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 read Batman #433-435, the arc called "The Many Deaths of Batman". This came out back in 1989, and I had bought them off Comixology last year and finally got around to reading them. It was written by John Byrne and drawn by Jim Aparo. Many of the people who trained Bruce Wayne while he was working toward becoming Batman are being killed off one by one, all of them dressed up as Batman. This was a fun, old-school late Bronze Age story by a classic Bronze Age team. You don't always get a pure Batman-as-detective story, but this case was very heavy on the detective side. We also get some good Commissioner Gordon and Alfred assistance as well. I believe this was during the time after Jason Todd but before Tim Drake, so Batman was the only one in a costume here, and he needed those civilian helpers.

Godshaper #1: This one comes from Boom Studios, and it was very interesting. I liked it. It's kind of hard to describe, but I'll do my best. Everyone in the world has their own personal god with some kind of power. Well, everyone except one in 10,000 people, who are known as shapers. This is the story of one particular shaper who seems to have a little god of his own anyway; I can't quite figure that part out. The shaper is kind of a blues player type from the 1920's or so. It's weird, but it's really good. If you don't read it based on my weak explanation, I get that. But if you're up for something new and different, give this a try.

Helena Crash #2: Same goes for Helena Crash! This one, from IDW, has our coffee smuggler taking a job looking for a VHS tape for an alien who is obsessed (and has seemingly taken the identity of) a martial artist known as the White Dragon. Helena goes from pawn shop to pawn shop until she finds a copy, delivers it to her employer, and then finds herself squaring off against said employer. This book is just so much fun. If you like Marshall Law or Head Lopper, this book is definitely worth a look!

Just finished up Jules Feiffer's Kill My Mother. A nice piece of noir, with honestly not very many likable characters. I'm not a big fan of Feiffer's art, but the story really works, so I didn't mind. 

The Nite Owl Society #1: This was okay. It's one of IDW's creator-owned comics, which is evidently a new thing. The art in this one reminded me a lot of David Aja (and then, at the end, the artist said that Aja was one of his influences...). It's about a group of kids from a school of some kind--a prep school? Anyway, one of them figures out something mysterious is going on, and rounds up a bunch of ragtag fellow students to figure out just what it is. This reminded me a lot of Gotham Academy, and if I wanted that, I would still be reading that book. I wish the creative team nothing but the best, and I hope they keep getting better and better at the craft.

Loose Ends #2: Yesterday, I bought the final issue of this one from Jason Latour and Chris Brunner, so I was reminded about the other issues in my stack. This was perfect. I loved it. It's a romance comic in the way that a romance plays out at a kind of scary party where many people there have questionable backgrounds. If you can't identify with that, then you've never been in college! (Okay, Christian Bible Colleges don't count in that statement...).

This weekend my comic book reading consisted of last week’s new comics, finishing off the Bronze Age JLA Omnibus, and Captain America #126, 134-148.

CAPTAIN AMERICA: Inspired by Nick Spencer’s current run on Captain America: Sam Wilson, I decided to re-read the issues when Steve Rogers and Sam Wilson were officially partners, picking up (more or less), where “Randy Jackson reads Captain America” recently left off. Captain America was one of the first three series I completed my collection of before I graduated high school. [For the record, the other two were Avengers and Hulk.] There were quite a few among this run, #120-192, I did not care for and, by the time I got to college, decided I could live without. I trade them to my LCS at the time for store credit. I got 15 cents apiece for them, which I put toward back-issues of Jack Kirby 1970s runs of Marvel comics which were a quarter apiece. I had since come to regret that decision, but now that MMW has fills all the holes I created I don’t feel so bad about it.

Issues #126, 134-138 show the early days of the partnership. Sam Wilson is a social worker in Harlem; his main villain is a crime lord named Stoneface; he has a sister, a nephew named Jody and a Cat named Figaro. Gene Colan was the penciller for this run of issues except for #138, which John Romita drew. #137-138 constirute a two-parter guest-starring Spider-Man, the highlight of these issues.

Issues #139-143 tell a five-part story in which Steve Rogers becomes an undercover police officer. #139 also introduces Leila, a militant love interest for Sam Wilson. Steve’s investigation leads to the Grey Gargoyle, which in turn leads to SHIELD and the destruction of the original helicarrier. The Red Skull is revealed as the mastermind behind the racial unrest in Harlem.

