Lockjaw and the Pet Avengers #1, which was really good ("There will be no eating of teammates."), and G.I. Joe: Cobra #1-3. People who know me know that I don't just pick up and read a G.I. Joe comic. I've never been into them, and I was never even into the toys, really. But the guys on iFanboy really recommended this book, saying it doesn't feel like a Joe book at all. And it really doesn't. It's a lot more like a Queen and Country story. One of the guys (in the Hawaiian shirt) goes undercover, and it's an extremely good spy story so far. Cobra nor G.I. Joe (I believe) have never been mentioned in this book, but some of the characters have. VERY highly recommended!

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ADVENTURE COMICS #313:

All of the female members of the Legion come down with the “crimson virus.” Gee, I wonder what that can be? HINT: The effects last only a couple of days, and it turns the usually sweet Supergirl into “Satan Girl.” Furthermore, the cover depicts the women forced to enter the 30th century equivalent of a “red lodge.” I’ll bet DC's male staffers really got a chuckle over this one.

SWAMP THING #32 – “Pog”:

“Pog” is a loving (I assume) tribute to Walt Kelly’s Pogo. (As such, this issue complements another of my current reading projects quite well.) Imagine the characters of the Okefenokee Swamp being forced to evacuate their native planet to arrive in the Louisiana bayou of the DCU. The characters are barely disguised in their form-fitting space-suits, and given tongue-in-cheek names such as Dr. Strigiforme and Aplodontia. Their turtle ship is a Latin translation of cherchez la femme.

Shawn McManus does another stint as fill-in artist, but perhaps unlike his previous turn on issue #28 and on GrimJack #29, his somewhat “cartoony” style is perfectly suited for this story. The lightness of the art is offset by the seriousness of the story. There is a death, one of the most effective deaths in any comic book I have ever read. For one thing, we know its “real”, we know it’s going to stick. But also not only does Alan Moore do an excellent job introducing these characters and making us care about them, but also because of our memories of who these characters appear to be. It’s effective either way, doubly so for readers familiar with Walt Kelly’s Pogo.

The language Moore uses throughout is a wonderful pastiche of Kelly-isms. Perhaps the best example is the funeral dirge sung by the surviving characters in which “Deck Us All with Boston Charlie” becomes “Dark, a Soul Wind Blast so Chilly.”

THE BRAVE & THE BOLD #111-113:

Issue #111 is an issue I’ve had since I was a kid, one I picked out myself from the spinner rack at Ahmann’s Newsstand. As the story opens, the Joker has murdered a family of four for no damned good reason, and the Batman vows to kill him. (Yes, kill him.) As his investigation continues, Batman uncovers evidence that that Joker may in fact be innocent of this particular crime. It turns out that the Joker was working with Batman’s suspect to point the evidence toward that suspect and lure Batman into a trap. The Batman escapes the trap and chases the Joker to the Batmobile, but the car won’t start because Joker didn’t key the code “B-A-T-M-A-N” into the Batmobile’s fake radio. This issue features what I think of as “the Jim Aparo batmobile.”

 

#112: This one features Mr. Miracle. It takes place before the final issue of the series but was published after. As one might expect, it’s more “Haney” than “Kirby.”
 

#113: I read this story despite the fact it features the Metal Men. I will read Metal Men stories once, then never again.

In two of these three stories Batman refers to having a “bat-sense.”

The Joker story was the villain's next appearance after "The Joker's Five-Way Revenge" (Batman #251). The end of the Haney story is a variation on the earlier one's.

ADVENTURE COMICS #314:

A criminal steals a time bubble, snatches Nero, Dillinger and Hitler from the time stream, and transfers their minds into Mon-El, Ultraboy and Superboy respectively in hope of ruling the world. They betray him, of course, then they betray each other. It’s a nice little morality tale, solidly told. The thought strikes that it’s a bit like a Doctor Who “historical” of the same era in that it involves time travel and is educational. (Actually, it’s both historical and science fictional, come to think of it.)


Even though DCs of this era might have been geared to a younger audience than Marvels were, DCs always had strong story structure. In reference to Lightning Lad, his eventual resurrection (#312) was foreshadowed repeatedly from the issue of his death (#304). Continuity-wise, Proty sacrificed its life to bring him back in #312 (cover dated SEP ’63), and a footnote in Jimmy Olsen #72 (OCT ’63) makes clear that that Proty is Proty II. In current Marvel comics it’s unclear whether the Human Torch and the Thing’s appearances in Avengers take place before or after those in Marvel Two-In-One.

Continuity demanded Lightning Lad return, as his adult self had already appeared a few times.

I always thought that calling Dillinger one of the greatest villains was a stretch. He was a bad guy but not a mass murderer.

SANDMAN #2: Read as an introduction to…

SWAMP THING #33:

Swamp Thing #33 reprints House of Mystery #92, the first appearance of the Swamp Thing, along with a new framing sequence. Abigail Arcane replaces Louise Jones on the cover.

Alan Moore continues to redefine what that Swamp Thing is, establishing him in this issue as that latest in a long line of Earth Elementals. It is as important in its own way as “The Anatomy Lesson,” not just because it established the mythology of swamp elementals, but because it lays the foundation for “The Dreaming” as later developed by Neil Gaiman.

ADVENTURE COMICS #315: Another issue featuring the Subs. In this story, the LSH finds out about the substitutes and arranges a contest so that one of them will be permitted to join the ranks. Each is give a seemingly impossible task to perform: Polar Boy must use his freezing power to unfreeze frozen scientists; Night Girl must defeat Sun woman in a land of perpetual daylight; Chlorophyll Kid must split a mountain; Fire Lad must bring fire to a planet of perpetual rain; Stone Boy must capture a wild beast.

