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Reviews for part of September

9-29

SPIDER-WOMAN #49 (Marvel, 1983) – “Runaway!”, [W] Ann Nocenti, [A] Brian Postman. Spider-Woman and Tigra team up to find a runaway teenager with pyrokinetic powers. I don’t much like Ann Nocenti’s writing because it tends to be weird and incoherent, in a bad way. And she could have done more with the dynamics between Jen and Greer. This issue isn’t terrible, though. Brian Postman only did a few stories for Marvel in the early ‘80s. 

2000 AD #404 (IPC, 1985) – Rogue Trooper: “Re-Gene 4: Eye of the G.I.,” [W] Gerry Finley-Day, [A] Cam Kennedy. Rogue secretlyacquires the location of an “antigen” that can restore Bagman, Gunnar and Helm’s bodies. Future Shocks: “Crazy War,” [W] Peter Milligan, [A] Tony Jozwiak. During an alien invasion, some rich people hide underground in a bunker. Their loyal robots deceive them by playing false recordings about the progress of the invasion. Discovering this, the rich people disable the robots and return to the surface – only to discover that the aliens have already won the war, and the robots were just trying to protect their masters. Nemesis: “Book Four,” [W] Pat Mills, [A] Bryan Talbot. A four-page fight scene between Nemesis and Torquemada. I think I’m finally starting to understand this series. Dredd: “City of the Damned,” [W] John Wagner & Alan Grant, [A] Steve Dillon. Dredd and Anderson battle the Mutant, Dredd’s future self. Stainless Steel Rat: “The Stainless Steel Rat for President,” [W] Kelvin Gosnell, [A] Carlos Ezquerra. Jim DeGriz runs for president of an alien planet. He fakes his own death and escapes the planet with a lot of money. This was the last installment of 2000 AD’s adaptations of these novels, and I don’t know if they ever published another literary adaptation. The Hell Trekkers: untitled, [W] John Wagner & Alan Grant (as F. Martin Candor), [A] Horacio Lalia. An “Oregon Trail” story about settlers traveling through the Cursed Earth. 

BROTHERS OF THE SPEAR #11 (Gold Key, 1974) – “The Spider’s Nest,” [W] Gaylord Du Bois, [A] Jesse Santos. Zulena and a bunch of Aba-Zulu men are kidnapped by slavers. Sihamba the “little doctoress” helps Dan-El and Natongo rescue them. This is a somewhat formulaic but entertaining story. In Zoe D. Smith’s brilliant essay “4 Colorism, or, the Ashiness of It All,” she begins by discussing this exact comic, and she mentions that the black people in it are actually colored green.  https://womenwriteaboutcomics.com/2019/05/4-colorism-or-the-ashiness-of-it-all/ I honestly did not notice this, partly because I’m so used to Gold Key’s style of coloring, but also, of course, because of white privilege. 

NEW MUTANTS #55 (Marvel, 1987) – “Flying Wild!”, [W] Louise Simonson, [A] Bret Blevins. Sam and the other New Mutants go to Lila Cheney’s album release party. Some alien criminals convince Sam to take barbiturates, and then kidnap him. Lila and the other kids rescue Sam. As I’ve said before, Sam and Lila’s “romance” is really creepy. But there is some cute stuff in this issue – like the princess dress Dani and Illyana make for Rahne, and the signs of a budding  puppy-love affair between Rahne and Doug. (Who, of course, did not have long to live.) 

ROYALS #2 (Marvel, 2017) – “We Are the Dead,” [W] Al Ewing, [A] Jonboy Meyers & Thony Silas. The Inhumans fight a bunch of Chitauri. Due to the lack of Javier Rodriguez art, this issue is much less interesting than #10. 

THE AUTHORITY #14 (WildStorm, 2000) – “The Nativity Two of Four,” [W] Mark Millar, [A] Frank Quitely. Another onslaught of ultraviolent, offensive, macho crap. This comic is valuable only for Frank Quitely’s artwork. 

MIDNIGHTER #4 (DC, 2015) – untitled, [W] Steve Orlando, [A] Steve Mooney. Midnighter and Dick Grayson team up against some Russian mobsters who are pretending to be vampires. This is a pretty fun issue. Orlando seems to have some knowledge of Russian culture, as also displayed in Crude, and he plays up the homoerotic tensions between Midnighter and Dick. 

SCALPED #11 (Vertigo, 2008) – “Casino Boogie Conclusion: Requiem for a Dog Soldier,” [W] Jason Aaron, [A] R.M. Guera. This issue focuses on Gina, a woman who was somehow involved in the event at the origin of the series’ plot, i.e. the shooting of two FBI officers 31 years ago. We see Gina forming a plan to get Lawrence Belcourt out of prison, and then she returns to Prairie Rose Reservation and is murdered off-panel. I’ve started collecting this series more actively. 

ACTION COMICS #708 (DC, 1995) – “Moving Miracle!”, [W] David Michelinie, [A] Jackson Guice. Superman and Mr. Miracle team up against a villain called Deathtrap. There’s also a cameo appearace by the as-yet-unidentified Conduit. This issue is okay but not the best. 

POWER MAN AND IRON FIST #105 (Marvel, 1984) – “Competition!”, [W] Kurt Busiek, [A] Richard Howell. A new hero called Crime-Buster starts stealing business from Heroes for Hire. This is all the more annoying because Crime-Buster is a showboating egomaniac. Finally, Luke, Danny and Crime-Buster are all hired to defuse a hostage situation at Madison Square Garden. When Crime-Buster finds a bomb that’s about to go off, he runs away in terror, thus branding himself as a coward, while Luke and Danny defuse the bomb and are hailed as heroes. Kurt’s work from this very early part of his career is mostly undistinguished, but this issue is quite good. 