Issues #144-148 are another five-part story featuring Hydra. #144 starts with art by Romita, ends with art by Gray Morrow, and features the debut of the Falcon’s new red and white costume. Then Sal Buscema takes over. The Kingpin, his wife Vanessa and their son cross over from Spider-Man, but the Red Skull (him again?) ends up to be the one pulling the strings.

I will say that none of these 16 issues were among those I got rid of in the ‘80s. I plan to continue reading Captain America and the Falcon through #192.

My comic book reading has consisted of the following series: Enormous by 215 INK, Claw the Unconquered and Hercules Unbound by DC comics and My Greatest Adventure(original series) #2, #9 and #8 of the Howard the Duck (black and white magazine).

BRONZE AGE JLA OMNIBUS OVERVIEW:

First, a little personal background. When I was a kid, I had three consecutive issues of the JLA, #110-112, but I did not begin collecting the title regularly until 1984 with Annual #2 and the introduction of the “Detroit League.” Around that same time, I lucked into a large stack of back issues between #1 (actually, #15 was the earliest) and #100 or so, including nearly the entire Fox/Sekowsky run. It was also around that time I began actively seeking back issues to complete the collection, which I eventually did (not necessarily with original issues; I count reprints).

Many times over the years I have experienced creative changes on favorite titles, not always to my liking. I am a big fan of the Fox/Sekowsky era and have re-read it more than any other, but by the time I started reading, all of the changes were a matter of public record. Reading issues #71-113 (I backed up a few before the collection began because #71 felt like a more natural “jumping on point” to me), I experienced for the first time what it must have been like for readers at the time to have experienced these creative changes as they were happening. If you were a new reader in 1969, you might have felt exited by the arrival of Denny O’Neil and the change of thrust he represented. If you had been reading JLA since the beginning, though, you might have resented the emergence of the “Young Turks,”

The type of stories Denny O’Neil told at first were not so very different in style from the later Gardner Fox ones, but there was a difference. If you were a fan of the JLA, though, you liked the team and decided to stick with it. Then Mike Friedrich took over and the trend continued. You may have just been getting used to Young Turk O’Neil’s style, when Young Turk Friedrich came in and continued what you now see as a downward trend.

Friedrich was around 20 years old at the time, and his writing style was somewhat… “over-burdened” shall we say? The phrase “crashpounding of the creative soul” comes to mind. That’s an actual phrase Friedrich used, but if I had been taking notes at the time I was reading these stories, I could have provided many more examples. His stories were “message” stories and not to my taste. When Len Wein took over it was a welcome change. I wouldn’t like to choose between O’Neil and Wein’s stories, but Friedrich’s were definitely my least favorite. Still, the omnibus provides an insightful look into the comics of the time and how the art form was changing.

Just read X-Men Blue #1-2. They were okay but they sure altered the dynamics of the original X-Men.

As for the stinger, well we've already seen that multiple times!

The latest Scooby-Doo Team-Up unites the team with Green Lantern and Green Arrow -- and the whole book has some fun with the Hard-Traveling Heroes era -- starting with a great gag in the opening panel, which shows a sign at the outskirts of town: "Welcome to Karma Corners. Population: We Are All One."

There are some moments from that run that are echoed in the story, there's a Black Canary cameo, there are a couple jabs at Ollie's catchphrase on Arrow, too -- it's a ton of fun. 

Wandering Sensei said:

Vigilante #50: This is the first time I have read this issue, and I thought it was very nerve-wracking and disconcerting. I have been watching a few episodes lately of Black Mirror, and I have to say I had the same feeling throughout this book. 32-year-spoiler, he commits suicide in the end. I was surprised by what this book was able to get away with, and not just the ending. Was this a mature readers title? I didn't know they had those in 1984.

Somehow clicking on the notification email took me to this 2016 page (page 265).

When I got back into comics in 1989 my first one was the debut of Legends of the Dark Knight. It (like Vigilante) had no code seal and I believe only was sold on the direct market. I think the first one like like was Camelot 3000. They don't say "mature readers" but the absence of the seal means pretty much that.

Hmm, I didn't realize LotDK didn't carry the seal. I have actually been reading the original arc of that book, a story called "Shaman" by Dennis O'Neil and Ed Hannigan. I really like it. It amazes me that, as far as I know, it hasn't been reprinted. It's definitely not a story you ever hear mentioned, but I think it's great.

Shaman was one of the LotDK arcs to get a tpb, but it's probably out of print now.  

Jason led a conversation about it here.

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