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October and November reviews

New comics purchased on October 1: 

LEGION OF SUPER-HEROES #9 (DC, 2020) – “The Trial of the Legion of Super-Heroes, Part 2,” [W] Brian Michael Bendis, [A] various. Another collection of short vignettes about individual Legionnaires, illustrated by an all-star cast including Mike Grell, Art Adams and Michel Fiffe. Some of these pages are beautiful or funny or both; I especially like the vignettes about Bouncing  Boy and Invisible Kid (Jacques, not Lyle). However, this series still has a severe lack of plot or characterization. 

ONCE AND FUTURE #11 (Boom!, 2020) – “The Kings Are Undead,” [W] Kieron Gillen, [A] Dan Mora. Gran cuts off Grendel’s arm with a chainsaw, but that of course is not the end of the poem, because Grendel’s mother shows up next. Nothing about this issue particularly stands out, but this is still the best current monthly comic. 

FANTASTIC FOUR #24 (Marvel, 2020) – “Cold Snap,” [W] Dan Slott, [A] Paco Medina. Finally we’re done with Empire. Jo-Venn and N’Kalla get ready for school – oh, by the way, Ben and Alicia have adopted Jo-Venn and N’Kalla, but I didn’t know that because it happened in an Empire tie-in issue. More on that later. Iceman gives Franklin a ride home from Krakoa, and this provides an opportunity for a flashback explaining how Iceman was once a member of the FF. The flashback takes up most of the issue and uses a Silver Age style of dialogue and coloring. It’s very fun. There’s also an unnecessary Thor backup story. 

THE GODDAMNED: THE VIRGIN BRIDES #3 (Image, 2020) – “Into the Thorns,” [W] Jason Aaron, [A] R.M. Guéra. To save Sharri, Jael is forced to make a deal with the serpent from the Garden of Eden. Sharri and Jael escape their pursuers, but get stuck at the edge of an impassable fissure. This is another thrilling issue, and R.M. Guéra should be nominated for an Eisner for best artist. 

THE LUDOCRATS #5 (Image, 2020) – “The Existential Trials of Otto von Subertan,” [W] Kieron Gillen & Jim Rossignol, [A] Jeff Stokely. Otto wins his trial, sort of, but is unable to stop the Hyper-Pope from homogenizing the universe. The next four pages are drawn like a black-and-white autobio comic, and then Otto shouts “Boring!” and he and Hades rampage through the back matter of the issue. Besides Alienated, this was the best miniseries of 2020, and I hope there’s a sequel to it. 

SEA OF STARS #7 (Image, 2020) – “The People of the Broken Moon,” [W] Jason Aaron & Dennis Hallum, [A] Stephen Green. Dalla reveals she betrayed Kadyn, then collapses. Gil tells a disgusting story about Kadyn’s infancy, and then hunts a space whale. I’ve sort of lost track of this series’ plot, but I still love it. 

STRANGE ACADEMY #3 (Marvel, 2020) – untitled, [W] Skottie Young, [A] Humberto Ramos. The kids learn to see xenoplasmic parasites, like in Jason Aaron’s Doctor Strange, which is the main inspiration for this whole series. Then they visit a fortuneteller and fight some teenage hoodlums. The back matter includes some fake recipes. Strange Academy is currently the funniest Marvel comic.

DEPARTMENT OF TRUTH #1 (Image, 2020) – “The End of the World”, [W] James Tynion IV, [A] Martin Simmonds. Our protagonist is Cole Turner, a scholar who studies conspiracy theories (as a couple friends of mine do). Cole is recruited by the Department of Truth, which monitors conspiracies because “the more people believe in something, the more true that thing becomes.” As an example of this, the head of the department is Lee Harvey Oswald. So far this series is brilliant, and also very timely considering how conspiracy theories have taken over the Republican Party. My major complaint about Martin Simmonds’s previous series, Dying is Easy, was that it wasted his talents. That is not an issue with this series. James Tynion gives Simmonds every possible opportunity to exercise his design sense and his command of mixed media, and as a result, Simmonds’s artwork gives Department of Truth a spooky, paranoid atmosphere. Overall this is a strong debut issue. 

WICKED THINGS #5 (Boom!, 2020) – untitled, [W] John Allison, [A] Max Sarin. Lottie helps solve a casino robbery, while we finally get an update on the Miyamoto subplot. At the end of  the issue, Lottie escapes her house arrest. I’m sorry Wicked Things isn’t an ongoing series. It’s so much fun. 

ALIENATED #6 (Boom!, 2020) – “And on Purpose Too,” [W] Simon Spurrier, [A] Chris Wildgooose. Samuel destroys the entire town in a fit of white rage, but it turns out to to just be a vision, and Samantha helps Chip free itself and return to space. Samantha gets a reasonably happy ending. I was going to say that Ludocrats was the best miniseries of 2020, but actually Alienated was better. I especially appreciate its critique of white entitlement, as represented by Samuel. 

SAVAGE DRAGON #252 (Image, 2020) – “Savage Dragon Salutes the Funnies,” [W] Erik Larsen. Because this series is such a guilty pleasure, it’s easy to forget that Erik Larsen is in fact a gifted cartoonist. Every so often he does a clever formal experiment, and this issue is one of his cleverer ones. This issue is a series of parodies of comic strips, including Peanuts, Cathy, Popeye, Doonesbury, etc. Erik perfectly imitates the style of each strip, and also selects appropriate subject matter to go with each strip’s style; for example, the Calvin & Hobbes strip is about one of the Dragon children and her talking tiger friend. 

ASCENDER #13 (Image, 2020) – untitled, [W] Jeff Lemire, [A] Dustin Nguyen. Mother puts out an APB on the UGC rebels. Meanwhile, Mila and her shipmates reach the planet of the Between, and the first person they meet there is Dr. Quon. There’s only one brief scene with Andy and Effie. The highlight of this issue is that Mila is super cute, especially on page one when she’s playing with Bandit. 

MY LITTLE PONY: FRIENDSHIP IS MAGIC #90 (IDW, 2020) – “Home Coming,” [W] Jeremy Whitley, [A] Andy Price. We get Zecora’s origin story. I’m disappointed to learn that her rhyming is just an affectation and not some kind of genetic thing. Then Zecora has to help her old friends defend the town from a monster called the Grootslang, a name also used in Lumberjanes. A highlight of this issue is the opening panel, a swipe from Batman’s origin story. 

SKULLDIGGER AND SKELETON BOY #4 (Dark Horse, 2020) – untitled, [W] Jeff Lemire, [A] Tonci Zonjic. The protagonist (whose name I forget) starts accompanying Skulldigger on missions, but then Officer Reyes finds and “rescues” him. Issue 3 came out back in February, so it’s hard to remember anything about this series’ plot. But this is not a bad issue, and Tonci Zonjic’s art is fantastic. 

CHU #3 (Image, 2020) – “The First Course Part 3,” [W] John Layman, [A] Dan Boultwood. Saffron has to kill someone for the first time to save Chu. Then she has to kill someone else immediatley. This is another funny issue, though as usual Chu is not quite as good as Chew. 

THE GOON #12 (Albatross, 2020) – untitled, [W] Roger Langridge, [A] Mike Norton. The Goon and the Brewster women defeat Matthew Hopkins with the aid of a bunch of other witches. This was a fun storyline. Next issue Eric Powell will be back. 

GIDEON FALLS #25 (Image, 2020) – “Wicked Worlds Part 4: Are You Feeling Sinister?”, [W] Jeff Lemire, [A] Andrea Sorrentino. An old blind guy tells Angela the origin of the multiverse, but then gets possessed by the Black Barn, and she escapes and finds some people who are organizing the new Ploughmen. This issue’s first seven pages are a series of beautiful collages. 

SHANG-CHI #1 (Marvel, 2020) – “Brothers and Sisters,” [W] Gene Luen Yang, [A] Dike Ruan. Shang-Chi has retired from his life of adventure and is working in a San Francisco Chinatown restaurant, but Leiko Wu recruits him for a secret mission, which involves saving his younger sister. As far as I know, Gene Luen Yang is the first East Asian person to ever write Shang-Chi – unless Larry Hama wrote him at some point – and it shows. Besides being familiar with Asian culture (for example, crystal cakes are a real thing), Yang shows an insider’s understanding of Shang-Chi’s psychology. I love Shang-Chi’s explanation of why he speaks like he does: “If I slow my cadence and use ‘wise’ words, Westerners look atme, rather than past me, when I speak.” Moments like this help redeem the character from his origins as a stereotype. Similarly, Yang solves the problem of Shang-Chi’s association with Fu Manchu, a character who Marvel can no longer use and probably would not use if they could. Yang excises Fu Manchu from Shang-Chi’s continuity and replaces him with a different villain who seems more associated with the wuxia than with the yellow peril genre. Overall this is the best Shang-Chi revival ever, and probably the only good one. I look forward to reading more of it. 

GRUMBLE: MEMPHIS AND BEYOND THE INFINITE #3 (Albatross, 2020) – untitled, [W] Rafer Roberts, [A] Mike Norton. Eddie and Tala get captured, but they manage to escape. However, Randy, who Tala planned to use as a substitute for her mother, is killed. At the end of the issue, Tala finally makes telepathic contact with her mother. This is a fun issue, but this series comes out so infrequently that it’s hard to remember its plot. 

LONELY RECEIVER #1 (AfterShock, 2020) – “I’m the Maker of My Own Evil,” [W] Zac Thompson, [A] Jen Hickman. In a future setting, a woman named Catrin gets a new cell phone whose AI incarnates itself as a woman named Rhion. Catrin and Rhion fall in love, but then Rhion leaves, and Catrin becomes desolate. So in short, this is a love story about a woman and her phone. It’s a great idea for a story, and Thompson and Hickman tell that story with a lot of emotion. However,  I found it very difficult to figure out what this comic was about until I read the text features at the end. 

SHADOW SERVICE #2 (Vault, 2020) – untitled, [W] Cavan Scott, [A] Corin Howell. Gina is kidnapped by agents of MI666, who force her to help them find a certain demon lord. This is an entertaining series, and Corin Howell is good at drawing body horror. The demon on the last page is especially gruesome. 

2000 AD #523 (IPC, 1987) – Anderson: “Hour of the Wolf” part 4, [W] John Wagner & Alan Grant, [A] Barry Kitson. An unnamed villainess tries to assassinate Anderson by mind-controlling another Judge. As part of the mind control, the villainess appears to the Judge as a leather-clad dominatrix. Besides that I don’t quite understand this story. Rogue Trooper: “Hit One,” [W] Simon Geller, [A] Steve Dillon. Rogue continues his mission and has a nightmare about an awful fanged monster. Dredd: “Pit Rat,” [W] John Wagner & Alan Grant, [A] Brett Ewins. Dredd investigates an underground rat-fighting ring. Nemesis: “Torquemada the God,” [W] Pat Mills, [A] Kevin O’Neill. Sister Sturn has borne Torquemada a son, but she becomes convinced that the baby is a monster. Meanwhile, Torquemada’s current body is decaying. Strontium Dog: “Bitch Part 19,” [W] Alan Grant, [A] Carlos Ezquerra. Johnny and Red amuse themselves by shooting Reagan with a slingshot. Otherwise noto much happens. 

CURSE WORDS #17 (Image, 2018) – “Them Blue Wizard Blues Part Two,” [W] Charles Soule, [A] Ryan Browne. Jacques Zacques has gotten stuck in the sunken Titanic, but a character named Mr. Opaque rescues him. Meanwhile, Margaret tries to get straight answers from Wizord, but fails.  I have issue 18 but have not gotten to it yet. 

IMMORTAL HULK: THE THRESHING PLACE #1 (Marvel, 2020) – “The Threshing Place,” [W] Jeff Lemire, [A] Mike Del Mundo. While passing through a small town in Toews County (an apparent hockey reference), the Hulk discovers a farm that’s experimenting on gamma-powered people. He rescues a little girl who’s a test subject at the farm. The main attraction of this comic is Mike Del Mundo’s beautiful painted art. He’s a great talent, but I haven’t seen a lot of his work lately. 

YUMMY FUR #16 (Vortex, 1989) – “Ed,” [W/A] Chester Brown. Frankenstein’s monster rescues the little girls from the aliens, and Ronald Reagan meets the guy whose penis looks like Reagan’s face. Also, there’s an adaptation of Matthew 2:14 to 2:23, the story of the flight into Egypt. 

2000 AD #560 (Fleetway, 1988) – As of prog 536 the publisher is named Fleetway instead of IPC. ABC Warriors: “The Black Hole,” [W] Pat Mills, [A] S.M.S. (real name Simon Short). This was the first new ABC Warriors story since the original one, although they had guest-starred in Nemesis. According to http://theslingsandarrows.com/abc-warriors-the-black-hole/, Pat Mills abandoned the ABC Warriors because it was too hard to work with a rotating team of artists. He returned to them when he found two then-new artists, SMS and Simon Bisley. SMS in particular is a major revelation. His draftsmanship is beautiful and incredibly rich in detail. That’s probably why “The Black Hole” is his only major comics work: his style is too labor-intensive for periodical comics, and he’s spent most of his career as an illustrator. Too bad. Strontium Dog: “Stone Killers! Part One,” [W] Alan Grant, [A] Carlos Ezquerra. Johnny and an unrevealed partner (I assume Durham Red) are assigned to hunt down some silicon-based killers. Dredd: “Dredd in Oz Part 16: Halls of Judda,” [W] John Wagner & Alan Grant, [A] Brendan McCarthy. Dredd infiltrates a city of Judda, i.e. Judge clones created by an evil scientist named Judd. As usual, McCarthy’s artwork is excellent, but I wish the whole story was in color. Nemesis: “Purity’s Story,” [W] Pat Mills, [A] David Roach. Nemesis asks Purity Brown to make Torquemada fall in love with her, so she can then betray him. Purity had appeared in earlier Nemesis stories, but I forget what her role was. Future Shocks: “Killer Rhythms,” [W] Dick Foreman, [A] Massimo Belardinelli. Some aliens use a psychoactive dance song to conquer Earth. 

