A comic I read earlier, but forgot to review:
JUSTICE LEAGUE EUROPE #7 (DC, 1989) – “Teasdale Unbound!”, [W] Keith Giffen & J.M. DeMatteis, [A] Bart Sears. The JLA and JLE team up against a bunch of ordinary people who have turned into vampires. There’s a subplot about the Spectre and the Gray Man. This issue is not bad. The Giffen/DeMatteis Justice League is remembered as a humor title, but people forget that it was often extremely serious.
2000 AD #183 (IPC, 1980) – Strontium Dog: “The Schiklgruber Grab Part 2,” [W] Alan Grant, [A] Carlos Ezquerra. Johnny, Wulf and Gronk are sent to Berlin in 1945 to collect Hitler so he can be punished. Mean Arena – untitled, [W] Tom Tully, [A] John Richardson. Matt Tallon proves he’s not a robot, then scores a goal for the Slayers. At this point we still don’t know what Matt’s motivation is. Dredd – “Aggro Dome,” [W] Alan Grant & Kelvin Gosnell, [A] Mike McMahon. An “aggro dome” is created so that the angry people of Mega-City One will have someplace to work off their frustrations. It goes about as well as you’d expect. This story reminds me of “Get It Out of Your System Land” from Mad Magazine #141. Ro-Jaws’ Robo-Tale: “Tomorrow Brings Doom,” [W] G.P. Rice, [A] Dave Gibbons. A mad scientist accidentally creates a time loop that destroys the Earth. Meltdown Man: untitled, [W] Alan Hebden, [A] Massimo Belardinelli. Nick Stone and his companions survive a dam breach.
LITTLE LULU #85 (Dell, 1955) – all stories [W] John Stanley, [A] Irving Tripp. This issue has one of the best Little Lulu covers I’ve seen; it’s a really cute image of Lulu and Annie dancing in the rain. “Water Everywhere” – Lulu and Alvin go to the beach and cause a lot of mayhem. “The Raffle” – the fellers raffle off Tubby, and Lulu buys him. Quite a funny premise. “The Spider and the Broken Window” – Tubby breaks Mr. Moppet’s window, then, as the Spider, he fools Mr. Moppet into taking the blame for it. Untitled story – Lulu discovers a potato that looks like Tubby. “Baby-Sits for Little Itch” – Lulu tells Alvin a story in which the Poor Little Girl babysits for Witch Hazel’s niece. “Mohair” – Tubby walks a “dog’ that’s actually just a pile of hair. This story has some funny plot twists.
STAR SLAMMERS #4 (Malibu, 1995) – “The Minoan Agendas Chapter Four: The Ship,” [W/A] Walt Simonson. A bunch of Star Slammers try to fight their way out of a Minoan Empire spaceship. As usual, Simonson’s artwork in this issue is incredible. I think the issue after this one is the only Star Slammers story I haven’t read.
THE THING #6 (Marvel, 1983) – “Mindscape,” [W] John Byrne, [A] Ron Wilson. Ben fights the Puppet Master inside his (i.e. Ben’s) own mind. Most of this issue takes place against a solid black backdrop with no backgrounds. I would accuse John of laziness for this, except that he didn’t draw this issue himself.
POWER MAN & IRON FIST #110 (Marvel, 1984) – “O Deadly Debutante!”, [W] Tony Isabella, [A] Greg LaRocque. Luke and Danny are hired to escort a young lady at her debutante ball, but the party is crashed by Doctor Nightshade and a bunch of other villains. This issue is funnier than I expected.
DAREDEVIL #17 (Marvel, 1966) – “None Are So Blind!”, [W] Stan Lee, [A] John Romita. Daredevil and Spider-Man are both chasing the Masked Marauder, and after initially fighting, they team up to fight the Marauder and prove that he’s not Spider-Man’s partner. The earliest issues of Daredevil were hampered by poor characterization, but this issue is better than usual because it’s a Spider-Man story drawn by Romita.
LASSIE #49 (Dell, 1960) – “The Fugitive” and “The Lost Plane,” [W] Gaylord Du Bois, [A] Bob Fujitani. I’m glad that Gaylord Du Bois finally got a posthumous Bill Finger Award. He was obviously no Alan Moore, but he was a very solid writer. In this issue’s first main story, Lassie and Timmy save a doe from some dogs. In the second story, Timmy goes on a hike with a less outdoorsy friend, Fred, and they discover a crashed plane. While trying to help the plane’s injured pilot, the boys get caught in a rainstorm, but they manage to survive until help arrives. This is quite an exciting adventure story.
THE INVISIBLES #8 (Vertigo, 1995) – “Arcadia Part 4: H.E.A.D.,” [W] Grant Morrison, [A] Jill Thompson. The Marquis de Sade is introduced to 20th-century sexual mores. Lord Fanny summons Aztec gods to defeat Orlando. Ragged Robin explores the secret of the Templars. I have the next few issues after this, but I don’t know where in my boxes they are.
M.A.R.S. PATROL TOTAL WAR #8 (Gold Key, 1969) – “Tomorrow is Doomsday,” [W] Leo Dorfman, [A] Mike Roy. The MARS agents repel an alien invasion of Earth. This issue is even worse than #2 because of the lack of Wally Wood art. MARS Patrol reminds me somewhat of T.H.U.N.D.E.R. Agents, but the latter series had much better dialogue and characterization.
ALL-NEW X-FACTOR #4 (Marvel, 2014) – “You have one and only one chance to surrender,” [W] Peter David, [A] Carmine Di Giandomenico. The X-Factor agents fight Danger, who’s gone insane. This issue is mostly a long fight scene, but after reading it, I wanted to read more of this X-Factor run.
I bought some old British girls’ comics from my Facebook friend, the cartoonist David Roach. The comics in the lot were mostly from the ‘70s, and there were five different titles included: Bunty, Emma, June, Mandy and Debbie. When I started reading these comics, they tended to blur together. It was only later that I was able to notice differences between them.
DEBBIE #33 (DC Thomson, 1973) – I won’t list credits or story titles for any of these girls’ comics, because they all consist of many short stories, none of them credited. Debbie is unusual in that the covers mostly don’t illustrate the stories; instead, for example, this issue’s cover advertises “4 Free Pop Star Transfers” and has headshots of Gary Glitter, David Cassidy, Jimmy Osmond and Michael Jackson. All these stories have teenage girl protagonists, most of whom are either aspiring ballerinas, gymnasts, etc., or else are suffering from some kind of cruel oppression. Stories in this issue include: “Graceful Gloria,” about a failed ballerina who becomes a gymnast; “Marsala of the Mists,” about a mystery Welsh girl; “Nobody Loves Nancy,” about an amnesiac girl’s search for her parents; “”Million-Pound Mutt,” in which a girl’s dog inherits a fortune; “The Lonely Ballerina,” about an orphaned aspiring ballerina who’s oppressed by her aunt; “Millie – Maid of Metal!”, about a robot domestic servant; etc. All these stories have four tiers of panels and are drawn in a conventional, anonymous style. There are also a few humor stories in a Dandy- or Beano-esque style.
MANDY #320 (DC Thomson, 1973) – This issue’s front and back covers are a separate comic strip. Stories in this issue include: “The Farmer Wants a Wife” – two girls try to find a wife for their widowed father. “A Girl Called Bright Star” – a Chinese table tennis player is smuggled into England to train an English girl. This story is unusual in having a sympathetic POC protagonist, though it includes a lot of Chinese cliches. “Maggie Malone” – a poor girl tries to become a singer despite her cruel, oppressive guardians. ”Charley Boy!” – a girl has to go to a girls’ boarding school with her little brother. “The Junkyard Jumper” – a poor girl aspires to become a champion show jumper. “She Shall Have Music” – a girl travels back in time by means of a magic trumpet, and meets Mozart as a child. “The Courage of Kathy” – a poor girl is abandoned by her father during the Klondike gold rush. Overall this comic is very similar to the previous one, though it lacks the humor strips (it has a prose story instead) and its content is maybe a bit darker.
JUDY #1003 (DC Thomson, 1979) – This is six years newer than the other two, but still has very conventional draftsmanship and page layouts. “School for the Expelled” – due to false accusations, a girl is sent to a school for pupils who’ve been thrown out of other schools. These comics include a lot of boarding school stories. I don’t know what proportion of English children attended boarding school in the ‘70s, but it must have been higher than in America. These comics seem to assume that going to boarding school is a universally relatable experience. Anyway: “Tiny Tessa” – a girl is shrunk to tiny size and pretends to be a doll. “The Taming of the Honourable Angelina” – an upper-class girl has to work on a farm. Another constant reality in these comics is England’s rigid class system. “Forgotten Dreams” – another amnesia story. “Wee Slavey” – another story about a poor oppressed girl. “Cat Conway” – a gymnast becomes a cat burglar.
BUNTY #1092 (DC Thomson, 1978) – This issue has cut-out paper dolls on its back cover. Paper dolls were also a common feature of American girls’ comics. “Little Miss Dynamite” – another table tennis story with Chinese characters, though the protagonist is English. “The Taming of Teresa” – about a girl raised by wolves. “The Impossible Pair” – a lower-class girl befriends an upper-class girl. “The Queen Who Wasn’t” – a Ruritanian romance story. “The Four Marys” – starring four classmates all named Mary. This strip appeared in every issue of Bunty. Its title must have been a reference to Mary, Queen of Scots’s four servants named Mary. “The Wandering Starrs” – about English girls in the American Wild West. “Maid to Be a Lady” – a poor servant girl doesn’t realize she’s the daughter of a lord. “Myra Gold, Budding Ballerina” – another ballerina story. I wonder if DC Thomson made any attempt to build a distinct identity for their girls’ comics. On a cursory reading, these four comics all seem very similar.
KONA #15 (Dell, 1965) – “The Cunning Invaders,” [W] Paul S. Newman, [A] Sam Glanzman. Some criminals trick Kona into taking them to Monster Isle, and then they seize control of the island. Until I looked it up, I didn’t realize that this issue was written by Paul S. Newman instead of the mystery Kona writer – either Don Segall or, less plausibly, Lionel Ziprin. That explains why Kona #15 is much more conventional than earlier issues.
DETECTIVE COMICS #619 (DC, 1990) – “Rite of Passage Part Two: Beyond Belief!”, [W] Alan Grant, [A] Norm Breyfogle. This is part two of the story where Tim Drake’s mother is murdered by the Obeah Man. It’s kind of excruciating to watch Tim agonizing over his parents’ fate, especially since I know the tragedy that lies ahead. On the other hand, this story depicts Tim’s parents as innocent victims of a cruel villain, when my natural sympathies are in the other direction. Tim’s dad is a rich white corporate boss, while the Obeah Man is a rebel from a desperately poor postcolonial country. But Alan Grant shows no sympathy for the Obeah Man’s perspective.
NEW MUTANTS #67 (Marvel, 1988) – “The Promise,” [W] Louise Simonson, [A] Bret Blevins. Sam gets Magneto’s permission to go to New York City for a Lila Cheney concert, on the condition that he can’t use his powers. Of course the concert is invaded by a giant spider alien, and Sam’s teammates have to bail him out. This issue is also the first time the New Mutants meet Gosamyr. This issue has some cute scenes, but Sam and Lila’s romance is just as problematic as Peter and Kitty’s romance. The former seems more acceptable than the latter only because the genders are reversed.
LITTLE LULU #80 (Dell, 1955) – credits as above. “The Valentine” – Lulu tries to find out who sent her a mean Valentine card. It turns out Alvin sent it, and he didn’t know it was mean because he can’t read. “The Trap” – the girls have a snowball fight with the boys. “A Good Skate” – Mr. McNabbem mistakenly thinks Lulu is playing hooky in order to go ice skating. The Mr. McNabbem stories seem to be the only ones that depict Lulu attending school. In my review of #68, I mistakenly said she never goes to school – the McNabbem stories are the exception to that. “Girl Magician” – Lulu pretends a stick is a magic wand. “Ol’ Witch Hazel and the Birthday Party” – Witch Hazel holds a birthday party for Little Itch. “The Accident” – Wilbur breaks Gloria’s dad’s tobacco jar, and Gloria tries to frame Tubby for it, but instead Tubby breaks everything except the jar.
2000 AD #184 (IPC, 1980) – Strontium Dog: as above. Hitler plans to escape while a lookalike commits suicide in his place, but Johnny and Wulf catch him first. Meanwhile, another bounty hunter is also searching for Hitler. Mean Arena: as above. Matt finds that his deceased teammate Paul Simpson was cleared to play by a corrupt doctor. Matt gets ready to tell his origin story. Dredd: “Monkey Business at the Charles Darwin Block,” [W] John Wagner & Alan Grant, [A] Mike McMahon. The inhabitants of an apartment block de-evolve into apes. Ro-Jaws’ Robo-Tales: “Night of the Werebot,” [W] G.P. Rice, [A] Dave Gibbons. A twist-ending werewolf story. As far as I know, all of G.P. (Gary) Rice’s 2000 AD stories were one-shots. Meltdown Man: as above. Some moles lead Stone and his companions to Kinita.
SPACE FAMILY ROBINSON LOST IN SPACE #22 (Gold Key, 1967) – “Operation Time-Shift,” [W] Gaylord Du Bois, [A] Dan Spiegle. With help from some blue-skinned aliens, the Robinsons manage to get back to Earth’s solar system, but they arrive in prehistoric times. So now they’re lost in time, not space. This issue is competently done, but not thrilling.
L.E.G.I.O.N. ’92 #44 (DC, 1992) – “A Hard Rain’s Gonna Fall,” [W] Barry Kitson, [A] Rod Ramos. The LEGION tries to save the planet of Arga-Prime from both a deadly virus and its own racial divisions. Also there are a bunch of subplots, and Hal Jordan makes a cameo appearance. This issue has excellent characterization, as usual in this series, but Rod Ramos’s artwork in this issue is unimpressive.
BUNTY #741 (DC Thomson, 1972) – This is significantly older than the other Bunty I read, so all the stories are different, except The Four Marys. “Farah from Afar” – a pretty racist story about an Asian princess attending a British girls’ school. “Penny the Peacemaker” – a girl tries to reconcile her separated parents. The dad in this story is a sexist ass who left his actress wife because he believed women shouldn’t work. “The Fantastic Fosters” – two sisters get superpowers from a mysterious monk. “Blabberbeak” – a girl’s pet parrot knows some uncomfortable secrets.
DAREDEVIL #218 (Marvel, 1985) – “All My Laurels You Have Riven Away…”, [W] Denny O’Neil, [A] Sal Buscema. Matt’s girlfriend Gloriana leaves town, and Matt fights the Jester, who has disguised himself as the lead actor in Cyrano de Bergerac. In a touching conclusion, Matt lets the Jester finish his performance before arresting him. This ending goes some way toward redeeming this rather mediocre issue.
SCOOBY-DOO TEAM-UP #20 (DC, 2017) – “Space Case,” [W] Sholly Fisch, [A] Dario Brizuela. The Scooby Gang team up with Space Ghost and his sidekicks against Zorak and Moltar. As usual this issue is very fun, though insubstantial. On the last page there’s a funny inside joke about the Space Ghost Coast to Coast TV show.
DETECTIVE COMICS #841 (DC, 2008) – “The Wonderland Gang!”, [W] Paul Dini, [A] Dustin Nguyen. Batman fights the Mad Hatter and his newly formed Wonderland Gang. It turns out that the real mastermind behind the gang is not the Mad Hatter but his subordinates Tweedledee and Tweedledum. The other five members of the gang appear for the first time in this issue. The most interesting of these characters is the Carpenter, a woman who commits crimes with power tools.
SHADOWS ON THE GRAVE #1 (Dark Horse, 2016) – “Strung Along” etc., [W/A] Richard Corben. This issue’s four short stories are about a crazy puppeteer; a man who turns into a tree; an abused wife who turns her husband into a zombie; and a distant relative of Den. All these stories are in black and white, but Corben’s linework and his airbrush technique are just as impressive in grayscale as in color.
JUSTICE LEAGUE OF AMERICA #159 (DC, 1978) – “Crisis from Yesterday!”, [W] Gerry Conway, [A] Dick Dillin. A JLA-JSA crossover in which the third “team” consists of five heroes from earlier eras, such as Jonah Hex and Enemy Ace. The villain is the Lord of Time. This is a potentially interesting setup, but Conway’s writing is unexciting.
2000 AD #185 (IPC, 1980) – Strontium Dog: “The Schicklgruber Grab Part 4,” as above. The other bounty hunter, Stix, catches up with Johnny. Stix looks kind of like the Saint of Killers from Preacher. Mean Arena: as above. In a flashback, Tallon tells the story of his rivalry with Archie Sugrue. Dredd: as above. Dredd fights a bunch of apes, and meanwhile, the scientist who caused the de-evolutions is himself de-evolved into an amoeba. Return to Armageddon: untitled, [W] Malcolm Shaw, [A] Jesus Redondo. A spacecraft discovers a ship full of corpses that look like the devil. This story is somewhat difficult to follow even though it’s part one, and I wondered at first if it was a sequel to something else. However, Jesus Redondo’s art is excellent. Meltdown Man: as above. Stone finally meets Kinita, the spiritual leader of the Yujees, but then Leeshar finally tracks Stone down.
