WARLORD #62 (DC, 1982) – “Cry Wolf!”, [W] Mike Grell, [A] Jan Duursema. Morgan and Tara go on a hunt as a distraction from Tara’s flirtation with the court minstrel. They meet a werewolf named Rostov. Morgan and Tara were a dysfunctional couple who only stayed together because of an unintended pregnancy. This makes them much more realistic than most couples in Code-approved comics.
COPPERHEAD #2 (Image, 2014) – untitled, [W] Jay Faerber, [A] Scott Godlewski. Clara investigates a murder, while Zeke and another boy get lost at night. The best thing about this issue is the plausible way Faerber writes the two children.
L.E.G.I.O.N. ’92 #40 (DC, 1992) – “Costs,” [W/A] Barry Kitson. The LEGION investigates the murder of a teenage girl, and discovers that it has severe political ramifications. Meanwhile, Garryn Bek and Captain Comet’s romantic rivalry almost turns violent, and Phase gets pissed at Dox’s leadership. This series is fascinating because of its complex characterization and inter-team politics. It’s almost like Suicide Squad in that way. This issue is inked by Robin Smith, a British artist who was never successful in America.
BLACK CLOUD #8 (Image, 2018) – untitled, [W] Jason Latour & Ivan Brandon, [A] Greg Hinkle. Another issue with good artwork, design and coloring, but no discernible plot. I suspect that Jason Latour had little to do with this series, and that his name was only used for publicity value.
BATMAN #631 (DC, 2004) – “War Games Act 1 Part 8: Last Stand at Alamo High,” [W] Bill Willingham, [A] Kinsun. This artist is from Malaysia and his full name is Kinsun Loh. This issue, the Bat-family teams up to rescue some teenagers who are being held hostage in a high school. I have such distaste for Bill Willingham’s politics and his public behavior that it’s hard for me to enjoy his comics, but this is a well-written issue.
THE DEMON WARRIOR #4 (Eastern Comics, 1988) – untitled, [W/A] Lee Jae-Hak. A Chinese warrior is sent to assassinate an old martial artist, but it’s actually a trap designed to catch both of them. This is a pretty standard example of the wuxia genre, drawn in a typical East Asian style. It’s hard to find any English-language information about this comic. From what I can tell, Lee Jae-Hak was a well-known artist in this genre, but I’m not sure why this particular work was selected for translation.
MERCURY HEAT #3 (Avatar, 2015) – “The Long, Slow Dawn,” [W] Kieron Gillen, [A] Omar Francia. Luiza investigates a murder on Mercury, where everyone has to wear a giant robot suit just to survive the heat. Hence the series title, I guess. Kieron, like Kim Stanley Robinson in 2312, has thought seriously about the problems of survival on Mercury, but otherwise this is a forgettable comic.
MANY GHOSTS OF DR. GRAVES #67 (Charlton, 1981) – These stories are all reprints. “Share & Share Alike,” [W] Joe Gill?, [A] Pete Morisi: In Death Valley, a miner murders his partner but then dies of thirst. “Verdict from the Grave,” [W] Gill?, [A] Steve Ditko: An old woman and her granddaughter visit their ancestral village and reveal the secret behind the grandmother’s exile. Ditko includes a depiction of Dr. Graves on every page. “The One That Got Away,” [W] Gill?, [A] Fred Himes: A murderer escapes into a swamp and switches bodies with the old hermit who lives there. This story has the most impressive artwork in the issue. Himes’s style of draftsmanship is unusual and creepy.
DC COMICS BOMBSHELLS #15 (DC, 2016) – “Ghost Stories,” [W] Marguerite Bennett, [A] Laura Braga, Mirka Andolfo & Sandy Jarrell. One segment about Aquaman and Mera, and two other segments set in Berlin. I hate this series because its plot never goes anywhere and its characters are barely distinguishable from each other.
OVER THE GARDEN WALL #4 (Boom!, 2016) – “Dreamland Memories,” [W/A] Jim Campbell, and “Homeland,” [W] Amalia Levari, [A] Cara McGee. This series was an adaptation of a Cartoon Network series, about two brothers dventring in a fairytale world. I regret buying this comic because I never saw the TV series and don’t intend to. However, this comic is not bad. I especially like the second story, about a reclusive girl who meets a wandering musician she used to know as a child. Cara McGee also drew Dodge City.
On April 8 I went back to Heroes. On this trip I had a shepherd’s pie at the Workman’s Friend. It was good but somewhat bland.
RUNAWAYS #35 (Marvel, 2021) – “Come Away with Me Part IV,” [W] Rainbow Rowell, [A] Andres Genolet. Wolverine and Pixie convince the mutant girl, Jodi, to accompany them back to Krakoa. Nico tells Karolina about the evil magician inside her staff, Karolina demands that Nico stop using the staff, and Nico refuses. We see Chase kissing an older version of Gert. This was an unmemorable issue, but I’m glad this series is stil being published; it’s my favorite current Marvel title, and I feel like it’s in constant danger of cancellation.
SEVEN SECRETS #7 (Boom!, 2021) – untitled, [W] Tom Taylor, [A] Daniele Di Nicuolo. In the underworld, Caspar strays from the path and discovers the two elves that raised him. This issue is fully within the fantasy genre, whereas the first six issues were closer to action movies.
DEPARTMENT OF TRUTH #6 (Image, 2021) – “Deviation One: Apocrypha,” [W] James Tynion IV, [A] Elsa Charretier. In the first of two fill-in issues, a younger Lee Harvey Oswald reads a manuscript from 1000 AD in which a monk investigates and then assassinates an old witch. The witch is the last descendant of the last Roman emperor, and she tells the monk that Charlemagne never existed, and that the church added 300 years to the calendar for propaganda purposes; it’s actually 700 AD, not 1000. Also, the witch is an early member of the Illuminati. The monk’s story doesn’t feel like a real piece of medieval literature, but it’s fascinating anyway. The Charlemagne conspiracy theory may be based on Anatoly Fomenko’s New Chronology. Elsa Charretier’s art style is a major departure from Martin Simmonds’s, but it fits this issue’s subject matter.
SAVAGE DRAGON #258 (Image, 2021) – “A Walk on the Wild Side,” [W/A] Erik Larsen. Malcolm beats up Thor, and then Amy sneaks out of the house and has an adventure with her tiger friend Walter. The Amy/Walter sequence is incredibly cute, and it reminds me of my favorite issue of Savage Dragon, the one with the Candyman. Amy and Walter are somewhat reminiscent of Angel and Mr. Glum, but Walter is totally benevolent, though reckless.
NOCTERRA #2 (Image, 2021) – untitled, [W] Scott Snyder, [A] Tony Daniel. We start with a flashback to Sundog’s parents’ deaths, then the old man explains how he supposedly killed the sun, and the villain, Blacktop Bill, catches up to them. This series is very exciting, in much the same way that Undiscovered Country is exciting.
THE SILVER COIN #1 (Image, 2021) – “The Ticket,” [W] Chip Zdarsky, [A] Michael Walsh. This new series is an anthology of loosely related stories about a cursed coin. In #1, a musician discovers the coin and uses it to propel himself to stardom. But he loses his friends as a result, and dies by spontaneously combusting on stage. This was a pretty good issue, but when I read #2, I couldn’t remember what this series was about.
THE DREAMING: WAKING HOURS #9 (DC, 2021) – “The Faerie King, Part 2,” [W] G. Willow Wilson, [A] Nick Robles w/ M.K. Perker. In a flashback, we see that Heather After is descended from Roderick Burgess; I forget if we knew this before. Jophiel encounters Oberon. Ruin and Heather manage to free themselves from being hypnotized, and they finally meet Nuala, but she hardly seems confident in her role as queen. Again this was not the most memorable issue.
GIGA #3 (Vault, 2021) – untitled, [W] Alex Paknadel, [A] John Lê. It’s been so long since issue 2 that I’ve forgotten what happened in it. Lots of stuff happens in this issue, but not much that’s very notable. Evan thinks Laurel, his robot daughter, has been killed, and appeals to the Giga for divine intervention, but then we learn that Evan’s friend Aiko has already fixed Laurel.
GEIGER #1 (Image, 2021) – untitled, [W] Geoff Johns, [A] Gary Frank. Tariq Geiger is caught in a nuclear explosion while stopping his neighbors from stealing his family’s bomb shelter. Twenty years later, Geiger, now with radiation superpowers, is still guarding the bomb shelter with his family inside, while the postapocalyptic world is ruled by an insane Joffrey-esque child king. I was very skeptical about this series because although I like Geoff Johns’s Flash, JSA and Stargirl, I hate his more recent writing. But my main problem with his writing is that it’s too violent and cruel for the DC Universe, and I’m hoping that now that he’s working on a creation of his own, his style will feel more appropriate to his subject matter.
X-MEN #19 (Marvel, 2021) – “Out of the Vault,” [W] Jonathan Hickman, [A] Mahmud Asrar. Darwin, Synch and X-23 spend multiple lifetimes in the Vault, fighting opponents who constantly level up. This feels like a lame-duck series now that I know Gerry Duggan is taking over for Hickman. When Hickman leaves this series I’m going to drop it.
SHADECRAFT #1 (Image, 2021) – untitled, [W] Joe Henderson, [A] Lee Garbett. Teenage Zadie Lu discovers that she’s being pursued by creepy shadows. And she already had enough to worry about, since her brother Ricky has been in a coma for a year. But these problems are related, because as the shadows are about to engulf Zadie, Ricky emerges from them. I didn’t read Skyward, the previous series by this creative team, but I like this debut issue. A particular highlight of this issue is Zadie’s resentful feelings toward Ricky. I especially like when Zadie’s mother scolds Zadie for joking about Ricky, because she (the mother) has to check him every hour and wash him. This scene feels like a realistic depiction of how family relationships are affected by a child’s illness.
MARVEL ACTION SPIDER-MAN #1 (Marvel, 2021) – untitled, [W] Sarah Graley & Stef Purenins, [A] Philip Murphy. I can’t remember if I read the last Marvel Action Spider-Man series, but this one is a total reboot. In this continity, Peter goes to the Oscorp Charter School of Technology, and his principal and gym teacher are Otto Octavius and Mac Gargan. As in Kim Reaper, Sarah Graley’s writing is extremely cute, and Philip Murphy’s style reminds me of Jay Fosgitt.
BEASTS OF BURDEN: OCCUPIED TERRITORY #1 (Image, 2021) – untitled, [W] Evan Dorkin & Sarah Dyer, [A] Benjamin Dewey. In a flashback story, Emrys and his human master visit Japan in 1947. Emrys teams up with a local dog, who he names Mullins after the comic strip Moon Mullins, and they investigate some magical murders. The issue ends as Mullins is being attacked by a yokai that consists of a disembodied head with tentacles. This is a solid issue of Beasts of Burden, but for the first time ever, Beasts of Burden is not my favorite current horror comic about talking dogs – that would be Stray Dogs.
DEPARTMENT OF TRUTH #7 (Image, 2021) – “Deviation Two: Foil,” [W] James Tynion IV, [A] Tyler Boss. Doc Hynes, the guy with the tinfoil hat, tells a Department of Truth agent his theories about the Men in Black. That night Doc Hynes is contacted by an actual Man in Black, who is extremely creepy, but as always with this series, it’s not clear whether the Man in Black is real or not. These two issues were a bit disappointing, but it’s good that we got some additional Department of Truth content while Martin Simmonds was taking a break.
AMERICA CHAVEZ: MADE IN THE USA #2 (Marvel, 2021) – untitled, [W] Kalinda Vazquez, [A] Carlos Gomez. We get more flashbacks to America’s origin, and she visits her estranged adoptive family in Washington Heights. I liked this issue, but after #3, I gave up on this series; see below for why.
YASMEEN #4 (Scout, 2020) – untitled, [W] Saif A. Ahmed, [A] Fabiana Mascolo. Yasmeen goes to a high school party, where she discovers some boys photographing her friend while she’s passed out. Yasmeen and her mother spend all night tracking down and destroying all the copies of the photo. Meanwhile, the flashback to Yasmeen’s kidnapping contninues, and there are some scenes about Yasmeen’s decision not to wear the hijab. As I’ve said before, this was the best low-profile comic of 2020, and I hope Saif A. Ahmed gets some bigger assignments.
THE LAST WITCH #4 (Boom!, 2021) – “The Trickster,” [W] Conor McCreery, [A] V.V. Glass. Saoirse meets Hugh, a teenage half-faerie adventurer, and he joins her on her search for the wind witch. Hugh, like all the other characters in this series, looks like a stereotypical Disney character – though I can’t think which one exactly. But V.V. Glass’s brilliance is their ability to imitate the Disney style while also integrating it with their own style of depicing magic and Irish folklore.
INKBLOT #7 (Image, 2021) – untitled, [W] Rusty Gladd, [A] Emma Kubert. A teenage witch, Eliza, throws a party, even though her grandmother thinks she should be indoors reading spellbooks. The party is interrupted by a giant monster with eyes all over its body. As usual, MOW. both helps to cause the problem, and saves the day in the end.
SENSATIONAL WONDER WOMAN #2 (DC, 2021) – “Better Nature,” [W] Andrea Shea, [A] Bruno Redondo. Diana and Artemis fight against Mongul in a tournament. I don’t know why this comic was in my file, but I’ve asked to have it removed from my pull list, because this issue was boring.
THE UNION #4 (Marvel, 2021) – “Doc Croc Bites Back!”, [W] Paul Grist, [A] Andrea Di Vito. Britannia’s archenemy, Doc Croc, breaks into the Tower of London. Despite the Union’s resistance, Doc Croc reaches the chamber that contains the Empire Stone – the source of the British Empire’s power – but Steve Darwin has already stolen the stone. Unfortunately this issue includes no funny Snakes moments.
HEAVY METAL #7.1 (HM, 1983) – This issue’s opening section includes a short strip by Howard Cruse that’s a review of the latest Doonesbury volume. Among the longer stories in this issue are: A chapter of Elaine Lee and Kaluta’s Starstruck. Francisco Navarro and José Sauri’s rather sexy adaptation of the Odyssey. “Power to the People” by Angus McKie, a photorealistic story in which some hippies try to take over the airwaves. Guido Crepax’s crime story “The Man from Harlem.” Installments of “The Town That Didn’t Exist” by Bilal and Christin, “The Ape” by Manara, and “Zora” by Fernando Fernandez. Moebius’s “The Twinkle in Fildegar’s Eye,” a translation of the French album Tueur de monde. According to http://moebiusodyssey.space/book/tueur-de-monde/, this story was a preview of the style he uesd in The World of Edena. It seems like the original album had just one panel on each page, but the Heavy Metal reprint has multiple panels per page.
On April 11 I went to the local Charlotte Comicon, my first comic convention since Charlotte Minicon in January 2020. It was thrilling to finally be at a convention again. One nice thing they did was to separate the comic book and toy dealers into different rooms. There weren’t a whole lot of cheap boxes, and I ended up not spending all the money I brought, but I got some good stuff:
FOUR COLOR #1095 (Dell, 1960) – “Cave of the Winds” etc., [W/A] Carl Barks. This was the second of four issues of Four Color devoted to Gyro Gearloose. It includes four short stories written and drawn by Barks. In “Cave of the Winds,” Gyro helps Scrooge retrieve some saving bonds from the “Aeolian Mountains,” where Scrooge hid them from the Beagle Boys. In “Mixed-Up Mixer,” Gyro builds a dam on Grandma Duck’s farm. In “The Madball Pitcher” Gyro helps out a baseball team by inventing a bat that can’t miss, but then the oppoisng team forces him to invent a ball that can’t be hit. In “The Bear Tamer” Gyro helps Gladstone catch a bear. A highlight of all these stories is the silent antics of Gyro’s Helper.
FANTASTIC FOUR #37 (Marvel, 1965) – “Behold! A Distant Star!”, [W] Stan Lee, [A] Jack Kirby. As the wedding approaches, Sue wants revenge on the Skrulls for killing her father. The FF travel to the Skrulls’ galaxy, where they help foil Morrat’s plot to overthrow Emperor Dorrek, and Sue saves Princess Annele from being killed along with Morrat. In gratitude, Dorrek promises that the Skrulls won’t invade Earth again. Visual highlights of this issue include a full-page photo collage of Skrull space, and the fuzzy creatures that the FF encounter on an alien planet. Throughout this issue the Skrulls are colored yellow. I assume this is an error, but it reminds the reader how in this era, aliens were often stand-ins for the “Yellow Peril.”
FLASH GORDON #8 (King, 1967) – “Flash Gordon and the Elders’ Deathtrap!”, [W] Bill Pearson, [A] Reed Crandall. Flash, Dale and Zarkov visit a lost continent of Mongo, where a dying race of “Elders” tyrannize over the kangaroo-like “Proles.” This story has a bit of an anti-colonial subtext. Reed Crandall was not as flashy as Al Williamson, but his storytelling and composition in this issue are superb. This issue also includes the last part of a five-part Secret Agent X-9 backup story. As of 2021, this five-parter was the only original Secret Agent X-9 story ever produced for American comic books.
TEEN TITANS #8 (DC, 1967) – “A Killer Called Honey Bun,” [W] Bob Haney, [A] Irv Novick. The Titans visit a small town where a foreign exchange student is are accused of sabotaging Honey Bun, the “automated jungle fighter machine” produced at the local defense plant. The student is implied to be from East Germany. The Titans clear Hans’s name and unmask the real spy. The moral of this story is that xenophobia is bad, but that seems rather ironic since Honey Bun is presumably being designed to fight in Vietnam.
SUBVERT COMICS #2 (Rip Off, 1972) – two untitled Trashman stories, [W/A] Spain Rodriguez. In the first story, Trashman saves the world from a lab-grown bubonic plague virus engineered by bloated fat cats, at the cost of a little girl’s life. In an example of Spain’s Marxist politics, he tells us that the virus is “specially geared to the diet pattterns of lower socio-economic groups.” In the second story, Trashman helps white and black workers overcome their mutual prejudice and unite against their real oppressors. Spain’s writing is sometimes hard to follow, but his artwork is brilliant. This issue shows a heavy Steranko influence.
HERBIE #3 (ACG, 1964) – “Herbie and the Loch Ness Monster,” [W] Richard Hughes, [A] Ogden Whitney. Herbie visits his grandfather, who looks just like him, and then he saves England from a two-headed Loch Ness Monster. The queen makes Herbie a duke and asks him if she’s prettier than Lady Bird Johnson. That’s the same queen who’s still reigning as I write this, more than 55 years later. In the backup story, Herbie stops a scheme to embezzle charity funds, and helps his dad get elected to the local chamber of commerce.
AQUAMAN #30 (DC, 1966) – “The Death of Aquaman,” [W] Bob Haney, [A] Nick Cardy. Aquaman is killed fighting Mongo, the ruler of the evil city of Necrus. Of course the Aquaman who died is a duplicate, and the real Aquaman turns up alive and saves the day. Mera spends the whole issue toting Aquababy around, but she does get to contribute to the fight. Nick Cardy’s artwork here is up to his usual high standards.
LOCKE & KEY: GRINDHOUSE #1 (IDW, 2012) – “Grindhouse,” [W] Joe Hill, [A] Gabriel Rodriguez. This issue is a tribute to EC comics and to B-movie crime films, and is lettered in a Leroy lettering font. Some criminals invade Keyhouse so they can hide out there to wait for their getaway boat, and to pass the time, they decide to rape Mary and Jean Locke. The Lockes use the keys to kill all the criminals but one, who gets permanently turned into a woman. He reacts to this by shouting “J’AI GRANDI SEINS!”, which I believe is incorrect French, but it’s funny. This issue also includes Rodriguez’s blueprints for the house.
SUPERNATURAL THRILLERS #1 (Marvel, 1972) – “It,” [W] Roy Thomas, [A] Marie Severin. An adaptation of the Theodore Sturgeon story that inspired both Man-Thing and Swamp Thing. It’s a bit odd that Marvel didn’t adapt “It” until after they had already created Man-Thing. I transcribed the entire text of “It” for Jon B. Cooke’s Swampmen anthology, but I don’t remember it well, and it was nice to revisit it. Marie Severin’s visual adaptation of the story is quite good. I don’t know if she ever got to draw an actual Man-Thing story.
LASSIE #60 (Dell, 1960) – “The Highwater Robbery” and “The Blizzard’s Prey,” [W] Gaylord Du Bois, [A] Bob Fujitani. Lassie and Timmy stop some burglars from looting some houses during a flood. In the backup story, Timmy’s uncle is injured during a blizzard. Timmy and Paul Martin go to get the doctor, but the car crashes and they get caught in the blizzard themselves. Lassie saves the day. These stories are both fairly exciting.
CAPTAIN MARVEL #16 (Marvel, 1969) – “Behind the Mask of Zo!”, [W] Archie Goodwin, [A] Don Heck. Captain Marvel fights the Kree god Tam-Bor. Then the Kree traitors Ronan and Zarek tell Mar-Vell that Zo, the god who allegedly gave Mar-Vell his powers, never actually existed; rather, Ronan and Zarek invented Zo as part of a plot againts the Supreme Intelligence. For the confusing history of Zo, see https://www.cbr.com/captain-mar-vell-god-zo/. Mar-Vell defeats Ronan and Zarek, and the Supreme Intelligence rewards him with the first version of his iconic red and blue costume.
FELIX THE CAT #75 (Harvey, 1956) – “Throwing the Bull!” etc., [W/A] Otto Messmer and/or Joe Oriolo. A series of interrelated short stories on the theme of bullfighting. This issue is full of offensive Mexican stereotypes, but it has the same playful, metatextual humor as Messmer’s original Felix cartoons, which are also very problematic. On Facebook, Mark Newgarden and Craig Yoe suggested that Messmer and Oriolo both worked on this comic.