L.E.G.I.O.N. ’93 #61 (DC, 1993) – “Death of the Party!”, [W] Tom Peyer, [A] Arnie Jorgensen. The LEGION saves an alien president from assassination, and also they get an unwanted new recruit called Gigantus. This issue is rather forgettable. 

2000 AD #406 (IPC, 1985) – Halo Jones: “A Postcard from Pluto,” [W] Alan Moore, [A] Ian Gibson. Book 2 begins by introducing us to Halo’s new life aboard a spaceship. There’s some excellent dialogue in this installment, but no major plot points. Rogue Trooper: “Re-Gene 6: Decisions, Decisions,” as above. Rogue escapes the ship and heads for the planet of Horst, where the antigen is. Dredd: as above except [A] Ron Smith. Dredd and Anderson go to the planet of Xanadu and defeat the Mutant. Dredd gets a new pair of superpowered bionic eyes. Nemesis: as above. Nemesis and the ABC Warriors defeat Torquemada, Futruree  Torquemada’s apparent death is faked. This story includes some small hints of the steampunk themes of Talbot’s Luther Arkwright saga. The Hell Trekkers: as above. One of the migrants shoots a Cursed Earth mutant, and the other migrants allow the mutants to kill the offender in exchange for a guarantee of safety. 

MARVEL TEAM-UP #3 (Marvel, 2005) – “Golden Child,” [W] Robert Kirkman, [A] Scott Kolins. Dr. Strange and the Fantastic Four team up against Dr. Doom, but at the end of the issue, we learn that it’s Tony Stark inside Dr. Doom’s armor. This issue is kind of average, but it’s entertaining. This Marvel Team-Up revival was probably the most successful one besides the original. 

FUTURE QUEST PRESENTS #10 (DC, 2018) – “Animan Runs Rampant!”, [W] Rob Williams, [A] Aaron Lopresti. Animan kills all the other Herculoids, and then turns Dorno into a god. I don’t like this story arc very much. It’s overly grim and it doesn’t match the tone of other Future Quest stories. 

STAR TREK #34 (Gold Key, 1975) – “The Psychocrystals,” [W] Arnold Drake, [A] Alberto Giolitti. Kirk and his officers visit a utopian planet of living crystals. The crystal people are unable to commit violence, so when they get attacked by a dragon, Kirk has to defeat it for them. This comic includes nothing very interesting. 

SUPERMAN #388 (DC, 1983) – “The Kid Who Played Superman!”, [W] Cary Bates, [A] Curt Swan. Clark meets Mickey Morris, a little boy who enjoys pretending to be Superman. Mickey also has psychic abilities that enable him to see aliens no one else can see. Meanwhile, Lois and Lana get in an embarrassing catfight in public. This story is kind of cute, but it’s not “The Kid Who Collects Spider-Man”. 

2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY #10 (Marvel, 1977) – “Hotline to Hades!”, [W/A] Jack Kirby. Machine Man battles a demon that’s hostile to free will. The demon is eventually revealed to really be a computer. This story has a similar theme to the Fourth World saga – the battle between chaotic free will and orderly oppression – although 2001 is definitely not as good as the Fourth World comics. 

WONDER WOMAN #306 (DC, 1983) – “Secrets and Suspicions!”, [W] Dan Mishkin, [A] Don Heck. Diana’s landlord, a retired senator, has a heart attack, and then someone tries to kidnap him on the way to the hospital. Eventually we learn that the senator was a traitor. This period of Wonder Woman was not awful, but it tended to have rather boring plots. This issue includes a bad Huntress backup story. 

KORG: 70,000 BC #3 (Charlton, 1975) – “Land of Milk and Honey!”, [W/A] Pat Boyette. Korg and his wife are separated from their children while fleeing from an ice age. Eventually Korg’s wife is kidnapped by a mysterious man who lives inside a giant stone statue and claims to have psychic powers. This comic isn’t as exciting as it sounds from that summary. 

POWER MAN AND IRON FIST #51 (Marvel, 1978) – “A Night on the Town,” [W] Chris Claremont, [A] Don Heck. Harlem is terrorized by robots under the control of Dr. Nightshade. This issue includes some high-quality characterization and dialogue, but its plot is very boring. 

GHOSTLY HAUNTS #21 (Charlton, 1971) – “The Scariest Picture of Them All!”, [W] Joe Gill?, [A] Charles Nicholas: I don’t remember this one at all. “Old Soldiers Never Die!”, [W] Joe Gill?, [A] Fred Himes: An old man in a nursing home has dreams where he’s fighting in Vietnam. The dreams turn real, and the man dies a brave death in combat. This is the only good story in the issue. “The Man Who Refused to Die,” [W] Joe Gill?, [A] Norman Nodel: A man narrowly escapes death multiple times. The twist ending is that he’s trying to die, and he can’t. 

On September 4, I received a large DCBS shipment, consisting of over a month’s worth of comics: 

LUMBERJANES: FAREWELL TO SUMMER FCBD SPECIAL 2020 (Boom!, 2020) – multiple stories, [E] Sophie Philips-Roberts. This is the first new Lumberjanes comic book since March, but sadly it’s also one of the last Lumberjanes comic books – more on that later. This FCBD edition consists of five vignettes by former Lumberjanes artists. I think the best is Maarta Laiho’s story about Bubbles. 