JUDY #762 (DC Thomson, 1974) – This comic’s front and back covers are a separate comic strip. Stories include: “Junior Nanny” – about a teenage daycare worker. “Tin Lizzie” – another robot maid story, like “Millie – Maid of Metal!” “The Vet on the Hill” – about a teenage aspiring veterinarian. “Slaves to the Moonstone” – some girls discover an enchanted artifact created by Merlin. “Tunnel to Freedom” – some schooolgirls try to escape from a German prison in 1939. “Backstage Betty” – another dancer story. This comic has somewhat more varied artwork than the last few British girls’ comics I’ve read, and overall it feels a bit higher quality. Although these girls’ comics are often quite formulaic, they have a pretty broad range of subject matter, and their stories are frequently both exciting and grim. In these respects, British girls’ comics contrast with American girls’ comics, which tended to focus exclusively on either humor or romantic dramas. I can’t think of any classic American girls’ comics about sports or dance, for example.
2000 AD #186 (IPC, 1980) – Strontium Dog: as above. Johnny and company escape into a future Earth that’s about to be wiped out by a comet. Mean Arena: as above. We continue the flashback story about Arthur Sugrue. Dredd: “Otto Sump’s Ugly Clinic,” [W] John Wagner & Alan Grant, [A] Ron Smith. Otto Sump (who previously appeared in prog 132) starts a clinic thata deliberately makes people ugly. But someone else starts vandalizing Otto’s clinics. Return to Armageddon: as above. The crew of the ship argue about what to do with the cryogenically frozen Satan. Meltdown Man: Kinita fights Leeshar so Nick and his friends can escape.
DEBBIE #34 (DC Thomson, 1973) – Most of the stories in this issue are the same as in #33, but there’s also a new one about tennis. There’s another one where some girls beat some boys at water polo. From reading these comics we can get an idea of what sports and activities were considered appropriate for girls at the time. Some big ones apparently included gymnastics, ballet, figure skating, and horse racing – but not soccer, which was often depicted in boys’ comics.
FINALS #4 (DC, 1999) – “Pomp & Circumstance Beyond Our Control,” [W] Will Pfeifer, [A] Jill Thompson. Nancy is killed in a standoff with police, Dave gets shot while trying to rob a “townie” bar, but some of the other characters manage to survive to graduation. This issue is a bit of an anticlimax. Given that the plot involves a time machine, I expected that Nancy’s death would be reversed, but the time machine ends up as a Chekhov’s gun that never fires. But overall, this is a very funny miniseries.
UNCANNY X-MEN #403 (Marvel, 2002) – “Lurking,” [W] Joe Casey, [A] Aaron Lopresti. The X-Men fight Banshee’s X-Corps. I can barely remember anything about this comic. The only notable thing about it is a scene where Chamber, now a member of the senior X-Men team, meets some of his old Generation X teammates.
A1 #5 (Atomeka, 1991) – various stories, [E] Dave Elliott & Garry Leach. Stories in this issue include: Neil Gaiman and Kelley Jones’s “Cover Story” – a weird story about an alternate earth where Bettie Page is President. Peter Milligan and Brett Ewins’s adaptation of Kafka’s “In the Penal Colony.” Tor by Joe Kubert. Jeff Hawke by Sydney Jordan, Trevor Goring and Thayer Rich. This is based on a classic British comic strip, but is very different in style and format from the original. Knuckles the Malevolent Nun by Cornelius Stone and Roger Langridge. “Party Piece” by Ilya (Ed Hillyer). I don’t recall seeing any of Ilya’s solo work before, and “Party Piece” is an entertaining story about sexual intrigue at a house party. An EC-esque adventure story by Bruce Jones and Jim Sullivan, with beautiful inks by William Stout. Eddie Campbell’s adaptation of a short horror story by Ramsey Campbell, about a house that can be seen through a window, but isn’t really there. Other contributors include Glenn Fabry, Jeff Jones, Shaky Kane and Steve Dillon. Overall, A1 was one of the best anthology titles of its time. Each issue offered a ton of impressive work by top-tier British and American creators.
LITTLE LULU #71 (Dell, 1954) – “Tubby’s Tonic” – Tubby invents a tonic that will help catch bald criminals, starting with Lulu’s dad. “A Handy Kid” – Lulu babysits Chubby, who gets his hand stuck in a tree. “The Animal Trainer” – Lulu tells Alvin a story in which the Poor Little Girl becomes a lion tamer. This is another Poor Little Girl story in which Ol’ Witch Hazel does not appear. ‘The Little Men” – Tubby makes Gloria’s dad think his house has been invaded by tiny aliens. In a twist ending, we learn that there really are tiny aliens in Gloria’s house.
THE JUNGLE TWINS #13 (Gold Key, 1975) – “Captives of the Tower,” [W] Gaylord Du Bois, [A] Paul Norris. Tono and Kono rescue a captured explorer from some aliens. This story is rather disturbing because there are also some Africans held captive with the white guy, but Tono and Kono make no effort to save them. Also, the white guy is from Rhodesia, a country that was notorious at the time for its apartheid regime. At least the Africans in the story speak in Zulu, instead of made-up gibberish. Besides all of that, this is a competent but formulaic comic.
STAR TREK #48 (DC, 1988) – “The Stars in Secret Influence,” [W] Peter David, [A] Tom Sutton. This is one of two Peter David comics that depict a bachelor party. Star Trek #48 isn’t a classic like Incredible Hulk #417, but it’s not bad. The couple in this issue are Konom and Nancy Bryce, two characters who only appeared in this series. As in Hulk #417, the party ends in disaster: Konom and his rival Bearclaw get drunk by accident and start a brawl.
2000 AD #187 (IPC, 1980) – Strontium Dog: as above. Johnny and Wulf defeat the rival bounty hunters, only to discover that they’ve lost Hitler. Return to Armageddon: as above. A scientist uses Satan’s cloned DNA to create two babies, one that looks normal and one that has horns and hooves. Dredd: as above. Dredd investigates the attacks on Otto’s clinics. This story includes some hilarious, realistic-looking fake ads for Otto’s uglifying products. Mean Arena: In the flashback, Tallon kills Sugrue. In the present, Tallon reveals that the late Paul Simpson was his little brother, and that he’s on a mission of revenge against everyone responsible for Paul’s death. Meltdown Man: Stone is apparently killed falling from the sky. Back in the city, the Yujees lead a rebellion against the humans.
CHALLENGERS OF THE UNKNOWN #56 (DC, 1967) – “License to Kill!”, [W] Arnold Drake, [A] Bob Brown. To distract themselves from their grief over Red Ryan’s death, the Challs go to Mexico to retrieve a rare herb. While there, they discover a hidden city of Indians, and they also encounter another explorer, Pancho Torito, who speaks in stereotypical Mexican dialogue. There’s also a subplot about a rock star named Tino Manarry. Eventually we learn that Pancho Torito and Tino Manarry are the same person, and his real identity is Martin Ryan, Red Ryan’s little brother. This is an exciting, wacky comic, and it makes me want to collect more of this series.
L.E.G.I.O.N. ’91 #27 (DC, 1991) – “Deals with the Devil,” [W] Alan Grant, [A] Barry Kitson. Vril Dox negotiates with various alien races; Garryn Bek, Marij’n and Captain Comet form a love triangle; and Stealth prepares to give birth. This issue lacks a strong plot, but it has a lot of great character moments.
UNCANNY X-MEN #259 (Marvel, 1990) – “Dream a Little Dream,” [W] Chris Claremont, [A] Marc Silvestri. An amnesiac Colossus saves Phillip Moreau and Jenny Ransome from being kidnapped by Genoshan troops. Meanwhile, an amnesiac Dazzler discovers her real identity. This comic is okay, but the Siege Perilous era was a very strange era when the series didn’t have a clear trajectory, and the X-Men weren’t a team at all.
DEATH RATTLE #11 (Kitchen Sink, 1987) – “Keep the Homefires Burning,” [W] Robert Ingersoll, [A] Rand Holmes. “Keep the Homefires Burning” is a war comic in the vein of Frontline Combat or Blazing Combat. It has some great art that reminds me of Russ Heath’s war comics, but it has a stupid plot, about a magic cigarette lighter that can stop time. Michael Sundermeier and Dave Garcia’s “Junk” is a somewhat touching story about a robot who befriends his dead creator’s best friend. Eric Vincent’s “Mirror” has some very gruesome horror art, but way too much text. P.S. Mueller and Bill Hartwig’s “In League with the Devil” is a forgettable twist-ending story about bowling.
OCCULT FILES OF DR. SPEKTOR #16 (Gold Key, 1975) – “The Barbarian and the Brain,” [W] Don Glut, [A] Jesse Santos. Spektor and Lakota team up with Durak, an ancient barbarian, against the disembodied brain of Xorkon. Durak looks a lot like Dagar, but is actually a distinct character who appeared in three issues of Dagar. This is a pretty entertaining issue.
EMMA #70 (DC Thomson, 1979) – “Little Miss Spitfire” – another tennis story. “Carrie and the Conroy Curse” – about a girl who was cursed by g*ps*es to go blind before age 14. This story looks as if it was drawn by a Spanish or Italian artist. “The White Mouse” – starring a girl in occupied Belgium who dresses up as a white mouse in order to rescue captive soldiers. This is perhaps the weirdest and most memorable strip in any of this lot of girls’ comics, largely due to the heroine’s giant mouse mask. This series was drawn by a Spanish artist, José Ariza. See http://girlscomicsofyesterday.com/2016/06/the-white-mouse-1979/ for more details on White Mouse. “A Girl Called Sam” stars a tomboyish dancer in Depression-era America. “Kitty and the Crooked Myles” is about a failed police trainee who teams up with some inept criminals. “Belinda Born to Skate” is another skating story. Overall, Emma feels like a step up in quality from DC Thomson’s other girls’ comics. The artwork is more varied – most of the stories are illustrated in the Spanish style. Maybe Emma was an attempt to imitate the success of IPC comics like Tammy and Misty.
On August 7, I received a shipment of six issues of the following comic:
WARLORD #235 (DC Thomson, 1979) – According to https://ukcomics.fandom.com/wiki/Warlord, this series was a departure from earlier British comics in that it had more realistic stories, fewer and larger panels, and more varied page layouts. IPC tried to imitate Warlord with their own Battle Picture Weekly, which was a direct predecessor to 2000 AD, and thus Warlord helped reshape the British comics industry. Strips in Warlord #235 include: “Cassidy” – a World War II story about two rival soldiers. “Sergeant Rayker” – a black U.S. Army sergeant leads a bunch of racist white soldiers in WWII Italy. Sergeant Rayker was one of the first black protagonists in British comics; the first was Blackjack in Action. “Union Jack Jackson” – a British soldier fights the Japanese in Burma. “Bring-Em-Back Bert” – about the crew of a tank recovery vehicle. “Codename Warlord” – starring Lord Peter Flint, an aristocratic secret agent. This story has some impressive aviation artwork. “Iron Annie” – a story about the Eastern Front of WWII, told from the German perspective. “Fireball” – I think this is about a spy trying to infiltrate the Mafia. Overall this is a very exciting and well-drawn comic, and it’s head and shoulders above Hotspur, which DC Thomson was publishing at the same time. I can see how this comic helped inspire 2000 AD.
EMMA #67 (DC Thomson, 1979) – Having read Warlord, I have a better sense of how Emma differs from other girls’ comics. This issue has many of the same strips as #70, including the first appearance of White Mouse. Emma’s artwork is less innovative than Warlord’s in terms of page layouts, but “Kitty and the Crooked Myles” and “Little Miss Spitfire” are notable for not following the standard four-tier format. Incidentally, I wish that there was a version of the GCD for British comics. Or that the GCD had better coverage of British comics. It would be nice to at least know who drew all these stories.
2000 AD #188 (IPC, 1980) – Strontium Dog: as above. Stix almost kills Johnny but is crushed by a falling rock, the future Earth is saved from the comet, and Johnny turns Hitler in for the bounty. This story arc was funny, though not a classic. Ro-Jaws’ Robo-Tale: “Miracle in Slum Alley,” [W] G.P. Rice, [A] Ian Gibson. A robot sacrifices its life to deliver medicine to a dying boy. Ian Gibson’s spotting of blacks here is really good. Dredd: “Otto Sump’s Ugly Clinic Part 3,” as above. Dredd solves the case of the clinic bombings, then imposes an “ugly tax” to shut down the ugly clinics, which he views as a threat to public health. Otto opens one last clinic that caters to the rich, and later in the prog there’s a fake ad for his new clinic. Return to Armageddon: as above. We learn more about the mysterious babies’ powers. Meltdown Man: as above. Stone wakes up from his apparent death, then returns to the city, where Leeshar has violently suppressed the Yujee revolt. I keep saying this, but Belardinelli’s art in Meltdown Man is incredible, especially his cityscapes.
MANDY #317 (DC Thomson, 1973) – Mostly the same stories as in the other issue I read. Notably, “Robbie’s Rovers” depicts a game of football, but it’s the protagonist’s brother who plays in the game, not the protagonist herself. So this story reinforces the aforementioned divide between boys’ and girls’ sports.
For a while I’ve been seeing ads for a booth at the Sleepy Poet Antique Mall in Gastonia where they have a bunch of comics for $1, or 30 for $20. On August 8, I finally decided to go to Gastonia and check this antique mall out. I ended up buying about 90 comics for $60. It was an expensive Uber ride, but it was worth it in exchange for finally being able to buy comics in person again. Shopping for comics online is just not the same experience. Depending on how long it takes for conventions to start up again, I may have to go back to Gastonia and buy more comics. Some of my purchases:
SUPERIOR SPIDER-MAN #21 (Marvel, 2014) – “Lethal Ladies,” [W] Dan Slott, [A] Giuseppe Camuncoli. Peter/Doc Ock is ironically accused of stealing the ideas in his thesis from… Otto Octavius. While dealing with that, Spidey also has to fight Doc Ock’s old lover, Stunner. Meanwhile Carlie Cooper is kidnapped by Green Goblins. Another extremely clever and funny issue.
WONDER WOMAN #309 (DC, 1983) – “The Black Canary is Dead!”, [W] Dan Mishkin, [A] Don Heck. Pre-Crisis Wonder Woman comics are relatively hard to find, so it’s exciting when I encounter them in dollar boxes, even though most of them aren’t very good. This issue, Diana and Dinah team up with Zenna Persik, a g*ps* with body-possessing powers, against a Nazi war criminal. This story is reasonably fun, though it’s no Amethyst. In a reversal of when Paul Levitz was writing Huntress, this issue’s Huntress backup story is far worse than its main story.
THOR, GOD OF THUNDER #15 (Marvel, 2014) – “The Accursed, Part Three of Five: Bury My Heart in Jotunheim,” [W] Jason Aaron, [A] Ron Garney. Thor and the League of Realms try to stop Malekith’s invasion of Alfheim. Thor sleeps with the dark elf girl, and the giant dude gets killed. One of the good things Jason Aaron did in his Thor run was to focus attention on the rest of the nine realms, besides Asgard and Midgard. I love his description of Alfheim as “a kingdom of fairies and candy farmers, of mermaid lagoons and orchards the size of oceans,” etc. However, his Malekith was so cruel and heartless that he was very unpleasant to read about.
DEATH RATTLE #8 (Kitchen Sink, 1986) – “Xenozoic!”, [W/A] Mark Schultz. This is probably the best find out of the entire stack of comics I bought, because it includes Mark Schultz’s first Xenozoic Tales story. This story was not reprinted in the subsequent ongoing series, and I’ve never read it. The draftsmanship in this story is worse than in Schultz’s later work, and the most memorable thing in this story is some rather gruesome depictions of aliens that look like walking brains. Still, this is an important story. This issue also includes two other horror stories by Steve Stiles and by Kenneth Whitfield and Dan Burr.
X-FACTOR #3 (Marvel, 2006) – “The Big Bang,” [W] Peter David, [A] Ryan Sook & Dennis Calero. Some guy named Tryp invades the X-Factor Investigations building, but Layla Miller kills him by causing a bathtub to fall through the ceiling onto him. She had loosened the supports to the bathtub even before Tryp arrived. Besides that, I don’t remember much about this issue.
ACTION COMICS #657 (DC, 1990) – “There is a Happy Land… Far, Far Away,” [W] Roger Stern, [A] Kerry Gammill. That title may be a reference to Krazy Kat, but it comes from an old song. This issue, the Prankster gets revenge on Luthor by kidnapping the children of top Lexcorp executives. This is a reasonably fun issue that skirts the line between cute and grim.
NIGHTCRAWLER #10 (Marvel, 2015) – “The Best Laid Plans—!”, [W] Chris Claremont, [A] Todd Nauck. Kurt and Betsy fight the Shadow King. This issue is not as fun as I’d hoped for from this character and these creators. It lacks the playful, adventurous spirit of Dave Cockrum’s Nightcrawler miniseries. Also, at this point in continuity, Amanda Sefton is dead for some reason.
JUSTICE LEAGUE OF AMERICA #228 (DC, 1984) – “War – of the World?”, [W] Gerry Conway, [A] George Tuska. J’onn J’onzz returns to Earth to warn the JSA of an impending Martian invasion. J’onn was one of the earliest Silver Age DC characters, but I don’t think he ever had much of a personality until the Giffen-DeMatteis run, and overall this issue is a bit boring.
G.I. JOE: A REAL AMERICAN HERO #252 (IDW, 2018) – “Special Missions Part Two: Baroness,” [W] Larry Hama, [A] David Messina. This is the first issue I’ve read of IDW’s revival of Larry Hama’s G.I. Joe series. It’s mostly a flashback to Baroness’s youth and the beginning of her romance with Destro. While the Baroness and Destro are both rather implausible characters, this issue is effective at expanding our knowledge of both of them.
AQUAMAN #30 (DC, 2014) – “Fallen,” [W] Jeff Parker, [A] Paul Pelletier & Alvaro Martinez. Aquaman fights Hercules and a bunch of demigods, while Tula helps Mera foil an assassination attempt. This issue is not especially impressive. At least it does help explain why Aquaman’s trident is such a big deal in the current Legion series.