UNCLE SCROOGE #27 (Dell, 1959) – “The Money Champ,” [W/A] Carl Barks. I’ve read this before, possibly while taking Don Ault’s graduate seminar. Speaking of which, I’ll be on a panel on Sunday, May 30 devoted to Don’s legacy (though that panel will probably have happened already by the time I publish this). “The Money Champ” is one of only three Barks stories featuring Flintheart Glomgold, and I remember Don mentioning how Barks reminds the reader who Glomgold is, on the assumption that the reader hasn’t necessarily read “The Second-Richest Duck.” Just like in that previous story, in “The Money Champ” Scrooge and Glomgold compete to decide which one has more money, and Scrooge wins despite Glomgold’s cheating. There are two backup stories, one starring Gyro Gearloose, and another where Scrooge competes in a yacht race.
MARVEL TEAM-UP #4 (Marvel, 1972) – “And Then – the X-Men!”, [W] Gerry Conway, [A] Gil Kane. Morbius kidnaps a scientist, Spider-Man is wrongly blamed for it, and the X-Men (except Beast) fight Spidey and then team up to fight Morbius. This issue is reasonably good, but it’s mostly notable because it’s Kane’s only full-length X-Men story, as far as I know. It ends with Spidey kissing Jean Grey, another thing that never happened again.
SAVAGE DRAGON #228 (Image, 2017) – untitled, [W/A] Erik Larsen. This issue includes some of the tasteless, offensive sex scenes that caused me to drop this series, but it also includes some cute scenes centering on Malcolm and Maxine’s adaptation to life in Canada. In this issue Malcolm gets a vasectomy, but just two issues later we learn that it didn’t work and Maxine is pregnant again.
THE FOX AND THE CROW #101 (DC, 1967) – Stanley and His Monster in “The Dognappers,” [W] Arnold Drake, [A] Win Mortimer. By this time Stanley and his monster had taken over the lead slot in the comic, and with #109 the series was renamed after them, before being cancelled with #112. In thiis story Stanley enters himself and his monster in a contest for the best photo of a child with a dog. Through a series of shenanigans, Stanley saves a rich girl’s dog from being kidnapped. There are also some Fox and Crow backup stories that feel dated even for 1968.
THE GOON #8 (Dark Horse, 2004) – “The Vampire Dame Had to Die!”, [W/A] Eric Powell. The Goon saves Frankie from being mesmerized by a female vampire. The vampire’s attempts to seduce the Goon are unsuccessful because he’s already too screwed up. I used to think the Goon was just a silly humor comic, and it is, but it’s also more than that because Eric Powell’s art is extremely good. I like how he somehow depicts the vampire as unnaturally bright.
LOCKE & KEY #2 (IDW, 2008) – “Welcome to Lovecraft Chapter Two,” [W] Joe Hill, [A] Gabriel Rodriguez. Bode explores Keyhouse and discovers a well whose echo can talk to him. The entity in the well is the primary villain of the series, Dodge, and she manipulates Bode into helping her free Sam Lesser from prison. I already have this issue in trade paperback form, but I’m glad I found an original copy because Locke & Key back issues tend to be quite costly.
PLANETOID #2 (Image, 2021) – untitled, [W/A] Ken Garing. Silas climbs up a giant slab, on top of which he meets Onica for the first time, and she tells him the origin of the colony. Then Silas defeats some Ono Mao robots and is hailed as the lord of Ozender’s tribe. I have now read every issue of this miniseries.
MILLIE THE MODEL #202 (Marvel, 1973) – “The Lady and the Monster!”, [W] Stan Lee, [A] Stan Goldberg. The three stories in this issue are all reprinted from Mad About Millie #4 from 1969, suggesting that this title was on its last legs. It was cancelled with #207. The stories are all in the same humor format as #163, which I reviewed earlier this year. All three stories are pretty generic, and the third one, “Here Comes Cousin Cuddles,” relies on fat-shaming for its humor.
ROYAL ROY #1 (Marvel, 1985) – “The Mystery of the Missing Crown,” [W] Lennie Herman, [A] Warren Kremer. Royal Roy, the young heir to the throne of Cashelot, has to find the missing royal crown before he can be crowned as prince. Harvey sued Marvel over Royal Roy’s obvious similarities to Richie Rich, leading to the series’ cancellation with issue 6. Not only are the characters themselves very similar, but Royal Roy is written and drawn in the exact same style as Richie Rich, which is no surpries since Warren Kremer created both characters, and Lennie Herman was a veteran Archie writer. According to Mark Arnold, Herman died before this comic was published, of (presumably) a heart attack while playing racquetball. Royal Roy is just as charming as a classic Harvey comic, and it makes me want to read more Richie Rich, though there are so many Richie Rich comics that it’s hard to tell which ones I should look for.
FOUR COLOR #1350 (Dell, 1962) – “Comanche,” [W] unknown, [A] Nat Edson. This was the second to last issue; the last was numbered #1354, but #1351 to #1353 were never published. It’s an adaptation of the 1958 film Tonka. It’s about Comanche, the horse that was the only survivor of the Battle of the Little Bighorn, and his white and Indian owners. This comic is competently executed, but it relies on noble-savage stereotypes, and it takes a both-sides approach to the Native American genocide.
LONE RANGER #54 (Dell, 1952) – “Bandits in Uniform,” [W] unknown, [A] Tom Gill. My old friend “Lone Ranger” from the CBR forums was a collector of this series, and this issue’s cover was his favorite. It shows a man iding behind a door, waiting to whack the Lone Ranger wih his pistol butt. In this issue’s first story, New Mexico has just become part of the USA, and a corupt government tax collector tries to execute an innocent Mexican landowner under color of law. In the second story, the Lone Ranger helps a sheriff defeat an outlaw who’s defying his authority. Both these stories depict Tonto in a stereotypical, racist way. At least there’s a Young Hawk backup story, which is much more sympathetic to Native Americans, although it inaccurately depicts California Native Americans wearing feather headdresses and using wampum. Someone ought to publish an archival collection of Young Hawk.
DAREDEVIL #35 (Marvel, 1967) – “Daredevil Dies First!”, [W] Stan Lee, [A] Gene Colan. The Trapster disguises himself as Daredevil to get revenge on the Fantastic Four. This issue has some well-drawn action sequenecs, but the Trapster was the dumbest Marvel villain of the ‘60s, and also this issue is from the period when Matt Murdock was pretending to be Mike Murdock. I understand that Chip Zdarsky has introduced a retcon where there really was a Mike Murdock.
SPACE RIDERS: VORTEX OF DARKNESS #3 (Black Mask, 2021) – untitled, [W] Carlos Giffoni, [A] Alexis Ziritt. This comic is published sporadically and is hard to find, so it’s always nice when I can find an issue of it. I don’t know what’s going on in this comic, except that the villain is named Maria Lionza, but Ziritt’s artwork and coloring are spectacular. I love his distinctive, punk-inspired use of flat coloring.
SECRET SIX #5 (DC, 2009) – “Twilight of Sorrow,” [W] Gail Simone, [A] Nicola Scott. Some villain kidnaps Bane and throws a giant pile of bricks at him, one by one. The other Secret Six members can’t rescue him because they’ve all been poisoned. Bane is the focal character in this issue, and Gail almost makes me sympathize with him.
CROSSOVER #5 (Image, 2021) – untitled, [W] Donny Cates, [A] Geoff Shaw. Ellie uses Valofax to fight her way into the compound where the superheroes are imprisoned. This was the least interesting issue yet.
FAR SECTOR #11 (DC, 2021) – “In order to rise from its own ahes a phoenix first must burn,” [W] N.K. Jemisin, [A] Jamal Campbell. The referendum is interrupted by an alien invasion. We discover that the sabotage of the referendum was part of Councilor Glory’s coup attempt. The City Enduring descends into civil war, and Jo has to save the day with just 20% of her ring power left. One thing I love about Jemisin’s work is how it always seems ilke her stories are allegories for contemporary American politics, yet never in a crude or obvious way; there’s never a one-to-one fit between Jemisin’s stories and the real events that inspire them.
STRANGE ADVENTURES #9 (DC, 2021) – “The Whole World’s Looking,” [W] Tom King, [A] Mitch Gerads & Doc Shaner. Mr. Terrific’s report implicates Adam Strange in war crimes. In a flashback, Adam executes a plan that involves burying a lot of Pykkts alive. On Scans_Daily I saw that issue 10 includes an unexpected and anticlimactic plot twist, but I haven’t gotten that issue yet.
GUNHAWK #7 (Marvel, 1973) – “Rodeo Doom-Day!”, [W] Gardner Fox, [A] Dick Ayers. As noted in my review of Gunhawks #6, this issue is the first Marvel comic named after a black character, other than Hero for Hire. The indicia title is just Gunhawk, but the cover title is Reno Jones, the Gunhawk. This issue is better than #6, but it includes some questionable racial representation. Throughout the issue, Reno Jones is insulted, cheated, and unfairly condemned to death by white people. At the end, he says that he’d kill all the white people if he could, but then he corrects himself, saying that only some white people are bad apples. The story ends on a cliffhanger, and the next-issue blurb says that the plot would be resolved in Western Team-Up, but that series only ran for one issue, which consisted only of reprints. Reno Jones didn’t appear again until the 2000 miniseries Blaze of Glory. Gunhawks #7 ends with a reprinted story drawn by Matt Baker.
SHANNA THE SHE-DEVIL #1 (Marvel, 1973) – “The Sahara Connection!”, [W] Carole Seuling, [A] Ross Andru. This was one of three series that Marvel launched simultaneously in order to cash in on the feminist movement. Like the others (The Cat and Night Nurse), Shanna was written by a woman writer who had no prior experience. Carole Seuling was known to Marvel because she was married to Phil Seuling, the founder of the direct market. Shanna #1 is a trite example of the jungle girl genre. The African people in the comic are called Fulani, but their clothing looks nothing like traditional Fulani clothing as depicted in photos I found on Google.
IMMORTAL HULK #45 (Marvel, 2021) – “Ready or Not,” [W] Al Ewing, [A] Joe Bennett. Lots of typically weird stuff happens, and eventually Joe Fixit turns into the Red Hulk and confronts the U-Foes. At the beginning of the issue a character drinks a beer labeled “St. Peter David.”
HEAVY METAL #2.3 (1978) – [E] Sean Kelly & Valerie Marchant. Corben and Strnad’s “The Last Voyage of Sindbad” is rather Orientalist, but it has beautiful art. It’s also rather sexually frank; Sindbad decides to go on another voyage because he’s suffering from erectile dysfunction. Picotto’s “Q Claf 1” has beautiful art, reminding me of Kaluta, but awful lettering. Very little information is available on Picotto, and I couldn’t find his first name. Gray Morrow’s “Orion” is an ERB-esque adventure story drawn in a similar style to Edge of Chaos. Alain Voss’s “Heilman” is about a punk rocker who fights a duel with Jim Morrison (I think) and then Elvis. Druillet’s “Gail,” like all his work, is spectacularly drawn but has a vapid plot. Moench and Niño’s adaptation of Sturgeon’s More than Human is more a heavily illustrated prose story than a comic. Serge Bihannic and Druillet’s “The Mage Acrylic” has some more brilliant art, by Bihannic, not Druillet. Serge Bihannic is at least as enigmatic a figure as Picotto, but at least we know his full name. This issue ends with chapters of Forest’s Barbarella and Montellier’s 1996.
CAPTAIN MARVEL #27 (Marvel, 2021) – “Mistakes Were Made,” [W] Kelly Thompson, [A] David Lopez. To cheer up Carol after her breakup with Rhodey, Jessica Drew teams up with her to fight some “snats,” i.e. giant cats with snake tails. Then Carol has some disastrous speed dates, fights the snats again, and finally has a one-night stand with Dr. Strange. This is Kelly’s best issue of Captain Marvel. It’s full of hilarious moments – I keep remembering the panel where the shirtless wizard dude says “Captain Marvel! When you mess with one Snat of the Nine Lives, you mess with all nine!” What makes this even funnier is that we’re never told where the snats came from or what their goal is. Also, Kelly’s characterization in this issue is touching and believable, and David Lopez’s art is excellent. Maybe Kelly is finally finding her own original approach to Captain Marvel.
SWAMP THING #2 (DC, 2021) – “Becoming Part 2,” [W] Ram V, [A] Mike Perkins. Levi continues having weird dreams, and weird stuff continues to happen in the Sonoran desert. This series still isn’t as good as Future State: Swamp Thing.
JUSTICE LEAGUE OF AMERICA #35 (DC, 1965) – “Battle Against the Bodiless Uniforms,” [W] Gardner Fox, [A] Mike Sekowsky. Due to a plot by Abnegazar, Rath and Ghast, the JLA have to fight their own animated costumes, as well as five villains: the Pied Piper, the Mask, Dagon, Killer Moth and Dr. Polaris. The Mask was a Golden Age Wonder Woman villain, but Dagon never appeared anywhere else, although JLA #35 falsely suggests that he’s a preexisting Aquaman villain. Like most of Fox’s JLA run, JLA #35 has an overly complicated plot and a total lack of characterization.
THUNDERBOLTS #144 (Marvel, 2010) – untitled, [W] Jeff Parker, [A] Kev Walker. Luke Cage accepts leadership of a new Thunderbolts team that includes Juggernaut, Tombstone, Moonstone, Ghost, etc. On the new Thunderbolts’ first mission, Baron Zemo tries to convince them to follow him instead of Luke. This wasn’t Parker’s first issue of Thunderbolts, but it’s the debut of his distinctive new version of the team.
PROJECT PATRON #1 (Aftershock, 2021) – “Men of Circuits and Steel,” [W] Steve Orlando, [A] Patrick Piazzalunga. It’s been thirty years since the Patron (i.e. Superman) was killed by Woe (i.e. Doomsday) and then miraculously returned to life. What the public doesn’t know is that the Patron really did die in that fight, and the current Patron is a robot operated by a team of human volunteers. But at the end of the issue, the team’s leader, Commander Kone, is murdered. Project: Patron has a brilliant premise, and it’s a nice tribute to the Death of Superman story arc, though I’m shocked to reailze that it really has been almost 30 years since Superman #75 .
TARZAN #39 (Dell, 1952) – “Tarzan and the Men of Monga,” [W] Gaylord Du Bois, [A] Jesse Marsh. Tarzan rescues his friend Jo-Rah’s sister from some evil cliff dwellers. In a backup story by the same creators, Tarzan defends the lost city of Athne from some Arab slavers. I’ve read other Tarzan stories by Jesse Marsh, but most of them were from near the end of his run. Earlier in his career he was much better, and his art looked less dated. I especially like the page in this issue where Tarzan travels through snowy mountains and encounters a snow leopard. This issue includes a Brothers of the Spear backup story drawn by Russ Manning, but his artwork is unrecognizable as his; it’s not slick or streamlined, and it’s full of unnecessary detail and linework. I wonder how long it took before he developed his classic style.
UNCLE SCROOGE #35 (Dell, 1961) – “The Golden Nugget Boat,” [W/A] Carl Barks. Gladstone finds a miniature boat carved out of a single Alaskan gold nugget. This inspires Scrooge to go back to Alasa for the first time in decades, and while there, he enters a “sourdough contest” and finds a gold nugget big enough to carve into an actual boat. I’ve never read this story before, and it’s a good one, though perhaps not among Barks’s absolute best works. The high point of the story is when Scrooge insists on continuing to dig despite severe obstacles, including freezing cold, a swarm of gnats, and a pack of wolves trying to eat him. There’s also a Gyro Gearloose backup story, “Fast Away Castaway.”
SHADOW SERVICE #6 (Vault, 2021) – untitled, [W] Cavan Scott, [A] Corin Howell. I think the plot of this issue is that the Shadow Service agents are chasing the original protagonist of the series, but at this point I’ve lost track of Shadow Service’s plot. This issue also includes some flashbacks to the war in Afghanistan.
HOLLOW HEART #2 (Vault, 2021) – Mateo starts implementing his plot to free El. I like the idea of this series, and Mateo is an effective character, but each issue is an extremely quick read.
USAGENT #4 (Marvel, 2021) – “Patriot Games,” [W] Christopher Priest, [A] Georges Jeanty. This issue stars with a scene where John Walker intervenes in a protest over military testing on Vieques island. I forget if we’ve seen this scene before. Otherwise, this is a typical Priest comic, with a series of plotlines whose chronological relationship is hard to untangle.
COMMANDERS IN CRISIS #7 (Image, 2021) – “The Action of Confession,” [W] Steve Orlando, [A] Davide Tinto. The people of Earth are skeptical about the Crisis Command’s revelations from last issue. Thunder Woman takes Frontier to the Lightning World, which is like the Immateria from Promethea. A new character named the American Dreamer appears. I’m still skeptical about this series, but I like this issue’s focus on “how newness enters the world,” as Salman Rushdie puts it.
THE UNWRITTEN #23 (Vertigo, 2011) – “Leviathan 5,” [W] Mike Carey, [A] Peter Gross. Tom Taylor is trapped inside a whale along with Jonah, Sindbad, Pinocchio, Baron Munchausen, and other literary characters who were eaten by whales. Tom escapes by realizing that the whale is actually Hobbes’s Leviathan. There’s an impressive double-page splash which reveals that the whale is made of human bodies, like the king in Leviathan’s famous frontispiece. According to https://su.diva-portal.org/smash/get/diva2:1091773/FULLTEXT01.pdf, the unnamed Scotsman in this issue is from Kipling’s Just So Stories.
FUTURE STATE: SUPERMAN VS. IMPERIOUS LEX #3 (DC, 2021) – untitled, [W] Mark Russell, [A] Steve Pugh. The people of Lexor continue to support Lex even though he’s run their economy into the ground, but finally Lex’s robots start massacring the Lexorians and Superman has to save them. In the end, Lex is left with his pet robot X-99 as his only follower, even though he previously blamed X-99 for all Lexor’s problems. This series is Mark Russell’s most pointed satire of Trump. Russell understands the reason for Trump’s continued appeal. The people who supported Trump can’t admit to themselves that he’s a failure, because they’ve invested too much of their identity in him, so paradoxically, the more pathetic Trump becomes, the more firmly his supporters follow him.
NUCLEAR FAMILY #2 (Aftershock, 2021) – “Bad Transmission,” [W] Stephanie Phillips, [A] Tony Shasteen. The McCleans are taken through the ruins of Milwaukee to an underground city, which is introduced in a striking two-page splash. Tim McClean is told that it’s 1968, not 1958. So where was he for the last ten years? This series is okay but it’s not my favoritet Aftershock title.
FEAR CASE #3 (Dark Horse, 2021) – untitled, [W] Matt Kindt, [A] Tyler Jenkins. Mitchum loses track of his partner Winters, and when he goes to look for him, some guys beat him up. When he wakes up, some guy gives him the briefcase, which is covered in shadows. Tyler Jenkins’s artwork for this series is very moody and grim.
EDGAR ALLAN POE’S SNIFTER OF BLOOD #6 (Ahoy, 2021) – “Edgar Allan Poe’s Mask of the Red Death,” [W] Tom Peyer, [A] Alan Robinson. A superhero parody of “The Masque of the Red Death.” For reasons I don’t understand, most of this story is in black and white, even though Poe’s original story pays so much attention to color. “Bon-Bon,” [W] Robert Jeschonek, [A] Greg Scott. The devil comes for Rufus Wilmot Griswold, a critic who insulted Poe’s work and slandered his character. Griswold was a real person and he really did try to ruin Poe’s reputation after Poe died.
DECORUM #7 (Image, 2021) – “And the Egg That Broke a World,” [W] Jonathan Hickman, [A] Mike Huddleston. Neha Nori Sood finds the egg, but it’s alive, and she doesn’t want to return it to the Church of the Singularity. This issue has some stunningly creative artwork, including a bizarre giant-toed creature getting a pedicure, and a deity that looks like a mass of Kirby crackle.
I BREATHED A BODY #3 (Aftershock, 2021) – “Bad Debt Symbiosis,” [W] Zac Thompson, [A] Andy Macdonald. Mylo’s ghost (?) appears to Zoe/Anne and tells her to find his “Taustus” pendant. Mylo’s social media fans start following his example by committing suicide. This series is compelling, but it may be too gruesome and disturbing for my tastes. I’m not sure I want to read Zac Thompson’s next series.
SEA OF SORROWS #4 (IDW, 2021) – untitled, [W] Rich Douek, [A] Alex Cormack. Thanks to the siren’s influence, the people on the ship start killing each other. This series has some really striking and atmospheric art, but its plot is too decompressed, and its characters are impossible to tell apart. I could have skipped reading this series.
AGE OF X-MAN: THE AMAZING NIGHTCRAWLER #1 (Marvel, 2019) – untitled, [W] Seanan McGuire, [A] Juan Frigeri. In an alternate world with no sexual reproduction, Kurt Wagner and Meggan are famous TV stars, but they break their society’s rules by having sex. This issue is an interesting exploration of Kurt’s character and his relationship with Meggan, a relationship which never went anywhere in the standard Marvel universe, because Meggan was already in a romance with Brian. My colleague Anna Peppard has written at length about the panel in Excalibur #4 where Kurt and Meggan almost kiss. https://themiddlespaces.com/2021/05/11/excalibur-4/
CEREBUS #90 (Aardvark-Vanaheim, 1986) – “Five,” [W/A] Dave Sim. Cerebus’s head has turned into a golden sphere. Lord Julius starts charging people money to see the Living Tarim. Bishop Powers arives with the news hat the Lion of Serrea has been assassinated, and Cerebus is now the sole Pope. This issue includes some very funny scenes.
2000 AD #65 (IPC, 1978) – Dan Dare: “Ice World,” [W] Gerry Finley-Day, [A] Dave Gibbons. Dare is strapped on an ice planet with some crewmen, one of whom has a habit of telling annoying jokes. Death Planet: untitled, [W] Alan Hebden, [A] Cesar Lopez Vera. The colonists find some rideable kangaroo-like creatures, and Lorna threatens to shoot Cory. Inferno: “Philadelphia Freaks vs Harlem Hellcats,” [W] Tom Tully, [A] Massimo Belardinelli. Hale Eegle is killed and Cindy enters the game to replace him. Her line “I’m Cindy – try me!” is a reference to a notorious airline ad campaign. https://jezebel.com/how-flight-attendants-organized-against-their-bosses-to-1830282960 The cover of Plop! #6 is another reference to this same ad slogan. Dredd: “The Cursed Earth, Chapter 5: The Mutie Mountains,” [W] Pat Mills, [A] Brian Bolland. A mutant leader has added his face to Mount Rushmore, which already seems to have had Carter’s face on it. In a fight with the mutants, Dredd knocks Carter’s teeth out. Mach Zero: “Cousin George,” [W] Steve McManus, [A] Ramon Sola. Mach Zero ruins the daredevil Cousin George’s escape artist performance. Mach Zero is essentially the Hulk, except that his goal is not to be left alone, but to find his missing son.
