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Reviews for half the semester

10-17

I didn’t read very many comics in September because I was teaching more, I had less energy, and it was tough getting adjusted to being in the classroom again. I read these next comics right after I finished writing the previous round of reviews. I don’t remember them very well.

ENTER THE HOUSE OF SLAUGHTER FCBD 2021 (Boom!, 2021) – “Enter the House of Slaughter,” [W] James Tynion IV, [A] Werther Dell’Edera. A retelling of the first Something is Killing the Children storyline from Aaron’s perspective. This comic is essentially the same as a typical issue of SIKTC, though of course that’s not a bad thing.

CHU #7 (Image, 2021) – “(She) Drunk History Part 2 of 5,” [W] John Layman, [A] Dan Boultwood. Saffron and her team steal a super-valuable bottle of wine, but one of Saffron’s fellow thieves betrays her and locks her in a vault. Luckily, Saffron has learned  that the bottle of wine has time travel powers, and she drinks it and finds herself in France in 1808. As usual this is a very funny comic.

THE DEPARTMENT OF TRUTH #12 (Image, 2021) – “Revelations,” [W] James Tynion IV, [A] Martin Simmonds. We start with a flashback to Cole’s childhood involvement in the Satanic panic hoax, and then Hawk tells Cole about the origins of the “deep state” conspiracy theory. This is one of Tynion’s more direct attacks on the QAnon phenomenon. Then Hawk reveals he’s working for the bad guys.

SUPERMAN, SON OF KAL-EL #2 (DC, 2021) – “The Truth Part One,” [W] Tom Taylor, [A] John Timms. This series has just become the focus of massive media attention. This issue introduces Jay Nakamura, who’s going to be Jon’s boyfriend. Their mutual attraction is obvious from the start, and I wasn’t surprised to learn that they were going to be a couple. I do remember a scene in Super Sons where it was heavily implied that Jon was going to marry a woman, but who cares. This issue also includes a cute heart-to-heart conversation between Jon and Clark, after Jon’s secret identity is blown the first time he tries to use it.

NOCTERRA #6 (Image, 2021) – untitled, [W] Scott Snyder, [A] Tony Daniel. Val, Emory and Bailey (aka Piper) escape the Refuge by releasing the shadows on purpose. Then Val’s friend Bea saves them by turning on some bright lights, which shows that this series is about brightness as well as darkness. Nocterra is my favorite Scott Snyder comic.

DARK BLOOD #2 (Image, 2021) – untitled, [W] Latoya Morgan, [A] Walt Barna w/ Moisés Hidalgo. We meet Avery’s daughter and wife, who runs a bookmobile, and we see more of Avery’s wartime experiences, and the prelude to the near-lynching we saw him suffer in issue 1. The individual scenes in this series are fascinating, but it’s hard to understand how they all fit together, or what the overall premise of this series is.

KILLER QUEENS #1 (Dark Horse, 2021) – untitled, [W] David M. Booher, [A] Claudia Balboni. A series about two rather inept queer space assassins, from the same writer as Canto. This series is a lot like Kim & Kim, but so far I like Kim & Kim better.

SAVAGE HEARTS #2 (Dark Horse, 2021) – untitled, [W] Aubrey Sitterson, [A] Jed Dougherty. Bronwyn and Graouw continue their jungle adventures. This is a fun series, and Jed Dougherty’s art continues to remind me of that of Nick Bradshaw or Art Adams, though Dougherty is a less talented draftsman than either of them. The main problem with this series is that Graouw is a massive creep, and yet we’re supposed to sympathize with his desire to get in Bronwyn’s pants. The same character, Billy von Katz, appears on the inside front covers of both Savage Hearts and Worst Dudes.

RADIANT BLACK #7 (Image, 2021) – “Radiant(s),” [W] Kyle Higgins, [A] Marcelo Costa. While fleeing from the masked enemy, the Radiants fight each other and then discover an alien armada about to invade Earth. I somehow got the impression that I had missed an issue, but I didn’t. This issue continues the story from #5, and #6 (which I mislabeled as #7 in my review of it) was a digression from the main plot.

ROBIN #5 (DC, 2021) – “Reunion or Rumble?”, [W] Joshua Williamson, [A] Gleb Melnikov. After a heart-to-heart talk with Dick, Damian convinces the other Robin … I forget where this was going to end. See below.

Reviews I lost at this point:

NICE HOUSE ON THE LAKE #4 – the one about the packages

2000 AD #79? – the one with Sabbat’s origin story

THE ME YOU LOVE IN THE DARK #2 – the one where we find out what the ghost looks like

MANY DEATHS OF LAILA STARR #5 – Ram V’s best work since These Savage Shores

MONEY SHOT #14 – it turns out the three sex workers and the assassin are all the same person

ECHOLANDS #1 – such amazing art

NOT ALL ROBOTS #2 – I probably said something about Mike Deodato’s use of fake panel borders

OUT OF BODY #3 – can’t remember anything about this one

SECRET SIX #14 – the one where Deadshot shoots the guy who tricked him into shooting a fleeing woman

MAZEBOOK #1 – a lot like Royal City but with more of an architectural theme

SNELSON: COMEDY IS DYING #2? – Quoting myself: “Snelson: Comedy is Dying is a good candidate for my least favorite Ahoy comic yet. It’s not clear whether we’re supposed to sympathize with Snelson or not. If we are, then the comic is morally abhorrent; if we aren’t, then the comic is just preaching to the converted. The interesting part of the comic is Snelson’s *SPOILER* cancer, but in the latest issue that’s only mentioned on the last page.”

CRUSH & LOBO #4 – Crush gets out of prison, but has to find Lobo in 50 hours or be killed

SWAMP THING #7 – the story about Hanuman lifting a mountain to get a plant for Lakshmana

ONCE & FUTURE #20 – they go to Bath, Lancelot fights the other Arthur, and I can’t remember what else happens

SECOND COMING: ONLY BEGOTTEN SON #4 – the bus accident

SUPERGIRL: WOMAN OF TOMORROW #3 (DC, 2021) – I don’t remember

BLACK HAMMER VISIONS #7 (DC, 2021) – the one about limbo

CEREBUS #20? – a bunch of crap

ORDINARY GODS #3 – can’t remember what I wrote

BERMUDA #3 – perhaps Nick Bradshaw’s best work ever

WONDER WOMAN #778 – I forget

GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY #18 – I forget

BLACK WIDOW #10 – I forget

SUPERMAN AND THE AUTHORITY #2 – I forget

COMPASS #3 – I forget

GROO MEETS TARZAN #2 – Sergio’s predicament gets worse

DIE #19 – I think this was the one about transgender identity

UNDISCOVERED COUNTRY #15 – I forget

DEFENDERS #2 – GALACTUS’S “MOM” SPEAKS IN KIRBY DIALOGUE!!!

BOUNTIFUL GARDEN #1 – an interesting new horror comic, largely because of the characterization

CAPTAIN MARVEL #32 – someone is killing Captain Marvels

SIX SIDEKICKS OF TRIGGER KEATON #4 – we meet Richard Brannigan  

WITCHBLOOD #6 – the vampires and witches find Esmeralda

11-9-2021

Yesterday I spilled coffee on my computer and had to take it to the repair shop. I bought a new computer, which I’m using to type this, and I’m currently waiting to see if the data on the old computer can be saved. If not, I’ve lost about a month of reviews, as well as a ton of other important stuff. Oh well.

EAT THE RICH #2 (Boom!, 2021) – untitled, [W] Sarah Gailey, [A] Pius Bak. This is even scarier than last issue. The protagonist talks to one of the staffers and finds out that she voluntarily took this job, knowing that it would end with her being killed and eaten. She was willing to take this deal because there was no other way she could get health insurance. Also, Astor’s mom wants to talk to Joey about what she saw last night. This is a terrifying horror comic, precisely because it’s so plausible. Rich people really are this evil, and poor people really would accept being cannibalized, if they were desperate enough.

JONNA AND THE UNPOSSIBLE MONSTERS #6 (Oni, 2021) – untitled, [W/A] Chris Samnee, [W] Laura Samnee. Rainbow visits an underground market and gets caught trying to steal food. While running away, she encounters the man and woman who kidnapped Jonna, and the woman gives Rainbow the key to Jonna’s cage. This issue has very little of either Jonna or the monsters, but the market scene is pretty cool.

PRIMORDIAL #1 (Image, 2021) – “1961: Cape Canaveral,” [W] Jeff Lemire, [A] Andrea Sorrentino. Donald Penbrook, a black MIT faculty member, is hired by the government to salvage material from an abandoned space facility. Dr. Penbrook discovers some mysterious information about Able and Baker, two monkeys who were sent into space. No one will talk to him about his findings, and he is summarily fired. Then a mysterious man tells him that Able and Baker, as well as the Russian astronaut dog Laika, were kidnapped by aliens and are “still out there somewhere.” Another plot thread depicts the two monkeys and the dog in space. This comic is very reminiscent of Gideon Falls, with bizarre page layouts and panels that look like three-dimensional objects. But the scenes with the three animals are drawn in a very different style from Sorrentino’s usual style; the linework is much crisper.

CHU #8 (Image, 2021) – “(She) Drunk History Part 3 of 5,” [W] John Layman, [A] Dan Boultwood. A prologue depicts how in his younger days, Ong Chu used time-travel whiskey to get revenge on an enemy. Saffron Chu takes a trip back in time, but on returning to the present, she discovers that Don Bucatini has killed most of her colleagues and is holding Ong Chu hostage, in order to get Saffron to steal Sylvain Lesant’s painting. A funny Easter egg in this issue is the art gallery that has a ton of famous paintings, plus a picture of One Punch Man.

BUNNY MASK #4 (AfterShock, 2021) – “Is There Sickness?”, [W] Paul Tobin, [A] Andrea Mutti. Tyler and Sheriff Tate go back to the caverns, where they encounter the Snitch, a giant pale-skinned cyclops. Tyler beats up the Snitch, then has a weird conversation with the Bunny Mask lady, and the first story arc ends. There’s a sequel coming in 2022, which is great, because this series is perhaps Paul Tobin’s best work other than Bandette.

USAGI YOJIMBO #22 (IDW, 2021) – “Ransom! Part One,” [W/A] Stan Sakai. Usagi and Yukichi run into Kitsune and Kiyoko, who have stolen a crime boss’s record book. Boss Kitsune’s head henchman kidnaps Kiyoko and demands the book in exchange for her life. This is a standard Kitsune story, but the interaction between Kitsune and Yukichi is funny. By an odd coincidence, this comic and Bunny Mask #4 both include characters named “The Snitch.” https://www.instagram.com/p/CULnQ-OrfcR/   

SEVEN SECRETS #12 (Boom!, 2021) – untitled, [W] Tom Taylor, [A] Daniele Di Nicuolo. Part of this issue is Amon’s origin story. Also, Eva shoots Boris Johnson, and Caspar discovers he has flying powers. And the cliffhanger is that Caspar is going to be dead within a week.

MAW #1 (Boom!, 2021) – untitled, [W] Jude Ellison S. Doyle, [A] A.L. Kaplan. Two young women named Wendy and Marion visit a women’s commune run by Diana Spiro, the “wizard of feminism.” While Wendy is at the commune performing various feminist rituals, Marion goes out to a bar and gets drugged and date-r*p*d. In a flashback, we see that Marion has been r*p*d before, and the criminal got off scot-free. Since this is a horror comic, there’s also some supernatural weirdness going on. When I read issue 2, I had trouble remembering what #1 was about, but now that I’ve reminded myself, I think Maw is a very powerful and brutal treatment of misogyny and sexual violence. It’s also about how certain types of feminism offer unsatisfying answers to this problem.  

SECOND COMING: ONLY BEGOTTEN SON #5 (Ahoy, 2021) – “Fault Lines,” [W] Mark Russell, [A] Richard Pace & Leonard Kirk. The people who died in the bus accident go to heaven, which, just like in the previous Ahoy series High Heaven, is extremely unimpressive. Also, Sunstar solicits advice from the public on what he should do with his powers, and the best advice he gets is “leave the earth and never come back.”

SAVE YOURSELF #4 (Boom!, 2021) – untitled, [W] Bones Leopard, [A] Kelly Matthews & Nicole Matthews. After a giant fight scene, the Lovely Trio are defeated, and things end happily. This was a fun miniseries, though after the initial shock of realizing it was based on the Powerpuff Girls, the rest of it was rather predictable.

ETERNALS: THANOS RISES #1 (Marvel, 2021) – “Sins of the Sons,” [W] Kieron Gillen, [A] Dustin Weaver. This issue is effectively Thanos’s revised origin story. It proposes that Thanos’s evil is the result of Mentor and Sui-San’s violation of the Eternals’ edict against biological reproduction. This story presents Sui-San as a proactive, interesting character, whereas she’s usually been just a historical footnote. Kirby expert Charles Hatfield has said some uncomplementary things about this series, and I think his criticisms are reasonable. Perhaps it’s better to think of Eternals as a work of Gillen rather than a revision of Kirby. Eternals is yet another step in Gillen’s long investigation of the topic of storytelling and its potential dangers.

NINJAK #3 (Valiant, 2021) – “Daylight,” [W] Jeff Parker, [A] Javier Pulido. A fairly standard secret agent comic, elevated to brilliance by Javier Pulido’s artwork. Pulido’s page layouts are heavily influenced by Steranko, but his draftsmanship is sort of an extreme, heavily stripped down version of Clear Line. There’s also one panel that seems to be based on Ben Urich’s shocked face from Daredevil #189 or #230. For more on Pulido, see my review of #4 below.

FANTASTIC FOUR #35 (Marvel, 2021) – “Death in Four Dimensions,” [W] Dan Slott, [A] John Romita Jr. In a special anniversary story, four different incarnations of the same man – Kang, the Scarlet Centurion, Rama-Tut and Immortus – each try to destroy the FF at different points in their history. They tell their stories to a fifth incarnation of themselves, named Scion. Each chapter is preceded by a fake cover that’s designed to look like a real FF cover from that era. At the end, Scion reveals that he’s actually Reed, and that he’s assembled a team of FF members from different eras to defeat the four villains. Then Reed discovers the prize that the four villains were competing for: a recording that reveals that he, Reed, has a previously unknown sister. There are two backup stories, one by Mark Waid and Paul Renaud, and another, by Jason Loo, that can be read in multiple different directions.

BATMAN SECRET FILES: MIRACLE MOLLY #1 (DC, 2021) – “Miracle Molly,” [W] James Tynion IV, [A] Dani. Quoting myself from Facebook: “I haven’t been reading James Tynion’s Batman, but I bought Batman Secret Files: Miracle Molly because people were saying good things about it, and it’s a really good comic. It’s like the good part of Batman: The Killing Joke — the part that depicts how the Joker descended into madness.” The difference is that Miracle Molly’s insanity is specifically caused by sexism. Tynion depicts her as a brilliant woman who’s trapped in a loveless marriage and a job that’s beneath her talents. Her male bosses steal her robotics designs, and her husband and parents-in-law try to pressure her to give up her career to have a baby. The Joker and Miracle Molly are both victims of patriarchy, but in opposite ways: the Joker goes nuts because he can’t provide for his family; Miracle Molly, because she refuses to be just a wife and mother. In short, this is a brilliant comic, and Dani’s artwork is perfect for it.

STILLWATER #10 (Image, 2021) – “A Better Place,” [W] Chip Zdarsky, [A] Ramón K. Pérez. A series of flashbacks show how the kids have been influencing events throughout the series from behind the scenes. The kids take over the town, while Daniel’s mom leaves town with the youngest baby. Daniel has to stay in Stillwater, which is now ruled by Galen, who may be even worse than the Judge.

RADIANT BLACK #8 (Image, 2021) – “<001>”, [W] Kyle Higgins, [A] Marcelo Costa. The Radiants teleport themselves to Moscow, where they have some (stolen) coffee and then fight the main villain again. This series includes some brilliant characterization and costume designs, but its main plot is not all that interesting so far.

