Report what comic books you have read today--and tell us a little something about it while you're here!

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BADGER #12-17

NEXUS #12-25

It occurs to me I miscounted the "official" number of Nexus issues. 

Given the fact that the official count and the "Earth-J" count were off by one, I had assumed that the Nexus/Madman one-shot was counted, but the Nexus/Magnus two-issue crossover was not. I had forgotten that the "Origin" one-shot is included in the "official" tally. Even after discovering my error, I still not to include it in sequential numbering. On Earth-J, I slot it between chapters five and six of Nexus (v1) #3. 

I've read a couple of anniversary collections, Superboy: A Celebration of 75 Years and Wonder Woman: Through the Years.

As usual with these sorts of books, I've read most of the stories before. But I do enjoy seeing the "eras" of characters put in perspective like this, especially more modern eras, since DC has been rebooting so often. I mean, could you name all the Superboys off the top of your head? Nice to have it spelled out so neatly.

Wonder Woman is sort of a cheat, because this isn't an anniversary year for her. Next year will be her 80th, if you count her preview in All-Star #8. If you don't, then 2022 is her 80th year, as Sensation Comics #1, with the first full Wonder Woman story, came out in 1942. No doubt this book was planned to dovetail with Wonder Woman 1984, which has been postponed until November. And even that isn't carved in stone.

But I don't mind, as long as they don't double-dip by doing another anniversary book in 2 years!

Captain Comics said:

But I don't mind, as long as they don't double-dip by doing another anniversary book in 2 years!

They will do this.

Oh, you know they will! Marvel released two "anniversary" issues of Captain America months apart a few years ago by dint of reverting to "legacy numbering."

FIRE POWER: Two weeks ago, I picked up a second printing of Image's one-shot Negan Lives! which included a five-page preview of Robert Kirkman's latest, Fire Power.  I noticed there was a FCBD Fire Power on the counter, but i didn't pick it up at the time. After I read the preview, I called my LCS and asked them to put one in my P&H before they were gone. I picked that one up last week and read it yesterday. 

The Negan Lives! preview leads directly into Fire Power Volume 1: Prelude (already released), a 154-page graphic novel. The FCBD offering is the entire first issue of the ongoing series, which picks up 15 years after the Prelude. Got all that? Don't worry about not having read the prelude; I didn't, and I found #1 very easy to follow. As Kirkman explains: "It's okay if you read this issue first. the prelude will still reveal tons of interesting backstory that will eventually come into play in this series. In a way, the prelude, weirdly, will give you a very clear view of where this series is GOING." 

I'm not a huge fan of martial arts comic books. My favorite artist for depicting actual martial arts action has long been Bill Reinhold (Badger). The art of Fire Power is by Chris Samnee and is easily that good if not better. And it's FREE! the story is somewhat similar (in some respects) to Steven Grant's Whisper, although not exactly. But it's FREE! Seriously, if this sounds at all interesting to you, I advise that you pick up a copy at your LCS. (Did I mention that it's FREE?) I plan to pick up the prelude tomorrow.

THE MAN WHO F#&%ED UP TIME #4: Each issue is more outrageous than the last (and it started out pretty outrageous). One more issue to go.

CURSED by Thomas Wheeler and Frank Miller: I only read the first three or four chapters, which was enough to figure out I didn't want to read any more.

Here's why: A review I read somewhere described this book as "a pitch for a TV show stretched out into a book," and I can't phrase it any better than that. I've watched the first season of Cursed, which is what this book covers. (I assume there will be sequels, as both book and TV show end on the same cliffhanger.) And the show wasn't all that great. Mildly entertaining, but no Game of Thrones.

But the book, amazingly, is worse. That's because it reads like an adaptation of the TV show. (See review comment above.) None of the characters have interior lives. Nothing that isn't in the show is revealed in the book. It is, in effect, a faithful regurgitation of a TV show that has a relatively simplistic and linear narrative, but without, you know, actors, sets, direction and all the things that make TV shows a unique medium. As a book, it fails entirely, since it doesn't use any of the elements that make books a unique medium, like descriptions of emotional states, back story, internal dialogue, etc.

Frank Miller's contribution, aside from what I assume is co-plotting, are full-page illustrations sprinkled throughout. I never thought Miller was the greatest artist in the world, in that he has great ideas and dynamic layouts that his art often isn't good enough to actualize. He is, IMHO, a great layout artist and writer whose ideas are best realized by other artists, like David Mazzuchelli on Batman: Year One. He has an artist's eye, but his hands sometimes aren't up to the task.