SUPERIOR SHOWCASE #2 (AdHouse, 2007) – “A Long Strange Trip,” [W/A] Maris Wicks. A little girl hurts her knee, and her white blood cells are depicted as superheroes fighting villainous germs. “Shadowsmen,” [W/A] Farel Dalrymple. A short story that fit into the Wrenchies-It Will All Hurt-Proxima Centauri universe. Like most of Farel’s work, it’s beautifully drawn but hard to follow. “Big Mail Day,” [W/A] Joey Weiser. A slice-of-life story about office workers who are actually superheroes. Joey Weiser’s style is very simple and appealing.
THE AMAZON #1 (Dark Horse, 2009) – “Spirit of the Amazon,” [W] Steven T. Seagle, [A] Tim Sale. A recolored version of a comic published by Comico in 1989. There are no warrior women in this comic. Rather, it’s about a journalist who visits Manaus, in the Brazilian Amazon, to investigate rumors of an indigenous superhero who’s fighting the logging companies. Tim Sale’s art looks more Italian or Argentine than American comics, and it evokes the atmosphere of the jungle and the city of Manaus. Seagle’s story is interesting, if somewhat trite.
AGE OF X-MAN: THE AMAZING NIGHTCRAWLER #3 – as above. Kurt meets Mystique, who shows him a picture of his unknown four-year-old daughter, Tenia Jean. She’s super cute. Kurt and Megan go looking for her. This is another fascinating issue, and I want to read the rest of this series.
CEREBUS #92 – “Audacious Tenacity Tenacious Audacity,” as above. Now awake again, Cerebus encounters two characters based on Bill Marks, the publisher of Vortex Comics, and Seth. They offer to paint a picture of him. I wouldn’t have known the Seth character was based on Seth if Dave hadn’t said so in his note. At this point Seth was still only known as the artist on Mister X, and he probably hadn’t adopted his habit of wearing old-fashioned clothing.
Next Heroes trip was on Thursday, April 22. On this trip I had lunch at Midwood Smokehouse.
SWEET TOOTH: THE RETURN #6 (DC, 2021) – untitled, [W/A] Jeff Lemire. The people revolt against Father, who tries to spring his trump card by revealing that the elephant is infected with the virus. But the two nannies tell him that they never infected Gus with the virus to begin with. The underground dwellers emerge onto the surface. This is a touching conclusion to the miniseries, but I’m sorry we never got to see what the surface world is like now.
JONNA AND THE UNPOSSIBLE MONSTERS #2 (Oni, 2021) – untitled, [W/A] Chris Samnee, [W] Laura Samnee. Rainbow watches some monsters fight, then finally finds Jonna. We learn that Jonna is Rainbow’s adoptive sister. The artwork in this series is incredible, but the storytelling is rather decompressed. Luckily Oni just solicited a fifth issue of this series, so the Samnees will get the chance to develop Rainbow and Jonna’s story in more depth.
THE MANY DEATHS OF LAILA STARR #1 (Boom!, 2021) – “Once Upon a Falling Starr,” [W] Ram V, [A] Filipe Andrade. In Mumbai, the wealthy Mrs. Shah gives birth to a son. In heaven, Brahma, the chief of the gods, gives the goddess of death her pink slip, because Mrs. Shah’s baby, Darius, is going to invent immortality. Death incarnates on Earth as a woman named Laila Starr. Laila is going to kill the newborn Darius, but loses her nerve and then gets killed. She reincarnates Mumbai several years later, when Darius is no longer an infant. This series is a fascinating synthesis of Hindu mythology and modern Indian life. Ram V knows Mumbai very well, as seen in Grafity’s Wall, and he makes me feel like I’m there. His depiction of the Hindu gods seems rather tongue in cheek; he depicts heaven as an office building. I have trouble understanding what Hindus believe about their gods. I wrote on Facebok: “In Western culture, the Hindu gods are often presented as a group of distinctly different gods with a clear hierarchy among them, like the Greek or Norse pantheons. [Here I was specifically thinkig of Zelazny’s Lord of Light.] Based on my very limited knowledge of Hinduism, my impression is that this analogy is not accurate, and that Hindus do not think of their gods in this way. Rather, Hindus believe that the various gods are different forms of the same god, or different aspects under which God can be worshipped. Maybe this is actually why I find Hinduism hard to understand — because I assume it’s like Western polytheistic religions, when it’s really not.”
STRAY DOGS #3 (Image, 2021) – “Lie Down,” [W] Tony Fleecs, [A] Trish Forstner. The dogs discover something strange buried under the porch, and Victor, the dachshund, realizes that Master abducted him from the fire department. Now convinced that Master is a killer, the dogs try to call 911, but of course it doesn’t work because they can’t speak human language. And one of the dogs, Earl, is still loyal to Master, so Earl alerts Master, and Master takes Victor outside and shoots him. This is a shocking moment, but it’s nothing compared to what happens in issue 4.
LOCKE & KEY/THE SANDMAN: HELL & GONE #1 (IDW, 2021) – “Hell & Gone,” [W] Joe Hill, [A] Gabriel Rodriguez. A dying Chamberlin Locke is tormented by the memory of his son Jack. Mary Locke travels to England to bargain with Roderick Burgess for an audience with Morpheus, in the hope that he can save Chamberlin from madness and Jack from hell. Jean befriends Roderick’s son and gives him the Anywhere Key so he can escape his abusive father. (Considering how sympathetic Alex is in this issue, it’s sad that he’s going to come to a bad end, as shown in Sandman #1.) In exchange, Alex gives Mary Morpheus’s helm, and she falls asleep and visits the Dreaming, where the Corinthian is tyrannizing over the other inhabitants. This is a fun first issue that connects Sandman to Locke & Key in a plausible way. And Gabriel Rodriguez’s depiction of the Dreaming is beautiful.
WAY OF X #1 (Marvel, 2021) – “Playing Make Believe,” [W] Simon Spurrier, [A] Bob Quinn. Nightcrawler, the most religiously inclined X-Man, visits various other inhabitants of Krakoa and is troubled by their lack of spirituality. The text features suggest that Kurt is going to found a new mutant religion. Other spotlighted characters in this issue are Magneto, Dr. Nemesis, Pixie, and a new character named Lost. I’m excited about this series because I love both Nightcrawler and Si Spurrier’s writing.
USAGI YOJIMBO #18 (Dark Horse, 2021) – “Tengu War! Part Three,” [W/A] Stan Sakai. Usagi helps Sojobo defeat the Guhin Tengu, but Sojobo’s wife is killed, as is Buichi, the tengu who Usagi dueled last issue. I didn’t like this storyline as much as the previous one, but it is nice to revisit the supernatural side of Usagi’s world.
POWER PACK #5 (Marvel, 2021) – untitled, [W] Ryan North, [A] Nico Leon. The kids trick the Wizard into giving back their powers, allowing them to defeat him, and the previous status quo is restored. Squirrel Girl makes a cameo appearance. This was an extremely fun miniseries, but I’m sorry it’s not an ongoing.
MY LITTLE PONY: FRIENDSHIP IS MAGIC #96 (IDW, 2021) – untitled, [W] Jeremy Whitley, [A] Tony Fleecs. Pinkie Pie, Fluttershy, Rainbow Dash, Discord and Trixie accompany Capper to his hometown of Abyssinia. They discover that King Meowmeow has banned magic from his kingdom, and he imprisons the ponies (well, the ponies and other creatures) for violating the ban. Casper’s old friend Chummer breaks them out of prison. I feel like this comic could have had even more cat jokes, but it’s entertaining anyway. The monocle-wearing cat Admiral Fluffington is an awesome new character.
RADIANT BLACK #3 (Image, 2021) – “Writing Day,” [W] Kyle Higgins, [A] Marcelo Costa. Nathan finally gets some traction on his writing, but then he falls asleep and has a nightmare where his superhero identity murders him. Not a whole lot happens in this issue, but it feels like a more accurate description of fiction writing than issue 1 was.
TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES #116 (IDW, 2021) – untitled, [W/A] Sophie Campbell. Jenny recruits musicians for her new band, and they prepare for their battle with Bebop and Rocksteady. TMNT has become one of my favorite current series. Like the Jem and the Holograms comic, it feels very sweet and tender, and it has lots of fascinating characters who often disagree with each other, but who are rarely evil or malicious.
HOME #1 (Image, 2021) – “The Icebox,” [W] Julio Anta, [A] Anita Wieszczyk. A young widow and her son emigrate illegally from Guatemala to Texas, but are shocked when instead of being welcomed into their new country, they’re thrown in a holding cell. Then the boy is separated from his mother and thrown in a cell, but his superpowers activate, and he blows a hole in the cell and escapes. Home is a very blunt and unsubtle treatment of undocumented migration, but that’s not inappropriate since Trump’s family separation policy was an inexcusable crime against humanity. While Home is not the most polished work, it’s an important comic, and it puts a human face on people who are too often stereotyped as subhuman criminals.
FANTASTIC FOUR #30 (Marvel, 2021) – “Friends & Enemies,” [W] Dan Slott, [A] Zé Carlos. This issue is yet another King in Black crossover, and it consists mostly of pointless fight scenes. At least there are some touching character interactions at the end.
CHALLENGE OF THE SUPER SONS #1 (DC, 2021) – “Doom on the Horizon,” [W] Peter Tomasi, [A] Max Raynor. A mysterious purple-robed woman named Rora shows Jon and Damian the Doom Scroll, which reveals the names of superheroes who are fated to die unless in an hour unless the boys save them. The catch is that if the victims are alerted to their impending deaths, an innocent person will die instead. So Jon and Damian’s first task is to save the Flash from being killed by lightning, without tipping him off. It’s really nice to see this series again. I’m glad the DC universe still has room for a fun comic like Super Sons.
CAPTAIN MARVEL #28 (Marvel, 2021) – “Strange Magic Part 1 of 3,” [W] Kelly Thompson, [A] Jacopo Camagni. Despite her awkward sexual encounter with Dr. Strange last issue, Carol has to consult him again to find out how to beat Ove. Doc takes Carol to the Bar with No Doors. This issue isn’t as great as #27, but it’s very fun. It feels like a tribute to Jason Aaron and Chris Bachalo’s Dr. Strange. A particular highlight is the appearance by the two irreverent talking snakes from that series. Like the Snats of the Nine Lives, the snakes are completely unexplained, and it’s funnier that way.
ETERNALS #4 (Marvel, 2021) – “Only Death I Eternal Part 4,” [W] Kieron Gillen, [A] Esad Ribic. Druig and Kingo Sunen investigate the murders, and then they fight Thanos. There’s also a flashback where Druig tries to manipulate Kingo into assassinating the Mongol general Subutai, thus altering the course of history. Druig mentions that the Mongol conquests ended anyway because the supreme khan Ogedei died, and the Mongol generals all had to return home to elect his successor. An interesting footnote here is that Ogedei’s death was the result of severe alcoholism. There is a whole academic paper about this: https://www.jstor.org/stable/43193426?seq=1
SPECTER INSPECTORS #3 (Boom!, 2021) – “The Museum,” [W] Bowen McCurdy, [A] Kaitlyn Musto. The characters visit the town museum. They start to perceive it differently based on its appearance in different time periods. Their dual perceptions allow them to find the clue to where to go next, but then they have to escape some masked, robed cultists. Also, there’s a ton of relationship drama. This is a really well-done series that reminds me of Misfit City, as noted previously, and also Gotham Academy.
I WALK WITH MONSTERS #5 (Vault, 2021) – untitled, [W] Paul Cornell, [A] Sally Cantirino. The politician manipulates Jacey into not killing him. Jacey is so mad at herself that she almost takes her rage out on Paul. But she comes up with another idea for how to get her revenge. The scene where the politician sweet-talks Jacey is rather disturbing.
ORPHAN AND THE FIVE BEASTS #2 (Dark Horse, 2021) – untitled, [W/A] James Stokoe. Orphan Mo fights Thunderthighs and seemingly kills him by bisecting him at the waist. In a shocking twist that seems very appropriate to the wuxia genre, Thunderthighs’ legs are able to survive independently of his torso, and Mo has to fight and kill him a second time. She takes over leadership of his bandits, and they proceed to fight the next beast. We’re halfway through the series and there are still two beasts left, so I don’t know how Stokoe can finish his story in just two more issues. As usual, Stokoe’s art is spectacularly detailed and creative, and his action sequences are thrilling, although these two things work against each other somewhat: I can’t read the action sequences quickly because I have to stop to admire the draftsmanship.
ORCS! #3 (Boom!, 2021) – untitled, [W/A] Christine Larsen. The exiled and starving orcs are kidnapped by trolls. The kid saves the day by letting sunlight into the trolls’ house, causing them to turn to stone, just like in The Hobbit. Then the orcs eat some psychedelic mushrooms and wake up to find themselves covered in gnomes. This is another really fun issue.
PANTOMIME #6 (Mad Cave, 2021) – untitled, [W] Christopher Sebela, [A] David Stoll. While executing their last job, the kids deliberately get themselves captured by the police. The other four kids all inform on Max and get him sent to prison, while they get off scot-free. Also, they set a booby trap that results in the Manager’s death. This conclusion is morally ambiguous; it seems like a happy ending, yet Sebela also suggests that the kids unfairly escaped culpability for Max’s crimes, and that they’re going to go on to commit further crimes.
BIRTHRIGHT #48 (Image, 2021) – untitled, [W] Joshua Williamson, [A] Andrei Bressan. Mikey finally finds Brennan, and they team up and fight a giant glowing monster. Brennan reveals that he knows how to rescue their parents from Terrenos, but at a high cost. I never have anything to say about the individual issues of this series.
ULTRAMEGA #2 (Image, 2021) – untitled, [W/A] James Harren. Some years after #1, the Kaiju Klansmen are terrorizing the normal humans, forcing them to survive on insufficient rations. Noah, the original Ultraman character’s son, tries to fight the kaiju using a remote-controlled robot, but the kaiju refuses to give the humans any food at all unless they reveal Noah’s identity, and Noah’s elderly friend Odis callously sells Noah out. This is a gripping comic with excellent artwork, but Harren is not the same caliber of artist as Stokoe, and I think Ultramega’s price tag is a bit inflated.
THOR & LOKI: DOUBLE TROUBLE #2 (Marvel, 2021) – untitled, [W] Mariko Tamaki, [A] Gurihiru. Thor and Loki fight the Midgard serpent until its mohter comes for it (but wait, I thought the Midgard Serpent’s mother was Loki). Odin is pissed at them for trashing Asgard, and forces them to clean up. Loki reveals that he also stole an orb from Odin’s vault, but when he tries to use the orb, he and Thor fall into an abyss. I saw someone say that the last page of this issue is a perfect encapsulation of Thor and Loki’s relationship. While they’re falling, Thor says “This is all your fault” and Loki says “I maintain no responsibility.”
USAGI YOJIMBO #19 (IDW, 2021) – “The Master of Hishima,” [W/A] Stan Sakai. The first three pages of this issue look strange because they’re inked by someone named Randy Clute. Usagi agrees to take some lizards to a mysterious recluse who lives on Hebishima, meaning Snake Island. The recluse proves to be an old retainer of Lord Hikiji. He dueled Usagi while Usagi was hiding Lord Mifune’s head, but he lost the duel when he was distracted by a snake, so now he’s a follower of the kami of snakes. And as we then learn, he himself is now made of snakes. Usagi manages to defeat him and escape, but the last panel suggests that Mr. Snake Island is still alive and will return. This was an entertaining and very scary story; the revelation of the snake dude’s true appearance is an especially shocking moment. However, it seems like an improbable number of things happened to Usagi while he was transporting Lord Mifune’s head.
BLACK HAMMER VISIONS #3 (Dark Horse, 2021) – “Uncle Slam,” [W] Chip Zdarsky, [A] Johnnie Christmas. Abraham Slam is displeased to learn that the government has given his secret identity to a new, violent young superhero. Abe fights the new Slam and loses, but the new Slam is then shot and killed. This issue has some powerful moments – particularly the scene of Slam’s funeral – but it also feels like yet another unnecessary critique of ‘90s comics.
HEAVY METAL #2.7 (HM, 1978) – [E] as above. Corben and Strnad’s Sindbad sequel continues, with more brilliant art and coloring. Bilal’s “Exterminator 17” is a rare example of his black and white art. It looks rather Moebius-esque, because of the style of linework and the random diegetic lettering. This story has been collected in an English volume, in color, which is still in print. Denis Sire’s “The Great Trap” is well-drawn but full of gratuitous T&A. Zha and Claveloux’s “Off-Season” is a bizarre piece of surrealims, drawn in a style that looks somewhat like children’s book art. I ought to get the NYRB collection of Claveloux’s stories. Chaykin’s adaptation of Delany’s “Empire” has nice draftsmanship, but very boring panel structures, with just two or three horizontal or vertical panels per page. “Empire” was an original graphic novel and is not to be confused with Delany’s short story “Empire Star.” This issue also includes chapters of Morrow’s Orion, Moebius’s Airtight Garage, Druillet’s Gail, and Voss’s Heilman.
WOMEN OF MARVEL #1 (Marvel, 2021) – various stories, [E] Sarah Brunstad. This issue starts with an essay by Louise Simonson about the changing gender dynamics of Marvel’s readers. The stories in this anthology are very short, and none of them particularly stands out, I suppose my favorite is the one-pager where Hela uses her hellhound as a weighted blanket. What’s impressive about this issue is the depth of talent involved – Mariko Tamaki, Naomi Franquiz, Sophie Campbell, Natasha Alterici, etc. This also suggests how Marvel has evolved. Marvel has published lots of female-themed one-shots and miniseries, like Marvel Divas, Her-oes, and Girl Comics, but in the past, these comics were often borderline sexist and were sometimes written and drawn by men. Marvel didn’t have the talent pool to publish a comic solely authored by women. But now, Marvel has such a deep bench of female creators that a completely female-authored anthology title hardly even seems noteworthy.
GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY #13 (Marvel, 2021) – “We’re Super Heroes,” [W] Al Ewing, [A] Juan Frigeri. Half the Guardians fight an invasion of Progenitors, while the other half investigate a sacrificial cult. Dr. Doom appears at the end. This comic is okay, but it’s not Immortal Hulk or We Only Find Them When They’re Dead.
WONDER WOMAN #771 (DC, 2021) – “Afterworlds Part 2,” [W] Michael Conrad & Becky Cloonan, [A] Travis Moore. Diana discovers Dr. Psycho’s mind control scheme. Then Nidhogg offers her the key to Fortress Valkyrie in exchange for the egg of the eagle atop Yggdrasil. On the way up Yggdrasil, Diana meets Odin. I’m not familiar with either of these writers, and I’m surprised how much I’m enjoying their Wonder Woman. The version of Ratatosk in this series is essentially the same as the one in Ragnarok. This issue also has a backup story drawn by Paulina Ganucheau.
JENNY ZERO #1 (Dark Horse, 2021) – untitled, [W] Dave Dwonch & Brockton McKinney, [A] Magenta King. Jenny Zero is a member of the Action Science Police, who defend Japan against kaiju. She’s also an alcoholic who’s made a mess of her life. The best things about this series are Magenta King’s detailed art and Megan Huang’s vivid coloring. Jenny Zero is not the best recent comic about kaiju, but it’s worth reading.
BLACK KNIGHT: CURSE OF THE EBONY BLADE #2 (Marvel, 2021) – untitled, [W] Simon Spurrier, [A] Sergio Davila. Dane summons the spirit of Sir Percy and learns that there are four ebony items, not just the blade. Elsa Bloodstone attacks Dane, but then they team up to look for Mordred, who’s collecting the other ebony items. This is a fun series – the Elsa Bloodstone appearance is especially cool – but it suffers by comparison to Once & Future, which is a much deeper investigation of Arthurian mythology. And so far Si Spurrier’s Marvel work hasn’t been as interesting as his creator-owned work.
CHAMPIONS #6 (Marvel, 2021) – “Killer App!”, [W] Danny Lore, [A] Luciano Vecchio. The Champions investigate Roxxon’s suspicious social media operation. I decided to give up on this series even before I finished reading this issue. Danny Lore’s writing feels like by-the-numbers hackwork; he doesn’t seem to care about his own story, and his versions of Miles, Kamala and Riri are lacking in depth. Also, this issue’s plot is just a rehash of Outlawed, which was bad to begin with.
RESIDENT ALIEN: YOUR RIDE’S HERE #5 (Dark Horse, 2021) – untitled, [W] Peter Hogan, [A] Steve Parkhouse. Mostly a bunch of cute character interactions. At the end, the government agent finally finds Harry. This is a really cute, gentle series, but it would be more meaningful if I had read the previous volumes.
HAHA #4 (Image, 2021) –“Gustav in the World of Floating Objects,” [W] W. Maxwell Prince, [A] Patrick Horvath. While performing at a little boy’s birthday party, a clown somehow gets sucked into his own balloon and finds himself in the “world of floating objects.” Meanwhile, the boy’s mother takes him to visit his grandfather, and after some initial friction, the boy and his grandfather fly a kite together. This is a fairly touching story. The best part is how the grandfather seems like an old tyrant at first, but then he mellows and starts teaching the boy how to fly the kite.
THE OLD GUARD: TALES THROUGH TIME #1 (Image, 2021) – “My Mother’s Axe,” [W] Greg Rucka, [A] Leandro Fernandez. Andy tells Nile the story of her axe, which she’s had ever since the Copper Age. She insists it’s still the same axe, even though both the shaft and the head have been replaced countless times. This is of course a rehash of the Ship of Theseus/George Washington’s Axe paradox, but Rucka also suggests a resolution to that paradox: the axe is the “same” axe because it’s the living symbol of Nile’s thousands of years of memories. “Zanzibar and Other Harbors,” [W] Andrew Wheeler, [A] Jacopo Camagni. In Berlin in 1932, an immortal saves another immortal from a Nazi. This isn’t as good as the first story. I haven’t read anything else by Andrew Wheeler since Another Castle.