SUPERGIRL: WOMAN OF TOMORROW #4 (DC, 2021) – “Restraint, Endurance and Passion,” [W] Tom King, [A] Bilquis Evely. Supergirl and Ruthye visit a bunch of planets that have been attacked by Krem and his minions. This issue wasn’t as interesting as the last three. The only really interesting moment in it is the giant woman who speaks in blue word balloons surrounded by Kirby crackle.

FANTASTIC FOUR #36 (Marvel, 2021) – “Flame On,” [W] Dan Slott, [A] Nico Leon. Johnny can’t turn his flame off, so he has to be confined to an underground vault. Also, his girlfriend leaves him. And he can’t even cry, because his tears burn up immediately. The torture that Johnny suffers in this issue is so harsh and unwarranted that it’s almost funny. After reading this issue I wondered why Slott hates Johnny so much.

At this point I got some of my files back, luckily including my book manuscript, but I was not able to recover my reviews from after Robin #5, above.  

BLACK HAMMER VISIONS #8 (Dark Horse, 2021) – “The Horseless Rider,” [W] Scott Snyder, [A] David Rubín. A dying old man named Buck used to be the Horseless Rider, a mystic Western-themed superhero, in his youth. Or at least we think so, but after the orderly at Buck’s nursing home tries to kill him, we discover that the Horseless Rider was Buck’s father and not Buck himself. The main attraction of this issue is David Rubín’s brilliant draftsmanship. By now he seems to have become more associated with the American than the Spanish market.

CHALLENGE OF THE SUPER-SONS #6 (DC, 2021) – “Like Clockwork,” [W] Peter J. Tomasi, [A] Evan Stanley. In the past, the boys fight Vandal Savage and Felix Faust, then they’re saved by a medieval version of the JLA. Then Rora sends them back to the present. An average issue.

BABYTEETH #20 (AfterShock, 2021) – “You Can Do This,” [W] Donny Cates, [A] Garry Brown. 65 years in the future, Sadie dies, having become the matriarch of Earth’s remaining population of humans. Some years after that, Clark kills God (this reminds me a lot of the Saint of Killers killing God in Preacher), then he talks to his own newborn daughter. This series never lived up to its hype, and its last story arc was delayed for so long that by the time it finally came out, I no longer cared.

DARK BLOOD #3 (Boom!, 2021) – untitled, [W] Latoya Morgan, [A] Moisés Hidalgo. Part of this issue is about the protagonist’s experiences in World War II. Back in the present, the police come looking for him, and they’re just as bad as the man who initially tried to kill him. This series is a powerful depiction of racist violence, but I still don’t see where it’s going.

BLACK’S MYTH #3 (Aftershock, 2021) – “Chapter Three,” [W] Eric Palicki, [A] Wendell Cavalcanti. Strummer and Ben go to visit the Old Man, who’s actually a giant Lovecraftian Old One with a human body attached to its head, anglerfish fashion. This is perhaps the coolest idea in the whole series. The Old Man gives them some information about the bullets, but then someone murders him. This series is very entertaining.

X-MEN: THE ONSLAUGHT REVELATION #1 (Marvel, 2021) – “A Choir in the Wilderness,” [W] Simon Spurrier, [A] Bob Quinn. This is effectively an extra issue of Way of X. Nightcrawler, Lost and Cortez fight Onslaught, and to defeat him, Nightcrawler invents his new mutant religion, the Spark. This issue was better than most of the issues of Way of X, and it went some way toward redeeming that series. Anna Peppard writes more about this coimc here: https://www.comicsxf.com/2021/09/22/nightcrawler-finds-a-new-way-in-x-men-onslaught-revelation-1

WONDER WOMAN #779 (DC, 2021) – “Afterworlds Finale,” [W] Michael Conrad & Becky Cloonan, [A] Travis Moore. Diana confronts the future half of Janus, and she reveals that the future half is just as guilty. The Norns intervene and Diana uses their thread to tie the two Januses back together. Diana goes back to Earth. We learn that the whole story has been narrated by Ratatoskr to his kits. I’m not sure why I started reading this story arc in the first place, since I’m not familiar with either of the writers, but I found it surprisingly enjoyable.

FANTASTIC FOUR: LIFE STORY #4 (Marvel, 2021) – “The ‘90s,” [W] Mark Russell, [A] Sean Izaakse. Ben meets Alicia using computer dating software – this explains why his previous girlfriend was Sally and not Alicia. Franklin marries a new character, a Wakandan named Zawandi. The Silver Surfer finally arrives and says that Galactus is coming in ten years. This issue was just okay; there was nothing in it that was as interesting as Reed and Sue’s divorce or Reed’s involvement with Doom.

SAVAGE HEARTS #3 (Dark Horse, 2021) – untitled, [W] Aubrey Sitterson, [A] Jed Dougherty. The party members travel through a dungeon and fight a giant ape-thing. Then they get to Graow’s home village and meet his ex-wife, who, contrary to what Graow led Bronwyn to believe, is not dead. Bronwyn is not happy. In my now-lost review of issue 2, I probably again said that I like this series, particularly Jed Dougherty’s artwork, but that Graow’s constant sexual harassment of Bronwyn is very annoying.

GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY #18 (Marvel, 2021) – “Then It’s Us,” [W] Al Ewing, [A] Juan Frigeri. The Guardians defeat Dormammu by shooting him with a giant gun, then they all go hang out in a bar. The name of the bar is Gosnell’s, presumably after founding 2000 AD editor Kelvin Gosnell. This is the last issue, though as I’ve noted before, S.W.O.R.D. is basically the same exact series as this one.

IMPOSSIBLE JONES #1 (Scout, 2021) – untitled, [W] Karl Kesel, [A] David Hahn. This issue introduces Impossible Jones, a spunky supervillain who poses as a superheroine. We also meet her supporting cast, including Even Steven, a riff on Ditko’s Question and Mr. A. I don’t remember much of this comic’s plot, but it’s very fun, as one would expect from Kesel. And David Hahn’s art is playful and colorful, reminding me of Dean Haspiel’s art on The Fox.

MARVEL ACTION SPIDER-MAN #5 (Marvel, 2021) – untitled, [W] Sarah Graley & Stef Purenins, [A] Phil Murphy. Peter finally fights Dr. Octopus and wins. This was an entertaining series, but I didn’t like it as much as Untold Tales of Spider-Man or Marvel Adventures: Spider-Man. IDW has now lost the license for Marvel kids’ comics. It was kind of odd that they had it to begin with, but I do find it a bit distressing that IDW has been publishing very few comics lately.  

KILLER QUEENS #2 (Dark Horse, 2021) – untitled, [W] David M. Booher, [A] Claudia Balboni. The assassins break out of prison, and there’s also some queer romance. This series still feels like a bargain-basement version of Kim & Kim.

THE OLD GUARD: TALES THROUGH TIME #6 (Image, 2021) – “Many Happy Returns,” [W] Vita Ayala, [A] Nicola Scott. Two of the immortals break into a museum in order to steal a child’s rag doll from the Napoleonic era. They deliver it to a third immortal, and we discover that the doll used to belong to his son. “The Bear,” [W] Greg Rucka, [A] Leandro Fernandez. Somewhere in the Arctic, an immortal makes one of his rare trips to town, then on returning home, he gets attacked by a bear. This story has a minimal plot, but includes some beautiful Arctic landscapes. Oddly, this issue features both of the primary creators of Black Magic, but not in the same story.

REPTIL #4 (Marvel, 2021) – untitled, [W] Terry Blas, [A] Enid Balám. At a festival, Reptil fights Sarsen/Megalith for the last time, and wins. I frankly hated this series. It was preachy, overwritten, and trite, and Reptil didn’t seem like the same character as in Avengers Academy. I admire Marvel’s efforts to provide more positive representation of Latinx people, but they need to do better than this.

CAMPISI: THE DRAGON INCIDENT #2 (AfterShock, 2021) – “An Internal Matter,” [W] James Patrick, [A] Marco Locati. Campisi goes looking for Luthermore’s descendant. Eventually he interviews the Delvecchios – the children of the guy he helped to kill in the previous issue – and they beat him up, and then tell him that Luthermore’s descendant is Vinnie the Stray, the one person Campisi can’t touch. I forget if we know why. This issue is less impressive than the previous issue, since the premise of the series is no longer a surprise.

I AM BATMAN #1 (DC, 2021) – “The Beginning,” [W] John Ridley, [A] Olivier Coipel. The new Batman, Jace Fox, goes on his first patrol. For some reason I ordered this even though it’s the sequel to Next Batman: Second Son, and I gave up on that series. But this issue is good enough that I was willing to read the next one.

AQUAMAN: THE BECOMING #1 (DC, 2021) – “Things Fall Apart,” [W] Brandon Thomas, [A] Diego Olortegui. Jackson Hyde, the new Aquaman/Aqualad, battles the Human Flying Fish and is arrested on charges of terrorism. This series continues the continuity of Kelly Sue DeConnick’s Aquaman series. This issue is okay, but I don’t think Brandon Thomas is quite as good as I want him to be.

BLACK WIDOW #11 (Marvel, 2021) – “The Source,” [W] Kelly Thompson, [A] Rafael De Latorre. Continuing their search for Apogee, Natasha and Yelena fight two creepy siblings who have the power to exchange mass with each other. This issue is not bad, but unfortunately all of the artwork is by the less talented of this series’ two artists.

2000 AD #1292 (Rebellion, 2002) – Among the reviews that I lost were reviews of several 2000 ADs in the #790s. Highlights of these issues were Ennis and Ezquerra’s Dredd story Judgment Day; book four of Zenith; and Millar and Casanovas’s Sam Slade: Return to Verdus. I want to mention that the villain in Judgment Day, Sabbat, is based on Walter the Softy from the British version of Dennis the Menace. Anyway: Dredd: “Sin City Part 4,” [W] John Wagner, [A] Kev Walker. In Sin City, Dredd and other judges look for a villain named Ula Danser. Meanwhile, we see some of Sin City’s depraved pleasures. Sinister Dexter: “Croak Part 3,” [W] Dan Abnett, [A] Mark Pingriff. After a big gunfight, the protagonists learn that an alien invasion is coming. That’s the end of this story arc. Thirteen: “Part 4,” [W] Mike Carey, [A] Andy Clarke. Joe and Daksha fight an alien monster in a supermarket. I really like Andy Clarke’s art. It reminds me of the later work of Gary Frank. Bec & Kawl: “Beccy Miller’s Diary Part 1,” [W] Simon Spurrier, [A] Steve Roberts. Two art students investigate the fake death of an artist who looks a lot like Andy Warhol. This is a very fun short story. Judge Death: “My Name is Death Part 4,” [W] John Wagner, [A] Frazer Irving. Judge Death kills a bunch of people, and Anderson tries to track him down. This is the only black-and-white story in the issue. Some of its art seems to have been reproduced from pencils.

RED ROOM: THE ANTISOCIAL NETWORK #4 (Fantagraphics, 2021) – “Cyclical Terror!”, [W/A] Ed Piskor. In the first of three interconnected stories, a young woman named Raina Dukes discovers that her father was the victim of a Red Room killer, Donna Butcher. I think he may have appeared in an earlier issue. She deliberately gets herself sent to the same prison where Donna is held. The second story is a flashback to Donna Butcher’s past history. In the third story, Raina murders Donna, then gets killed herself, and the footage of their deaths is turned into a Red Room video. The whole story is narrated by an EC-esque horror host and is lettered in fake Leroy lettering.

GOOD LUCK #3 AND 4 (Boom!, 2021) – untitled, [W] Matthew Erman, [A] Stefano Simeone. In my now-lost review of issue 3, I said that Good Luck is the worst Boom series in recent memory, because its premise and plot are totally incoherent. This issue does nothing to change that opinion. We’re four issues into the series now, and I still have no damn idea what’s going on. Stefano Simeone’s art and coloring are good, but that’s no use when he has no story to illustrate.

TELLOS #5 (Image, 1999) – “The Battle!”, [W] Todd DeZago, [A] Mike Wieringo. After a bunch of action scenes, the main character’s tiger friend is seemingly killed. Tellos is sort of unoriginal, but it’s extremely fun and well-drawn, and it may be Ringo’s major work.

SUPERMAN AND THE AUTHORITY #3 (DC, 2021) – “Grimdark!”, [W] Grant Morrison, [A] Mikel Janín & Travel Foreman. The Authority rescue June Moone, aka the Enchantress, from a villain who turns out to be her own split personality. Then they try to recruit a superspeedster named Lia Nelson, aka Lightray, but she’s kidnapped by Eclipso. Meanwhile, Superman is ambushed by the Ultra-Humanite. This series is interesting and has great art, but as with so much of Grant Morrison’s recent work, I don’t quite understand it.

COMPASS #4 (Image, 2021) – untitled, [W] Robert McKenzie & David Walker, [A] Justin Greenwood. Shahidah and Hua fight a dinosaur, then they escape from the cave with the cauldron, but Hua takes Shahidah captive. I think the best thing about this series is that the authors really seem to have done their research. In their column at the end, they discuss how they tried to choose dinosaurs that really existed in Wales.

GAMMA FLIGHT #3 AND 4 (Marvel, 2021) – “Unfinished Business,” [W] Al Ewing & Crystal Fraser, [A] Lan Medina. In issue 3, we learned that Stockpile is Reg Fortean’s daughter. This issue, they figure out how to turn the town’s population back to normal, but in order to do it, they have to fight Skaar. I haven’t been enjoying this series as much as Immortal Hulk, but it’s not bad.  

2000 AD #1293 (Rebellion, 2002) – Dredd: as above. Ula Danser is identified, and the Judges close in on her. Also, a man eats a woman alive.  Thirteen: as above. Joe, Daksha and the alien warrior prepare for a confrontation with the authorities. Dredd: “A Right Royal Occasion,” [W] Gordon Rennie, [A] Peter Doherty. Dredd attends the 50th anniversary celebration of Brit-Cit’s queen, but only for the purpose of arresting a criminal who’s also present. This story is an obvious parody of the actual British monarchy, and it includes a scene where Dredd yells at a character based on Prince Philip. Also, the criminal is from the “Principality of Roy-Lichtenstein.” Bec & Kawl: as above. Bec defeats the Warhol character and his wife, no thanks to her bumbling partner Kawl. Another funny story. Judge Death: as above. Anderson finds Judge Death, just as he’s about to murder some babies, but he gets the upper hand on her.

A1 #1 (Epic, 1992) – [E] Dave Elliott & Garry Leach. This is a revival of the classic Atomeka anthology. Given that A1 is a British series, it’s ironic that the best story in this issue is by an American creator, P. Craig Russell. His adaptation of Cyrano de Bergerac’s “A Voyage to the Moon” is whimsical and lyrical, and captures the weirdness of Cyrano’s text. As depicted by Cyrano, the moon is a place where everything is reversed: people feed on smells rather than actual food, and the good are executed, rather than the bad. Most of the other stories in this issue are unmemorable, though the first story has art by Glenn Fabry, who was mostly a cover artist by this time. Other contributors include Scott Hampton, Ilya, and Roger Langridge. In Hampton’s story, he depicts his meeting with John Renbourne [sic], the guitarist from Pentangle. I have created a “Bert Jansch and John Renbourn” playlist on Spotify, but have not listened to it yet.

THE DEMON #13 (DC, 1973) – “The Night of the Demon!”, [W/A] Jack Kirby. Etrigan fights Baron von Evilstein and his monster. This issue is okay, but nothing spectacular. I just read Tom Scioli’s biography of Kirby. It’s a fascinating piece of comics art, but should not be taken as an objective work of history.

JOURNEY INTO MYSTERY #653 (Marvel, 2013) – “Seeds of Destruction Part II,” [W] Kathryn Immonen, [A] Valerio Schiti. Sif and Beta Ray Bill are stuck in Bill’s crashed spaceship. Sif and Bill had an interesting relationship during Simonson’s Thor run, and it’s nice to see them together again. Kathryn Immonen’s Journey into Mystery was an interesting series but was cancelled after a very short run.

FANTASTIC FOUR #325 (Marvel, 1989) – “A Christmas Tale,” [W] Steve Englehart, [A] Rich Buckler. This is not a Fantastic Four story at all, but a chapter of Englehart’s ongoing Mantis saga, in which Thing, Ms. Marvel and the Silver Surfer appear as guest stars. Englehart’s career-long fascination with Mantis is hard to understand. I doubt if she was ever as interesting to the readers as she was to Englehart himself.  

