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

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AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #2: About three years ago, while reading the 100-Page Crisis on Infinite Earths Giant! television tie-in, I came up with a new way to process continuity (DC, but it worls for Marvel and James Bond movies as well). Put succinctly, every time a series starts over with a "new number one," it takes place in an alternate reality. It might be very close indeed to the previous reality (and, in an infinite universe, such a reality in which two sequential volumes do coexist) but, for my purposes, each new series takes place in its own reality. In this reality (which I have dubbed Earth-895, BTW), Peter Parker and Norman Osborn are uneasy allies and (I know from future solicitations) Gwen Stacy will soon arrive. It doesn't make any difference that, back on Earth-616, both characters are dead. I wish I'd've thought of this years ago rather than waiting for Marvel to decide to bring back Baby May.

TARZAN: THE NEW ADVENTURES: Haven't read this yet (just bought it today), but, man, am I impressed with the package! These previously online only strips are written by Roy Thomas and drawn by Tom Grindberg and Benito Gallego. they are presented in the style of Sunday comics newspaper strips, but better than real ones because they aren't locked into the rigid half-page/quarter-page configuration: they are all half-page period, and the layout of every one of them is unique. Continuity-wise, the only thing that counts are ERB's original novels (no other comic books or comic strips); the action is set in the late '40s. If you are familiar with Grindenberg's super-hero work, the style he uses here looks like a combination of Frank Frazetta and Jose Luis Garcia-Lopez and, if I didn't know better, I'd swear Spanish artist Benito Gallego was John Buscema. Enthusiastically recommended to Tarzan fans. 

Jeff of Earth-J said:

I wish I'd've thought of this years ago rather than waiting for Marvel to decide to bring back Baby May.

Marvel sorta did bring her back in the MC2 universe in the Spider-Girl series. The continuity difference spun off from The Gathering of Five as described in this Wikipedia article. As a reader of Spider-Girl I can confirm this. Here's an excerpt:

"The Final Chapter provides one of the more crucial aspects of the MC2 Spider-Girl timeline. Written by Tom DeFalco, the Spider-Girl title made full use of the intended climax to DeFalco's arc, returning the younger May to the Parkers rather than the elderly version. An alternate ending to this arc also kills off Osborn, and severely injures Peter, costing him one of his legs, and ending his career as Spider-Man."

I put the last six FCBD "green" titles on the FREE COMIC BOOK DAY 2022 thread, which is where I have also reprinted all the earlier reviews/summaries. That's because they're all kids titles about which I have little to say.



Jeff of Earth-J said:

TARZAN: THE NEW ADVENTURES: Haven't read this yet (just bought it today), but, man, am I impressed with the package! 

Well, he's Tarzan. Looking good in a loincloth is pretty much his whole deal.

But seriously, that Tarzan collection sounds great! I'm not a big Tarzan fan, but I had a great experience reading a Kubert tabloid from 73, and I've enjoyed some of the Tom Yeats-drawn Dark Horse stories. This one looks like a lot of fun, too.

"Well, he's Tarzan. Looking good in a loincloth is pretty much his whole deal."

I guess I left myself wide open for that one, didn't I?

While Tracy's catching up on Swamp Thing and I'm not reading Swamp Thing, let's see what else I can find to read. 

E-MAN: After reading The Original E-Man #1 (reprinting E-Man #1-2) last week, I followed up with The Original E-Man #2-7 (reprinting E-Man #3-10). If I have anything else to say about that run, I'll post it to the "E-Man" discussion I started last week.

CRISIS ON INFINITE EARHTS GIANT #1-2: This two-issue series was a tie-in to the CW's "Arrow-verse" TV crossover series. The comics contained two, all-new two-part stories, plus reprints from the original COIE (and a few pages from Legacies #6). I didn't think it was a particularly great TV tie-in series, but what about as a standalone? Nah, not really; it's even worse that way.

