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

Views: 66763

Reply to This

Replies to This Discussion

To Jeff of Earth-J:

In case you're unaware of this, the Funky Winkerbean strip ended on December 31, 2022. Don't know how many more volumes that will add to the overall collection, but some of the comic bookstore characters recently appeared in the spinoff Crankshaft strip.

It was actually the discussion of Tom Battiuk's retirement over on the "Comic Strips" thread that clued me in to the fact that the collections had continued beyond the fourth. I checked Diamond's website and the first four are still listed but no others. If Batiuk would have continued distributing via Diamond all along I wouldn't have been caught unawares.

I've been following the Wait What podcast's Baxter Building series from a few years ago, which is a read-through of all of the first series of Fantastic Four, and while I haven't read along with all of it, I've been reading the Steve Englehart issues that followed the Byrne run after some fill-ins, and it's gotten pretty wild! Reed and Sue are gone, Ben brings on Crystal to mess with Johnny (who's married to Alicia), and also Sharon Ventura, who was Ms. Marvel at the time... and now she and Ben have been hit with more cosmic rays, Ban's mutated more, and Sharon's turned into a Thing too! Sharon's also dealing with trauma from what's implied to be multiple rapes while she was captive of a super-villain. So Englehart is putting a LOT into this... and handling it...awkwardly. But it's quite an experience!

The Englehart run goes from FF 304-332 (though he took his name off the last handful of issues because of editorial interference); I just wrapped up 311.

Click here to read Englehart's own thoughts on that run (or that site on any run of any title he wrote). I always consult it after rereading Englehart comics. 

Thanks!

Jeff of Earth-J said:

Click here to read Englehart's own thoughts on that run (or that site on any run of any title he wrote). I always consult it after rereading Englehart comics. 

I didn't make it to my LCS this until Friday due to icy road conditions, but that's okay... it will shorten the wait until next Wednesday. 

QUICK STOPS #4: Brian O'Halloran played Dente Hicks in Clerks, Gil Hicks in Mallrats, Jim Hicks in Chasing Amy and Grant Hicks in Dogma. In "Sticks Nix Hicks Pix!" Dante takes Veronica, on their second date, to the annual Hicks family reunion where she meets his identical cousins. Randall tags along. For Kevin Smith fans only.

SCARLET WITCH #2: When I bought issue #1 I had no intention of buying issue #2. Even after I read #1 I still had no intention of buying #2. It was only after posting comments about the first issue that I inadvertently talked myself into buying the second. this issue features Viv Vision (from Tom King's 2015 Vision series) in the first story, and Storm in the second. Viv's mother's personality was based Wanda's brain patterns, just as the Vision's were based on Simon Williams'. Wanda and viz have a unique relationship, and Viv has a distinct personality. It seems disingenuous to choose a "Pick of the Week" when I bought only two new comics, but this is it. 

MYTHOLOGY v3: There were some stories from all three volumes I did not recall from Neil Gaiman's book. (Perahps I should reread it.) The experience of reading all three suggests several possible follow-ups: Journey into Mystery, Tales of Asgard, Warriors Three (Charles Vess), Ragnarok (Walt Simonson)...

Forgot to mention...

CAPTAIN AMERICA: SENTINAL OF LIBERTY #9: I considered buying this one because it featured an iteration of the Invaders, but I stopped buying this series with #6 and this issue is "part three" (plus it didn't look all that interesting). 

Lee Houston, Junior said:

In case you're unaware of this, the Funky Winkerbean strip ended on December 31, 2022. Don't know how many more volumes that will add to the overall collection, but some of the comic bookstore characters recently appeared in the spinoff Crankshaft strip.

I think Batiuk is planning to use all of the characters as he chooses in the Crankshaft strip.*

I’ve been getting the volumes from Amazon all along. I initially bought Vol 1 and Vol 2, but sold them because the gag-a-day strips don’t interest me. I resumed buying them with Vol 5, introducing high school Lisa, and have continued ever since.  The latest, vol 12, covers the years 2005-2007. They seem to all cover three years, the last fifteen years will fill five more volumes. Batiuk's alma mater, Kent State University, publishes them so I think they will continue.