SUPERMAN #246 (DC, 1971) – “Danger – Monster at Work!”, [W] Len Wein, [A] Curt Swan. This issue mentions Clark Kent’s as-yet-unseen neighbor Mr. Xavier, whose secrets were finally revealed in issues #296-299, in a story written by Bates and Maggin. I wonder if this was the first time he was mentioned. Anyway, in this story Superman fights a giant algae monster, while Clark Kent tries to stop his neighbors from forming a vigilante committee. Krypton: “Marriage, Kryptonian Style!”, [W] Cary Bates, [A] Rich Buckler. On Krypton, marriages are arranged by a computer called Matricomp. Jor-El and Lara try to get Matricomp to approve their marriage, but the computer’s corrupt administrator forges its results so he can marry Lara himself. He fails, and Kryptonians are allowed to choose their own spouses again. This issue also includes a stupid Golden Age reprint story, about a professor who insists that Superman doesn’t exist, ignoring all the evidence that Superman is real.

CEREBUS #207 (Aardvark-Vanaheim, 1996) – “Guys No. 7,” [W/A] Dave Sim. I also lost some reviews of some Cerebus issues between #200 and #206. These issues were all pretty bad. One of their lowlights was a letter column controversy where Dave Sim criticized the Friends of Lulu for not caring about censorship of comics written by men. The Friends of Lulu replied to Sim with an open letter, one of whose signatories was Deni Loubert, and perhaps this explains why Sim disliked them so much. Anyway, this issue introduces a character named Kingsley who I guess is based on Norman Mailer, and it includes some massive blocks of text that are very tedious to read.

Next trip to Heroes. If I recall correctly, this trip was on a weekend, and for lunch I went back to Calle Sol and tried the arroz chaufa. I liked it a lot better than their Cuban sandwich.

LOCKE & KEY/SANDMAN UNIVERSE: HELL & GONE #2 (DC/IDW, 2021) – untitled, [W] Joe Hill, [A] Gabriel Rodriguez. Mary Locke defeats the Corinthian and obtains the key to hell. Then she goes to hell and uses the Crown of Shadows to defeat Lucifer’s army, allowing her to rescue Jack and send him to heaven. This issue was delayed a long time, but it was worth the wait. It’s a thrilling story that combines Sandman with Locke & Key in a seamless way, and its ending is a touching finale to the saga of Mary and Jack’s generation of Lockes. This issue has brilliant artwork, as one expects from Gabriel Rodriguez, and it contains some brilliant Easter eggs. Krazy and Ignatz are hiding in Lucien’s library, and later we see that Chamberlin’s weapons closet contains the Fourth Doctor’s hat and scarf, as well as the lamppost from Narnia.

ADVENTUREMAN #5 (Image, 2021) – untitled, [W] Matt Fraction, [A] Terry Dodson. Claire fights and defeats Baroness Bizarre, and there’s a parallel subplot taking place in the original Adventureman’s era. About a year passed between Adventureman #4 and #5, so this issue is hard to follow. But it’s extremely entertaining, and I’m glad Adventureman is back. Also, Terry Dodson’s art could be criticized as too slick and overproduced, but it’s quite effective.

SOMETHING IS KILLING THE CHILDREN #20 (Boom!, 2021) – “Me and My Monster Part Five,” [W] James Tynion IV, [A] Werther Dell’Edera. To Cecilia’s surprise, Erica emerges from her ordeal alive. Then we get an explanation of the different mask colors, and Erica meets the Old Dragon for the first time. This issue is deliberately less intense than earlier chapters of this storyline. Bleeding Cool just revealed that DC rejected this series because of its title. They also mention how its title has inspired the titles of other comics, such as We Only Find Them When They’re Dead and What’s the Furthest Place from Here? However, titles that form complete sentences were already a trend in anime and manga; examples include So I’m a Spider, So What? and If It’s for My Daughter, I’d Even Defeat a Demon Lord.

GROO MEETS TARZAN #3 (Dark Horse, 2021) – untitled, [W/A] Sergio Aragones, [W] Mark Evanier, [A] Tom Yeates. This issue begins with a brilliant meta joke: Mark says that he has to get back to Comic-Con for his “panel on how no one makes spelling misteaks in comic books anymore.” Also, Tarzan hunts down the slavers, Sergio’s predicament gets more and more embarrassing, and Groo gets lost again. The Mark/Sergio plot seems to have nothing to do with the Groo/Tarzan plot, but I only notice this in hindsight.

CROSSOVER #8 (Image, 2021) – “Meanwhile…”, [W] Donny Cates, [A] Geoff Shaw. This issue begins with a photo collage of all the pages of the first seven issues, but they’re reproduced way too small to read. Ellie and Ryan are arrested by Deena Pilgrim and Christian Walker, from Powers, and he’s taken to a prison where his dad is being held in custody.

DIE #20 (Image, 2021) – “Open Table,” [W] Kieron Gillen, [A] Stephanie Hans. The party finally confronts the god of Die, and it explains how it manipulated the Brontes, H.G. Wells and Tolkien in order to ensure its own existence. They leave Die and return home to their families, but on the last page, we see that Sol’s eye is the twenty-sided die. This series is clearly one of Kieron Gillen’s greatest works, but I feel like I’ll need to read it again someday in order to fully understand it.

THE ME YOU LOVE IN THE DARK #3 (Image, 2021) – untitled, [W] Skottie Young, [A] Jorge Corona. I lost my review of issue 2. Ro gradually falls in love with the ghost, even though we’ve seen that it’s a horrifying collage of eyes and teeth. At the end of the issue they make love for the first time. This series is cute, but it’s much slower-paced than I Hate Fairyland or Middlewest.

ETERNALS: CELESTIA #1 (Marvel, 2021) – “A Pilgrim’s Complete Lack of Progress,” [W] Kieron Gillen, [A] Kei Zama. This issue focuses on Ajak and Makkari, who have been mostly absent from the regular Eternals series. It chronicles their history with the Avengers and Celestials. Eternals: Celestia has some nice artwork that reminds me of Simonson, but its plot is rather boring.

UNDISCOVERED COUNTRY #16 (Image, 2021) – untitled, [W] Scott Snyder & Charles Soule, [A] Giuseppe Camuncoli & Leonardo Marcello Grassi. The villains return to the mythic origin of American popular music: Robert Johnson meeting the devil at the crossroads. The heroes encounter a creature that’s the incarnation of the Funky Drummer sample, which appears in thousands of songs (I also have a “Funky Drummer” playlist on Spotifty). The heroes activate the Anything Machine, but are literally caught between the devil and the deep blue sea. It’s hard to summarize all of this, but it made sense when I read it.  

DEPARTMENT OF TRUTH #13 (Image, 2021) – “Hawk’s Inferno,” [W] James Tynion IV, [A] Martin Simmonds. Hawk takes Cole to the basement of Cole’s childhood school, and explains the origins of the Christian concept of hell and of the Satanic ritual panic. Hawk also tells Cole that he thinks Lee Harvey Oswald is evil. Cole shoots Hawk and escapes. Like many recent issues of Department of Truth, this issue includes some long tracts in which Tynion uses Hawk as a mouthpiece to explain his ideas about conspiracies. However, Simmonds illustrates these speeches so creatively that the reader never feels bored.

THE NICE HOUSE ON THE LAKE #5 (DC, 2021) – untitled, [W] James Tynion IV, [A] Álvaro Martínez Bueno. After comparing notes, the characters return to the building from issue 3 and rescue Reginald, the painter. And he tells them that “there’s still time to save the world.” This series is truly fascinating, and I’m glad to see that the mystery from issue 3 was more than just a red herring.

MILES MORALES: SPIDER-MAN #30 (Marvel, 2021) – untitled, [W] Saladin Ahmed, [A] Carmen Carnero. Now wearing a new costume – which is too baggy for my tastes – Miles fights a guy who thinks that a certain taco truck is serving frost giant meat. This is an obvious reference to QAnon and Pizzagate. Then Miles rescues a lost dog and goes on a date with Starling. “The Best Part,” [W] Phil Lord et al, [A] Sara Pichelli. This story is co-written by the producers of the Into the Spider-Verse film, but it’s not a story at all, just a series of vignettes. There’s also a second backup story in which an older Miles stops some teenagers from robbing a store.

MONEY SHOT #15 (Vault, 2021) – untitled, [W] Tim Seeley & Sarah Beattie, [A] Caroline Leigh Layne. The city is overrun by fast-breeding alien ”fuck turkeys.” To defeat them, the XXX-Plorers have to team up with the alien sex workers and have some really unappealing sex. It makes sense in context. At the end, it looks like things are back to normal, but the Covalence is about to invade Earth. I hope this series is back soon.

INFERNO #1 (Marvel, 2021) – untitled, [W] Jonathan Hickman, [A] Valerio Schiti. This is the conclusion to Hickman’s X-Men run. Its major plot elements are that one, the X-Men are finally getting ready to confront Orchis, and two, Moira MacTaggert has a mutant power where she’s reincarnated after death, which I guess was already revealed in House of X. I enjoyed this issue, especially the scene with Cypher and Warlock, but I don’t remember much about it now.

SUPERMAN, SON OF KAL-EL #3 (DC, 2021) – “The Truth Part Two,” [W] Tom Taylor, [A] John Timms. Jon fights Fautline, a villain with earthquake powers, then goes to Gamorra and gets arrested in a protest. Clark has a touching conversation with Jon, then leaves Earth. Henry Bendix uses Faultline to blow up Jon’s house. This series is really good, and it’s a shame that it’s made Tom Taylor into a target for politically motivated harassment.

DEFENDERS #3 (Marvel, 2021) – “The High Priestess,” [W] Al Ewing, [A] Javier Rodriguez. The Defenders go back in time to the Fifth Cosmos, the origin of Mor-i-Dun, who will become the Sixth Cosmos’s version of Galactus. The Fifth Cosmos is also where magic came from. Accordingly, Javier Rodriguez’s artwork in this issue is very dark and Lovecraftian. At the end, the Defenders find themselves in the Fourth Cosmos, which is colored with prominent Ben Day dots, and they meet a creature with four heads. Now that I think of it, the creature is obviously a reference to the four-color process; each of its heads has a word balloon containing one of the four CMYK colors.

BOUNTIFUL GARDEN #2 (Mad Cave, 2021) – untitled, [W] Ivy Noelle Weir, [A] Kelly Williams. Some of the kids travel to the planet, where they find evidence of intelligent life. One of the other kids goes outside the ship on an EVA mission, and then unhooks his cable and gets stranded in space. This is an intriguing series with great characterization. I’m glad that Mad Cave is producing comics I’m willing to read. The more publishers that are putting out quality comic books, the better.  

TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES #121 (IDW, 2021) – untitled, [W] Sophie Campbell, [A] Jodi Nishijima. The Turtles beat up Hob and lock him up in a cell, but Hob convinces the weasel kids to help him escape. As usual this is an excellent issue, though it’s too bad that Sophie can’t draw every story arc.

CAPTAIN MARVEL #33 (Marvel, 2021) – “The Last of the Marvels Part Two,” [W] Kelly Thompson, [A] Sergio Dávila. Carol and Kamala team up against some more Marvel-suited villains. Carol confronts Vox Supreme. It’s nice seeing Carol and Kamala together again, but I wish Kamala still had her own ongoing series.

DIRTBAG RAPTURE #1 (Oni, 2021) – “Sunday Morning Coming Down,” [W] Christopher Sebela, [A] Kendall Goode. Kat Garcia has the power to see ghosts. This is not a good thing because the ghosts drive her crazy. She supports herself by doing services for ghosts, in exchange for valuables that they hid while alive. This issue Kat meets a recently deceased ghost named Hannah, who promptly involves Kat in a war between angels and demons. Dirtbag Rapture is Christopher Sebela’s first new series since Pantomime, and it’s another example of his ability to create brilliant and clever premises. Kat is a fascinating protagonist because of her abrasive personality and self-destructive behavior.

ROBIN #6 (DC, 2021) – “Fight! Fight! Fight! Fight!”, [W] Joshua Williamson, [A] Gleb Melnikov. The tournament begins, and Damian makes it to the semifinals. Also, he figures out Mother Soul’s identity, but he doesn’t tell us who she is yet. This series is a quick and unchallenging read, but it’s really fun.

ECHOLANDS #2 (Image, 2021) – “Hope’s Crucible,” [W/A] J.H. Williams III, [W] Haden Blackman. Rabbit and her pals escape into the sewers, then they go to the pier and steal a ship, but it’s capsized by a sea serpent. This series’ plot is not very original; however, I’m not reading it for the plot, I’m reading it because Williams is simply the finest active artist in American comic books. As I mentioned in my now-lost review of #1, Echolands has an unusual sideways format. This gives Williams a giant canvas on which to execute his innovative page layouts, and he comes up with brilliant visual devices for leading the reader’s eye across each two-page spread. Williams’s other great talent is that he draws in many different styles. Rabbit’s four companions each look as if they were drawn by a different artist – the blue-haired girl seems to have been drawn by Moebius; the black-haired dude, by Chester Gould; and so on. https://www.instagram.com/p/CU_vQBnrlbS/ The ability to vary one’s drawing style is a sign of artistic mastery, and Williams can do it better at it than anyone.

2000 AD #1294 (Rebellion, 2002) – Dredd: as above. Ula Danser goes into hiding, and we learn that her goal is to infect the population of Sin City with a plague. An old villain, Orlok, is sent to Sin City to deliver the plague bacterium to Ula. Future Shocks: “Celestial Bodies,” [W] Simon Spurrier, [A] Shaun Bryan. I don’t understand this one, but it involves a spacefaring cult that worships Margaret Thatcher. Thirteen: as above. Joe nearly suffers a fatal wound, but he, Daksha and the warrior woman decide to go on the offensive against the enemy Agrahar. Sinister Dexter: “House of Whacks,” [W] Dan Abnett, [A] David Bircham. A silent story that I don’t understand. Judge Death: as above. Death puts Anderson into a coma and escapes.

HEART THROBS #129 (DC, 1971) – “Substitute Sweetheart,” [W/A] unknown. Sherry falls in love with Roy, who’s still obsessed with his ex-girlfriend Pat. When Pat finally turns Roy down, he turns to Sherry for comfort, but she correctly decides to date a more dependable man instead. “Listen, Darling…”, [W] unknown, [A] Bill Draut. A pop star falls in love with a small-town girl. This one is kind of farfetched. “I Can’t Give You Anything But Love,” [W] unknown, [A] Jack Abel. Rhoda is obsessed with Dean Starr, who is a womanizing, rude asshole, even though he incongruously wears glasses. Finally Rhoda realizes Dean is awful and falls in love with someone else.

JOURNEY #24 (Fantagraphics , 1986) – untitled, [W/A] William Messner-Loebs. While snowbound in the small frontier town of New Hope, Wolverine MacAlistaire helps solve a confusing murder mystery involving a ton of family drama. To ease tensions within the New Hope community, the local people decide that MacAlistaire and his poet friend, Elmer Alyn Kraft, need to get married. This leads into issue 25, which was the first issue of Journey I read. I bought it on my grad school visit to Bloomington, Indiana.

WONDER WOMAN #296 (DC, 1982) – “Mind Games,” [W] Roy Thomas & Dan Mishkin, [A] Gene Colan. Diana fights a video-game-based villain, Commander Video. This is one of a number of early-‘80s comics that were inspired by early video games. This issue also has a Huntress backup with a plot by Paul Levitz, but unfortunately he did not also write the script.

SUPERBOY #52 (DC, 1998) – “Destination: Unknown!”, [W] Karl Kesel, [A] Tom Grummett. Superboy takes a bunch of sentient animals from the Wild Lands to Hawaii. On arriving in Hawaii, he discovers that Tana Moon is gone and his own house is deserted. Kesel and Grummett’s second Superboy run was perhaps DC’s most faithful revival of concepts from Kirby’s ‘70s comics.