MIGHTY AVENGERS #34 (Marvel, 2010) – “Pre-Siege Mentality,” [W] Dan Slott, [A] Neil Edwards. Jarvis makes a nice breakfast for the Avengers, which is interrupted by Pietro being an ass. Then the Avengers fight Loki and trap him inside a machine designed to torture gods. Thor shows up and is extremely unhappy with this. Dan Slott’s Avengers is not one of his better-known works, but he shows a solid understanding of the team’s history and the personalities of the individual members. I should collect more of this comic.
ANIMAL MAN #21 (DC, 2013) – “Splinter Species,” [W] Jeff Lemire, [A] Steve Pugh. Buddy attends an awards show, while Maxine travels into the Red and confronts the parliament of animal avatars. The Maxine sequences in this issue are utterly adorable; she reminds me of Katie Power. I was correct to give up on this series after Travel Foreman left, but it’s a fun series to collect in back issue form.
ORDINARY #2 (Titan, 2014) – untitled, [W] Rob Williams, [A] D’Israeli. This miniseries is by two 2000 AD alumni, and I just noticed that it’s reprinted from Judge Dredd Megazine. It’s about the only normal person in a world where everyone has superpowers. So a bit like Y: The Last Man crossed with Top Ten. D’Israeli’s art is quite good, especially due to the Clear Line-esque coloring, and Rob Williams’s story is entertaining. I particularly like the guy whose superpower is to always have a pint of beer in his hand.
MIGHTY THOR #5 (Marvel, 2011) – “The Galactus Seed 5: God of Carnage,” [W] Matt Fraction, [A] Olivier Coipel & Khoi Pham. Thor fights the Silver Surfer, Odin fights Galactus, and kid Loki carries out some kind of secret plan. This issue is mostly fight scenes and is rather light on story. Whichever of the artists drew the first few pages, he seems to have been consciously emulating Simonson.
TRINITY #10 (DC, 2008) – “Rough World,” [W] Kurt Busiek, [A] Mark Bagley. The JLA invades the anti-matter universe. In the backup story, Nightwing encounters Primat, a romantic ape from Gorilla City. Primat is easily the highlight of this issue. Like many of the comics in this stack, this was a fun but light read.
MARVEL COMICS PRESENTS #11 (Marvel, 1989) – Colossus: “God’s Country Part II: Cold Warriors,” [W] Ann Nocenti, [A] Rick Leonardi. I’ve never been fond of Nocenti’s writing, which is often just too weird for its own good, but Leonardi is a super-underrated artist. Man-Thing: “Elements of Terror Chapter XI: Perception & Actuality,” [W] Steve Gerber, [A] Don Hudson & Tom Sutton. This is the main reason to own this comic. The plot doesn’t make sense to me, but Tom Sutton turns in some beautiful drawings over Hudson’s layouts. Sutton would have been the perfect Man-Thing artist, and it’s a shame he didn’t do more Man-Thing comics. Ant-Man: “Drain Storm,” [W] Len Wein, [A] Bob Layton. Scott Lang has to shrink down to rescue his mother’s wedding ring after Cassie drops it down the toilet. This story is silly but cute. Slag: “Over and Over…”, [W] John Figueroa, [A] Ron Wilson. A well-intentioned but implausible story about the crack epidemic.
CAPTAIN MARVEL #20 (Marvel, 2001) – “Mother’s Day,” [W] Peter David, [A] Chriscross. The wizard Merlin needs to perform a ritual that requires the blood of a hundred virgins. So he organizes an event at a comic book store. This is a pretty cheap joke, but it’s laugh-out-loud funny. Other than that, this issue is mostly about Rick and Marlo, and Genis is relegated to a subplot where Moondragon helps him learn his powers.
WONDER WOMAN #34 (DC, 2014) – “Madness Rains,” [W] Brian Azzarello, [A] Cliff Chiang. I don’t understand this comic’s plot, except that it involves Orion and Hera and Ares. I also think Brian Azzarello is a below-average writer who had the good luck to work with a bunch of good artists. However, Cliff Chiang is a good artist indeed. I especially like his giant frog creature on the last page.
KING PRINCE VALIANT #1 (Dynamite, 2015) – “The Life & Times of Prince Valiant,” [W] Nate Cosby, [A] Ron Salas. This is inferior to Dynamite’s other King comics because first, Ron Salas is no Hal Foster. Second, about half this comic is taken up with foreshadowing sequences in which nothing happens. Nate Cosby does seem to have a good grasp of Val’s character. I should mention here that I won’t be giving Dynamite any business anytime soon.
UNCANNY X-MEN #459 (Marvel, 2005) – “World’s End Conclusion: Bad Company,” [W] Chris Claremont, [A] Alan Davis. The X-Men fight some super-evolved dinosaurs called Hauk’ka in the Savage Land. This comic’s plot is not all that interesting, and the main reason to read it is because of Alan Davis’s art.
SAVAGE SWORD OF CONAN #160 (Marvel, 1989) – “Brothers,” [W] Jim Owsley, [A] Andy Kubert. Conan and a bunch of Kozaks fight in a battle between a prince and his father, or something like that. I don’t remember much about this issue’s plot, but I do like Owsley/Priest’s rather grim version of Conan. My old friend Benoit Leblanc is a fan of Priest’s Conan, and I remember him quoting a scene from this issue in which Conan declines to sleep with a young virgin, saying “Virgins are boring.” Later in this issue the girl takes up with a young warrior, and at the end she asks to travel with Conan, saying she’s not a virgin anymore.
2000 AD #191 (IPC, 1980) – Strontium Dog: “The Doc Quince Case Part 2,” [W] Alan Grant, [A] Carlos Ezquerra. Johnny’s current target is a doctor named Quince, but Quince’s neighbors refuse to give him up, since they credit him from saving their village from a plague. Mean Arena: as above. Tallon gets a deformed rich man to sponsor his team in a match against Southampton Sharks, led by a giant bruiser named Jensen. Dredd: “Synthi-Caff Vindilu,” [W] John Wagner & Alan Grant, [A] Ian Gibson (as “Emberton”). Dredd and Walter the Wobot defeat some thieves using a vile-tasting synthetic curry. By this point Walter’s appearances were very rare; his previous appearance was in prog 121. Return to Armageddon: as above. The two babies continue to cause havoc. Meltdown Man: as above. Gruff the dog and T-Bone the bull help foment a Yujee rebellion.
DEBBIE #46 (DC Thomson, 1973) – A new story here is “Mavis – the Singer with a Secret,” set in Victorian London. Other stories I haven’t seen before are about a field hockey player and a girl with a gnome companion. As I’ve observed before, while these stories are quite rigidly gendered, they do offer a lot of variety of subject matter, and they show girls having exciting adventures, whereas comparable American comics are mostly about romance. Indeed, these British girls’ comics have almost no romance at all, and when there are romantic themes, they usually involve characters other than the protagonist. An example of the latter is the story in Mandy where the girls try to find a bride for their widowed dad. Maybe the assumption was that the target readers for these comics were too young to be interested in boys.
WARLORD #239 (DC Thomson, 1979) – The Sergeant Rayker story here includes a fascinating moment where one of Rayker’s racist soldiers questions his orders, and Rayker chews him out and threatens to knock his teeth down his throat. This sort of open resistance to racism feels kind of progressive. A funny moment occurs in the “Union Jack Jackson” story: the British troops and their Chinese liaison hate each other, and the Chinese officer takes advantage of this by calling a British soldier “my friend” and telling him to do his usual “excellent job.” The British soldiers realize he’s trying to warn them of a trap, because he’d never normally say this. A new (to me) story in this issue is “Cassidy,” in which a pilot has to fly a combat mission despite having gone blind. In general, this issue has exciting stories and artwork. The artists are all uncredited, but most of them take effective advantage of the huge size of the British comics page.
THOR #415 (Marvel, 1990) – “When Gods Wear Mortal Flesh,” [W] Tom DeFalco, [A] Herb Trimpe. Mostly a recap of early issues of Lee and Kirby’s Thor. A new piece of information here is that Donald Blake’s appearance and personality were based on those of Keith Kincaid. I don’t know when this retcon was added. There’s also a Tales of Asgard backup story in which Hogun convinces a young boy not to become a warrior. DeFalco’s Thor was a blatant ripoff of Lee and Kirby’s original, but at least it was entertaining.
X-FACTOR #34 (Marvel, 2008) – “The Darwin Awards,” [W] Peter David, [A] Larry Stroman. X-Factor fights She-Hulk and Jazinda, the Super-Skrull’s daughter. Also, Darwin (the X-Man, not the scientist) and his dad are somehow involved. This issue has some good dialogue, but its plot is hard to understand because it’s a Secret Invasion crossover.
THE WALKING DEAD #179 (Image, 2018) – “New World Order Part 5 of 6,” [W] Robert Kirkman, [A] Charlie Adlard. Some of the protagonists visit a community that has all the pre-apocalyptic amenities, including football – something that doesn’t even exist in America in 2020. Michonne (I think this character is Michonne) decides to stay in the community. This issue has a sweet, warm-hearted tone, though I do get the sense that there’s something wrong with this ideal community.
STAR HUNTERS #2 (DC, 1978) – “The Annihilist Factor,” [W] David Michelinie, [A] Larry Hama. A space opera/adventure story in the vein of the original Star Trek. I don’t remember much about this comic’s plot or its characters, and this series never made much of a lasting impact, as it was a casualty of the DC Implosion. Still, this series is mildly interesting and I wouldn’t mind owning the rest of it.
FIGHTIN’ ARMY #90 (Charlton, 1970) – “No Escape,” [W] Willi Franz, [A] Sam Glanzman. Willy Schultz is a German-American soldier wrongly accused of killing his commanding officer. This issue, he fights alongside an Italian resistance unit and narrowly survives a battle that kills his comrades. “The Lonely War of Willy Schultz” had a bleak tone and an anti-war perspective that set it apart from other Charlton war comics, most of which were terrible. The other two stories in this issue are typical crap, though one of them is drawn by Ditko.
ACTION COMICS #649 (DC, 1990) – “Man and Machine,” [W] Roger Stern, [A] George Pérez & Kerry Gammill. Clark Kent gets a new job and uses his new computer equipment to track down Luthor and Brainiac. Meanwhile, Brainiac transforms into a new form, regaining his traditional green skin. This period of Superman comics, after Byrne and before Jurgens, was a pretty good one. Roger Stern was an underrated but effective Superman writer. Pérez’s layouts in this issue are excellent, though it’s too bad he didn’t do complete pencils.
DAREDEVIL #603 (Marvel, 2018) – untitled, [W] Charles Soule, [A] Mike Henderson. As far as I know, Charles Soule is the first and only Daredevil writer who’s actually a lawyer. However, this issue gives Soule no opportunity to use his legal knowledge, because the entire issue is about Matt’s temporary role as mayor of New York, and his attempt to save the city from some kind of crisis. The highlight of the issue is a flirty conversation between Matt and Elektra.
DEVIANT SLICE #1 (Print Mint, 1972) – “Last Rights” etc., [W] Tom Veitch, [A] Greg Irons. Technically this is “Deviant Slice Comics and Stories and Funnies, Etc.” with no number. Greg Irons is one of the most bitter and brutal of the underground cartoonists. Like Rory Hayes and Rick Griffin, etc., he produced a small body of work and died quite young, but his work is unlike that of any other cartoonist. His masterpiece is Legion of Charlies, but I haven’t found an affordable copy of that. The centerpiece of Deviant Slice #1 is a long story in which the world is destroyed by nuclear war, but Nixon and a bunch of other fat-cat politicians survive in an underground bunker, with some soldier flunkies and some kept women. Inevitably, the soldiers get tired of competing for resources with the politicians, and the politicians get exiled to the destroyed surface, where they fight over scraps. It’s a very grim vision of the future, rendered even more grim by Irons’s gruesome draftsmanship. His Nixon looks especially fat and sleazy. This issue also includes a gallery of gruesome mutated people; a Lovecraftian SF story drawn by Veitch; and “The Creature from the Bolinas Lagoon,” a gross horror story about a sewer monster.
SPIDER-MAN 2099 #8 (Marvel, 1993) – “Flight of Fancy,” [W] Peter David, [A] Rick Leonardi. Spider-Man 2099 fights Vulture 2099, and there’s a subplot about Miguel’s brother and his girlfriend. This series was not as good as PAD’s other contemporaneous Marvel comics, like Hulk and X-Factor, though it was better than the other 2099 series. However, Rick Leonardi’s artwork is excellent as usual, and I wonder why this series didn’t make him more of a star.
THOR #605 (Marvel, 2010) – “Latverian Prometheus Part 2 of 3,” [W] Kieron Gillen, [A] Billy Tan. Thor fights Dr. Doom in Latveria, and the Destroyer shows up at the end. This issue is mostly a bunch of fight scenes, and lacks Kieron’s usual creativity.
INVINCIBLE IRON MAN #522 (Marvel, 2012) – “The Future Part 2: Rings,” [W] Matt Fraction, [A] Salvador Larroca. The Mandarin summons a bunch of armored villains to steal stuff, and also tells Tony a slightly revised version of his origin. Rescue rescues Tony from the Mandarin’s grasp. The Mandarin originated as a Yellow Peril stereotype, but Matt Fraction does a reasonable job of rehabilitating him. The highlight of this issue is Larroca’s art, though, especially his depictions of armor.
2000 AD #192 (IPC, 1980) – Strontium Dog: “The Doc Quince Case Part 3,” as above. Johnny learns that Doc Quince’s “crime” was marrying the princess of a barbaric feudal world. The king, the princess’s dad, sentences Quince to be executed by having a rock dropped on him. Johnny has a change of heart and decides to stop the execution. Mean Arena: as above. The Slayers and Sharks schedule a match, but some old shopkeepers refuse to move out of the area chosen as the arena. Dredd: “Loonies’ Moon!”, [W] John Wagner & Alan Grant, [A] Ron Smith. A company develops a technology for projecting advertisements on the full moon. A cult called the Loonies (i.e. Moonies) is unhappy about this and attacks the projection tower. Dredd shuts the Loonies down. The story ends with Dredd writing NORMAL SERVICE WILL BE RESUMED AS SOON AS POSSIBLE on the moon. This is a pretty funny one-shot. Meltdown Man: as above. King Seth the snake Yujee hypnotizes T-Bone. Meltdown Man has incredible art, but a somewhat slow-moving plot. Return to Armageddon: as above. A gigantic old woman utters a prophecy about the two babies. This story is well-drawn but somewhat confusing.
CAPTAIN AMERICA #326 (Marvel, 1987) – “The Haunting of Skull-House,” [W] Mark Gruenwald, [A] Paul Neary. Cap returns to the Red Skull’s headquarters, Skull-House, for the first time since the Skull’s “death” in issue 300. Dr. Faustus is there, and he makes Cap see visions of dead people, including the Ultimatum soldier he killed a few issues back. Cap returned to Skull-House in #370, which I read a long time ago. I haven’t read any Gruenwald Cap comics in a while, and I forgot that he’s quite an effective writer.
NAMOR #10 (Marvel, 1991) – “Reunion,” [W/A] John Byrne. Just after German reunification, Namor and Namorita visit Berlin, and Namor encounters a revived Master Man and Warrior Woman. These were not actual Golden Age villains but were created by Roy Thomas and Frank Robbins in Invaders. This story shows some anxiety that the new Germany might turn into an imperial power again. Byrne’s draftsmanship in this issue is pretty good.
WONDER WOMAN #326 (DC, 1985) – “Tropidor Heat,” [W] Mindy Newell, [A] Don Heck. Mindy Newell, not Gail Simone, was the first woman to write Wonder Woman regularly. However, this issue is not nearly as good as a typical issue by Gail. Half the issue is about political intrigue in a fictional South American country, and Diana doesn’t get involved in the action herself until the end.
WARLORD #243 (DC Thomson, 1979) – Mostly the same stories as in the last two issues I reviewed, with a couple more that aren’t especially notable. “Cassidy” has some excellent aviation art, though I can’t figure out who the artist was. “Iron Annie” and possibly “Sergeant Rayker” are drawn by Mike Dorey, who did some work for 2000 AD. On Iron Annie and Warlord in general see: https://nothingbutafan.wordpress.com/2015/09/17/battlegroup-niffleheim-abode-of-the-dead/
EMMA #80 (DC Thomson, 1979) – A new story this issue is “Stunt Girl,” about a stuntwoman who is mistaken for an actress and kidnapped. “Lucy and Lightning” is about an amnesiac girl, similar to “Nobody Loves Nancy.” “The Emma Report” stars a character actually named Emma who serves as the magazine’s mascot. In most of these other girls’ comics, the title is a girl’s name but there is no character in the comic with this name. This issue also includes new chapters of Little White Mouse, Kitty and the Crooked Myles, etc.
DEVIANT SLICE COMIX #2 (Print Mint, 1973) – untitled (“Vince Shazam”), [W] Tom Veitch, [A] Greg Irons. In this issue’s lead story, a Vietnam vet returns home to Montana with a drug addiction and a missing hand. He descends into psychosis, and ultimately holds up a bank, murders a man who he thinks is his sergeant, and is killed by police. This story is a gruesome depiction of PTSD and drug addiction. “Flesh” is an even grosser story, about two grossly fat men who compete for the highest weight. Unfortunately the black character in this story is a racist stereotype. 2000 AD #334 included a story with the same premise as this one, entitled “Requiem for a Heavyweight.” Deviant Slice #2 ends with “You Got a Point There, Pop!”, about a postapocalyptic war between the sexes. Like Fresca Zizis, this story includes a gruesome castration scene.