BLACK ORCHID #1-3: Two things about this series:

  1. It is the very first Black Orchid I have ever read
  2. I read it for the first time today

I've got Adventure's entire LSH series, Supergirl, the Spectre and Aquaman (mostly in reprints), but not Black Orchid. I know she had a short run sandwiched between Supergirl and the Spectre, but I guess I didn't realize just how short it was (only three issue) until I looked into it. (I didn't even know she was a super-heroine; I thought she was a super-villainess.) But I'm talking here about the 1988 three-issue prestige format mini-series by Neil Gaiman and Dave McKean. I've held onto these three issues for 34 years knowing I'd be in the mood to read them someday. I've read a few a Gaiman's novels recently so I thought it might be time to try some of his non-Sandman comic book work. It was... okay. I think I might have enjoyed it more if I had known anything about the character previously. the story was structured in such a way that I didn't really need to (this isn't even really the "same" Black Orchid, and she is suffering from amnesia in any case), but I wanted to. 

My "To Read" pile goes deep; I am ashamed to admit sometimes just how deep. I could probably go an entire year reading nothing but unread comics from my own collection, a practice which led me to one of my own two main aphorisms concerning comic books: "Don't buy what you don't read." Although it is theoretically possible for me to read every comic book I own at least once before I day, that prospect is becoming increasing unlikely.

SWAMP THING: ROOTS: Here's one I have read before, once, back in 1998 when it was first released, and today. Roots is written and painted by Jon J. Muth and deals with a "swamp thing" other that Alec Holland (or Alex Olsen, for that matter) in the year 1943. I though it would be an appropriate complement to the "Parliament of Trees" story coming up next week in the "Swamp Thing" discussion. I didn't care much for it the first time through because it wasn't exactly what i expected it to be; this time, knowing in advance exactly what it was, I enjoyed it more.

DEADMAN: Deadman is neither a character nor a concept I have any great affinity for. I can appreciate the early Neal Adams issues from a technical standpoint, but that's about it. In 1986, however, DC released a four-issue mini-series  by Andrew Helfer and Jose Luis Garcia Lopez which picked up exactly where the Adams series left off. It was followed up by a serialized feature in Action Comics Weekly written by Mike Baron. The limited series was, IMO, the best use of the character up until that point, and the ACW serial got really good when artist Kelley Jones visually redesigned Deadman, making him look more skeletal. After that came four "prestige format" issues, two series of two by Baron and Jones: "Love After Death" and "Exorcism."

Inspired by Alan Moore's tweak of the character in Swamp Thing (which I recently reread), I was inspired to read these two prestige format series. You might have expected me to go back to the 1986 mini-series to get a good lead-in, but not this time. Besides, although I did read "Love After Death" when it was new in 1989, I didn't read "Exorcism" in 1992. So, as of today, 30 years later, I moved two more comics off my "To Read" pile. 

SEDUCTION OF THE INNOCENT: No, not the 1954 Fredric Wertham smear job (I wish!), but the three-issue 1985 anthology series published by Eclipse Comics and curated by Jim Vadeboncoeur, Jr. I have read my share of pre-Code horror comics, especially in the last decade or so, thanks largely to PS Artbooks (but also Craig Yoe). The thing about PS Artbooks, though, is that Sturgeon's Law is most definitely in effect. For quite some time, Craig Yoe's Haunted Horror reprint anthology was among my favorite comics. But now that that series is no longer being published, I find myself missing a real cherry-picked anthology, and Seduction of the Innocent fills the bill. I didn't buy this series new in 1985, but I have been sitting on it for a geed 20 years, so here's three more comics plucked from somewhere near the center of my "To Read" pile. 

The thing about Black Orchid is that no one really knew anything about her. IIRC, she was presented as a complete mystery woman in the Adventure stories, with hints that she might be another identity for Supergirl (which eventually were discounted). And then she appeared in an issue of Super Friends (where I first saw her)... and I think that was about it. Dr. Anj at the Comic Box Commentary blog has been looking over those initial Black Orchid appearances lately. 