SANDMAN #45 (DC, 1993) – “Brief Lives Part 5,” [W] Neil Gaiman, [A] Jill Thompson (the full subtitle is very long). This may be the funniest issue of the entire series. The funniest part is when Tiffany dreams of Matthew shouting DRIVE ON THE RIGHT! YOU’LL KILL US ALL!, but there are other great moments. Delirium curses the cop who with invisible insects. Morpheus asks Matthew if he can drive, and Matthew says that he got killed driving drunk, and Morpheus replies “I am not convinced that is any recommendation.” When told that a matriarchy is a society run by women, Tiffany says “Like the Girl Scouts?” But the main plot-related event this issue is rather sad: Ishtar gives Morpheus a clue to Destruction’s whereabouts, and then dances herself to death.

UNCLE SCROOGE #240 (Gladstone, 1989) – “Some Heir Over the Rainbow,” [W/A] Carl Barks. In order to decide which of his nephews should be his heir, Scrooge secretly gives each of them a thousand dollars and watches what they do with it. Donald wastes all the money and goes $1000 into debt, Gladstone neither loses nor gains any money, and Huey, Dewey and Louie give the money to a sailor who’s looking for buried treasure. Scrooge thinks it’s a hoax, but the treasure turns out to be real, and Scrooge names them his sole heirs. This story may have been inspired by the Biblical Parable of the Talents. It also has a motif of the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow, but it’s not the story where Scrooge says “there’s always another rainbow”; I forget which story that is. This issue also includes two European stories with art by Daniel Branca and José Colomer Fonts.

MARVEL TEAM-UP #39 (Marvel, 1975) – “Any Number Can Slay!”, [W] Bill Mantlo, [A] Sal Buscema. Spider-Man and the Human Torch fight the Enforcers and the Big Man, which is odd since the Big Man is supposed to be dead. And then at the end of the issue they meet the Crime-Master, who’s been dead for even longer. Yvie Perez is credited for translating some Spanish dialogue in this issue, but I have no idea who she is.

BIRTHRIGHT #1 (Image, 2014) – untitled, [W] Joshua Williamson, [A] Andrei Bressan. This issue begins with Mickey’s mysterious disappearance. Then he returns years later, having traveled to a magical fantasy world, where he’s grown to adulthood while fighting the God King Lore. But on the last page, it’s revealed that Mickey is possessed by some sort of demon and is actually trying to conquer Earth for Lore. I already had the Image Firsts reprint of this issue, but I prefer to own the original.

2000 AD #1295 (Rebellion, 2002) – Sin City: as above. This chapter is devoted to a subplot involving a former Judge who’s become a gladiator. There’s also another subplot about a current Judge and his criminal brother. Thirteen: as above. Joe and Daksha try to get to the Agrahar base, but are caught by the enemy on the way. Future Shocks: “Warped,” [W] Steve Moore, [A] Ben Macleod. Two experimental warp-ships were sent to Alpha Centauri and didn’t return. A third ship discovers that the first two ships traveled through space, not time, and they failed to return because they discovered that the warp experiment was going to destroy the universe. Kind of confusing. Tor Cyan: “Rahab,” [W] John Tomlinson, [A] Jock. Tor Cyan was introduced in Mercy Heights. I know I’ve read some progs that included Mercy Heights stories, but those may have been among the comics whose reviews I lost. Anyway, in this story Tor and his alien friend Kurjac fight a giant alien blob, and after it’s dead, Rogue Trooper emerges from its corpse.

CEREBUS #208 (Aardvark-Vanaheim, 1996) – “Guys,” [W/A] Dave Sim. Even less happens in this issue than in a typical issue of Guys, and at the end of the issue there’s a mean-spirited and pointless parody of Don Simpson.

BACCHUS #58 (Eddie Campbell, 2001) – “Metamorphosis,” [W/A] Eddie Campbell. Eddie dreams about becoming a mosquito-themed superhero. Most of the other material in the issue is by other artists. Notably, there are some Abe stories by Glenn Dakin, and a text feature about a made-up Australian cartoonist named Joseph “Bunny” Wilson.

A DISTANT SOIL #31 (Image, 2001) – untitled, [W/A] Colleen Doran. This series’ plot is hopelessly complicated and I’m never going to understand it. This issue, some of the characters have been captured by the Ovanan Hierarchy, and some of the others are trapped in the sewers below. Also, Niniri confronts Seren, and he accuses her of pimping him out when he was a child. Here Colleen Doran acknowledges the rather bizarre and disturbing sexual subtexts of this series. This issue’s backup feature is a prose story by Jan Strnad, with illustrations by Doran.

RING OF THE NIBELUNG: GOTTERDAMMERUNG #3 (Dark Horse, 2001) – “Double Blind,” [W/A] P. Craig Russell. Hagen talks with his father Alberich, who started the whole mess with the ring. Then after Hagen summons his retainers to Gunther’s wedding, Brunhilde realizes that Siegfried has tricked her into pledging herself to Gunther. Siegfried swears that if he’s lied to Brunhilde, then his own spear should kill him – which will indeed happen. The spear itself becomes a symbol of Siegfried’s oath, which is probably a callback to how Wotan’s spear is the embodiment of universal law. Brunhilde, Gunther and Hagen decide to conspire together to kill Siegfried. As usual, PCR’s adaptation is absolutely brilliant. His Ring adaptation is perhaps the culmination of all his opera adaptations. I never quite understood the second half of Siegfried/Sigurd’s saga, the part with Gunther and Hagen and Gutrune/Kriemhild. It almost seems like a separate story from the part with Fafnir and Mime/Regin and the ring. I kind of want to read the Nibelungenlied so I can learn more about this body of mythology. I have a copy of it, but it’s an old translation and I want to get a better one.

DETECTIVE COMICS #545 (DC, 1984) – “By Darkness Masked,” [W] Doug Moench, [A] Gene Colan. Having fallen into a sewer, Anton Knight, aka Night-Slayer, is rescued by a blind girl and her dog. The girl mistakenly believes Anton to be Batman. Meanwhile, the real Batman spends the whole issue looking for Anton. Gene Colan’s artwork for DC in the early ‘80s was consistently below his usual standards. This issue’s Green Arrow backup story has good art by Shawn McManus, but a pointless plot.

IRON MAN #240 (Marvel, 1988) – “Ghost Righter!”, [W] David Michelinie, [A] Jackson Guice & Bob Layton. Iron Man is forced to team up with Justin Hammer and his hirelings, Blacklash, Blizzard and Boomerang, for mutual protection against the Ghost. Justin Hammer and the Ghost are among Michelinie’s better creations.

SECRET SIX #10 (DC, 2009) – “Depths Part One: The Measure of a People,” [W] Gail Simone, [A] Nicola Scott. A horrible villain named Mr. Smyth is enslaving poor people and forcing them to work in a mine that’s full of deadly gas. He recruits the Secret Six to help him, and tricks Deadshot into shooting an enslaved woman who’s trying to escape. A few issues later, Deadshot executes Mr. Smyth in the exact same way. I read that issue, but it was one of the reviews I lost.

SECRET WARS 2099 #3 (Marvel, 2015) – untitled, [W] Peter David, [A] Will Sliney. This issue has some okay characterization, but it includes so many characters that none of them get any development. Its best moment is the drinking contest between Hercules and Sub-Mariner.

FUTURE IMPERFECT #3 (Marvel, 2015) – untitled, [W] Peter David, [A] Greg Land. Yet another boring late work by PAD. I don’t remember much of anything about this issue.

FUNNY AMINALS #1 (Apex Novelties, 1972) – [E] Terry Zwigoff. This is an absolute treasure and also a major bargain. I got it as part of an eBay lot with three other underground comics, for a total of $38.82. One of the other three comics was a duplicate, but I don’t even care, since copies of Funny Aminals #1 usually go for over $100. This issue is most notable for including Art Spiegelman’s original three-page version of Maus. The 1972 Maus is rather crude compared to the full version. The mice are drawn in a much more realistic way than in the mature version of Maus, and this lessens their poignancy. (For why it’s improtant that the mice in Maus don’t look realistic, see Andreas Huyssen’s “OF Mice and Mimesis.”) And of course the 1972 Maus is just three pages, so it tells the story in an extremely summarized format. Still, the original Maus is an interesting work in its own right, with some brutal and disturbing imagery. All the other stories in this comic are also about talking animals. The lead story is Crumb’s “What a World!”, a typical example of his obsession with tall women and sexual violence, although it has some nice art. There’s also a four-page Trots and Bonnie story by Shary Flenniken, in which Trots has sex with a poodle. And there’s a four-pager by Justin Green and a five-pager by Bill Griffith, starring his toad character, who’s a link between his early underground work and his Zippy strip. The other contributors are Jay Lynch and Michael McMillan. Overall, Funny Aminals #1 is one of the most historically important underground comics, and I’m very proud that I own it.

GOOD ASIAN #5 (Image, 2021) – untitled, [W] Pornsak Pichetshote, [A] Alexandre Tefenkgi. Most of this issue is flashbacks to Edison’s past history with the Carroway family. In particular, we learn that Edison and Victoria Carroway had a pregnancy scare. Then we finally return to the scene of Frankie’s death. This is an excellent and very important series, but I always find it difficult to read, because it’s hard to remember its plot from one month to another.

CRUSH & LOBO #5 (DC, 2021) – “Searching for Lobo Who is a Jerk,” [W] Mariko Tamaki, [A]  (Amancay Nahuelpan. While searching for Lobo, Crush befriends some deadly space lizards and meets Lobo’s current girlfriend. The pace lizards are adorable; I especially love the panel where one of them puts on a bib when about to eat some guy.

S.W.O.R.D. #8 (Marvel, 2021) – “Unbroken,” [W] Al Ewing, [A] Guiu Villanova. Storm fights a volcano alien, then defeats a challenger to her seat on the Arakko council. In this issue Al Ewing shows a pretty good understanding of Storm’s personality.

BRZRKR #5 (Boom!, 2021) – untitled, [W] Keanu Reeves & Matt Kindt, [A] Ron Garney. Unute tells his psychiatrist about how he fell in love for the first time, but when his lover got pregnant, the child was born dead. And this continued to happen every time Unute tried to reproduce. Or else his lovers always died while he stayed the same age. I like the individual scenes in this series, but its overarching plot is a bit boring.

HUMAN REMAINS #1 (Vault, 2021) – untitled, [W] Peter Milligan, [A] Sally Cantirino. Earth is invaded by aliens who kill anyone who expresses strong emotions in public. In order to survive, everyone has to refrain from revealing any emotion. This is an interesting premise, but by the time I read issue 2, I had trouble remembering what this series was about. Sally Cantirino’s aliens look very creepy.

EDGAR ALLAN POE’S SNIFTER OF DEATH #1 (Vault, 2021) – “The Monster Serials: A Devil’s Advocate,” [W] Mark Russell, [A] Peter Snejbjerg. Count Chocula is tied up at a stake, but he’s rescued by the Quaker from Quaker Oats. The Quaker reveals himself to be even more evil and judgmental than Chocula, so Chocula switches places with him and escapes, while the Quaker is killed. The Monster Serials is clearly the highlight of all these Snifter series, and Ahoy ought to spin it off into its own title. The backup story is a silly parody of “The Raven,” written by Stuart Moore and drawn in a cartoony style by Frank Cammuso.

SNELSON: COMEDY IS DYING #3 (Ahoy, 2021) – “What’s the Deal with Fake Meat?”, [W] Paul Constant, [A] Fred Harper. Danica Bakshi forces Snelson to reveal that his cancer diagnosis is fake. This issue is a little bit better than #2, but Snelson still feels pointless and incoherent to me, and I’m only continuing to read it because I’m a completist.

MISTER MIRACLE: THE SOURCE OF FREEDOM #4 AND 5 (DC, 2021) – “The Source of Freedom Part Five,” [W] Brandon Thomas, [A] Fico Ossio. Shilo meets Orion and learns N’vir Free’s origin. We learn that N’vir wants to conquer the universe in the name of her parents, which seems odd, because the last thing Scott and Barda would want is for their child to become another Darkseid. I lost my review of issue 4.

THE MARVELS #4 AND 5 (Marvel, 2021) – “I Might Know a Guy,” [W] Kurt Busiek, [A] Yildiray Cinar. Aero and Warbird join the superheroes at Stark Tower, they have a conference, and eventually they travel to another dimension and meet Aarkus, the Golden Age Vision. This series feels like Astro City, except without genuine effort or passion. I’m glad Arrowsmith is finally coming back, and I hope Astro City will be back soon too. I lost my review of issue 4. 

SWAMP THING #8 (DC, 2021) – “In My Infancy Part 3,” [W] Ram V, [A] Mike Perkins. The Swamp Thing’s battle with the Suicide Squad continues. In a flashback, we’re told that Levi’s mother is an “Anghom priestess.” I can’t figure out what this means, but it seems clear that Levi belongs to some sort of Northeast Indian tribe. I wonder if it’s a real one or a made-up one. At the end, Levi’s brother Jacob shows up, but now he calls himself Hedera and has horns growing out of his head. In my lost review of issue 7, I mentioned that Swamp Thing #7 tells a story of a warrior lifting a mountain to obtain a medicine for his master’s brother. This is a retelling of a story from the Ramayana. The warrior is Hanuman, and the person he’s trying to save is Lakshmana. I like it when Ram V presents these Indian cultural concepts as if they’re puzzles for the non-Indian reader to decipher.

OUT OF BODY #4 (Aftershock, 2021) – “I Dreamed of Strange Lips,” [W] Peter Milligan, [A] Inaki Miranda. Dr. Dan keeps investigating his brother’s murder, but falls into August Fryne’s trap. It occurs to me that this series is rather similar to Deadman, though it wouldn’t have worked as a proposal for a Deadman series, since the protagonist is a psychiatrist instead of an acrobat.

YOUNG LUST #2 (Print Mint, 1971) – [E] Bill Griffith. This was part of the same lot as Funny Aminals #2. As with #1, the stories in this issue are parodies of old romance comics. It begins with Griffith’s story about a woman’s relationship with an abusive, two-timing jerk. Then there’s a story by Roger Brand where the female love interest is a pair of conjoined twins. Brand draws this story in a style influenced by his mentor Wally Wood. In Jay Kinney and Ned Sontag’s “Armed Love” the protagonists are hippie radicals who murder a bunch of policemen. Justin Green’s “Little Sister Loses Her Hymen” is perhaps the high point of the issue, since it explores the same psychosexual themes as Binky Brown Meets the Holy Virgin Mary. Other contributors are Landon Chesney, under the name “Big Daddy ‘Pap’ Shmeer”, and Jim Osborne. This issue is better than #1, which was almost exclusively by Griffith and Kinney, but Young Lust would get more serious and more artistically diverse as it went on.

2000 AD #1296 (Rebellion, 2002) – Dredd: as above. The judge’s brother gets killed, Ula Danser is captured, and Orlok heads to Sin City. Sinister Dexter: “Animal Firm Part 1,” [W] Dan Abnett, [A] Cam Smith. Sinister and Dexter are hired by a mobster to intervene in a gang war, and they find themselves fighting a man with a bulldog’s head. Tor Cyan: “Phage,” as above. Tor Cyan kills the crazy Genetic Infantryman, then removes his biochip from his skull. It says “Rogue.” Terror Tales!: “Scene of the Crime,” [W] Al Ewing, [A] Dom Reardon. Detective Richard Webb investigates a series of murders. He discovers that the murders are being caused by a drawing that transmits homicidal impulses to the first person to see it. And then Webb goes to another crime scene where he’s the first to see the latest example of the drawing. Quite scary and clever. One of Webb’s unsolved murder victims is named Frazer Irving. Thirteen: as above. While held captive, Joe gets some background information on the Pan Tot Sef’s war with the Agrahar.

CEREBUS #210 (Aardvark-Vanaheim, 1996) – “Guys,” [W/A] Dave Sim. Cerebus and Bear play the hockey/tennis game and then go fishing. There’s also a cameo appearance by the girl from Paul Pope’s THB. One of the many annoying things about “Guys” is how Bear is constantly saying “waddayacall.”

