat, unlike during her first pregnancy.

SHOWCASE #90 (DC, 1970) – “The Circle of Death,” [W/A] Mike Sekowsky. In the final chapter of Jason’s Quest, Jason and his sister GG are chased through Paris by both the police and criminals posing as police. Meanwhile, Jason keeps trying and failing to tell GG that he’s her brother. This is a thrilling adventure story, and is probably one of Sekowsky’s best solo works. Even at nearly fifty years old, he was capable of writing believable and exciting  stories about young people. However, Showcase #90 drives the reader crazy by constantly deferring closure. Jason has an opportunity to tell GG his identity on nearly every page, yet he never manages to just blurt it out already. And this was the last Jason’s Quest story ever, so GG never did get to learn that Jason was her brother.

SUPERMAN #334 (DC, 1979) – “The Man Who Stole Superman’s Eyes!”, [W] Martin Pasko, [A] Curt Swan. A villain named Opticus steals Superman’s eyes, rendering him blind. We later learn that Opticus is really Lois Lane, and Superman faked being blind in order to catch some other criminals. On the last page, Superman informs Lana Lang, in a very patronizing way, that he can’t trust her and that Lois is his true love. Lana and Lois’s rivalry was a frequent subplot in Superman comics of this era.

2000 AD #669 (Fleetway, 1990) – “By Lethal Injection Part One,” [W] John Wagner, [A] Carlos Ezquerra. The first story is also subtitled “Countdown to Necropolis 5.” It’s about a judge named Kraken who is discharged and executed for dereliction of duty. Then there’s a Judge Anderson story with nice art by David Roach, and a Rogue Trooper story with painted art by Will Simpson. This artist’s artwork in Hellblazer is rather unimpressive, but his art here is better. Part 24 of Zenith Phase III is the most interesting thing in this prog, though it doesn’t make much sense on its own. The last story in the prog is a cute Zippy Couriers story, in which Shauna transports a giant tarantula named Shelob, and her talking cat eats it.

A1 TRUE LIFE BIKINI CONFIDENTIAL (Atomeka, 1990) – various stories, [E] Dave Elliott & Garry Leach. This is a long one. It starts with a Mr. Monster story which is more like a series of pinups. Next are two short stories by Brian Bolland, and then the eight-page “Hell City” by Jamie Hewlett and Alan Martin. This issue includes three chapters of “Jaramsheela” by Steve Moore and three different artists. I haven’t heard of this strip before, but it was one of the less famous features in Warrior. There’s also a story by Melinda Gebbie and Carol Swain about phone sex, a selection of Betty Page pinups, and a Bojeffries Saga chapter that I’ve already read. As its title indicates, this issue’s stories are mostly about sexy women, but other than that it has no thematic coherence. However, it contains a lot of impressive writing and art.

THE JACKAROO #1 (Eternity, 1990) – “Australiana Nights,” [W/A] Gary Chaloner. An adventure story with mild superhero elements, about a boxer from the Australian outback who gets involved in a gang war. Gary Chaloner is an amazing artist of adventure comics, with a style that recalls Will Eisner and Dave Stevens. The Jackaroo also feels very Australian. There’s even a glossary of Australian English at the end of the issue.

BOX OFFICE POISON #4 (Antarctic, 1997) – “Come On Knock On Our Door!” and other vignettes, [W/A] Alex Robinson. This was easily the best series Antarctic ever published. Part of this issue is about the tensions between Sherman’s new girlfriend Dorothy and his roommate Jane. The other half is about Ed’s attempts to get justice for Golden Age cartoonist Irving Flavor, possibly based on Bill Finger. Sadly, this half of the story feels a bit dated now because almost all the Golden Age artists have passed away. Alex Robinson’s art is heavily influenced by Dave Sim, but his page layouts are creative, and he’s really good at drawing faces.

DAREDEVIL #8 (Marvel, 2012) – “The Devil and the Details Part Two of Two,” [W] Mark Waid, [A] Kano. Matt teams up with Spider-Man and Black Cat, then he and Felicia almost have sex, but Foggy interrupts them with the news that Jack Murdock’s grave has collapsed. Kano was not a great fit for this series; his art was much more detailed and less cartoony than that of Waid’s other Daredevil artists.

THOR #210 (Marvel, 1973) – “The Hammer and the Hellfire!”, [W] Gerry Conway, [A] John Buscema & Don Perlin. Thor battles the trolls Ulrik and Geirrodur (misspelled Gierrodur), the latter of whom is stated to have forged Mjolnir. This was either a mistake on Gerry’s part, or something that was later retconned, because Mjolnir is usually said to have been made by the dwarves Brokk and Eitri. This issue is rather boring.

BATMAN #686 (DC, 2009) – “Whatever Happened to the Caped Crusader? Part 1 of 2: The Beginning of the End,” [W] Neil Gaiman, [A] Andy Kubert. As noted in my review of Detective Comics #853, this story was an homage to “Whatever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow.” It takes place at Batman’s funeral, and consists largely of two inset stories. Catwoman’s tale is about her romance with Bruce, and includes a lot of cute cat pictures. In Alfred’s story, he reveals that he was the Joker all along; he pretended to be the Joker in order to stave off Bruce’s depression. Both these stories are excellent, but it’s odd that there are only two of them. This storyline could have been extended by adding more stories from other characters, if not for the fact that it had to be just two issues, like the story it was based on. This issue includes a bunch of cute moments; for example, at the funeral, the heroes sit on the right and the villains on the left, but Man-Bat is told that he can sit on either side.

HOUSE OF SECRETS #112 (DC, 1973) – “The Witch Doctor’s Magic Cloak,” [W] Michael Fleisher, [A] Rudy Nebres, etc. This issue’s lead story is well-drawn, but includes politically incorrect depictions of African people, as well as meaningless dialogue that’s meant to sound like it’s in a Bantu language. The backup story, “The Case of the Demon Spawn!” by Gerry Conway and Luis Dominguez, is a Sherlock Holmes parody in which some vampires create a fake mystery so they can turn Holmes into a vampire.

ETERNALS #15 (Marvel, 1977) – “Disaster Area,” [W/A] Jack Kirby. An incoherent and pointless story in which Ikaris fights a duplicate of the Hulk. I once read a review that said that by this point in its run, Eternals was running out of steam. I think that review was correct.