SPIDER-MAN: SPIDER’S SHADOW #1 (Marvel, 2021) – untitled, [W] Chip Zdarsky, [A] Pasqual Ferry. In this What If story, Peter decides to keep wearing the black costume even after realizing that it’s alive. As a result, the Hobgoblin kills Aunt May, and Peter kills the Hobgoblin in revenge. This is far better than most What If stories becaues of the extended length as well as the greater depth of characterization. Chip has become an excellent writer, and Pasqual Ferry is an underrated artist.
S.W.O.R.D. #5 (Marvel, 2021) – “Giallo,” [W] Al Ewing, [A] Valerio Schiti. Fabian Cortez is put on trial, and meanwhile, the Shi’ar civil war continues. This series is really not that impressive, and maybe I should drop it. The word giallo is Italian for “yellow” but more specifically refers to Italian crime fiction, and it references both this issue’s yellow color and the gruesome things that happen in it.
PROCTOR VALLEY ROAD #2 (Boom!, 2021) – untitled, [W] Alex Child & Grant Morrison, [A] Naomi Franquiz. The girls are (correctly) accused of kidnapping the boys. They sneak out of their houses and return to Proctor Valley Road, where they encounter a pack of hyenas or jackals, and then the ghost of “the Landlady.” I like this series so far, but I’m afraid that it’s going to descend into incomprehensibility, like so many other Grant Morrison comics have.
KARMEN #2 (Image, 2021) – untitled, [W/A] Guillem March. Cata floats around Palma de Mallorca, watches a man die on an airplane, and encounters the boyfriend whose cheating drove her to suicide. Karmen has a distinctive, unusual plot, and its artwork is beautiful. Guillem March depicts Palma with such specific detail that I was actually able to look at Google Maps and find some of the exact locations in this issue. I even found the bright red sculpture that says PALMA. March and Tony Lopez’s coloring also deserves praise.
MONSTRESS #33 (Image, 2021) – untitled, [W] Marjorie Liu, [A] Sana Takeda. Zinn confronts Maika and her grandfather. Maika argues with the Warlord. I’m still reading this series only because of a misplaced sense of obligation, and I think it may be time to give up on it, because it’s not going to get any less confusing or depressing.
LUNA #3 (Boom!, 2021) – untitled, [W/A] Maria Llovet. Teresa discovers that Lux has imprisoned a one-eyed, blue-skinned god. This god looks like Krishna, except for the missing eye, which suggests Odin. Teresa and the god have sex. The best thing about this comic is its bizarre psychedelic art.
CANTO AND THE CITY OF GIANTS #1 (IDW, 2021) – untitled, [W] David M. Booker, [A] Sebastián Piriz. I just now realized that this issue has a new artist. Canto and his companions head to the city of giants. They discover that Fra and Ba, the two giants from earlier isssues have been buried up to their necks, and are being eaten by bugs. To free them, Canto and the Misturian witch have to fight a monster called Ferro. This comic is better than I’ve been giving it credit for. I don’t know why it always takes so long for me to read it.
CEREBUS #93 (Aardvark-Vanaheim, 1986) – “The Prisoner,” [W/A] Dave Sim. Cerebus realizes it was Astoria who killed the Lion of Serrea. While on his way to the dungeon to see her, he passes the Roach, Mick and Keef. The issue ends with Cerebus confronting the imprisoned Astoria. On the letters page there’s an angry exchange between Dave and cat yronwode.
CATWOMAN #30 (DC, 2021) – untitled, [W] Ram V, [A] Fernando Blanco. Catwoman gets the Riddler to explain the wing symbol, and he tells her a story which is depicted with panels arranged in a question mark shape. I really like how Ram V writes the Riddler, who is perhaps my favorite Batman villain, although he’s rarely been written well. A mysterious trenchcoated man – the Phantom Stranger? – tells Selina where to find the missing Poison Ivy, and she goes to a gala event at the mansion where Ivy is being held.
2000 AD #66 (IPC, 1978) – Dan Dare: as above. The annoying jokester saves Dare and his crew from a giant one-eyed ice monster. Death Planet: as above. The colonists start building a settlement, but someone sets their houses on fire. Mach Zero: as above except [A] Mike Dorey. Zero befriends some homeless men, then Cousin George catches him in a net. Dredd: “The Cursed Earth Chapter 6: Dark Autumn!”, [W] Pat Mills, [A] Mike McMahon. A telepathic boy named Novar saves Dredd from Morgar and his mutants. The phrase “before they had the war” is repeated several times. Inferno: as above. The Hellcats score a goal. Gruber is ordered to kill Cindy.
SUPERMAN #11 (DC, 1987) – “The Name Game,” [W/A] John Byrne. In his first post-Crisis appearance, Mr. Mxyzptlk disguises himself as a handsome man named Ben DeRoy and convinces Lois to marry him. Superman tricks Mxy into saying his own name backwards, then, as Clark Kent, he apparently sleeps with Cat Grant. I just realized that Ben DeRoy’s name is an anagram of Beyonder and that he’s drawn to look like that character. See https://www.cbr.com/superman-mister-mxyzptlk-connects-dc-marvel-universes. Also, the bearded smoking man on page 3 may be a caricature of Tom DeFalco.
CEREBUS #94 (Aardvark-Vanaheim, 1987) – “So,” [W/A] Dave Sim. Cerebus talks with Astoria, she tries to manipulate him into marrying her, and then Cerebus uses his authority as the Pope to divorce Red Sophia and marry Astoria. Then he rapes her. It goes without saying that this is an unforgivable act and that it causes Cerebus to forfeit the reader’s sympathy. However, I don’t think the reader was supposed to sympathize with Cerebus to begin with; at this point in the series, he had already murdered a baby and an old man on-panel.
BATMAN #459 (DC, 1991) – “Saturday Night at the Movies,” [W] Alan Grant, [A] Norm Breyfogle. A bratty little boy and his parents go to see the Karate Cockroaches (i.e. Ninja Turtles) movie, but it’s sold out, so they see The Mark of Zorro instead. The boy is so angry about this that he forces his parents to leave the movie, and predictably, on their way out of the theater they’re ambushed by an armed robber. Batman shows up and prevents history from repeating itself. In a subplot, Commissioner Gordon and Sarah Essen go to the same movie on a date, but just as Gordon is about to go up to Sarah’s apartment, he has a heart attack. This is a fun issue, but both of its plotlines are very predictable.
After over a year with no comic conventions, two of them came along just three weeks apart. On May 1st I went to Cabarrus Brewing Company for the Concord Micro-Con. I haven’t been to this event before because I wasn’t sure if it was worth the trouble, but I decided to attend this year’s edition, and I had a good time. Some comics I bought there:
DAREDEVIL #29 (Marvel, 1967) – “Unmasked!”, [W] Stan Lee, [A] Gene Colan. Daredevil is about to propose to Karen, but he can’t decide whether to do it as Mike or Matt Murdock. The question becomes moot when Karen is kidnapped by gangsters. Daredevil deliberately allow the gangsters to kidnap him as well. As in Amazing Spider-Man #12, the gangsters discover Daredevil’s secret identity but assume he’s an -impostor and not the real thing. Matt saves Karen, but decides not to propose to her, because she’d be too vulnerable. Overall, this issue has some excelent action scenes, but its plot and characterization are stupid.
AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #30 (Marvel, 2017) – “Secret Empire Part Two: Master Planning,” [W] Dan Slott & Christos Gage, [A] Stuart Immonen. Peter has to defend Parker Industries Shanghai from the resurrected Doc Ock, who has access to all the traps he laid in Parker Industries back when he was Spider-Man. This isn’t Slott’s best story, but it feels kind of like a summation of all his previous work.
UNCANNY X-MEN #256 (Marvel, 1989) – “The Key That Breaks the Locke,” [W] Chris Claremont, [A] Jim Lee. The Mandarin and Matsuo Tsurabaya force Betsy Braddock to relive her past memories. As she does so, she acquires the Mandarin’s rings one by one, symbolizing her subjugation to him. This was one of just three issues between #143 and #279 that I was missing. It has some excellent Jim Lee artwork, and it helps to flesh out one of Claremont’s least interesting characters.
WONDER WOMAN #232 (DC, 1977) – “A Duel of Gods,” [W] Martin Pasko (“based on a story by Alan Brennert”), [A] José Delbo. At the convention I saw a bunch of ‘70s Wonder Womans for $2 each. I bought four of them, and I could have justified buying even more. The Wonder Woman comics from this era are all pretty bad, but I think they’re worth buying because they’re so hard to find. “A Duel of Gods” is part of a series of stories that were set in the 1940s. In this installment, Diana and the JSA fight Osira, an ancient alien who helped build the pyramids.
TELLOS #1 (Image, 1999) – untitled, [W] Todd DeZago, [A] Mike Wieringo. This is Ringo’s only creator-owned work. Tellos is the name of the world where it takes place, not the protagonist. In this first issue, a boy named Jarek and a man-tiger named Koj are being chased by frog soldiers, and they escape aboard an attractive female pirate’s ship. There’s also a glowig green amulet that serves as a McGuffin. Tellos is a fairly standard piece of humorous fantasy, but it’s passionate and exciting, and Ringo draws some beautiful cityscapes and fantastic creatures. The tiger dude is especially striking.
BATMAN #17 (DC, 2017) – “I Am Bane Part Two,” [W] Tom King, [A] David Finch. At Concord Micro Con I bought a lot of recent Batman comics for $1 each. This issue is hard to understand out of context. After looking it up, I guess the plot is that Batman is trying to protect the Bat-family from being murdered by Bane, and he also needs to get the Psycho-Pirate to heal Gotham Girl, whoever that is.
DETECTIVE COMICS #934 (DC, 2016) – “Rise of the Batmen Part 1: The Young and the Brave,” [W] James Tynion IV, [A] Eddy Barrows. Batman as an encoutner with Azrael. Then he and Batwoman recruit a new team of Bat-heroes, including Spoiler, Cassandra Cain, Tim Drake (who in this continuity is a scientific genius), and, surprisingly, a reformed Clayface. James Tynion is very good at writig ensemble cast comics, and this is an enjoyable issue.
IRON MAN #98 (Marvel, 1977) – “Sunfire Strikes Again!”, [W] Bill Mantlo, [A] George Tuska. When Sunfire attacks Stark Industries, Tony has to put on the Guardsman armor to fight him. But the Guardsman armor lacks the “heart-strengthening circuitry” of the Iron Man armor, so Tony has a heart attack, and Michael O’Brien – who blames Tony for his brother’s death – has to become Iron Man to save Tony. This issue is better than I expected from such a mediocre creative team.
TEEN TITANS #15 (DC, 2018) – “Super Sons of Tomorrow Part 3: Tomorrow is Never Promised,” [W] Peter J. Tomasi & Patrick Gleason, [A] Ed Benes & Jorge Jimenez. This is part of a crossover with Super Sons #11 and Superman #37. I read both those comics when they came out, and I didn’t like them. I liked this issue better, perhaps because I’m nostalgic for these versions of Jon and Damian. However, Tomasi and Gleason’s plot is confusing, and the it’s a good thing Ed Benes only drew half the issue, because his art is awful. There’s one page in this issue that includes two different sets of photostatted panels.
WONDER WOMAN #233 (DC, 1977) – “Seadeath,” [W] Gerry Conway, [A] Don Heck. This issue has a memorable Gray Morrow cover showing Diana in the jaws of a giant monster. But otherwise it’s just a boring story where Diana fights a Nazi submarine captain. And when we finally get to see the monster, it looks much less scary than it did on the cover.
ADVENTURES OF SUPERMAN #425 (DC, 1986) – “Going the Gauntlet,” [W] Marv Wolfman, [A] Jerry Ordway. In his second appearance, the mad scientist Emil Hamilton (named after Edmond Hamilton, according to Wikipedia) tells the tragic story of how Lex Luthor cheated him out of his life’s work. Emil use his inventions to help Superman defeat some terrorists, but gets no credit for it, and finally he goes crazy and gets himself thrown in jail. This is a really depressing story. In this issue Emil is a tragic figure, but later writers instead depicted him as a benevolent, funny character.
DETECTIVE COMICS #537 (DC, 1984) – “Down Below,” [W] Doug Moench, [A] Gene Colan. Batman meets Sixto Morales, an undocumented immigrant who lives in the sewer after fleeing his homeland. Sixto has painstakingly built a replica of his home village, but some criminals find it and destroy it, and Sixto decides to finally come back to the surface. This comic is rather unrealistic, and Sixto is a huge stereotype, but his story is touching anyway. Gene Colan’s Batman artwork in the ‘80s was below his usual standards, perhaps due to Bob Smith’s inking. This issue includes a Green Arrow backup story with good art by Shawn McManus.
DETECTIVE COMICS #939 (DC, 2016) – “Rise of the Batmen Part 6: The Thin Red Line,” [W] James Tynion IV, [A] Eddy Barrows. This issue starts with a flashback where Kate Kane comforts Bruce at his parents’ funeral. Surprisingly, this scene indicates that Bruce Wayne is Jewish. Number one, there’s a menorah on the altar. Number two, Kane could be a Jewish name, and Kate Kane’s mother is Martha Wayne’s sister. If Kate is Jewish, then Bruce is too, since Jewish identity is inherited through one’s mother. In the rest of the issue, the Bat-Family defends Gotham from an attack by some terrorists who are targeting agents of the League of Shadows. These scenes include a lot of strong characterization.
AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #679 (Marvel, 2012) – “I Killed Tomorrow Part 2 of 2: A Date with Predestiny,” [W] Dan Slott, [A] Humberto Ramos. Last issue, Peter’s coworker Grady built a time portal to the future, and after going through it, Peter discovered that New York was going to be destroyed the following day. This issue, Peter tries to find and prevent the cause of the disaster, and at the last moment, he realizes that the time portal itself is the problem. This is a very entertaining issue, but I wish I’d read #678 first.
SUICIDE SQUAD #55 (DC, 1991) – “The Dragon’s Hoard Part III: Dead Man’s Hand,” [W] John Ostrander & Kim Yale, [A] Geof Isherwood. In Japan, the new Atom, Adam Cray, saves Amanda Waller from being shot by Japanese gangsters. Meanwhile, Thinker, Captain Boomerang and Nightshade investigate some Russian criminals in Japan, and Deadshot, Count Vertigo and Stalnoivolk fight some Khmer Rouge soldiers. The best part of this issue is the scene where Captain Boomerang repeatedly changes his cover story in a failed attempt to fool the Russians. Also, it’s fun seeing Adam Cray use Ray Palmer’s old trick of traveling through phone lines.
BATMAN #19 (DC, 2017) – “I Am Bane Part Four,” as above. On his way to Bruce, Bane beats up the other Arkham inmates. Because of the juxtaposition of Bane with all the old Batman villains, this issue feels like a tribute to Knightfall. Tom King’s writing highlights the differing personalities of the various villains. I especially like his scenes with Scarecrow and Riddler.
BATMAN #476 (DC, 1992) – “The Return of Scarface! Part 3: The Gig Heat!”, [W] Alan Grant, [A] Norm Breyfogle. The cover shows Batman revealing his identity to Vicki Vale, but in the actual comic, he only does this in a dream sequence. Bruce does intend to tell Vicki he’s Batman, but he chickens out in the end. Most of the issue is about Batman’s fight with Scarface’s mob. There are numerous allusions to old crime films, including the issue’s subtitle (“The Big Heat” as pronounced by Scarface) and Scarface’s line “Top of the world, Ma!”
CEREBUS #96 (Aardvark-Vanaheim, 1987) – “An Anchor That’s Going Places,” [W/A] Dave Sim. In his note Dave complains about reverse sexism, and particular about an incident where a woman tried to force him to dance. In the story, Cerebus and Astoria discuss the Ascension, and Cerebus realizes that the doesn’t know why he wants to go to the moon, except to rub his triumph in Weisshaupt’s face. Then they argue about males versus females. It’s not clear whether Astoria’s arguments about feminims are meant to be taken seriously, and I think Dave may want the reader to laugh at them, but they often make sense. For example, Astoria that women are more fitted to the creator than men, because women give birth while men only ejaculate, and Cerebus fails to answer this point. Ironically, Astoria is such an effective feminist character that she serves as a rebuttal to Dave’s own arguments against feminism.
CONAN: THE LORD OF THE SPIDERS #2 (Marvel, 1998) –“Slave of the Lotus,” [W] Roy Thomas, [A] Stefano Raffaele. In Arenjun, Conan gets in a bar fight and is then kidnapped by he wizard Harpagus, who he previously met in Savage Sword of Conan #207. Conan is saved by the snake woman Helliana. This story is entertaining if unoriginal, although Stefano Raffaele’s art could be better.
SAVAGE #3 (Valiant, 2021) – untitled, [W] Max Bemis, [A] Nathan Stockman. Savage fights a giant “gecktopus” created by the mad scientist from last issue. This issue is pretty funny, but Savage is only an average series.
CHAINED TO THE GRAVE #2 (IDW, 2021) – untitled, [W] Andy Eschenbach & Brian Level, [A] Kate Sherron. Roy, Dahteste and the kids meet Beau Freeman and his two pet alligators, and Beau joins them because he and Roy both want revenge on the same villain. My favorite thing about this comic is Kate Sherron’s art. Eschenbach and Level’s writing is funny, but their plot is hard to keep straight, and there are too many characters.
RAIN LIKE HAMMERS #4 (Image, 2021) – untitled, [W/A] Brandon Graham. A detective named Mr. Ott travels to Sky Cradle. Meanwhile, Brik Blok finally finds El. This comic is time-consuming and difficult to read – hence why I haven’t read #5 yet – and Brandon Graham is still a jerk, but he’s also still a gifted writer and artist.
MY DOG JOJO #1 (Uncivilized, 2021) – untitled, [W/A] Gabrielle Bell. A series of diary comics, mostly focusing on the author’s relationships with her mother and her dog. Gabrielle Bell is a major talent. I love her drawing stye and her spotting of blacks, and her stories feel very honest and reflective. I should read more of her work.
CRIMSON FLOWER #4 (Dark Horse, 2021) – untitled, [W] Matt Kindt, [A] Matt Lesniewski. The alleged villain reveals that Crimson Flower’s handlers have been lying to her for her whole life, and that he didn’t actualy kill her dad. Also, we realize that Crimson Flower believes she lives in a medieval fantasy world, when in fact she lives in modern times. This revelation would have been more effective if it had been the other way around – if the entire series had been set in medieval times until the final scene, instead of vice versa. Crimson Flower was pretty good, but it was too short to build any real narrative momentum, which was also a problem with Fear Case.
THE BEQUEST #2 (Aftershock, 2021) – “Lower Whacker,” [W] Tim Seeley, [A] Freddie Williams II. The War Party fight a “resurrection beast” in the tunnels of downtown Chicago, and Epoch Craev teams up with some white supremacist militiamen. The Bequest is really fun so far. The protagonists, especially Warlock, are entertaining, and their amazement at the modern world is an effective source of humor.
NIGHT HUNTERS #3 (Floating World, 2021) – untitled, [W] Dave Baker, [A] Alexis Ziritt. This issue has more excellent artwork and coloring, but its plot is hard to follow, and also not very interesting. Dave Baker is not as good a writer as Ziritt’s other collaborator, Carlos Giffoni.
BATMAN #36 (DC, 2018) – “SuperFriends Part 1,” [W] Tom King, [A] Clay Mann. Lois tries to convince Clark to talk to Batman about his impending marriage, and Selina has a similar conversation with Bruce. Clark and Bruce carry on these discussions while also trying to track down the villain Dr. Double X, who has two bodies – a very appropriate gimmick since the whole issue is about duality and complementarity. This might be my favorite Tom King Batman issue yet. It’s a very sweet treatment of Batman and Superman’s friendship, and it’s also very cleverly plotted.
ADVENTURES OF SUPERMAN #429 (DC, 1987) – “Old Ties,” [W] Marv Wolfman, [A] Jerry Ordway. On a date with Cat Grant, Clark learn that she has a son, Adam, who she’s lost custody of. As Superman, Clark contacts Cat’s ex-wife and begs him to let Cat see her son. This is a horrible decision: Clark knows nothing about why Cat lost her son besides what Cat herself has told him, and even Cat’s side of the story is not very flattering to her, and in any case, why should Superman interfere in other people’s private family matters? To his credit, by the end of the story, Clark does realize that his intervention has only made things worse. I should point out here that Cat Grant is a terrible character. She was always portrayed in a very unflattering way, and her young son was killed off for no good reason. In this issue Superman also fights Concussion, a member of the Circle. As mentioned in my review of #435, the Circle were part of a dangling plot thread that was never resolved.
DETECTIVE COMICS #962 (DC, 2017) – “Intelligence Finale: Judgment Day,” [W] James Tynion IV, [A] Alvaro Martinez. The Bat-Family fight a villain named Ascalon who seems to be an evil (or rather, an even more evil) version of Azrael. This issue’s plot doesn’t make sense on its own, but Tynion’s characterization continues to be very good. A high point of this issue is Zatanna’s guest appearance.
CEREBUS #97 (Aardvark-Vanaheim, 1987) – “The Unknown Given,” [W/A] Dave Sim. In his essay, Dave complains about the sanctimoniousness of anti-smoking propaganda. I can sympathize because I’ve seen a lot of anti-smoking ads that made me want to start smoking just out of spite. In the story, Astoria continues debating Cerebus and almost convinces him to free her, but Bishop Powers barges in at just the wrong moment, and Cerebus is forced to put Astoria on trial.