THOR, GOD OF THUNDER #16 (Marvel, 2014) – “The Accursed, Part Four: I, Thor… Condemn Thee to Die,” [W] Jason Aaron, [A] Ron Garney & Emanuela Lupacchino. Thor has to back off from avenging Oggy’s death on Malekith. Then the members of the League of Realms debate which of them is a traitor. Thor decides it’s Ud and uncharacteristically kills him in cold blood. The League disbands, and Thor and Wazira go to Svartalfheim, where Malekith reveals that Thor himself is the traitor. I didn’t quite understand what was going on here. I need to read #17. 

UNDISCOVERED COUNTRY #8 (Image, 2020) – untitled, [W] Scott Snyder & Charles Soule, [A] Giuseppe Camuncoli & Leonardo Marcello Grassi. We are now in Zone Two, Unity, a super-advanced realm of nanotech. A new version of Uncle Sam leads the team to a city that’s a hybrid of Seattle and San Francisco. In the city is a replica of Daniel and Charlotte’s childhood home, complete with replicas of their parents. Intriguing. 

IMMORTAL SHE-HULK #1 (Marvel, 2020) – “The Three Deaths of Jennifer Walters,” [W] Al Ewing, [A] Jon Davis-Hunt. Al Ewing integrates She-Hulk into Immortal Hulk continuity. This issue focuses on Jen’s multiple deaths – in her origin story, in Civil War II, and in Empyre. This issue is well-written, but it’s not worth the damage it does to Jen’s character. Ewing presents her as a passive victim, erasing much of the character development she was given by Dan Slott, Charles Soule and Mariko Tamaki. 

JOHN CONSTANTINE, HELLBLAZER #10 (DC, 2020) – “The Wake-Up Call,” [W] Simon Spurrier, [A] Matías Bergara. Constantine confronts his future self, and meanwhile, someone starts killing off all the supporting characters from earlier in the series. This isn’t Spurrier’s best issue, but this series is easily the best current DC comic, except maybe Far Sector, and it’s a scandal that DC cancelled it prematurely. 

BORIS KARLOFF TALES OF MYSTERY #6 (Gold Key, 1964) – “The Unburied Bones,” [W] Paul S. Newman, [A] Ray Bailey. A boring Chinese-themed ghost story. At least it’s not overtly racist. Of the other three stories in the issue, the only one that’s even worth mentioning is “Voyage of No Return” because it’s an early work of Frank Thorne, though it’s hard to tell. ‘

SHADOWS ON THE GRAVE #2 (Dark Horse, 2017) – “A Muddy Plot” and other stories, [W/A] Richard Corben. Three EC-esque horror stories, illustrated in black and white but with gruesome draftsmanship and skillful use of greytones. The fourth story, in a rather different vein, is part two of Denaeus, in which the hero is sent to fight a Harryhausen-esque cyclops. 

IRON MAN #27 (Marvel, 2014) – “Rings of the Mandarins, Chapter V,” [W] Kieron Gillen, [A] Cliff Richards & Joe Bennett. This issue has a striking cover by Christian Ward, but its interior story, about the Mandarin, is kind of boring. Kieron’s Iron Man seems like it was kind of uninspired, though Iron Man is hard to write well.

DETECTIVE COMICS #656 (DC, 1993) –“Besieged,” [W] Chuck Dixon, [A] Tom Mandrake. Again, this issue’s cover, by Sam Kieth, is perhaps better than the interior story. In this issue the General, a little boy who thinks he’s a world conqueror, invades the Gotham police station, and Batman defeats him. I think I read this as a kid, because I remember Batman telling the General that he’ll be tried as an adult. On the next-to-last page, the General’s little sister asks “Dad, could Ulysses go to the electric chair?” and Dad says “We can always hope.” That joke is reminiscent of 2000 AD’s style of humor. 

MARTHA WASHINGTON STRANDED IN SPACE #1 (Dark Horse, 1995) – “Crossover,” [W] Frank Miller, [A] Dave Gibbons. Martha Washington discovers a stranded spacecraft that contains Big Guy, from another Frank Miller series, The Big Guy and Rusty the Boy Robot. Miller draws a contrast between Martha’s grim reality and Big Guy’s utopian one. There’s also a backup story where Martha fights some fake aliens. This story is a thinly veiled reference to Watchmen. Dave Gibbons’s draftsmanship in this issue is excellent, but is nearly ruined by bad computer coloring. 

An order from mycomicshop.com: 

LEGION OF CHARLIES #1 (Last Gasp, 1971) – “The Legion of Charlies,” [W] Tom Veitch, [A] Greg Irons. This was a bargain at about $8. Legion of Charlies is Veitch and Irons’s greatest work, and is included in Paul Gravett’s list of 1001 Comics You Must Read Before You Die. It begins with six pages where the My Lai massacre and the Manson Family’s Tate-LaBianca murders are depicted in parallel. The subsequent story is about Vietnam vet Rusty Kali, who becomes part of a cannibalistic terrorist cult inspired by Charles Manson. The theme of the story is that the violence that America inflicted on the Vietnamese people is now being inflicted on America itself, through the agency of criminals like Manson: what goes around comes around. Greg Irons illustrates this story with gruesome draftsmanship and skillful use of Zip-a-Tone. This comic is brutal to read, but it’s one of the monumental works of underground comics, and I’m glad I own it. 

BATTLE #355 (IPC, 1982) – “Charley’s War,” [W] Pat Mills, [A] Joe Colquhoun. “Charley’s War” is often considered the greatest British comic. It was an unflinching, unsentimental depiction of the horror of World War I. In this issue’s installment, protagonist Charley saves a comrade from drowning in a mudhole by insulting him, and thus keeping  him awake. This installment is good, but it’s not the best war comic I’ve ever read, or anything. However, it does make me want to read more of the series, though I’m not sure if I can stand it. Joe Colquhoun’s depictions of mud and rain are super-realistic. This issue’s color story is “Johnny Red” by Tom Tully and John Cooper, a series that was later revived by Garth Ennis. Other writers in this issue are Gerry Finley-Day, Alan Hebden and Scott Goodall, and other artists are Geoff Campion, Carlos Pino, Ron Tiner and Phil Gascoine. I know this because Battle included creator credits, like 2000 AD but unlike so many other British comics. 

WYND #1 (Boom!, 2020) – untitled, [W] James Tynion IV, [A] Michael Dialynas. In the opening sequence, our teenage protagonist, Wynd, has a nightmare where he turns into a winged monster. Then we meet his foster sister Oakley and his foster parents, and we watch him spying on his crush, Ash the royal gardener. But Wynd’s fairly idyllic existence is about to end because the king has hired the eerie Bandaged Man to hunt down everyone with magical abilities – including Wynd. This is an excellent debut issue, though I wish I had read this series in order. 

FANTASTIC FOUR #14 (Marvel, 2014) – “The Fantastic Four Are Doomed! Part Two: Trial by Fire,”[W] Matt Fraction & Karl Kesel, [A] Raffaele Ienco. I missed this when it came out. This issue, an alternate-dimensional Johnny Storm tells Reed and Sue how they can cure their rapid degeneration, but they have to defeat an alternate Doom and Kang to do it. A highlight of this issue is the surprise Lockjaw appearance. It seems that when the FF went on vacation, Sue was afraid that the kids would be bored without Internet access, so she got Medusa to give her a whistle that could summon Lockjaw. 

2000 AD #255 (IPC, 1982) – Nemesis: “Book II,” [W] Pat Mills, [A] Jesús Redondo. Nemesis tries to convince a cabal of aliens to not make war on Earth. Purity Brown guest-stars in this story. Mean Arena: “The Oxford Invaders,” [W] A. Ridgeway, [A] Mike White. A standard example of the Mean Arena formula. A. Ridgeway is unidentified. There is speculation that A. Ridgeway was Tom Tully, but no one knows for sure. Rogue Trooper: “The Petrified Forest,” [W] Gerry Finley-Day, [A] Mike Dorey. Rogue fights a Nort squad of monsters. I like Mike Dorey’s use of shading. Dredd: “The Apocalypse War Part 11,” [W] John Wagner & Alan Grant, [A] Carlos Ezquerra. Dredd helps organize the resistance to the East-Meg invasion, while the city is evacuated. This was one of the definitive Dredd stories. Ace Trucking Co: “The Great Mush Rush Part 5,” [W] Wagner & Grant, [A] Massimo Belardinelli. Ace and his crew participate in a spaceship race. This story includes some incredible draftsmanship. Ace’s dialogue is annoying, but in a charming way. Future Shocks: “Voyage of Discovery!”, [W] Chris Stevens, [A] Eric Bradbury. A spacefaring family is eaten by what appears to be a black hole but is in fact a giant space whale. 

CRIME PATROL #3 (Gemstone, 1948/2000) – I paid too much for this; MyCoX-micShop temporarily discounted it from $4 to $1, and I forgot to delete it from the cart when the discount was removed. “The Slaughter Syndicate,” [W] unknown, [A] Johnny Craig. Two hitmen go on a crime spree but eventually get caught. Not much good. “The Grotto of the Green Stone Man!”, [W] Gardner Fox, [A] Ann Brewster. A mildly science-fictional story in which an adventurous young woman and her boyfriend investigate the legend of a green stone idol. “Double-Crossed,” [W] unknown, [A] Al Feldstein: A thief murders a woman, then escapes from the police but gets caught. Overall this is a dumb comic, and it’s not nearly as clever or energetic as a typical New Trend issue. I assume these stories were not written by Kurtzman or Feldstein. 

X-RAY ROBOT #2 (Dark Horse, 2020) – untitled, [W/A] Mike Allred. I don’t especially understand this comic’s plot because it’s been six months between issues, and also the plot makes little sense to begin with. There are a ton of different alternate dimensions and different versions of the same characters. What is valuable about this comic is that Allred’s artwork is terrific. This series is a perfect expression of his neo-Silver Age style. There are a couple of 3D pages at the end, but 3D glasses are not included. 

SWEET TOOTH #27 (Vertigo, 2012) – “The Taxidermist Part 2 of 3: Taboos,” [W] Jeff Lemire, [A] Matt Kindt. Thacker’s brother-in-law Louis explains how he opened an underground vault and pissed off the Inuit gods. Louis shows Thacker his newborn son, who has antlers. The significance of this flashback story will become clear later. 

AQUAMAN #63 (DC, 2020) – “Homecoming Finale,” [W] Jordan Clark, [A] Marco Santucci. Jackson and his new boyfriend Ha’wea fight in defense of Xebel, and then Jackson has a heart-to-heart talk with each of his parents. This storyline was okay, but I could have done without it. 

PLANETOID PRAXIS #2 (Image, 2017) – untitled, [W/A] Ken Garing. Some years after issue 1, the planetoid is invaded by a giant corporation called Heliocor. This is a very cute and upbeat series, despite its often grim subject matter.  

WYND #4 (Boom!, 2020) – untitled, [W] James Tynion IV, [A] Michael Dialynas. Wynd, Oakley, Ash and the prince travel through an underground tunnel to a forest, where they meet up with a faerie that looks like a humanoid insect. They get to Southport only to find that the Bandaged Man has beaten them there. The four party members have a series of heart-to-heart conversations. This is a really incredible series. It’s a heartfelt parable about being persecuted for who you are. It has superb characterization, and Michael Dialynas’s artwork creates a convincing sense of weirdness. 

BATTLE ACTION #147 (IPC, 1977) – This is the same series as Battle, though its publishing history is a bit confusing. At this point Battle had just been merged with Action, a series that was cancelled for excessive violence. Battle and Action were notable as the starting point of the British boys’ comics renaissance that led to 2000 AD. This issue’s cover feature is about the death of Sam Shimura, a Japanese-American WWII soldier. Other stories include Johnny Red; The Spinball Wars, which feels more appropriate to 2000 AD; Major Eazy, in color and apparently drawn by Ezquerra; and Dredger, a secret agent parody. This issue does not include creator credits yet, but one of the stories is signed by John Cooper, and another looks like Mike Dorey.

SWEET TOOTH #33 (Vertigo, 2012) – “The Continuing Adventures of the Big Man and the Boy,” [W/A] Jeff Lemire. A sideways-formatted issue narrated from Gus’s perspective. It kind of looks like a children’s book. Gus, Tommy and company head off to Alaska, but meanwhile, the Doctor invades the dam and blows open the doors. 

2000 AD #459 (IPC, 1986) – I just realized that the cover caption “Wagner’s Flying Dutchman” could mean either Richard or John Wagner. Halo Jones: “Heavy Duty,” [W] Alan Moore, [A] Ian Gibson. Having joined the army, Halo learns about the giant suits she has to wear in order to survive on the high-gravity planet of Moab. Slaine: “Tomb of Terror,” [W] Pat Mills, [A] Glenn Fabry. Slaine fights the nine-dimensional monster Grimnismal and the humanoid demon Elfric. This is another rather Moorcockian story, and not just because of Elfric’s name. As usual, Glenn Fabry’s art is stunning. After the story is a chapter of an RPG module that tells the same story in interactive form. Dredd: “The Last Voyage of the Flying Dutchman,” [W] John Wagner & Alan Grant, [A] Bryan Talbot. The Flying Dutchman, a literal flying ship, tries to destroy the Hall of Justice. Talbot’s art here is a good example of his mature style. Ace: “The Doppelgarp,” [W] Wagner & Grant, [A] Massimo Belardinelli. Ace and his other-dimensional duplicate are imprisoned on a planet of talking chickens. Strontium Dog: “Max Bubba,” [W] Alan Grant, [A] Carlos Ezquerra. Wulf and Johnny search for a criminal in ancient Viking times. 