One book I'm kind of surprised I'm still reading is Elvira. The current miniseries is Elvira in Horrorland, where she gets transported from one horror movie to another, trying to find her way back to the real world. In this week's debut issue, she's in Psycho -- where she has to contend with the Anthony Perkins Norman Bates (or Norbert Bloch, as he's called in the book) and the Vince Vaughn version from the remake. I started buying the book during the Elvira Meets Vincent Price miniseries, because I love Vincent (happy birthday to him, BTW... he would have been 111 yesterday!), and that was a fun romp, so I kept going. But basically the appeal is, Elvira runs around making a bunch of film-nerd jokes and a bunch of risqué jokes (and sometimes risqué film-nerd jokes) -- so it's the closest thing in attitude to a burlesque show in comic book form!* It's hard to completely replicate that energy on the page, but it's loose, groovy fun. If that appeals to you, I recommend it. (To give you an example of the puns involved, as Elvira gets shunted to the next movie world at the end of the issue, and we see the Overlook Hotel from The Shining, the To Be Continued blurb says NEXT: SHE'S A KU-BRICK HOUSE! For all the writeups of burlesque shows I did for the Village Voice, where I wanted to walk the line between being tantalizing without gross objectification, I recognize a kindred soul in writer David Avallone.)

*The Palmiotti/Connor run of Harley Quinn also had a lot of the same energy, especially with the Coney Island setting.


"Dr. Anj at the Comic Box Commentary blog has been looking over those initial Black Orchid appearances lately."

Interesting. I plan to give that link an in-depth read later on. 

"The thing about Black Orchid is that no one really knew anything about her."

Yeah, that's pretty much what I got from the Gaiman series. Still, it's this kind of hero-history that generally interests me. It's funny... I just recently read Bronze Age Swamp Thing which omits the Phantom Stranger back-ups, and soon I will be reading the Phantom Stanger Omnibus which omits the Black Orchid back-ups. 

Two things I forgot to point out about the two Deadman prestige format series: First, it's my favorite version of the character, and second, Kelley Jones is Bernie Wrightson's hand-picked successor (which is appropriate because it was Alan Moore's reinterpretation of the character, in Swamp Thing, which led me to those series. Then I need to reread Neal Adams' 2K Deadman series as well. 

Deadman also had a post-Adams, pre-miniseries run in Adventure Comics, also mostly drawn by Jose Luis Garcia Lopez. Written by Len Wein, IIRC. They were good stories, and worth checking out. I remember one in which Deadman jumped into a guy who was about to commit suicide on a park bench -- which poses the question: How could he ever leave and still save this guy's life? Throwing the gun away takes him out of immediate danger, but then what? (Or at least that's how I remember it; it's been a while.)

This reminded me that I have a collection of four TPBs reprinting (in publication order) what turns out to be most of the Deadman stories. I'm lacking the fifth TPB, which I am ordering as we "speak." This covers everything listed as being in the Deadman Omnibus except for a 1981 story from Detective Comics #500.

Thumbing through the four volumes I have, I don't see your park bench suicide instance. I'm guessing it must be in one of the stories in the fifth volume, which contains Deadman #1-4 (1986), Secret Origins  #15 and Challengers of the Unknown #85-87.

Rob Staeger (Grodd Mod) said:

Deadman also had a post-Adams, pre-miniseries run in Adventure Comics, also mostly drawn by Jose Luis Garcia Lopez. Written by Len Wein, IIRC. They were good stories, and worth checking out. I remember one in which Deadman jumped into a guy who was about to commit suicide on a park bench -- which poses the question: How could he ever leave and still save this guy's life? Throwing the gun away takes him out of immediate danger, but then what? (Or at least that's how I remember it; it's been a while.)

I think those tpbs are missing Forever People #9-10 as well, which is officially considered a Mopee. 

Huh, that's weird. Maybe I'm extrapolating from a striking image on a cover, and misremembering? 

Turns out I did, or from an image inside. The story I'm thinking about is in Adventure Comics 466. GCD describes the story as "Deadman tries to help a family where the grandfather wants the son to quit selling drugs.." But look at the Deadman image on the bottom of the cover: Old man, gun near his head. So that's the image I was drawing things from, and got confused.



Maybe I have a Deadman story to write!

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