KING IN BLACK: NAMOR #5 (Marvel, 2021) – “The Breaking Wave,” [W] Kurt Busiek, [A] Benjamin Dewey. Dorma manages to neutralize the Unforgotten Stone and defeat the Swift Tide. This was an entertaining minieries, and it completely reinvented the character of Dorma, who used to be just a helpless damsel in distress. However, I hope we
BATMAN #39 (DC, 2018) – “Superfriends Part 3,” [W] Tom King, [A] Joëlle Jones. A hero called the Gentle Man has been fighting a horde of demons for thousands of years, so Wonder Woman and Batman offer to fight them for a bit and give him a break. Meanwhile, the Gentle Man hangs out with Catwoman. This is another very touching issue that provides insight into Batman and Wonder Woman’s relationship, and the Gentle Man is a cool new character. His only other appearance was in #40.
2000 AD #69 (IPC, 1978) – This prog’s cover is funny: several dozen guns are pointed at Dredd, but he’s pointing his own gun back at them and saying “Come quietly or else there’ll be trouble!” Inferno: as above. Louis causes Gruber to go insane with pain, and Gruber dives into the stands and kills the two syndicate agents who are controlling him. Gruber then vanishes. Mach Zero: “Part 6,” [W] Geoffrey Miller, [A] Ramon Sola. Cousin George forces Mach Zero to play tug of war with some strongmen. The Brotherhood of the Three – that is, the homeles men from #66 – decide to rescue Mach Zero. Dredd: “The Cursed Earth Chapter Nine: The Slay-Riders!”, [W] Pat Mills, [A] Brian Bolland. A certain “ferry-master” is using stranded aliens as slaves. One of the slaves – Tweak, a furry anteater-like creature who eats rocks – escapes, and Dredd has to defend Tweak from slave-catchers. As one would expect, Bolland draws some extremely lifelike and weird-looking aliens. Death Planet: “Slaves of the Crystal,” as above. The colonists are captured by a space pirate named Zeena. Dan Dare: “Garden of Eden Part 3,” [W] Chris Lowder, [A] Dave Gibbons. In a colony settled by 17th-century Puritans, Dare and his crew fight some mind-controlling plants.
BARBIE #41 (Marvel, 1994) – “Ride ‘Em, Cowgirl,” [W] Trina Robbins, [A] Barb Rausch. I bought a number of Barbie comics from a seller on Facebook. In #41, Barbie visits a dude ranch and uses her lasso skills to catch some cattle rustlers, to the surpries of the ranch owner, who assumed she was a city slicker. Are cattle rustlers even a thing anymore? In the backup story, Skipper makes a new friend who’s ashamed that her mother is deaf. The best thing about this issue is Barb Rausch’s art. I think I’m going to write more about this comic soon, but what I write about it will not be entirely positive.
BATMAN #44 (DC, 2018) – “Bride or Burglar,” [W] Tom King, [A] Mikel Janín & Joëlle Jones. In the Jones-drawn sequences, Selina breaks into a dress shop and steals her wedding dress. The Janín sequences depict a series of battles between various incarnations of Batman and Catwoman. It’s surprising to see how much she’s changed visually, while remaining more or less the same character. This is another really charming issue.
2000 AD #70 (IPC, 1978) – Inferno: as above. Clay builds an android replica of Gruber, but it sneaks into his room when he’s asleep. Mach Zero: as above except [A] Mike Dorey. The Three prepare for their raid on Cousin George. Mike Dorey’s art is very grim and moody, with great use of what looks like grease pencil; it’s better art than this rather silly plot deserves. Dredd: “The Cursed Earth Chapter 10: Requiem for an Alien!”, as above. Dredd saves Tweak from the Slay-Riders, and discovers that Tweak’s mate and child were murdered by the slavers. More terrific Bolland art. Death Planet: as above. Richard Cory sacrifices his life to defeat Zeena, and the colonists decide to stay on the planet, even though they could use Zeena’s ship to escape. This was the last Death Planet story. According to https://britishcomics.fandom.com/wiki/Death_Planet, Lorna was the first female protagonist in 2000 AD, though not the best. Dan Dare: as above. Dare and crew fight some brutish aliens called Vrakks, then they discover that the Puritan colonists are actually giant alien worms.
TARZAN: THE BECKONING #6 (Malibu, 1993) – “Survival Instincts,” [W/A] Tom Yeates, [W] Henning Kure. This comic may have been originally published in Scandinavia, but I’m not sure. Henning Kure is from Denmark. In this story, Tarzan and Jane are both lost in the African jungle, but Jane has lost her memory and thinks she’s Sheenola the jungle queen, and beyond that I can’t tell what’s going on. But Tom Yeates’s artwork is fairly exciting.
CEREBUS #99 (Aardvark-Vanaheim, 1987) – “Accurately Inexplicable,” [W/A] Dave Sim. In his note, Dave says he thinks Cerebus raped Astoria, and he also implies that he didn’t want the reader to approve of Cerebus’s act. Rather, the point is that Cerebus is immune from punishment from rape because he’s the pope, and that this is a bad thing. As depicted here, Dave’s views on rape are more progressive than you would expect from him. in the story, Cerebus’s trial continues, and he has a vision where Suenteus Po (but which one?) is being sentenced to death by a woman who looks like Astoria. I’m not sure what was happening here.
WONDER WOMAN #242 (DC, 1978) – “Tomorrow’s Gods and Demons,” [W] Jack C. Harris, [A] José Delbo. On V-J Day, Steve is abducted by aliens and is evolved into a super-powered collective identity. Diana convinces the aliens to turn him back to normal. The aliens themselves are never seen on panel. This is a very mediocre issue.
MARVEL TEAM-UP #26 (Marvel, 1974) – “The Fire This Time…!”, [W] Len Wein, [A] Jim Mooney. Jinku, the ruler of the Lava Men, wants to destroy the surface world by making all the volcanoes erupt at once. A renegade Lava Man summons Thor and the Human Torch to save the day. Jinku steals Thor’s hammer and tries to use it to power his volcano machine, but it doesn’t work because after 60 seconds, the hammer turns back into a wooden cane. That’s a pretty clever twist. They Who Wield Power make a cameo appearance in the last panel.
THE EDGE #2 (Bravura, 1994) – “The Wheel,” [W] Steven Grant, [A] Gil Kane. This comic is written in a histrionic style, its plot is hard to follow, and it seems to be narrated entirely in flashback; we start with the Edge mourning the death of Winged Victory, and then we see how he died. This makes me wonder what the first issue was about, if it wasn’t about Winged Victory’s death. Also, the costume designs in this comic are kind of dumb. However, I didn’t buy this comic because of any of those things, but rather because it’s full of Gil Kane’s thrilling action scenes.
SUICIDE RISK #11 (Boom!, 2014) – “Seven Walls and a Pit Trap Part 1,” [W] Mike Carey, [A] Elena Casagrande. A man named Leo gets super powers but is mind-controlled into forgetting about his wife and children. When he starts threatening his wife, who he thinks is an impostor, his daughter reveals that she has superpowers too. This comic has some very creepy moments, particularly the scenes with the white-haired villain who can force people to obey him. But I still don’t know what Suicide Risk is supposed to be about.
BARBIE #42 (Marvel, 1994) – “Celebration,” [W] Lisa Trusiani, [A] Barb Rausch. Skipper is supposed to do a cheerleading performance in a talent show, but her fellow cheerleaders faint from not eating enough. Skipper wins the talent show anyway, and the other cheerleaders aren’t mentioned again; the writer misses a chance to hammer home the lesson that anorexia is bad. There are also stories about a science fair project and about yodeling.
CEREBUS #106 (Aardvark-Vanaheim, 1988) – “Greatness Among Flies,” [W/A] Dave Sim. Fred/Ethel/Little Fellow continues to threaten Cerebus, but then he grows too heavy and falls off the tower, and Cerebus ascends the rest of the way to the moon. This isn’t the best issue.
2000 AD #71 (IPC, 1978) – This is the first of the famous “banned progs.” I had expected these issues to be much more difficult to find than they in fact were. Ant Wars: untitled, [W] Gerry Finley-Day, [A] José Luis Ferrer. In the Brazilian jungle, some government scientists spray some ants with an untested insecticide that, instead of killing the ants, makes them grow to giant size. A white captain has to team up with a native he calls “Anteater” to kill the ants. All the white people in this story are appallingly bigoted toward the natives, and the writer tacitly endorses their bigotry by not condemning it. Inferno: as above. The Gruber android kidnaps Clay and forces the other Hellcats to meet him at the old Washington Wolves arena. Dredd: “The Cursed Earth, Chapter 11: Battle of the Burger Barons,” [W] Pat Mills, [A] Mike McMahon. In Kansas, Dredd gets dragged into a war between Ronald McDonald, Burger King and their armies. The reason this and the next prog are “banned” is because IPC used the McDonald’s and Burger King brands without permission. In America this story would have been legally protected as parody, but not in the UK, so to avoid legal action, IPC decided the Burger Barons story would never be reprinted. It finally did get reprinted in 2015 due to changes in UK law. That’s good, because it’s quite a funny story, although the Cursed Earth epic can be understood without it. Mach Zero: as above. The Three confront Cousin George and his goons. Dan Dare: as above. Dare and his crew escape to their ship, only to find that the worms have infested it.
TARZAN: LOVE, LIES AND THE LOST CITY #3 (Malibu, 1992) – untitled, [W] Henning Kure, [A] Peter Snejbjerg & Teddy Kristiansen. This seems to be an American-Danish co-production, or else an American reprint of a Scandinavian comic. In Opar, La tries to convince Tarzan that Jane is dead, while Jane, who is of course alive, tries to rescue a kidnapped girl named Zora. This is an exciting story and Snejbjerg and Kristiansen’s art is very strong, though I wonder which of them did what.
IRON MAN #30 (Marvel, 1970) – “The Menace of the Monster-Master!!”, [W] Allyn Brodsky, [A] Don Heck. Tony accompanies a Japanese scientist, his daughter and his assistant to investigate a remote Japanese island. On the island is a villain named Zoga who’s building monsters in order to restore Japan’s prestige. Zoga is killed by his own monster and is unmasked as the scientist’s assistant. This issue is full of Japanese stereotypes, but it’s a rare U.S. comics depiction of Japan from after World War II but before anime became popular in America. Allyn Brodsky was no relation to Sol.
PHANTOM STRANGER #41 (DC, 1976) – “A Time for Endings,” [W] Paul Levitz, [A] Fred Carrillo. The Phantom Stranger and Deadman try to save Cassandra Craft from an old villain named Nathan Seine. The demons that Nathan summons are drawn in a style that reminds me of Alex Niño’s art. Cassandra Craft later appeared in Superman #344. This issue also has a Black Orchid backup story by Carrillo and Michael Fleisher.
EERIE #89 (Warren, 1978) – The Rook: “A Time Factory,” [W] Bill DuBay, [A] Luis Bermejo. A humorous time-travel adventure story whose plot I can’t remember. “Crystabelle!”, [W] Bill DuBay, [A] Leo Duranona. A woman bears a child out of wedlock and gives it up for adoption, but then changes her mind, kidnaps the baby, and hides it in her attic. The baby girl, Crystabelle, grows up in the attic, seeing no one but her mother and some spiders. When she’s grown up, a man finds her in the attic, and they have sex. Then she does what she’s seen the spiders do after mating: she kills and eats him. This is the best Warren story I’ve read lately. Its ending is both terrifying and almost hilarious. “Francesca,” [W] Bruce Jones, [A] Gonzalo Mayo. Scott and Sally Harmon adopt Francesca, a teenage girl who’s just awakened from cryogenic freezing. Francesca develops a crush on Scott, and then stabs him. This story was concluded in #91. There are some hints that this Francesca is the same one from Dante’s Inferno, as in Paolo and Francesca. “The Magician’s Tower,” [W] Budd Lewis, [A] José Ortiz. A weird humorous sword-and-sorcery story that seems to be continued from an earlier issue. “Boiling Point Part 2,” [W] Bruce Jones, [A] Leopold Sanchez. A cop named Tony and his friend Paul go looking for a serial killer who’s been operating on the subway. It turns out Paul is the killer and that he went insane because he failed to become a cop himself.
BATMAN #45 (DC, 2018) – “The Gift Part One,” [W] Tom King, [A] Tony Daniel. As a wedding present, Booster Gold goes back in time and saves Bruce Wayne’s parents. He explicitly says that he got the idea from reading Superman Annual #11, or, rather, from hearing an in-universe summary of it. This is another fun issue, but quite confusing.
AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #681 (Marvel, 2012) – untitled, [W] Dan Slott & Chris Yost, [A] Giuseppe Camuncoli. Thanks to the final plot of the dying Dr. Octopus, Spidey, Human Torch and John Jameson are trapped on a space station in decaying orbit. They survive thanks to effective teamwork. This story led into Ends of the Earth, which itself set up Sensational Spider-Man.
ADVENTURE TIME COMICS #1 (Boom!, 2016) – [E] Shannon Watters. I’m not really interested in this franchise, but this issue has a strong lineup of talent: Art Baltazar, Katie Cook, Tony Millionaire and Kat Leyh. Tony Millionaire’s art is especially strong. I haven’t read anything by this artist in a long time, but I just ordered some old issues of Sock Monkey.
SAVAGE DRAGON #53 (Image, 1998) – untitled, [W/A] Erik Larsen. While Dragon is temporarily dead, Stephenson recruits a new Brute Force. This issue includes a very funny scene showing all the lame-ass heroes who try out for Brute Force – like Water Lad, who can only turn his hands into water, and Bubble Boy, who just came for the buffet. The best of these character is Feezle, who’s covered with white fur and talks like Yoda. I wish he’d appeared more often.
VAMPIRELLA #74 (Warren, 1978) – “Hell from on High,” [W] Steve Englehart, [A] José Gonzalez. This is reprinted from #22. Vampi, Adam and Pendragon are joined by a mysterious priest as they hunt down Cornelius Devlin, who they think killed Pendragon’s brother. The priest, Jonas, proves to be the real culprit. “The Blood Queen of Bayou Parish,” [W] Englehart, [A] Gonzalez. Reprinted from #23. In Louisiana, Vampi and her friends encounter Jonas again, along with other members of his cult. These stories aren’t terrible, but the Vampirella stories were always the worst part of Vampirella. “Wolf Hunt,” [W] Joe Wehrle, [A] Esteban Maroto. Reprinted from #14. An old man kidnaps a werewolf girl, but she turns the tables on him and kills him. Wehrle seems to have been mostly a fan, and I think this story was his only professional comics publication.
CEREBUS #110 (Aardvark-Vanaheim, 1988) – “All the Suns Are Daughters,” [W/A] Dave Sim. This may be the laziest issue yet; it begins with a blank white page and ends with a blank black page, and the pages in between are full of nearly blank black panels. It consists of a long rambling conversation between Cerebus and the Judge. By this point in the series, Dave already seems to have entered into a decline from which he never recovered.
BATMAN #479 (DC, 1992) – “Pagan,” [W] Alan Grant, [A] Tom Mandrake. Batman encounters Pagan, a vigilante who’s hunting the men who raped her sister and drove her to suicide. Pagan only ever made two more appearances. That’s a shame because she’s a compelling character, and I think she’s more a hero than a villain – I certainly sympathize more with her than with the Punisher, who’s appeared in thousands of comics. Maybe the idea of a superheroine who hunts rapists was too radical for its time.
2000 AD #72 (IPC, 1978) – This is the second of the banned progs. Mach Zero: as above. Cousin George drowns in a sewer, and Mach Zero wanders off to look for his son. Ant Wars: as above. Anteater destroys some ants by blowing up an oil tanker. Again, this story is rather offensive. It’s clear that Anteater is smarter than Captain Villa gives him credit for, but Captain Villa never faces any pushback against his blatant racism (at least not so far). And we never even learn Anteater’s real name, or anything else about him at all. Dredd: “The Cursed Earth Chapter 12: Burger Law!”, [W] John Wagner, [A] Mike McMahon. Dredd visits MacDonald City, then the Burger King almost hangs him, but his companions arrive and rescue him. Again, it’s a shame this story was out of print for almost 40 years. Inferno: as above. The Hellcats prepare to play against the Wolves of Death for Clay’s life. Dan Dare: as above. Dare and crew defeat the worms and make peace with the Vrakks. Like most of Dave Gibbons’s Dan Dare stories, Garden of Eden was well-drawn but boringly written.
TARZAN #176 (Gold Key, 1968) – “Tarzan, Lord of the Jungle,” [W] Gaylord Du Bois, [A] Russ Manning. Tarzan meets two white hunters. One, Wilbur Stimbol, is an asshole, and Tarzan orders him to leave the jungle. The other, James Blake, discovers a lost civilization of Europeans descended from Crusaders. There’s also a plot thread about a slaver named Ibn Jad. This story is adapted from an ERB novel and it has the typical complexity of ERB’s plots. Russ Manning’s artwork is, of course, incredible. There’s a Leopard Girl backup story by Du Bois and Tom Massey. I don’t think Leopard Girl ever got her own series.
BATMAN #48 (DC, 2018) – “The Best Man Part 1,” [W] Tom King, [A] Mikel Janin. The Joker kills a bunch of guests at a wedding, and while Batman is taking him into custody, they have a chat about their relationship. The last few Tom King Batman issues I read were all excellent. This one, however, is really, really bad, and even offensive. The main problem is that it’s yet another Joker story and yet another rehash of The Killing Joke. I hate the Joker and I would be happy if he never appeared in any form of media ever again. I’m sick of reading stories about an insane lunatic who’s killed thousands of people and who can never face justice. It has become an ironclad rule that Batman can neither kill the Joker nor stop him from committing murder, and that means that Batman and the Joker’s narrative is permanently frozen. The more speifc problem with this issue is that Batman doesn’t even try to stop the Joker from killing the wedding guests, and he doesn’t seem to care that they’re dead. They’re just treated as collateral damage in Batman and the Joker’s war, and that’s is especially insulting since they’re black people. My Facebook friend Corrina Lawson expressed similar sentiments in her review: https://geekdad.com/2018/06/review-batman-48-joker-goes-to-church/
BARBIE #43 (Marvel, 1994) – “A Turtle’s Tale,” [W] Barbara Slate, [A] Anna-Maria Cool. An intricately plotted story with themes of bookbinding, sailing and ballet. This story has a more clever plot than most Barbie comics, but one false note is the middle-aged black man who has a collection of photo of his great-great-grandparents. I hesitate to point this out, but it’s quite likely that his great-great-grandparents would have been enslaved people, and if so, he would be very lucky to have photos of them. The problem here is that the reader is encouraged to ignore this. A white child who reads this comic is not invited to ask: “Do I know who my great-great-grandparents were? Do I have photos of them? If I was black, would I know my great-great-grandparents’ names or what they looked like?” As also seen in the story about homelessness in Barbie Fashion #26, the Barbie comics were not equipped to encourage that sort of critical thinking.
THE SHADOW #4 (DC, 1986) – “Blood & Judgment Conclusion,” [W/A] Howard Chaykin. This comic is a typical example of Chaykin’s ‘80s style. It’s full of sexy women, snappy dialogue, exciting action scenes, and innovative lettering by Ken Bruzenak. But its plot doesn’t make sense on its own. I should collect the rest of this miniseries.
STARSLAYER #19 (First, 1984) – “Old Business,” [W] John Ostrander, Tim Truman. Torin and his allies engage in a lengthy spaceship battle. Ostrander and Truman’s Starslayer may be their least exciting collaboration. Unlike Grimjack or The Kents, Starslayer wasn’t their own creation, and it wasn’t that great even when it was in its original creator’s hands.
My next Heroes trip was on May 10. On this trip I had an adequate lunch at Fuel Pizza.
ONCE & FUTURE #18 (Boom!, 2021) – “Long Live the King,” [W] Kieron Gillen, [A] Dan Mora. The protagonists manage to keep Galahad away from the grail, but then the Prime Minister finds out about the whole Arthurian business, despite Sir Jason’s efforts. For the sake of pure political expediency, the Prime Minister tells the entire nation about the supernatural events, and Arthur decapitates him on live TV. The amazing twist here is something the reader has to figure out. As Merlin says, “Bors has made the land drink from the cup of knowledge.” Bors is not Sir Jason Hempleworth, as I thought, but the PM… whose name is not mentioned, but we know it sounds a lot like Bors.
WYND #6 (Boom!, 2021) – untitled, [W] James Tynion IV, [A] Michael Dialynas. The best new series of 2020 is back. We begin with a flashback showing how Wynd’s foster parents discovered him. In the background, two giant birds watch the scene. In Pipetown, the river gate is opened and some vampires force the dying king to ally with them. Meanwhile, Wynd and his friends are on their way to Northport, but they’re being observed by the birds from the flashback. And then the vampires show up in a submarine and open fire on their ship.
EVE #1 (Boom!, 2021) – untitled, [W] Victor LaValle, [A] Jo Mi-Gyeong. Eleven-year-old Eve discovers that she spent her whole life so far in virtual reality, being raised by a VR version of her dad. When she’s released from the VR world, she has to get used to living in a physical body, and she and her robot teddy bear have to travel through a post-lcmiate-change world to find some mangrove seeds. Victor LaValle’s first comics project, Destroyer, is already a classic, and I’m glad he’s returned to comics. Eve has the potential to be just as good as Destroyer. It reminds me of Fallout 3 and B.B. Free, but I particularly like its depiction of the struggle of transitioning from VR to reality.
THE GOOD ASIAN #1 (Image, 2021) – untitled, [W] Pornsak Pichetshote, [A] Alexandre Tefenkgi. In 1936, Edison Hark is one of the only Chinese cops in San Francisco. He discovers that the Tongs are plotting against white people, a discovery that threatens to cause deadly race riots. This is a fascinating new series that draws upon both the film noir genre and the author’s deep research into Asian-American history. It’s a sort of Asian version of Incognegro.
ABBOTT 1973 #4 (Boom!, 2021) – untitled, [W] Saladin Ahmed, [A] Sami Kivelä. Abbott and company confront the Randazzos’ men, they teleport away with Amelia, but they leave behind a clue leading to a Masonic temple. Elena goes there, kills an evil wizard, and rescues Amelia, but she herself seems to have turned evil. This issue is mostly plot and it’s one of the less interesting issues of Abbott.