BLACK MAGICK #14 (Image, 2020) – “Ascension I (Part 003),” [W] Greg Rucka, [A] Nicola Scott. Alex kills the creepy demon girl, then visits Rowan’s house only to find Rowan in bed with her new partner. Meanwhile, the creepy white-skinned woman has already been to Rowan’s house and threatened Rowan’s cat familiar. The confusing thing about this series is that I don’t understand who the villains are or what they want. 

G.I. JOE, A REAL AMERICAN HERO #178 (IDW, 2012) – untitled, [W] Larry Hama, [A] S.L. Gallant. The Baroness and Snake-Eyes fight a bunch of ninjas whose command post is in an ice cream truck. This is not the first GI Joe story involving an ice cream truck; see also #93. This series also has a running joke about grape soda, and I think this is somehow related to the ice cream trucks, but I’m not sure. 

AVENGERS #8 (Marvel, 2017) – untitled, [W] Mark Waid & Jeremy Whitley, [A] Phil Noto. The Avengers’ Baxter Building headquarters is infiltrated by a villain named Avenger X. The best thing about this issue is that one of the POV characters is Nadia Pym. 

LETTER 44 #15 (Oni, 2015) – “Dark Matter Part One,” [W] Charles Soule, [A] Alfredo Jimenez Albuquerque. President Blades starts a war with the UK for some reason, while the evil ex-President gives an interview about how he learned about the aliens. Meanwhile, in space, baby Astra talks for the first time. This issue actually has the same shock ending (a newborn baby speaking intelligible English) as Miracleman #9. 

FRANKENSTEIN UNDERGROUND #1 (Dark Horse, 2015) – untitled, [W] Mike Mignola, [A] Ben Stenbeck. Frankenstein’s monster tells an old lady about its tragic history. This comic has some pretty good art, but it’s a typical Hellboy comic, it’s of little interest other than to Hellboy fans, and I’m not sure why I even own it.

DETECTIVE COMICS #651 (DC, 1992) – “A Bullet for Bullock,” [W] Chuck Dixon, [A] Graham Nolan. Bullock investigates an attempt on his life. The culprit is eventually revealed as Bullock’s landlord. It seems that Bullock is an awful tenant, and also he lives in a rent-controlled apartment, so the landlord can’t raise his rent. This ending is funny, but Bullock is an annoying, one-note character and I don’t enjoy reading about him. 

SWEET TOOTH #34 (Vertigo, 2012) – “The Ballad of Johnny and Abbot,” [W] Jeff Lemire, [A] Jeff Lemire with Nate Powell. This is Nate Powell’s second issue of Sweet Tooth, after #19. Those may well be the only monthly comic books he’s ever done, though with comicbookdb  gone, it’s hard to check that. Most of this issue is a flashback, illustrated by Powell, depiting the relationship between the Doctor – Doug Abbot – and his brother Johnny. The Doctor spends most of his life protecting Doug from their abusive father and then from the apocalypse. But back in the present, Johnny refuses to tell the Doctor where the kids have gone, and the Doctor loses patience and shoots him dead. The flashback section of this issue is a harrowing depiction of child abuse. 

THE WOODS #6 (Boom!, 2014) – untitled, W] James Tynion IV, [A] Michael Dialynas. Another story about a good kid and his awful older brother. This issue focuses on Calder, the orange-haired kid, who has spent his entire life covering up for his horrible brother Casey’s crimes. In flashback sequences, we see how Calder is so afraid of Casey that he repeatedly damages his own future just to keep Casey away. It’s a rather terrifying story, though the reader does get angry with Calder for his refusal to tell an adult about Casey’s abuse. Back in the present time frame, the kids encounter a bunch of weird creatures, and Calder tames a giant tiger and rides it. 

2000 AD #474 (IPC, 1986) – Anderson: “The Possessed,” [W] John Wagner & Alan Grant, [A] Brett Ewins. Anderson finds herself in a fantasy world where she fights a demon called Gargarax. Bad City Blue: untitled, [W] Alan Grant, [A] Robin Smith. Dirty Blue is a gangster aboard a spacefaring city that’s being sucked into a black hole. Blue’s futuristic-slang-filled dialogue is annoying to read. Future Shocks: “The Last Rumble of the Platinum Horde!”, [W] Alan Moore, [A] John Higgins. An alien empire conquers one planet after another, until they unknowingly conquer the planet they started from. This is reprinted from #217. Dredd: “The Law According to Judge Dredd,” [W] John Wagner & Alan Grant, [A] Kevin O’Neill. In the Cursed Earth, a grotesque mutant dresses up like Judge Dredd and sets himself up as the local authority. When the real Dredd shows up to rescue some stranded Mega-City citizens, the fake Dredd arrests him. Strontium Dog: “Rage,” [W] Alan Grant, [A] Carlos Ezquerra. Johnny battles some hijackers aboard a spaceliner. This issue’s back cover is an installment of Peter Milligan and Brendan McCarthy’s “Sooner or Later.” As expected, the best thing about McCarthy’s art is his vibrant use of color, and his draftsmanship is designed to accentuate his coloring. 

BATTLE ACTION #196 (IPC, 1978) – None of this issue‘s stories are signed, or if they are, I didn’t notice the signatures. I really wish the GCD had better coverage of British comics. It might be impossible at this point to track down credits for thousands of stories in thousands of old British comics, but I get the sense that for many of these stories, the credits are in fact known to some fans; it’s just that the credits haven’t been recorded in a central repository. Recurring features in this issue include Johnny Red and The Sarge, and another standout is Operation Shark, which has some impressive drawings of underwater combat. Like Warlord, Battle Action had more creative and dynamic page layouts compared to older British comics. 

BACCHUS #33 (Eddie Campbell, 1998) – “The Strokes of Change Which Come Like a Traveler in the Night,” [W/A] Eddie Campbell. This is story 8 of 1001 Nights of Bacchus. It consists mostly of an illustrated poem, about a cursed beer that was responsible for the downfall of people like Caligula and Hitler. There’s also a chapter of Hermes vs. the Eyeball Kid, possibly reprinted from Dark Horse Presents, and, most notably, a 1988 story that was later expanded into Graffiti Kitchen. Graffiti Kitchen is one of Campbell’s most lyrical works, though it depicts a rather creepy age-gap relationship, and the 1988 version has some of that same lyricism. On the inside front cover, Eddie uses the word “scribbling” to refer to a type of untutored drawing which produces “pictorial statements of simple and perfect truth.” I remember he used the same word to refer to a quick sketch he did for me at Comic-Con. 

2000 AD #564 (Fleetway, 1988) – ABC Warriors: “The Black Hole,” [W] Pat Mills, [A] Simon Bisley. The ABC Warriors fight an army commander whose daughter ran off with a robot. I can’t quite follow the plot here, but Bisley’s draftsmanship is spectacular. He’s just as good at pencil art as he is at painting. Dredd: “Dredd in Oz Part 20,” [W] John Wagner & Alan Grant, [A] John Higgins. Dredd confronts Chopper, a fugitive from Mega-City One, but agrees to refrain from arresting him until after the Supersurf race. Supposedly Wagner and Grant disagreed over how this story should end, and their partnership broke up as a result, though I read an interview where Wagner instead said their breaking point was The Last American. Nemesis: “Purity’s Story,” [W] Pat Mills, [A] David Roach. Torquemada sends a monster called the Mimesis to fight Nemesis, and it apparently wins. I know David Roach is an admirer of the French artist Paul Gillon, and his spotting of blacks reminds me of Gillon, or maybe Al Williamson. Future Shocks: “Care,” [W] Alan McKenzie, [A] Richard Elson. A mostly silent story about a little boy with destructive powers. This story references the Sellafield disaster, a possible reference to a real nuclear disaster in 1957. Strontium Dog: “Stone Killers,” [W] Alan Grant, [A] Carlos Ezquerra. Johnny and Durham Red fight some of the silicon-based crooks. 

SWEET TOOTH #35 (Vertigo, 2012) – “The Singh Tapes: Vol. 3: Alaska,” [W/A] Jeff Lemire. Volume 1 of The Singh Tapes was in issue 12, but I don’t know if there was a volume 2. This issue employs a formal gimmick where each page tells two separate stories. The top three-quarters of each pagetell the story of a worker at the Anchor Bay research facility. His pregnant wife appears to miscarry, but after his fellow coworkers come down with the plague, he discovers that his son survived but was born with horns. The baby, of course, was Gus, and the protagonist of this part of the story is his biological father. On the bottom panel tier of each page, in a sequence set in the present timeframe, Dr. Singh investigates the now-deserted Anchor Bay facility and finds the same tombs we saw in #27. Then he’s confronted by six animal-human hybrids. 

KILLADELPHIA #8 (Image, 2020) – “Burn Baby Burn Part II: Oh So Close…”, [W] Rodney Barnes, [A] Jason Shaun Alexander. In the afterlife, James Sangster Sr is conducted by Charon to his dead wife, but then he has to return to life to help his son out. I’ve had enough of this series and will be dropping it from my pull list. 

CANTO II: THE HOLLOW MEN #2 (IDW, 2020) – untitled, [W] David M. Booher, [A] Drew Zucker. The clockwork soldiers visit a town whose people were turned into scarecrows by the Shrouded Man, and they team up with a woman who’s the only survivor of the town. I still haven’t read issue 3, but I will try to get to it tomorrow. 

MAESTRO #2 (Marvel, 2020) – “Symphony in a Gamma Key,” [W] Peter David, [A] Germán Peralta. Hulk meets some survivors who tell him about the Maestro. Then he meets the actual Maestro, who is not the Hulk himself but Hercules. This series is okay, but it’s not as exciting or funny as PAD’s original Hulk run.  

SWEET TOOTH #36 (Vertigo, 2012) – “Wild Game Part 1 of 4,” [W/A] Jeff Lemire. This issue’s first seven pages are a dream sequence, colored by Jeff himself in the same style as Royal City. After that, the protagonists reach Anchor Bay and meet Dr. Singh and Gus’s six siblings. Dr. Singh tells a crazy schizophrenic story about the origin of the plague, but even after having finished the series, I still don’t quite get what caused the plague, or what was in the Inuit tombs. Maybe it’ll make sense if I read the whole series in order. 

2000 AD #566 (Fleetway, 1988) – ABC Warriors: as above. The ABC Warriors are almost executed, along with their human new friend Terri, who thinks she’s a robot. But they survive and fight some zombies. Again, Bisley’s draftsmanship is incredible. Tyranny Rex: “in His Image,” [W] John Smith, [A] Steve Dillon. Rex gets a job working for a rock star obviously based on Prince. This was 2000 AD’s second Prince parody in two years; see also prog 513. Dredd: “Dredd in Oz Part 22: Wipe-Out,” as above except [A] Barry Kitson. Chopper competes in the deadly Supersurf race, and the chapter ends with him falling off his board. Strontium Dog: as above. Johnny and Durham Red recruit Middenface McNulty, who appears to be the stone criminals’ next victim. Nemesis: as above. Nemesis has a philosophical conversation with Purity, and admits that he has more respect for bugs than humans, due to the former’s survival ability. This story is an interesting glimpse into Nemesis’s mentality. Nemesis himself sometimes seems like a supporting character in his own series, because Torquemada is a far more compelling character and, like Satan in Paradise Lost, Torquemada feels like the real protagonist.  

BATTLE #385 (IPC, 1982) – This issue’s cover feature is John Wagner and Jim Watson’s “Fight for the Falklands,” a rather jingoistic depiction of the Falklands War. The two features in this issue that I’ve seen before are Johnny Red and Clash of the Guards. There’s also The Fists of Jimmy Chang, a late example of the kung fu genre, and Truck Turpin, about a “trans-America truck rally.” Writers in this issue include Tom Tully, Gerry-Finley-Day, Scott Goodall and Alan Hebden, and artists include Vano, Carlos Pino, Eric Bradbury, John Cooper and John Vernon. 

CHEW #33 (Image, 2013) – “Bad Apples Part 3 of 5,” [W] John Layman, [A] Rob Guillory. Chu and Colby are sent to Yamapalu Island to investigate a cult of egg worshippers. They bring along a secret weapon, which we’re led to assume is Poyo. The twist is that Poyo is busy fighting “Pengthulu,” and the secret weapon is just a bunch of baseballs. But Tony is able to use the baseballs to save the day anyway. 

SWEET TOOTH #37 (Vertigo, 2012) – “Wild Game Part 2,” as above. The Doctor plans his invasion of Anchor Bay, and sends the dead crow kid and the wounded Bobby as messengers of his arrival. The various protagonists have a series of conversations with each other. This is a calm-before-the-storm issue. 

2000 AD #569 (Fleetway, 1988) – Rogue Trooper: “Message in a Battle,” [W] Simon Geller, [A] Steve Dillon. Rogue carries out another assassination mission and runs into Venus Bluegenes. Strontium Dog: as above. Johnny and Durham Red join McNulty and fight the stone dudes. Dredd: “Dredd in Oz Part 25: Gasoline Alley,” as above except [A] Jim Baikie. The race continues, and Chopper and his nemesis Jug McKenzie are neck and neck as they approach the finish line. Future Shocks: “Of Glooking Globs and Gloins,” [W] Connor Corderoy, [A] Massimo Belardinelli. A dumb story about a superhero who fights an alien invasion. I think Connor Corderoy is a real person and not a pseudonym, but this was his only work for 2000 AD. 