JOHNNY NEMO MAGAZINE #1 (Eclipse, 1985) – “The Spice of Death,” [W] Peter Milligan, [A] Brett Ewins. Johnny Nemo investigates some “death junkies” who suck people dry. As previously mentioned, when I first encountered Johnny Nemo in Strange Days, I thought his stories were unimpressive by comparison to Brendan McCarthy’s stories in that title. However, Johnny Nemo is exciting on its own, and Brett Ewins is a subtly effective artist. This issue also includes a backup story by the same creative team, starring Sindi Shade, a rebellious girl in a bureaucratic world controlled by librarians.

2000 AD #685 (Fleetway, 1990) – “Strontium Dog: The Final Solution Part 26,” [W] Alan Grant, [A] Colin MacNeil. In the lead story, Strontium Dog teams up with a woman named Feral against an army of demons or something. In the Harlem Heroes chapter by Fleisher, Steve Dillon and Kev Walker, the protagonists are framed for the assassination of the president. Hilary Robinson and Nigel Dobbyn’s Medivac 318 seems to be about a war between humans and catlike aliens. In Necropolis Part 12, the Dark Judges have taken over Mega-City One and are executing its entire population. Meanwhile, in the Cursed Earth, Dredd meets a vagrant who he identifies as ex-Chief Judge McGruder. The prog concludes with Rogue Trooper by Gibbons and Simpson. The problem with reading 2000 AD one prog at a time is that it’s hard to follow the storylines. On the other hand, in each prog you get a nice variety of different art styles and subject matter.

DARKNESS VISIBLE #2 (IDW, 2017) – untitled, [W] Mike Carey & Arvind Ethan David, [A] Brendan Cahill. We learn that Daniel Aston survived the accident because the demon Rhak possessed him. This series is interesting, but as noted in my review of issue #1, its metaphor about racism really does not work. The demons are not an effective proxy for any human minority group because the humans have good reasons to hate and fear them.

INFINITY 8 VOL. 3 #1 (Lion Forge, 2018) – “The Gospel According to Emma,” [W] Lewis Trondheim & Fabien Vehlmann, [A] Olivier Balez. I decided it was finally time to get caught up on this series. Each story arc of Infinity 8 is about a different agent who is sent by the sip’s captain to investigate the floating graveyard that has stopped the ship’s progress. At the end of the story arc, the captain uses its powers to go back in time eight hours. This volume’s protagonist, Emma, is secretly a double agent for a religion that worships a god called Tholman. She betrays the captain, kills its staff and cuts off its air support, then hires some crooks to help her investigate the graveyard, starting with a ship that may contain Tholman’s lost manuscripts. Olivier Balez’s artwork is less detailed than that of the previous two Infinity 8 artists, but that’s actually a good thing because it means that “The Gospel According to Emma” is a quicker read.

INFINITY 8 VOL. 3 #2 – as above. Emma and her crew find Tholman’s corpse, then they go to find another treasure for her companion Pallo Smaïr, as previously agreed. However, Pallo betrays them and orders his pet robot to “kill the stubborn ones,” resulting in a gunfight whose only survivors are Emma and one other companion, Korko Jellan. Emma realizes that Korko must have used telepathy to manipulate the others into killing each other, and on top of that, the robot can’t decide whether Pallo’s dying words were an order to kill Emma and Korko. And at the end, things get even worse. Korko finds the crypt of the ancestors of eight major intelligent species, and he has the ability to manipulate any creature using its ancestors’ DNA. Uh-oh.

INFINITY 8 VOL. 3 #3 – as above. Emma discovers that Tholman’s god really exists, and is dead. Korko uses the god’s DNA to take control of every being on the Infinity 8 except Emma herself. Despite being pursued by a literal army, Emma makes it to the captain and gets it to reset time. But in revenge, the captain declares that after time resets, Emma has to retain her knowledge that her god is dead. “The Gospel According to Emma” is a thrilling story, easily my favorite volume of Infinity 8.

MARVEL COMICS PRESENTS #82 (Marvel, 1991) – “Weapon-X Chapter Ten,” [W/A] Barry Windsor-Smith, etc. Wolverine kills Cornelius, and the Professor cynically uses his aide Lucy as bait so he can try to escape. As always, BWS’s art in this chapter is incredible. Next is the first chapter of a Firestar story written by Marie Javins and Marcus McLaurin. It takes place between Firestar’s miniseries and New Warriors. Next is an Iron Man story by Bill Mumy and Steve Leialoha, in which Tony Stark is planning to build a plant in Hawaii, but changes his mind after an encounter with ancient Hawaiian spirits. Leialoha is of Native Hawaiian descent, and this story has a strong anticolonialist angle and includes Hawaiian-language dialogue. In the last story, Power Man battles a mutant superintendent. I must have read this issue as a kid, because I have vague memories of the last two stories.

ZENITH PHASE II #2 (Fleetway/Quality, 1993) – “Familiar Spirits” etc., [W] Grant Morrison, [A] Steve Yeowell. Phaedra takes Zenith to the hideout of Scott Wallace, an evil techbro. Scott murders Phaedra in cold blood, then explains his plan to nuke London and start a new world order with Zenith at its head. Wallace’s ally Dr. Peyne also invites Zenith to breed with two superpowered women. One of these women later gave birth to Zenith’s son, though we don’t know which one. At the end, Zenith discovers that his dad is inside the robot that attacked him earlier in the story arc. Zenith is different from most of Morrison’s protagonists because he’s an amoral, self-centered little punk; for example, he has no qualms about participating in a breeding program.

ZENITH PHASE II #3 – as above. Zenith is forced to knock his own dad’s head off. Then he confronts Peyne, who makes the fatal error of thinking Zenith has lost his powers. Zenith leaves Wallace to die and saves London from being nuked. At the end, Zenith is contacted by a mysterious creature called Chimera, and there’s an epilogue starring Ruby Fox. Zenith is an important work, though Steve Yeowell’s art is underwhelming, especially when reproduced at this smaller size.

FINALS #2 (Vertigo, 1999) – “All-Nighters,” [W] Will Pfeifer, [A] Jill Thompson. This issue has more of the same jokes as last issue, and also it introduces the school ringball team, which plays a sport based on the Mesoamerican ballgame. Jill Thompson’s art in this series is highly detailed and full of chicken fat.

BATMAN #23 (DC, 2013) – “Zero Year Secret City: Part Three,” [W] Scott Snyder, [A] Greg Capullo. This issue is a rehash of the early part of Batman: Year One, specifically the scene where Bruce sees the bat. It also has some other plots that I don’t understand, including one involving Edward Nigma. There’s a backup story, “The Pit,” by Snyder, Tynion, and Rafael Albuquerque. I still haven’t read an issue of Snyder’s Batman that I’ve really liked.