UNCLE SCROOGE #29 (Dell, 1960) – “Island in the Sky,” [W/A] Carl Barks. Scrooge decides to store his money on an asteroid, only to find that the asteroid is already inhabited by (stereotypical) native people. Scrooge has to abandon his quest in order to help the natives reach another asteroid that’s full of food and water. There are some impressive moments in this story, like when Scrooge and the nephews encounter a field of mysterious carved asteroids, which, unknown to them, are inhabited by bizarre-looking aliens. But the SF aspects of “Island in the Sky” are ridiculously farfetched. Also, at the beginning of the story we’re told that “in Duckburg science has advanced much farther than in other citiies of the  world,” but that’s not true in any of Barks’s other stories. I assume that in creating this story Barks was influenced by the media frenzy over Sputnik and other early space missions. This issue also includes a Gyro Gearloose solo story about a boat race, and then another Barks story, “The Hound of the Whiskervilles.” This story is a sort of sequel to “The Old Castle’s Secret,” which was Barks’s only other story about McDuck Castle. “The Hound of the Whiskervilles” is written as if that other story never existed, and it suggests that Scrooge and the nephews have never been to McDuck Castle before. However, the two stories have the same gloomy, spooky atmosphere.

TARZAN #221 (DC, 1973) – “Return to the Primitive Part 3,” [W/A] Joe Kubert. In an adaptation of The Return of Tarzan, Tarzan and Jane have their own separate adventures, and coincidentally Jane ends up in a boat headed toward Tarzan’s old home in Africa, where Tarzan already is. I think I may have already read the Dell adaptation of this story, but Joe Kubert’s take on Tarzan is unlike anyone else’s. Kubert’s version of the character is much more powerful and less civilized than Marsh’s or Manning’s.

HEROINES #3 (Space Goat, 2017) – untitled, [W/A] Ted Naifeh. I didn’t understand much about this series’ plot, but it’s an interesting feminist superhero comic with some nice characterization. I ought to have been reading this series more actively when it was coming out.

DARK HORSE PRESENTS #58 (Dark Horse, 1992) – [E] Randy Stradley. The only really notable story in this issue is chapter nine of Frank Miller’s Sin City. At this point in the story, Marv and Lucille are trying to escape from a cell. This issue also includes a mildly cute fantasy story by Jo Duffy and Joven Chacon. The other stories are Anthony Smith and Eric Vincent’s Alien Fire, and John Arcudi and Dale Eaglesham’s The Creep.

BATMAN #583 (DC, 2000) – “Fearless Part 2,” [W] Ed Brubaker, [A] Scott McDaniel. Batman goes looking for an old friend of Bruce Wayne’s named Jeremy, who’s become a villain. Eventually Jeremy dies, just after revealing that he knew Bruce’s secret identity. This is an unimpressive issue, and it gives the impression that Brubaker was still not quite comfortable writing Batman.

LAST GASP COMIX & STORIES #5 (Last Gasp, 1997) – [E] Noah Mass. Noah is a friend of mine; we were colleagues at Georgia Tech, and I used to go to movies with him. I knew he worked for Last Gasp before going to grad school, but I think this is the first of his comics that I’ve seen. His artistic taste is rather different from mine. The stories in this issue often have very impressive artwork, but they’re all very short and almost devoid of narrative. Notable contributors to this issue include Stephane Blanquet, Max Andersson, Steven Weissman, Renée French, Anke Feuchtenberger, Brian Biggs and a Danny Hellman. Perhaps the highlight of this issue is Weissman’s Lemon Kids chapter, which I thought was actually by Seth until I realized it was Weissman parodying Seth.

2000 AD #1297 (Rebellion, 2002) – Dredd: as above. Orlok makes it to Sin City with the bacterium. Tor Cyan: “No Such Place Part 1,” as above. Tor Cyan starts to wonder if he himself used to be Rogue Trooper. Then he lets himself be eaten by Rahab, the blob from #1295, and Rahab enables him to encounter Rogue Trooper within his own mind. This story draws a very clever connection between two seemingly unrelated series, Rogue Trooper and Mercy Heights. Sinister Dexter: as above. Sinister and Dexter fight some more animal people. Thirteen: as above. Joe watches Daksha being tortured. Joe uses his telekinetic powers to free himself, then summons Aden, the Pan Tot Sef warrior.

CEREBUS #211 (Aardvark-Vanaheim, 1996) – “Guys No. 11,” [W/A] Dave Sim. New characters in this issue include Shannon Wheeler’s Too Much Coffee Man, and Genital Ben from Marc Hempel’s Tug & Buster. I couldn’t tell who Genital Ben was until I looked him up. A consistent problem with Guys is its use of obscure references that make no sense to anyone who wasn’t reading the same comics Dave was. And even if you can identify these references, they’re not very funny. This issue’s letter column includes some more of Dave’s offensive misogynistic diatribes. I assume that after #186, Dave lost so many readers that he no longer got enough letters to run a regular letter column.

VOGELEIN #1 (Fiery Studios, 2002) – untitled, [W/A] Jane Irwin. Vogelein is a clockwork fairy who needs to be wound regularly in order to live. When her elderly caretaker dies, she tries to get a young man named Jason as her new caretaker, but then she gives up on him because of his nosy roommate. Depressed, Vogelein throws away the key to her own mechanism, but it’s returned to her by a dreadlocked pointy-eared creature. This issue ends with some interesting notes that allude to the disability themes of Vogelein’s story. Vogelein is an underrated work that deserves to be better known. I was introduced to it by my friend Greg Hatcher, who sadly just passed away. His students loved Vogelein, and I think he knew Jane Irwin in person.

SECRET SIX #5 (DC, 2015) – “Block Party,” [W] Gail Simone, [A] Dale Eaglesham & Tom Derenick. The Suicide Squad spends the first half of this issue attending an outdoor cookout, and then in the second half, they go looking for the Riddler. I didn’t quite understand this issue.

My next trip to Heroes was on October 25. I had lunch at Bang Bang Burgers.

MY LITTLE PONY: FRIENDSHIP IS MAGIC #102 (IDW, 2021) – “Once Upon a Time…”, [W] Jeremy Whitley, [A] Andy Price. The Mane Six lead the other groups of Elements in a final battle against the Elements of Patriotism, and obviously the good guys win. Appropriately this series’ final issue is drawn by its greatest artist, Andy Price, and it’s full of his trademark Easter eggs. I especially like Pinkie Pie’s steampunk bicycle and Rarity’s comment “Dashie, you should know by now… we never ask about Pinkie!” MLP: FIM was my favorite comic of the past decade other than Lumberjanes, and I’m really going to miss it.

MAZEBOOK #2 (Dark Horse, 2021) – untitled, [W/A] Jeff Lemire. Will visits his ex-wife, who now has another child with a new husband, and finds his late daughter’s Elena’s maze books. Then Will has a series of visions in which a red thread is leading him to a city built in the shape of a maze. Mazebook is a sort of blend of the bizarre multidimensional narrative of Gideon Falls, and the urban Canadian setting of Royal City. A notable aspect of Mazebook is its coloring: everything is in muted sepia tones except Elena herself and things associated with her.

CHILLING ADVENTURES OF SABRINA #9 (Archie, 2021) – “Witch War Chapter Three: The Sacrificial Lamb,” [W] Roberto Aguirre-Sacassa, [A] Robert Hack. This is perhaps the most surprising comic of 2021, given that it’s been four years since issue 8. I was not expecting to ever see this series again. Despite the long delay, this issue is written and drawn in exactly the same style as earlier issues. The main plot event this issue is that Sabrina interviews an incarcerated murderer named Richard Speck, and discovers that he’s possessed by a demon.

BERMUDA #4 (IDW, 2021) – untitled, [W] John Layman, [A] Nick Bradshaw. After an epic battle with the Mers, Bobby rescues his little sister, then decides to stay on Trangle Island permanently. Bermuda is an exciting comic, and its art is the best of Nick Bradshaw’s career. I really hope we get a sequel soon.

SUPERMAN, SON OF KAL-EL #4 (DC, 2021) – “Proportional Response,” [W] Tom Taylor, [A] Daniele Di Nicuolo. This issue has the exact same creators as Seven Secrets. Jon saves his parents and Jay from Faultline, then has to defend her from the Justice League. Jon confronts Henry Bendix, who infects Jon with something that overcharges his super-hearing. I thought this was going to be the issue with Jon and Jay’s first kiss, but that’s going to be in #5.

EAT THE RICH #3 (Boom!, 2021) – untitled, [W] Sarah Gailey, [A] Pius Bak. Astor’s mom tells Joey about the contracts, and then Joey gets pressured into eating the human meat. The next time one of the servants is executed, Astor’s mom tells Joey that now that she’s eaten human meat, she can’t live without it; she’s become an obligate cannibal. This seems like an unnecessary extra horror element in a series that was horrifying enough already. However, Astor’s mom is a powerful depiction of someone who thinks she’s doing good and solving problems, but who’s really just making those problems worse. And Joey’s acquiescence to cannibalism is scarily plausible. She wants to get the hell out of Crestfall Bluffs, but it’s much easier to just give in to peer pressure.

SIX SIDEKICKS OF TRIGGER KEATON #5 (Image, 2021) – “Marshal Art,” [W] Kyle Starks, [A] Chris Schweizer. This issue, the sidekicks fight a huge battle with a horde of stuntmen, and after they win, Richard declares that he knows who killed Trigger Keaton. I met both Kyle Starks and Chris Schweizer at Heroes Con, and I told them how much I love this series.

SECOND COMING: ONLY BEGOTTEN SON #6 (Ahoy, 2021) – “Fault Lines,” [W] Mark Russell, [A] Richard Pace. This issue begins with a retelling of the Talmudic story of the Oven of Acknai. Russell transplants the setting of the story from ancient Babylonia to medieval Poland, but the point is the same: God is happiest when His children prove Him wrong. Also, Jesus starts a new church, and Sunstar and Sheila’s son is born. I hope there will be a third volume of Second Coming soon.

TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES #122 (IDW, 2021) – untitled, [W] Sophie Campbell, [A] Jodi Nishijima. After some discussions on establishing a new government, the Turtles go out trick-or-treating, but meanwhile the weasel kids sneak into Hob’s cell and free him. Hob embarks on a plot to blow up the wall between Mutant Town and the rest of the city. Another touching and exciting issue.

FANTASTIC FOUR #37 (Marvel, 2021) – “There Are Monsters on Yancy Street,” [W] Dan Slott, [A] Nico León. Jo-Venn and N’Kalla go trick or treating multiple times in different disguises, but their parents catch them doing it and force them to give back their extra candy. Then the Profiteer shows up to kidnap Jo-Venn and N’Kalla again, and while protecting himself, Jo kills a bunch of the Profiteer’s soldiers. Also, the subplots with Reed’s sister and Johnny’s malfunctioning powers are still ongoing, and we see that Alicia has been using the Puppet Master’s mind-controlling clay. A few issues ago, there was a scene where Alicia was talking to another parent, and the Puppet Master controlled the woman for one panel. I forget which issue that was in.

BLACK HAMMER REBORN #3 AND 4 (Dark Horse, 2021) – untitled, [W] Jeff Lemire, [A] Caitlin Yarsky. Colonel Weird takes Lucy through a series of scenes in her past and future life. In one of these scenes, Lucy kills Dr. Andromeda to stop him from summoning Anti-God. Then Colonel Weird apparently kills Lucy’s husband and children. This scene reminds me of the end of Animal Man #19, but I’m guessing that Lucy’s family isn’t going to stay dead, any more than Buddy’s family did. I lost my review of #3.

MAMO #3 AND 4 (Boom!, 2021) – untitled, [W/A] Sas Milledge. Orla figures out that Mamo is trying to trap her in Haresden permanently, and then she goes to confront Mamo’s ghost, leaving Jo behind. This issue is mostly plot, with less characterization or worldbuilding than earlier issues, but Mamo is still a brilliant series. I lost my review of #3.

NUBIA AND THE AMAZONS #1 (DC, 2021) – “Paradise Lost,” [W] Stephanie Williams & Vita Ayala, [A] Alitha Martinez. A new group of Amazons comes through the Well of Souls, where women killed by male violence are reincarnated on Themyscira. One of the new Amazons is a transgender woman, Bia. Most of the publicity for Nubia and the Amazons has focused on this character, and she’s handled in a sensitive way. Otherwise, this is a reasonably good Wonder Woman story. I met Stephanie Williams at Giant-Size Charlotte Mini-Con. She also did an in-person event at the Heroes store, but I skipped it.

STRANGE ADVENTURES #12 (DC, 2021) – “Dedication and Fanaticism,” [W] Tom King, [A] Doc Shaner & Mitch Gerads. With Adam dead, Alanna rescues Aleea and forces Mr. Terrific to become her adoptive dad. Quoting myself on Facebook: “What a shit comic. An incoherent, pointless mess. Whether due to editorial meddling or just bad writing, this comic exemplifies Tom King’s worst qualities as a writer… I kept expecting that there’d be some big reveal about the Pykkts, and that they couldn’t possibly be as bad as we’d been told. But no, they really were that bad.” Also, this series is probably not in continuity, but if it had been, it would have ruined Adam and Alanna Strange’s characters permanently.

MILES MORALES: SPIDER-MAN #31 (Marvel, 2021) – untitled, [W] Saladin Ahmed, [A] Christopher Allen. Miles and Starling’s date is interrupted when the Taskmaster ambushes them. He kidnaps Starling and flies off with her. That’s the entire issue.

NIGHTWING #85 (DC, 2021) – “Fear State Part 2 of 3,” [W] Tom Taylor, [A] Robbi Rodriguez. I forget why I ordered this, but it includes some cute flashbacks to Dick and Babs’s past history. However, this issue is only average, and I don’t really care whether I get issue 86 or not.

REFRIGERATOR FULL OF HEADS #1 (DC, 2021) – untitled, [W] Rio Youers, [A] Tom Fowler. In 1983, the Norse dagger from Basketful of Heads is stolen in a home invasion. In 1984, a young couple visits Brody Island on vacation, and while running from some hoodlums, the husband jumps in the water and discovers a mysterious axe. Then he and his wife are attacked by a shark, and the husband uses the axe to cut the shark’s head off, but the head stays alive on its own. I’m not sure whether this is a sequel or a prequel to Basketful of Heads, and so far it’s not as exciting as that series. It’s not bad, though.

MAW #2 (Boom!, 2021) – untitled, [W] Jude Ellison S. Doyle, [A] A.L. Kaplan. Marion finally meets Diana, and she discovers that the women in Diana’s commune aren’t as TERFish as they seem, but that they’re still pretty creepy. Then, after another encounter with her rapists, Marion gives birth to some sort of crocodile creature. Maw is a fascinating and disturbing piece of feminist horror.

BLACK PANTHER LEGENDS #1 (Marvel, 2021) – untitled, [W] Tochi Onyebuchi, [A] Setor Fiadzigbey. This is a fairly straightforward retelling of T’Challa’s origin, but it has some nice touches, like Ramonda asking T’Chaka if the “beautiful things we have made here” are Wakanda or their children. This issue also includes a depiction of apartheid South Africa. I notice that Ulysses Klaw’s surname is now spelled Klaue, just like in the film. I really want to read Tochi Onyebuchi’s novel Riot Baby, but I’m waiting for it to come out in paperback. I suspect this may be the first Black Panther comic by two creators of recent African descent: Tochi Onyebuchi was born in America to Nigerian parents, and Setor Fiadzigbey was born in Ghana.

MY LITTLE PONY: GENERATIONS #1 (IDW, 2021) – untitled, [W] Casey Gilly, [A] Michela Cacciatore. Two girls named Grackle and Dyre hatch a plot to gain revenge on the ponies. Apparently these characters are the granddaughters of the villain from the 1986 MLP movie. Meanwhile, the ponies decide to hire some new faculty for the school of friendship, but the teachers who respond to the ad are Grackle and Dyre’s minions. This comic is okay, but it somehow doesn’t feel like a substitute for the just-concluded MLP: FIM comic.

UNBELIEVABLE UNTEENS #2 AND 3 (Dark Horse, 2021) – untitled, [W] Jeff Lemire, [A] Tyler Crook. In a comic-book-format flashback, Jack Sabbath causes his girlfriend Snapdragon to fall into a coma. In the present, Snapdragon is still in a coma, and Dr. Moniker (Professor X) is dead. Another flashback shows how Jack Sabbath died trying to save Snapdragon. Carlos and Karl refuse to join in Jack’s efforts to revive the Unteens, and the issue ends on a depressing note. I lost my review of issue 2.