SIN CITY: SEX & VIOLENCE (Dark Horse, 1997) – “Wrong Turn,” [W/A] Frank Miller. A man almost runs over a woman with his car, but she’s really an assassin who’s been sent to kill him. I really do not like Sin City. It reads like a parody of “grim and gritty” rather than the real thing, and it’s also very misogynistic. All it has going for it is some striking art. In my opinion, Frank Miller jumped the shark sometime in the early to mid ‘90s. 

THE SPIRIT #30 (Kitchen Sink, 1981) – “Spirit Jam,” [W/A] various. I bought this and the next comic from my friend Dan Yezbick. Kitchen Sink’s Spirit series was mostly reprints, and this issue starts with two reprinted old stories – including “Beagle’s Second Chance”, which I previously read in R.C. Harvey’s Art of the Comic Book. But the bulk of this issue is devoted to a new story, a 36-page jam by an all-star cast of creators. The credits for this story read like a guest list for a comic convention: Miller, Bolland, Kurtzman, Corben, Rosa, Hembeck, etc. Because it’s a jam, the story makes no logical sense. But all the creators were clearly thrilled by the opportunity to write and draw on Eisner’s legendary character, and it’s fun to compare all their styles and figure out who did what. I didn’t know this comic existed until Dan offered it to me, and it’s a nice addition to my collection. 

WALT DISNEY’S COMICS AND STORIES #207 (Dell, 1957) – “The Tenderfoot Trap,” [W/A] Carl Barks. This is the one where Donald has to tame a wild burro in order to win a uranium mine. I’ve read this story before in Uncle Scrooge #232, but it’s funny and it’s worth revisiting. As usual, most of the other stories in this issue are crap, but there is a Mickey story by Fallberg and Murry, in which Mickey and Goofy run Pete while looking for underwater treasure. 

COMIX BOOK #1 (Marvel, 1974) – [E] Denis Kitchen. I won this in an eBay auction, along with issue 4, which I haven’t read yet. I already have the Best of Comix Book hardcover, but I always prefer to own the original comics. Comix Book was a short-lived experiment in which Marvel tried to publish their own underground comics. It was doomed to failure because the underground comix ethos was incompatible with sponsorship by a major publisher. But at least in this issue, Denis Kitchen managed to recruit some excellent creators. This issue includes: Trina Robbins’s “Panthea.” Art Spiegelman’s “Ace Hole, Midget Detective,” reprinted from Short Order Comix #2. Basil Wolverton’s “Calvin,” one of his last works. Evert Geradts’s “Marion McKay’s All-Animal Orchestra,” reprinted from Snarf and perhaps originally from some Dutch comic. Kim Deitch’s “Bestial Passion,” about a woman who drams about being kidnapped by dogs, then wakes up to find that she is a dog. Justin Green’s “We Fellow Traveleers,” kind of an incoherent stream-of-consciousness story. And multiple strips by Howard Cruse and Skip Williamson. There are also a few stories by lesser creators, but Comix Book has as strong a lineup of talent as any underground comic, and it’s a fascinating experiment, even if (or because) it was a failed one.  

SWEET TOOTH #38 (Vertigo, 2012) – “Wild Game Part 3,” as above. Tommy and Jimmy try to defend the town from Doug’s troops, while the women and kids hide. But Jimmy is killed, and the women and kids are captured. Things are looking quite grim. 

SWEET TOOTH #39 (Vertigo, 2013) – “Wild Game Part 4,” as above. The cavalry arrives, in the form of the other six hybrid children. But Doug kidnaps Tommy’s son Buddy, who he brought with him, and retreats into the room with the tombs. Tommy pursues Doug and is mortally wounded, but Gus follows them and kills Doug. Then Tommy dies in Gus’s arms. Very sad. 

BATTLE #351 (IPC, 1982) – This issue’s Charley’s War segment depicts the Third Battle of Ypres, when rain turned the muddy battlefield into a swamp. Joe Colquhoun’s black-and-white art is very powerful, giving a sense of the muddy chaos of trench warfare. But I think I’ll have to read multiple chapters of this story together in order to see why it’s so great. Artists in this issue, besides those mentioned in earlier reviews, include Cam Kennedy and Francisco Masip. That was the last issue of Battle I ordered from mycomicshop. I really want to read more of Battle and especially Action, but they’re hard to find online. 

2000 AD #572 (Fleetway, 1988) – Rogue Trooper: “Staying Alive,” as above. Rogue tries to assassinate a man named Vaughan, while his potential victims plan their defense against him. Strontium Dog: “Stone Killers Part 13,” as above. Johnny confronts Stix, the elderly father of the stone killers, and he (Stix) dies of a heart attack. Dredd: “Hitman Part Two,” [W] John Wagner & Alan Grant, [A] Jim Baikie. An assassin tries to kill Dredd, but obviously fails. There’s a flashback to the end of Dredd in Oz, where Dredd chose not to kill Chopper. Future Shocks: “Wally Saves the Day,” [W] Steve Dillon, [A] Massimo Belardinelli. A cute bloblike alien gets killed while trying to resolve a hostage crisis. The moral of the story is  “always leave the loonies to the police.” Luke Kirby: “Summer Magic,” [W] Alan McKenzie, [A] John Ridgway. Little Luke Kirby accompanies his uncle on a wolf hunt, and encounters a werewolf. This is Luke Kirby’s second appearance. 

VICTOR LAVALLE’S DESTROYER #4 (Boom!, 2017) – untitled, [W] Victor LaValle, [A] Dietrich Smith. In a flashback, Josephine’s psychotic boss tries to enlist her in a project to create eternal life, but Josephine reveals that she’s pregnant with Akai, and her boss fires her. In the present, Akai and Josephine fight Frankenstein’s monster and its bride. This is a really important series, and I need to reread it in order. 

MOM’S HOMEMADE COMICS #1 (Kitchen Sink, 1971) – “Ingrid the Bitch,” [W/A] Denis Kitchen. Not a great underground comic. Its lead story is a very uncomfortable depiction of a kindergarten-aged sex maniac. This story is even more tasteless than Crumb’s “Joe Blow.” I like Denis Kitchen’s draftsmanship and lettering, but he was far more important as a publisher than as an artist. The other material in this issue is mediocre, and the only other notable creator in the issue is Skip Williamson. 

HEART THROBS SEASON TWO #2 (Oni, 2017) – “Let’s Do Some Crimes,” [W] Christopher Sebela, [A] Robert Wilson IV. Callie tries to get a normal job and a non-criminal boyfriend, but discovers that she enjoys the thrill of committing crimes as much as she enjoys the proceeds of those crimes. This is another series that I wish I’d read in order. 

SWEET TOOTH #40 (Vertigo, 2012) – “Home Sweet Home,” [W/A] Jeff Lemire. Many years after #39, Gus defends his and Wendy’s two sons from invading normal humans. Then we see how Gus, Bobby and the other kids have built an idyllic community in Nebraska, and eventually the hybrids inherit the world, as the few remaining normal humans die of the plague. As the series ends, an elderly Gus, now a grandfather, dies while imagining himself walking into the sunset with Tommy. This is a really sweet ending to a series that was often very grim and cruel. The sequel, Sweet Tooth: The Return, has already begun, but I haven’t gotten it yet. 

Another trip to Heroes: 

LUMBERJANES #74 (Boom!, 2020) – “Daylight Savor Part 2,” [W] Shannon Watters, [W/A] Kat Leyh. Ripley, Jo and Jen escape from the Land of Lost Objects, and Ripley says goodbye to Jonesy. Mal plans a giant concert for Molly, but her plans fail because of too many cooks (or mermaids) spoiling the broth. But Mal and Molly still enjoy a romantic moment together. Meanwhile, the coyote revives the big bad dark lord that’s been vaguely hinted at in earlier issues. This series’ conclusion is going to be sad but epic. 

ONCE AND FUTURE #12 (IDW, 2020) – “The Kings Are Undead” conclusion, [W] Kieron Gillen, [A] Dan Mora. Duncan fights Grendel’s mom underwater. Mary/Elaine/Nimue reads the passage from the Nowell Codex in which Beowulf discovers a sword underwater and uses it to kill Grendel’s mom, and Grendel does the same thing. Mary mentions that there’s a “war of stories” between the native British and immigrant populations, and that Beowulf is an example of a “feral story’ that was “trapped in paper” before its 19th-century revival. This idea of “feral stories” recurs throughout the series. I keep trying to think of something to present on for ICFA next year, and maybe I should submit something on Once and Future. 

WE ONLY FIND THEM WHEN THEY’RE DEAD #2 (Boom!, 2020) – “What’s So Important,” [W] Al Ewing, [A] Simone Di Meo.  The ship’s crew proceeds with their search for a live god, but Georges’s enemy and former friend Paula pursues them. I’m not clear on just what Georges and Paula’s relationship is. This is a good issue, but I have nothing new to say about it. 

THE DREAMING: WAKING HOURS #3 (DC, 2020) – “The Bard and the Bard, Part Three,” [W] G. Willow Wilson, [A] Nick Robles. Lindy explains how her child was conceived, and also gives a very accurate description of being an academic in the “post-tenure gig economy.” The characters on Earth try to summon Puck, but it doesn’t go well. Daniel consults Brute and Glob to find out what happened to Ruin. The Daniel sequence is drawn in a very different style from the rest of the issue; it looks painted rather than line-drawn. Finally, Lindy decides to try to learn Shakespeare’s identity by performing one of his lesser-known plays. 

ADVENTUREMAN #4 (Image, 2020) – untitled, [W] Matt Fraction, [A] Terry Dodson. Claire adjusts to her new body. Gentleman Jim Royale explains that to save the world, he had to erase the memory of Adventureman and his team. Tommy figures out he can find his mother again by reversing that same process. Another really fun issue. 

SEVEN SECRETS #3 (Boom!, 2020) – untitled, [W] Tom Taylor, [A] Daniele Di Nicuolo. Caspar wins the trial to be the new Keeper, and also learns that his mother really does love him. Then the villains launch their attempt to steal Caspar’s Secret. Caspar is a really cute protagonist. 

USAGI YOJIMBO #13 (Dark Horse, 2020) – “The Return Part Three,” [W/A] Stan Sakai. Mariko and the old nurse both get caught, although Mariko escapes and runs into someone whose identity is not revealed – my guess is Chizu. Usagi and Kenji wait for the right moment to attack, and we get another childhood flashback in which they fight an army of tokage. Using the nurse as a hostage, Kato forces Usagi to surrender his swords, then decides to kill her and the other prisoners anyway. So the only hope is if Mariko comes back with the cavalry. This entire story has been incredibly suspenseful and thrilling, with occasional moments of warmth, and it’s Stan’s best work in many years. 

PENULTIMAN #1 (Ahoy, 2020) – untitled, [W] Tom Peyer, [A] Alan Robinson. As depicted in last year’s Steel Cage #1, Penultiman is a superhero from the 910th century, so he’s far more advanced than modern humans, but he’s an evolutionary throwback compared to the people of his own time. This gives him a huge inferiority complex. This issue, Penultiman is summoned back to the 910th century, where he completes a mission for his parent and is then rudely dismissed. On returning to the 21st century, Penultiman discovers that his robot assistant, Antepenultiman, has replaced him and has been a more effective superhero than Penultiman himself. This is a fun debut issue, and I’m excited about this series. 

MY LITTLE PONY/TRANSFORMERS: FRIENDSHIP IN DISGUISE #3 (IDW, 2020) – “Pet Sounds,” [W] James Asmus, [A] Jack Lawrence: Fluttershy befriends some of Shockwave’s robot/animal sidekicks (Ratbat, Laserbeak, etc.) and turns them against their master. She even succeed in befriending Soundwave himself. “The Flyin’ Fox Trot,” [W] Sam Maggs, [A] Priscilla Tramontano: Rainbow Dash has a race with Windblade. The first story in this issue is cute, but both stories are insubstantial, and this series lacks an overall plot. 

EMPYRE: FALLOUT FANTASTIC FOUR #1 (Marvel, 2020) – untitled, [W] Dan Slott, [A] Sean Izaakse. The FF and Avengers rescue Jo-Venn and N’Kalla from the Profiteer, and Ben and Alicia decide to adopt the kids. This is a really cute moment, and a nice solution to Ben and Alicia’s difficulty having biological children. It is annoying that this important moment happened in a spin-off issue and not in the regular FF comic. This issue should have just been a regular issue of Fantastic Four. 

MONEY SHOT #9 (Vault, 2020) – untitled, [W] Tim Seeley & Sarah Beattie, [A] Rebekah Isaacs. The Money Shot team teleport away from Cockaigne with the President and Councilor Sinch, the centaur woman. To raise enough money to teleport away, they have to film the centaur having sex with Dr. Teozol Al’gnon, the purple long-nosed dude, shapeshifted into the form of President Kirk. That’s the kind of series that Money Shot is. Finally, the crew is able to escape and reach the leaders of the Covalence, who manifest as three giant jellyfish. 

AMERICAN VAMPIRE 1976 #1 (DC, 2020) – “Don’t look behind you!”, [W] Scott Snyder, [A] Rafael Albuquerque. This comic seems to be about a vampire/motorcycle daredevil named Skinner Sweet, but other than that, I couldn’t understand it. It seems to assume knowledge of all the previous American Vampire comics, rather than serving as a starting point for new readers. I’ll keep reading this series for now, but I wish it were more accessible. 