STRANGE ACADEMY #10 (Marvel, 2021) – “Field Trip!”, [W] Skottie Young, [A] Humberto Ramos. The team goes on a field trip to Asgard. Shaylee and Toth become a couple, though Toth has nothing to say about it. Alvi is revealed as the son of the Enchantres, which is interesting because Captain Marvel just introduced Ove, who is also the Enhantress’s son. Is this setup for a crossover? Also, Doyle and Emily have their first kiss.
FANTASTIC FOUR #31 (Marvel, 2021) – “Self-Examinations,” [W] Dan Slott, [A] R.B. Silva. Ben and Reed go to “thought space” for some male bonding. Alicia teaches Jo and Nicki about art. Bentley is jealous over Valeria’s lack of interest in him. Overall I liked this isuse, and I thought the Bentley scenes were cute, but I saw someone else suggest that Slott was making fun of Val’s asexuality.
MY LITTLE PONY/TRANSFORMERS II #1 (IDW, 2021) – “The Magic of Cybertron,” [W] James Asmus, [A] Jack Lawrence. Somehow I never got the last issue of the previous miniseries. In this first story, the Decepticons kidnap the Wonderbolts, and the Mane Six follow them through a portal to Cybertron, where Megatron teams up with King Sombra. “A Real Mother,” [W] Sam Maggs, [A] Casey W. Coller. Arcee and Greenlight help Scootaloo’s aunts rescue their niece from a Decepticon. I normally hate Sam Maggs’s writing, but this story was cute.
DEPARTMENT OF TRUTH #8 (Image, 2021) – “The Man in the Black Helicopter,” [W] James Tynion IV, [A] Martin Simmonds. Back in the present, Cole and Ruby visit the secret facility under the Denver airport – which is a thing some people really believe exists – and they meet a man named Hawk Harrison. Not much happens in this issue, but Martin Simmonds’s art is brililant as usual.
MILES MORALES: SPIDER-MAN #25 (Marvel, 2021) – “The Clone Saga,” [W] Saladin Ahmed, [A] Carmen Carnero. Miles learns that Ganke and Barbara are dating, and he reacts by shoving Ganke into a wall. Miles’s reaction is understandable but wrong, and to his credit, he regrets it at once. Then Miles and Peter team up to fight Miles’s clone, but he has two more clones with him. “Big-Time Buzzkill,” [W] Cody Ziglar, [A] Natacha Bustos. Miles meets a silly bee-themed villain named the Bumbler.
DAREDEVIL #29 (Marvel, 2021) – “Doing Time Part 1,” [W] Chip Zdarsky, [A] Marco Checchetto. I dropped this series after the first few issues, but I’ve been hearing good things about it, and I decided to start reading it again. Matt Murdock is in prison for unexplained reasons, and Elektra has become the new Daredevil and is challenging the Kingpin for control of Hell’s Kitchen. (Does anyone even live in Hell’s Kitchen anymore, by the way? Hasn’t it become as gentrified as the rest of midtown Manhattan?) This issue has some very moody, exciting art, and unlike so many other Daredevil comics, it feels like an original story and not just a rehash of Frank Miller’s Daredevil.
THE NEXT BATMAN: SECOND SON #1 (DC, 2021) – “Second Son Part 1,” [W] John Ridley, [A] Tony Akins & Travel Foreman. I bought this because I’m curious about John Ridley’s writing. In this issue, Lucius Fox’s son Jace, formerly Tim, returns to Gotham, but not all of his family are happy to see him. This comic seems to assume some prior knowledge about the Fox family that I don’t have, but Ridley paints an interesting picture of the relationship dynamics of an African-American family.
BEASTS OF BURDEN: OCCUPIED TERRITORY #2 (Image, 2021) – untitled, [W] Evan Dorkin & Sarah Dyer, [A] Benjamin Dewey. Emrys and Mullins defeat the disembodied heads, then they meet some shapeshifting raccoons, a cannibalistic woman-spirit, and a pack of Shiba Inus. This is another fun issue.
SHADECRAFT #2 (Image, 2021) – untitled, [W] Joe Henderson, [A] Lee Garbett. Zadie and Ricky, who is now her shadow, go to school, and Zadie has an appointment with a suspicious school counselor, Angela. Zadie visits the school at night to look through Angela’s office, but Angela catches her there and tells her that she (Zadie) is causing the shadows. I like this series so far.
NOCTERRA #3 (Image, 2021) – untitled, [W] Scott Snyder, [A] Tony Daniel. The old man, Val, has to surrender himself to Blacktop Bill so that his granddaughter Bailey and Sundog can escape. Val gives Bailey his journal, but then tells Bill that the journal was a fake. The chase scene in this issue is exciting because the villain is so implacable and scary.
HELM GREYCASTLE #1 (Image, 2021) – “Devotion & Desire,” [W] Henry Barajas, [A] Rahmat M. Handoko. This comic is hard to understand at first, but it eventually becomes clear, and the RPG campaign materials at the end of the issue are also helpful. In Helm Greycastle, a Dungeons & Dragons party goes on a quest to New Tenochtitlan, the capital of the Mexica empire. So this comic is about an encounter between the tabletop RPG genre and the Aztec world. That’s a pretty cool idea. The Aztec culture in this comic is more or less intact, though they do seem to have encountered Europeans already.
CROSSOVER #6 (Image, 2021) – untitled, [W] Donny Cates, [A] Geoff Shaw. This issue includes a huge number of cameo appearances by characters from other comics. Most of them are listed in the copyright notice, but there are also characters listed there who I don’t remember seeing in the comic. Also in this issue, the little girl returns to her homeworld, the old guy seemingly gets killed, and Ellie reveals that she herself is a comic book character.
INKBLOT #8 (Image, 2021) – untitled, [W] Rusty Gladd, [A] Emma Kubert. The Seeker visits the city of Springhaven to resolve a conflict between two of her sisters. The sisters go to war anyway, thanks in part to MOW’.s mischief, and then one of the sisters apparently kills MOW.
THE UNION #5 (Marvel, 2021) – “The Britannia Project Part Five: Meet the NEW Emperor,” [W] Paul Grist, [A] Andrea Di Vito. The team defeats both Steve Darwin and Doc Croc, and the shapeshifting dog eats the Empire Stone and then, um, deposits it in front of 10 Downing Street. That’s not even the most unflattering depiction of the British Prime Minister in this week’s comics. The best thing in this issue is when Snakes loses his sweatshirt and we see that he’s literally just a bunch of snakes.
THOR & LOKI: DOUBLE TROUBLE #3 (Marvel, 2021) – untitled, [W] Mariko Tamaki, [A] Guriihiru. Thor and Loki end up in Jotunheim, where they fight a bunch of giants and then encounter a female Thor and Loki. I’m glad that the Jane Foster Thor is now an established part of Marvel continuity. For why this matters, see Flegel and Leggatt’s book Superhero Culture Wars.
ROBIN #1 (DC, 2021) – “Versus the World!”, [W] Joshua Williamson, [A] Gleb Melnikov. I haven’t bought a new issue of Robin since 2000, although Robin used to be a favorite of mine. I bought this issue because I really like Damian. In this issue, Damian enters the League of Lazarus’s martial arts tournament, but one of his opponents pulls his heart out of his chest. This issue includes a page that’s partially drawn in black-and-white and in a manga style, representing a manga that Damian is reading.
SHADOW DOCTOR #3 (Aftershock, 2021) – “Three Fathers,” [W] Peter Calloway, [A] Georges Jeanty. We get some flashbacks to Nathaniel’s youth, including his encounter with a mentor who resembles Stick or Mr. Miyagi. In the Prohibition-era time frame, Capone forces Nathaniel to operate on an injured mobster under unsafe conditions, and then Capone declares a gang war.
IMMORTAL HULK #46 (Marvel, 2021) – “You and Me Against the World,” [W] Al Ewing, [A] Joe Bennett. The rejuvenated Hulk fights the U-Foes, then fights Thor in a Manhattan bar called Wein’s. The other Avengers show up, but then Betty arrives to help the Hulk.
BABYTEETH #17 (Aftershock, 2021) – “Homecoming,” [W] Donny Cates, [A] Garry Brown. I’m surprised this comic was published at all. #16 came out more than a year and a half ago, and I expected that Babyteeth’s hiatus would be permanent. Because of the long gap, it’s hard to remember what’s been going on in this series, or to care very much about it. The major revelation this issue is that Sadie’s child is just one of an army of babies fathered by Satan.
AMERICA CHAVEZ: MADE IN THE USA #3 (Marvel, 2021) – untitled, [W] Kalinda Vazquez, [A] Carlos Gomez. America’s sister tells her that the Utopian Parallel never existed. America grew up in a test tube because of a deadly illness, and the Utopian Parallel was just a virtual-reality illusion. This is a dreadful retcon that throws America’s entire character down the drain for no reason at all. The whole point of America is that she’s a refugee from a better world than our own, so this retcon destroys her entire reason for existing. After reading this issue I emailed Heroes and had this series removed from my pull list – that’s one advantage of using a brick-and-mortar comic store instead of a mail-order service. I hope this issue’s retcon will be reversed ASAP.
NUCLEAR FAMILY #3 (Aftershock, 2021) – “Up with the Static,” [W] Stephanie Phillips, [A] Tony Shasteen. While Tim is being tortured, his kids escape their cell and meet a boy named Roger, and then they encounter some kind of radioactive zombie. Roger seems suspiciously well-prepared, and I’m not sure he’s not an actual Russian spy. This series is moving at a slow pace, but it’s an interesting take on ‘50s anti-Communist propaganda.
THE WRONG EARTH: NIGHT & DAY #4 (Ahoy, 2021) – untitled, [W] Tom Peyer, [A] Jamal Igle. The two Dragonflies finally descend into open violence against each other, but then they’re interrupted by yet a third Dragonfly. At this point I’ve gotten hopelessly confused as to which Dragonfly(man) is which.
THE MARVELS #1 (Marvel, 2021) – “The Birth of Madness,” [W] Kurt Busiek, [A] Yildiray Cinar. A series of loosely related vigenttes that all revolve around Sin-Cong, a fictional country where America fought a long war at some unspecified time in the past. The Sin-Cong war was introduced in History of the Marvel Universe in order to avoid the problem where past events in the Marvel Universe were tethered to World War II or the Vietnam War. This issue seems kind of pointless, and Kurt’s description of this series – “we get to use the whole Marvel universe” – makes it sound like Astro City with Marvel characters. That’s not a bad thing, but I would prefer the actual Astro City. It’s an unfortunate irony that the best superhero comic of the ‘90s is no longer being published in the comic book format, which is dominated by the superhero genre.
DIE #16 (Image, 2021) – “THAC0,” [W] Kieron Gillen, [A] Stephanie Hans. This issue takes place in the realm of 13, which, I just realized, is appropriate since its theme is horror. On their way to the center of Die, the protagonist visist a creepy Innsmouth-esque town and then descend into the sea, where they encounter the giant sunken corpse of H.P. Lovecraft. Grappling with Lovecraft’s legacy is a difficult but necessary task, since he was a horrible racist but also an inescapable influence on the SFF genre. I’m excited to see what else Kieron does with Lovecraft.
THE LAST WITCH #5 (Image, 2021) – “A Murder of Crows,” [W] Conor McCreery, [A] V.V. Glass. Saoirse and Hugh fight the Badb, and Saoirse wrestles with her increasingly violent nature. This issue ends on a cliffhanger, with multiple witches left to fight. I really hope we get more issues, or if not, I hope we see more of V.V. Glass, because they’re incredbly talented.
COMMANDERS IN CRISIS #8 (2021) – “The Action of Security,” [W] Steve Orlando & L. Thornhill, [A] Davide Tinto. The new writer on this issue is listed as the co-creator of American Dreamer. In this issue American Dreamer and Prizefighter fight some hatred cultists, and Frontier returns from the Lightning World.
USAGENT #5 (Marvel, 2021) – “American Zealot Chapter Five: Rockets’ Red Glare,” [W] Christopher Priest, [A] Georges Jeanty. The new and old USAgents fight, and a flashback reveals how the Saint’s son was killed by police. Like much of Priest’s work, this comic feels as if it’s really important, but I don’t think I’ve put in the effort necessary to figure out what it’s saying.
WITCHBLOOD #2 (Vault, 2021) – untitled, [W] Matthew Erman, [A] Lisa Sterle. I’m not sure why I didn’t order issue 1, because this seems like the sort of comic I like. Matthew Erman’s previous series, Terminal Punks, got fairly good reviews. Witchblood is set in Texas, where a serial killer is murdering female witches. The witches in this series are distinctive and interesting characters, and Lisa Sterle’s art and Gab Contreras’s coloring are appealing. I plan on staying with this series.
SWAMP THING #3 (DC, 2021) – “My Green Amaranthine,” [W] Ram V, [A] Mike Perkins. Swamp Thing meets Ivy, no longer Poison, and Woodrue also shows up. Alec Holland appears and offers to help Levi/Swampy. I still don’t quite get where this series is going.
BITTER ROOT #12 (Image, 2021) – “Legacy Part Two,” [W] David F. Walker & Chuck Brown, [A] Sanford Greene. Johnnie-Ray’s mother turns into a monster. Uncle Charlie explains what happened to him and Sylvester in Barzakh. The old lady appoints Blink the new family head. Enoch figures out something important, but on his way to tell it to his family, he gets ambuhsed by monsters. Meanwhile, in Barzakh, Sylvester realizes the same thing Enoch did. I should be more excited about this series than I am, because it’s really good. Maybe my problem with it is that I have trouble keeping the characters straight. Heroes just announced that they’re hosting a signing by Sanford Greene on June 19, Juneteenth. I might go to that, because that’s a week when I was planning to go to Heroes anyway.
HOLLOW HEART #3 (Vault, 2021) – “Escape”, [W] Paul Allor, [A] Paul Tucker. Mateo and El manage to escape the facility, and there’s also a subplot about Donnie’s boyfriend. Again, this issue is an overly quick read.
FEAR CASE #4 (Dark Horse, 2021) – untitled, [W] Matt Kindt, [A] Tyler Jenkins. The Secret Service finally recovers the case and opens it, and it turns out to contain all the evil in the world. The witnesses to the case’s opening all commit suicide. Meanwhile, Mitchum retires from his job. This issue was an adequate conclusion to the series, but as mentioned in my review of Crimson Flower #4, it should have been longer. Matt Kindt’s writing tends to be quite decompressed, and four issues is not enough space to allow him to develop his ideas fully.
THE MODERN FRANKENSTEIN #1 (Heavy Metal, 2021) – untitled, [W] Paul Cornell, [A] Emma Vieceli. This is literally a modern updating of Frankenstein. The protagonist, Elizabeth, is a student of Dr. James Frankenstein, and she accepts his offer to work with him on some highly unethical research comics. Since this is a comics adaptation of Frankenstein, it invites comparison with Victor LaValle’s Destroyer, and I doubt that Modern Frankenstein is going to have the depth or social relevance of that comic. Modern Frankenstein is still fun, though.
BLACK WIDOW #6 (Marvel, 2021) – “Widows,” [W] Kelly Thompson, [A] Rafael De Latorre. A girl tries to steal Natasha’s wallet. Natasha rescues the girl from her employer, a crimelord named Apogee. This is a reasonably good done-in-one issue, though I like Elena Casagrande’s art more than Rafael De Latorre’s.
HAPPY HOUR #6 (Ahoy, 2021) – “A New Hope,” [W] Peter Milligan, [A] Michael Montenat. While the happy people and the sad people are beating each other up, Kim and Jerry escape in the desert. They’re picked up by a double-decker bus that takes us to the colony of Irony, which, appropriately, is run by British people. I expected that this series was going to end with a trite message about how happiness and sadness are both necessary for a well-adjusted life, but the ending Milligan came up with is much better. Happy Hour was one of his most straightforward and accessible works.
I BREATHED A BODY #4 (Aftershock, 2021) – “Invisible Hyphael Arteries,” [W] Zac Thompson, [A] Andy MacDonald. I think that should be spelled “hypheal.” The virus starts to spread, but Zoe steals the Taustus, as Mylo suggested. A portal is opened to the “Gelbacut Underland,” a subterranean fungal realm. This series is a powerful piece of horror, though it may be too gross and disturbing for me.
BATMAN: BLACK & WHITE #5 (DC, 2021) – “Father & Son Outing,” [W/A] Jorge Jimenez. Batman shows Damian how to carefully prepare for a fight, and then Damian ruins everything by charging in and beating the criminals up. Unlike most of this series’ stories by first-time writers, this one is quite good. “Signals,” [W/A] Lee Weeks. This story has some nice black and white art, but a pointless plot and overwritten prose. “Blue,” [W] Mariko Tamaki, [A] Emanuela Lupacchino. A flashback to Harvey and Gilda Dent’s wedding. This is a cute story, though I don’t remember much about it specifically, and Lupacchino’s art is quite good. She reminds me of Terry Dodson. “The Riddle,” [W] Kieron Gillen, [A] Jamie McKelvie. This is easily the best story in this series. It’s a Choose Your Own Adventure story in which the goal is to lead Batman through the Riddler’s traps and defeat him and Killer Croc. But every numbered choice leads to Batman’s death, and in order to finish the story, the reader has to ignore all the instructions and read the panels that can’t be accessed by any choice. This twist on the CYOA genre is not new – it dates back to Edward Packard’s Inside UFO 54-40 – but in “The Riddle,” the necessity of ignoring the instructions is actually the entire theme of the story. Gillen and McKelvie succeed in achieving the Oulipo’s highest goal: they make the narrative constraints and the themes of the story reflect each other. If I ever write anything else about Choose Your Own Advetnure comics, this story will feature heavily in it. “The Man Who Flies,” [W/A] Jamal Campbell. A recap of Dick Grayson’s history, including his romance with Starfire.
CEREBUS #111 (Aardvark-Vanaheim, 1988) – “Base Tranquility,” [W/A] Dave Sim. The Judge tells Cerebus the future history of the solar system, including the Challenger disaster and a world-ending nuclear war. He also tells Cerebus that Cirin has invaded Iest and seized all Cerebus’s gold. Also, he makes the famous prophecy that Cerebus will “die alone, unmourned and unloved.” Cerebus then finds himself back in the ruins of Iest. That’s the end of Church & State. Instead of a letter column there are several speeches and letters by Dave, Steve Geppi, Frank Miller and Bud Plant, all relating to Dave’s dispute with Diamond over the High Society trade paperback.
2000 AD #73 (IPC, 1978) – Ant Wars: as above except [A] Lozano. As noted in my review of #42, Lozano may have been Leopoldo Sanchez. 2000 AD had an annoying habit of identifying Spanish artists by only their surnames. In this chapter the ants destroy a generator plant so the humans can’t call for help. Mach Zero: “The Suit, Part 1,” [W] Geoffrey Miller, [A] José Pérez Montero. A man named Harry Winthrop is put into an experimental battlesuit, only to discover he can’t take it off. Mach Zero doesn’t appear in this chapter. Dredd: “The Cursed Earth Chapter 13: The Coming of Satanus!”, [W] Pat Mills, [A] Mike McMahon. A few years ago, some scientists founded an amusement park full of dinosaurs. This comic, of course, was pubilshed many years before Jurassic Park, though Mills didn’t think of the idea of using DNA frozen in amber. Anyway, the park’s star attraction, a giant T. rex called Satanus, has escaped, and Dredd is about to meet him. Satanus is a descendant of Odl One-Eye from Flesh. Inferno: as above. The Hellcats-Wolves game continues. Dan Dare: “Mutiny! Chapter 1,” [W] Chris Lowder, [A] Dave Gibbons. Dan Dare goes nuts and causes his crew to mutiny.
EERIE #96 (Warren, 1978) – “Fallen Angels” (three stories), [W] Guillermo Saccomanno & Cary Bates, [A] Leo Duranona. This must have been reprinted from some Argentine comic, but I don’t know which one. Bates was just the translator. The Fallen Angels are a group of literal fallen angels who manifest as human misfits. This issue includes three separate Fallen Angels stories. In the first one, the angels help a little boy get revegne for his mother’s death, though the boy decilnes to kill the man who killed his mother. In the second story, an elderly assassin kills the wrong victim and is himself killed by another assassin, who is revealed to be his own son. The Fallen Angels only play a peripheral role in this story. In the third story, a slumlord is blowing up his own buildings for the insurance, but the angels force him to run into his building just as it’s about to explode. Overall these stories are fascinating, with grim black-and-white art and clever writing. Saccomanno was one of many super-talented Argentine comics writers, along with Oesterheld, Trillo, Robin Wood, etc. In Argentina comics writing seems to be (or to have been) a far more prestigious profession than it historically was in America. “Mac Tavish,” [W] Jim Stenstrum, [A] Pepe Moreno. The cover makes this look like a Magnus, Robot Fighter parody, but it’s more of an original SF story in a humorous mode. “The Ark,” [W] Roger McKenzie, [A] Carmine Infantino. During a terrible flood, an old man builds an ark. His neighbors murder him and force their way to the ark. Then the rain stops, and the neighbors get trapped in the now useless ark. “The Shining Sea,” [W] Nicola Cuti, [A] Alfredo Alcala. Gurn is a human trapped on a world of anthropomorphic dolphins. With the help of his dolphin girlfriend, he finds his parents’ spaceship. This story is coincidentally similar to the French comic Aquablue, which I need to read when I have time.
WONDER WOMAN #240 (DC, 1978) – “Wanted: One Amazon – Dead or Alive!”, [W] Gerry Conway, [A] José Delbo. This issue has a nice José Delbo cover, but a silly story. The Duke of Deception frames Wonder Woman as a traitor. When she’s put on trial for treason, the trial is invaded by the Nazi villain Seigfried the Speedster. Diana defeats him, thus proving her loyalty to America. As even the dumbest reader must have realized, “Seigfried” is actually the Flash, who appeared earlier in the issue.
CEREBUS #117 (Aardvark-Vanaheim, 1988) – “Jaka’s Story 4,” [W/A] Dave Sim. Cerebus, Jaka and Rick are now staying in the same tavern. Cerebus is forced to listen to Jaka and Rick almost having sex. There’s also a flashback to when Jaka suffered an injury as a small child. This issue is better than some of the late issues of Church & State.