*A while back he advanced the Funky characters some years ahead of the Crankshaft characters. In the last Funky strip the characters are all united without explanation. The Funky characters still had their gray hair.

JOE FIXIT #2: Decompressed, but old school fun... if you consider 1989 "old school." Hell, the "Joe Fixit" run was 24 years ago, and you're no spring chicken yourself!

AVENGEFRS: WAR ACROSS TIME #2: I like this issue better than the first.

MIRACLEMAN: THE SIVER AGE #4: I'm still holding this one, but that reminds me: I need to put "The Golden Age" into rotation soon.

Transformers: Shattered Glass II #1-4 - This series is a continuation of the first, and this is the Transformers version of the "Mirror Mirror" universe, with roles of the Decpiticons and Autobots reversed (for the most part). This is a decent series, but what I enjoy about titles like this is that you can really take the story into unexpected territory that you can't in the regular series. Like killing off of some of the "star" characters. Here the Autobots are even more fractured than the Decipticons ever were, with a few f them carving out the own areas on Cybertron.

There was one issue, that was a one-shot in a lot of ways, that featured a bot who thought very highly of his own importance on the world, but those in charge saw him nothing as cannon fodder. One thing that makes it hard to follow is that some of the bots have different names.

Travelling to Mars #1 - A stockpile of natural resources have been discovered on Mars. All of the countries agree whoever gets a human there first, can lay claim to that. Essentially, making them a monetary superpower. So many spend a ton of time trying to figure out to get someone there and back. Yet, someone decides they just need to get a person there to lay claim, and not worry about bringing them back. They find who they think is a perfect candidate.

An interesting first issue, and I can't wait to see where it goes.

Kingpin better hope that what happens in Las Vegas...stays in Las Vegas. First Joe Fixit puts him on the floor and now Spidey. Enjoyable read.

ACCIDENTAL CZAR: THE LIFE AND LIES OF VLADIMIR PUTIN: A good roundup of the modern Stalin. If you don't think Putin is pure evil, just read this book. Like all good villains, he thinks he's the hero of the story. But his really old-fashioned philosophy (think Medieval warlord or king by divine right) is so nihilist, so cruel, so tyrannical, that any effort he makes to live up to it is bound to be shockingly awful. He really fancies himself a modern Ivan the Terrible, and that is not a good thing, even if he thinks it is.

GOLDEN AGE CLASSICS PRESENTS SENORITA RIO VOL 3: I read this one out of order, but not because of a literary decision. I read Volume One some time ago, but Vol. 2 ended up on the bottom of one of my To-Read piles and Vol. 3 was handier when I was in the mood. And honestly, how much different are they going to be?

Which is not (entirely) a complaint. But, yes, the stories tend to be repetitive. And there's a lot less urgency to Rio's mission post-war. That's when these stories were published: They're the last ones, from Fight Comics #51-71, 1947-50.

And it's still not clear what Rio's mission is. She's "Secret Service," but for what country is never established. It's implied to be the United States fairly often, but sometimes what she's doing seems more in the service of Mexico, Brazil, Argentina or some other country vaguely referred to as "South of the border." (Only fake country names are used, so it's a matter of whether the stories use peasants, Indios or gauchos that I make the call.) 

And while modern comics historians like to tout Rio as an early (if not the first) Latina lead, she doesn't seem like one. She uses Spanish (or maybe Portuguese) in dismissive gringo style, referring to people she doesn't know as Pancho or dropping in a common Spanish expression in an otherwise English lecture to the hapless men she has to save, and saying "Savvy?" She clearly believes the American way is the best way. Her Hollywood bona fides are often mentioned, which in the 1940s, to me, implies whiteness.

So she is depicted as white as far as I can see in all ways. But it's not ruled out that she is of Latina heritage, and her history is left vague, so ... eh. Sure, why not.