STRANGE ADVENTURES #6 (DC, 2020) – “Another Thing,” [W] Tom King, [A] Mitch Gerads & Evan “Doc” Shaner. In the present, Alana and Mr. Terrific talk about losing their children, and there are more flashbacks to the Pykkt war. So this issue doesn’t advance the plot a whole lot. The highlight of the issue is the scene taking place at the Spoonbridge and Cherry in the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden. 

BLACK WIDOW #2 (Marvel, 2020) – “The Ties That Bind Part 2,” [W] Kelly Thompson, [A] Elena Casagrande. Clint and Bucky track Natasha down and find that she’s living in the suburbs with a man named James. And they have a baby boy, who’s much too old to have been conceived and born since Natasha vanished. Natasha fights some thugs and then builds a bomb without realizing she’s doing it. This continues to be an excellent series, and it’s a nice addition to Kelly Thompson’s corner of the Marvel Universe. 

DIE #14 (Image, 2020) – “Dual Wield,” [W] Kieron Gillen, [A] Stephanie Hans. Matt learns that his father is dead, back in the real world. He returns to the room with the emotion weapons, and is now able to wield both the “sword of grief” and the “maul of rage.” Otherwise, this issue is mostly setup for the big fight between Angria and Eternal Prussia. 

INKBLOT #2 (Image, 2020) – untitled, [W] Rusty Gladd, [A] Emma Kubert. In a flashback, a little elf girl’s mother is enslaved by “sorcerers.” In the present, the cat saves the now-adult girl and her own daughter from a dragon. Easily the best thing about this series is the cat. Besides that, the series is a little unpolished, but the cat is so cute that I don’t care. 

LONELY RECEIVER #2 (AfterShock, 2020) – “A Week: You’re the Maker of My Evil,” [W] Zac Thompson, [A] Jen Hickman. Catrin tries to get her phone company to fix her phone or recreate Rhion, but it’s no use. Catrin plunges into depression, until she unexpectedly runs into Rhion at a nightclub. This ending is obviously too good to be true, so I assume it’s not the real Rhion. This series effectively uses science fiction to depict a codependent relationship. 

LOCKE & KEY: IN PALE BATTALIONS GO #2 (IDW, 2020) – untitled, [W] Joe Hill, [A] Gabriel Rodriguez. Two German soldiers watch Jonathan Locke using the shadow key to slaughter their comrades. Locke kills one of the soldiers, but lets the other go. The surviving German follows Locke through a portal into the Keyhouse, and accidentally stabs Locke’s sister. This issue is quite entertaining, and it seems like a fairly accurate depiction of WWI. 

GETTING IT TOGETHER #1 (Image, 2020) – untitled, [W] Sina Grace & Omar Spahi, [A] Jenny D. Fine. Two twentysomething lovers, Sam and Lauren, break up, they each start searching for new lovers, and lots of relationship drama ensues. This comic feels like an honest attempt to depict young people’s relationships, but it’s a bit boring.  However, I’m glad that Image is still willing to publish a comic like this, even though it might have trouble finding an audience in the direct market. (BTW, I still resist the idea that I’m not still a “young person.” As I write this, I’m still not 38 for a couple more days.) 

WONDER WOMAN #764 (DC, 2020) – “The Amazing Adventures of Darren Hondor or Miami or Bust!”, [W] Mariko Tamaki, [A] Steve Pugh. Diana and Max visit Miami, where they fight a bunch of cyborgs. This issue is rather insubstantial, and I don’t understand where the cyborgs came from. 

COMMANDERS IN CRISIS #1 (Image, 2020) – “The Action of Mystery,” [W] Steve Orlando, [A] Davide Tinto. I didn’t like Steve Orlando’s last creator-owned series, Crude, but I thought I might as well try this one. Commanders in Crisis is about a team of superheroes from alternate realities, each of whom, as we learn, was the president of their version of America and is now the last survivor of their reality. This is an interesting premise, and I also like the individual characters, especially the one who can alter reality by inventing new words. I’m going to keep reading this series. 

CAPTAIN MARVEL #22 (Marvel, 2020) – “The New World Part One,” [W] Kelly Thompson, [A] Lee Garbett. Carol is brought forward in time to 2052, the same version of 2052 that was previously seen in Captain Marvel: The End. I had forgotten about that issue, but it’s still kind of fun to see the characters from it again.  

2000 AD #573 (Fleetway, 1988) – ABC Warriors: “The Black Hole,” [W] Pat Mills, [A] SMS. I don’t remember this installment’s plot, but SMS’s artwork is just incredible. His renderings of robots and art-deco cities are insanely detailed and creative. Too bad he was too slow to do periodical comics. Luke Kirby: “Summer Magic,” as above. The werewolf kills an old lady, and Luke leads some hunters to it. “That night I saw the true nature of death, and left my childhood behind forever.” Dredd: “Hitman Part Three,” [W] John Wagner & Alan Grant, [A] Jim Baikie. The assassin puts on a judge’s costume and makes it into Dredd’s hospital room. Judge Hershey realizes Dredd is in danger, but by the time she arrives in Dredd’s room, Dredd has already dispatched the assassin with a gun he kept under his bedclothes. Strontium Dog: “Incident on Zeta,” [W] Alan Grant, [A] Carlos Ezquerra. Johnny succeeds in defeating the hijackers. 

2000 AD #576 (Fleetway, 1988) – Bad Company: “The Krool Heart,” [W] Peter Milligan, [A] Brett Ewins. I don’t know what happened between this story and the first one, but Kano, Danny Franks and Protoid are now searching for the “Krool Heart.” On a Krool-held planet, Danny falls into a pit where the Krool have been distilling the essence of pain. Luke Kirby: “Summer Magic Episode 6,” as above. Luke’s Uncle Elias is too ill to search for the werewolf, so Luke has to go looking for it on his own, and he finds it. Dredd: “Skeet and the Wrecking Crew II,” [W] Alan Grant, [A] Liam Sharp. At this point Wagner and Grant were no longer working together. In this story, a trucker named Skeet Orbison uses his old obsolete truck to take revenge on the “wrecking crew” that damaged the truck. ABC Warriors: as above. The ABC Warriors infiltrate the tomb of Emperor Zalinn. SMS’s art here is a bit less obsessively detailed than in #573, but still amazing. It’s a real shame that this was SMS’s last issue of 2000 AD. 

IMMORTAL HULK #38 (Marvel, 2020) – “Not Just, Not God,” [W] Al Ewing, [A] Joe Bennett. The Leader causes havoc both in the real world and in Bruce’s mindscape. Bruce summons the Devil Hulk to protect him. I’m not familiar with this character, but he seems to have originated in Paul Jenkins’s Hulk series from 2000. 

THE DEVIL’S RED BRIDE #1 (Vault, 2020) – untitled, [W] Sebastian Girner, [A] John Bivens. In Japan’s Warring States period, Isanosuke leads the Aragami clan into battle. But in fact Isanosuke is a coward, and his sister Ketsuko has been posing as him. Three years later, Ketsuko is seeking revenge on the Kamimura clan for killing the Aragami clan. This series could be accused of cultural appropriation, but no more so than the game Ghost of Tsushima, which seems to be quite popular in Japan despite being produced by Americans. Other than that it’s kind of average, but I’ll continue reading it for now. 

BILL & TED ARE DOOMED #2 (Dark Horse, 2020) – untitled, [W] Evan Dorkin, [A] Roger Langridge. Bill and Ted’s tour is a disaster. Their last stop is the “Freezing Norseman” festival, which is even more of a disaster because it’s a metal festival, and the Wyld Stallyns’ music is no longer considered metal. Also, the crowd goes insane and is about to kill Bill and Ted. This is another really fun issue. There are a lot of cute gags, like the menu board that lists spam, eggs, bacon and spam, or the venue called “Le Triste Alcoolique.” 

GREEN LANTERN SEASON TWO #8 (DC, 2020) – “War with the Anti-World!”, [W] Grant Morrison, [A] Liam Sharp. The gimmick of this issue is that the scenes are in reverse chronological order, so you can read the issue either forwards or backwards. However, this is an unsuccessful experiment because the story is confusing when read in either direction. Further adding to the confusion, the Green Lanterns’ dialogue is mirror-reversed. I don’t quite get why the Green Lanterns are attacking Qward in the first place. I should mention here that Grant Morrison just came out as genderqueer. 

YASMEEN #3 (Scout, 2020) – untitled, [W] Saif A. Ahmed, [A] Fabiana Mascolo. In Iraq, Yasmeen is forced to injure her captor so he can’t be drafted, and then she finds a way of contacting her brother. Back in America, Yasmeen goes through some normal high school drama. To expand on what I said before, Yasmeen is the underrated below-the-radar gem of 2020, just like These Savage Shores last year. Scout is generally a mediocre publisher, but they do have the occasional good comic, like Yasmeen or Henchgirl. 

GIANT-SIZE X-MEN: TRIBUTE TO WEIN AND COCKRUM #1 (Marvel, 2020) – “Second Genesis!”, [W] Len Wein, [A] various. I may have more different versions of Giant-Size X-Men #1 than of any other comic. I don’t have the original, but I do have the 1990s facsimile edition, X-Men Special Edition #1, Classic X-Men #1 (the latter two both have additional material and are thus not redundant), and now this version. This issue is unusual because the dialogue is the same as in the original comic, but each page is reinterpreted by a different art team. It’s a cool idea, and it’s fun seeing how various artists have reimagined this old story. But I would have preferred a new story and new dialogue, although I suppose that would have been more expensive. 

DECORUM #5 (Image, 2020) – “This is Not a Job for Those with a Weak Stomach,” [W] Jonathan Hickman, [A] Mike Huddleston. Neha Nori Sood goes to assassination school and finally succeeds in assassinating someone on her own. Her first victim is her old tormentor Luca. The main story of this issue is entertaining, but I could have done without all the title pages and text pages and frontispieces. Also, most of the worldbuilding in this series is unnecessary. I will have more to say later about Hickman’s habit of excessive worldbuilding. 

ADLER #4 (Titan, 2020) – untitled, [W] Lavie Tidhar, [A] Paul McCaffrey. I wasn’t able to get issue 3. This issue, Carmilla’s troops invade Miss Havisham’s home. A barely-alive Queen Victoria herself helps them escape, but meanwhile, Ayesha lifts off in an airship carrying an atomic bomb. This issue was fun, but Paul McCaffrey draws ugly and monotonous facial expressions. 

PRETTY VIOLENT #10 (Image, 2020) – untitled, [W/A] Derek Hunter, [W] Jason Young. Gamma Rae fights some giant purple dudes. I still don’t understand this series’ plot, and its jokes are getting old. I’m going to quit reading it. 

NO ONE’S ROSE #5 (Vault, 2020) – untitled, [W] Zac Thompson & Emily Horn, [A] Alberto Albuquerque. Seren is killed, but Tenn destroys the city’s AI and leads the survivors out into the dome to make peace with the Geddontibe people. This was a good miniseries. I wasn’t impressed by Zac Thompson’s writing before, but I’m starting to enjoy his work now. 

SUPERIOR SPIDER-MAN #23 (Marvel, 2014) – “Darkest Hours,” [W] Dan Slott & Christos Gage, [A] Humberto Ramos. Superior Spidey tries and fails to kill Venom. Then Peter has a dinner party to which Venom’s alter ego, Flash, is invited, and Peter convinces Flash to be an experimental subject for a new artificial limb technology. This is actually a trick to enable Peter/Doc Ock to contain the Venom symbiote, but instead the symbiote possesses Peter, becoming Superior Venom. One of the subplots is that Carlie is kidnapped by the Goblin Nation. 

DEADLINE #12 (Deadline, 1989) – [E] Brett Ewins & Steve Dillon. I bought this on eBay for a bargain price, though it’s not in great condition. The highlight of the issue is a nine-page Tank Girl strip. It’s mostly about a female Australian Aboriginal demon, and Tank Girl only shows up at the end, but Hewlett’s art is incredible. There’s also a Wired World story by Philip Bond about an ice cream man who kidnaps children, and a Johnny Nemo story by Milligan and Dillon, in which Johnny fights some fascists. And there’s a Hugo Tate story by Nick Abadzis in which Hugo misses his chance to stop his love interest from leaving town. Hugo’s behavior in this story is kind of embarrassing. Other contributors to this issue include Glenn Dakin and Disraeli. I hope I can find more issues of Deadline soon. 

2000 AD #598 (Fleetway, 1988) – Zenith: “Waiting for the Big Bang,” [W] Grant Morrison, [A] Steve Yeowell. The old bald guy, Peyne, tries to win Zenith over to his side, and also invites him to “breed” with Shockwave and Blaze. Rogue Trooper: “Hit Four: The New Moral Army,” [W] Simon Geller, [A] Steve Dillon. Rogue and his pals are sent to assassinate a crazy fundamentalist preacher. Dredd: “Worms,” [W] Alan Grant, [A] Chris Weston (miscredited as Colin Weston). At this point in time, the Dredd stories began at the centerfold and then concluded six pages later. That’s very annoying. In this story, a high school bully goes on a field trip to a plant that disposes of garbage by feeding it to worms. The bully feeds a classmate and a teacher to the worms, before being apprehended by Dredd. Chris Weston’s art in this story is a bit crude, but his draftsmanship is already very detailed. Moon Runners: untitled, [W] Alan McKenzie & Steve Parkhouse, [A] Massimo Belardinelli. Lady Cara heads off into space. Belardinelli’s art in this series is much more subdued than in Ace Trucking Co. or The Dead, though he does draw some weird-looking aliens. Tyranny Rex: “Soft Bodies,” [W] John Smith & Chris Standley, [A] Will Simpson. This story makes no sense to me. 