JUNGLE JIM #28 (Charlton, 1970) – “The Magic of Shutan!”, [W] Joe Gill, [A] Pat Boyette. A tyrant named Shutan seeks to unite the people of “Kandar,” apparently in Afghanistan, and conquer Asia. Jungle Jim defeats him, of course. This comic has some impressively weird page layouts, but its story is a boring white savior narrative.
ANIMAL MAN #50 (DC, 1992) – “Journal of a Plague Year,” [W] Tom Veitch, [A] Steve Dillon. Animal Man battles some kind of cosmic evil entity called the Antagon. Meanwhile, an anonymous scriptwriter hangs out at Buddy and Ellen’s house, writes a screenplay about Buddy’s life, and tries to convince Ellen that Buddy is cheating on him. This issue is confusing, and it tries to emulate Grant Morrison’s metatextual techniques but doesn’t quite succeed. Still, Tom Veitch is a better writer than I realized. My opinion of him was negatively influenced by the fact that his first comic I red was Star Treek: Tales of the Jedi. He’s spent most of his career in the shadow of his brother Rick and of Greg Irons.
DOPE COMIX #3 (Kitchen Sink, 1979) – various stories, [E] Denis Kitchen. Howard Cruse’s “That Ol’ Gang o’ Mine” is a beautifully drawn story about an LSD trip. Unlike most of Cruse’s work, it has no LGBTQ themes. The other highlight of this issue is Doug Hansen’s “A Night in a Head Shop,” which beautifully combines painted backgrounds with characters based on early animation. Other artists featured in this issue include Gary Whitney, Steve Stiles and Larry Rippee. As the title indicates, all this issue’s stories are about drugs.
2000 AD #193 (IPC, 1981) – Strontium Dog: as above. Johnny rescues Doc Quince, the king is killed by his own execution method, and Doc Quince’s wife becomes queen of her planet. In a cute ending, Johnny says that he decided to help because he has a heart; “you just have to dig deep to find it.” Mean Arena: as above. More preparations for the big game. Each player is assigned a substitute who will replace them if they get killed. Dredd: “The Fink,” [W] John Wagner & Alan Grant, [A] Mike McMahon. A judge is murdered by the Fink, a deformed criminal with a pet rat. Meltdown Man: as above. Stone and Liana confront some cruel humans who are hunting Yujees. Return to Armageddon: as above. The evil baby is rapidly aged to adulthood and becomes the Destroyer, a dead ringer for Satan.
GODLAND #16 (Image, 2007) – “Strange But True,” [W] Joe Casey, [A] Tom Scioli. This issue is priced at 60 cents and is intended as a jumping-on point for new readers. It’s mostly a summary of what’s been going on. The trouble with Godland is that it effectively imitates Kirby, especially his late work for Pacific – but it doesn’t do anything more than that. It has too much Jack Kirby and not enough Tom Scioli.
TUROK, SON OF STONE #62 (Gold Key, 1968) – “Terror of the Dream,” [W] unknown, [A] Alberto Giolitti. Turok and Andar meet a cruel chieftain named Nogu who claims he can predict the future by eating “dream-berries.” Andar eats the dream-berries himself in hopes that they’ll show him an exit from Lost Valley, but it doesn’t work, and Turok proves that Nogu’s visions are fake. Turok is always competently done, but it’s kind of boring and repetitive; there’s no ongoing plotline or character arc, and Turok never makes any progress in escaping from Lost Valley.
PLANET TERRY #3 (Marvel, 1985) – “The Secret of the Space Warp,” [W] Lennie Herman, [A] Warren Kremer. In search of his parents’ ship, Terry is kidnapped by “Gamesfolk” who force him to complete three challenges, based on Space Invaders, baseball and bowling. Terry completes all three and finally finds his parents, or at least some people who look like them. Planet Terry is probably the best Star title. It’s extremely cute and has a sophisticated and compelling plot. It makes me want to read more Harvey comics, though I don’t know which ones I should be looking for.
BARBIE #25 (Marvel, 1993) – “The First Thanksgiving,” [W] Lisa Trusiani, [A] Win Mortimer. A flashback story in which Barbie and Skipper are Pilgrims who participate in the original Thanksgiving. This story is somewhat problematic, like basically every media depiction of the first Thanksgiving, but it’s not as offensive as it could have been. The big problem with Marvel’s Barbie comics was their total lack of narrative complexity. Mattel had a rule that Barbie couldn’t make mistakes. This made it hard to tell convincing stories, and on top of that, Barbie rarely did anything dangerous or encountered any serious villains.
THE ALL-NEW ATOM #13 (DC, 2007) – “Hunt for Ray Palmer Part Two: Second Genesis,” [W] Gail Simone, [A] Mike Norton. In the South American jungle, Ryan Choi encounters two warring tribes of tiny aliens. One tribe worships Ray Palmer as a god, the other thinks he’s the devil. This issue is a throwback to Sword of the Atom, easily my favorite Atom comic. The cover even says Sword of the All-New Atom.
LITTLE LULU #30 (Dell, 1950) – credits as above. “She Flies Through the Air” – Lulu and Tubby go skiing, with absurd and implausible results. This story isn’t quite as farfetched as the one with the whale in #61, but it’s worth noting that one difference between Little Lulu and, for instance, Sugar & Spike, was plausibility. Sugar & Spike was full of science-fictional and fantastic elements, but Little Lulu stories are mostly about plausible situations that develop in funny ways. “The Case of the Hairless Shaving Brush” – Tubby tries to figure out who ruined Lulu’s dad’s shaving brush. “Do Not Look in This Hole” – Lulu and Annie defeat the boys in a snowball fight. “Little Lulu and the Snow Giant” – Lulu tells Alvin a story about a giant snowman. “The Christmas Tree” – Wilbur ruins Tubby’s mother’s Christmas tree. Tubby gets revenge by stealing Wilbur’s Christmas tree. All the stories in this issue take place in winter. Most issues of Little Lulu lack any such unifying theme.
JUDY #989 (DC Thomson, 1978) – I don’t think any of the stories in this issue are the same as in #1003. None of them particularly stand out, although “Sonia’s Secret” is notable for its combination of ballet and Russian revolutionary politics. Some of the artwork in this issue is rather old-fashioned. For instance, “Boundary Babs” has lots of ornate detail, but uses a style of linework that reminds me of Victorian illustration.
2000 AD #194 (IPC, 1981) – Strontium Dog: “The Bad Boy Bust Part 1,” [W] Alan Grant, [A] Carlos Ezquerra. Johnny and Wulf are sent to a Wild West planet to hunt down some carnivorous hairy criminals. Mean Arena: as above. We get some background information on the origins of street football, and then the game begins. Dredd: “The Fink Part 2,” as above. The Fink kidnaps another judge, and Dredd learns that the Fink is the previously unknown fifth member of the Angel family. Meltdown Man: Stone fights a giant bat, then realizes he’s caught the deadly meta-plague. Liana catches the same plague and is kidnapped by evil Yujees. Return to Armageddon: The Destroyer forces the other villains to join his cause. Meanwhlie, the old woman causes the other baby to age to adulthood, and tells him that he’s the incarnation of life.
AVENGERS: THE INITIATIVE #11 (Marvel, 2008) – “Killed in Action Part 4 of 4: Worst Case Scenario,” [W] Dan Slott & Christos Gage, [A] Stefano Caselli. A bunch of confusing fight scenes between Avengers trainees and former New Warriors. I didn’t really understand this comic.
ACTION COMICS #786 (DC, 2002) – “Red,” [W] Joe Kelly, [A] Pascual Ferry. Superman fights Kanjar Ro on a planet of granite people. This issue isn’t bad, though as I wrote this review I had trouble remembering anything about it. Pascual Ferry is an interesting and underappreciated artist.
TIGER-MAN #2 (Atlas, 1975) – “Stalker and Concrete Jungle!”, [W] Gerry Conway, [A] Steve Ditko. Tiger-Man fights Blue Leopard, a Black Panther knock-off. This is a highly generic and boring comic, and I barely remember it at all.
X-FACTOR #211 (Marvel, 2011) – “Staying in Vegas,” [W] Peter David, [A] Emanuela Lupacchino. Pip the Troll is being held captive by Hela, and somehow this results in X-Factor fighting a bunch of zombies. Thor shows up at the end. I didn’t quite understand this comic either, but it does have some strong characterization.
ARCHIE #257 (Archie, 1976) – “Early Worms Get the Bird,” [W] Frank Doyle, [A] Chic Stone, etc. A bunch of completely forgettable stories. There’s one where Archie goes to the beach early in the morning and sleeps through the whole day; another where Archie intends to play tennis, but instead uses his tennis racket for various other purposes; etc.
Y: THE LAST MAN #39 (DC, 2006) – “Paper Dolls Conclusion,” [W] Brian K. Vaughan, [A] Pia Guerra. Yorick tries and fails to recover some photographs that show, um, proof of his maleness. Also, Yorick and Agent 355 continue their attempts to track Beth down. The issue ends with a woman apparently shooting Yorick’s mother. I gave up on reading this series after #35 because it was getting boring, and I haven’t made an active effort to acquire the issues I missed.
ANIMAL MAN #28 (DC, 2014) – “Evolve or Die Part Two,” [W] Jeff Lemire, [A] Rafael Albuquerque. Inside the Red, Buddy fights Totem, the leader of the Parliament of Limbs (the guy with the giant horns), while Maxine fights Brother Blood. Eventually the good guys win. Rafael Albuquerque’s art here is quite good.
2000 AD #195 (IPC, 1981) – Strontium Dog: “The Bad Boys Bust Part 2,” as above. Johnny and Wulf fight the Bad Boys as the latter attempt to rob a train. Meltdown Man: Stone and Liana survive the Meta-Plague by eating a lot. Liana gets a new longer hairstyle. Return to Armageddon: as above. The Destroyer kills the Triad, whoever they are, and also turns his brother into a freak. The good twin is eventually named Amtrak for some reason. Dredd: “The Fink Part Three,” as above. A flashback reveals the Fink’s origin, and we learn that he’s seeking revenge on the Judges who killed his family, during the Judge Child saga. Dredd: “Knock on the Door,” [W] John Wagner & Alan Grant. One of Dredd’s subordinate Judges obtains a confession by torture. Dredd arrests the Judge, then tricks his subject into making an admissible confession. Probably the reason this prog has two Judge Dredd stories is because Dredd doesn’t appear in “The Fink Part Three.”
ICEMAN #2 (Marvel, 2017) – untitled, [W] Sina Grace, [A] Edgar Salazar & Ibraim Roberson. Bobby teams up with his ex-girlfriend Kitty Pryde as they try to save a mutant boy from being lynched by his neighbors. Kitty and Bobby have a heart-to-heart talk about Bobby’s failure to tell Kitty that he’s gay. This is a fairly powerful and heartfelt story. Sina Grace has publicly complained about the treatment he got from Marvel when he was writing this series.
CEREBUS #130 (Aardvark-Vanaheim, 1989) – “Jaka’s Story 13,” [W/A] Dave Sim w/ Gerhard. Jaka, Rick, and the Oscar Wilde lookalike are arrested by creepy dudes in white masks. It might not be ideal to read Cerebus in single-issue form, but I like Cerebus’s production values and its cover art, and its letter columns are interesting in a disturbing way.
ANARCHY COMICS #1 (Last Gasp, 1978) – various stories, [E] Jay Kinney. As its title indicates, this underground comic has a theme of radical politics. Kinney’s “Too Real” appears to be constructed entirely from old photos and clip art. Spain’s “Nestor Makhno” is a biography of the eponymous Ukrainian revolutionary. Melinda Gebbie’s “The Quilting Bee” is somewhat incoherently plotted, but has stunning artwork. Gebbie was the most graphically talented of all the female underground cartoonists, and someone really ought to publish a collection of her underground comics. Spain’s “Blood and Sky” is about the Spanish Civil War and includes some beautiful aviation art. “Kronstadt” is about a 1921 anti-Bolshevik revolt. This story is reprinted from L’Echo des Savanes and is credited to Epistolier and Volny. Epistolier is Yves Frémion, a frequent contributor to L’Echo and Fluide Glacial, but I can’t find any information on Volny. Paul Mavrides’s “Straight Talk About Anarchy” is a didactic piece. I’m mostly bored by this sort of ultra-leftist material, but this comic has some excellent art and writing.
ACTION COMICS #831 (DC, 2005) – “Black & Blue,” [W] Gail Simone, [A] John Byrne. In a Villains United crossover, Superman fights Black Adam, while Bizarro tries to get Professor Zoom to join the Injustice Society. This issue is full of entertaining mayhem, and Byrne’s art isn’t as bad as I’d have expected.
BLOODY MARY #1 (DC, 1996) – “Bloody Mary Part One,” [W] Garth Ennis, [A] Carlos Ezquerra. In the early 20th century, the world is consumed by war, and an elderly assassin who dresses like a nun is trying to track down an old comrade. This comic is an impressively grim combination of the horror and war genres. Until I started reading 2000 AD, I didn’t realize how much Carlos Ezquerra influenced Steve Dillon. Carlos Ezquerra may have been the single most influential 2000 AD artist. Bloody Mary was one of various works he produced for the American market in his later years, most of which were written by Ennis.
2000 AD #196 (IPC, 1981) – Strontium Dog: as above. The train fight continues, and the train goes over a cliff. Ro-Jaws’ Robo-Tale: “Spirit of Vengeance,” [W] G.P. Rice, [A] Dave Gibbons. An ex-convict destroys his loyal robot by overworking it. The robot’s ghost gets revenge by causing its owner to get sent back to prison for life. G.P. Rice was only an average writer, but Gibbons’s art on this story is beautiful. Dredd: “The Fink Part Four,” as above. The Fink takes the kidnapped Judge to a corpse recycling plant. Dredd follows him there and saves her. Meltdown Man: as above. Gruff and T-Bone continue their pilgrimage. Return to Armageddon: as above except [A] Johnny Johnson. Amtrak tries to avoid the mutation ray by going back in time, but fails. Then he gets picked up by a passing spaceship. This prog’s cover does not depict any of the comics inside, but rather a prose story that appears below the letter column.
2000 AD #198 (IPC, 1981) – Tharg: “The Revenge of the Thrill-Suckers,” [W] unknown, [A] Ian Gibson. Tharg battles some more of the Thrill-Suckers from prog 180. The Thrill-Suckers look really gross, like mushrooms with faces in their stems. Mean Arena: as above. The game begins. Tallon confronts Jaws, one of the people he blames for his brother’s death. Return to Armageddon: as above except [A] Jesus Redondo. Amtrak’s ship lands on Earth. Amtrak meets Atlanta Watts, who appeared earlier in the story, but I forget who she is. Dredd: “Pirates of the Black Atlantic 2: Nuclear Skank,” [W] John Wagner & Alan Grant, [A] Ron Smith. The pirate Captain Skank (not sure if “Skank” is meant in the modern sense) launches a bunch of nukes at Mega-City One. Dredd goes after Skunk in a submarine. Meltdown Man: as above. Gruff meets a giant bear dude named Pole-Axe. This prog also includes the last installment of Dash Decent, a one-page strip which, despite Kevin O’Neill art, is consistently awful. As its name indicates, it’s a parody of Flash Gordon.
DEAD LETTERS #1 (Boom!, 2014) – untitled, [W] Christopher Sebela, [A] Chris Visions. A career criminal named Sam Whistler wakes up in a hospital with amnesia. At the end of the issue, he discovers that he’s in purgatory or limbo. This is an okay issue, but I haven’t yet felt motivated to read issue 2, which I have. Chris Visions’s art here is more appealing than in Trust Fall.
2000 AD #233 (IPC, 1981) – Ace Trucking Co: untitled, [W] John Wagner & Alan Grant, [A] Massimo Belardinelli. This series stars Ace the trucker and his giant bodyguard GBH, who believes himself to be dead. In this story Ace seeks revenge on someone who stuck him with a useless cargo, and then gets a new assignment to smuggle war supplies. As in Meltdown Man, Belardinelli is really good at drawing futuristic technology and weird-looking aliens. Ace’s dialogue is hard to read because he speaks in exaggerated trucker jargon. Strontium Dog: “The Kid Knee Caper Part 6,” [W] Alan Grant, [A] Carlos Ezquerra. Johnny and Wulf are tracking a shapeshifting villain, the Mutator, alongside another bounty hunter, Kid Knee, whose face is in his knee. Johnny shoots and kills Kid Knee, who is actually the Mutator, then discovers that the Mutator has killed the real Kid Knee. Which is ironic because he was about to retire. Dredd: “The Hotdog Run Part 1,” [W] John Wagner & Alan Grant, [A] Ron Smith. Dredd and Judge Giant lead a team of Judge cadets on a field examination in the Cursed Earth. Nemesis the Warlock: untitled, [W] Pat Mills, [A] Kevin O’Neill. Nemesis and Torquemada battle each other in some kind of alien dimension.
WORLD WITHOUT END #1 (DC, 1990) – “The Moon Also Rises…”, [W] Jamie Delano, [A] John Higgins. We are introduced to Bedlam, a bizarre postapocalyptic world of men only. The only females are “skittons,” or nonsentient sex slaves. A flying scout discovers the existence of sentient females in the wilderness, and the leaders of the Gess, or men, respond by creating a champion called Brother Bones. John Higgins’s art in this issue is amazing; he convincingly creates a bizarre, oppressive, alien world. World Without End’s story is somewhat difficult to read, but fascinating.
CEREBUS #131 (Aardvark-Vanaheim, 1989) – “Jaka’s Story Book Three: Mystery Achievement,” as above. In prison, Jaka talks with a cellmate who proves to be her old nurse. It must have been excruciating to read Cerebus on a monthly basis, because of how slowly the story moves. Cerebus was an early example of decompressed storytelling or writing for the trade.