The good news: The art is decent. The cover touts Lily Renee and Nick Cardy, but they only show up for one story and two stories, respectively. Instead, there are a lot of stories by Jack Kamen. They're not up to his EC standard, so he may have been just cranking these out, or age was catching up to him. But while they're not Nick Cardy -- for my money, the gold standard on these stories -- Kamen's work is still better than most Golden Age art. He adopts his predecessors' habit of having one or two full body shots of Rio that break through panel walls, which is what really makes these stories stand out from their contemporaries to me. (But I haven't read everything from the late '40s, so it may be more common than I know. It just feels very daring.)

Some of the last few stories have more of a Will Eisner feel, given the occasional inventive layout, but mainly the Eisneresque lettering. The GCD tells me that these stories were initially credited to Eisner wannabe Jerry Grandenetti, but modern critics don't think so. They remain, at least at GCD, uncredited.

GORGO VOL 1: This is the PS Artbooks version, which is comprehensive, as opposed to the various other Gorgo collections that preceded this. I skipped over the Ditko stories, since I've read them a time or two before, which left me the "off-brand" stories. The stories are formulaic and the art, despite obvious efforts to ape Ditko, is pedestrian.

This is just the first volume of, I think, two.

PRE-CODE CLASSICS: STRANGE MYSTERIES VOL. 1: After having read so many of these books, I have at least reached a point where I have nothing left to say. Or maybe it's that the comics prompt nothing from me. These stories, from Superior Comics in 1951-52, are the very definition of average. They're better than the worst of the pre-code horror books, and lesser to the better ones. Straight-up average, in stories and art.

NORSE MYTHOLOGY VOLUME 3: "There came a time when the old gods died ..."

When you read the original Norse myths about Ragnarok, you can see how much both Roy Thomas and Jack Kirby lifted from them. But that doesn't diminish their power, especially with the murderer's row of art talent in this book. The giants also lend their hands to some of other myths I frequently see, like when Thor goes fishing for Jormungandr and the death of Baldr. Really entertaining, even more than 1,000 years later. No wonder I loved these stories as a lad.

THE PHANTOM: THE COMPLETE DC COMICS VOLUME THREE: Re-reading these stories (from the 1989-1990 Mark Verheiden/Luke McDonnell series) reminds me that it is here where my thought process began on how to update The Phantom for the modern world. (This is not the place to discuss that, so I won't.) Verheiden does his best to give us thoughtful, modern stories about Africa (and it is specified as Africa, not India), which just reinforces my view that The Ghost Who Walks simply doesn't work in the modern world. He's too "white savior" syndrome, he's painfully limited in scope and ability, and he's dressed for the wrong party.

That was fine when he was created, when Africa wasn't quite so extreme in its wealth inequities and ethnic violence, and when white overlords were still quite common. But not today. What could The Phantom do against, say, the Rwandan genocide? The ongoing drought and starvation in the Horn of Africa? Kleptocratic states?

There are still poachers, one of The Phantom's favorite targets, but now they're armed with modern weaponry fired from Army-grade helicopters and dispatched by radio. A man on a horse with a pair of .45s isn't going to stop them; he's just another target. And it's only a matter of time before the Deep Woods is razed and turned into condos.

But that doesn't diminish the effort that went into these stories. If you can ignore my thought process above -- and I was able to, for the length of this book -- Verheiden and McDonnell were clearly swinging for the fences. They're good reads, even if they serve to reinforce how much Africa has changed, and how much the West's view of Africa has changed, since Lee Falk dreamed up Mr. Walker.

SOME WONDER WOMAN BOOKS

I noticed some kind of sea change happening in the Wonder Woman franchise as I did my weekly Comics Guide; it appeared Hippolyta was being phased out in favor of Nubia, a third Amazon tribe had been added and a new Wonder Girl introduced. All of this seemed to be happening outside the Wonder Woman title proper in a series of one-shots and miniseries, and I wondered enough about it that I bought most of the collections. 

WONDER GIRL: HOMECOMING: I started with Trial of the Amazons, but I quickly released I was reading out of order. Wonder Girl isn't really the start of the story, but it's a necessary prerequisite. It's as good a place as any to start.