NO ONE LEFT TO FIGHT II #1 (Dark Horse, 2021) – untitled, [W] Aubrey Sitterson, [A] Fico Ossio. As a refresher, the red-haired guy, Vâle, is the Goku character, and he’s dying. Timór (Vegeta) is married to Krysta (Bulma) but is jealous of Vâle’s obvious obsession with her. This issue they hang out with an old friend who’s a giant mushroom, then decide to see someone named D.A.D. There are also some cute scenes with Timor and Krysta’s kids. I liked the original No One Left to Fight, but it ended on a cliffhanger, so I’m glad we’re getting more of it.

IMMORTAL HULK #50 (Marvel, 2021) – untitled, [W] Al Ewing, [A] Joe Bennett. A series of flashbacks throughout the issue depict the origin of the rivalry between the Banner and Stearns families. The various Hulks and Jackie McGee descend to the Below Place and defeat the Leader, then they confront the One Below All, who is revealed as the Hulk counterpart to the One Above All. Banner emerges from hell with a new sense of confidence. Like Action Comics #583, this issue ends with the line “What do you think?” Immortal Hulk was the finest Marvel comic of the past twenty years, and this issue is a fitting conclusion to it. Sadly it’s also the conclusion to Joe Bennett’s career. Given what we now know about his anti-Semitic pro-Bolsonaro cartoons, I hope he never works in American comics again.

KILLER QUEENS #3 (Dark Horse, 2021) – untitled, [W] David M. Booher, [A] Claudia Balboni. The assassins descend into a sewer, where they link up with a group of rebels. This comic is honestly not very interesting, either in terms of story or artwork.

PHOENIX SONG: ECHO #1 (Marvel, 2021) – untitled, [W] Rebecca Roanhorse, [A] Luca Maresca. To quote myself on Facebook, “Phoenix Song: Echo #1 was unreadable nonsense. I like Rebecca Roanhorse’s novels, but she needed more practice before writing a published comic. She doesn’t understand how to show rather than tell.” Also, the dialogue in this issue is full of cliches. After reading this issue I emailed Heroes and told them to delete this series from my pull list.

WONDER WOMAN #780 (DC, 2021) – “Where the Heart Is,” [W] Michael Conrad & Becky Cloonan, [A] Travis Moore w/ Steve Pugh. Diana returns to the Justice League, then revisits Themyscira, and there are cameo appearances by a lot of supporting cast members. This issue is a nice conclusion to this whole saga. As an added bonus, it has no Young Diana backup.

BLACK’S MYTH #4 (Ahoy, 2021) – untitled, [W] Eric Palicki, [A] Wendell Cavalcanti. The Old Man survives the attack long enough to tell Black about it, and also reveals that he used to be Jack the Ripper. Black gets attacked again, then visits a vampire bar for more leads.

NINJAK #4 (Valiant, 2021) – untitled, [W] Jeff Parker, [A] Beni Lobel & Javier Pulido. This comic was heavily redrawn by Beni Lobel after it was already completed. No one seems to know why. (https://bleedingcool.com/comics/javier-pulido-art-ninjak-4-redrawn-beni-lobel/) The original version can be seen on Pulido’s blog. https://pulidooninjak.blogspot.com/2021/10/on-ninjak-4-farewell.html The first five pages seem to be Pulido’s work, but the rest of the comic is an ugly watered-down version of his original intent. Pulido’s artwork was the only reason I was buying the series, and it’s a shame that Valiant doesn’t appreciate him.

NOT ALL ROBOTS #3 (AWA, 2021) – untitled, [W] Mark Russell, [A] Mike Deodato Jr. As human-robot relations continue to worsen, a new line of lifelike robots is introduced, rendering the existing robots obsolete. This is one of Mark Russell’s better series, but it’s extremely depressing. A great line this issue: “ ‘Learn to code’ is a weird way of saying ‘your society has failed you.’ “

SAVAGE HEARTS #4 (Dark Horse, 2021) – untitled, [W] Aubrey Sitterson, [A] Jed Dougherty. Brownyn is pissed at Graow for making her think that his wife was dead, but they make up. The other two characters buy some unicorns that look more like llamas.

DARKHOLD: IRON MAN #1 (Marvel, 2021) – “Tales of Suspense,” [W] Ryan North, [A] Guillermo Sanna. This appears to be a What If? story taking place right after Tony’s origin. Tony gets trapped in his suit and can’t take it off. He and Pepper work together to try to improve the suit, but the suit becomes intelligent and decides that Tony would be better off with no body at all. As if liquefying Tony completely isn’t bad enough, the suit then decides to conquer the world. Ryan North is better at writing horror than I’d have expected, and this story is all the more frightening because of North’s accurate depiction of the science involved.

SUPERMAN AND THE AUTHORITY #4 (DC, 2021) – “Widescreen,” [W] Grant Morrison, [A] Mikel Janín. Superman and the team battle the Ultra-Humanite and Eclipso, then they go on a mission to Warworld, which will be depicted in Action Comics. Also, a mysterious hand writes a message: LIGHTRAY IS. I didn’t entirely understand this series, but I like its overall hopeful aesthetic, and Mikel Janín’s art is excellent.  

CHALLENGE OF THE SUPER SONS #7 (DC, 2021) – “Death to the Doom Scroll!”, [W] Peter J. Tomasi, [A] Max Raynor. The boys discover why their names are on the Doom Scroll, then f the Justice League shows up and saves them from Felix Faust and Vandal Savage. If I have a criticism of this series, it’s that it felt formulaic. It’s the same basic idea as all the other Super Sons comics.

I AM BATMAN #2 (DC, 2021) – “Fear State,” [W] John Ridley, [A] Stephen Segovia. Jace Fox investigates a villain called Seer and his “Moral Authority.” Seer appears to be inspired by real-life right-wing conspiracy theories. He’s already murdered Anarky, and he tells his minions that they’re “special people” who “must be protected.” This series is interesting enough to continue reading for now.

HARDWARE SEASON TWO #2 (DC/Milestone, 2021) – “Shrapnel,” [W] Brandon Thomas, [A] Denys Cowan. Hardware continues his terrorist attacks on Edwin Alva’s property. As with many other Brandon Thomas comics, Hardware isn’t as good as I want it to be.

GAMMA FLIGHT #5 (Marvel, 2021) – “We Were Transformed,” [W] Al Ewing & Crystal Fraser, [A] Lan Medina. Gamma Flight defeats the Abomination, and Rick and Del are separated. I didn’t like this series as much as the main Incredible Hulk comic, but it wasn’t bad.

COMPASS #5 (Image, 2021) – “The Cauldron of Eternal Life,” [W] Robert MacKenzie & Dustin Walker, [A] Justin Greenwood. Margul Khan bathes in the cauldron and becomes immortal, but Shahidah and Hua defeat him by spilling the water from the cauldron. I really liked this series’ plot and worldbuilding, but the two protagonists were lifeless. This issue includes an essay discussing all the cauldrons that appear in British mythology, including the Cauldron of Annwn and the Holy Grail.

FRONTIERSMAN #1 (DC, 2021) – untitled, [W] Patrick Kindlon, [A] Marco Ferrari. The Frontiersman, an aging former superhero, is living in retirement in the woods, but his solitude is interrupted when some young activists recruit him to save some Pacific redwoods from being cut down by a giant logging corporation. A series of flashbacks tells us about the Frontiersman’s superhero career and the other heroes and villains he encountered. I didn’t order this, but I bought it off the shelf on a whim, and I’m glad I did. The Frontiersman is an intriguing character, and this series’ exploration of environmental themes reminds me of Concrete.

CATWOMAN #36 (DC, 2021) – “Fear State 2: Sanctuary,” [W] Ram V, [A] Nina Vakueva & Laura Braga. Selena and Ivy fight in a gang war against a bunch of other villains. Somehow I thought Vita Ayala wrote this issue, but I think that was just my misreading of Vakueva. Anyway, this is going to be my last issue of the series for now. It just isn’t at the same level as Ram V’s creator-owned work.

SHANG-CHI #4 AND 5 (Marvel, 2021) – “Shang-Chi vs. the Marvel Universe Part 5,” [W] Gene Luen Yang, [A] Dike Ruan. This issue’s guest-star-of-the-month is Iron Man, and after his fight with Shang-Chi, we learn that he and other superheroes have been spying on the Five Weapons Society. As an aside here, I have not seen the Shang-Chi movie (because I don’t go to movies), but some of my friends have complained that it’s not like the ‘70s comics. This is probably a good thing. I love Doug Moench’s Shang-Chi, but it’s not acceptable to modern tastes.I lost my review of issue 4.

ICE CREAM MAN #25 AND 26 (Image, 2021) – “Unfortunate Ancestry,” [W] W. Maxwell Prince, [A] Martín Morales. This comic begins with a warning: PLEASE ROTATE YOUR BOOK 90° CLOCKWISE. This is not the first comic that has to be read in sideways format, but it’s more common to signal this by also printing the cover sideways. What is unusual about this comic is that it’s almost an entire issue consisting of a single panel; for most of the issue, each two-page spread is a two-page splash that’s visually continuous with the pages before and after it. This format also inspired the comic’s plot, or vice versa. “Unfortunate Ancestry” is about a man named Michael who literally climbs down his family tree in order to discover the “roots” of his family tree. After Michael gets down the tree, he continues further down below the ground, and the rest of the pages are divided into separate panels. This issue is perhaps Maxwell Prince’s most daring formal experiment yet. It’s a rare attempt to imitate the infinite canvas in print form. It’s kind of like Scott McCloud’s Zot! Online strip with the giant vertical panel. It would be nice if Image would reprint it in an accordion-fold edition, so that the entire comic could be seen at once. I lost my review of #25.

DEADBOX #1 AND 2 (Vault, 2021) – “Can I Have Banana Now?”, [W] Mark Russell, [A] Benjamin Tiesma. A man named Bobby is ostracized from the town for accidentally wearing women’s pants in public. Penny can’t afford her dad’s medication and has to cut it with aspirin. The main story in this issue is intercut with scenes from a romantic comedy film about two scientists studying primate intelligence. Deadbox is very well written, but it’s hard to read because it’s so depressing, even more so than Not All Robots. It feels like an accurate depiction of the horribleness of contemporary rural American life. I lost my review of #1.

ORDINARY GODS #4 (Image, 2021) – “Magic Trick,” [W] Kyle Higgins & Joe Clark, [A] Felipe Watanabe. The protagonists try to track down the trickster deity. When they find him, he has a flashback to making a film with Orson Welles, and Welles starts giving him advice. I don’t quite get what’s going on here, but this issue’s back matter consists of an interview with Welles. Also, there’s a subplot about Bri. So far this series hasn’t fulfilled the promise of its first issue. I don’t care that much about the plot, and I’d like to see more focus on Christopher and Bri.

WITCHBLOOD #7 (Vault, 2021) – “Stairway to Heaven,” [W] Matthew Erman, [A] Lisa Sterle. The main villain, Paxton, drinks the goddess’s blood and becomes a god. The story then skips ahead a year. Paxton has turned the world into even more of a dystopia than it already was, and Yonna has to ally with the other vampires to defeat him. A new spell this issue is House of the Rising Sun.

NEW FUNNIES #223 (Dell, 1955) – various stories, [W] unknown, [A] Dick Hall et al. I ordered a few of these from eBay, but I haven’t read the others yet. This series dates back to 1936 and was previously called just The Funnies. It is not the same as Dell’s 1929-1930 series also called The Funnies, which was a major precursor to comic books. By 1955, New Funnies was officially called Walter Lantz New Funnies and had become an anthology title for Lantz characters like Woody Woodpecker. This issue begins with a story where Woody and his nephews confuse a normal pill with a pill that causes explosions. Then there’s an Andy Panda and Charlie Chicken story, about a mysterious ghost ship that turns out to be a hideout for thieves. One of the shorter stories stars Oswald the Lucky Rabbit, who was Walt Disney’s original main character, until the rights to the character were stolen by Disney’s producer Charles Mintz. That incident led Disney to open his own studio, with world-changing consequences. Anyway, the stories in New Funnies #223 are competent, but they’re not nearly comparable to Barks or John Stanley.

THE BRAVE AND THE BOLD #198 (DC, 1983) – “Terrorists of the Heart!”, [W] Mike W. Barr, [A] Rick Hoberg. Several years after the end of his solo series, Karate Kid returns to the 20th century to invite his old friend Iris Jacobs to his wedding. While there, he teams up with Batman to fight his old enemy Pulsar. The most notable thing about this issue is Val Armorr’s incredible lack of emotional intelligence; he fails to realize that Iris is in love with him, and he expects her to be happy that he’s marrying someone else.

SILVER SURFER #10 (Marvel, 1988) – “Space is… Eternal!”, [W] Steve Englehart, [A] Marshall Rogers. Mostly a bunch of conversations between the Elders of the Universe, and then between Galactus and Eternity. Englehart’s Silver Surfer series was partly responsible for domesticating Marvel’s cosmic beings; it helped to turn them into just a bunch of characters like any others, rather than the godlike, awe-inspiring presences they should be. Jim Starlin also contributed to this trend with his Infinity series. This issue includes one of Marvel’s first scenes in which two women kiss, although one of the women is stated to be a male Skrull in a female body.

MARTHA WASHINGTON GOES TO WAR #2 (Dark Horse, 1994) – “Comedy,” [W] Frank Miller, [A] Dave Gibbons. In the midst of a rash of terrorist attacks, Martha tries to get to the “tethered satellite” Harmony. Further disasters strike, the only sympathetic character in the issue is killed, and Martha finds herself falling from the sky. This is an exciting issue, and Dave Gibbons’s artwork is amazing, though it’s hampered by ugly computer coloring. I ought to read the rest of this series.

SHADE THE CHANGING MAN #13 (DC, 1991) – “Edge of Vision Part III,” [W] Peter Milligan, [A] Chris Bachalo. Shade and Troy Grenzer fight each other within Shade’s mind. The Troy Grenzer saga was very long and complicated, and I don’t understand it. Later in this issue, Lenny says “I live in a grotty studio and steal[,] but one call to Daddy would get me an Upper Eastside penthouse with a view of the park.” Probably by coincidence, this line is similar to a line from Pulp’s song “Common People,” released several years later: “’Cause when you’re laid in bed at night / Watching roaches climb the wall / If you called your dad he could stop it all.”

BLACK DOGS #nn (Fantagraphics, 1993) – untitled, [W/A] Ho Che Anderson. I thought at first that this was an issue of a miniseries, but it’s a one-shot. Black Dogs takes place in 1992 and stars Monk and Sonjhe, an urban black couple who are expecting a child. They spend most of the issue talking with various other black people about race and the Rodney King riots, and then at the end, Monk gets in a public fight with a white man. It’s too bad that this story is just 14 pages, because it’s a sensitive and interesting exploration of racial issues from an OwnVoices perspective. It discusses topics that were hardly ever mentioned in comics at the time. This issue also includes a preview of Anderson’s King.

ACTION COMICS #556 (DC, 1984) – “Endings,” [W] Marv Wolfman, [A] Curt Swan. Vandal Savage executes a plot to make the people of Metropolis think that Superman is a menace. Superman defeats Savage by getting him to admit to the project while he’s on live TV. You’d think that in his millennia of existence, Savage would have learned not to be so easily fooled. This issue includes a cameo appearance by the pre-Crisis Jason Todd, who was a really annoying character.

CHEW #21 (Image, 2011) – “Major League Chew Part 1,” [W] John Layman, [A] Rob Guillory. Tony Chu is transferred to the traffic division, and is surprised to find that his new colleagues actually appreciate him and praise him for his achievements. But on the last page, we see that two days later, some men are beating Tony with golf clubs. This is a typically entertaining issue of Chew.