MY LITTLE PONY: FRIENDSHIP IS MAGIC #89 (IDW, 2020) – “Twilight’s First Sunrise,” [W] Jeremy Whitley, [A] Andy Price. This takes place after the FCBD issue, which I hadn’t gotten yet. After Twilight raises the sun for the first time, four different groups of characters head off to explore different previously unseen areas beyond Equestria. We start with Applejack, Tempest Shadow, Rockhoof and Zecora, who are going to visit Zecora’s homeland, the Farasian Coast. Zecora’s origins are a big gap in MLP’s narrative, and it’s nice to finally get some background on her. As usual, Jeremy’s writing is excellent and Andy’s artwork is gorgeous and full of Easter eggs.

ONCE AND FUTURE #10 (Boom!, 2020) – untitled, [W] Kieron Gillen, [A] Dan Mora. Duncan forces a cab driver to take him to Gran’s nursing home, just in time for it to be attacked by Grendel. This issue is heavy on action sequences, but it does mention that Beowulf only exists in one manuscript, which hardly anyone read until the 19th century. How many other writers of Beowulf adaptations would know these things? I get the sense that Kieron knows at least as much about medieval literature as an advanced undergrad or an MA student. 

FANTASTIC FOUR #22 (Marvel, 2020) – “You Had One Job,” [W] Dan Slott, [A] Paco Medina & Sean Izaakse. Alicia, Sky and the kids recruit the new Fantastic Four, the same ones from FF #347-349, to fight invading Priests of Pama. We later discover that the Hulk and Ghost Rider are  holograms, and the new FF is actually Franklin, Val, Spider-Man and Wolverine. This issue is fun, though not Dan’s best. 

ALIENATED #5 (Boom!, 2020) – “Duty First,” [W] Simon Spurrier, [A] Chris Wildgoose. Having been rejected from Waxy’s YouTube contest, Samuel sneaks in to see him in person, then uses Chip’s powers to murder him. Samuel then tries to disguise himself as Waxy, but that doesn’t work either. Then Samuel goes to the hospital and murders a bunch more people. So Alienated is turning into a story about white male radicalization. I didn’t expect it to go that direction. In this issue Chris Wildgoose does an excellent job of depicting Chip’s powers and his alien planet. 

FAR SECTOR #7 (DC, 2020) – untitled, [W] N.K. Jemisin, [A] Jamal Campbell. The day I wrote this, N.K. Jemisin was announced as having won a MacArthur Genius Grant. This issue, Jo visits the world of the @At, the AI people, who use jokes and information as currency. Jemisin’s depiction of the @At is a good example of her ability to shift the reader’s perspective and make readers see things in unexpected ways. 

USAGI YOJIMBO #11 (Dark Horse, 2020) – “The Return, Part One,” [W/A] Stan Sakai. Usagi is nursed back to health by Mariko, and he tells a story of his childhood exploits with Mariko and Kenichi. It soon becomes clear that the love triangle between Usagi, Mariko and Kenichi has not changed at all. At the end of the issue, a former Mifune samurai tries to recruit Usagi in a plot against Lord Hikiji. 

MY LITTLE PONY/TRANSFORMERS #1 (IDW, 2020) – “Transformation is Magic,” [W] James Asmus, [A] Tony Fleecs, and “Shine Like a Diamond,” [W] Ian Flynn, [A] Jack Lawrence. In the intro sequence, Queen Chrysalis summons the Transformers – her fellow “changelings” – from Cybertron. Then she allies with Megatron, while the Mane Six ally with the Autobots. In the backup story, Arcee helps Rarity defend her boutique from Starscream. This comic is well aware of how absurd its premise is – it begins with Quibble Pants complaining about “nonsense crossover stories” that don’t fit into any continuity. So far, the writers are successfully exploiting the humor potential of this crossover. 

WICKED THINGS #4 (Boom!, 2020) – untitled, [W] John Allison, [A] Max Sarin. Lottie fails to solve the smartphone thefts, but she does earn some respect from the police. This is a really funny issue, and Wicked Things is easily the best of John Allison’s post-Giant-Days comics. It is kind of odd that the series’ initial plotline about the Japanese detective has been abandoned, though it comes up again in issue 5. 

FANTASTIC FOUR #23 (Marvel, 2020) – “War Games,” [W] Dan Slott, [A] Paco Medina. The new FF rescue the Kree and Skrull kids from the Priests of Pama. I believe that this story is continued in Empire Fallout: Fantastic Four #1, which I did not order. 

On September 5, I went back to Heroes for their annual warehouse sale. The Heroes staff did a great job organizing this event while maintaining social distancing. In addition to picking up new comics, I bought about 80 back issues for a dollar each. I could have bought even more, but I had to stop because the heat was getting oppressive. 

LEGION OF SUPER-HEROES #8 (DC, 2020) – “The Trial of the Legion of Super-Heroes – Part 1,” [W] Brian Michael Bendis, [A] Various. This two-parter is an “all-star artist event” in which each page is drawn by a different artist. This issue is a lot of fun because of all the different art styles it displays, and also because it finally gives us some background on the Legionnaires. Until this issue I didn’t even realize which character was Phantom Girl. However, Bendis’s dialogue and plotting are still terrible. 

SEA OF STARS #6 (Image, 2020) – “The People of the Broken Moon,” [W] Jason Aaron & Dennis Hallum, [A] Stephen Green. In part one of the new storyline, the Zzaztek lady rescues Kadyn from the crazy old priest, while Gil starts looking for Kadyn all over again. I’m glad this series is back. 