KILLER #1 (Eclipse, 1985) – “Daral” and other stories, [W/A] Tim Truman et al. A collection of Truman’s unpublished and rare material. “Daral” is written by Gardner Fox and must have been one of his last works. It’s a sword and sorcery story in a classic vein, except that it includes some frontal nudity. “Braskan Gambit” and “Starmerchant” were done for TSR RPG publications. They both have awful typographic lettering, but they feel like prototypes for Scout and Grimjack respectively. “Braskan Gambit” in particular has the Native American and Southwestern themes of Truman’s major work.
SHE WOLF #2 (Image, 2016) – untitled, [W/A] Rich Tommaso. This series’s first issue felt like a plot summary, but #2 feels more like a story. It’s about an encounter between two young werewolves at a mall. They also experience a series of timeslips. As in much of his work, Tommaso’s greatest strengths are his lettering, coloring and design.
BROTHERS OF THE SPEAR #12 (Gold Key, 1972) – “Harvest of Fear,” [W] Jerry O’Hara & Russ Manning, [A] Jesse Santos. This is a reprint of issue 1. The evil wizard Nagopa and his pygmies sabotage Aba-Zulu’s grain stores, while Aba-Zulu’s army is attacked by a horde of Tuaregs. Dan-El and Natongo travel to a neighboring kingdom for aid. This story is okay, but it presents the Tuaregs as a faceless evil horde, which is rather offensive to the actual Tuareg people. I doubt if this comic was available in countries that have significant Tuareg populations, but that’s no excuse.
THE FANTASTIC VOYAGES OF SINDBAD #1 (Gold Key, 1965) – “Prisoners of Indra,” [W] unknown, [A] Dan Spiegle. I’m proud that I was able to identify Spiegle’s art even before I checked the GCD. This comic is not related to the Ray Harryhausen film, and has little to do with the original myth of Sindbad the Sailor, except that its protagonist has the same name and profession. Its plot is that Sindbad and his Viking companion Sigurd visit a city ruled by the evil queen Indra, who worships Shaitan (i.e. Satan). This comic is okay but very unexciting.
BORIS THE BEAR #11 (Dark Horse, 1987) – “Who in T.H.U.N.D.E.R. Are All These Agents?”, [W] Mike Richardson, [A] James Dean Smith. Some villains dig up the grave of the THUNDER Agents in order to profit off of them. Boris, an anthropomorphic bear, has to defeat the villains so the THUNDER Agents can rest in peace. This comic is a very blunt critique of the comics industry’s greed. It also looks like the original THUNDER Agentss comics because it’s partially inked by Dan Adkins. The weird thing about this comic is that Richardson seems to have believed that the THUNDER Agents were in the public domain, but they were still under copyright. So this comic is an intellectual property violation, although no one seems to have noticed or cared much. There’s also a backup story where Boris watches a comic book store while the owner’s gone, and throws away a lot of the merchandise. I don’t usually like Mike Richardson’s writing, but this comic was funny, and I would buy more issues of it if I found them.
WALT DISNEY’S COMICS AND STORIES #579 (Disney, 1993) – untitled (Turkey Hunt), [W/A] Carl Barks. This is another story with a strange footnote. Donald can’t afford a Thanksgiving turkey, so he decides to hunt one himself. After a series of misadventures, Donald shoots a turkey and takes it to the butcher. But it turns out to be inedible, because it’s not a turkey, it’s a giant quail. Wait, why is that funny, and what’s a giant quail? The answer is that in the original printing, the bird was an eagle. In this reprinting, the next-to-last panel was relettered to change “eagle” to “giant quail,” resulting in nonsense. It would have been better to not reprint the story at all. This issue also includes reprints of a Ll’l Bad Wolf story and a chapter of the Mickey Mouse serial “Riding the Rails.” I’ve read the latter chapter at least once before.
WELCOME BACK #1 (Boom!, 2015) – untitled, [W] Christopher Sebela, [A] Jonathan Brandon Sawyer. Mali has moved to Kansas City to get away from everyone who knows her father was a serial killer. But Mali is being stalked by a different serial killer, because she’s part of a war between assassins who reincarnate in order to murder each other. At the end of the issue, Mali finds a little girl in her house who claims to be her father. This comic is yet another example of Christopher Sebela’s skill at coming up with unexpected premises.
HAUNT OF FEAR #9 (Gladstone, 1951/1994) – [W] Al Feldstein. “What’s So Horrible?”, [A] Graham Ingels. An old man buries his money with him so that his hated nephews can’t get it. For some reason, he’s legally obligated to leave his money to them, even though that’s not how the law works at all. Anyway, the nephews dig up the grave and the uncle drags them into it. In an obvious reference to Tom Sawyer, two boys witness this while looking for stump water to cure warts. “Forbidden Fruit,” [A] Joe Orlando. Two starving castaways wash up on a desert island. A previous castaway warns them that the fruit trees on the island are deadly, but it’s too late, they’ve already eaten the fruit. The highlight of the story is the horrific image of the first castaway’s rotting body. “The Age-Old Story,” [A] Jack Kamen. A woman dumps her poor boyfriend for a wealthy old scientist, intending to steal all his money. The scientist gets his revenge by making her grow old prematurely. This is one of countless EC stories about a cheating spouse who conspires with her boyfriend to rob and/or murder her husband. Nearly every EC comic seems to have had a story like this. “The Gorilla’s Paw!”, [A] Jack Davis. An obvious takeoff on “The Monkey’s Paw,” with the twist that the gorilla’s paw carries out the wishes itself. For example, its owner wishes he hadn’t bought the paw, so the paw comes to life, murders its previous owner, and returns the money its current owner paid for it. The end comes when the owner says “I wish I had your brains.”
CLARENCE #1 (Boom!, 2015) – untitled, [W] Liz Prince, [A] Evan Palmer. I bought this because Liz Prince wrote it. That was a mistake. This comic is an adaptation of a TV cartoon that doesn’t appeal to me at all. It has nothing in common with Prince’s autobio work.
BRAVEST WARRIORS #33 (Boom!, 2015) – untitled, [W] Kate Leth, [A] Ian McGinty. A character named Jelly Kid is murdered three different times. Three backup features by different creative teams show the reasons behind the three murders. One of these backup feature is notable because it’s a collaboration between Kate Leth and Kat Leyh.
On May 24, I went back to Heroes. On this trip I had an excellent lunch at the Good Wurst Company. I think they may have the best fries in Charlotte.
WE ONLY FIND THEM WHEN THEY’RE DEAD #6 (Boom!, 2021) – “Neither Bought Nor Sold,” [W] Al Ewing, [A] Simone Di Meo. Many years after the last issue, the supply of godflesh has dried up. Ambassador Marilyn Chen is investigating a cult that worships the last known god, the former Georges Malik. The cultists have hilarious names like Lovegood Arbogast and Honorhim Bristow, but what impresses me about this issue is Marilyn’s people skills, or to put it another way, her skill at lying. Early in the issue, she tells her bodyguard Naom that she ate godflesh once as a child, and that it was delicious. Later, she tells the cultist Lovegood that she was forced to eat godflesh as a child, and that it was indescribably foul.
STRAY DOGS #4 (Image, 2021) – “Play Dead,” [W] Tony Fleecs, [A] Trish Forstner. If the earlier issues were horrifying, this one is far more so. The other dogs try to convince Earl that the Master is evil. Finally they break inside the master’s shed and find Victor’s flayed skin, as well as a lot of taxidermy eqiupment. Meanwhile, Earl remembers that when the Master brought him home, there were lots of dogs there already – but they were all different dogs. And then he opens the Master’s closet and finds a display of those dogs’ heads. Stray Dogs is a brilliant and terrifying horror comic, but it should come with a trigger warning for readers who are offended by violence against dogs.
RUNAWAYS #36 (Marvel, 2021) – “Come Away with Me Part 5,” [W] Rainbow Rowell, [A] Andres Genolet. Chase meets a cute girl at the store, but then he meets an older version of Gert. She’s traveled back from the time when she’s his current age, so that they can resume their romance. But it’s obvious that there’s something she’s not telling him. Meanwhile, the Victor tells the younger Gert that he loves her, and they kiss, but then they run into the older Gert kissing Chase. Awkward.
SEVEN SECRETS #8 (Boom!, 2021) – untitled, [W] Tom Taylor, [A] Daniele Di Nicuolo. The opening of the first secret causes the entire nation of Switzerland to vanish. The seekers manage to escape, but we learn that someone in their party is a traitor. This series continues to be very fun, though it’s not more than that – in other words, it lacks deeper significance.
JONNA AND THE UNPOSSIBLE MONSTERS #3 (Boom!, 2021) – untitled, [W/A] Chris Samnee, [W] Laura Samnee. Jonna and Rainbow meet some other human survivors, then their gathering is interrupted by some kind of monster attack. This is another really fun issue, but its pacing is too slow; hardly anything has happened in these three issues. In this issue it becomes evident that Jonna can’t talk very well. She only says single words or short sentences. I wonder why this is, because she doesn’t appear to be too young to talk.
RADIANT BLACK #4 (Image, 2021) – “Everything Changes,” [W] Kyle Higgins, [A] Marcelo Costa. Nathan has a vision of a giant black robot. Then the “Red Ranger” attacks hm and he, um, dies. Marshall has to become the new Radiant Black. I certainly wasn’t expecting this plot twist. The writer has invested a lot of time in making Nathan sympathetic, while Marshall just seems like a jerk, so it’ll be interesting to see how he adapts to his new superhero role.
MY LITTLE PONY: FRIENDSHIP IS MAGIC #97 (IDW, 2021) – untitled, [W] Jeremy Whitley, [A] Tony Fleecs. The ponies, the kitties and Discord break into the Abyssinian underground. After a fight wth the royal troops, they discover yet another Tree of Harmony, and the cats become another group of Elements of Harmony. Another light goes on in the mysterious set of lights that we saw before. This issue has some more cute cat jokes, though there could have been even more. Two nice moments in this issue both involve Fluttershy. Shadow takes her on a spy mission because no one else can keep quiet, and later, she explicitly says that Discord is her best friend.
FANTASTIC FOUR #32 (Marvel, 2021) – “Bride of Doom Part 1: Rules of Engagement,” [W] Dan Slott, [A] R.B. Silva. At an event at the Latverian embassy, Johnny runs into Lyja disguised as Sky. All three of them have to team up together when Ultimatum terrorists invade the embassy, but afterward, Sky walks out on Johnny, and he ends up in bed with Zora/Victorious. Then Johnny has to hide under the bed and watch as Dr. Doom proposes marriage to Zora. There is some great relationship drama in this issue, but Johnnys decision to sleep with Zora is regrettable, though not out of character for him.
ORCS #4 (Boom!, 2021) – untitled, [W/A] Christine Larsen. The exiled orcs visit a dwarf market, and then we don’t see them again for the rest of the issue. The old hag discovers that there’s a world-ending fog coming, but the king ignores her, and she tells the kids another Drod story while she’s sulking. The elves meet a giant talking “matron spider” who tells them about the same threat the hag discovered. The spider’s back is covered with babies, which is both horrible and cute.
BIRTHRIGHT #49 (Image, 2021) – untitled, [W] Joshua Williamson, [A] Andrei Bressan. Mikey and Brennan get back to Terrenos and find their parents, resulting in the weirdest “children walking in on parents having sex” scene ever. Boomer and Brennan decide to remain in Terrenos so that Mikey’s parents can return to Earth. The only remaining loose end is Kalista. By this time, baby Mya is able to talk in complete sentences and sleep in a bed, but she doesn’t seem to be walking yet. I wonder if she has higher than normal intelligence for her age.
I WALK WITH MONSTERS #6 (Vault, 2021) – untitled, [W] Paul Cornell, [A] Sally Cantirino. Paul defeats the evil politician and turns him into a baby. Jacey is now free to live a normal life. This conclusion is an anticlimax, and overall this series didn’t quite fulfill the potential of its first few issues.
HOME #2 (Image, 2021) – untitled, [W] Julio Anta, [A] Anna Wieszczyk. Little Juan manages to escape hiis pursuers and contact his American citizen aunt, Gladys. The ICE agents follow him, but they’re actually chasing someone else. Gladys tells Juan that his father also had superpowers. Also, his mother was sent back to Guatemala. This comic continues to be a powerful condemnation of American immigration policy.
WONDER GIRL #1 (DC, 2021) – “Homecoming, Part 1,” [W/A] Joëlle Jones. Yara Flor goes on a trip to Rio to learn about her heritage. While she’s at the Iguaçu falls, some creature pulls her into the water. Meanwhile, the Olympian gods and the Amazons of Themyscira and Bana-Mighdall are all very concerned about Yara. This is a great debut issue; Joëlle Jones’s artwork is beautiful, and Yara is a captivating character. I’m glad that Future State: Wonder Woman was promoted to an ongoing series.
MY LITTLE PONY: FRIENDSHIP IS MAGIC ANNUAL 2021 (IDW, 2021) – untitled, [W] Jeremy Whitley, [A] Brianna Garcia. Rarity, Maud, Big Mac and Meadowbrook visit the kingdom of the Diamond Dogs, except it’s actually two kingdoms, because the two queens and their four sisters have been split in half by a family feud. By this point in Season 10, when I read about six characters who all belong to the same species, I know exactly what’s going to happen. Indeed, when the ponies investigate a mysterious illness affecting the kingdoms, they find yet another Tree of Harmony underground, and the six dogs become six more Elements of Harmony. This causes another of the six lights to turn on. Based on the number of lights, it’s clear that this story takes place before MLP: FIM #97. Despite being overly predictable, this is a fun comic, and the dogs are pretty cute.
SHANG-CHI #1 (Marvel, 2021) – “Shang-Chi vs. the Marvel Universe Part 1,” [W] Gene Luen Yang, [A] Dike Ruan. Shang-Chi’s date with Delilah Wang is interrupted when he has to team up with Spider-Man to fight some more agents of Zheng Zu. Gene Luen Yang is only an average Spider-Man writer, but I like how he depicts Shang-Chi’s interaction with a white American superhero. It again becomes clear that Shang-Chi’s familiar personality and speech pattern are a mask he puts on for white people. This is another case where I’m glad that a miniseries was followed by an ongoing series.
BLACK HAMMER VISIONS #4 (Dark Horse, 2021) – untitled, [W] Mariko Tamaki, [A] Diego Olortegui. This issue begins as a soap opera in which Madame Dragonfly and Mr. Talky Walky want to get married, but her father, Abraham Slam, is opposed to it. Then we realize that this story is just a TV show that Lucy and Barbalien are watching while on a spaceship. And that story is a movie that Lucy is directing. This story makes no sense, and its play with metalepsis and mise-en-abyme is confusing rather than intriguing.
THE MANY DEATHS OF LAILA STARR #2 (Boom!, 2021) – “The Knowledge of Crows,” [W] Ram V, [A] Filipe Andrade. Laila is directed to Darius by a funeral crow. It’s true that crows are involved in some Hindu funeral rituals (https://www.atlasobscura.com/foods/feeding-crows-death-ritual-shradh). Then we see the eight-year-old Darius attending his first funeral – that of his family’s gardener Bardhan. Due to Bardhan’s low occupation, South Indian origin, and dark skin, Darius’s family sees him as beneath them, but Darius loves him anyway. This sequence deals explicitly with Indian class (caste?) prejudice and colorism, a topic which is largely invisible to non-Indian readers. And then Laila dies and has to be resurrected yet again.
THE DREAMING: WAKING HOURS #10 (DC, 2021) – “The Faerie King Part 3,” [W] G. Willow Wilson, [A] Nick Robles. Sadly this series is ending wih #12. Heather finally meet Nuala, but we soon realize that Nuala is only a figurehead and her creepy broom-headed servant is really in charge. Auberon and Titania have a rather sad encounter, where she complains about him without realizing who he is. We get some more backstory on Heather. Also, there’s a rather terrifying splash page where Ruin reveals his true form.
WAY OF X #2 (Marvel, 2021) – “Let Us Prey,” [W] Simon Spurrier, [A] Bob Quinn. This issue largely focuses on Legion, who convinces Kurt to kill him so that he can be revived in a more stable form. Legion tells Kurt that Onslaught is coming. Kurt continues to wrestle with spiritual concerns. A cute subtle thing in this issue is that in the early pages, Loa is trying to convince Pixie to help her ask Mercury out. But then later we see Loa and Mercury hugging.
STILLWATER #7 (Image, 2021) – “We’re the Protectors,” [W] Chip Zdarsky, [A] Ramón K. Pérez. Daniel and Laura try to escape, but Laura gets killed immediately, and Daniel gets his hand cut off. Galen, the little boy who fell off the roof, invites Daniel into a tree-city of other Stillwater-born children. The villains in this comic are really awful; all they care about is controlling their neighbors.
GEIGER #2 (Image, 2021) – untitled, [W] Geoff Johns, [A] Gary Frank. In Las Vegas, a woman named Carolina steals something valuable and proceeds to head to Cheyenne Mountain with her kids. She gets caught and killed, but the kids escape, and Geiger rescues them from their pursuers. This is an exciting issue, though I’m still very skeptical about this series.
CHALLENGE OF THE SUPER-SONS #2 (DC, 2021) – “Gotta Get Back in Time,” [W] Peter J. Tomasi, [A] Max Raynor & Jorge Corona. The boys save Wonder Woman from a minotaur. Then in the backup story, they travel back in time and fight Felix Faust and Vandal Savage. I liked the first story in this issue better than the second.
CHAMPIONS #7 (Marvel, 2021) – “Killer App! Part 2,” [W] Danny Lore, [A] Luciano Vecchio. Miles gets hired at Roxxon, but Sam doesn’t, because he’s too boring. This comic has no heart or passion at all. It feels like Danny Lore is juts pretending to care about his characters and about the topic of social media activism, whereas it felt as if Eve Ewing really did care. This will be my last issue, unless it’s too late to cancel my order of #8.
I ordered some really old Dell comics from eBay. Some of them were in barely readable condition, but these two were quite readable, despite their age:
TARZAN #8 (Dell, 1949) – “The White Pygmies,” [W] Gaylord Du Bois, [A] Jesse Marsh. This is the oldest comic in my collection, except maybe for a couple other comics in the same lot that were also from 1949. Tarzan, Boy, Muviro, and Muviro’s grandson Dombie encounter some “white pygmies” and protect them from man-eating vultures. This is kind of a silly plot, but Jesse Marsh’s art is excellent, and Boy and Dombie are cute. For 1949, Muviro and Dombie are fairly progressive depictions of black people, though they’re African and not African-American. I point this out because Corey Creekmur once suggested to me that it was safer to depict black characters positively if they were non-American Africans.
WILD BILL ELLIOTT COMICS #5 (Dell, 1951) – “Wild Bill Elliott and the Easy Money Gents,” [W] unknown, [A] Bob Jenney. This Western comic’s protagonist shares his name with the actor who played him in a film series. Wild Bill Elliott is not to be confused with the NASCAR driver Bill Elliott. In the first story in this issue, Wild Bill and his eccentric scientist friend rescue a baby who’s being held for ransom. A cute moment is when the baby holds one of the criminals at gunpoint. “Wet Paint Means Murder,” [W] unknown, [A] Cary. According to the GCD, nothing is known about “Cary” at all, and this series is the only work that’s been attributed to them. In this story, a certain Hank Reed is assassinated, and Wild Bill protects his 20-year-old son Dick Reed from being murdered as well. We eventually learn that Hank’s will leaves everything to Dick, but in the event that Dick dies before he turns 21, Hank’s property goes to his former partner Ben Slade. Gee, can anyone guesss who was trying to kill Dick? Or why?
GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY #14 (Marvel, 2021) – “Doom’s Will Be Done,” [W] Al Ewing, [A] Juan Frigeri. The Guardians fight Dr. Doom, who is wielding a magic sword. The other half of the Guardians discover that they’re on Ego the Living Planet. In a hilarious moment, Doom switches bodies with Rocket Raccoon. This moment is very welcome because the last few issues have suffered from a lack of humor.
SILVER COIN #2 (Image, 2021) – “Girls of Summer,” [W] Kelly Thompson, [A] Michael Walsh. Teenage Fiona goes to summer camp and is put in a cabin with five other girls who are already friends. The other girls are furious at Fiona because they were expecting to share the cabin wth their friend Rachel, who cancelled at the last minute. The other girls spend all their time tormenting Fiona and playing dangerous pranks on her. Finally Fiona finds the silver coin, goes nuts, and kills her cabinmates, and as the reader, I was honestly glad. This comic was almost triggering for me because I’ve had the same experience as Fiona. The summer after either sixth or seventh grade, I went to summer camp and ended up in a cabin with kids who were all a year older, and it was a horrible experience. Kids can be so cruel at that age, and, at least when I was a kid, adults were useless in preventing bullying. Fiona’s mother should have withdrawn her from the camp and then sued the camp for failing to protect her daughter. Since that didn’t happen, it’s no wonder she finally snapped.
ICE CREAM MAN #24 (Image, 2021) – “Telethon,” [W] W. Maxwell Prince, [A] Martín Morazzo. Jerry Donaldson dies because no one can be bothered to contribute to a telethon to save his life. And the reader is partly to blame, because the host of the telethon says that if the reader just stops reading, he’ll personally donate enough money to save Jerry’s life. (The host also threatens to kil a dog if the reader doesn’t stop readng, but I’m not a dog person, so if I get to continue reading and kill a fictional dog, that’s a win-win.) The depressing moral of this comic is that people won’t sacrifice anything, even narrative closure, for the sake of another person. This reminds me of the Greek tragedy Alcestis, but in that play Admetus needed someone to die for his sake, not just donate money.
MARVEL ACTION: SPIDER-MAN #2 (Marvel, 2021) – untitled, [W] Sarah Graley & Stef Purenins, [A] Arianna Florean. Spidey discovers Doc Ock’s secret facility inside the high school, and then fights the Scorpion. Otto gets the idea for his extra arms. This is a fun comic, but it feels less substantial than Untold Tales of Spider-Man or Marvel Adventures Spider-Man. It’s going to be really confusing when Sarah Gailey’s new comics series starts coming out. It was already hard enough to remember which of Sarah Gailey and Sarah Graley was which.