CHEVAL NOIR #32 (Dark Horse, 1992) – “Sabotage,” [W/A] Daniel Torres, etc. I actually have all three parts of Sabotage, though I read them in reverse order. Sabotage begins with an enigmatic scene set at the battle of Dien Bien Phu. Then we’re introduced to automotive engineer Gonsalves, whose wife is having an affair with his assistant. In chapter 3, we learn that the person sabotaging Gonsalves’s work is the Vietnamese girl who was mentioned in the Dien Bien Phu scene. Daniel Torres’s art in this story is gorgeous, and highly ‘50s-influenced. This issue also includes chapters of Cosey’s In Search of Peter Pan, and Cailleteau and Vatine’s Fred and Bob.

INFINITY 8 VOL. 4 #1 (Lion Forge, 2019) – “Symbolic Guerrilla,” [W] Lewis Trondheim & Kris, [A] Martin Trystram. Our next protagonist, Patty Stardust, is an Afro-wearing secret agent embedded within the Symbolic Guerrillas, a sort of combination of a cult and a rock band. As usual, the captain orders her to investigate the necropolis. Trystram’s artwork is similar in style to the artwork in the first two volumes.

2000 AD #687 (Fleetway, 1990) – “The Final Solution Part 28,” [W] Alan Grant, [A] Colin MacNeil. The Strontium Dog story ends with Johnny Alpha seemingly dead. There’s another chapter of Medivac 318, and then part 14 of Necropolis, in which Dredd and the former Chief Judge infiltrate Mega-City One. I didn’t understand Necropolis before, but now I think it’s a powerful and frightening story.  The other two stories in this prog are Rogue Trooper and Harlem Heroes.

I ordered the following comics from cyberspacecomics on Atomic Avenue. I also got some recent issues of 2000 AD, but I can’t read those yet, because I’ve been reading all of my progs in order.

SUPERIOR SPIDER-MAN #8 (Marvel, 2013) – “Troubled Mind Part Two: Proof Positive,” [W] Dan Slott, [A] Humberto Ramos. Spidey/Doc Ock fights the Avengers and loses, but their brain scan fails to detect that he’s not the real Spider-Man, and it also arouses his suspicion that he has Peter Parker’s personality inside his head. In need of a better brain scan, Doc Ock tries to steal a “neurolitic scanner” from Cardiac, only to discover that Cardiac is using the device to heal a critically ill little girl. Oh, and the girl’s brain damage is Doc Ock’s own fault. Faced with this predicament, Doc Ock’s heart grows three sizes; he cures the girl himself, she gives him her stuffed penguin in thanks, and then Cardiac lets Doc Ock borrow the scanner without a fight. This is a really touching issue that illustrates Doc Ock’s gradual transformation into a hero.

STARLORD #6 (IPC, 1978) –  “Mind Wars,” [W] Alan Hebden, [A] Jesus Redondo, etc. Starlord was a short-lived comic that was merged into 2000 AD after 22 issues. It was notable for introducing Strontium Dog and Ro-Busters, from which ABC Warriors was spun off. This issue starts with Mind Wars, an intriguing story about two psychic twins. Jesus Redondo was no relation to Nestor; he was Spanish, and he draws in a similar style to José Ortiz or Vicente Alcazar. Mind Wars ended when Starlord did, and is considered a forgotten classic. Next comes a Ro-Busters story starring Hammerstein and Ro-Jaws, who later appeared in ABC Warriors. Then there’s a Strontium Dog story by Wagner, Grant and Ezquerra, and “Planet of the Damned” by R.E. Wright (an alias for either Pat Mills or Kelvin Gosnell) and (Jesus?) Suso. Last is a time travel story written by Chris Lowder. This is an exciting issue whose style is very similar to that of 2000 AD.

BIRTHRIGHT #12 (Image, 2015) – untitled, [W] Joshua Williamson, [A] Andrei Bressan. Federal agent Kylen takes Aaron into his custody. Mikey and Brennan go looking for Sameal, while Rya tells Wendy how awful Sameal is. At this point the reader doesn’t know Sameal is Aaron’s dad. At the end of the issue, it’s revealed that Kylen is one of the mages.

HIGHER EARTH #2 (Boom!, 2012) – untitled, [W] Sam Humphries, [A] Francesco Biagini. The two protagonists have to escape from Earth 9, which advertises itself as a paradise but is really a hellhole. Biagini’s art in this issue reminds me of Amanda Conner’s. I like the idea of this series, but if it’s about 100 earths positioned one on top of another, then five issues hardly seems like enough. I mean, I’d like to see the heroes reach the highest earth, but not without going through all the others.

INNER CITY ROMANCE #2 (Last Gasp, 1972) – “Radical Rock,” [W/A] Guy Colwell. A forgotten classic that’s just as relevant today as when it was published. In a long introduction, we’re told that a black man named James is organizing a concert to help bail out people who have been unfairly jailed. The main story is narrated entirely in musical lyrics. The police are planning to crack down on the concert, and when James resists their pressure, they assassinate him. James’s friends insist on holding the concert anyway, and the police interrupt it and start a riot. Then there’s a sequence depicting an elderly black couple having (surprisingly hot) sex. In part three, we discover that the couple are the parents of one of the concert planners, who resembles Jimi Hendrix. The police offer to let the son go if he agrees not to attract media attention. The son initially accepts the offer, but when the father shows up to bail the son out, the son denounces the police, who proceed to murder both the son and the father. On the back cover, we learn that the media has painted the murdered black people as the perpetrators of the riots, while exonerating the police of any blame. Throughout the summer of 2020, the police across America have acted just like the police in “Radical Rock,” killing black people and then trying to paint themselves as victims. The only difference between 1972 and 2020 is that we have cell phone cameras and social media now, and so it’s become harder for the police to control public opinion.

ATOMIC ROBO AND THE REVENGE OF THE VAMPIRE DIMENSION #4 (Red 5, 2010) – untitled, [W] Brian Clevinger, [A] Scott Wegener. This miniseries was really more of a collection of four single-issue stories. In this issue, a ghost appears at Tesladyne headquarters, and it proves to be the ghost of Robo’s father’s archenemy, Thomas Edison. This is a good issue, but I preferred the one with the vampires.