WE ONLY FIND THEM WHEN THEY’RE DEAD #1 (Boom!, 2020) – “Eight Bells, All’s Well,” [W] Al Ewing, [A] Simone Di Meo. Al Ewing’s first major creator-owned series (as far as I know) is about a crew of spacefarers who harvest the flesh of dead gods. Literally, there are giant dead gods floating in space, and there are people who make a living stripping their bodies and selling them. It’s kind of like Moby Dick in space. In particular, when Ewing and DiMeo depict the processing of the godflesh, I’m reminded me of Melville’s descriptions of how blubber was stripped from whales and rendered. Di Meo’s artwork creatse a strong sense of wonder. This is a strong debut issue, and I’m excited to see more of this series. 

INKBLOT #1 (Image, 2020) – untitled, [W] Rusty Gladd, [A] Emma Kubert. The Seeker is an immortal, a member of a family somewhat like the Endless. One day she falls asleep, spills some black ink, and accidentally creates a cat with dimension-hopping powers. This series’ fantasy elements are somewhat trite, but the cat is incredibly adorable – I love how it’s just a black blotch with eyes and no mouth. Emma Kubert is a third-generation cartoonist: her father is Andy Kubert and her grandfather was Joe Kubert. 

AMETHYST #5 (DC, 2020) – “In Deep,” [W/A] Amy Reeder. Amy goes to trial before the court of House Diamond. They tell her a very different version of her origin story, in which the villains are Amy’s biological parents, rather than Dark Opal. Amy escapes from the court and returns to the Aquamarine realm, only to discover that Dark Opal is heading for Mount Ruby. I wish this was an ongoing series. It’s a shame that there’s just one more issue. 

STRANGE ADVENTURES #5 (DC, 2020) – “On the Other Hand,” [W] Tom King, [A] Mitch Gerads & Evan “Doc” Shaner. In flashback, Adam and Alanna negotiate with the other tribes of Rann. In the present, they negotiate with the US government. This issue isn’t bad, but I really want to learn more about the Pykkts. 

THOR, GOD OF THUNDER #13 (Marvel, 2013) – “The Accursed Part One: The Great Niffleheim Escape or The Svartalfheim Massacre,” [W] Jason Aaron, [A] Ron Garney. Some Dark Elves rescue Malekith from Niflheim. Later, Malekith invades Svartalfheim, and Thor and the other Asgardians come to the rescue. Starting with this issue, Jason Aaron turned Malekith from a historical footnote into one of Thor’s scariest villains. 

SUICIDE SQUAD #32 (DC, 1989) – “Steel Trap,” [W] John Ostrander & Kim Yale, [A] Grant Miehm. The Squad infiltrates Iran to rescue a kidnapped Iranian-American. One of the Squad members on the mission is Major Victory, a hardcore jingoist. Meanwhile, Lashina kidnaps Big Barda. Like many of Ostrander and Yale’s Suicide Squad stories, this issue is heavily influenced by contemporary politics. There’s one panel where Shade scares off some Iranian soldiers by showing them a vision of Ayatollah Khomeini. 

THUNDERBOLTS #138 (Marvel, 2010) – untitled, [W] Jeff Parker, [A] Miguel Sepulveda. As I have observed before, this series is Marvel’s version of Suicide Squad. This issue is a Dark Reign crossover in which the Thunderbolts go to Colombia to retrieve their missing member, Mr. X. Most of the Thunderbolts in this issue are different from the ones who appeared later in the run, with the exception of Ghost and Crossbones. 

AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #559 (Marvel, 2008) –“The Money $hot,” [W] Dan Slott, [A] Marcos Martin. Spidey battles Screwball, a new villainess who commits crimes in order to upload them to YouTube. Also, Peter starts on the path toward becoming a paparazzi. Screwball was an original idea for a villain, especially in 2008, and her costume is really cool. And Marcos Martin’s storytelling and page layouts in this issue are incredible. 

USAGI YOJIMBO #12 (IDW, 2020) – “The Return Part Two,” [W/A] Stan Sakai. Kato asks Usagi to help him assassinate a traveling emissary of the shogun, so that Lord Hikiji will take the blame. Shockingly, Usagi agrees to this plot even though it’s dishonorable and would cause horrible collateral damage, and he also slaps his old nurse Yayoi and threatens Mariko. The reader is led to believe that Usagi’s head injury has turned him evil. Thankfully, it turns out that Usagi is putting on an act in order to gain the Mifune samurai’s trust, and he really wants to save the emissary. Usagi and Kenji go off to battle while Mariko leaves town to seek help. I can’t wait for the next issue. 

MY LITTLE PONY: FRIENDSHIP IS MAGIC FCBD 2020 (IDW, 2020) – untitled, [W] Jeremy Whitley, [A] Trish Fortner. The Mane Six help Twilight raise the sun for the first time. In a backup story by Christina Rice and Tony Fleecs, Twilight gets Cheese Sandwich to throw a birthday party for Pinkie Pie. There’s not much suggestion of romance between Pinkie and Cheese; their marriage in the final episode of season 9 seemed to come out of left field. One advantage of the comics over the TV show is that the comic’s writers can use whatever characters they want, since they don’t have to worry about paying the voice actors. 

TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES #108 (IDW, 2020) – untitled, [W] Sophie Campbell & Ronda Pattison, [A] Nelson Daniel. The Turtles rescue the kidnapped kids from the Slithery, but not before Baxter Stockman succeeds in his secret plot to retrieve one of the Slithery’s eggs. I like this series because of the characters’ warm and caring relationships – although warmth and tenderness are not necessarily the qualities I would expect from this franchise. 

THE MAN WHO F#&%ED UP TIME #5 (AfterShock, 2020) – “Future Imperfect,” [W] John Layman, [A] Karl Mostert. Sean figures out that all three of his labmates used holographic disguises to frame him for f#&%ing up time. Sean restores the timestream and destroys the time machine, and things end happily, except that there are still dinosaurs and airships and stuff. This was a fun series. On Twitter, I asked John Layman how he kept track of all the timelines in this comic, and he replied “Never. Write. Time. Travel.” 