MIDNIGHTER & APOLLO #2 (DC, 2017) – untitled, [W] Steve Orlando, [A] Fernando Blanco. Apollo is killed, and Midnighter has to save his soul from hell. This issue has some good art, and is a good example of gay representation. This comic is set in the DC Universe, but I think I’m going to file it with my WildStorm comics.
BLACKHAWK #254 (DC, 1983) – “What Price Courage?”, [W] Mark Evanier, [A] Dan Spiegle. The Blackhawks go on a bunch of missions, and Hitler sends Agent Domino to assassinate Blackhawk. This series is my least favorite Evanier-Spiegle collaboration. Evanier is a humor writer at heart, and he doesn’t have the grim mindset that’s necessary to write effective war comics. The “Detached Service Diary” backups in Evanier’s Blackhawk were often better than the main stories. The one in this issue is drawn by Dave Cockrum. In this story Chuck hunts down a Nazi while recalling a burlesque show he saw in New York.
SUPERBOY #74 (DC, 2000) – “Game, Set & Match!”, [W] Karl Kesel, [A] Tom Grummett. In a Sins of Youth crossover, the adult Young Justice heroes fight the kid Justice Leaguers. Then Superboy fights Match, and a villain named Amanda Spence assassinates Tana Moon, just after Tana admits that she loves Superboy. This is a really depressing and unnecessary death. Kesel and Grummett created Tana, and I don’t quite see why they chose to get rid of her.
DETECTIVE COMICS #707 (DC, 1997) – “Riddled,” [W] Chuck Dixon, [A] Graham Nolan. The best part of this issue is the cover, which shows the Riddler asking how Batman is like a mob informant (answer: when he spills his guts). This issue has a pretty dumb plot in which Batman and the Cluemaster, one of Dixon’s pet characters, try to track down the Riddler. The Riddler’s riddles in this issue seem impossible to solve unless you can read the writer’s mind.
CAPTAIN AMERICA #381 (Marvel, 1991) – “This Gun’s for Hire,” [W] Mark Gruenwald, [A] Ron Lim. The title is a reference to one of my favorite Springsteen songs. This issue, Cap gets involved in the Serpent Society’s civil war, and Diamondback hires Paladin as backup since she and Cap have apparently broken up. This issue has a ton of characters. At this point in Gruenwald’s run, Cap had so many allies and partners that the series was almost a team comic. This issue has a backup story starring USAgent.
ADVENTURES OF SUPERMAN #435 (DC, 1987) – “The Circle Turns,” [W] Marv Wolfman, [A] Jerry Ordway. While driving a race car as Clark Kent, Superman suffers a psychic attack. A bunch of villains called the Circle prove to be responsible. The Circle discover that Superman isn’t the “lost one” they’re looking for, and they leave him alone. As far as I know, the Circle never appeared again, nor did we ever learn who the real “lost one” was.
WARLORD #3 (DC, 1976) – “War Gods of Skartaris,” [W/A] Mike Grell. Morgan fights some lizard people and discovers his lost plane. This issue has very exciting art but is otherwise a typical Grell comic. As I read this issue, it occurred to me that Warlord is basically the same setup as Edgar Rice Burroughs’s Pellucidar. And DC had just finished doing an adaptation of Pellucidar in Weird Worlds. But of course DC did not own Pellucidar, while they did own Warlord.
2000 AD #235 (IPC, 1981) – Ace Trucking Co.: as above. Ace’s cargo consists of mercenaries in suspended animation, and they come to life and try to take over Ace’s ship. Ace and his crew fight them into submission. Tharg’s Future Shocks: “Once Upon an Atom,” [W] Steve Moore, [A] Alan Langford. Earth is destroyed by a hydrogen atom that’s angry at the loss of its love interest, a chlorine atom. Mean Arena: “The Salford Slicers,” [W] Tom Tully, [A] Eric Bradbury. Matt Tallon’s latest target is a medic who allowed Matt’s brother to play with injuries. Eric Bradbury’s art is less impressive than John Richardson’s. Dredd: “The Hotdog Run Part III,” as above. The judge cadets fight some creatures called Gila-Munja. Of the seven cadets who started the exam, two of them pass, two fail but are allowed to try again, one is expelled from the academy, and two are killed. Tharg’s Future Shocks: “Sign of the Times,” [W] Alan Hebden, [A] Mike White. Some American astronauts go on a space mission to stop the Soviets from doing something. We’re led to believe the Soviets are going to drop a bomb on America, but instead they’re putting up a giant FLY AEROFLOT sign that’s visible across North America. Rogue Trooper: “Scum Sea,” [W] Gerry Finley-Day, [A] Dave Gibbons. Rogue invades a Nort ship in an effort to find out who was responsible for a massacre.
DETECTIVE COMICS #614 (DC, 1990) – “Street Demonz,” [W] Alan Grant, [A] Norm Breyfogle. Batman meets some young crack dealers. He tries to reform them, while also protecting them from adult criminals who suspect them of informing on them. While doing all this, Batman has flashbacks to his own privileged upbringing. At the end of the issue, Batman, as Bruce Wayne, sets up a scholarship for underprivileged children. This issue is a reasonable response to the “why doesn’t Bruce Wayne use his money to change society” argument.
BEWARE THE CREEPER #4 (DC, 1968) – “Which Face Hides My Enemy?”, [W] Denny O’Neil, [A] Steve Ditko. The Creeper tries to track down a mysterious villain named Proteus. The Creeper was one of Ditko’s best post-Spider-Man works. It had dynamic action sequences and page layouts, a compelling protagonist, and an exciting plot.
POWER MAN AND IRON FIST #86 (Marvel, 1982) – “Golden Eye… Gleaming Death!”, [W] Denny O’Neil, [A] Denys Cowan. Luke and Danny are hired to protect a drug-addicted rock star named Rip Chord who’s recording an album during a train ride. But some criminals destroy the train, and Rip Chord is killed as collateral damage. This issue is okay, but not as good as an average issue of Jo Duffy’s run.
VIOLATOR VS. BADROCK #4 (Image, 1995) – untitled, [W] Alan Moore, [A] Brian Denham. Not one of Alan’s better works for Image. It has some witty dialogue, but Brian Denham is just not talented enough to tell the story Alan has in mind. Also, both the main characters are awful.
THOR #256 (Marvel, 1977) – “Lurker in the Dark!”, [W] Len Wein, [A] John Buscema. Thor, Sif and the Warriors Three visit a generation starship whose people are being menaced by a tentacled creature called Sporr. This issue is not bad, though also not incredible.
I KILL GIANTS #7 (Image, 2009) – “The End,” [W] Joe Kelly, [A] J.M. Ken Niimura. I bought this years ago, but never read it because I subsequently bought and read the trade paperback. In hindsight, I Kill Giants is an excellent graphic novel, a powerful depiction of childhood mental illness, and probably Joe Kelly’s masterwork. This issue is a touching conclusion, in which the bunny-eared protagonist survives her encounter with the monster and succeeds in adjusting to life at school. This issue includes some interesting behind-the-scenes features.
PETER CANNON, THUNDERBOLT #3 (Dynamite, 2019) – “Watch Part Three,” [W] Kieron Gillen, [A] Caspar Wijngaard. I received this from DCBS when it came out, but I misplaced it somehow. I finally found it while cleaning out my closet. This issue continues the Watchmen-homage plot from #2, and includes some artwork that explicitly references Watchmen. It also uses the line “That’s quite a drop” at a significant moment. In terms of the plot, the main Thunderbolt character tries to defeat his evil counterpart by using his power to escape the panel grid, but instead he gets plunged into a world based on Eddie Campbell’s Alec.
THE STAINLESS STEEL RAT #1 (Eagle, 1985) – “The Stainless Steel Rat,” [W] Kelvin Gosnell, [A] Carlos Ezquerra. These stories are reprinted from 2000 AD #140-145, none of which I have. They’re an adaptation of Harry Harrison’s novel of the same name. I’ve read the original novel, and I didn’t love it. And Gosnell and Ezquerra’s adaptation is competent, but doesn’t add a whole lot to the original. Also, Eagle must have made lots of alterations to the original pages in order to accommodate them to the American format. For example, in the last panel of the page reproduced at https://shop.2000ad.com/catalogue/XB378, Eagle shrunk down jim’s head so that it doesn’t cross the panel border.
MORELLA AND THE MURDERS IN THE RUE MORGUE #1 (Dark Horse, 2014) – “Morella” and “The Murders in the Rue Morgue,” [W/A] Richard Corben. This one-shot contains two adaptations of Poe stories. In “Morella,” Myron’s creepy wife dies, then he sleeps with her daughter Orella. When Myron mistakenly introduces Orella as Morella, she dies, and then Myron commits suicide. Corben’s adaptation departs from Poe’s original, in which Orella is the protagonist’s biological daughter, and he doesn’t sleep with her. A notable visual aspect of Corben’s adaptation is that Morella is covered with tattoos, which look kind of like the Native American designs in Rat God. The second adaptation is of a better-known story, “The Murders in the Rue Morgue.” The solution to this mystery is that the murders were committed by an orangutan, and Corben makes the orangutan look hideous and ferocious.
By this point I hadn’t received any new comics in quite a while. I stopped ordering from DCBS, and they decided to hold all of my unshipped items until they all arrived. I’m currently trying to get them to at least send the items that have already arrived. Meanwhile, on August 19, I went to Heroes to pick up new comics. This was the first time I bought new comics in person since I left Atlanta, where I had been shopping at Oxford Comics. I’m going to miss the convenience of DCBS, but it’s nice to actually talk with people while buying comics, and to be able to make impulse purchases. Some of the stuff I bought:
BIG GIRLS #1 (Image, 2020) – untitled, [W/A] Jason Howard. A virus is causing men to turn into giant monsters. Women can get infected too, but the virus just makes them giant and not monstrous. Our protagonist, Ember, is a giant woman who works to protect her city from male monsters. Sadly, on her first mission she has to help kill a little boy before the virus turns him into a monster. As the issue goes on, we realize that Ember is being manipulated in some way, and the monsters might not be what we think. I believe this is Jason Howard’s first solo comic, and it’s an impressive debut. It has an impressive premise, and it feels quite feminist. Howard also seems to have thought through the logistics of giant-sized people. A brilliant detail is when Ember walks into her base, and some men use marshalling batons (the kind that aiport ground crews use) to indicate where she should put her feet.
SEVEN SECRETS #1 (Boom!, 2020) – untitled, [W] Tom Taylor, [A] Daniele Di Nicuolo. Sigurd and Eva are the guardians of two out of the seven secrets, which are not explained in detail, but they’re really important. But Sigurd gets Eva pregnant, which is forbidden because their secret-keeping mission is supposed to be their entire life. The baby, Caspar, is born and then given up for adoption. 15 years later, Sigurd is killed by a villain named Amon. I assume Caspar is going to be the protagonist of the series, but in this issue he only appears as a newborn. Seven Secrets #1 is one of the most heavily hyped comics of 2020. I’m not sure it lives up to the hype, but it’s an exciting debut issue.
ADVENTUREMAN #3 (Image, 2020) – untitled, [W] Matt Fraction, [A] Terry Dodson. Claire goes to the hospital and has a vision of Adventureman giving a blood transfusion to Chagall. When she emerges from the vision, she realizes she’s given a man a life-saving blood transfusion. Also, she’s a lot bigger than before. Later, Claire has a second vision while watching a movie. This is another really entertaining issue. I love how the family relationships in this comic feel so warm and friendly – I especially like the Shabbat dinner scenes.
THE GODDAMNED: THE VIRGIN BRIDES #2 (Image, 2020) – untitled, [W] Jason Aaron, [A] R.M. Guera. Sharri and Jael continue their escape attempt and kill one of the women pursuing them. Meanwhile, the women from atop the mountain kidnap some people from a primitive tribe. R.M. Guera’s art in this series is absolutely stunning, and Jason Aaron’s plot is scary and compelling. I need to collect more of their previous series, Scalped.
HEDRA (Image, 2020) – “Hedra,” [W/A] Jesse Lonergan. An astronaut flies in a rocket to a far-off planet, where she meets a giant superhero and helps him defeat some smaller enemies. The superhero offers the protagonist membership in his team, but she refuses and apparently returns to her home planet, though the ending is enigmatic. While its plot seems simple, Hedra is actually perhaps the most impressive and visually innovative comic book of the year. Its style of storytelling is unique: each page is based on a 35-panel grid, but usually some of the panels are combined. Because there are so many panels and the pages are bigger than normal, Lonergan is able to use a lot of space to depict the trajectories of objects that travel across the panels. He also uses the panel structure in other ways – like, there’s one page where the panels are organized like a maze, and you have to read them in nonlinear order. Part of the fun in this comic is seeing all the different things that Lonergan does with the 35-panel grid. I should also mention that Hedra is entirely silent, which explains why the ending is hard to interpret. Another cool thing about this comic is what the title means. At the end, we discover that the four superheroes are based on four of the five regular polyhedra or Platonic solids, and the protagonist is invited to become the fifth member of the team, representing the dodecahedron. I wonder how many readers realized this. Overall, Hedra is one of the best comic books of the year, and I look forward to Lonergan’s next book, Planet Paradise.
LUDOCRATS #4 (Image, 2020) – “The Desolation of the Ludocrats,” [W] Kieron Gillen & Jim Rossignol, [A] Jeff Stokely. Hades betrays Otto to the Hyper-Pope, who makes his first appearance on the last page of the issue. This issue is full of great stuff. Near the start, Otto makes himself two-dimensional by killing Dr X-Position, so that he only has a Y- and a Z- position. Later on, Otto spends a full page lamenting that he’ll never get to destroy the moon. This is such an incredibly fun series that it deserves more than five issues, and I hope it gets a sequel.
THE DREAMING: WAKING HOURS #1 (DC, 2020) – “The Bard and the Bard,” [W] G. Willow Wilson, [A] Nick Robles. Lindy, an English grad student and new mother, accidentally swaps places with a native of the Dreaming. While in the Dreaming, Lindy meets William Shakespeare as well as a bunch of alternative Shakespeare authorship candidates. One of them is an Arab named Sheikh Zubayr. A notable moment in this issue is when Lindy meets with her advisor, who, despite being female herself, has no sympathy for Lindy’s struggles as a woman and a mother in academia. (https://www.instagram.com/p/CEFnhDOhsm0/) I know a lot of graduate faculty in English, and none of them would ever treat their students in such a cruel way. But sadly, there are academics out there who are as heartless as Professor Dunbar.
STRANGE ADVENTURES #4 (DC, 2020) – “Out the Window,” [W] Tom King, [A] Mitch Gerads Doc Shaner. I keep wanting to call him Gerards instead of Gerads. This issue, Mr. Terrific goes to Rann to investigate, but encounters stonewalling whenever he tries to learn anything about the Pykkts. Meanwhile, in flashback, Adam asks Green Lantern and Superman for help with the Pykkts, but they both refuse. It’s become abundantly clear by now that the Rannians are on the wrong side, and it also seems like Adam and Alanna are hiding something.
ASH & THORN #4 (AfterShock, 2020) – untitled, [W] Mariah McCourt, [A] Soo Lee. I haven’t read #3 yet because DCBS still has yet to deliver it. In #4, Lottie and her young assistant bake some “battle scones” as ammunition against the evil Court. At the store, I talked to someone who described this comic as “bare-bones.” I think that’s a good way to put it – Ash & Thorn could be more substantial. But I still think it’s an important comic, because it’s a big step forward in terms of the depiction of older female protagonists.
WONDER WOMAN #759 (DC, 2020) – “I Walk the Line,” [W] Mariko Tamaki, [A] Mikel Janin. Diana meets a new roommate, saves a woman who’s gone insane and endangered her children, and then confronts her old enemy Max Lord. This is a good debut issue with excellent artwork, though I have no interest in Max Lord as a villain.
I said I wasn’t going to buy any more 2000 AD comics, but there were a couple lots on eBay that were too cheap to resist. They were from the same seller as the lot I received of July 7. I still haven’t read most of the comics from this shipment yet, but:
2000 AD #791 (Fleetway, 1992) – Dredd: “Judgment Day Part 8,” [W] Garth Ennis, [A] Carlos Ezquerra. Dredd leads the defense of Mega-City One against invading zombies. Kola Kommandos: “Part 12,” [W] Steve Parkhouse, [A] Anthony Williams. I don’t really understand this strip. This installment ends with a Coke ad being projected on the moon – see “Loonies’ Moon” in prog 192. Zenith: “Phase IV: Prologue – Golgonooza,” [W] Grant Morrison, [A] Steve Yeowell. This chapter is about a character named Michael who lives in a bleak, lifeless city. I don’t know how this character is connected to Zenith himself. Rogue Trooper: “Apocalypse Dreadnought Part 12,” [W] Michael Fleisher, [A] Ron Smith. Friday fights some kind of pink floppy alien. Button Man: “The Killing Game 12,” [W] John Wagner, [A] Arthur Ranson. Harry Exton’s employer poisons him and then tries to shoot him, but Harry survives and cuts his employer’s head off. This is the best story in the prog.
MONEY SHOT #7 (Vault, 2020) – untitled, [W] Tim Seeley & Sarah Beattie, [A] Rebekah Isaacs. In a flashback, we see how America’s xenophobic douchebag president ruined America’s reputation with the aliens. Then the Money Shot crew go on a mission to the planet Cockaigne, where everyone is super hot. We don’t see any more of the imperialist aliens from #6. This series is getting really good. It’s well-executed, funny, and sexy.