GATECRASHER #1 (Black Bull, 2000) – “Three for Four,” [W] Mark Waid, [A] Amanda Conner. This miniseries takes place after Ring of Fire, when Alec is in college. Alec develops a romantic rivalry with one of his Split-Second Squad teammates, which turns potentially deadly when Alec is forced to abandon their shared love interest in another dimension. I can’t believe Amanda Conner has already been a superstar for more than 20 years. Her art here isn’t her absolute best, but her style was more or less fully developed by this point in time.

STRANGEHAVEN #14 (Abiogenesis, 2002) – “My Beauties” etc., [W/A] Gary Spencer Millidge. Alex decides not to contest his divorce, but his lawyer threatens him into joining the Knights of the Golden Light, i.e. the KKK. Meanwhile, Maureen tries to seduce her brother-in-law George in order to force her husband Charles to divorce her. And it’s no wonder Maureen does that, because in a subsequent scene, we learn that her husband is a horrible abusive asshole, and he refuses to grant her a divorce. Under British law at the time, it was possible for one spouse to delay the other spouse a divorce until five years had passed, and apparently this unfair law is still on the books.

New comics received on June 18:

THE LUDOCRATS #2 (Image, 2020) – untitled, [W] Kieron Gillen & Jim Rossignol, [A] Jeff Stokely. Otto and Professor Hades execute a cunning plan to free Gratty from the cloud caterpillar that’s eaten her. And the plan works, but after it’s too late, Otto discovers that he’s “rescued” Gratty from her own home, in addition to destroying that home. This issue doesn’t have the same novelty value as #1, but it’s hilarious, especially when it tries to take itself seriously. Ludocrats is probably the best new series of 2020.

STRANGE ADVENTURES #2 (DC, 2020) – “A little demanding,” [W] Tom King, [A] Mitch Gerads & Doc Shaner. On Rann, Adam gets stranded in the desert while on a campaign against some savages. On Earth, Mr. Terrific investigates Adam’s story while constantly quizzing himself. This issue is impressive, but it also reminds me a lot of Mr. Miracle, and it gives me the suspicion that Tom King only knows how to write one kind of story. I hope this series is going to be another Mr. Miracle, but I also fear that it’ll be another Heroes in Crisis.

THE MAN WHO F#&%ED UP TIME #3 (Aftershock, 2020) – “Race Against Time,” [W] John Layman, [A] Karl Mostert. Sean tries to save himself from execution, but fails. Luckily, the Future Police are able to rescue him. Sean figures out that his own future self is sabotaging his efforts, and was also responsible for saving Abraham Lincoln from assassination and thus screwing up history. This series is a thrilling time-travel romp. It reminds me of other time travel stories like Heinlein’s “All You Zombies” or the IF game First Things First. Writing this comic must have been a fun challenge for Layman, and I’m looking forward to the similar challenge of decoding its plot.

GIDEON FALLS #22 (Image, 2020) – “Wicked Worlds Part 1 of 5: Who’s That Flying with the Crows?”, [W] Jeff Lemire, [A] Andrea Sorrentino. The protagonists are all scattered across various different weird worlds, and at the end of the issue, Angela is told that instead of destroying the Black Barn, she “set it free.” I’d thought I had a reasonable understanding of what was happening in this series, but this issue was very difficult.

BIRTHRIGHT #44 (Image, 2020) – untitled, [W] Joshua Williamson, [A] Andrei Bressan. This issue’s cover doubles as its first page. I can think of only one other American comic book that did this, namely Excalibur #55. Like Superman #75, Thor #380, or for that matter Copra #6, this Birthright #44 consists entirely of splash pages. As with all those issues, Birthright #44 is an issue-long fight scene, which ends with Mikey beheading Lore. This was probably the climax of the series, and in the remaining issues we’ll see what happens after the good guys win.

As I was about to write the next review, I saw the news that Jason Latour had been accused of sexual harassment. Jesus, is there any straight white male comics creator who’s not a creep?

GRUMBLE: MEMPHIS AND BEYOND THE INFINITE #2 (Albatross, 2020) – untitled, [W] Rafer Roberts, [A] Mike Norton. Tana and Eddie’s team is ambushed, but they make it out. Tana reveals that her plan is to replace her mother with one of her and Eddie’s teammates. One of their supposed allies, Rekk, betrays them to the enemy, and Tana chooses him as the replacement. Not a bad issue.

TARTARUS #3 (Image, 2020) – “Love x Squalor,” [W] Johnnie Christmas, [A] Jack T. Cole. This is the second best debut of the year, after Ludocrats. However, this issue is confusing. After arriving on Tartarus, Tilde and her companion get separated and have various adventures, and at the end of the issue, Tilde meets Mogen, who claims to be her twin brother. Which makes no sense because in #1 we saw Tilde as an infant, and she didn’t have a twin. To be continued.

FAMILY TREE #6 (Image, 2020) – untitled, [W] Jeff Lemire, [A] Phil Hester. Judd (the grandfather) has a flashback to his reunion with his son Judd, and then he wakes up in captivity. He manages to escape and recover Judd’s hand. The rest of the family doesn’t appear in this issue, and there’s no flash-forward to the postapocalyptic world.

GREEN LANTERN SEASON TWO #4 (DC, 2020) – “Golden Giants of Neo-Pangaea,” [W] Grant Morrison, [A] Liam Sharp. Hal, Barry Allen, and Hal’s old girlfriend Olivia Reynolds fight some giant gold aliens. This issue made very little sense, and so far this series has been worse than the previous season, largely due to its lack of a strong overarching plot.

DYING IS EASY #5 (IDW, 2020) – “Chapter Five,” [W] Joe Hill, [A] Martin Simmonds. We finally learn whodunit, but by this point I couldn’t care less. Dying is Easy is my pick for the worst comic of 2020. It’s boring, its protagonist is loathsome, and as I have complained numerous times, it’s a total waste of Martin Simmonds’s talent. I do have high hopes for Simmonds’s upcoming series with James Tynion IV, The Department of Truth.

2000 AD #726 (Fleetway, 1991) – “Bill Bailey, Won’t You Please Come Home Part 4,” [W] John Wagner, [A] Vanyo. Vanyo was a team of two brothers. Vicente and Eduardo Vañó Ibarra, and no one knows which of them drew which of the stories signed “Vanyo.” Their story in this issue is about some old soldiers who think the war with the Sovs is still going on. In the end they all get killed by the Judges. This prog’s Nemesis story, by Mills, Skinner and Carl Critchlow, is a murder mystery in which each suspect worships a different god. Next is Sam Slade, Robo-Hunter by Millar and Casanovas, then a Bix Barton story by Milligan and Jim McCarthy, in which Bix tries to protect his clients from assassination and fails spectacularly. Then there’s Tao de Moto by Myra Hancock – one of 2000 AD’s few female creators – and David Hine, and finally Junker by Fleisher and Ridgway.