DIE #13 (Image, 2020) – “Little Wars,” [W] Kieron Gillen, [A] Stephanie Hans. Ash meets HG Wells, who explains how the German Kriegspiel, or military wargame, led to the creation of Die and the dominance of Eternal Prussia. As usual, Die is quite hard to follow, but Gillen’s portrayal of Wells seems extremely authentic. Gillen shows deep knowledge of Wells’s life and works; in particular, he mentions on the letters page that Wells sent Orwell a letter saying “Read my early works, you shit.” This is actually true. 

TARTARUS #5 (Image, 2020) – “Eclipse,” [W] Johnnie Christmas, [A] Jack T. Cole. The villains find the Cloak of Darkness that hides Tartarus from detection, and the protagonists invade the Lord Governor’s parade. The issue ends with the revelation that Surka is alive. Jack T. Cole’s artwork on this series has incredible, but unfortunately he’s announced his departure, though the series will continue. 

CHEW #2 (Image, 2009) – “Taster’s Choice Part 2,” [W] John Layman, [A] Rob Guillory. This copy is water-damaged, but whatever. In this issue Chu learns that his power is called cibopathy, and he and Savoy investigate the case of an amputated finger that was found in a hamburger. Also, Amelia Mintz appears for the first time, though she’s not named. 

FCBD 2020 (X-MEN/DARK AGES) #1 (Marvel, 2020) – untitled, [W] Jonathan Hickman & Tini Howard, [A] Pepe Larraz. This issue’s X-Men story is more or less incomprehensible. There’s also an Avengers story that’s easier to follow, but uninteresting. 

INCREDIBLE HULK #93 (Marvel, 2006) – “Exile Part II,” [W] Greg Pak, [A] Carlo Pagulayan. Hulk fights a number of battles in the arena, and gains the respect of his fellow competitors, some of whom will become part of his Warbound. We also learn that Sakaar’s emperor is not especially popular, and the issue ends with some rebels attempting to recruit Hulk for the Sakaar Democratic Insurgency. 

AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #560 (Marvel, 2008) – “Peter Parker, Paparazzi Part Two: Flat Out Crazy,” [W] Dan Slott, [A] Marcos Martin. Peter continues his lucrative but ethically troublesome work as a paparazzi. Bobby Carr, the celebrity he’s trying to photograph, is being stalked by a two-dimensional villain named Paper Doll. There’s some incredible artwork in this issue, especially when Spidey fights Paper Doll in an art gallery. The idea of a two-dimensional villain is a nice use of the comics medium. On the last page we learn that Bobby Carr’s girlfriend is Mary Jane.  

WYND #3 (Boom!, 2020) – untitled, [W] James Tynion IV, [A] Michael Dialynas. This series was an unannounced surprise release which was not solicited in Previews, so I had some trouble tracking down the first three issues. I did manage to get them, but I read them in reverse order. Wynd’s protagonists are a pointy-eared teenage boy, Wynd, and his adopted sister Oakley, an engineer. The boy is being persecuted by human supremacists who hate him for his magical blood. This issue, Wynd and Oakley make it to an enclave of magical people located below their city of Pipetown. But their persecutor, the Bandaged Man – an extremely creepy villain – catches up to them, and Oakley’s mother has to sacrifice her life so her children can escape, along with the prince of Pipetown and his gardener companion. I’ll have more to say about this series later, but it’s amazing. 

MY LITTLE PONY/TRANSFORMERS #2 (IDW, 2020) – “Inspiring,” [W] Ian Flynn, [A] Sara Pitre-Durocher, and “They Eat Ponies, Don’t They?”, [W] Sam Maggs, [A] Casey W. Coller. In the first story, Spike helps Grimlock defeat the Constructicons thanks to his (Spike’s) ability to do research. In the second story, Pinkie Pie hosts a cooking contest which is interrupted by Soundwave. Neither of these stories advances the series’ overall plot, to the extent that there is one. 

CHU #2 (Image, 2020) – “The First Course Part 2 of 5,” [W] John Layman, [A] Dan Boultwood. A mob boss named Dan Bucatini takes out a hit on Saffron. But by mistake the hitman instead goes after Saffron’s innocent sister Sage, who’s working at a nursing home. This series is still not as good as Chew, but it’s funny. 

SOMETHING IS KILLING THE CHILDREN #9 (Boom!, 2020) – untitled, [W] James Tynion IV, [A] Werther Dell’Edera. The baby monsters kill a bunch more people. Erica tries to get James to volunteer to serve as bait. This was a good issue, but not spectacular. 

BIRTHRIGHT #19 (Image, 2020) – untitled, [W] Joshua Williamson, [A] Andrei Bressan. In flashback, we see how the five mages decided to create the barrier between Earth and Terrenos. Back in the present, Mikey and the other heroes fight the Terrenos invasion, and at the end they’re confronted by a giant dragon. 

SEX CRIMINALS #30 (Image, 2020) – “The End: Part Five – My Black Hole,” [W] Matt Fraction, [A] Chip Zdarsky. Suzie breaks the time barrier, sees all the moments in her life at once, and wakes up three months later. Jon is released from prison, and he and Suzie seemingly get a happy ending. I believe there’s only one issue left, which is numbered, of course, 69. 

ASCENDER #12 (Image, 2020) – untitled, [W] Jeff Lemire, [A] Dustin Nguyen. Andy buries Effie, but then she comes back to life. Yay! They’re attacked by vampires, but a ninja dude named Kantos rescues them. Meanwhile, Mother and Sister discover that the “source of all magic” is Tim. 