LETTER 44 #12 (Oni, 2014) – untitled, [W] Charles Soule, [A] Alberto Jimenez Albuquerque. The spaceship is invaded by pyramidal aliens. In Afghanistan, two soldiers die of radiation poisoning after tracing the origin of an atomic bomb attack to Germany. Yet again this series would make more sense if I read it in order. 

ATOMIC ROBO: DOGS OF WAR #2 (Red 5, 2008) – “And Then There’s the Robots,” [W] Brian Clevinger, [A] Scott Wegener. Robo fights a bunch of Laufpanzers. A funny but basic story.

A shipment of $1 comics from “The Hall of Comics”: 

X-MEN #1 (Marvel, 2019) – “Pax Krakoa,” [W] Jonathan Hickman, [A] Leinil Francis Yu. The beginning of the most important X-Men run since Grant Morrison’s. This issue starts with a flashback to Scott’s first meeting with Professor X. Then we see the X-Men rescuing some mutant children from Orchis, and then we go to Krakoa, where we watch the Summers family having dinner. The most notable thing about this issue is the map that shows that Jean’s bedroom is directly between Scott and Logan’s rooms, and there seem to be doors connecting the three rooms. The implications of this are rather intriguing. See this article by Susana Polo for more on this topic: https://www.polygon.com/2019/10/16/20916145/x-men-1-wolverine-cyclops-jean-grey-love-triangle-hickman

THE WOODS #5 (Boom!, 2014) – untitled, [W] James Tynion IV, [A] Michael Dialynas. Back in high school, Sanami goes missing, and her best friends (and lovers?) Karen and Mira have to track her down. In the fantasy world, Karen has to find Sanami a second time. Most issues of this series include extended flashbacks to the characters’ high school lives, and while these flashbacks slow the progress of the present-day plot, they also make the characters much deeper. 

BIRTHRIGHT #8 (Image, 2015) – untitled, [W] Joshua Williamson, [A] Andrei Bressan. Brennan is badly hurt fighting one of the mages, while Rya escapes being captured by two guys in a helicopter. I wonder what happened to Becca, the girl who befriends Brennan in this storyline (and who shot him at the end of #7). I don’t recall her appearing later in the series. 

GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY #2 (Marvel, 2020) – untitled, [W] Al Ewing, [A] Juann Cabal. The Guardians fight the Greek gods, and Quill apparently sacrifices himself so his team can escape, leaving Rocket heartbroken. I think I want to start reading this series on a monthly basis, because I really like Al Ewing’s writing, and I enjoyed his previous take on Rocket Raccoon. 

PARADISO #3 (Image, 2018) – untitled, [W] Ram V, [A] Devmalya Pramanik. This may have been Ram V’s first comic book series. It’s a postapocalyptic story with a lot of motorcycles and a computer called Kronos, but besides that, I don’t understand its plot. Unlike These Savage Shores or Grafity’s Wall, Paradiso seems to have no explicit references to Indian culture. 

RED THORN #1 (Vertigo, 2016) – “Glasgow Kiss,” [W] David Baillie, [A] Meghan Hetrick. I have the first five issues of this series, but I hadn’t read any of them until now. In Red Thorn #1, an American woman named Isla Mackintosh visits Scotland to investigate the death of her sister, who died in Scotland years ago while studying the architect Charles Rennie Mackintosh. Also, Isla has the power to create living creatures by drawing them. In this issue she meets a new love interest, but also discovers that someone else shares her power and is using it to kill people. This is an intriguing series so far. David Baillie is himself from Scotland, and his depiction of it feels accurate to me. Meghan Hetrick’s art and Steve Oliff’s coloring are very vivid. 

THE BATMAN ADVENTURES #30 (DC, 1995) – “Natural Born Loser,” [W] Kelley Puckett, [A] Rick Burchett. A crook named Marty and his moll Erica try to find a giant pearl which was previously stolen by the Perfesser, Mastermind and Mr. Nice – aka Denny O’Neil, Mike Carlin and Archie Goodwin. The catch is that the giant pearl isn’t ready yet, because it’s still inside a giant oyster. This issue focuses entirely on the three villains, and Batman himself only appears on the last page. Batman Adventures was a brilliant series, largely because of Kelley Puckett’s amazing narrative economy. I wonder why he didn’t do more work in comics. 

HORIZON #1 (Image, 2016) – “Enemy Line,” [W] Brandon Thomas, [A] Juan Gedeon. A blue-skinned alien, Zhia Malen, lands on Earth and begins her mission: to preemptively stop Earth from invading her planet. This issue is a quick read, but it’s interesting. I’d like to read more of Brandon Thomas’s work. 

AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #5 (Marvel, 2016) – “Set in Stone,” [W] Dan Slott & Christos Gage, [A] Giuseppe Camuncoli. Peter and Mockingbird fight the new Zodiac at the British Museum. Peter also has to save Parker Industries from financial ruin after its technology invaded London’s CCTV network. This issue was okay, but not Slott’s best. 

NIGHTCRAWLER #3 (Marvel, 2014) – “If at First You Don’t Succeed… Tri, Trimega Again!”, [W] Chris Claremont, [A] Todd Nauck. Kurt, Amanda and Margali fight three dudes called Trimega, then they go to the X-Mansion. But Kurt has to convince Storm to let Amanda and Margali in, because of their troubled history. And Storm is right to distrust Amanda and Margali because they both betray the X-Men at once. Meanwhile, Kurt has a beer with Logan. This issue isn’t terrible, but it lacks the energy of classic Claremont. Like Paul Levitz, Claremont has remained the same writer he always was, while the rest of the industry has evolved past him. 

After writing this review, I accidentally closed this file without saving it, and OS X’s AutoRecovery function is completely useless, so all the reviews I wrote since November 13 are gone. I lost my reviews of the following comics, up to Detective Comics #945. It’s not worth my time to rewrite all these reviews, so I’ll just write a few notes to remind myself: 

LEGION OF SUPER-HEROES #10 – incoherent plot, awful writing, Mon-El has three baby daughters for some reason 

FANTASTIC FOUR #25 – Franklin loses his powers, The Unseen is Nick Fury 

BIG GIRLS #3 – the Jacks are giant slow-growing babies 

SEX CRIMINALS #69 – Jon and Suzie don’t end up together, Kegelface thinks Rachelle can only orgasm when giving birth 

GIGA #1 – people live inside the bones of dead Transformers 

CHU #4 – Saffron feeds a man to a shark, Chu eats the man’s foot 

SOMETHING IS KILLING THE CHILDREN #11 – Erica and the kid escape the gym, the Order cares more about maintaining its own secrecy than protecting people from monsters 

STILLWATER #2 – the protagonist becomes a citizen of Stillwater, his mother is buried alive 

SAVAGE DRAGON #253 – Amy invites a talking tiger to her birthday party, Malcolm fights the Vicious Circle 

TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES #110 – Leo sneaks into Hob’s hideout, Raph wins a bike race 

X-MEN #13 – too much unnecessary dialogue and backstory; this is Hickman’s worst habit 

TARTARUS #6 – flashback to how Surka survived; no Jack T Cole art anymore

ASCENDER #14 – Effie kills the vampire Vix; Tesla and Quon find Tim 

WYND #5 – Wynd escapes the Bandaged Man, who turns out to be a Weirdblood himself, but the fairy gets killed 

SHANG-CHI #2 – the hun and po souls are a real thing 

GRUMBLE: MEMPHIS AND BEYOND THE INFINITE #4 – Tala finds her mom, but she collapses 

SUPERMAN (1987) #3 – Superman fights a Purifier on Apokolips; Byrne’s art doesn’t suck 

EXCELLENCE #6 – fantasy tale about black male relationships 

THE WALKING DEAD #145 – Rick finds twelve heads on poles 

THE DEPARTMENT OF TRUTH #2 – Cole remembers the satanic ritual abuse scandal and meets a man with a tinfoil hat 

GIDEON FALLS #26 – all the protagonists are finally together except Danny who meets the spirit of the Black Barn 

2000 AD #1942 – Dredd fights a monster on Enceladus; other stories I don’t recall 

FAMILY TREE #9 – entire world turns into trees, Josh is now married with a baby 

2000 AD #1951 – Brass Sun, Bad Company with tribute to Brett Ewins, Absalom 

UNDISCOVERED COUNTRY #9 – Destiny Man corrupts Unity; Daniel and Charlotte’s mother had a second message 

IMMORTAL HULK #39 – Leader enlists Brian Banner in service of One Below All 

SKULLDIGGER & SKELETON BOY #5 – Reyes and Skulldigger have to team up to save Skeleton Boy from Grimjim 

WONDER WOMAN #762 – Liar Liar is Max Lord’s daughter 

SHADOW SERVICE #3 – Gina has to track down the stolen London Stone 

SUPERIOR SPIDER-MAN #31 – Peter saves the day, but Anna Maria doesn’t realize that the Spider-Man she knew is dead 

BLACK MAGICK #15 – Rowan’s old partner is investigated by Internal Affairs

2000 AD #599 – PJ Maybe kills his uncle, Zenith learns his dad is inside the Warhead 

SUPERMAN (2019) #15 – Clark meets the Legion; incoherent plot 

DETECTIVE COMICS #945 – Victim Syndicate 

Starting again: 

WIMMEN’S COMIX #2 (Last Gasp, 1973) – [E] Lee Marrs. This was another eBay win. In “Wonder Bread” by Shelby Sampson, the author is blinded by a piece of toast. I wonder (heh) if this really happened. Other major artists in this issue include Lee Marrs, Sharon Rudahl and Aline Kominsky – not Kominsky-Crumb yet. A highlight is Trina and Rudahl’s “Overload,” about two women who teleport from a utopian world to a dystopian one. There’s also a lot of work by lesser artists, much of it rather experimental.

A DCBS shipment: 

RUNAWAYS #32 (Marvel, 2020) – untitled, [W] Rainbow Rowell, [A] Natacha Bustos. This series has been in limbo since March, and has finally reappeared out of nowhere. This issue, the team recovers from their traumatic experience with Doc Justice, Gert and Molly start school, and Gib takes on a human form so he can join them. 

MAGNIFICENT MS. MARVEL #15 (Marvel, 2020) – untitled, [W] Saladin Ahmed, [A] Minkyu Jung. Kamala finally returns to school, but Mike is back from study abroad, so Kamala’s relationship with Bruno is complicated again. Kamala has to escape from a SHIELD team led by Dum Dum Dugan. It’s too bad this series is ending, and I really hope Marvel is not lying that they have future plans for Kamala. 

STRANGE ACADEMY #4 (Marvel, 2020) – untitled, [W] Skottie Young, [A] Humberto Ramos. The kids play “door tag,” which involves teleporting all around the Marvel Universe. During the game, one of the kids, Calvin, is kidnapped by mysterious creatures who live in a swamp. Also, the kids fight a giant pre-Code Marvel monster in the library. There’s a funny Spider-Man cameo appearance. 

MILES MORALES: SPIDER-MAN #19 (Marvel, 2020) – untitled, [W] Saladin Ahmed, [A] Carmen Carnero & Marcelo Ferreira. Ultimatum and the Assessor kidnap Miles and Uncle Aaron, but they escape. Miles has the traumatic experience of seeing his own clone disintegrate. Captain America frees some kids from CRADLE’s custody. 

CHAMPIONS #1 (Marvel, 2020) – untitled, [W] Eve Ewing, [A] Simone Di Meo. The Champions meet to organize against Kamala’s law, but someone reveals the location of their meeting to CRADLE, and two of them are kidnapped. Simone Di Meo is a great science fiction artist, but he is not ideal for a comic with as many characters as this one. I can’t even tell who all the Champions in the meeting are – I think I noticed Jack and Katie Power there, but I’m not sure. 

TRUE BELIEVERS: BLACK WIDOW: TASKMASTER #1 (Marvel, 2020) – “The Terrible Toll of the Taskmaster,” [W] David Michelinie, [A] George Pérez. This reprints Avengers #196, in which the Taskmaster fights the Avengers and explains his origin. This is one of only two Avengers issues I’m missing between #120 and #202, and perhaps the only George Pérez Avengers that I hadn’t already read. Reading it is a nostalgic pleasure. I especially like the scene where Iron Man reflects on Wonder Man and Beast’s new friendship. 

HEIST #7 (2020) – untitled, [W] Paul Tobin, [A] Arjuna Susini. All Glane Breld needs to do now is deliver the documents that proves he owns the planet, but it’s tough when everyone in town is trying to kill him. One issue left. 

BATMAN/THE MAXX: ARKHAM DREAMS #4 (IDW, 2020) – untitled, [W/A] Sam Kieth. Some very nice draftsmanship and page layouts – I especially like all the extra linework on the Maxx’s body – but a nonsensical plot that goes nowhere. 

ATLANTIS ATTACKS #4 (Marvel, 2020) – “Secrets Revealed,” [W] Greg Pak, [A] Ario Anindito & Robert Gill. Some good dialogue, but very little plot advancement. The assembled Atlas teams manage to find Mike Nguyen, but he brainwashes Amadeus and turns him into the Hulk. 

BATMAN/THE MAXX: ARKHAM DREAMS #5 – as above. Again, excellent artwork but no story to speak of. Sam Kieth really needs to work with a co-writer. 

COLONEL WEIRD: COSMAGOG #1 (Dark Horse, 2020) – untitled, [W] Jeff Lemire, [A] Tyler Crook. Appropriately, Colonel Weird’s story is fragmentary and incoherent and takes place on a number of time frames at once. The kid version of Colonel Weird looks a lot like Tintin. 

BIRTHRIGHT #22 (Image, 2017) – In flashback, Rya saves Mikey from an evil mermaid. In the present, Mastema captures and interrogates Mikey, and Sameal continues Brennan’s training. 