WIMMEN’S COMIX #5 (Last Gasp, 1975) – various stories, [E] Trina Robbins & Terry Richards. This is billed as the “International Issue,” though all the creators seem to be American. Notable stories: Trina’s “Julia Pastrana” is about the so-called ugliest woman in the world. Joyce Farmer’s “Doin’ It” is about childhood sexuality and the repression thereof. “My Kitty Loves to Do the ChaChaCha,” signed Clothilde but actually by Melinda Gebbie, is told from the perspective of a horny female cat. As with Tits & Clits #6, this issue’s high point is a Sharon Rudahl story. This one is called “Die Bubbeh” and is about her grandmother’s life in the old country and subsequent emigration to America. (I’m old enough that my parents still called it the old country.) Dot Bucher’s “Tiger Lily” is about a romance between a U.S. soldier and a Vietnamese civilian.

2000 AD #856 (Fleetway, 1993) – “Roadkill Part 1,” [W] John Smith, [A] Peter Doherty. In this prog’s Dredd story, an old man loses his driver’s license due to poor eyesight, so he buys a new self-driving car with a built-in brain. Unfortunately the brain is that of a dead criminal, and mayhem ensues. This story is quite funny. “Mean Arena” by Alan McKenzie and Anthony Williams is about gladiatorial combat. Its protagonist, Sam Grainger, shares his name with a comic book artist. The cover feature is Smith and Paul Marshall’s “Tyranny Rex,” which I don’t understand, except that it’s about a religious war. It includes one really impressive splash page, showing a panda-like creature being attacked by a tentacled monster. Ennis and Dobbyn’s “Strontium Dogs” chapter stars Feral and Gronk but not Johnny Alpha. Mills and Fabry’s “Sláine: Demon Killer, Part 5” has gorgeous painted artwork, and consists mostly of a flashback in which druid women fight Roman soldiers. Hilariously, one of the druid women utters a “mysterious curse”: “Póg mo hón!” This is “pogue mahone,” Irish for “kiss my ass.”

SCARAB #2 (DC, 1993) – “Lost and Found,” [W] John Smith, [A] Scot Eaton. Scarab meets the Phantom Stranger, confirming that this series is set in the DCU, even if Scarab isn’t Dr. Fate. There’s a flashback depicting the Sicari’s past history. Louis makes himself young again. I still don’t quite get John Smith, but as mentioned before, he was comparable to Alan Moore as a prose stylist. I need to read the rest of Scarab.

KANE #14 (Dancing Elephant, 1996) – “Officer Katie NEPD,” [W/A] Paul Grist. This issue is mostly a flashback to the childhood of Kane’s partner Kat(i)e Felix. As a child, Katie is taken by her cop father to the police station, where she saves a cop from being shot by a suspect’s lawyer. Later, as an adult, Katie/Kate apprehends another suspect in a way that reminds her of this childhood experience. This is a really cute and well-constructed issue, though in the context of current events, it feels odd to read a story that depicts the police in such a positive light. (Notably, Grist is British but New Eden is in America.)

AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #14 (Marvel, 2015) – “Spider-Verse Part Six: Web Warriors,” [W] Dan Slott, [A] Giuseppe Camuncoli & Olivier Coipel. In the conclusion of the Spider-Verse crossover, a bunch of different Spider-people from different realities defeat Morlun. Crossvoer stories are always somewhat disappointing, but this one is not bad, and it has some of the humor of the movie it inspired.

GLAMOURPUSS #1 (Aardvark-Vanaheim, 2008) – “The Top Secret Origin of Glamourpuss,” [W/A] Dave Sim. This is barely even a comic; it’s more of a series of illustrations of women, coupled with ruminations about Sim’s attempt to imitate the realistic art of Alex Raymond and Al Williamson. Dave’s art in this issue is beautiful, but he treats the women he draws as mere objects to be illustrated. He has no interest in the interiority of these women; when he shows them thinking, they only think about fashion. Dave’s only interest in these women is how he can most effectively render their beauty with black-and-white linework. Of course, I already knew that Dave Sim barely sees women as people.

THE EXTREMIST #1 (Vertigo, 1993) – “December, Nineteen Ninety-Three,” [W] Peter Milligan, [A] Ted McKeever. This issue includes some fascinating discussions of sex and violence, and Ted McKeever’s art style is unique and well suited to this subject matter. But this really should have been issue 2 and not issue 1. It takes place after Judy’s husband has already been killed and she’s already assumed his identity as the Extremist. The reader has to piece together who Judy is and what’s happened to her, and we don’t get her full backstory until #2. I wonder why Milligan chose to structure the series in this way.

1984 #8 (Warren, 1979) – various stories, [E] Bill DuBay. This is much longer than a typical Warren comic, at 84 pages, and it has hideous typeset lettering. It begins with “Painter’ Mountain” by DuBay, Budd Lewis and Alex Niño. This story is beautifully drawn, but is written like a plot summary rather than a story. It initially looks like a retelling of Noah’s ark, but proves to be about humans crashlanded on an alien planet (like Chris Beckett’s Dark Eden). DuBay and José Gonzalez’s “Herma” is basically softcore porn. Jim Stenstrum and Rudy Nebres’s “Twilight’s End” is confusing, but at least it has a plot that’s more than an excuse to draw naked women. Strnad and Corben’s “Mutant World” chapter is the best story in the issue. There’s also a chapter of Frank Thorne’s Ghita, in which Ghita symbolically has sex with Khan-Dagon’s sword. I’ve read Ghita before, and I think R.C. Harvey’s enthusiasm for it, in The Art of the Comic Book, is somewhat misplaced; it’s a self-insertion fanfic in which Thorne depicts himself as Red Sonja’s lover. However, Thorne is an excellent visual storyteller, and Ghita’s adventures are quite sexy. DuBay and Abel Laxamana’s “Madmen and Messiahs” is a paranoid right-wing apocalypse story which ends with Robert F. Kennedy Jr assassinating President Ted Kennedy. Cuti, DuBay and Niño’s “Once Upon a Holocaust” is an EC-esque twist ending story, but at least it has beautiful art. Overall, the art in this issue is much stronger than the writing.