HILLBILLY: THE LIZARD OF RUSTY CREEK CAVE (Albatross, 2020) – untitled, [W/A] Eric Powell. A little girl is chosen by her village (in Shirley Jackson-esque fashion) to be sacrificed to a dragon. Her best friend recruits Rondel to defeat the dragon. Rondel discovers that the dragon never asked for the little girls in the first place; an evil talking possum tricked the villagers into offering them up. This is an entertaining one-shot story that makes me excited for the next Hillbilly series. 

AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #662 (Marvel, 2011) – “The Substitute Part Two,” [W] Christos Gage, [A] Reilly Brown. Spidey and the Avengers Academy kids team up against the Psycho-Man. This issue is okay, but it fels more like an issue of Avengers Academy than Spider-Man. There are two backup stories, one of which is drawn by Javier Rodriguez. 

IMMORTAL HULK #36 (Marvel, 2020) – “The Thing in the Tube,” [W] Al Ewing, [A] Joe Bennett. The Leader, in Rick Jones’s body, manipulates the Hulk and Gamma Flight into fighting each other. Meanwhile, some creature emerges from a test tube inside Shadow Base. This issue includes one panel where the Hulk executes a Sal Buscema punch (http://80pagegiant.blogspot.com/2011/05/sal-buscema-punch.html), and the rubble in the background spells out SAL BUSCEMA. 

AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #62 (Marvel, 1968) – “Make Way for… Medusa!”, [W] Stan Lee, [A] John Romita. I bought this from my friend and fellow scholar Dan Yezbick. It has some writing inside and a few missing panels, but it’s in excellent condition otherwise. This issue, Medusa visits New York and is hired to appear in hairspray commercials. But Medusa quits her job, and her boss, Montgomery G. Bliss, manipulates Spidey into going after her. Meanwhile, Peter and Gwen are having some relationship problems. This issue is a classic, and I’m glad I own it. Spider-Man’s from before #100 are tough to find at my price range. 

AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #663 (Marvel, 2011) – “The Return of Anti-Venom Part One: The Ghost of Jean DeWolff,” [W] Dan Slott, [A] Giuseppe Camuncoli. Anti-Venom (Eddie Brock) meets the Wraith, who appears to be the late Jean DeWolff. Later, Eddie tries to kill Martin Li, aka Mister Negative. In this issue we see Aunt May working at Martin Li’s FEAST shelter, which was one of the central locations in the PS4 Spider-Man game. 

FIRE POWER #1 FCBD (Marvel, 2020) – untitled, [W] Robert Kirkman, [A] Chris Samnee. Owen Johnson is an ordinary suburban family man, but the night after hosting a cookout, he’s confronted by an old friend from his former life as a kung fu superhero. Chris Samnee’s art in this issue is, of course, fantastic, but Fire Power’s premise is rather questionable. It’s a wuxia comic, but its creators are both white men. That may have been okay when Doug Moench and Paul Gulacy were working on Master of Kung Fu, but it’s not okay now. Also, Fire Power showos no knowledge of Chinese or Asian culture. I’m not sure if Owen Johnson is supposed to be Asian or not, but if he is, he’s completely assimilated. On top of all that, I’ve lost interest in Robert Kirkman’s writing. I would buy more issues of Fire Power if I found them for a dollar or less, but I don’t intend to start ordering it. 

THUNDERBOLTS #148 (Marvel, 2010) – “Lightning in Shadows,” [W] Jeff Parker, [A] Declan Shalvey. Luke Cage looks for Daredevil, who seems to have turned evil. Meanwhile, the other Thunderbolts fight a bunch of Hand ninjas. The highlight of this issue is the scene where the various Raft inmates have lunch and argue with each other. 

ICE CREAM MAN #20 (Image, 2020) – “For Kids (A Parody in 3-4 Parts),” [W] W. Maxwell Prince, [A] Martín Morazzo. This issue consists of scary parodies of three classic children’s books: Goodnight Moon, The Giving Tree, and Green Eggs and Ham. Ice Cream Man is the scariest comic I’m currently reading, although I am concerned that Prince’s style of horror relies too much on generic creepiness, without enough specific implications as to what the reader is supposed to be scared of.

BITTER ROOT #10 (Image, 2020) – “Rage & Redemption Conclusion,” [W] David F. Walker & Chuck Brown, [A] Sanford Greene. After a bunch of fight scenes, Dr. Walter Sylvester redeems himself by sacrificing himself to return the villain Adro to the dimension of Barzakh. This series is hard to follow in single-issue form, but it’s very important. This issue includes essays by Matthew Teutsch and Stanford Carpenter.  

CURSE WORDS #15 (Image, 2018) – “The Hole Damned World Part Five,” [W] Charles Soule, [A] Ryan Browne. Jacques Zacques finds his sons, but they’re already dead. Ruby Stitch and Wizord rescue Margaret from prison, and Margaret is shocked to discover that Wizord and Ruby Stitch are her parents. Also, Platinum Johnny has somehow gotten his girlfriend pregnant. 

ASH & THORN #3 (Ahoy, 2020) – untitled, [W] Mariah McCourt, [A] Soo Lee. Lottie and Peruvia drink some tea and have a mystical vision, and Peruvia decides to turn evil. This series’ execution continues to be weaker than its premise, although I still intend to continue reading it. 