CATWOMAN #31 (DC, 2021) – “Miss Direction,” [W] Ram V, [A] Fernando Blanco. Catwoman uses the theft of a painting as a distraction so she can rescue Poison Ivy. I don’t think this comic is one of Ram V’s major works, but it’s still fun. I wonder if there will be a crossover between Swamp Thing and Catwoman, since Poison Ivy appears in both.
BRZRKR #2 (Boom!, 2021) – untitled, [W] Keanu Reeves & Matt Kindt, [A] Ron Garney. Mostly a flashback to the hero’s birth and adolescence. There are echoes in this issue of the Irish myth of Cuchulain. The hero is called a “dog of war” (the Cu in Cuchulain means “hound”), and like Cuchulain, his first deeds include killing a savage dog and beating up some boys who are playing a ball game.
RESIDENT ALIEN: YOUR RIDE’S HERE #6 (Dark Horse, 2021) – untitled, [W] Peter Hogan, [A] Steve Parkhouse. Harry decides to remain on Earth, while Jones goes off with the aliens. Steve Parkhouse draws some cool-looking alien technology. This was a really touching story, and it makes me want to read the earlier volumes of Resident Alien.
PROJECT: PATRON #2 (Aftershock, 2021) – “Greed and Grievances,” [W] Steve Orlando, [A] Patrick Piazzalunga. The Patron team mourn for Commander Kone, and we learn that his death was caused by a villain who appears to be a stand-in for Luthor. There wasn’t much that was new in this issue, as compared to last issue.
WONDER WOMAN #772 (DC, 2021) – “Afterworlds Part 3,” [W] Michael W. Conrad & Becky Cloonan, [A] Travis Moore. Diana trades the egg with Nidhogg for the key to Fortress Valkyrie, then she meets Deadman and begins to recover her memory. DC’s versions of Thor and Odin both appear in this issue. Cloonan and Conrad’s Odin is quite funny. This issue includes another Young Diana backup. I love Paulina Ganucheau’s art, but Jordie Bellaire’s writing in these backups has been boring.
BLACK KNIGHT: CURSE OF THE EBONY BLADE #3 (Marvel, 2021) – untitled, [W] Simon Spurrier, [A] Sergio Davila. Dane and Elsa Bloodstone fight Mordred. Simon confronts his own literal ghosts, and prepares to drink from the Ebony Chalice, which may be a bad idea. It’s unfortunate that this series is coming out at the same time as Once & Future, which, as I wrote previously, is a far more clever and subtle adaptation of Arthurian myth.
IMMORTAL HULK: TIME OF MONSTERS #1 (Marvel, 2021) – “Time of Monsters,” [W] Al Ewing & Alex Paknadel, [A] Juan Ferreyra. In the ancient Middle East, a cruel father named Adad sacrifices his son Tammuz in hopes of ending a drought. Tammuz returns to life as a Hulk. This story has some gruesome painted art but is otherwise just okay. The names Adad and Tammuz both come from Mesopotamian mythology. “A Little Fire,” [W] David Vaughan, [A] Kevin Nowlan. The Scarecrow kidnaps some people and forces them to confront their fears. The Hulk saves the day. This story has beautiful art by Kevin Nowlan, but Marvel’s Scarecrow has turned into a ripoff of DC’s Scarecrow, and I even wonder if the writer confused the two characters. Marvel’s Scarecrow did not originally have fear powers, though he acquired such powers later.
CHAINED TO THE GRAVE #3 (IDW, 2021) – untitled, [W] Andy Eschenbach & Brian Level, [A] Kate Sherron. While looking for Hank Harlowe, Roy and Beau get in a huge bar fight, then they negotiate with a creepy green guy for a jar of magic salve. Again, this comic is entertaining and has great art, but it’s really hard to remember who all the characters are.
LUNA #4 (Boom!, 2021) – untitled, [W/A] Maria Llovet. Lux tells Teresa that they’re both addicted to the god’s blood. Lux tries to vampirize Teresa, but she’s poisoned her blood in anticipaton of this (reminds me of Suikoden II). Teresa faints and wake up in the god’s arms. I didn’t really understand this issue when I read it, but it made more sense after I wrote my review of issue 3.
KARMEN #3 (Image, 2021) – untitled, [W/A] Guillem March. Cata visits her parents’ house, then watches as a man is killed by a car when about to propose to his girlfriend. Karmen gets chewed out by another spirit guide. Along with Shadow Doctor, Karmen is one of the best underrated comics of the year. Its artwork and coloring are gorgeous, and it’s a sensitive treatment of death.
THE BEQUEST #3 (Aftershock, 2021) –“American Monster,” [W] Tim Seeley, [A] Freddie Williams II. The War Party fight some monsters, Warlock gets drunk in a bar, and we realize that Craev’s plan is to break into the NSA. This comic is very funny, but it also has a serious subtext about white supremacy, which is a major concern of Seeley’s work – I didn’t finsh reading Dark Red, but it was all about that topic. At the end of this issue, Warlock gives a long speech about why people believe in white supremacy: it’s a way for them to blame someone else, so they can avoid accepting that their cherished ideals are false.
PROCTOR VALLEY ROAD #3 (Boom!, 2021) – “No One Really Dies Out Here,” [W] Grant Morrison & Alex Child, [A] Naomi Franquiz. The girls fight and kill a minotaur, then the Landlady’s ghost appears again. This is another issue that’s enjoyable and not hard to follow.
SEA OF SORROWS #5 (IDW, 2021) – untitled, [W] Rich Douek, [A] Alex Cormack. The siren continues killing the people on the ship. This miniseries had good art but no real story, and I could have done without reading it.
SPIDER-MAN: SPIDER’S SHADOW #2 (Marvel, 2021) – untitled, [W] Chip Zdarsky, [A] Pasqual Ferry. Peter goes on a villain-killing rampage, and when Doc Ock reforms the Sinister Six for his own protection, he’s instead killed by Eddie Brock (who of course isn’t Venom in this continuity). Again, this miniseries is far more substantial and far better written than a typical What If? story.
CANTO & THE CITY OF GIANTS #2 (Image, 2021) – untitled, [W] David M. Booher, [A] Sebastián Piriz. Canto and Elda, aka the Misturian Witch, travel through the maze until they encounter the monster, Ferro. I don’t know if the mazes in this issue are solvable, but they’re very intricately drawn.
THE SYSTEM #1 (Vertigo, 1996) – untitled, [W/A] Peter Kuper. A series of interrelated scenes about various people in New York, drawn in a wordless woodcut-esque style. The meaning of the comic’s title is that New York itself is a system, with moving parts that interact with each other in unexpected, emergent ways. The scenes are linked by recurring characters as well as by cinematic segues; one memorable example of the latter is when a murder victim’s screaming face is juxtaposed to a frontal view of a subway train. Although this comic has no extradiegetic text, it demands careful reading in order to figure out how the stories are related.
I AM LEGION #1 (Devil’s Due, 2009) – “The Dancing Faun,” [W] Fabien Nury, [A] John Cassaday. This issue was originally published in French as the first half of a BD album, though its artist is American. It has a complicated plot involving espionage and vampires in World War II. It’s a bit hard to figure out just what this comic is about, but it’s an interesting comic, and I’d certainly buy the other five issues if I found them. John Cassaday’s draftmanship here is similar to his draftsmanship in Planetary or Astonishing X-Men, but he uses far more panels per page.
DAREDEVIL #30 (Marvel, 2021) – “Doing Time Part 2,” [W] Chip Zdarsky, [A] Marco Checchetto & Mike Hawthorne. Elektra and her protégé Alice visit a nightclub, where they negotiate with a rival crime lord, and then Alice has to shoot a man to save Elektra. It’ a traumatic moment since Zdarsky had previously emphasized that Alice’s lighthearted, carefree nature makes her a foil to Elektra. Meanwhile, Matt agrees to help out the authorities, but refuses an offer of a shorter sentence as a reward.
HELL AND BACK: A SIN CITY LOVE STORY #3 (Dark Horse, 1999) – untitled, [W/A] Frank Miller. A long-haired mustached man fights some corrupt cops while searching for his kidnapped girlfriend. I enjoyed this more than I expected to, given my antipathy for Frank Miller’s recent work. His rather minimalistic artwork is easier to accept if you compare it to manga, rather than to his own art from earlier in his career.
NIGHT MUSIC #2 (Eclipse, 1985) – All stories [W/A] P. Craig Russell. “Dance on a Razor’s Edge”: A “ballet” about the suicide of Yukio Mishima, perhaps the only 20th-century author who was even more screwed up than Kafka. I don’t know how accurate this story is, but it seems to capture the bizarreness of Mishima’s outlook. As suggested at https://worldqueerstory.org/tag/dance-on-a-razors-edge-a-ballet-on-the-death-of-yukio-mishima/, Mishima may have been a closeted gay man, as PCR was when he published this story. “La Sonnambula and the City of Sleep”: A plotless surrealistic or Symbolist story with beautiful cityscapes and monsters. “The Insomniac”: An autobio story about insomnia. This story includes a list of about 200 other cartoonists who PCR sees as inspirations.
VOODOO #1 (Image, 1997) – “Legba,” [W] Alan Moore, [A] Mike Lopez. Having apparently left the WildC.A.T.s, Voodoo visits New Orleans and gets a job as an exotic dancer. The trouble is that someone is killing exotic dancers. Also, Voodoo encounters incarnations of the Voodoo deities Legba, Baron Samedi and Erzulie. This comic is one of Alan Moore’s more obscure works, but it’s an interesting adaptation of voodoo mythology. It might be interesting to compare it to House of Whispers. Of course, that’s an own-voices work, and Voodoo isn’t. As a side note, I wonder if anyone has tried to create a list of all the Yoruba and Vodun deities and their equivalents in their derived New World religions. I suspect that this might be impossible because there are so many different versions of all these deities. As a further note, Erzulie and Legba both have equivalents in African religions, but Baron Samedi appears to be native to the Americas.
ROBOCOP VS. THE TERMINATOR #1 (Dark Horse, 1992) – untitled, [W] Frank Miller, [A] Walt Simonson. An unnamed woman from the Terminator future goes back in time to kill Robocop, because he’s the precursor to Skynet. She succeeds in her mission, but then the Terminators send a Terminator back in time to retroactively save Robocop. The last issue of this miniseries was one of the first comics I ever owned, but I never actively tried to collect the other issues. Perhaps I was ashamed to. I shouldn’ t have been, because this series has a brilliant crossover premise, and Simonson’s draftsmanship and page layouts are thrilling. This comic takes place partly in Detroit’s Cass Corridor, where part of Abbott 1973 is also set.
SCOUT: WAR SHAMAN #4 (Eclipse, 1988) – “Big River,” [W/A] Tim Truman. Scout fights some evil river pirates, alongside Rosa Winter and some cultists who worship Doody as their prophet. This issue also includes an illustrated prose story that’s an adaptation of an Apache myth. I need to read more Scout because it’s a fascinating comic with great writng and art. My friend Jeremy Carnes published an essay on Scout in the Other ‘80s collection that also included my work, but I haven’t read Jeremy’s essay yet.
SLEEPER SEASON TWO #5 (Wildstorm, 2004) – “Cat’s Cradle,” [W] Ed Brubaker, [A] Sean Phillips. A series of vignettes about Lynch’s encounters with an extremely dangerous rogue named Tao. This comic has great writing and art, but I’ve never understood what Sleeper is supposed to be about. Unlike Brubaker and Phillips’s other collaborations, Sleeper is not a standalone work but is heavily tied to Wildstorm Universe continuity.
DARK HORSE PRESENTS #52 (Dark Horse, 1991) – Bacchus: “Afterdeath,” [W/A] Eddie Campbell w/ Wes Kublick. Simpson tells Bacchus about his (lack of) experiences in the afterlife. I’ve read this story at least once before. Heartbreakers: “That Uncertain Feeling,” [W] Anina Bennett, [A] Paul Guinan. Some kind of outer space war story. It’s a bit like Starstruck. I don’t understand Heartbreakers’s plot, but Paul Guinan’s art is quite good. Sin City: “Episode Three,” [W/A] Frank Miller. Marv escapes some pursuers and visits his parole officer and his mother. Again, Sin City’s art is easier to appreciate if you see it as a deliberate imitation of manga.
MOONSHADOW #2 (DC, 1985/1994) – “A Very Uncomfortable Thing,” [W] J.M. DeMatteis, [A] Jon J. Muth. Moonshadow, his mother, and his hairball companion discover a pregnant alien aboard a stranded spaceship. Moonshadow’s mother helps the alien give birth, but its monstrous baby kills her. Jon J. Muth’s painted artwork in this issue is very nice, but it’s ruined by a Don McGregor-esque amount of overwriting. There’s one panel on page 9 that has nine separate text boxes. It may be possible to write a good comic that includes such a large amount of text, but I’ve never seen it done. On top of that, Kevin Nowlan’s lettering is hard to read.
SILVER STAR #1 (Pacific, 1983) – “Homo-Geneticus,” [W/A] Jack Kirby. Morgan Miller is nearly killed fighting in Vietnam and is saved by being put into a silver suit. We also learn that he’s one of a number of post-human children created by his father. And he meets Darius Drumm, who looks a lot like Darkseid. Even though he was about 65 years old at the time of this comic, Kirby was fascinated by futurity and newness, by the new unpredictable things that were coming into existence every day, and we see this fascination throughout his ‘70s and ‘80s work. This issue includes a Last of the Viking Heroes backup story by Michael Thibodeaux.
ULTRAMEGA #3 (Image, 2021) – untitled, [W/A] James Harren. Noah and Gara – the human Klansman from last issue – are captured by the kaiju and forced to fight in an arena. After two other human fighters are killed, Noah manages to save both himself and Gara through his courage and ingenuity. They escape with the aid of a friendly kaiju, but while trying to save Gara, Noah is mortally wounded. I think Ultramega’s writing might actually be stronger than its art, although Harren draws some terrifying monsters. A high point of this issue is Boosh, a creature that looks wimpy but turns out to be a disgusting horror.
MAE #1 (Dark Horse, 2016) – untitled, [W/A] Gene Ha. Mae lives in a small town in Indiana. Her long-lost sister, Abbie, suddenly reappears in her life, pursued by monsters from a fantasy world. This issue has some nice artwork and coloring, but it reminds me a lot of Birthright, except that it has a less consistent tone to its writing. An interesting gimmick of this series is that all the fantasy creatures have Czech names, although Gene Ha is not himeslf Czech.
SAVAGE #4 (Valiant, 2021) – untitled, [W] Max Bemis, [A] Nathan Stockman. Kevin and Mae fight Nealon and his army of monsters. This issue has reasonably strong artwork, but I’m getting tired of Max Bemis’s mean-spirited writing style, and if Savage #4 wasn’t the last issue, I would drop the series.
RED ROOM #1 (Fantagraphics, 2021) – “The Antisocial Network,” [W/A] Ed Piskor. Davis Fairfield is a cop who’s just lost his wife and daughter in an accident. He also secretly operates a “Red Room” – an illegal website where he streams videos in which he tortures and kills people. Davis is recruited by a secretive cult that runs a much more successful and secure bigger “red room”, as well as breeding victims to appear in their performances. Red Room is a deliberately gruesome and exploitative horror comic, designed to play upon both old urban legends about snuff films, and contemporary fears of the Dark Web and cryptocurrency. It’s much more difficult to read than Wizzywig or Hip Hop Family Tree, but it’s fascinating.
CRIME DESTROYER: TRUE TILL DEATH #1 (Floating World, 2021) – untitled, [W] Jason T. Miles & Josh Simmons, [A] Shaky Kane. Crime Destroyer battles a creepy cult of Christian fanatics. This comic is awkwardly paced and plotted, and it’s hard to tell whether the reader is meant to take its story seriously. The main reason to read it is for Shaky Kane’s art.
FANTASTIC FOUR: LIFE STORY #1 (Marvel, 2021) – “The ‘60s,” [W] Mark Russell, [A] Sean Izaaske. A retelling of the Fantastic Four’s origin, up to the point of Franklin’s birth. This issue is unsatisfying because although it includes a bunch of the one-liners or aphorisms that Russell is so good at, it lacks a clear theme or purpose. Russell makes significant changes to FF continuty: in his verson Ben was Johnny’s friend rather than Reed’s, Ben’s girlfriend is named Sally, and Reed has a rival scientist who is basically the same as the anonymous villain from “This Man, Ths Monster,” but who’s named after Rick Jones. None of these changes have any effect on the story, so it’s not clear why they were made. And the basic idea of a historically accurate FF comic has been done before, and much better, in Unstable Molecules. FF: Life Story ultimately feels like an inferior rehash of that comic.
RAIN LIKE HAMMERS #5 (Image, 2021) – untitled, [W/A] Brandon Graham. Finally the plot of #1 intersects with that of #2 through #4, as Eugene encounters Brik Blok and El, or rather two of each of them. This issue has some more fantastic artwork, and an added bonus is that it’s the final issue, so I no longer have to feel guilty for continuing to support Graham.
SOCK MONKEY #1 (Dark Horse, 1998) – untitled, [W/A] Tony Millionaire. In a Brooklyn mansion, a sock monkey and a plush crow try to climb onto a chandelier and end up starting a fire. Despite this, they’re both alive in the next issue. Tony Millionaire’s plot is a gentle piece of absurdism, and his draftsmanship is highly detailed and deliberately old-fashioned.
CEREBUS #121 (Aardvark-Vanaheim, 1989) – “Jaka’s Story 8,” [W/A] Dave Sim. Rick hangs out with Oscar and almost spills that Cerebus is living with him. Pud tries to avoid staring at Jaka’s butt. There are also some illustrated prose pages about Jaka’s effort to go through the Locked Door. I now realize that these prose pages are excerpts from the story Oscar is writing about Jaka. There’s a letter by a Minneapolis fan, Al McCarty, in which he complains about Dreamhaven and says that Shinders is a much better store. Ironically Shinders has gone out of business while Dreamhaven is still around, though it’s changed locations twice. (The Dinkytown location McCarty mentions was the original one; the Uptown location that I visited once was just a branch.) But I do miss Shinders. It went out of business in 2007 because of severe mismanagement.
SHADOW CABINET #7 (Milestone, 1994) – “Shoot the Moon,” [W] Matt Wayne, [A] John Paul Leon. I have no idea what’s going on in this comic, but it has good dialogue. Sadly John Paul Leon just passed away.
2000 AD #74 (IPC, 1978) – Dan Dare: “Mutiny!”, [W] Chris Lowder, [A] Dave Gibbons. Dare and Hitman fight ther own crewmates and then fall down a shaft. Ant Wars: untitled, [W] Gerry Finley-Day, [A] Alfonso Azpiri. This series had a revolving door of artists. Villa and Anteater try and fail to defend a tobacco plantation against the ants. A humorous moment is when someone tells Villa that “you cannot organise smoke in a tobacco plantation.” The basic irony of Ant Wars is that Anteater is the only competent character in the series, yet everyone else thinks he’s an ignorant savage. Dredd: “Chapter 14: For Whom the Bell Tolls!”, [W] Pat Mills, [A] Mike McMahon. Dredd and Spikes are tied up and left to be eaten by Satanus. We get a flashback to Satanus’s first life, when he was killed trying to challenge his mother, Old One-Eye. Mach Zero: untitled (The Suit Part 2), [W] Geoffrey Miller, [A] José Pérez Montero. Mach Zero encounters Harry and agrees to help him get revenge. Inferno: as above. The game continues, and all but five of the Hellcats get killed.
REDNECK #10 (Image, 2018) – untitled, [W] Donny Cates, [A] Lisandro Estherren. A man explains to the police how he helped one family of vampires fight another family. This is just an okay comic. Lisandro Estherren draws silhouetted people in the exact same way Eduardo Risso does – as solid black blocks with eyes and mouths.
2000 AD #75 (IPC, 1978) – Inferno: as above. Louis manages to destroy the enemy robots, but all the Hellcats except Giant are killed. That’s finally the end of Inferno. Mach Zero: as above. Harry tries to kill his bosses, but his suit overloads and melts, though he himself survives. Dredd: “Chapter 15: Picnic at Black Rock,” as above. Dredd escapes from Satanus, then demands that the people of Repentance evacuate the town before he destroys it. Dare: as above. The infighting continues. Until this chapter, I didn’t realize that Hitman’s gun is attached to his hand. Ant Wars: as above except [A] José Luis Ferrer. Villa and Anteater come across a boat on the river, but the boat is captained by a crook who forces them to play Russian roulette. Then the ants show up, and ironically, the crook has to play Russian roulette with himself, in hopes of killing himself before the ants eat him.
CEREBUS #127 (Aardvark-Vanaheim, 1989) – “Jaka’s Story 14,” [W/A] Dave Sim. Jaka and Pud finally have a customer. He leaves a sizable tip that Jaka gives to Pud, who had been nervous because he’s verging on bankruptcy and starvation. Jaka gets angry at Rick and Cerebus for spending all their time playing a ball game. Jaka’s Story is far better than either Melmoth or Flight.
GOD’S SMUGGLER (Fleming H. Revell, 1972) – “God’s Smuggler,” [W/A] Al Hartley. The allegedly true story of Brother Andrew, who smuggled Bibles into Communist countries. This comic is a blatant piece of Christian propaganda, and I have very little sympathy for Brother Andrew’s cause, but I can’t deny that Hartley’s writing and art are effective. It’s weird to see the Archie art style used for a serious story.
THE JAM URBAN ADVENTURE #1 (Tundra, 1992) – untitled, [W/A] Bernie Mireault. A colorized reprint of a comic that was first published in B&W by Slave Labor (and which I’ve already read, oops). The Jam, or “Jammer,” meets a man who’s suspended his wife’s brother from a roof by a rope. Meanwhile, a visiting Middle Eastern royal is being pursued by rebels called Flarks. This comic has excellent art and coloring, but I’m not sure what it’s about, or what sort of tone it’s going for.