Wonder Girl was meant to be an ongoing, but was canceled with issue #7. After reading this collection of that series, I understand why.

It's not terrible, but freshman writer Joelle Jones made a rookie mistake. She introduced loads of new characters, a mystery so mysterious I didn't really know what it was and a lot of seemingly irrelevant information in the first issue. Then she forgot to make me invested enough in any of it to want to read the second.

Eventually, of course, all of it came together in a coherent way, but how many readers were still engaged? Not enough, it would seem, given the cancellation.

Since I was reading a collection, I didn't have to make the Go/No Go decision after the first issue. But if I had been sampling, my decision would have been "pass" after issue #1.

Which is a shame, because Yara Flor is a delightful character, with an infectious, buoyant joie de vivre that separates her from her bland predecessors. She's fun, she's feisty and, dare I say it, she's a little bit sexy. For a comics character, that is. 

And then there's the art. I absolutely love Joelle Jones' work, and this book doesn't disappoint my fanboy appreciation in the slightest. It's possible to turn off one's higher brain functions and just enjoy the pretty pictures.

NUBIA & THE AMAZONS: I may have already mentioned this somewhere on the board, possibly in this thread, because I read this book some time ago. If I did, then I probably mentioned that I strained my eyeballs in this book for more than one reason.

The narrative of the book is that Hippolyta makes Nubia queen (first issue), and by the end is murdered (by poison), leaving Nubia, um, still queen.

That isn't much of a story, and I suspect that authors the real story is setting up a new status quo on Themyscira with a whole bunch of supporting characters author Vito Ayala and Stephanie Wilson have created. We're introduced to four new Amazons from the Well of Souls (with a bit of back story), who are given new Amazon names (which I immediately forgot), and who are a Greek chorus for the whole series. Some other supporting characters are introduced/re-purposed from previous incarnations, and their relationships to each other and Nubia established. Also, Medusa is redeemed and gets normal hair, for some reason.

I have to mention a couple of dodgy things, because they are obviously done so purposefully. For one, virtually all of the new characters are Black, and since the focus is on them, white faces are rare. And lesbianism is no longer danced around; who is who's girlfriend is established for just about every main character, with lots of romance-y conversations between them (and the occasional post-coital pillow talk). 

Which, intellectually, I have no problem with. The Bana-Mighdall are (or should be) mostly Arabic and Black, so non-white Amazons are not noteworthy. And lesbianism has been implied in the past to be the norm on Themyscira, or at least common sense would lead one to think so. Grant Morrison hammered us over the head with it in the Wonder Woman: Earth One series, where even the Themysciran architecture was yonic (opposite of phallic, which made me laugh and be appreciative, all at once).

But this book makes such a ham-handed effort to turn Wonder Woman from a white book for the male gaze to a Black book for lesbians that I saw the little man behind the curtain through the whole story. And that is not good writing.

Nor is introducing a profusion of new characters all at once, in a non-organic way, and not giving us sufficient time and oxygen to become attached to them. By the end of this book I found the four new Amazons, with their one-note characterization, to be irritating.

Nor are the conversations between the women any better, romance-y or otherwise. Everyone and their sister was falling all over themselves, issue after issue, to establish and assure the reader that Nubia is the AWESOMEST, GREATEST, MOST DESERVINGEST AMAZON QUEEN EVER. Even Wonder Woman, with her mother not even cold. When not brown-nosing Nubia, the supporting characters were forever telling each other how awesome each other was, in stilted language that bordered on feminist screed. 

Did I mention eye-rolling? Also cringing. Also, after a while, boredom. It was like being button-holed at a party by someone who wants to tellyou about thier politics or religion. It doesn't take long to look around for someone else to talk to. Comics and soapboxes do not mix.

But, as I've said before, I'm all for books that I'm not interested in. If this sort of book attracts a new audience to comics (or grows an existing one), then boo-yah. But I found little of interest, and had to force myself through to the end. (And I still do not remember the names of the four new Amazons.)