UNDERGROUND #2 (Image, 2009) – untitled, [W] Jeff Parker, [A] Steve Lieber. The two rangers confront the criminals and are forced to flee from them into the depths of the cave. This is a thrilling story and a plausible-seeming depiction of caving, and Steve Lieber’s art is excellent. I really want to read the rest of this series. I wish Jeff Parker would do more creator-owned comics.

SUPERMAN #324 (DC, 1978) – “Beware the Eyes That Paralyze!”, [W] Martin Pasko, [A] Curt Swan. Superman battles the Atomic Skull and Titano the super-ape, and Lois and Lana continue their petty rivalry. This is a pretty average issue.

On Saturday, June 20, I went to Heroes to drop off a Previews order form. They were sold out of Wynd #1, and the $1 issues of Savage Sword of Conan were all gone, but I did find a few things to buy:

X-MEN/FANTASTIC FOUR #3 (Marvel, 2020) – “To the Victor,” [W] Chip Zdarsky, [A] Terry Dodson. I love the original Fantastic Four/X-Men miniseries, and I regret not ordering this spiritual sequel to it. In this issue the X-Men and the FF both invade Latveria to rescue Franklin and Valeria, who were diverted there while trying to fly to Krakoa. The two teams’ rivalry is further complicated by the fact that Franklin and Valeria don’t want to be rescued. I haven’t always been impressed by Chip’s superhero writing, but this issue is exciting, and it shows understanding of all the many characters involved.

SAVAGE DRAGON #247 (Image, 2019) – “Modern Warfare,” [W/A] Erik Larsen. I dropped this series on two previous occasions because of its tasteless and disgusting sex scenes, but I think it’s time to start reading it again. This issue takes place after the subterranean Demonoid race has been massacred. The sole surviving male Demonoid invades the surface world to free the surviving female Demonoids from a zoo. There’s a running joke where Malcolm and Maxine call each other pet names like “cliff notes” and “cheese spread.”

SAVAGE DRAGON #248 (Image, 2020) – “The Gathering Storm!”, [W/A] Erik Larsen. Dart, the series’ nastiest and most persistent villain, leads a jailbreak. Malcolm gives Angel a blood transfusion to heal the wounds she suffered last issue. The government decides to spray the entire city of Chicago with Freak Out. Frank proposes to Angel. The high point of this issue is when Maxine reads a children’s book to her daughter Maddy, even though Maddy’s electrical powers could kill Maxine.

THE BOGIE MAN #2 (Fat Man, 1990) – “Bogie Man Escapes!”, [W] John Wagner & Alan Grant, [A] Robin Smith. Fat Man Press was set up for the sole purpose of publishing The Bogie Man, which had been rejected by DC, and it never published anything else. DC should have accepted The Bogie Man because it’s a hilarious comic. The protagonist is a lunatic who thinks he’s Humphrey Bogart. While he’s investigating imaginary crimes, some actual criminals steal a load of frozen turkeys instead of the videotapes they meant to steal. When the Bogie Man hears the criminals talk about “big birds,” he thinks they mean the Maltese Falcon, and mayhem ensues. Part of the fun of this comic is its local specificity; it’s set in Glasgow, and the criminals speak in Scots or Scottish English. Robin Smith’s artwork is not flashy but is very effective.

AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #15 (Marvel, 2015) – “Spider-Verse Epilogue,” [W] Dan Slott, [A] Giuseppe Camuncoli. Having won the war, the Spiders have to choose who will stay behind to maintain the stability of the web of worlds. Meanwhile, the Superior Spider-Man refuses to return to his own timeline, since he’s learned that he’s going to die. This issue includes a lot of touching moments, like Ben Parker deciding to become a father to an orphaned baby.

2000 AD #875 (Fleetway, 1994) – “The Sugar Beat Part 3,” [W] Alan McKenzie or John Tomlinson, [A] Ron Smith. “The Sugar Beat” is funny and well-drawn, but is full of offensive Latin American stereotypes. In “Sympathy for the Devil,” Luke Kirby meets a beggar who invites him to hell to visit his (Luke’s) father. Luke Kirby is fascinating because he resembles Harry Potter and Tim Hunter, but predates either of them. Dinosty Part 3 is full of more hilarious mayhem, while Tyranny Rex still doesn’t make much sense. The other story in this prog is Rogue Trooper by Fleisher, Falco and Weston.

EERIE #75 (Warren, 1976) – various stories, [E] Louise Jones (i.e. Simonson). This issue is much shorter than 1984 #8. It begins with DuBay and Ortiz’s “The Demons of Jeremiah Cold,” about a city of mutants called Kalerville that goes to war with its human neighbors. This story has some very gruesome imagery, including an opening scene that depicts some crucified children. Ortiz’s spotting of blacks is powerful and oppressive. This story was part of an untitled story arc that ran through various other issues of Eerie. The second story, Budd Lewis and Leopoldo Sanchez’s “Freaks,” is also set in Kalerville, but I can’t tell if it’s set in the same continuity as the first story. Kalerville may be named after the writer Dave Kaler. DuBay and Maroto’s “Oogie and the Worm” is a metatextual story about Flash Gordon and second-wave feminism. José Bea’s “Invasion” is a five-page twist-ending story with some very unusual art. Finally, Lewis and Bermejo’s “Gillian Taxi and the Sky Pirates” is an example of proto-steampunk.

INFINITY 8 VOL. 4 #2 (Lion Forge, 2019) – as above. Patty investigates the necropolis, while Ron, the leader of the Symbolic Guerrillas, plots to sacrifice a bunch of 27-year-old musicians. This issue has excellent artwork, but its plot is not especially exciting. I do like all the rock music references. Near the end of the issue Ron arrives at a floating space island covered with giant guitar necks.

INFINITY 8 VOL. 4 #3 – as above. Patty discovers a mausoleum containing the deceased founders of eight unknown alien species. Ron executes his master plan, whatever it is. The captain reboots time. A basic problem with this series is the lack of suspense. The reader knows that each volume has to end with time being rebooted, so it doesn’t matter what happens to the characters. This is illustrated in volume 5, when the main character’s daughter is turned into a zombie, but the impact of this tragedy is lessened because we know she’ll come back to life.

GRAYSON #12 (DC, 2015) – “A Fine Performance,” [W] Tim Seeley & Tom King, [A] Mikel Janin. This issue includes some pages that have at least 30 word balloon floating in negative space. These pages are ugly and extremely annoying to read. Most of the issue consists of conversations or battles between Dick Grayson and his fellow Batman Family members. I mostly didn’t understand what was going on in these scenes, but at the end of the issue, Seeley and King reveal a secret: in each scene, the first letter of each of Dick’s word balloons spells out BREAK IT. He was using a code to tell Jason, Tim, Babs and Damian to break the gifts he had given them, as part of his plot to escape the evil organization that had recruited him. This revelation does a lot to redeem this issue.