UNDISCOVERED COUNTRY #7 (Image, 2020) – untitled, [W] Scott Snyder & Charles Soule, [A] Giuseppe Camuncoli & Leonardo Marcello Grassi. We start with a flashback to before the U.S. was sealed off. Then the train reaches the next section of America: a forest of white trees covered in red and blue veins. And we meet a second Dr. Sam Elgin. This series is not exactly my favorite, perhaps because it feels too ponderous and not funny enough, but it’s fascinating.
SAVAGE DRAGON #251 (Image, 2020) – “Family Reunion!”, [W/A] Erik Larsen. Heroes also had #250, but I skipped it because it was too expensive. In #251, Malcolm meets Paul Dragon, who has the original Dragon’s memories. Also, Maxine continues to suffer from nymphomania. There’s a scene where Malcolm is playing a game with the kids, and then he interrupts the game to, um, pork Maxine. At least this issue isn’t as offensive and exploitative as the earlier issues that caused me to drop the series.
AQUAMAN #62 (DC, 2020) – “Homecoming,” [W] Jordan Clark, [A] Marco Santucci. Aqualad confronts Black Manta and then meets a new, male love interest. This series was rumored to be ending with issue 65, but I’m not sure if that’s still true.
GIDEON FALLS #24 (Image, 2020) – “Wicked Worlds Part 3: All the best cowgirls have daddy issues,” [W] Jeff Lemire, [A] Andrea Sorrentino. In the Wild West version of Gideon Falls, Clara saves two children from zombies, and then she reencounters her dad. This issue is clearer than some of the last few issues, though I’m not sure who the kids are.
X-MEN/FANTASTIC FOUR #4 (Marvel, 2020) – “Welcome to the New World: The Might of Latveria Has Been Unleashed,” [W] Chip Zdarsky, [A] Terry Dodson. The X-Men, the FF and Doom have a final confrontation. Franklin agrees to visit Krakoa for training, and Magneto and Professor X destroy Reed’s device that can cloak the mutant gene. This was a fun miniseries, and an effective spiritual sequel to Fantastic Four/X-Men.
DECORUM #4 (Image, 2020) – “And the Eating of a World,” [W] Jonathan Hickman, [A] Mike Huddleston. Half this issue consists of blank pages or two-page spreads of starscapes. The rest of the issue tells an actual story, but one that makes no sense. I still don’t get what this series is supposed to be about, although I love Mike Huddleston’s art.
SPACE RIDERS: VORTEX OF DARKNESS #2 (Black Mask, 2020) – untitled, [W] Carlos Giffoni, [A] Alexis Zirtt. Space Riders is tough to find because it’s published by Black Mask, a poorly run publisher that’s on the verge of going out of business. That’s a pity because Alexis Zirtt’s artwork is spectacular. He has great coloring and a style that echoes but doesn’t slavishly imitate Kirby, and like Tom Scioli, he allows the reader to see the texture of the original paper. I also like how this series combines space opera with Latinx pop culture.
2000 AD #239 (IPC, 1981) – Ace: “Hell’s Pocket Part 1,” [W] John Wagner & Alan Grant, [A] Ian Gibson. An alien named Ignatz Lg0o convinces Ace to take him on a trip to Hell’s Pocket, the Bermuda Triangle of space. Nemesis: untitled, [W] Pat Mills, [A] Kevin O’Neill. Nemesis fights Torquemada in a series of host bodies, the last of which is a giant grim reaper. Dredd: “Block Mania Part Four,” [W] John Wagner & Alan Grant, [A] Ron Smith. The apartment blocks of Mega-City One declare war on each other. This story was a prologue to “The Apocalypse War,” one of the most important Dredd stories. Mean Arena: “The Edinburgh Executioners,” [W] Tom Tully, [A] Eric Bradbury. Matt Tallon captures Jessup, the plastic surgeon who helped cause his brother’s death. Rogue Trooper: “The Rookies,” [W] Gerry Finley-Day, [A] Dave Gibbons. Rogue fights alongside a bunch of new recruits.
2000 AD #241 (IPC, 1981) – Ace: “Hell’s Pocket Part 3,” as above. In Hell’s Pocket, GBH is kidnapped by some of the local natives. Also, by now we know that Ignatz was lying about having been to Hell’s Pocket before. Mean Arena: as above except [A] Mike White. The Slayers-Executioners match begins, and Matt deliberately makes himself a target for some reason. Tharg’s Future Shocks: “The Masks of Arazzor,” [W] Steve Moore, [A] José Casanovas. Some astronauts discover a colony of masks that drive their wearers insane. Casanovas draws this story in a very Spanish style that reminds me of Carlos Giménez. Dredd: “Block Mania Part 8,” as above. Some guy tries to tell Dredd who’s responsible for the block mania, but then gets murdered. Dredd investigates the crime scene and realizes the madness is being spread through water. Rogue Trooper: “Blue Moon,” [W] Gerry Finley-Day, [A] Colin Wilson. Rogue helps out some entertainers known as “blue mooners”. Colin Wilson had just started his interrnational career at this point, but he was already extremely good at drawing realistic machines and exciting action sequences. Tharg’s Future Shocks: “Joe Black’s Tall Tale!”, [W] Kelvin Gosnell, [A] John Higgins. An astronaut falls in love with a beautiful human-looking alien, only to discover that she’s ten times his size.
SHADOW SERVICE #1 (Vault, 2020) – untitled, [W] Cavan Scott, [A] Corin Howell. Our protagonist, Gina, is a private investigator with magical powers. This is a reasonably fun opening issue, with excellent artwork, but there’s not much about this comic that stands out to me. I’d still be willing to read the next couple issues.
PRETTY VIOLENT #8 (Image, 2020) – untitled, [W/A] Derek Hunter, [W] Jason Young. Gamma Rae argues with her siblings, and then goes to a graveyard where she encounters a zombified Brodie Perron. I have trouble keeping track of this comic’s plot, but the plot is just an excuse for ridiculous mayhem, as in I Hate Fairyland.
GREEN LANTERN SEASON TWO #6 (DC, 2020) – “Assault on Sector General,” [W] Grant Morrison, [A] Liam Sharp. This comic’s title and premise are an obvious homage to James White’s Sector General novels. I just read one of those and enjoyed it. This issue, Hal is recovering from injuries at a hospital for aliens. Hal’s colleagues come to visit, just in time for the hospital to be attacked by villains from the antimatter universe. This issue is an improvement on the last few, and I especially like Hal’s whiny lion-like roommate.
HEATHEN #12 (Vault, 2020) – untitled, [W] Natasha Alterici, [A] Ashley Woods. The story concludes, but I don’t really understand what happens. Without Alterici’s artwork, this series is not all that interesting.
2000 AD #243 (IPC, 1981) – Ace: as above. Ace and his crew escape Hell’s Pocket, and Ace dumps Ignatz back where he found him. Mean Arena: as above. Tallon alters Jessup’s face to resemble Tallon’s, and then forces Jessup to rejoin the game in Tallon’s place. Nemesis: as above. Nemesis and Torquemada’s epic battle continues. Kevin O’Neill’s art here is brilliant, though difficult to parse. Tharg: “Tharg’s Christmas Tale,” [W] unknown, [A] Eric Bradbury. Some aliens kidnap Santa and replace his presents with deadly menaces. Santa’s reindeer call upon Tharg for assistance. Dredd: “Block Mania Part 8,” as above except [A] Steve Dillon. Judge Giant is murdered, and the enemy takes over Weather Control and creates a madness-inducing rainstorm. Rogue Trooper: “Poison,” [W] Gerry Finley-Day, [A] Mike Dorey. At the polar ice cap, Rogue has to overcome poisoning to defeat some Nort ski troops. Mike Dorey did some uncredited art for Warlord, and was a very early contributor to 2000 AD, starting with prog 6.
2000 AD #244 (IPC, 1981) – Dredd: “Block Mania Part 9,” as above except [A] Brian Bolland. Dredd defeats the culprit but gets block mania himself, but is cured. The culprit is revealed as Orlok, a Judge from East-Meg One, i.e. the USSR. This leads directly into “The Apocalypse War.” Tharg: as above. Tharg defeats the aliens with aid from all the 2000 AD characters, including some obsolete ones like Black-Hawk and the VCs. Ace: “Lugjack,” [W] John Wagner & Alan Grant, [A] Massimo Belardinelli. While Ace is towing a giant iceberg, his ship is hijacked by space pirates. Nemesis: as above. Nemesis defeats Torquemada and returns to Termight. That concludes Book One. Mean Arena: as above. Matt Tallon is apparently killed, but then shows up alive, and there’s no proof that it was Jessup who died. Matt’s four surviving targets consult with each other. This was the last prog included in the lot I ordered on July 6.
UNCLE SCROOGE #3/407 (IDW, 2015) – “The Duckburg 100,” [W/A] Romano Scarpa. A bank gives $100 to three infamous spendthrifts, with the promise of $100 more if they keep the original $100 or invest it as a profit. The three spendthrifts are Donald, Gladstone, and a Beagle Boy. Upon learning that he owns the bank, Scrooge tries to prevent any of them from earning the extra $100. This story is actually quite well-plotted and entertaining, and very Barksian, but I found it somewhat tiresome.
NEW TITANS #82 (DC, 1992) – “The Jericho Gambit Part One: The Saviors!”, [W] Marv Wolfman, [A] Tom Grummett. The Titans fight an insane Jericho. By this point in its run, this series was a shadow of its former self, but this issue does arouse some fond memories of the Titans’ glory days.
2000 AD #593 (Fleetway, 1988) – Zenith: “Phase II/4: Deep Trouble,” [W] Grant Morrison, [A] Steve Yeowell. Evil government minister Peter St. John is interviewed on TV, and then learns that London is being nuked. Moon Runners: untitled, [W] Alan MacKenzie & Steve Parkhouse, [A] Massimo Belardinelli. The mother and daughter argue, and the two ships continue their pursuit. This story is a bit like Ace Trucking Co., except not funny. Dredd: “PJ Maybe, Age 13,” [W] John Wagner, [A] Liam Sharp. PJ kills another one of his relatives. This story is quite funny. Nemesis: “Deathbringer,” [W] Pat Mills, [A] John Hicklenton. Nemesis fights Torquemada yet again, in new bodies. Hicklenton’s art is gorgeous, if hard to follow. Tharg’s Future Shocks: “Cultural Exchange,” [W] Hilary Robinson, [A] Jim McCarthy (as “I. Dren”). A scientist learns the secret of FTL travel from some aliens. In return, he teaches the aliens that “if it still doesn’t work, hit it with a spanner.” Daily Dredd: “The Mean Machine Part 4,” [W] John Wagner & Alan Grant, [A] Ian Gibson. Dredd arrests the man responsible for reviving the Angel Gang.
2000 AD #637 (IPC, 1991) – Anderson: “Triad,” [W] Alan Grant, [A] Arthur Ranson. Psi-Judge Anderson investigates some cases of spontaneous combustion, and there’s a subplot about two little twin girls with psychic powers. Medivac 318: untitled, [W] Hilary Robinson, [A] Nigel Dobbyn. A paramedic retrains as an ambulance pilot. That sounds boring, but the main character in this strip is really cute, and Dobbyn’s art reminds me a bit of John Armstrong or Alan Davis. Tharg’s Future Shocks: “House of the Future,” [W] Glen Gormley, [A] Chris Weston. An old woman’s home security system kills some attempted burglers. Gormley’s first name is given in other sources as Chris. I can’t tell which is correct, because he has no other comics credits under either name. Dredd: “And the Wind Cried…”, [W] Alan Grant, [A] Mike Collins. Dredd and Anderson visit a city that was nuked in the Apocalypse War. There they find a comatose man who’s survived on life support for eight years. Anderson pulls the plug on his life support, allowing his late wife’s ghost to find rest. This story is very touching. Tales from the Doghouse: “Niall of the Nine Sausages,” [W] Hilary Robinson, [A] Simon Jacob. In a series spun off from Strontium Dog, a bounty hunter named Maeve investigates an evil sausage maker. This story’s title is a reference to Niall of the Nine Hostages, a legendary Irish king. Simon Jacob’s art here is quite good, though very cartoony. Strontium Dog: “The Final Solution Part 16,” [W] Alan Grant, [A] Simon Harrison. Middenface and some of his allies escape from Milton Keynes, and meanwhile, we learn that a character named Sagan is Johnny Alpha’s brother. I didn’t know this until I looked it up, but Johnny Alpha was permanently killed in this story, and that’s why his co-creator, Carlos Ezquerra, refused to draw it.
FINGER GUNS #4 (Vault, 2020) – untitled, [W] Justin Richards, [A] Val Halvorson. Sadie can’t report her father to the police because her mother is an illegal immigrant. This is a sadly realistic dilemma, especially in Trump’s America. Instead, Sadie comes up with a cockamamie plot to manipulate her father into being caught committing a crime. Predictably, Sadie’s plot backfires, and her dad slams a door on her and cuts her finger off. This was my favorite issue since #1.
NO ONE’S ROSE #4 (Vault, 2020) – “Away Mission,” [W] Zac Thompson & Emily Horn, [A] Alberto Alburquerque. I just realized that the artist’s surname is not spelled like the city in New Mexico, but has an extra R. This issue, Tenn (the sister) and her team visit a city called Geddontibe that uses mushrooms as technology. She tries to encourage cultural exchange between her team and the city, but instead her teammates start a massacre. Meanwhile, Seren (the brother) participates in an attempted terrorist attack, but has a last-minute change of heart.
MAESTRO #1 (Marvel, 2020) – “Symphony in a Gamma Key,” [W] Peter David, [A] Germán Peralta. Incredible Hulk: Future Imperfect is PAD’s personal favorite of his Hulk stories, and in this series he revisits it for at least the third or fourth time, revealing the Maestro’s origin. This issue starts as the Hulk is living happily with Betty and their sons, but Bruce quickly realizes that it’s a dream. Then he wakes up inside an underground AIM base, in a world that’s been devastated by nuclear war. I probably shouldn’t have ordered this comic, since I’ve been unhappy with most of PAD’s recent work, but it’s not a terrible comic.
WALT DISNEY’S COMICS AND STORIES #578 (Disney, 1992) – “Old Quackly Manor,” [W/A] Carl Barks. Donald is employed as a real estate agent and has to sell a dilapidated old house. Huey, Dewey and Louie have been playing in the house, so they try to dissuade Donald’s client from buying it. But their efforts backfire, and the client buys the house and turns it into a clubhouse for boys. This issue also includes another haunted house story, reprinted from an old Mickey Mouse giveaway comic, and a European story about the origins of soccer.
RESIDENT ALIEN: THE SUICIDE BLONDE #2 (Dark Horse, 2013) – untitled, [W] Peter Hogan, [A] Steve Parkhouse. A pointy-eared Martian travels to Earth and reinvents himself as a private detective. This issue is a reasonably effective combination of the SF and detective genres. However, it feels as if it started out as a rejected proposal for a Martian Manhunter series.
FRONTLINE COMBAT #2 (Gemstone, 1951/1995) – all stories [W] Harvey Kurtzman. “Bouncing Bertha,” [A] Jack Davis: A member of a tank crew gets himself killed by his own cowardice, and his plight is compared to that of a drowning beetle. This story doesn’t have enough of a coherent theme. Like many EC war stories, it makes effective use of sound effects to depict the chaos of battle. “Zero Hour!”, [A] John Severin: In World War I, a young soldier gets caught on barbed wire, and several of his comrades get killed trying to save him. The boy’s commanding officer has to shoot him to put him out of his misery. This story is a powerful depiction of the pathos of war. “Gettysburg!”, [A] Wally Wood: During Pickett’s Charge on the last day of the Battle of Gettysburg, a Northern soldier kills his father, who’s fighting for the South. This story has great art, but its twist ending is trite. “Contact!”, [A] Kurtzman: In the Korean War, some American troops beat some Chinese troops, beecause “America is a way of life… and as long as we believe in good we can’t go wrong.” This story is far more jingoistic than most Kurtzman war stories.
G.I. JOE #55 (Marvel, 1987) – “Unmaskings,” [W] Larry Hama, [A] Rod Whigham. Cobra Commander and Destro escape from the ruins of the Pit. Cobra Commander coincidentally discovers his son Billy in hospital, missing an eye and a leg. There’s a subplot about a civil war in Sierra Gordo. Meanwhile, Grunt leaves the military to go to Georgia Tech.
AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #386 (Marvel, 1994) – “The Wings of Age!”, [W] David Michelinie, [A] Mark Bagley. Aunt May hires a private investigator to look into Richard and Mary Parker, and as a result Peter convinces himself that Aunt May has Alzheimer’s. He visits an expert on aging for advice. Then the Vulture breaks out of prison and uses the same expert’s experimental device to drain Spidey’s lifeforce. Despite its top-tier creative team, this issue is pretty bad, especially since it includes Richard and Mary Parker (or the clones thereof). The period from 1994 to 1996 was probably the lowest point in Spider-Man’s entire history.
RICHARD DRAGON, KUNG FU FIGHTER #4 (DC, 1975) – “A Time to Be a Whirlwind!”, [W] Denny O’Neil, [A] Ric Estrada. Richard Dragon tries to rescue his love interest Carolyn from some hoodlums, but is unable to save her from being fridged. The best thing about this comic is Wally Wood’s inking.
2000 AD #638 (Fleetway, 1989) – Anderson: “Triad Part 4,” as above. Anderson consults an expert at the “Department of Fortean Events” about spontaneous combustion. Anderson and the expert’s conversation takes place against a background of non-sequitur images, kind of like in Stillman’s monologue in City of Glass. In this story there’s a “Norm Breyfogle City Block.” Medivac 318: as above. The Medivacs try to stop a civil war on an alien planet. Future Shocks: “Brand Loyalty,” [W] Mike Collins, [A] Paul Marshall. An old woman goes out shopping in a world that’s been torn apart by a civil war between rival corporations. Dredd: “Kirby’s Demon,” [W] John Wagner, [A] Carlos Ezquerra. A psychotic young boy returns home from a mental hospital and promptly summons a demon. When his family and his social worker are unable to see the demon, he flies into a rage and murders them. The boy’s name is “Jack Kirby,” his demon looks a lot like Etrigan, and he lives in Matt Wagner Block. So this issue is quite heavy on references to American comics. Strontium Dog: as above. The villains perform a beautifully drawn but incomprehensible ritual, and Middenface and his team head to Stonehenge. I forgot to mention the “Niall of the Nine Sausages” installment.
