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

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I've read BATMAN: DARK DETECTIVE #1-6 (Jl-S'05) which reunited Steve Englehart, Marshall Rogers and Terry Austin as a sequel to their 70s Detective Comics run. It should have been right in my wheelhouse but it wasn't as potent as their earlier work.

It focused on two things: the Joker who wanted to be either elected or declared governor ("Vote For Me...Or I'll KILL You!") and Silver St. Cloud who returns to renew her romance with Bruce despite being engaged to a senator. This time she accepts Bruce for who he is and is even elated over being "the Batman's girlfriend" but this time duty separates them, though it's a bit dubious. (Like in his previous stories, Englehart neither includes nor mentions Catwoman or Talia!)

The Scarecrow, Two-Face and Doctor Double X are all involved but it is the Joker who weaves his evil web! He wants to be governor but we don't know why. He says that he can't kill Batman but he will. And he brings up being the Red Hood but with no pathos this time as was in The Killing Joke.

I read Reckless, the new graphic novel by Brubaker and Phillips. It takes place in California in 1981. Ethan Reckless is a private eye type who takes on jobs he wants to do, and people call his assistant through a 1-800 number. It kind of reminds me of a more violent Equalizer. This book involves someone from his past, looking for help in recovering some stolen money. She can't go to the police, and Ethan is trying to resolves his own demons from that past.

I'm always an easy sale on Brubaker/Phillips projects, so I loved this. Also, I got to give them kudos, for still putting out Criminal, as well as giving is 2 graphic novels this year. Good on them.

Having read Batman: Dark Detective upon initial release, I was a bit disappointed in the final results as well.

The art was great—didn't this turn out to be Rogers last work?—but besides the plot points Phillip mentioned, too much time had passed since the original story to get as excited about basically picking up from the end of the original Detective Comics run as one would expect. If Englehart had just focused on Silver's return and the St. Cloud-Wayne/Batman dynamic more in the midst of a different adventure (even if it didn't involve the Joker) that, in my humble opinion, would have been a far better effort.

Also, I never understood why DC charged a dollar more per issue for this series ($3.99) without giving us the extra pages that price point presented at the time. Each installment only had the standard $2.99 amount of content.

All-Star Comics #1

New Year, New comics reading project!*

This year, I’ll be tackling DC super-hero teams. With a couple of fudges, I’m trying to stick to the following Rules:

  1.  Only teams that launched at DC (even if DC owns the characters now).
  2.  Only teams that launched in the Golden or Silver Ages (with limited carryover into Bronze Age stories for a continuously-published team).
  3. Only teams with at least one member who has a permanent, bona fide superpower.

Right now, I'm looking at:

  • Justice Society of America**
  • Seven Soldiers of Victory***
  • Legion of Super-Heroes
  • Justice League of America
  • Teen Titans
  • Metal Men****
  • Doom Patrol
  • Inferior Five

That may or may not get me through the year. If not, I’ll probably loosen up the Rules (starting with accepting the Superman/Batman “team” from SA World’s Finest).

If I’m missing any obvious candidates, I can’t think of them (which probably means that I don’t own them). But if I missed something obvious, let me know.

* I’m too close to finishing my Kirby project to just give up. I’ll polish off Kirby’s ‘70’s Cap and Black Panther, but they’ll take a back seat to the new project.


** The first few issues of All-Star get a pass on the Rules because, hey, if the JSA doesn’t deserve a little leeway, who does?


*** Winged horses count!!!


**** Sentient robots count!!!

I've been considering a comprehensive Doom Patrol reading project for some time now. 

I missed my chance to buy the Morrison omnibus.  But I may pick up the Byrne reboot and include it in my read.

ALAN MOORE'S "TWILIGHT" PITCH: Last week I started reading DC Through the '80s, Vol. 1 (see above), sometimes reading a story at a time, sometimes a whole section. Today I finished up with Alan Moore's proposal for a 12-issue maxi-series circa 1986-87. The proposal is divided into three sections: first, he discusses crossover series in general and what he's trying to achieve with this one; second, he describes the various "Houses" and individual characters; third, he outlines the plot. This isn't a full script (more like a summary), but if you've ever read one of Moore's scripts you have an idea of what to expect from this one.

First, it's a bit unsettling to hear him say, "I'm probably still intoxicated by the Watchmen deal"; later, he draws a comparison to Dave Gibbons' mock-up photographs of the Minutemen in their early, innocent days: "Look at them all being happy. They didn't know then how it would turn out."