LOCKE & KEY: IN PALE BATTALIONS GO #1 (IDW, 2020) – untitled, [W] Joe Hill, [A] Gabriel Rodriguez. I believe the characters in this issue are the same ones from Locke & Key: Small World. The Locke boy, Jonathan, uses the Anywhere Key to try to enlist in World War I, but fails. His parents try to prevent him from using the keys again. But his sister Mary helps him use the keys anyway to get to Europe, and he emerges in the midst of battle. This issue is an intriguing piece of fantasy, and it seems historically accurate enough. 

DRYAD #4 (Oni, 2020) – untitled, [W] Kurtis Wiebe, [A] Justin Osterling. The family reaches the futuristic city of Silver Bay, but their plane is brought down in a terrorist attack by the parents’ old enemies. This series has gotten fairly exciting, and Justin Osterling’s art is not bad. 

SEX CRIMINALS: SEXUAL GARY #1 (Image, 2020) – “Who I Am and How I Cummed to Be” etc., [W] Matt Fraction, [A] Rachael Stott. I don’t remember where Sexual Gary appeared before, but this issue tells the story of his career as a porn superstar. This issue is full of puns, including a fake IMDB page. It’s mostly intended for humor value, but it does include some serious meditations on sex. 

BEST OF 2000 AD #0 (Rebellion, 2020) – Dredd: “Democracy Soon!”, [W] Al Ewing, [A] Erica Henderson. Dredd arrests some pro-democracy agitators. It’s funny seeing how Erica Henderson draws Dredd. This story is new to this issue; the other three are reprints. Rogue Trooper: “Survival Lesson,” [W] Gordon Rennie, [A] Richard Elson. Rogue Soldier fights alongside a scared young soldier, and is unable to save him. Anderson: “Reasons to Be Cheerful,” [W] Alan Grant, [A] Arthur Ranson. Anderson investigates a sect of underground troglodytes. Ranson’s art here is excellent. Durham Red: “The Judas Strain,” [W] Lauren Beukes & Dale Halvorsen, [A] Carlos Ezquerra. Durham Red and Johnny Alpha collect a bounty on a vampire lord. 

JACK KIRBY: THE EPIC LIFE OF THE KING OF COMICS FCBD (Ten Speed, 2020) – untitled, [W/A] Tom Scioli. An excerpt of Tom Scioli’s graphic novel biography of Jack Kirby, who is of course his biggest influence. I’ve seen some people criticize this book because of Scioli’s big-eyed Margaret Keane-esque depiction of Kirby. But Scioli seems to have done a lot of research into Kirby and his times, and he gives a convincing account of how Kirby’s background helped make him the artist he was. I’m reserving further judgment until I’ve read the entire book. 

CONAN: BATTLE FOR THE SERPENT CROWN #4 (Marvel, 2020) – untitled, [W] Saladin Ahmed, [A] Luke Ross. Conan and Nyla go underwater to search for the Serpent Crown, but Champion manipulates Conan into fighting Namor. I don’t think Conan and Namor have ever met before, but they have some interesting similarities. While reading the issue after this one, I realized that Nyla is not a new character; I’ve seen her before in Daredevil #287. 

STAR #4 (Marvel, 2020) – “Birth of a Dragon Part Four,” [W] Kelly Thompson, [A] Javier Pina & Filipe Andrade. This issue was going to be published in trade paperback only, but Marvel changed their minds about that. This issue is mostly a lot of fight scenes, and neither Star herself nor her opponents, the Black Order, are particularly exciting. Filipe Andrade drew the flashback sequences. 

BARBIE FASHION #2 (Marvel, 1991) – “Get Me to the Studio on Time!”, [W] Barbara Slate, [A] Amanda Conner: Barbie is almost late to a modeling appointment. I wouldn’t be able to tell this story was drawn by Amanda Conner if I didn’t know. There are also two other stories by the same creators. A fundamental problem with this series is that Barbie is not an effective protagonist, because she wasn’t designed to appear in stories. She originated as a fashion doll with no associated narrative. I’m skeptical about the comics adaptations of Angry Birds and Plants vs. Zombies for the same reason. 

GHOST-SPIDER #9 (Marvel, 2020) – “Where Does the Good Go?”, [W] Seanan McGuire, [A] Ig Guara. Another comic that was initially supposed to be digital- and trade-only. This issue, Gwen learns about Kamala’s law, and then she teams up with the evil Sue and Johnny. 

THE WALKING DEAD #110 (Image, 2013) – untitled, [W] Robert Kirkman, [A] Charlie Adlard. Rick, Michonne and friends visit a “kingdom” run by an obvious fraudster named Ezekiel. I’d eventually like to have a complete run of The Walking Dead, but I’m not collecting it very actively. 

USAGI YOJIMBO FCBD 2020 (IDW, 2020) – “Attack of the Teenie Titans,” [W/A] Stan Sakai & Julie Sakai. Usagi fights a tengu, is knocked unconscious, and has a vision where he encounters chibi versions of himself, Tomoe, and Jei. This is okay, but it’s not a top-tier Usagi story.  

ON THE STUMP #4 (Image, 2020) – untitled, [W] Chuck Brown, [A] Prenzy. This issue’s plot makes no sense, and its art is rather minimalistic. I’ve already decided to give up on this series. 

WILDC.A.T.S #25 (Image, 1995) – “On Earth / As It Is in Heaven,” [W] Alan Moore, [A] Dave Johnson, Kevin Nowlan & Travis Charest. This is one of two Alan Moore WildC.A.T.s that I was missing. I also got the other one, #50, at the Heroes sale, but I haven’t read it yet. In this issue’s first half, Majestic’s new team of WildC.A.T.s fights some members of Stormwatch. In the other half, which is set on Khera, the original WildC.A.T.s try to free Zealot from the influence of her fellow warrior women. The best thing about this issue is Alan’s prose, although the art is quite good.