As to the art, it was OK, but where I really found fault was the coloring. I said earlier my eyes hurt for two reasons, and here's the second. This book has a very dark palette, which is not a good choice for an almost all-Black cast. These old eyes sometimes didn't know what they were looking at.

NUBIA: QUEEN OF THE AMAZONS: By the same creative team as above, so I skipped it.

TRIAL OF THE AMAZONS: This book collects Trial of the Amazons #1-2, Nubia & The Amazons #6, Wonder Woman #785-786 and Trial of the Amazons: Wonder Girl #1-2. If that sounds eclectic, and possibly incoherent for a collection, you win a kewpie doll.

There are a lot of moving parts here. With Nubia queen, a new champion for Doom's Doorway is needed, so (in proper Wonder Woman fashion), a contest is held. Only instead of all the Amazons competing, it's just one champion from each of the three tribes, plus, maybe for sales, Wonder Woman. The three champions are the three Wonder Girls -- Cassie Sandsmark for Themyscira, Yara Flor for the Esquecida and Donna Troy for the Bana-Mighdall. (Donna has somehow cast her lot with the Quraci tribe when I wasn't looking, and has also had a personality transplant that I don't much care for.) You may well wonder why more obvious candidates like Antiope and Artemis don't compete, and you may continue to wonder all you like, because somebody wanted Wonder Girls.

Some of the story is about these four doing the contest thing. Sadly for a compelling narrative, not much in the contest makes sense and it comes to no conclusion.

Also, the Single Champion Guarding a Door for Eternity is a really dumb idea. If the Door is that scary -- and it is -- they ought to have regiments guarding it, on duty for eight hours a day and living their lives the rest of the time. Why sentence one person to that sort of lonely existence? Who's guarding the door when she sleeps? I don't know how far back the idea goes -- George Perez, maybe? -- but it's one they should dispense with.

Also, the mystery of who killed Hippolyta is being investigated, mainly by Cassie Sandsmark. I haven't read any of her Titans/Young Justice stories for years, so maybe she's became Themyscira's Greatest Detective at the same time Donna Troy became Surliest, Most Paranoid and Most Unpleasant Amazon Ever and joined the Bana-Mighdall, who are also surly, paranoid and unpleasant.

Speaking of which, the politics of everyone signing on to Nubia being queen of all Amazons is a subplot that is eventually achieved, although it had been achieved in the earlier book, too. Needless to say, in both cases it was the Bana-Mighdall that were the biggest holdouts. 

Anyway, all that happened, by various writers and artists. Which leads to:

TALES OF THE AMAZONS: This one collects Artemis:Wanted #1, Olympus: Rebirth #1, Nubia Coronation Special #1 and bits from Wonder Woman #781-784 and Wonder Woman 80th Anniversary 100-Page Super-Spectacular #1. If the last was a bit incoherent, this one is practically schizophrenic.

It opens with three women having found their way to the Bana-Mighdall to join the Amazons. They are given a test, and the two white women fail, and show a lot of entitlement when they are denied entry. The Black one succeeds, because she is a Better Person, and is warmly welcomed to the tribe. Hmm, sensing a pattern here.

Then all of the answers I've been waiting for are finally delivered. We find out who killed Hippolyta, and Donna Troy and Cassie Sandsmark are sent to track the assassin down. We find out why Hippolyta was killed, with repercussions that reach all the way to Olympus, where we find that the gods are starting to turn to stone due to a lack of believers. (Evidently, it's mainly been the worship of the Amazons that have kept them going since Greco-Roman times. Maybe they should treat them better.) We are told a few more times that Nubia is the AWESOMEST, GREATEST, MOST DESERVINGEST AMAZON QUEEN EVER. OK, that wasn't a question I needed an answer to, but Stephanie Wilson is involved, who wrote or co-wrote the Nubia: Queen of the Amazons and Nubia & The Amazons miniseries, so I can't say I was surprised.