2000 AD #600 (Fleetway, 1988) – Strontium Dog: “The Final Solution Part 1,” [W] Alan Grant, [A] Simon Harrison. Johnny and Middenface travel back to Earth, which is being taken over by Sagan’s New Church. Rogue Trooper: “The NMA Within,” [W] Simon Geller, [A] Steve Dillon. Rogue joins the New Moral Army, but is promptly unmasked as a spy. Dredd: “The Power of the Gods,” [W] Alan Grant, [A] Glenn Fabry. The gods give their powers to an ordinary citizen. He turns Mega-City One into a utopia, but Dredd tricks him into making things normal again, and then orders the gods to butt out. Moon Runners: untitled, [W] Alan McKenzie & Steve Parkhouse, [A] Massimo Belardinelli. The cabin boy, actually Cara Nash, is almost injured by an alien crew member. Zenith: “A Family Affair,” [W] Grant Morrison, [A] Steve Yeowell. Warhead beats the crap out of Zenith, and Wallace prepares to launch the missiles. 

TRUE BELIEVERS: BLACK WIDOW – RED GUARDIAN #1 (Marvel, 2020) – “Color Him… the Red Guardian!”, [W] Roy Thomas, [A] John Buscema. Reprinting Avengers #41. Jan finally comes into her inheritance. Hawkeye tries to track down the Black Widow, but he and Hercules instead have to fight the Red Guardian, who is revealed as Natasha’s husband. Not bad, though the Cold War plot is very dated. 

X-RAY ROBOT #3 (Dark Horse, 2020) – untitled, [W/A] Mike Allred. Another very confusing issue that takes place in multiple timelines at once. In one of the timelines, everyone is colored blue at birth in order to prevent racism. I doubt this would really work. As with #2, the main appeal of this comic is Allred’s art. 

JOHN CONSTANTINE, HELLBLAZER #11 (DC, 2020) – “This Sceptered Isle Part One,” [W] Simon Spurrier, [A] Aaron Campbell. Constantine listens to the confession of the demon that possessed Clem Thurso, a white nationalist MP possibly based on Nigel Farage. Also, we learn that the British male elite have a ritual where they rape the giant Albion, the symbol of the nation. Just one issue left in this amazing series, which was cancelled much too soon because DC has no idea what they’re doing. 

THE WOODS #8 (Boom!, 2014) – untitled, [W] James Tynion IV, [A] Michael Dialynas. This issue focuses on Adrian, a boy who appears to be a sociopath, and his codependent friend Isaac. In flashback, Adrian writes Isaac a letter saying that he values Isaac’s friendship, but can’t say it out loud. In the present, Isaac is about to be killed, and Adrian doesn’t care. In another flashback, we learn that Adrian’s letter to Isaac was in fact written by Isaac’s mother, who is even more of a sociopath than Adrian himself. A scary issue. 

AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #3 (Marvel, 2016) – “Friendly Fire,” [W] Dan Slott, [A] Giuseppe Camuncoli. Peter opens up Parker Industries’ headquarters, which is located in the Baxter Building. Johnny Storm is not happy that his home is being used in this way, and he and Peter have an angry confrontation. Johnny calms down when Peter shows him the statue of the FF in the lobby (at this time, Reed, Sue and the kids were lost in another dimension). Reading this sequence reminded me that Dan Slott understands both Peter and Johnny very well, and that in my opinion, he’s the only writer besides Stan Lee who’s had classic runs on both Spider-Man and Fantastic Four. This issue also has a subplot about Zodiac. 

BULLET TO THE HEAD #3 (Dynamite, 2010) – untitled, [W] Matz, [A] Colin Wilson. A translation of a French comic. Colin Wilson is a rare example of an artist who started out working in Anglo-American comics and then moved to Franco-Belgian comics, and you can see how that happened, because his artwork here is incredible. His linework is beautiful and he draws deeply atmospheric backgrounds. However, in terms of its story, Bullet in the Head is a fairly generic piece of crime fiction, and it’s also misogynistic. There’s a scene where the two protagonists kidnap a man and murder his wife and teenage daughter, and the man doesn’t seem to care very much, and neither do the protagonist. The wife and daughter are just pawns in a game being played between men. 

TRUE BELIEVERS: BLACK WIDOW & THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #1 (Marvel, 2020) – “Beware… the Black Widow!”, [W] Stan Lee, [A] John Romita. Reprinting Amazing Spider-Man #86. Black Widow puts on a new costume and fights Spider-Man for the first time. This part of the story leads into Black Widow’s first solo feature, in Amazing Adventures #1. Meanwhile, Gwen Stacy refuses to see Peter Parker again unless he promises to have nothing to do with Spider-Man. 

2000 AD #601 (Fleetway, 1988) – Zenith: “The Parent Trap,” as above. Zenith blinds Warhead with Phaedra’s stroboscope, then knocks its head off. Strontium Dog: as above. The New Church promises to make Britain great again. Dredd: “Eldster Ninja Mud-Wrestling Vigilantes,” [W] Alan Grant, [A] Vanyo. An obvious TMNT parody, in which instead of turtles, the ninjas are old people. Moon Runners: as above. The ship’s first officer discovers that the helmsman is a traitor, and kills him. Bad Company: “Simply,” [W] Peter Milligan, [A] Brett Ewins. Danny Franks befriends a Krool, but Thrax kills it. This story was drawn and lettered in four hours at a convention. 

AQUAMAN #64 (DC, 2020) – “The Deep End Part 1,” [W] Kelly Sue DeConnick, [A] Miguel Mendonca. Aquaman challenges Orm to a duel, but Orm stabs him with a spear. Apparently on his deathbed, Aquaman summons some fish to help him. One issue left in this run. 

‘NAMWOLF #2 (Albatross, 2017) – untitled, [W] Fabian Rangel Jr, [A] Logan Faerber. An American werewolf is drafted to fight in Vietnam, where he battles and defeats a Vietnamese monster with wings and lots of eyes. Logan Faerber’s art is rather cartoony, and fits the rather humorous tone of Rangel’s story. I’d like to read the other three issues of this series. 

DETECTIVE COMICS #634 (DC, 1991) – “The Third Man,” [W] Kelley Puckett, [A] Luke McDonnell. Two meddling old ladies from New York involve themselves in Batman’s investigation and nearly ruin it. This is one of Kelley Puckett’s rare Batman stories in the main DCU rather than the animated universe. As in Batman Adventures, his storytelling is very funny, but so economical that it’s a bit hard to follow at times. 

THE PHANTOM #54 (Charlton, 1973) – “Killers in the Mist” and two other stories, [W] Joe Gill, [A] Pat Boyette. All of this issue’s stories are terrible, though Pat Boyette’s art is good. I think one reason the Phantom never caught on in America was because American Phantom comics were just not good, unlike the original comic strips or the Swedish Team Fantomen comic books. 

SAVAGE DRAGON #74 (Image, 2000) – untitled, [W/A] Erik Larsen. Darklord kidnaps a bunch of superpowered children, including little Malcolm. Looking for them, Dragon has to fight Jennifer and a horde of pregnant clone women. This storyline led into the This Savage World epic. 

MADMAN COMICS #11 (Dark Horse, 1996) – “The Truth About Everything and All the Rest!”, [W/A] Mike Allred. Madman goes more insane than usual and has a series of visions, eventually remembering his past life as a professional criminal. Mike Allred’s art at this time was more detailed and less stripped down than his current style; he drew kind of like Paul Chadwick as well as Kirby. 

BLACK PANTHER #8 (Marvel, 1977) – “Panthers or Pussycats?”, [W/A] Jack Kirby. In flashback, T’Challa wins a challenge to become the new Black Panther. In the present, Wakanda is terrorized by a monster named Jakarra, and one of T’Challa’s ne’er-do-well relatives has to become the Black Panther to fight it. I don’t know if any of these relatives ever appeared again. In the letter column, a reader complains that Kirby’s Black Panther was less realistic than Don McGregor’s. A similar complaint was made about Kirby’s ‘70s Captain America run.  

WONDER WOMAN #763 (DC, 2020) – “Sometimes the World Needs a Little Upside Down,” [W] Mariko Tamaki, [A] Carlo Barberi. Liar Liar reveals her origin, and then Diana, Max and Etta finally defeat her. Another quick read. 

2000 AD #602 (Fleetway, 1988) – Rogue Trooper: “Oliver’s Barmy!”, as above. The New Moral Army leader throws Rogue off his spaceship. Moon Runners: as above. While going through hyperspace, Kempo has a bunch of weird visions and then passes out. Dredd: “Accident Prone,” [W] Alan Grant, [A] Chris Weston. A man accidentally runs someone over in his car, then kills a bunch of other people while trying to cover up the original crime. This is a funny one. Zenith: “Riddle of the Sphinx,” as above. Zenith reveals that he didn’t lose his powers, as Peyne had expected he would, because his listed birthdate is wrong. Zenith has to solve Lewis Carroll’s crocodile puzzle to get inside Wallace’s vault. Strontium Dog: “The Final Solution Part 3,” as above. Johnny and Middenface visit Smiley’s World for Wulf’s funeral. Middenface has some funny interactions with some children that Wulf had earlier rescued. Then Wulf rises from his grave. 

CANTO II: THE HOLLOW MEN #3 (IDW, 2020) – untitled, [W] David M. Booher, [A] Drew Zucker. I don’t know why I always take so long to read Canto, because it’s very cute and also exciting and sad. This issue, Canto’s clock runs out, but his companion Veratta sacrifices her time for his. She survives for a while but dies the next morning. It’s a very sad moment. 

SERA AND THE ROYAL STARS #8 (Vault, 2020) – untitled, [W] Jon Tsuei, [A] Audrey Mok. It’s been months since issue 7 came out, and I was already having trouble remembering this series’ plot, so this current issue largely went over my head. This issue does seem to have an interesting story about the protagonist and her mother and grandmother.

VAGRANT QUEEN: A PLANET CALLED DOOM #5 (Vault, 2020) – untitled, [W] Magdalene Visaggio, [A] Jason Smith. Another series that’s been on hiatus for several months. This issue, the main villain is revealed as a future version of Isaac. Also, Ellida shoots a guy and he says “Osteoporosis! My only weakness!” I don’t understand this, but it’s funny. 

CATWOMAN #26 (DC, 2020) – “The Big Shake-Up,” [W] Ram V, [A] Fernando Blanco. Having moved to Alleytown, Catwoman makes her move against the existing criminal element. Meanwhile, the Penguin and Father Valley – apparently not Jean-Paul Valley – plot to kill Selina. Ram V seems like he understands Catwoman well, and so far this series is worth reading despite Joëlle Jones’s departure. This issue includes one panel with Catwoman’s cats. 

EDGAR ALLAN POE’S SNIFTER OF BLOOD #1 (Ahoy, 2020) – This series was renamed from “Snifter of Terror Season Three” because the “season” label was misleading. “The Black Dog,” [W] Paul Cornell, [A] Russ Braun: An adaptation of Poe’s “The Black Dog,” in which a madman murders his dog and then his wife. Cornell narrates the story from the dog’s perspective, making it funny instead of scary. “Atlas Shrugged,” [W/A] Dean Motter: A paleontologist finds some angel bones. This story is much worse than the first one. Also, it includes some Ayn Rand references (the title and “Galt’s Gulch”), which makes me suspicious about Motter’s political leanings. 

ADLER #5 (Titan, 2020) – untitled, [W] Lavie Tidhar, [A] Paul McCaffrey. Irene and her companions manage to divert Ayesha’s airship so it crashes in the countryside. Then she and Jane have to go on another mission to rescue the kidnapped Chinese emperor. This series isn’t nearly as good as League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, but it’s entertaining, and I wouldn’t mind a sequel. 

WONDER WOMAN #765 (DC, 2020) – “What Happens in Zandia!”, [W] Mariko Tamaki, [A] Steve Pugh. Diana and Max go to Zandia and fight a bunch of unidentifiable villains. Diana gets blinded. So far I’m not impressed with Mariko Tamaki’s Wonder Woman. It just feels generic and boring, with little that’s characteristic of Tamaki’s writing. 

MAESTRO #3 (Marvel, 2020) – “Symphony in a Gamma Key Part 3: Adagio,” [W] Peter David, [A] Germán Peralta. Hulk discovers that Hercules is a lousy ruler who only cares about himself and not his subjects. Hulk summons a bunch of cyborg robots to aid him in a rebellion against Hercules, even though Hulk doesn’t care much about “ordinary people” either. This issue is OK, but I don’t understand how the Hulk made the psychological transformation from the well-intentioned Professor Hulk to the cynical, Machiavellian Maestro. 

2000 AD #604 (Fleetway, 1988) – Zenith: “Home to Roost,” as above. Zenith goes home, then has a vision of a bizarre multi-faced entity. Tyranny Rex: “Soft Bodies Part 5,” [W] John Smith & Chris Standley, [A] Will Simpson. This makes no sense at all, though it seems to be about someone who’s making a movie about Tyranny Rex. I see where someone called this the most confusing 2000 AD story ever. http://meanwhileon.blogspot.com/2006/10/soft-bodies-well-ard.htmlPart 4 appeared way back in prog 598, so it must also have been confusing to contemporary readers. Dredd: “Curse of the Spider Woman,” [W] John Wagner, [A] Will Simpson. A sad story about a woman who turns into a spider and has to be taken to the Cursed Earth for treatment. Moon Runners: as above. Flynn (the captain) and Carroll fight a giant alien. Strontium Dog: as above. Johnny and McNulty leave Smiley’s World. Back on Earth, Sagan and his allies dissolve Parliament and execute the royal family, and Sagan gives Johnny a warning. There’s a scene where Sagan, or his ally, whacks the Speaker of the House of Commons with the parliamentary mace. Alan Grant missed a chance to use the line “take away this bauble.” 