DETECTIVE COMICS #638 (DC, 1991) – “The Bomb,” [W] Peter Milligan, [A] Jim Aparo. A government agent named Kelly enlists Batman’s aid in tracking down a runaway “human bomb.” We soon realize that Kelly has ulterior motives, and that the human bomb is a lot more human than Kelly has led Batman to believe. In fact, the bomb is a superpowered black teenage girl, and Kelly wants Batman to recapture her for the government. Batman convinces Kelly to let the girl take off her protective suit and go outside for a day, but when she does that, her own powers kill her. This story is very sad and touching, but if published today, it would draw criticism because of its inability to imagine a non-tragic ending for a young black girl with dangerous superpowers.
ANIMAL MAN #49 (DC, 1992) – “The Hot Heart of Abstract Reality,” [W] Tom Veitch, [A] Steve Dillon. More of the same plots as in issue 50, except with a greater emphasis on Animal Man, Vixen and Tristesse. This issue includes an illustrated prose sequence depicting the Antagon’s origin.
2000 AD #639 (Fleetway, 1989) – Anderson; “Triad, Part 5,” as above. Anderson investigates further and learns about the twins’ psychic powers. Medivac 318: as above. The medivacs’ attempt to calm the civil war turns into a massacre, and the protagonist, Verity, goes to the planet to look for survivors. I assumed Hilary Robinson was a man, simply because most 2000 AD writers are, but she’s a woman. According to the Albion British Comics Database Wiki, she left 2000 AD because Alan McKenzie tried to reassign Medivac 318 and Zippy Couriers to another writer, even though Robinson owned them. Future Shocks: “The Getting of Wisdom,” [W] Mike Collins, [A] Dave D’Antiquis. A scientist receives a communication from aliens, which turns out to be an ad for an encyclopedia. Dredd: “Curse of the Spider Man,” [W] John Wagner, [A] Mick Austin. A man is diagnosed with AGV, a disease that’s going to turn him into a spider. He tries to kill himself so his family will get his life insurance money, but only succeeds in getting himself sent to prison. Ironically, he was misdiagnosed and has AVG, a mild disease, while another of the doctor’s patients has turned into a spider. The Simpsons episode “Duffless” included a similar joke where Chief Wiggum confused DOA and DWI. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l5uuaWZYHbM Strontium Dog: “The Final Solution Part 18,” as above. Middenface and his allies arrive at Stonehenge, and some other stuff happens that I don’t understand.
CONAN THE ADVENTURER #3 (Marvel, 1994) – “Blood Days in Brythunia,” [W] Roy Thomas, [A] Rafael Kayanan. A young Conan arrives in a city for the first time, and gets drawn into a conflict between rival political factions. This short-lived series was intended for younger readers, though it’s not all that different from Thomas’s Conan the Barbarian. This issue includes a somewhat offensive depiction of a Pict. Howard’s Picts were more like Native Americans than like the real Picts, who were ancient inhabitants of Scotland.
WEIRD SCIENCE #1 (Russ Cochran, 1992) – All stories [W] Al Feldstein w/ Bill Gaines unless stated otherwise. “Lost in the Microcosm,” [A] Harvey Kurtzman. A man is hit with a shrinking ray and shrinks endlessly through smaller and smaller microworlds. This story has a powerful premise, but it’s not much of a story. “Dream of Doom,” [W] Harry Harrison?, [A] Wally Wood. An artist named Bristol keeps waking up from a dream only to realize he’s still dreaming. Like the previous story, this story has no real ending. “Dream of Doom” includes fictionalized depictions of Bill Gaines (“Gill Baines”), Harvey Kurtzman (“Bill Kurtz”) and Johnny Craig. “Experiment… in Death”, [A] Jack Kamen: A scientist kills a dog and then resurrects it. The procedure works, so he does the same thing to himself. But then the dog goes insane and has to be put down, presaging a similar fate for the scientist. “ ‘Things’ from Outer Space!”, [A] Feldstein: A woman discovers that America has been infiltrated by three-eyed aliens. She tries to bring this news to the authorities, up to and including the President, but they all turn out to be aliens themselves.
LITTLE LULU #56 (Dell, 1953) – credits as above. “The Downfall of Mr. McNabbem”: Mr. McNabbem thinks he’s caught Lulu playing hooky and smoking a pipe. The pipe actually belongs to the principal, and when McNabbem breaks it, the principal chases him and he runs away. In a typical ironic Stanley touch, while fleeing, McNabbem discovers two kids who really are playing hooky and smoking. “Elephant Ride”: Lulu and Alvin ride an elephant at the park, Eddie shoots the elephant with a slingshot, and it chases him and the boys. “Space Kids”: the boys pretend to have traveled to Mars in their clubhouse, but Lulu turns the tables on them. “The Little Pink Cloud”: Lulu tells Alvin a story in which the Poor Little Girl captures a living cloud. “The Buzzard”: Gloria breaks a date with Tubby in order to go out with Wilbur instead. Tubby pursues Gloria and Wilbur implacably, staring at them, until Wilbur runs away. Tubby’s determined stare is the funniest thing in this issue.
STAR TREK #44 (Gold Key, 1977) – “Prince Traitor,” [W] Arnold Drake, [A] Al McWilliams. Kirk, Spock and Scotty visit a primitive planet, where they become involved in the prince’s rebellion against his cruel father. This issue has some nice art, but also a confusing, overly abbreviated plot that doesn’t feel like Star Trek. The GCD says that this issue is full of Alex Raymond swipes. I didn’t realize this because Alex Raymond’s Flash Gordon is one of the biggest gaps in my knowledge of comics.
SUPERMAN #14 (DC, 1988) – “Last Stand!”, [W/A] John Byrne. A Millennium crossover in which Superman and Green Lantern fight the Highmaster. This issue’s story is boring and its art is lazy even for Byrne, with lots of backgrounds that appear to be computer-generated. Also, there’s a scene where Hal finds the Guardians’ discarded clothes, and then he realizes that they’ve removed their clothes because they’re having an orgy with the Zamarons. Ewww.
DETECTIVE COMICS #580 (DC, 1987) – “Double Image,” [W] Mike W. Barr, [A] Jim Aparo. Batman and Robin (Jason) fight Two-Face, who turns out to be an impostor. Jim Baikie’s art in this issue is very good, and quite reminiscent of Gibbons, but Jason Todd is an extremely annoying character. I understand why people voted to kill him.
GROO THE WANDERER #6 (Marvel, 1985) – “Eye of the Kabula,” [W/A] Sergio Aragones, [A] Mark Evanier. Groo steals a ruby from King Ojete to give it to the village of Kabula. But unbeknownst to him, the people of Kabula wanted the ruby so they could give it to King Ojete. There’s a scene in this story where Groo disguises himself as a woman to infilrate King Ojete’s harem. Sergio’s storytelling is so immersive and so compelling that when I read Groo, I often find myself not even noticing the art.
CAPTAIN AMERICA #188 (Marvel, 1975) – “Druid-War,” [W] John Warner, [A] Sal Buscema. Cap fights Dredmund the Druid and his robot. This is a boring issue by an unimpressive writer.
CHALLENGERS OF THE UNKNOWN #58 (DC, 1967) – “Live Till Tomorrow,” [W] Arnold Drake, [A] Bob Brown. When the Challs attempt to return to their headquarters, a villain named Neutro turns their plane into glass. The Guardians defeat Neutro with help from Martin Ryan/Tino Manarry. This is another very fun issue.
I broke my promise again and ordered another large lot of 2000 AD’s. This lot was about 65 progs for $120. I offered $95 in exchange for leaving out a few progs that I already had, and the seller accepted the offer.
2000 AD #351 (IPC, 1984) – Strontium Dog: “The Killing, Part 2,” [W] Alan Grant, [A] Carlos Ezquerra. Johnny and Wulf participate in The Killing, which is like Battle Royale or the Hunger Games. The only difference is that Johnny and Wulf are trying to kill all the other participants in order to collect the bounties on them. Dredd: “Mutie the Pig,” [W] John Wagner & Alan Grant, [A] Mike McMahon. Dredd fakes his death in order to catch a criminal. This issue begins with Dredd’s fake funeral, and the people of Mega-City One actually seem sad when they think Dredd is dead. This is ironic since Dredd is such a tyrant. Future Shocks: “The Sum of the Parts,” [W] Alan Hebden, [A] Steve Hatton. Some aliens abduct a man, take him apart, and then put him together with his head backwards and his arm and leg swapped. Rogue Trooper: “Colonel Kovert Part 2,” [W] Gerry Finley-Day, [A] Cam Kennedy. A mysterious colonel sends Rogue to a planet where the Norts are making their own super-soldiers. Cam Kennedy’s art here is excellent, comparable in quality to that of Gibbons. Slaine: “The Shoggey Beast 4,” [W] Pat Mills, [A] Mike McMahon. Slaine kills a monster who was being protected by his human mother. Mike McMahon’s art is effective, but somewhat hard to read. D.R. & Quinch: “D.R. & Quinch Go Straight! Part 2,” [W] Alan Moore, [A] Alan Davis. I’ve read the complete D.R. & Quinch before, but it’s fun to see these stories in their original context. This is the conclusion to their first story arc, in which the boys get revenge on Judge Thorkwung. It ends with a scene where the boys are about to feed a bellboy to some rippy fish. This series is probably the funniest thing Alan Moore has ever written, and Alan Davis draws some very weird and humorous aliens.
2000 AD #352 (IPC, 1984) – Slaine: “Sky Chariots Part 1,” [W] Pat Mills, [A] Mike McMahon. Journeying north to his tribe, Slaine bids his girlfriend goodbye, while Ukko says goodbye to his five girlfriends. Slaine is much more open about sex than other 2000 AD strips. Slaine and Ukko ride a mammoth to a village whose people are starving. Slaine lets the villagers eat the mammoth, but then some “skull-swords” show up. This story is followed by a two-page feature in which Mills describes some of his mythological sources. D.R. & Quinch: “D.R. & Quinch Go Girl Crazy! Part 1,” as above. To Quinch’s chagrin, D.R. falls in love with a prim and proper girl named Chrysoprasia. Rogue Trooper: “Colonel Kovert Part 3,” as above. Rogue finds himself marooned with the enemy soldiers. Dredd: “Mutie the Pig Part 2,” as above except [A] Ian Gibson. Dredd defeats and kills Mutie, who is in fact his old classmate Judge Gibson. This whole story was reprinted from progs 34 and 35. Strontium Dog: “The Killing Part 3,” as above. Wulf and Johnny eliminate some more of the competition.
2000 AD #353 (IPC, 1984) – Slaine: “Sky Chariots 2,” as above. The “skullswords” belong to the drune (evil druid) Slough Throt. They kill one of the villagers, and Slaine attacks them. D.R. & Quinch: “D.R. & Quinch Go Girl Crazy! Part 2,” as above. Quinch kidnaps Chrysoprasia in order to break her and D.R. up, but hilariously, Chryssie does a face-heel turn and becomes even more evil than D.R. Dredd: “The Highwaymen,” [W] John Wagner & Alan Grant, [A] Steve Dillon. Dredd fights a futuristic highwayman, who, like his ancient predecessors, ends by getting himself hanged. Rogue Trooper: “Colonel Kovert Part 4,” as above. Rogue disguises himself as a Nort and infiltrates the group of Nort soldiers, but his cover is blown when Colonel Kovert breaks radio silence and contacts him. On my first reading, I mistakenly thought that Kovert was one of the Norts. Strontium Dog: “The Killing Part 4,” as above. WUlf and Johnny kill some more competitors, but Wulf is poisoned.
LITTLE LULU #70 (Dell, 1954) – credits as above. “Two Lulus”: A toymaker makes a doll that looks identical to Lulu, and the real Lulu gets mixed up with the doll. “The Clown”: Lulu is sad that her doll is broken, so Tubby dresses in women’s clothing to cheer her up. After a series of mishaps, Tubby finds himself standing outside Lulu’s door in boxer shorts, and when Lulu seems him this way, she finally does laugh. “The Hunters”: Lulu stops the boys from hunting a rabbit. “Black Mumday”: The boys vow not to speak to any girls, on pain of being thrown out of the club. Lulu tricks all the boys into speaking with her. “Cats”: Tubby and Iggy attract a giant horde of stray cats. “A Bus to Fairyland”: Lulu tells Alvin a story in which the Poor Little Girl takes a disappointing trip to Fairyland. “Three Fathers”: Alvin dresses as a baby and makes the boys think they’re responsible for him. This gag, like the doll-girl confusion in the first story, only works because of Irving Tripp’s unrealistic art. With his style, it’s impossible to tell a real girl from a doll, or a little boy from a newborn.
THE COMPLEAT FART AND OTHER BODILY EMISSIONS (Kitchen Sink, 1976) – “The Compleat Fart” and other stories, [W/A] Lee Marrs. A series of short pieces about farts and bodily fluids. These stories are well-drawn and funny, but I’m not a big fan of scatological humor, and I didn’t like this comic as much as Lee Marrs’s other work.
SUPERMAN #348 (DC, 1980) – “The Master of Wind and Storm!”, [W] Gerry Conway, [A] Curt Swan. Superman fights an alien storm entity that was mistakenly summoned by an old Indian man. The Indian character in this story is a stereotype, but at least Conway tells us that he’s an old eccentric and all the local tribes have disavowed him – that is, he shouldn’t be taken as representative of all Indians.
DONALD DUCK ADVENTURES #15 (Gladstone, 1989) – “The Mad Chemist” and “The Sunken Yacht,” [W/A] Carl Barks. In “The Mad Chemist,” Donald becomes super-smart due to a chemistry experiment. He invents a gasoline substitute and uses it to build a rocket and fly to the moon, but when the rocket crashes, he forgets all his new knowledge. After this is a Gutenberghaus story, “Strange Adventures,” in which the nephews try to fool Donald into thinking aliens have invaded. But neither Donald nor the nephews realize that aliens really have invaded. In “The Sunken Yacht,” Donald discovers a sunken ship belonging to Scrooge, but Scrooge won’t pay Donald a fair price to raise the yacht, and he prevents Donald from obtaining any of the usual equipment needed for the job. The nephews come up with the idea of raising the ship by filling it with ping-pong balls. In 1964, a Danish man named Karl Krøyer used this method to raise a real sunken ship. Supposedly, he then tried to patent this method, but the Dutch patent office refused the patent because Krøyer’s method had already appeared in Barks’s comic. See https://www.iusmentis.com/patents/priorart/donaldduck/.
ACTION COMICS #314 (DC, 1964) – “The Day Superman Became the Flash!”, [W] Edmond Hamilton, [A] Al Plastino. A series of imaginary vignettes in which baby Kal-El is sent to planets other than Earth, and grows up to become Atom, Aquaman, Batman, Flash, and Green Arrow. The backup story, “Supergirl’s Foster Parents” by Dorfman and Mooney, is a lot better. Supergirl’s birth mother, Allura, is depressed at being separated from her daughter, so Zor-El and Allura decide to switch places with Fred and Edna Danvers. This story is touching because of how much Kara is loved by both her sets of parents.
MARVEL TWO-IN-ONE #78 (Marvel, 1981) – “Monster Man!”, [W] Tom DeFalco & David Michelinie, [A] Ron Wilson. Simon Williams, aka Wonder Man, appears in a TV show as a character who resembles the Thing. Jealous of his godson Franklin’s obsession with Simon, Ben tries to sue Simon for plagiarism. It doesn’t work, but Ben ends up having to team up with Simon, because the sponsor of Simon’s show is a disguised Xemnu the Titan. This is an extremely fun issue. I bought it years ago, and I should have read it sooner. Xemnu’s alias in this issue is Amos Moses, a reference to a Jerry Reed song. Simon’s director is named Ted Silverberg, perhaps after Robert Silverberg.
HELLBLAZER #7 (DC, 1988) – “Ghosts in the Machine,” [W] Jamie Delano, [A] John Ridgway with Brett Ewins. Constantine asks Ritchie, the last survivor of the Newcastle group, for assistance with the cult that’s been stalking Zed. But Ritchie gets himself killed while surfing the Internet, and meanwhile the cult kidnaps Zed.
2000 AD #354 (IPC, 1984) – Slaine: “Sky Chariots 3,” as above. Slaine loses his fight with the skullswords, but Slough Throt forcibly recruits him as a bodyguard, and they take off in Slough Throt’s flying ship. D.R. & Quinch: “D.R. & Quinch Go Girl Crazy! Part 3,” as above. Chryssie ruins D.R./Waldo’s play, but when Waldo is asked who did it, he blames Chryssie instead of Quinch, choosing friendship over love. Dredd: “Are You Tired of Being Mugged?” [W] John Wagner & Alan Grant, [A] Ian Gibson. An entrepreneur starts a “pedestrian escort agency” to deal with Mega-City One’s mugging epidemic. It starts off well, but the business collapses, and ironically, the entrepreneur is himself killed while trying to mug someone. Rogue Trooper: “Colonel Kovert Part 5,” as above. Colonel Kovert airlifts Rogue off the planet, but Rogue leaves behind the bag Kovert gave him. In the bag is a bomb that detonates and blows up the planet. Strontium Dog: “The Killing Part 5,” as above. Johnny saves Wulf’s life, but we’re reminded that for either of them to win the Killing, the other has to die.