Some new status quos are established for some characters, especially Artemis, who seems smart, calm and super-deferential to authority now. Who is this person? Not the same warrior with the hair-trigger temper that was in Red Hood and the Outlaws, surely. Not the same one who tried to replace Diana as Wonder Woman, and tried to kill her out of jealousy more than once, surely. Not the same one who wanted to wield the Bow of Ra but was rejected by the gods as unworthy, surely.

Yes, Shirley. Another personality transplant, surely.

Anyway, a new status quo has dawned on Themyscira and Olympus. It does not induce me to start reading Wonder Woman again, but it might do so for others. The stuff with the gods is interesting, at least. (And there are references to another Wonder Woman story I want to read, how she saved the gods and imprisoned Chaos.)

WONDER WOMAN: EVOLUTION: It turns out this is unrelated. It's a miniseries where Wonder Woman thinks she's being judged as a proxy for all mankind by powerful alien gods, but it turns out something else is going on altogether.

I have two deal-breaker problems with this story. 

One is it doesn't end.

Diana is infected with nanites that we are told will eventually transform her into a robotic monstrosity we see earlier in the book. The nanites are still in her bloodstream at the end of the book. The Justice League and the Themyscirans can't get them out. So, uhhhh ... ?

Also, Silver Swan is a player throughout, but her knowledge of the true story isn't established, nor her status quo at the end of the book. (She had the nanites, but they were transferred to Diana.) Does she still hate Wonder Woman, despite saying (after all this time) that she forgives her? (Probably.) Is there any reason to believe the bad guy let her go? (No.) So, uhhhh ... ?

The second problem is the art.

It's downright ugly. I can see that the artist was going for an Aquiline nose for Diana, for example, which I usually applaud. But this looks more like she's an ex-boxer whose nose was broken too many times. And it's not just Diana -- everything and everyone is unattractive. I had to force myself to the end by just reading the word balloons and looking at the art only when necessary.

Reply to Discussion

RSS

Groups

Latest Activity

MethodEng replied to Steve W's discussion A Cover a Day
48 minutes ago
Richard Willis replied to Steve W's discussion A Cover a Day
1 hour ago
Philip Portelli replied to Steve W's discussion A Cover a Day
"Young Brian Kent rode out as the Silent Knight on his horse, Rona! "
3 hours ago
Richard Willis replied to Cavaliere (moderator emeritus)'s discussion What are you watching right now?
"Now I'm watching Man Made Monster (1941) on the Svengoolie show. This one got Lon Chaney…"
3 hours ago
The Baron replied to Steve W's discussion A Cover a Day
3 hours ago
Richard Willis replied to Cavaliere (moderator emeritus)'s discussion What are you watching right now?
"Now I'm watching the final season. episodes 15 and 16, of The Blacklist. Only six more after…"
5 hours ago
Luis Olavo de Moura Dantas replied to Jeff of Earth-J's discussion Post-Crisis Superman
"The Hawkman that appears in Action Comics #587 is clearly meant at publication time to be a…"
5 hours ago
Richard Willis replied to Cavaliere (moderator emeritus)'s discussion What are you watching right now?
"Right now I am finishing the last part of the three-part History Channel documentary FDR. It is…"
6 hours ago
Jeff of Earth-J replied to Cavaliere (moderator emeritus)'s discussion What are you watching right now?
"Tracy is currently listening to UNIT: Assembled, which has strong ties to the Third Doctor…"
7 hours ago
Jeff of Earth-J replied to Jeff of Earth-J's discussion Ultraman Dyna
"FAREWELL, HANEJIRO: "The TPC could prevent Alien Fabiras, who lost his home planet, from…"
7 hours ago
The Baron replied to Jeff of Earth-J's discussion Post-Crisis Superman
"I wonder if this is where the Daleks got the nidea to steal the Earth."
8 hours ago
Jeff of Earth-J replied to Jeff of Earth-J's discussion Post-Crisis Superman
"THE 1988 SUPERMAN ANNUALS: I'm not going to be coving these, either (nor are they included in…"
9 hours ago

© 2023   Captain Comics, board content ©2013 Andrew Smith   Powered by

Badges  |  Report an Issue  |  Terms of Service