I don't mean to demean the man's work, just to indicate where he falls in my internal categories. He's not an illustrator, which is where I put Alex Ross, Frank Cho, Barry Windsor-Smith and P. Craig Russell. He isn't a pretty, full-range comic book artist like Curt Swan, John Romita or George Perez. He isn't ultra-competent but un-flashy, like Don Heck or Carmine Infantino. He isn't on the same planet as Jack Kirby or Steve Ditko. I mean, compared to those worthies at their best, Miller's art looks pretty crude, and sometimes looks unfinished.

Which is the case here. These illustrations are from his "sketchy" period where it looks like he did a quick sketch ... and then forgot to come back after dinner and finish it. These illoes are, in short, not a compelling reason to buy the book, unless you're a Miller completist.

WEIRD LOVE: "JAILBIRD ROMANCE" AND MORE!: I got the last of the three Weird Love books I know exist last week, so I'm finally reading them all. This is the first I've finished, and it's good enough that I'll read the rest. But I do have to note that the title does tend to over-sell.

Some of these stories are odd, or quirky, and virtually all of them are products of a time when men ruled the world and women served them. (Or, at least, that's the world depicted here.) But I'm not sure I read a single one I'd qualify as "weird."

One thing I recommend: When you're reading these stories, mentally substitute the word "f---" for "kiss." Not only does it give these women a genuine reason to fear for their reputations ("I've kissed so many men! What will the town think of me?") but many of the stories make more sense. ("Oh no! Tom forced me to kiss him -- and my fiance saw it all! He'll never forgive me!")

I do this with early 1960s Supergirl stories, too, and it works just as well. Also, it makes the stories a LOT more interesting!

THE PHANTOM THE COMPLETE SUNDAYS: VOLUME SEVEN 1960-1963: These stories are such a simple, unqualified joy that I read every one cover to cover when they arrive. Satisfying, well-constructed tales from simpler time that remind me why I fell in love with comics.

BLACK WIDOW: PRELUDE: I have never bought or read any of the "prelude" comics Marvel usually publishes before a major movie comes out because I forget to tell me LCS to pull them and they buy to sell out. And usually the TPBs come out after the movie (and my column), so the info is dated/irrelevant, so I've never read those, either.

But since Black Widow got postponed, the individual issues and the TPB have arrived in advance, so I got one! Yay!

This book includes Black Widow: Prelude #1-2, and it's basically an overview of the Widow's movie career up through Captain America: Civil War. The framing device takes place just after that movie, as Thunderbolt Ross argues with the UN woman Widow impersonated at the end of Captain America: The Winter Soldier that the Widow is a danger to national security and has to be arrested. The UN woman, whose life the Widow saved in the process of defeating Hydra almost single-handedly, has a more compelling case, I think, than Ross. But then, I'm prejudiced, because Ross is a douche.

The stories flesh out the Widow's roles in Iron Man 2, Winter Soldier, Civil War and Avengers: Ultron, but don't really tell us anything we don't already know. We see a little of the Red Room, but we're not learning anything new: We're just seeing things we've only been told about before. We see the before and after of the Widow (on a motorcycle) picking up Cap's shield and tossing it to him as he fights the Panther (on top of a car) in Civil War, but her dialogue is identical ("I'm always picking up after you boys!") and it's just a few extra frames of a scene we've already seen.

It is handy for providing an outline of the MCU version of the Widow up to the end of Civil War, a woman who has always been a supporting character, and whose actions are easy to forget. The story ends with the UN lady acquiescing to Ross that the Widow needs to be hunted down, but she refuses to shake his hand. That'll teach him!

The collection is rounded out with three more stories: The first Black Widow story (Tales of Suspense #51), the first Red Guardian story (Avengers #43) and the first Taskmaster story (Avengers #196).

I had read these stories already, so I just skimmed them to refresh my memory. I know they were selected because they were the first appearances of the three characters, but I kinda wish they'd gone for quality instead.

For instance, the first Widow story wasn't nearly as good as the second one (Tales of Suspense #52), and neither are as good as the third (Tales of Suspense #57, introducing Hawkeye), which was the best pre-costume Widow story.

The first Taskmaster story was kinda dopey, with the heroes being depicted as more or less incompetent in order for Taskmaster to look cool. I hate it when they do that. And as a result of my disliking that story, I have never liked Taskmaster.