2000 AD #355 (IPC, 1984) – Slaine: “Sky Chariots 4,” as above. Slaine discovers that the ship is carrying some of his zombified dead comrades. Then the ship flies into a storm sent by Slaine’s old enemy Slough Feg. D.R. & Quinch: “D.R. & Quinch Get Drafted Part 1,” as above. The boys join the army, which suits them fine because they get to use advanced weaponry, and then they’re sent to fight on an alien planet. Dredd: “Bob’s Law,” [W] John Wagner & Alan Grant, [A] Ian Gibson. The Judges decide to change the numbers of Mega-City One’s sectors, but this decision sparks massive protests. Dredd pays everyone to agree to use the new numbers instead of the old ones, then confiscates the money back by raising taxes. There are three Bob’s Laws, the first of which is “all it takes is one person to do something stupid and all the rest are sure to join in.” Rogue Trooper: “Colonel Kovert Part 6,” as above. Angry at Kovert’s deceptiveness, Rogue escapes from his ship, but Kovert vows that they’ll meet again. Strontium Dog: “The Killing Part 6,” as above. Johnny and Wulf fight Steelkreeg, one of their few remaining opponents.
DETECTIVE COMICS #652 (DC, 1992) – “Beyond the Law!”, [W] Chuck Dixon, [A] Graham Nolan. Batman and Huntress team up against some criminals from the fictional Balkan nation of Krasna-Volny (I think this means “red-free” or “red waves”). I don’t like the Helena Bertinelli Huntress nearly as much as the Helena Wayne version. Without the connection to Bruce Wayne, Huntress has little to distinguish her from other characters.
LITTLE LULU #59 (Dell, 1953) – credits as above. “The Fright Racket”: Lulu has to go upstairs in a haunted house in order to join the boys’ club. She succeeds, and also fools the boys into thinking their clubhouse is haunted. “Sawdust Trail”: A mean man hires the boys to get rid of his wife’s cat. Lulu saves the cat (though its fate is left somewhat ambiguous) and gets revenge on the boys. “The Comedian”: Tubby tries to throw a pie in Lulu’s face, but instead Annie throws eight pies in Tubby’s face. “The Outing”: Lulu locks herself out at night looking for a stray cat. She enlists Tubby’s aid to get herself back home. We are not told what happened to the cat. I hope it’s not the same cat as in “Sawdust Trail.” “Luluson Crusoe”: Lulu tells Alvin a story in which the Poor Little Girl is shipwrecked on an island and befriends a grossly fat “savage.” This story includes some unfortunate racist stereotypes. “The Manhunter”: Tubby wrongly accuses two men of being the robber Barry Burgle. The real Barry Burgle is the cop who was assisting Tubby.
2000 AD #357 (IPC, 1984) – Slaine: “Sky Chariots 6,” as above. Slaine’s ship is attacked by enemy ships, and a huge battle results. Mike McMahon’s fight scenes are powerful, but, again, rather hard to read. D.R. & Quinch: “D.R. & Quinch Get Drafted Part 3,” as above. D.R. and Quinch find themselves in the same cell as Pulger, from their first story. They escape from their cell into another one, which contains none other than Chrysoprasia. This chapter begins and ends with D.R.’s hilariously bad poetry. Dredd: “Citizen Snork Part 2: The Making of a Nose,” [W] John Wagner & Alan Grant, [A] Ron Smith. A man named Snork grows a giant nose, but becomes rivals with Bung, who has an equally long nose. A criminal called the Collector steals Bung’s nose. Strontium Dog: “The Killing Part 8,” as above. Johnny and Wulf defeat Steelkreeg, and now their only surviving rivals are the Osmongs. Time Twisters: “The Great Infinity Inc. Foul-Up Part 2,” [W] Chris Lowder (as Jack Adrian), [A] Jesus Redondo. A mischievous boy named Jimmy Jiss-Cohen joins a time travel tour and causes the destruction of Pompeii and the Great Fire of Rome. Jimmy’s tour guides marooon him in the 12th century, ensuring that he’ll grow up to be Genghis Khan.
MARVEL COMICS PRESENTS #64 (Marvel, 1990) – Wolverine/Ghost Rider: “Acts of Vengeance Part 1 of 8: Ghosts of the Past,” [W] Howard Mackie, [A] Mark Texeira. Wolverine and Ghost Rider have separate encounters with Deathwatch’s minions. Poison: “Vandals of the Heart Part 5: Injuries,” [W] Steve Gerber, [A] Cindy Martin. This is the only story in the issue by a good writer, but its plot makes no sense. It’s about a woman named Poison and a grossly fat mobster, the Slug. Fantastic Four: “Deadly Dimensions Part 1: Common Sense,” [W] Robert DeNatale, [A] Mike Harris. On his night off, Reed accidentally summons a pale-skinned alien dude. Blade: “Vampires,” [W] Marcus McLaurin, [A] Malcolm Davis. Blade saves his girlfriend Saffron from some fake vampires. It’s weird that Blade has never had a successful solo comic, given his success as a film franchise.
DEATH RATTLE #3 (Kitchen Sink, 1986) – “A Dead Man’s Chest,” [W/A] Doug Hansen. In 1856, a passenger on a ship is thrown overboard. Three poor children find his coins, fan and whistle, but they all go on to suffer gruesome and unusual fates, and his belongings ultimately return to their owner under the sea. This story is well-drawn and has a well-constructed narrative with a broad historical scope. I don’t know much about Doug Hansen, but this story suggests that he was very talented. “Bulto… The Cosmic Slug!”, [W/A] Jack Jackson: A story that blends myth and history, in which an Apache named Xotl discovers the spoor of a cosmic monster. “Mind Siege!”, [W/A] Steve Stiles: Some soldiers fight a cosmic monster that causes madness. This story ends with two subtly different versions of the same page: one version where the soldiers win, and another where it seems as though they only think they’ve won.
SILVER STAR #2 (Pacific, 1983) – “The Others!”, [W/A] Jack Kirby. This story feels like a retread of older Kirby comics. Its hero and villain, Silver Star and Darius Drumm, resemble Orion and Darkseid. But even mediocre late Kirby is still Kirby. This issue has a backup story by Richard Kyle and D. Bruce Berry. It’s a piece of historical fiction set in New York in 1894.
FLASH #16 (DC, 1988) – “The Adventures of Speed McGee Part 1,” [W] William Messner-Loebs, [A] Greg LaRocque. Wally breaks up with his much older, married girlfriend Tina McGee, then fights some dude in a white and blue costume, and then Vandal Savage kidnaps Wally’s landlord’s child. This was the second issue after the departure of Mike Baron, whose depiction of Wally West was wildly inconsistent with any other version of the character before or since. At this point in his run, Messner-Loebs was still tying up Baron’s loose plot threads.
SPIDER-MAN 2099 #8 (Marvel, 2015) – untitled, [W] Peter David, [A] Will Sliney. I missed this issue when I was trying to read all the issues of this series that I had. This issue is a Spider-Verse crossover in which not very much happens.
2000 AD #359 (IPC, 1984) – Slaine: “Sky Chariots 8,” as above. D.R. & Quinch: “D.R. & Quinch Get Drafted Part 5,” as above. D.R., Quinch and friends get caught in a standoff between two armies, but Quinch’s gigantic mother appears and saves them. D.R. has a profound realization about the origins of war, but forgets it at once. Dredd: “The Haunting of Sector House 9,” [W] John Wagner & Alan Grant, [A] Brett Ewins. An old sector house (police station) is haunted by something we don’t get to see yet. This story begins with an impressively drawn crowd scene, with a lot of simultaneous dialogue. Rogue Trooper: “You Only Die Twice Part 2,” [W] Gerry Finley-Day, [A] Cam Kennedy. Gunnar is destroyed, and Rogue has to complete a mission without him. Strontium Dog: “The Killing Part 10,” [W] Alan Grant, [A] Carlos Ezquerra. Johnny and Wulf kill the Osmongs, but instead of trying to kill each other, they abandon the competition, content with the bounties they’ve already collected. Since the competition was left incomplete, its sponsors are forced to kill themselves.
SAVAGE DRAGON #168 (Image, 2011) – “This Ravaged World,” [W/A] Erik Larsen. A somewhat confusing conclusion to the Emperor Dragon epic. This issue also includes a backup story, by Hyeondo Park, that makes no sense at all.
DETECTIVE COMICS #584 (DC, 1986) – “Fever Break!”, [W] John Wagner & Alan Grant, [A] Norm Breyfogle. In their second appearance ever, the Ventriloquist and Scarface run a scheme to smuggle drugs into America inside a fat man’s corpse. Having read so much 2000 AD, I can now see how the Ventriloquist and Scarface are similar to Wagner and Grant’s wacky characters from Judge Dredd. In this issue, Wagner and Grant heavily emphasize Scarface’s habit of pronouncing “b” as “g”. The reason for this is that ventriloquists have to speak without moving their lips, so they can’t pronounce “b”.
2000 AD #371 (IPC, 1984) – Strontium Dog: “Outlaw! Part 9,” [W] Alan Grant, [A] Carlos Ezquerra. Anti-mutant politician Nelson Bunker Kreelman hires Stix and his identical brother to hunt down Johnny, who is in fact Kreelman’s son. One-shot: “The Domino Theory!”, [W] Martin Feekins, [A] Ian Gibson. An alien domino-toppler tries to set the record for the most dominoes knocked down. He fails, and the unfallen dominoes become Stonehenge. Dredd: “Super Bowl Part 2,” [W John Wagner & Alan Grant, [A] Kim Raymond. Dredd tries to protect one of the teams in the Super Bowl from a terrorist threat. The threat turns out to be a hoax, and Dredd arrests half the team for petty crimes, causing them to lose the game 94 to 0. This story introduced Judge Dekker. Future Shocks: “Bill Tompkins Meets… Bill Tompkins!”, [W] Peter Milligan, [A] José Casanovas. Bill Tompkins has a nightmare where everyone he meets has his face. When he wakes up, a man with his face is at the door. Bill kills the man, who is in fact his long-lost twin brother. Rogue Trooper: “Message from Milli-Com 3: The Officers’ Mess,” [W] Gerry Finley-Day, [A] Cam Kennedy. Rogue leads some new recruits on a training course.
THE MIGHTY THOR #11 (Marvel, 2012) – “The Mighty Tanarus 4: The Asgardian,” [W] Matt Fraction, [A] Pasqual Ferry & Pepe Larraz. Everyone forgets about Thor and thinks the god of thunder is Tanarus. Meanwhile, Thor fights the Demogorgon. This comic is kind of average, but Pasqual Ferry’s art is unusual and impressive. His first name is alternately spelled Pascual.
PUMA BLUES #5 (Aardvark-Vanaheim, 1987) – “In the Empire of the Senses,” [W] Stephen Murphy, [A] Michael Zulli. A mostly wordless story that depicts a puma hunting at night, as well as various other animals. This comic feels like a symphony because of its use of sound effects below every panel. There’s a constant “tsip-TSIP” that represents the sound of either water or insects, but this bass rhythm is punctuated by the louder sounds of other animals.
TANTALIZING STORIES #3 (Tundra, 1993) – Frank: untitled, [W/A] Jim Woodring. Frank visits the seashore and encounters a creature with an eerie giant smile. Like most Frank stories, this story is beautifully drawn but doesn’t follow conventional narrative logic. Montgomery Wart: “A Faulty Connection,” [W/A] Mark Martin. A “love bug” tries to make Montgomery Wart fall in love. Mark Martin is heavily influenced by Walt Kelly. This issue also includes an installment of Woodring’s “Chip and Monk.”
LITTLE ARCHIE #159 (Archie, 1980) – “The New Man” and other stories, [W/A] Dexter Taylor? The only story in this issue that’s not explicitly credited to Dexter Taylor is the first one, but it doesn’t look like Bolling to me, so I’m not sure why I bought this issue to begin with. The stories in this issue are okay but forgettable.
NEW LOVE #2 (Fantagraphics, 1996) – “Letters from Venus: Life on Mars” etc., [W/A] Gilbert Hernandez. In this issue’s first long story, Fritz and Petra attend a party full of people in bizarre costumes. This story reminds me of that one early Palomar story that took place at an outdoor party, and was full of Easter eggs. There’s also “The Fabulous Ones,” about some naked cavemen who kill each other in order to eat each other’s brains and gain their knowledge. And then “Peripeteia,” about a vain woman and her love gremlins. Between the longer stories are one-page biographies of saints.
TUROK, SON OF STONE #96 (Gold Key, 1975) – “Test of Manhood” and “The Man Who Believed,” [W] unknown, [A] José Delbo. In the first story, Andar passes his test of manhood, enabling Turok to teach him their tribe’s secrets. Turok is sometimes described as a Kiowa, but in this story he prays to “Wakan Tanka,” a name associated with Lakota people. In the backup story, Turok and Andar meet a man who can climb the impassable cliffs surrounding Lost Valley. But then the man loses the stone that he thinks is responsible for his climbing skill, and he becomes unable to climb. This story is an example of how Turok’s plot could never go anywhere, because if Turok and Andar ever escaped the valley, the series would end.
ACTION COMICS #543 (DC, 1983) – “In These Hands – Power!”, [W] Marv Wolfman, [A] Curt Swan. Superman fights a nuclear-powered villain named Neutron, while Lois tries to interview two rival Middle Eastern leaders. This issue includes a touching conversation between Superman and Lois at the North Pole, but the rest of the issue is mediocre.
2000 AD #377 (IPC, 1984) – Strontium Dog: “Outlaw! Part 15,” as above. In the water world of Och-Il, the Stix brothers kill Middenface McNulty and kidnap Johnny, only Middenface’s death is revealed to have been faked. Like McNulty, the people of Och-Il all have exaggerated Scottish clothes and accents. Halo Jones: “A Little Night Music,” [W] Alan Moore, [A] Ian Gibson. I may have read this story before, but if so, it was several years ago, and I read it in an awful Quality reprint. In this story Halo and her friend Rodice go to their friend Ludy’s concert. They almost get mugged on the way home, but the muggers leave them alone out of respect for Ludy’s music. Back at home, they realize they’re out of food and have to go shopping. Halo Jones was one of Alan’s earliest major works, and Halo was probably 2000 AD’s best female protagonist yet. Dredd: “Angel Part 1,” [W] John Wagner & Alan Grant, [A] Ron Smith. Judge Dredd recruits Mean Machine Angel to visit the Cursed Earth and recover some stolen judge clones, though Mean thinks they’re looking for the loot from Liberace’s tomb. Also, due to brain surgery, Mean thinks Dredd is his father. Mean must have been a popular villain, because this is the third story I’ve read in which he appears. Future Shocks: “Doing Time!”, [W] Alan Hebden, [A] John Ridgway. Due to a faulty time travel device, a scientist destroys the same town twice. Rogue Trooper: “Message from Milli-Com 9: Souther vs. Souther,” as above. Rogue defeats a traitor named Coogan, but gets no credit for it.
METAL MEN #50 (DC, 1977) – “Our Mentor, the Robot,” [W] Martin Pasko & Robert Kanigher, [A] Joe Staton & Ross Andru. A heavily edited reprint of Metal Men #6, in which Will Magnus turns into a robot and creates an evil Gas Gang. There’s also a four-page framing sequence. For this reprint, the original story from Metal Men #6 was compressed from 23 and 2/3 pages to 13 pages, rendering it nearly incoherent.
SLOW DEATH #11 (Last Gasp, 1992) – [E] Ron Turner. This was the first and only issue since 1979, although another issue is in the works. It begins with Tom Veitch’s tribute to Greg Irons, who had died eight years earlier. Most of the material in this issuee is quite old. Highlights include: “Cold Snap,” [W] Alan Moore, [A] Bryan Talbot: A story about intelligent dinosaurs observing the ice age, reprinted from a 1985 famine relief comic. “Darnold Duck”, [W/A] Greg Irons: “Darnold” Duck is caught in an oil spill. “Super Cosmic Creator Comix,” [W/A] Wally Wood: An artist uses the secret words “Ben Day” to become a comics mogul. Woody’s art here is beautiful. This story is dated 1977, and seems to have been published elsewhere in other versions. “Gregor Baboon,” [W/A] Greg Irons: A story about a suicidal, anthropomorphic baboon. This may have been Irons’s last work. In his two stories in this issue, Irons uses thicker linework and fewer screentones than in Deviant Slice, and his art looks more polished. This issue’s centerfold is a giant poster with all sorts of information about deforestation. It’s very tedious to read because there’s a ton of text and it’s reproduced way too small.
2000 AD #380 (IPC, 1984) – Strontium Dog: “Outlaw! Part 18,” as above. Middenface and his other allies head to Kreelman’s headquarters to look for Johnny. Halo Jones: “The Wild Brown Yonder,” as above. Halo and Rodice leave their giant edifice for a shopping trip. Rodice goes crazy from agoraphobia, and then she and Halo get mugged again. Dredd: “Angel Part 4,” as above. Dredd finds one of the infant clones dead, and Mean starts to realize that Dredd isn’t his father. Ace: “On the Dangle 3,” [W] Alan Grant, [A] Massimo Belardinelli (miscredited to Carlos Ezquerra). Ace and his crew party with some space pirates, and the head pirate orders Ace to murder a shaggy-headed dancing girl. Rogue Trooper: “Blind Terror Part 2,” [W] Gerry Finley-Day, [A] Steve Dillon. Rogue goes blind and puts his chips in the wrong pieces of equipment, but still manages to complete his mission.
Finally done. It took me about two weeks to finish writing this round of reviews.