FORBIDDEN WORLDS #119 (ACG, 1964) – “The Girl from Bald Mountain,” [W] Richard Hughes, [A] Chic Stone. A cute romance story about a witch who falls in love with a human man. After a rocky start to their relationship, they marry and the witch becomes a housewife, but their daughter inherits her mother’s powers. Again, Richard Hughes’s writing here is very funny. There are two backup stories, one about a mummy and another about an alien invasion. The letters page includes a list of the editor’s favorite ACG stories.

CHEW #18 (Image, 2011) – “Flambé 3 of 5,” [W] John Layman, [A] Rob Guillory. Tony and Colby invade North Korea along with a bunch of USDA agents. There’s a running joke where for unexplained reasons, the USDA agents are all well-endowed women with cyborg animal companions. The USDA agents all get killed in an ambush, and Tony has to activate the weapon of mass destruction that he was given. Of course the weapon turns out to be Poyo. The best thing about this issue is all the companion animals, including a frog and a goldfish.

2000 AD #876 (Fleetway, 1994) – “The Sugar Beat Part 4,” [W] Alan McKenzie or John Tomlinson, [A] Ron Smith, etc. Again, “The Sugar Beat” is full of offensive stereotypes, including a fat general who’s constantly eating. In the Luke Kirby chapter, the bum takes Luke into hell, which manifests to different people as a railway station, Christmas shopping, an encounter with a street preacher, etc. The Dinosty chapter depicts a game of polo with human heads as the balls. The Tyranny Rex chapter still doesn’t make much sense. The Rogu Trooper chapter includes a villain who looks a lot like Modok.

THE LONE RANGER #86 (Dell, 1955) – “Ambush,” [W] Paul S. Newman, [A] Tom Gill. Some corrupt ranchers try to assassinate a visiting accountant before he can find proof of their embezzlement. Of course the Lone Ranger arrives and saves the day. In the second story, the Lone Ranger prevents some Mexican bandits from stealing a shipment of guns. This story’s plot hinges on characters acting stupid: the bandits drop the map to their hideout and don’t try to recover it, and then Tonto finds the map and doesn’t realize what it is. Other than that, both these stories would be excellent if not for their offensive depictions of Tonto. However, this issue redeems itself somewhat by including a Young Hawk backup story, where Young Hawk uses indigenous technology to catch a giant pike and fight off a bear. Young Hawk feels like a plausible and respectful depiction of precolonial indigenous people, at least by the low standards of its time.

INFINITY 8 VOL. 5 #1 (Lion Forge, 2019) – “Apocalypse Day Part One,” [W] Lewis Trondheim & Davy Mourier, [A] Lorenzo De Felici. Our new protagonist, Ann Ninurta, is a cop and a divorced mother of a little girl. The captain orders her to investigate the necropolis. While there, she gets attacked by zombies. Meanwhile, for unclear reasons, the people on the Infinity 8 also start turning into zombies. The issue ends as Ann returns to the ship. The name Ninurta comes from Mesopotamian mythology.

CRIMINAL VOL. 2 #4 (Marvel, 2008) – “Bad Night Part One,” [W] Ed Brubaker, [A] Sean Phillips. Jacob Kurtz (named after Jack Kirby) is a disabled, widowed newspaper cartoonist – as we later learn, he was beaten by Sebastian Hyde’s goons after his wife committed suicide. I wish I’d read this story in order, because it’s hard to keep Jacob’s story straight in my head. One night Jacob witnesses a woman being beaten by her boyfriend in a diner. After the fight is resolved, Jacob picks up the woman, Iris, and they have sex. Later, Iris’s boyfriend shows up at Jacob’s house. The boyfriend kidnaps Jacob and demands that Jacob make him a fake FBI badge. Again, this story would have been more enjoyable if I hadn’t read the first chapter last.

SWEET TOOTH #25 (Vertigo, 2011) – untitled, [W/A] Jeff Lemire. While in a coma, Gus has horrible visions, but is saved by a blood transfusion. The women and children decide to stay with Walter, but Jepperd insists on taking Tommy to Alaska. Meanwhile, the main villain is using Jepperd’s son to track him. I have almost all the remaining issues of Sweet Tooth, and it’s probably time I read them. Maybe I should order the seven issues I’m missing.

THE MANHATTAN PROJECTS: THE SUN BEYOND THE STARS #1 (Image, 2015) – untitled, [W] Jonathan Hickman, [A] Nick Pitarra. This miniseries takes place on an alien world, and the only Manhattan Projects characters in it are Gagarin and Laika. Nick Pitarra’s depictions of aliens and alien technology are weird and beautifully detailed. There’s one page that contains so many different-looking characters, it reminds me of the final page of Kaptara. However, Hickman’s plot is of no particular interest.

JSA #65 (DC, 2004) – “Out of Time Part 1,” [W] Geoff Johns, [A] Don Kramer. Rick Tyler is dying from injuries suffered in combat. To save himself, he swaps places with his father Rex, who is trapped inside an hour-long time bubble. The future Hourman and Dr. Mid-Nite are able to save Rick, but the operation consumes all of Rick’s allotted hour with his father. This means Rex has to go back in time to his battle with Extant in Zero Hour (ironically), where he’s fated to die. Infuriatingly, Rick insists on going back in time to die in his father’s place. I know this is the heroic thing to do, but by doing it, Rick invalidates his father’s sacrifice, and also, his friends’ efforts to save his life are wasted. Of course this is only part 1, and I know that Rick won’t actually die.

THE WORLD OF KRYPTON #4 (DC, 1988) – “Family History,” [W] John Byrne, [A] Mike Mignola. Superman tells Lois the story of how Krypton became a sterile, loveless world. In a flagrant example of lazy writing, the closing pages of this issue have exactly the same text as the opening pages of Man of Steel #1. Only the artwork is different. Byrne shouldn’t have been able to get away with this.