FATALE #22 (Image, 2014) – untitled, [W] Ed Brubaker, [A] Sean Phillips. This issue is mostly about Somerset, a villain who sacrifices babies and whose head is sometimes covered with Lovecraftian tentacles. This issue is very scary, but I don’t quite understand how it fits into the series’ context. I need to read more Fatale, but there are a lot of other Ed Brubaker comics that I also want to read.

WALT DISNEY’S COMICS AND STORIES #609 (Gladstone, 1997) – “T.V. Stakes,” [W/A] William Van Horn, et al. The main attraction of this issue is part three of Don Rosa’s “The Once and Future Duck.” This and several other Rosa stories were serialized across multiple issues of WDC&S. This was obviously done as a cash grab, to get Rosa fans to buy three issues instead of one. The unfortunate result is that “The Once and Future Duck” is one of the hardest Rosa stories to obtain in English, because WDC&S #607-609 are all quite rare, and the only other place this story appeared was in Fantagraphics’s Don Rosa Library. “The Once and Future Duck” is an interesting story, but it would be nice if I could have read the whole thing at once. WDC&S also includes some stories by Barks, Gottfredson, Murry and Van Horn, but it’s bulked out with some awful filler material, like a Bucky Bug story with rhyming dialogue. Overall, these extra-sized squarebound WDC&S comics are very annoying to collect: they’re hard to find, and when you do find them, you have to slog through a bunch of bad stories to get to the good ones. That was why I quit reading Gemstone’s WDC&S and Uncle Scrooge, back when those series were being published.  

THE RING OF THE NIBELUNG VOL. 1 #1 (Dark Horse, 2000) – “The Rhinegold Chapter 1: The Rape of the Gold,” [W/A] P. Craig Russell. “Rape” is meant here in the obsolete sense of “theft.” PCR’s Ring adaptation begins with a silent sequence, probably based on the opera’s overture, in which Wotan trades his eye for wisdom. Then there’s the scene where Alberich steals the Rhinegold from the Rhinemaidens. Then the scene shifts to the heavens, where the giants Fasolt and Fafnir are demanding the goddess Idunn as their reward for building Valhalla. PCR’s Ring is perhaps his greatest achievement, and it makes me want to actually listen to Wagner’s Ring, even though Wagner was extremely problematic.

HARDWARE #3 (Milestone, 1993) – “Confrontations,” [W] Dwayne McDuffie, [A] Denys Cowan. Like Hardware Season One #2, this issue is mostly about Hardware’s revenge campaign against Edwin Alva. But there’s also a touching scene where Curtis Metcalf talks with his love interest, Barraki, and she tries to get him to reconsider his actions. Overall this comic is much more interesting than the current Hardware series.

TARZAN #36 (Dell, 1952) – “The Threat of Athne” and “The Marsh Dwellers,” [W] Gaylord Du Bois, [A] Jesse Marsh. In the first story, Tarzan and his pet lions save the city of New Cathne from a siege. In the second story, Tarzan and his Waziri friends fight some cannibals. There’s also a backup story in which the Brothers of the Spear escape from slavers. I thought As I’ve mentioned in earlier reviews, Jesse Marsh’s art was much better at this stage of his career. His action scenes and his compositions are excellent, even if his draftsmanship seems crude. This comic is so old that the back cover has a Wheaties ad starring Preacher Roe.  

DONALD DUCK ADVENTURES #23 (Disney, 1992) – “The Lost Peg Leg Mine,” [W/A] Carl Barks. Scrooge and the nephews go looking for a lost gold mine in the desert. Oddly, they never actuallly find the mine; instead, they get some rats to bring them the nuggets in the mine. This story feels like a less satisfying version of Don Rosa’s “The Old Dutchman’s Secret.” There are two backup stories, both drawn by Vicar. In the first of them, Donald spends most of the story disguised as a woman.

THOR, GOD OF THUNDER #17 (Marvel, 2014) – “The Accursed Part Five of Five,” [W] Jason Aaron, [A] Emanuela Lupacchino & Ron Garney. Thor and the League of Realms finally defeat Malekith. But the Dark Elves make all their efforts worthless by electing Malekith their king, and Waziria volunteers to serve Malekith’s prison sentence on his behalf, thus ending her relationship with Thor. This sets up all the remaining stories of Jason Aaron’s run. Malekith is the scariest villain in recent Marvel comics, because he’s such a horrible psychopath, and he keeps coming back when he seems to have been defeated. A funny scene in this issue is when Volstagg says that there’s something familiar about the League of Realms, and then in the next panel, we see Screwbeard, Ivory Honeyshot, Waziria and Ud the Troll, standing in the same positions as Volstagg, Fandrall, Sif and Hogun in the previous panel.

TREASURE CHEST #20.16 (Geo. A. Pflaum, 1965) – “Ellie’s Elephant,” [W/A] Frank Borth, etc. Highlights of this issue include a six-page story by Reed Crandall about Canada’s Northwest Territories, and Fran Matera’s Chuck White and His Friends. Treasure Chest included a lot of good art, but also a lot of Catholic propaganda and boring filler material. For example, this issue’s last story is an inaccurate and boring summary of Babe Ruth’s career.

CEREBUS #212 (Aardvark-Vanaheim, 1996) – “Guys No. 12,” [W/A] Dave Sim. Genital Ben makes the guests in the bar experience hallucinations. This is another awful issue, with beautiful art and lettering but no plot or purpose. The best parts of Guys are the bottles of liquor produced by Lord Julius, because they remind me of when Cerebus was good.

2000 AD #1298 (Rebellion, 2002) – Dredd: “Sin City Part 10,” [W] John Wagner, [A] Kev Walker. Orlok releases the poison. Just as he does so, an elderly couple is about to commit suicide; the woman asks Dredd “Should we jump now?” and he replies “You might as well.” All that can be done now is to stop the plague from reaching Mega-City One. Thirteen: “Part 10,” [W] Mike Carey, [A] Andy Clarke. The alien warrior grows herself a new body, but then she reveals that she’s going to destroy the human race. Andy Clarke’s art in this story is consistently excellent. I guess I’ve seen his artwork before, on Tony Bedard’s R.E.B.E.L.S. series, but it’s too bad he didn’t become a bigger star. Sinister Dexter: “Animal Firm Part 3,” [W] Dan Abnett, [A] Cam Smith. Sinister and Dexter are saved from the animals by a giant alligator. A funny scene in this story is when the animal crooks shout things like “Fry em!” “Cluck them up!” “Leave them dead on the doormat as a present!” Tor Cyan: “No Such Place Part 2,” [W] John Tomlinson, [A] Jock. Rogue tells Tor Cyan about his forgotten past and his link to Rahab.

CONAN THE BARBARIAN #6 (Marvel, 1971) – “Devil-Wings Over Shadizar,” [W] Roy Thomas, [A] Barry Windsor-Smith. Conan meets his recurring love interest, Jenna, and saves her from a giant bat monster. I’ve read this story before, but it’s fun to reread it. BWS’s artin this issue is already excellent, though his style wasn’t fully developed yet. There are a couple nice Easter eggs. On page two, Conan beats up two thieves named Fafnir and Blackrat, i.e. Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser. Later, the smith Maldiz mentions that he once forged a falcon, i.e. the Maldiz (Maltese) Falcon.

BATMAN #471 (DC, 1991) – “Requiem for a Killer,” [W] Alan Grant, [A] Norm Breyfogle. Killer Croc befriends a group of derelicts living in the Gotham sewers. They accept him despite his grotesque appearance, and he starts building them a home using stolen goods. Of course, Batman finds Killer Croc and destroys his idyllic home, which is about to be flooded by new sewer construction. Croc apparently drowns, and the issue ends with his friends singing “Hush, Little Baby.” This is a very poignant story that proves that Grant and Breyfogle were an excellent creative team. The idea of an underground city beneath Gotham was reused in the Arkham video games.

MIDNIGHT, MASS #1 (Vertigo, 2002) – “Bluebeard’s Castle,” [W] John Rozum, [A] Jesus Saiz. Jenny Swan travels to the small town of Midnight, Massachusetts to take a job as an assistant to Adam and Julia Kadmon, a married couple of paranormal investigators. The Kadmons are similar to Nick and Nora Charles, or Frank and Sadie Doyle from Thrilling Adventure Hour: Beyond Belief. Like Beyond Belief, Midnight, Mass is more humorous than scary in tone, but it does include some very creepy supernatural stuff, like a monster with an extra arm instead of a head. I assumed this comic was the basis of the Netflix miniseries Midnight Mass, but in fact the two are completely unrelated.

WOLFF & BYRD, COUNSELORS OF THE MACABRE #2 (Exhibit A, 1994) – “Curse of the Were-House!”, [W/A] Batton Lash. Wolff & Byrd’s latest clients are a married couple whose house turns into a haunted house every full moon. Awkwardly, the wife, Kim, is also an old love interest of Byrd’s. Again, I’ve read this story before, but it’s nice to revisit it. This story is one of Batton’s early masterpieces, mostly because of the subplot with Byrd and Kim. They clearly still have feelings for each other, and it’s disappointing when Kim decides to stay with her asshole husband because she’s pregnant.

On Thursday, November 4, I went back to Heroes to buy new comics and pick up my wristbands for the Giant-Size Charlotte Mini-Con. I had dinner at Emmy Squared. I was not impressed; my sandwich was overpriced and also inconveniently big. I kind of want to go back there and try the pizza, but again, it seems to be priced for multiple people.

ONCE & FUTURE #21 (Boom!, 2021) – “Monarchies in the UK Part 3,” [W] Kieron Gillen, [A] Dan Mora. Rose is touchingly reunited with her parents, but in order to escape, she and Duncan and Gran have to fight both a knight and a gorgon. They defeat them by getting one of them to fight the other. The appearance of a Greek mythological creature in this series is surprising, but it’s based on an actual Roman carving from the city of Bath. At the end of the issue, the nursing home is attacked by either Grendel or Grendel’s mother.

WE ONLY FIND THEM WHEN THEY’RE DEAD #9 (Boom!, 2021) – “Anything is Justified,” [W] Al Ewing, [A] Simone Di Meo. Marlyn proceeds with her plot to steal Malik, but her ally, Ondine Petrikov, turns traitor and stabs her. In a series of flashbacks, we learn that Ondine has been Honorhim Bristow’s double agent all along. This is a fascinating story, though it’s kind of hard to remember who all the characters are. The first WOFTWTD story arc was impressive because of the cosmic sense of wonder it created, but the second story arc is more focused on human relationships and motivations. Incidentally, the solicitations refer to Bristow with male pronouns, but I thought this character was female. I lost my review of #8.

HOUSE OF SLAUGHTER #1 (Boom!, 2021) – “The Butcher’s Mark Part One,” [W] Tate Brombal, [A] Chris Shehan. A spinoff of Something is Killing the Children, with Aaron as the protagonist. In this issue Aaron gets a new roommate, Jace, who seems to have his own agenda. The text boxes tell us that Jace is the first man Aaron ever loved, and that Aaron is going to kill him. This series is interesting, though I don’t expect it to be as good as the parent series.

ADVENTUREMAN #6 (Image, 2021) – untitled, [W] Matt Fraction, [A] Terry Dodson. Clarice wakes up and eats a ton of food, then encounters some ghosts on the subway. Meanwhile, an old Western-themed superhero wakes up from dementia. Not a whole lot actually happens in this issue, but I love Adventureman anyway. I think it’s mostly because the relationships between the two generations of characters are so warm and loving.

PRIMORDIAL #2 (Image, 2021) – untitled, [W] Jeff Lemire, [A] Andrea Sorrentino. In 1961, Donald meets Laika’s caretaker, Yelena. Meanwhile, there are more scenes with Laika and the two monkeys. The scenes with the animals include some utterly stunning page layouts. Sorrentino’s trademark is his ability to explode the two-dimensionality of the page, so that it looks like the panels have been set free in three-dimensional space. The scenes with Donald and Yelena are drawn in a much more conventional style, which is useful because otherwise the comic might be impossible to read.

NEWBURN #1 (Image, 2021) – “Carmine’s Apartment,” [W] Chip Zdarsky, [A] Jacob Phillips. A mysterious former cop named Newburn solves the murder of a mobster who stole drugs from his own family. At the end, Newburn reveals that he works for all the city’s crime families at once, and he forces Carmine’s murderer, Emily, to work for him. Newburn has an intriguing setup and is very different from most of Zdarsky’s past work. It seems more like an Ed Brubaker comic, perhaps because the artist is Sean Phillips’s son.

JONNA AND THE UNPOSSIBLE MONSTERS #7 (Oni, 2021) – untitled, [W/A] Chris Samnee, [W] Laura Samnee. Jonna and Rainbow escape the cage, and there’s a flashback to Jonna’s disappearance. The flashback includes a repeat of the scene from issue 1 with the giant red monster. This series continues to be quite slow-paced.

USAGI YOJIMBO #23 (IDW, 2021) – “Ransom Part Two,” [W/A] Stan Sakai. The Snitch steals Boss Hasegawa’s book from Kitsune and escapes, leaving Usagi and Yukichi with nothing to trade for Kiyoko. Meanwhile, Aoki insists on keeping Kiyoko safe until morning, even though Boss Hasegawa wants her dead. The funniest part this issue is when Usagi realizes the Snitch looks familiar (because he’s appeared in too many other Usagi stories to count) and the Snitch says “Maybe you met my cousin – my distant cousin – he is the disgrace of my law abiding family!” The joke  

RADIANT BLACK #9 (Image, 2021) – “Life and Times,” [W] Kyle Higgins, [A] Eduardo Ferigato. Marshall visits Nathan in hospital every day, but Nathan’s family decides to pull the plug. Marshall threatens to commit suicide in order to force the alien deity to heal Nathan. These scenes are crosscut with flashbacks to Nathan and Marshall’s childhood, mostly focusing on their childhood fandom. These scenes reference Higgins’s earlier series C.O.W.L. The characterization in this issue is superb, and the other characters’ grief over Nathan’s apparent death is touching. I’m going to get the new Radiant Black spinoff series, even though I doubt they’ll be as good as Radiant Black itself. I was briefly confused at the scene where Nathan and Marshall are talking about Wizard Magazine, until I realized it was a flashback. It’s nice to think that Wizard hasn’t been published in over a decade.

AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #77 (Marvel, 2021) – “Beyond Chapter Three,” [W] Kelly Thompson, [A] Sara Pichelli. This is the first new issue of Amazing Spider-Man that I’ve bought in many years. I’m only ordering the issues written by Kelly Thompson. In this storyline, Ben Reilly is the new Spider-Man and he’s working for the Beyond Corporation. This issue, he trains with Misty Knight and Colleen Wing and then fights Morbius. This is a reasonably fun comic because of Kelly Thompson’s skill at characterization and dialogue.

BLACK HAMMER REBORN #5 (Dark Horse, 2021) – untitled, [W] Jeff Lemire, [A] Malachi Ward & Matthew Sheean. A second identical version of Spiral City appears in the sky. Lucy travels there and discovers that the other city’s version of Skulldigger is sending her a signal. Then they’re confronted by the other city’s Sherlock Frankenstein, who appears to be a hero. Also there’s a scene where Lucy and Amanda have just killed Dr. Andromeda, and then Lucy visits her mother for comfort. I’m not sure if this is a flashback or what.

ORPHAN AND THE FIVE BEASTS #3 (Dark Horse, 2021) – untitled, [W/A] James Stokoe. I had honestly forgotten this series wasn’t finished yet, but I’m glad to see it again. This issue the Orphan encounters the next Beast, Chopper Teng, a restaurateur who serves his own regenerating flesh to his customers. I don’t know how this series can possibly be concluded in just one more issue, since we’ve only just gotten to the third or fourth beast. Again, James Stokoe’s draftsmanship in this issue is incredible, and he shows an understanding of the wuxia aesthetic, but without engaging in cultural appropriation.

CHU #9 (Image, 2021) – “(She) Drunk History Part 4,” [W] John Layman, [A] Dan Boultwood. This issue is mostly a flashback showing how Saffron became indentured to Don Bucatini. It was mostly the fault of her idiot brother Chow Chu. At the end, Saffron and her surviving teammates use the wine to go back in time again. Speaking of Chew, Rob Guillory said on Facebook that Farmhand is returning next year.