FALLEN ANGELS #5 (Marvel, 2020) – “Sensei,” [W] Bryan Hill, [A] Szymon Kudranski. Psylocke, X-23 and Cable recruit a team of younger X-Men to go after a villain named Apoth. This is okay, and better than certain recent issues of the main X-Men title, but I don’t plan to add this series to my pull list. I had trouble figuring out whether the Psylocke in this issue was Betsy Braddock or Kwannon or both.  

I went back to Heroes on November 14, the day before my birthday: 

WE ONLY FIND THEM WHEN THEY’RE DEAD #3 (Boom!, 2020) – “All of Us Together,” [W] Al Ewing, [A] Simone Di Meo. While fleeing from Paula, Georges and his crew encounter a dead god… and then it wakes up. This is another good issue. As I mentioned above, Simone Di Meo’s art is not suited to stories with lots of characters. But he’s perfect for this series, because although his art is lacking in detail, it generates a powerful sense of wonder. Good examples of this are the two double-page splashes in this issue: one depicting the god’s dead body, and then another showing the god projecting energy from her eyes and mouth. 

SWEET TOOTH: THE RETURN #1 (DC, 2020) – untitled, [W/A] Jeff Lemire. I finished the original Sweet Tooth series just in time to read this sequel. The Return is set 300 years after the original series, and its protagonist is an eleven-year-old boy who looks just like Gus. He’s spent his entire life in an underground prison, with his cadaverous father and his robotic nannies. He’s been told that there are no people left besides them. But he escapes and discovers a town full of other people, and then a big man who he identifies as Jepperd. I’m excited to see where this is going. 

STRANGE ACADEMY #5 (Marvel, 2020) – “The Dawn of Dark,” [W] Skottie Young, [A] Humberto Ramos. Dr. Strange tells Brother Voodoo why it’s harmful for any of the students to believe that they’re the Chosen One. The kids realize that Calvin is missing and go looking for him in a swamp, but they get captured by the weird red-robed dudes, who are called the Hollow. The Hollow claim that one of the students is the Chosen One. Also, we learn that Germán is a nahual. Nahuals are a genuine Mexican folk belief. Humberto Ramos is from Mexico, and I wonder if it was his idea to include this concept. 

THE DREAMING: WAKING HOURS #4 (DC, 2020) – “The Bard and the Bard, Part Four,” [W] G. Willow Wilson, [A] Nick Robles. Lindy puts on a performance of The Birth of Merlyn, an apocryphal Shakespeare play. It ends with Lindy giving birth to an adult Merlin. I’ve never heard of The Birth of Merlin before, but it really was published under the names of Shakespeare and William Rowley. However, nobody seems to believe it’s a real Shakespeare play, and in the comic, Shakespeare admits he didn’t write it. I hope my Shakespearean scholar friends will read this comic, because it’s a fascinating use of a very obscure text. Also in this issue, Ruin goes to the World’s End inn to hide, but Brute and Glob track him down there.  

THE GODDAMNED: THE VIRGIN BRIDES #4 (Image, 2020) – “The Mount of the Lord,” [W] Jason Aaron, [A] R.M. Guéra. The Amazon woman tracks down Jael and Sharri, and Sharri has to surrender to her to save Jael’s life. Sharri is forced to become a Bride, and Jael becomes a servitor. We finally get a good look at the “divine” infants, who are as horrifying as you’d expect. It looks like the series is over, but then the serpent and his friends show up to crash Sharri’s wedding. 

MILES MORALES: SPIDER-MAN #20 (Marvel, 2020) – untitled, [W] Saladin Ahmed, [A] Marcelo Ferreira. Miles and Prowler fight a horde of Goblinoids with the aid of Bombshell, Starling and Captain America. They’re doing okay, but then Ultimatum himself appears. This issue includes an awesome scene with Miles’s parents. Miles’s parents remind me a lot of Jaime Reyes’s parents. 

MONEY SHOT #10 (Vault, 2020) – untitled, [W] Tim Seeley & Sarah Beattie, [A] Rebekah Isaacs. The Cockaignians attack the Highest Authority (the cosmic jellyfish creatures), and the Authority responds by giving the Money Shot crew their powers. The power transfer process involves some hot tentacle sex. The crew wins the fight, but Teozol has to kill President Kirk; unfortunately, the Highest Authority revives him. The series ends happily and sexily. This was an awesome series and I’m sorry it’s over after just ten issues. I hope it returns soon. 

SEVEN SECRETS #4 (Boom!, 2020) – untitled, [W] Tom Taylor, [A] Daniele Di Nicuolo. The Order’s Venice base is attacked by a man named Amon, who is revealed as the son of the old gray-haired lady. The Order repels the attack, but we’re told that they’ve only “pulled the trigger on our own defeat.” The other six Order bases (Skellig Michael, Kilwa Kisiwani, etc.) are all real places that seem appropriate for keeping secrets in. 

CROSSOVER #1 (Image, 2020) – untitled, [W] Donny Cates, [A] Geoff Shaw. In 2017, comic book superheroes became real, took over the city of Denver, and completely destroyed it. Now there’s only one comic book store left in America, and a little girl escapes from Denver and finds herself there, just as the store is destroyed by protesters. I have very mixed feelings about this comic. It’s an interesting idea, but it’s also a nostalgic paean to traditional comic book stores and comics fandom. That’s the exact opposite of what we need right now, at a time when comic book stores desperately need to reinvent themselves if they’re going to survive at all. Cates and Shaw are careful to show that the comic book store is full of people of various races, genders and ages. But still, it’s hard to believe that comic book fans are an oppressed minority, or that the comic store is “the only home a lot of us have left.” feel at home in a comic book store, but that’s because I’m a white male mega-fan. The comic book store has never been a home for everyone. Anyway, I’m reserving judgment on Crossover until I read a few more issues. 

SCARENTHOOD #1 (IDW, 2020) – untitled, [W/A] Nick Roche. This comic takes place in Ireland and its protagonist, Cormac, is the father of a preschool-aged girl, Bethany (“Scooper”). While hanging out with some other parents at his daughter’s daycare, Cormac accepts a dare to climb under the stage in the school theater and retrieve a missing Virgin Mary statue. When he comes out, it’s hours later, and he’s missed his chance to pick up his daughter. That night, things get even worse. This series is a nice combination of cuteness and horror. Scooper is an adorable kid, and the series’ depiction of small-town Ireland feels accurate and probably is.

X-MEN #14 (Marvel, 2020) – “X of Swords Chapter 12,” [W] Jonathan Hickman, [A] Mahmud Asrar & Leinil Francis Yu. Another issue full of unnecessary and uninteresting flashbacks. In my review of X-Men #13 that I accidentally deleted, I complained that Hickman’s worst flaw as a writer is his tendency toward pointless backstory and worldbuilding. Like, Decorum has a fine story about Neha Nori Sood and her assassin training, but that story is hampered by an excess of details that don’t matter. Back when Hickman was writing Fantastic Four, he wasted two whole issues explaining how great Black Bolt is. And the same thing is going on in X-Men. I don’t care about Arakko or Okkara or The White Sword. I barely even know what any of these things are. I want to read about the X-Men. Hickman needs to just tell the story he’s promised to tell, rather than wasting the reader’s time with irrelevant background. 

TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES #111 (IDW, 2020) – untitled, [W] Sophie Campbell, [A] Jodi Nishijima. The turtles lay a trap for Hob’s spies. Meanwhile, the mutant salamander girl reveals herself to her parents, but they reject her. Another good issue. As an aside, it’s weird how this series began as a parody of Frank Miller’s Daredevil, but then evolved to the point where the connection to Daredevil was forgotten. As a kid watching the Turtles TV show, I didn’t even realize it was ever a parody. Something similar happened with Cerebus, which started out as a Conan parody but then became something totally unique. 

GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY #8 (Marvel, 2020) – “Business as Usual,” [W] Al Ewing, [A] Marcio Takara. Rocket Raccoon investigates a murder mystery at a diplomatic conference. The culprit is the Profiteer from Fantastic Four. Then Knull starts eating the universe. I assume this is related to the upcoming King in Black crossover. This is a funny comic – a high point is the Chitauri assassin who keeps apologizing for his delay in blowing everyone up. I think I’m going to add this series to my pull list. 

BILL & TED ARE DOOMED #3 (Dark Horse, 2020) – untitled, [W] Evan Dorkin, [A] Roger Langridge. Bill, Ted and Death stay behind so the wives can escape, and they end up in the middle of a horde of frenzied metal fans. Meanwhile, the two Stations combine into a single bigger Station so they can help Thea and Billie rescue their dads. This is another very fun issue, but I wonder how this plot can be resolved in just one more issue. 

MARVEL ACTION CHILLERS #1 (IDW, 2020) – untitled, [W] Jeremy Whitley, [A] Seth Smith, Gretel Lusky & Derek Charm. Iron Man is captured by the Book of Shuma-Gorath, and Dr. Strange and Ironheart team up to rescue him. This is a fun story, and Derek Charm’s artwork is a nice nostalgic reminder of Unbeatable Squirrel Girl. As a historical note, Shuma-Gorath’s books are older than Shuma-Gorath himself; the “iron-bound books of Shuma-Gorath” were mentioned in a Robert E. Howard story, but Shuma-Gorath himself first appeared in Marvel comics. 

2000 AD #605 (Fleetway, 1988) – Zenith: “Chimera Unbound,” as above. Zenith meets a creature called the Chimera, but it grows bigger and bigger until it turns into a pyramid. Weird. Nemesis: “Deathbringer,” [W] Pat Mills, [A] John Hicklenton. Zenith sets some kind of trap for Torquemada. This story is tough to understand, especially given that Hicklenton’s art isn’t the clearest. Future Shocks: “The Osmotic Man,” [W] John Smith, [A] Horacio Lalia. Thanks to a scientific mixup, a single man sucks up all the water in the world. This premise reminds me a bit of ice-nine from Vonnegut’s Cat’s Cradle. Dredd: “Alzheimer’s Block Part One,” [W] John Wagner, [A] John Ridgway. An old lady suspects that someone is killing the patients in her nursing home. This story is continued next issue. Strontium Dog: as above. Johnny and Alpha fight Sagan’s goons, while Sagan himself takes over the British government and literally says he’ll make Britain great once again. 

HAPPY HOUR #1 (Ahoy, 2020) – untitled, [W] Peter Milligan, [A] Michael Montenat. The government passes a law requiring everyone to be happy at all times. Our protagonist, Jerry Stephens, survives a car crash in which his sister is killed. This of course makes him unhappy, so he’s sent to an insane asylum. But meanwhile, a man named Landor Cohen is leading an underground crusade for the right to be sad. Like so many other Peter Milligan comics, this issue is confusing at times, but the idea of compulsory happiness is fascinating. I just realized that Peter Milligan’s other recent miniseries, Tomorrow, must have been silently cancelled . The TPB came out earlier this month, but there’s no sign of issues 3 through 5. Everything II also seems to have gone missing. 

SUPERMAN #2 (DC, 2016) – “Son of Superman Part Two,” [W] Peter J. Tomasi, [A] Patrick Gleason. Jon helps Clark save a ship from a giant squid monster. Jon apologizes to Lois for accidentally killing her cat. As usual with this series, this is a really cute issue. There’s one panel in this issue that I can’t understand – it’s the panel right after Clark says “You’re my son!” 

THE ETERNALS #12 (Marvel, 1977) – “Uni-Mind!”, [W/A] Jack Kirby. Karkas and the Reject arrive in Olympia, and Margo Damian joins the Eternals as they form the Uni-Mind. The Uni-Mind is kind of similar to the Source, but is distinctly different from it. I feel like the Uni-Mind and the Source are two different attempts by Kirby to answer the same question, whether that question is what God looks like, or where creativity comes from, or what. On this issue’s letters page, a reader complains that Zuras can’t be the same character as Zeus, since Zeus had already appeared in other Marvel comics. Marvel later acknowledged this. 

BLACK CLOUD #3 (Image, 2017) – “These doors aren’t the only way IN, and you KNOW it,” [W] Jason Latour & Ivan Brandon, [A] Greg Hinkle. Another totally incoherent issue, though the art is not bad. 

A DCBS shipment containing just two comics: 

THE MAGNIFICENT MS. MARVEL #16 (Marvel, 2020) – untitled, [W] Saladin Ahmed, [A] Minkyu Jung. Kamala teams up with Amulet again to fight a Ghul. This issue is kind of a generic team-up story, but Amulet is a fascinating character. This issue we learn that he’s from Dearborn, Michigan, like Saladin himself, and his mission is to protect people from the Thousand Cursed Things. And as far as I can tell, the Ghul seems like a genuine villain from Arabic folklore. Also this issue, Kamala and Nakia meet up at the Circle Q, just like old times, but then Nakia seemingly betrays Kamala to CRADLE. 

CHAMPIONS #2 (Marvel, 2020) – untitled, [W] Eve L. Ewing, [A] Simone Di Meo & Bob Quinn. The kidnapped heroes are in a “rehabilitation camp,” which they compare to a concentration camp or a residential school. This scene is an example of one of Eve Ewing’s great strengths as a writer: her willingness to explore the uncomfortable political implications of her premises. Next, the three main Champions – Kamala, Sam and Miles – try to defuse a riot, and then they try to recruit Riri, who seems to have given up on being a superhero. 

For the first time since early September, I have no more reviews to write. I was so busy and worried about the election that I had no time or energy to write reviews, and then after the election, I was too tired. 

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