BANG! #3 (Dark Horse, 2020) – untitled, [W] Matt Kindt, [A] Wilfredo Torres. This issue introduces Dr. Queen, a futuristic female detective. At the end, she too meets Thomas Cord, or a version of him. At this point it’s hard for me to look at Wilfredo Torres’s art and not think of Quantum Age. 

NIGHTCRAWLER #1 (Marvel, 2014) – untitled, [W] Chris Claremont, [A] Todd Nauck. Having returned from the dead, Kurt Wagner reconnects with his old friends. Kurt is my second favorite of Claremont’s X-Men after Kitty, but this issue feels kind of like a rehash of older stories. I do like the panel where Kurt is reclining on a couch surrounded by Bamfs, in reference to the “Yum!” panel from X-Men #168. (I checked, and that panel was in fact in X-Men #168; there was a lot going on in that issue besides the “Professor Xavier is a jerk” plotline.) 

2000 AD #408 (IPC, 1985) – Halo Jones: “I’ll Never Forget Whatsizname…,” [W] Alan Moore, [A] Ian Gibson. One of the saddest Halo Jones stories, in which Halo learns the origin of her androgynous, nonentitous roommate, and then promptly forgets that they exist. Psi-Testers: untitled, [W] Alan Hebden, [A] Mike Dorey. Oscar Meek is a “psi-tester” who uses telepathy to determine if a criminal is innocent or guilty. The crook Cyclops O’Keefe manipulates Meek into making a false report. Mike Dorey’s art here reminds me of Dan Spiegle. Dredd: “The Hunters Club,” [W] John Wagner & Alan Grant, [A] Ron Smith. Chip Chegley is the newest member of the Hunters Club, who go around murdering people for sport, and it’s his turn to hunt someone. Future Shocks: “Nerves of Steel!”, [W] Peter Milligan, [A] Will Simpson. A story about a war between robots and humans. The twist ending is that the protagonists are the robots, not the humans. The HellTrekkers: “Lavalanche!”, [W] John Wagner & Alan Grant, [A] Horacio Lalia. The caravan is caught in a volcanic eruption and has to split in half. 

AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #667 (Marvel, 2011) – “Spider-Island Part One: The Amazing Spider-Manhattan,” [W] Dan Slott, [A] Humberto Ramos. Carlie Cooper gains spider-powers, and Peter initially thinks he gave her a “spidery transmitted disease,” but in fact lots of other people in New York have also gotten similar powers. Mayhem ensues. Another fun issue. 

THE GOON #19 (Dark Horse, 2007) – “The Return,” [W/A] Eric Powell. The Goon fights a giant brain with a lot of eyes. There’s also a metatextual joke about South Park. I don’t remember much about this issue, but it was fun, and I want to collect more of this series. 

GHOSTED IN L.A. #11 (Boom!, 2020) – untitled, [W] Sina Grace, [A] Siobhan Keenan. We start with a flashback to Agi’s first encounter with a much older ghost. Then Daphne and her friends fight the same ghost, and surprisingly, Michelle helps him defeat it. As a result, the ghosts can now leave the mansion. One issue left. 

DONUT THE DESTROYER FCBD (Graphix, 2020) – untitled, [W/A] Sarah Graley, [W] Stef Purenins (it’s not clear who did what). A preview of a new middle-grade graphic novel about a girl who goes to hero school, to the disappointment of her villain parents. This preview issue is funny and well-drawn, but I’m not sure if I want to read the entire graphic novel. I liked Graley’s two Vampire Island miniseries, but I’m much more likely to order a comic book than a graphic novel. 

FCBD SUPER MERCADO MIX TAPE 2020 (Oni, 2020) – “Sci-Fu” and “Fun Fun Fun World,” [W/A] Yehudi Mercado. Like Sarah Graley, Yehudi Mercado wrote a comic-book format miniseries that I liked (Rocket Salvage), but then switched to graphic novels. The first book previewed in this issue is about a teenage rap prodigy, and it has some very appealing graffiti-style art. The backup story is about would-be alien conquerors. These books seem reasonably appealing, but not enough to make me run out and buy them.  

VALKYRIE: JANE FOSTER #10 (Marvel, 2020) – “At the End of All Things Part 3,” [W] Jason Aaron, [A] Torunn Grønbekk. Jane fights the god Tyr, who is possessed by something called the Rokkva. That’s the end of the series. This title went rapidly downhill when Al Ewing left, and I’m not sorry it’s over. 

AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #666 (Marvel, 2011) – “Spider-Island Prologue: The One and Only,” [W] Dan Slott, [A] Stefano Caselli. I accidentally read this out of order. Spidey is in a good place in his life personally, professionally and superheroically, but as usual, villains are conspiring against him. As a result, ordinary New Yorkers start to gain superpowers. There’s a brief scene in this issue that takes place at the superhero poker game. 

WONDER WOMAN #29 (DC, 1989) – “Bloodvine,” [W] George Pérez, [A] Chris Marrinan. This issue is mostly the origin story of the Cheetah and her servant Chuma, and as a result, it’s not as good as a typical Pérez issue. Julia, Vanessa and the other supporting characters don’t appear. However, this issue ends with the first (brief) appearance of the Amazons of Bana-Mighdall. 

PRETTY VIOLENT #9 (Image, 2020) – untitled, [W/A] Derek Hunter, [W] Jason Young. Another issue full of violent mayhem. I have long since lost the thread of this series’ plot, but the plot doesn’t matter; it’s only an excuse for the aforementioned violent mayhem. The maim thing that actually does matter is Gamma Rae’s psychological development. 

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