ECHOLANDS #3 (Image, 2021) – “Hope’s Crucible,” [W/A] J.H. Williams III, [W] W. Haden Blackman. Hope and her teammates escape the wreck of their ship and make it to Treasure Island, whose ruler, Romulus, looks like he was drawn by Kirby in the ‘70s. Romulus betrays Hope to the wizard in exchange for sole control over the island. Meanwhile, Hope’s partner Rabbit is lost in the shipwreck, but washes up at Metamaru Mountain, where he’s greeted by a robot that looks like something out of Shogun Warriors. If James Stokoe is the best draftsman in comic books right now, J.H. Williams III is the best artist overall. It’s too bad his and Blackman’s writing is not the equal of his art.

CHILLING ADVENTURES IN SORCERY #1 (Archie, 2021) – “A Walk Through Hell,” [W] Eliot Rahal, [A] Vincenzo Federici, plus other stories. While trapped on the River Styx in hell, Madam Satan meets Jughead and Archie, and they all tell her how they arrived in hell. The Jughead and Archie stories are both unsatisfying, and the frame story isn’t very interesting either. I wish Archie would publish more actual comic books, though I understand that they probably make a lot more money from digests.

STRANGE ACADEMY PRESENTS THE DEATH OF DOCTOR STRANGE #1 (Marvel, 2021) – untitled, [W] Skottie Young, [A] Mike del Mundo. In a flashback, it’s revealed that the Enchantress traded her firstborn son, Iric, to an evil wizard. Doctor Strange helped her get out of that deal, but with Strange’s death, the deal is back on. Now Amara and her other son, Alvi, have to go to Weirdworld to rescue Iric. They’re assisted by Goleta the Wizard Slayer from Mike del Mundo’s previous Weirdworld series. Del Mundo’s artwork in this story isn’t as good as some of his past work, but this story is really fun anyway. The issue ends with a bunch of vignettes showing what the other kids are doing while the school is closed.

DIRTBAG RAPTURE #2 (Oni, 2021) – “If There Are Gods, They Must Be Drunk,” [W] Christopher Sebela, [A] Kendall Goode. Hannah gives Kat some backstory: the angels and devils aren’t real angels and devils, they’re “only” two factions of ghosts. Then Kat goes to buy some marijuana, and a ghost possesses the clerk and tries to recruit her. Kat is a fascinating protagonist, and also, her cat is really cute.

HUMAN TARGET #1 (DC, 2021) –  The Human Target, Christopher Chance, is a bodyguard who disguises himself as people who are about to be assassinated. After saving Lex Luthor from assassination (even though Luthor deserved it), Chance learns that he’s been poisoned and is going to die in twelve days. Dr. Mid-Nite learns that the poisoner must have been a member of the Justice League International, so now Chance has to investigate the twelve JLI members and figure out which one of them killed him. Tom King’s recent work has been of highly variable quality, to put it in a nice way. Human Target has a really awesome premise, but I just hope it doesn’t turn into another Strange Adventures or Heroes in Crisis.

DAREDEVIL #35 (Marvel, 2021) – “Lockdown Part 5,” [W] Chip Zdarsky, [A] Stefano Landini w/ Francesco Mobili. Elektra finally defeats the Bullseyes with the aid of some other superheroes. Typhoid Mary is badly hurt saving the Kingpin from another Bullseye, and the Kingpin asks her to marry him. This issue is exciting, but it’s mostly just action scenes. I lost my review of #34.

CRUSH & LOBO #6 (DC, 2021) – “Space Vegas Sunrise,” [W] Mariko Tamaki, [A] Amancay Nahuelpan. Crush visits Space Vegas to look for Lobo. An alien named QƐƐ7 mistakes Crush for their Tinder date, and they have a nice evening, which ends badly when Crush beats up a stand-up comedian. This issue includes some effective characterization as well as some funny jokes. Crush’s abortive romance with QƐƐ7 (I think the backwards 3 is an ampersand) is a good example of her self-destructive tendencies.

On November 6 and 7, I went to the Giant-Size Charlotte Mini-Con. This was the biggest comic convention in Charlotte since the 2019 Heroes Con. It was an awkward weekend for a convention, since November is the busiest time of year for me. Still, this con was incredibly fun. Perhaps the highlight was having lunch at Mert’s with Craig Fischer, Mike Kobre, Andy Mansell and a couple other people. It’s been way too long since I was able to hang out in person with friends from fandom or academia. I bought a ton of comics, including:

DAREDEVIL #86 (Marvel, 1972) – “Once Upon a Time – The Ox!”, [W] Gerry Conway, [A] Gene Colan. The main plot this issue is about Daredevil’s battle with the Ox, but this issue is really about the gradual breakdown of Matt’s relationship with Karen. At the end of the issue, Matt and Karen break up, allowing Matt to get together with Black Widow. Matt and Karen were always a terrible couple, and Conway was correct to break them up. While this issue has some convincing soap-opera characterization, the best thing about it is the art. Palmer was the perfect inker for Colan, because his crisp linework kept Colan’s painterly pencils from becoming too abstract and blurry. The #80s and #90s of Daredevil were probably the best period of the series before Frank Miller arrived. For a short time, Conway, Colan and Palmer managed to take one of Marvel’s most pointless titles and give it a real purpose.

SECRET ORIGINS #14 (DC, 1987) – “The Secret Origin of the Suicide Squad,” [W] John Ostrander, [A] Luke McDonnell. This issue explains the origin of both the Silver Age Suicide Squad and its 1980s reincarnation. The character who connects both Suicide Squads is Rick Flag Jr, and this story presents him as a tragic figure, whose whole life was overshadowed by the heroic deaths of his parents and teammates. We also learn about how Amanda Waller rose to power after overcoming the tragic deaths of her husband and two of her children. Much of this information is essential for understanding the later Suicide Squad series, particularly issue #50, where Rick’s supposedly dead teammate comes back. Overall this is an excellent comic. The only problem is that the framing sequence is a conversation between Waller, Sarge Steel and the president, and so Ronald Reagan appears on almost every page.

CEREBUS #25 (Aardvark-Vanaheim, 1981) – “This Woman, This Thing,” [W/A] Dave Sim. Cerebus, Chris Claremont, and Woman-Thing visit the castle of an unnamed artist, who’s created his own Sump-Thing creature. The two Things kill Claremont and then start, um, “battling” each other. I like the artwork in this issue, but its plot is kind of dumb. The whole story is obviously a satire of the controversy over whether Swamp Thing or Man-Thing came first, but I’m not sure who the artist is supposed to be, or what exactly Dave’s point was. The artist and the two Things reappear in Church & State, as a merged creature with three heads.

DETECTIVE COMICS #973 (DC, 2018) – “Fall of the Batmen Finale,” [W] James Tynion IV, [A] Jesus Merino. A giant insane Clayface is rampaging through Gotham, and the Bat-family has to defeat him. I don’t remember much about this issue, perhaps because I was exhausted when I read it.

FANTASTIC FOUR #63 (Marvel, 1967) – “Blastaar, the Living Bomb-Burst!”, [W] Stan Lee, [A] Jack Kirby. The FF, Triton and Crystal battle Blastaar and the Sandman. Blastaar is a fun villain because he has no interiority or complexity; he’s just a giant gray bearded bruiser. This issue consists mostly of action scenes, but it does have some cute moments with Johnny and Crystal.

CEREBUS #51 (Aardvark-Vanaheim, 1982) – “Exodus,” [W/A] Dave Sim. I probably read this before when it was reprinted in Cerebus #0, but I don’t remember it, and when I read it, I didn’t have the context to understand it. This story was only reprinted there and not in any of the trade paperbacks. In “Exodus,” Cerebus is trying to escape from Iest by hiding in the hold of a boat. But then he finds that Elrod and Lord Julius are hiding in the same boat, and if that’s not bad enough, other people keep joining him, including Chico Marx, the Roach, Rodney Dangerfield, Drew, Fleagle, and a load of raw potatoes. This is one of Dave’s funnier stories.

LITTLE ARCHIE #17 (Archie, 1961) – “The Big Loser,” [W/A] Bob Bolling. Archie and Ambrose compete against Reggie in an ice boat race. Archie loses the race, but wins Ambrose’s friendship. This story is touching, but the next story, “Cougar,” is a masterpiece. While Archie and his dad are visiting a lumber camp, Archie has to escape from a hungry cougar in order to save an injured lumberjack. The cougar has understandable motivations, as she’s just trying to feed her kittens. This story is a notable example of Bolling’s realistic and exciting depictions of wild animals. He may be the single best American cartoonist at telling stories about wildlife. Or at least I can’t think of a cartoonist who does this better than him. There’s only one other Bob Bolling story in this issue. In that story, Betty and Mr. Weatherbee both become obsessed with the same radio soap opera. The GCD points out that in this story Mr. Weatherbee has a wife, though he’s usually depicted as a bachelor.

SUPERBOY #98 (DC, 1962) – Unfortunately my copy of this comic is missing its centerfold, so I am in the market for a better copy. “The Super-Student of Swankhurst Academy,” [W] unknown, [A] Al Plastino. Superboy enrolls in a private school in order to unmask it as a front operation for criminals. This issue is typical Silver Age crap. It includes a scene where Superboy is asked to write out all the digits of pi. The writer seems not to understand that this is literally impossible because pi is an irrational number. “The Boy with Ultra-Powers!”, [W] Jerry Siegel, [A] Curt Swan. This is the first appearance of Ultra Boy, one of my favorite Legionnaires, and also of Marla Latham. In this issue Jo Nah travels back in time to Smallville and figures out Superboy’s identity, as his initiation test for the Legion. This story seems to imply that penetra-vision is Ultra Boy’s only superpower. The idea that he has multiple powers, but can only use one of them at a time, must have been introduced later. It’s unclear why Jo and Marla wear the same logo on their shirts. I guess Who’s Who in the Legion #4 explained this by saying that Jo modeled his costume after Marla’s uniform.

DEN #7 (Fantagor, 1989) – “The Phoenix Fallen,” [W] Simon Revelstroke, [A] Richard Corben. I thought I had this entire series, but it turns out there were ten issues, not six. The booth where I bought this also had the rest of the series, but they were $4 each, so I only bought this issue. In Den #7, Den and Kath rescue their friends Wyn and Zandor from a dungeon. As they’re escaping, another Kath appears and claims that she’s the real one, and the first Kath is an impostor. There’s also a backup story written and drawn by Bruce Jones, and another backup story by Brian Buniak that’s a dumb parody of various other comics. Den is probably Corben’s central work, and it’s a shame that it’s out of print and has never been collected in its entirety.

WALT DISNEY’S COMICS AND STORIES #272 (Gold Key, 1963) – “Spare That Hair,” [W/A] Carl Barks. Donald becomes a master barber, and finds himself unknowingly shaving a gorilla. This story has lots of funny gags, especially on the first page, where Donald has a client whose head is completely covered with hair. However, this story raises the question of why Donald gave up being a barber, if he was so good at it. This issue also includes a new story by Fallberg and Murry, though it’s almost ruined by terrible lettering. One of the other stories in this issue, starring Ludwig von Drake, includes some awful Native American stereotypes.

THE GOON #1 (Albatross, 2019) – “A Ragged Return to Lonely Street,” [W/A] Eric Powell. The Goon and Frankie return to their hometown and discover that in their absence, it’s been overrun by zombie gangs. I had thought that The Goon was just a piece of low comedy, in the same vein as Section Eight or God Hates Astronauts. It is that, but it’s also a highly effective horror comic. Eric Powell draws in the same vein as Bernie Wrightson and Kevin Nowlan and Kelley Jones. I need to collect more Goon.

CRIMINAL #5 (Icon, 2007) – “Coward Part Five,” [W] Ed Brubaker, [A] Sean Phillips. Leo Patterson saves a kidnapped child from the villains, then goes to confront the villains himself. He avenges his lover Greta’s death, but is himself killed. Earlier in the issue, Leo reveals that it was him and not his dad who killed Teeg Lawless. If I’d read this issue before I read the latest Criminal series, I would have had a very different reaction to that series.

SINISTER HOUSE OF SECRET LOVE #2 (DC, 1972) – “To Wed the Devil,” [W] Joe Orlando & Len Wein, [A] Tony DeZuñiga. This was a really awesome find. It’s only the second of DC’s Gothic horror comics that I’ve acquired. In this issue, Sarah, a wealthy heiress, is engaged to  her lover Justin, but when her father goes bankrupt, he forces her to marry Baron Luther Dumont. We eventually discover that the Baron is the leader of a satanic cult, as well as being the son of Sarah’s creepy housekeeper. Justin appears and saves Sarah, and they live happily ever after. For some reason the end of the story is narrated in three pages of illustrated text. It’s also notable that Sarah is Jewish, although you have to read carefully to notice this.

THOR #139 (Marvel, 1966) – “To Die Like a God!”, [W] Stan Lee, [A] Jack Kirby. Thor is without his hammer and has to defend Asgard from the trolls, who are aided by Orikal, a mysterious alien from outside the universe. Eventually Thor frees Orikal, gets his hammer back, and beats the trolls. In the Tales of Asgard backup, Thor and the Warriors Three fight a villain called Mogul and his pet genie. Kirby’s artwork in this issue is spectacular. Orikal is an interesting character because he’s a complete outsider; he comes from another dimension, and has no connection to anything else in the Marvel Universe. His only other appearance was in Dan Jurgens’s Thor run in the early 2000s. In this issue Ulik is somehow able to lift Mjolnir even though he’s obviously not worthy.

MARVEL TEAM-UP #11 (Marvel, 1973) – “Doomsday Gambit!”, [W] Len Wein, [A] Jim Mooney. In a previous adventure with Kang and Zarrko, Spidey obtained a time bomb that emitted the same sort of radiation that powered the Great Refuge’s barrier. This was back when Attilan was on Earth instead of the moon. This issue, Spidey visits Attilan to inquire into the origins of the bomb, but Zarrko and Kang follow him there, and fighting ensues. This is a reasonably entertaining issue.

CEREBUS #28 (Aardvark-Vanaheim, 1981) – “Mind Game II,” [W/A] Dave Sim. Cerebus and Suenteus Po have their second conversation, covering history, Cirinism and other topics. In hindsight these Mind Game stories are disappointing, because it always seemed like they were building up to a big reveal or climax, and that climax never arrived. Thanks to his descent into madness, Dave was never able to satisfyingly resolve any of his own plotlines.

FOUR COLOR #1003 (Dell, 1959) – Zorro:“The Marauders of Monterey,” [W] unknown, [A] Alex Toth. This was perhaps my best find at the convention. In this story, Monterey, California is starving because bandits keep stealing all the supply deliveries. We’re led to think that Zorro’s host, a benevolent old man, is funding the bandits, but Zorro discovers that the old man’s servants are the real culprits. Alex Toth was probably the best visual storyteller in the history of American comic books. His compositions are consistently perfect; he draws every scene with the maximum of visual economy and expression. His art looks simple, but that’s because every line is in exactly the right place. In the backup story, also by Toth, Zorro stops a tax collector from confiscating a bell that’s believed to be a good luck charm.

MERTON OF THE MOVEMENT #1 (Last Gasp, 1972) – “Merton of the Movement Organizes His 1st Demonstration!”, [W/A] Bobby London. This story’s title explains its plot. What’s really notable about it is Bobby London’s art style. He’s one of the few American cartoonists who were influenced by George Herriman. While Herriman is universally considered the greatest artist of American comic strips, he was so weird and unique that few later artists tried to imitate him. London is an exception to that. Every page of this issue’s main story looks like a Krazy Kat Sunday page, and there are explicit Herriman references such as Offissa Pupp’s jail, or a moon that changes shape from one panel to another. This issue also includes stories by the other members of the Air Pirates collective. Two of these stories are similarly influenced by old comic strips. Ted Richards’s “Dopin’ Dan” is a military satire, but it looks more like EC Segar’s Popeye than Beetle Bailey, and Gary Hallgren’s “Pollyanna Pals” is based on Sterrett’s Polly and Her Pals. Then there are four Trots and Bonnie strips by Shary Flenniken, and the issue ends with London’s autobio story “Why Bobby Seale is Not Black.”

I have to stop here and post these reviews.

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