Last night I received two different small shipments of comics. One of them consisted of five issues of Gay Comics, a very hard series to find:

GAY COMIX #4 (Kitchen Sink, 1983) – various stories, [E] Howard Cruse. A lot of different stories on various gay-related themes. Unsurprisingly, the Howard Cruse story is the best one in the issue by far, although it’s less a story than a bunch of unrelated vignettes. This issue came out at the beginning of the AIDS era, but I think Cruse’s story is the only one that explicitly mentions AIDS. There’s also a story by Roberta Gregory, “The Unicorn Tapestry,” though it’s rather hard to follow. And there’s a cute two-pager by Lee Marrs, about understanding how people are connected to each other. Of the other artists in the issue, the most impressive is Carl Vaughn Frick, who signs himself Vaughn. His work is very visually dense, with nice spotting of blacks. It appears that all of his work was published in queer alternative comics like this one. Also, Rick Campbell’s story about coming out is quite heartfelt, though not highly accomplished.

GAY COMICS #19 (Bob Ross, 1993) – “Coming Out Story” etc., [W/A] Alison Bechdel. This comic is an absolute treasure. It’s Alison Bechdel’s only single-authored comic book, and it contains some work that’s quite hard to find. First, “Coming Out Story” is a sort of rough draft for the college chapter of Fun Home. Compared to Fun Home, it feels far less composed and more straightforward, and it hardly mentions Alison’s father at all. “The Power of Prayer” is a funny story about Alison’s childhood. Unlike Fun Home, it shows Alison reading comics, specifically Little Lulu and Mad. “True Confessions” is about how Alison still isn’t out to some of her relatives. This issue also reprints all nineteen installments of “Servants of the Cause,” a strip Alison published in the Advocate. It’s about the staff of a gay newspaper. My friend Margaret Galvan has published a detailed analysis of this strip, though I have not yet read it.

ARCHIE #23 (Archie, 2017) – “Bruising” etc., [W] Mark Waid, [A] Audrey Mok. This completes my run of Mark Waid’s Archie. In this issue, Betty learns that she has spinal cord injuries and may or may not ever walk again (which of course leaves the door open for a return to the status quo). Archie tries to atone for his role in Betty’s injury, but his clumsiness prevents him from helping. The issue ends with the people of Riverdale using candles to create a giant heart containing the letters BC. Mark Waid’s “Over the Edge” and its aftermath were his best work in at least twenty years. This is largely because these Archie issues were drawn by artists who were very good at depicting emotion.

SUICIDE SQUAD #60 (DC, 1991) – “Legerdemain Part Two: Dangerous Games,” [W] John Ostrander & Kim Yale, [A] Geof Isherwood. Superman, Batman and Aquaman fight a three-sided battle against the Hayoth and the Jihad. The Americans, Israelis and Quracis are all trying to capture the Quraci dictator Marlo, each for their own reasons. John Ostrander rarely got to write the higher-profile DC heroes, and in this issue he shows that he can write Superman and Batman just as well as he writes Captain Boomerang or Deadshot. It’s also nice to see the Hayoth again, especially Rambam. The Suicide Squad themselves are mysteriously absent from this issue, except Nemesis.

ECLIPSE, THE MAGAZINE #3 (Eclipse, 1981) – various stories, [E] Dean Mullaney. This black-and-white magazine starts with a Coyote story by Englehart and Rogers that retells part of Coyote’s origin. Coyote is an interesting character, and Rogers’s artwork here is the equal of his ‘70s masterpieces, although his work is much better in color. Next are three strips by Kaz, an artist I’m not familiar with. The low point of the issue is McGregor and Colan’s “Kindergarten Run.” This story is a piece of pointless nostalgia, and Colan’s art is reproduced directly from pencils and is thus nearly invisible. Also, this entire story was reprinted in Ragamuffins #1, which I already have. Charles Vess’s “Homer’s Idyll” has some nice linework, but no real plot. Hunt Emerson’s “Large Cow Comix” may be a tribute to Krazy Kat. Trina’s “Dope” is just average. Gerber and Mayerik’s “Role Model” is a really weird story about three writers. It reminds me a bit of the Ramsludge Hawthorne scene in Howard the Duck #16. Finally there’s a Ms. Tree story in which Ms. Tree investigates her husband’s murder. I thought I’d read this before, but I hadn’t.

2000 AD #877 (Fleetway, 1994) – “The Sugar Beat Part 5,” [W] Alan McKenzie or John Tomlinson, [A] Ron Smith, etc. Dredd’s helicopter crashes while he’s looking for the source of the illegal sugar, and we get even more offensive depictions of Latin Americans. In “Sympathy for the Devil,” the bum takes Luke to his own personal hell. In “Dinosty,” the human rebel leader tries to win support for his rebellion against the dinosaurs, with limited success. He asks a man ‘D’you want to be trampled on all your life?” and the answer is “Well… yes!” I still don’t understand Tyranny Rex, and Fleisher and Falco’s Rogue Trooper is still not interesting.

INFINITY 8 VOL. 5 #2 – as above. Ann gets back to the ship and learns she’s dying from a zombie bite. Also, her daughter has been zombified. As discussed above, neither of these revelations are as tragic as they should be, because Ann and the reader both know that time is going to be reset. Ann’s next task is to find a military vehicle so she can complete her mission to explore the necropolis.

INFINITY 8 VOL. 5 #3 – as above. While reading this issue, I was thinking how it’s weird that none of the volumes’ protagonists appear in any of the other volumes. But in this issue Ann Ninurta teams up with Patty Stardust, the protagonist of volume 4, and there are also brief appearances by two other characters from that volume, Mitch Led and Ron Digger. Ann discovers that the necropolis was created by a race called the Garlinians, and then, as expected, the captain reboots time.

CAP’N QUICK & A FOOZLE #2 (Eclipse, 1985) – untitled, [W/A] Marshall Rogers. An absurdist, illogical story about a little boy and his alien bird companion. In this issue, after a bunch of adventures, the protagonists visit a kingdom where everyone is insane except the king. And then the king decides to go insane too. Rogers’s writing is kind of tedious, but his art is spectacular and innovative. Sadly, to my knowledge, none of his later work was this good.

CHAMPION SPORTS #1 (DC, 1973) – “The Kid Who Beat the Oakland A’s!”, [W] Joe Simon, [A] Jerry Grandenetti. Young David Wexler becomes a superstar pitcher after a shoulder injury, but loses his talent when his shoulder is fixed. Then he injures his hip and becomes a star placekicker. This story is really stupid and implausible, and the one after it, about soapbox derby racing, is no better. The only adequate story in the issue is the last one, about an Irish track athlete who’s prejudiced against his black teammate. It’s a shame that America, despite its sports-obsessed culture, was only able to produce bad sports comics like this one, while France had Michel Vaillant and England had Roy of the Rovers.

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