It doesn't help that I think his super-power is ridiculous: Sure, he can watch Spider-Man films and memorize his moves, but unless he gets bitten by a radioactive spider, he couldn't possibly replicate those moves. Ditto anything done by Captain America or Daredevil, unless he also gets their super-powers, which aid in some way with their acrobatics. And to mimic even non-powered heroes, he would have to be in top physical condition, which a guy who is always depicted lounging around drinking beer wouldn't be.

In short, not only do I not like him, I don't find him plausible.

Also, his costume is stupid, a hideous collection of various elements and colors that don't hold together or describe him in any way. (Why a skull mask? Your guess is as good as mine.) As one of the Avengers actually said to him once, "Pick a theme!"

UNCLE SCROOGE: "THE TWENTY-FOUR CARAT MOON" I lived the first 11 years of my life before man landed on the moon, so stories aimed at children of the pre-Apollo 11 era hit my nostalgia button hard. But also, I've come to realize that these wonderful, charming stories are so of their time that we will never see their like again.

What I mean to say is that when I read current Disney duck stories, I'm a little put off when Huey, Dewey and Louie pull out their cell phones. The charm evaporates immediately, as -- to coin a phrase -- making things more realistic can take all the fun out of them. Maybe it's just me, but the Barks stories feel like Golden Age Captain Marvel -- what made those stories work was a sensibility native to their era, which no longer exists. Today's kids don't love Captain Marvel and Disney ducks like they did the long-before-time, and I don't think they ever will.

Sadly, "today's kids" includes me. I love the old stories, but modern ones with the same characters leave me cold.

Not sure if this is the right spot to post this, but can anyone confirm or deny that DC is planning to cancel both Batgirl AND Hawkman?

It's bad enough that my local comic book store has yet to make formal arrangements with the new distributor since DC left Diamond (the owners are thinking of retiring/closing down the store and don't want to deal with the hassles involved if they do) but I'm not reading that many books to begin with so to lose two more...

The sentiment is common, Cap. Some of it is nostalgia, and some of it is a recognition of the original context of the characters. Don Rosa, famously, always depicted Scrooge in an historical context, with the "modern day" adventures involving Donald, Huey, Dewey, and Louie occurring in some amorphous time between the late 40s and the late 60s.

Captain Comics said:

What I mean to say is that when I read current Disney duck stories, I'm a little put off when Huey, Dewey and Louie pull out their cell phones. The charm evaporates immediately, as -- to coin a phrase -- making things more realistic can take all the fun out of them. Maybe it's just me, but the Barks stories feel like Golden Age Captain Marvel -- what made those stories work was a sensibility native to their era, which no longer exists. Today's kids don't love Captain Marvel and Disney ducks like they did the long-before-time, and I don't think they ever will.

Sadly, "today's kids" includes me. I love the old stories, but modern ones with the same characters leave me cold.

Last night and this morning I re-read Spider-Island (2015) #1-5, The Ultimates (2015 #1-12, A-Force (2016) #1-10 and Web Warriors (2016) #1-11.

Started reading a collection of The Forever People I found at half-price.

CURSED: I have never heard of the TV show or the book, but your review tells me all about it I want to know. It used to be I would read Star Wars or Star Trek movie adaptations to glean insights into backstory and missing scenes. (I wish the Star Trek movies were as good as the their respective adaptations.) I used to read the paperbacks first, largely because I had to wait for the movies to come to my town before I had a driver's license. (I used to dread the words "HELD OVER Fourth Week!") In more recent years, I would read the prose adaptation after seeing the movie. The Force Awakens, for example, had loads of room to expand upon event s from the movie, but there was not a "frame" in the book that wasn't in the movie. (Sorry this comment doesn't have much to do with Cursed, but I know where you're coming from.)

WEIRD LOVE: I'm not certain what you mean by "books," but Weird Love ran 14 issues in perodical format, plus six volumes of collected hardcovers. 

PHANTOM: I got caught up on collections of the comic books a while ago, but fell behind on collections of the strips. The Sundays are up to seven and the dailies 18.

BLACK WIDOW: I pre-ordered the BW Omnibus (which puts off of the character's earliest appearances in chronological order). It was supposed to ship in March, but hasn't yet.

UNCLE SCROOGE: when Neil Armstrong first set foot one the Moon, Titntin was there waiting for him. Just sayin'. (See discussion.)

LEGION OF SUPER-HEROES #36-38: I read these three issues in anticipation of two upcoming (?) releases (one from July and one from earlier this month) I hope will be shipping soon. I'm Jonesin' for some LSH action, and BMB just isn't scratching that itch!

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