Part of Moore's thesis, he spoke of how Frank Miller's Dark Knight, by providing at least an ending, established Batman as "a legend rather than an endlessly meadering continuity." To that end, he used the Time Trapper to set up a "Fluke Zone" a decade or so in the future in which alternate realities (such as Dark Knight) would co-exist. Reportedly, Moore's Fluke Zone sent too many DC heroes into the "undiscovered country" for Dick Giodano's taste and he turned it down. 

I do suspect certain aspects of Moore's plot did eventually make their way into DC continuity (Hyper-Time, Armageddon: 2001), albeit in watered down form. Even next month's "Future State" sounds very much like a watered down version of Moore's Twilight. I'm not going to try to summarize Moore's 21-page pitch here because I will never be able to do it justice. I will be content that at least two of you have expressed an interest in buying volume one after my previous post, so I'm hoping you'll see read it for yourselves. I will say this: although the plot has its dark aspects, it is basically optimistic (with one really sick twist at the very end). 

That would be cool. I have the original run in Archives and the Paul Kupperberg run (acquired and read recently) in monthlies. Haven't gone beyond that yet, not counting the TV show. 

Jeff of Earth-J said:

I've been considering a comprehensive Doom Patrol reading project for some time now. 

Now I'm intrigued by the John Byrne run. I just ordered all 18 issues.

DOOM PATROL: When John Byrne took over the Doom Patrol in 2004, he took George Perez's "Wonder Woman" appraoch rather than Frank Miller's "Batman: Year One" or his own "Man of Steel" approach. (He wrote an essay explaining his reasons in the first issue.) I disagreed with it then, but agree with it now. I have tried, on three separate occasions, to read Doom Patrol from the very beginning, but petered out each time before I had even finished the first volume. As happened in the 1980s (when John Byrne's Fantastic Four and Walt Simonson's Thor led me to Lee/Kirby's), perhaps, if I start with Byrne's version, it will inspire me to go back to the true beginning.

STAR TREK: YEAR FIVE #17: A break from the ongoing plot to reveal the origin of Gary Seven. I don't know what Gene Roddenberry had in mind for the Assignment: Earth TV series, but I'm pretty sure it wasn't this. that's not to say this is a bad premise, but every thing from the "Assignment: Earth" pilot (the Star Trek episode, that is) is pretty much an EYKIW (Everything You Know Is Wrong). 

TOMB OF DRACULA: I started reading this series, from the beginning, back in October as part of a Hallowe'en reading project. I've tried two or three times before, all unsuccessful. I've been reading an issue or two at a time for three months now, and think I'm about reading to shelve it until next Hallowe'en. I'm through #54, which is further than I've ever gotten before. It's a good stopping point, because it takes place on Christmas Eve, with Dracula's son being born at the stroke of midnight. I'll pick it back up again in October with #55. 

Plowed through a bunch more GNs:

DONALD DUCK: UNDER THE POLAR ICE: This is the last of the books Fantagraphics has announced; we're still missing Vols. 1-4, and however many come after this one (Vol. 23, 1960). I hope good news is coming about the rest.

PRE-CODE CLASSICS: WEIRD ADVENTURES: Pretty mediocre, but it does check off a few boxes in my pre-Code horror list, because it includes two one-shots, City of the Living Dead #1 and Diary of Horror #1.

THE LOW, LOW WOODS:

SPOILER FOR THIS ONE

This is the first Hill Comics GN that I didn't love. It's not awful; I just couldn't get into it. It stars two teenage lesbians (who are not a couple) in a dying coal town, and it was so divorced from my own life experience I had a hard time figuring out what was normal or alarming about their lives. Nobody was bothered by pollution or odd memory problems that would certainly alarm me; turns out the former was considered normal and the latter was a clue. I genuinely could not tell the difference.

Oh, also: Every male character, with the exception of one brain-damaged father, is a rapist. For generations. Which is painting with a pretty broad brush.

I was never scared or shocked; I just felt sorry for everyone involved and was glad when it was over.

SPOILER OVER.

THE PHANTOM: THE COMPLETE SUNDAYS: VOLUME EIGHT 1963-66: Phantom strips tend to repeat ideas and themes, but I usually don't mind. This time was the first time the deja vu left me a little restless while reading.

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