Surprisingly, all of the subs successfully complete their respective missions, except Stone Boy, who forfeits when lives are endangered so the Legion can step in. This act of selflessness is deemed worthy, and Stone Boy is offered membership but declines so that he can stay with his friends. This is a very “writer-ly” story, but serves as a little morality lesson and adds to the Legions growing mythos.

BRAVE & THE BOLD #114: This is a 100-page issue that I had as a kid. (#112-113 were 100-pagers, too, but I didn’t happen to see those.) this one co-stars Aquaman, and Aquaman #42 was one of my first ever comics, which is probably why I chose this one over whatever else I saw on the rack that day. I still have this issue, but I haven’t read it in over 40 years. I probably read this one only once. In it, Batman makes a HUGE error in judgement, one which would ave certainly come back to bite him in the @$$ if Aquaman hadn’t intervened.

A jetliner has landed in the ocean and stands submerged with the passengers running out of oxygen. There is a criminal aboard who Batman wants to testify against the mob. Reasoning that he can only save one person and the others are doomed anyway, rather than wait for the Navy or the Coast Guard (or, hell… Aquaman) to arrive, the Batman picks up a rock from the ocean floor to smash the window so that he may save the mobster, leaving the other passengers to drown. Luckily, Aquaman arrives and intervenes, and they go on their way. They later discover that the plane was rescued after all. There’s more to the story than that, but that aspect ruin the whole thing for me. No wonder I didn’t read it again for 44 years.

Saga Volume 8
Fiona Staples, artist; Brian K. Vaughan, writer
Image Comics, 2017

The previous volume was devoted to the War for Phang. This one opens with Alanna seeking an abortion on an outpost planet called Pervious: she lost the child she was carrying during the escape in the previous issue, and the unborn fetus is now a threat to her life. But the unborn child is still having an impact on its mother, as she discovers she now has spellcasting powers, something normally only found in those with Wreath blood. The baby was half-Wreath, so...although the mechanism is unclear. She doesn't have any control, which causes her to "forecast" a projection of their possible future son Kurti while the family is on their way to the Badlands to seek a back-alley abortion. Meanwhile Petrichor is visited by Badlands desperadoes, but is saved by Sir Robot. So many surprises. Two standalone issues catch us up with The Will (including Lying Cat) and Ghüs. And I can't leave this without saying how much I love those multicolored zebras!

SWAMP THING #34 “Rite of Spring”:

This is my first Swamp Thing ever. I read it as a back issue, albeit a recent back issue. I had been hearing a lot about Alan Moore’s reputation, and I chose #34 because I liked the cover. Sometimes you can judge a book by its cover, because this issue is phenomenal. I would recommend “Rite of Spring” to someone wholly nfamiliar with the character even ahead of “The Anatomy Lesson.” The story was suggested by John Tottleben simply because of all the adversity swampt thing and abby had been put through in recent issues, not the least of which was going to Hell. In this issue they simply relax. They also become lovers.

I’ve read this story in black & white and in color. The uncolored pencils are so intricate and detailed that one wonders how a colorist can even do them justice. Then one sees the colored version and wonders how it could ever be presented in black & white. The idea for the premise of the story may have come from totleben, but Moore, for his part, ran with it. Unable to share a physical relationship, Abby eats one of the tubers which have grown from the Swamp Thing’s body since he discovered his true nature. They have a psychedelic experience, and the pages turn on their sides during that time. If you’ve never read Swamp Thing before (or Alan Moore Swamp Thing), I recommend this as a good place to start.

ADVENTURE COMICS #316: Ultraboy goes deep undercover this issue, not even letting his teammates in on his true plan. Faking evidence of a criminal background, he is expelled from the Legion. The vote is unanimous, with one abstention: Phantom Girl. The Legion has a strict code of conduct, as we will see again. In dealing with these classic stories, I have tried to point out the pros and the cons of DC’s storytelling (as I see it). Many of the stories are set up as puzzles or mysteries for the reader to solve, but can be quite formulaic. (Adventure Comics #315 was such a story.) But sometimes the premise does not make much sense.

For example, “Mystery Lad” was introduced in #307, and #316 is his first appearance since then. When he applied for Legion membership, he “couldn’t” divulge the true nature of his power, but no reason was ever given for this secrecy. (One would think the ability to control elements would make him a shoo-in for membership.) He let Saturn Girl in on his secret, and she kept it, again, for no particular reason. By the end of the story, all of the Legionnaires (and the readers) learned it and, again for no reason, vowed to continue to call him “Mystery Lad” in public but would call him “Element Lad” among themselves.

By this, his second appearance, all of that “mystery” nonsense was dispensed with, and the question mark adorning his chest was replaced with an “E”. This illustrates the willingness to abandon storytelling sense for the sake of the puzzle.

AVENGERS #684: It always surprises me when fans criticize Jean Gray as always returning from the dead because that’s “her thing,” when she doesn’t hold a candle to the number of times the Hulk has. This issue reviews some of the more prominent times and attempts to explain why the Hulk is “immortal.” It only reinforced to me, however, how his latest “death” should have worked. If someone can explain to me how the Hulk was able to come back from Hawkeye and Bruce Banner’s own plan to assassinate him, go for it.

Also, Voyager’s true identity is revealed.

MARVEL TWO-IN-ONE #4: Even without Mr. Fantastic and the Invisible Woman, this is the Fantastic Four.

I love Saga. I'm part way through vol 8 and have pre-ordered vol 9.

Mark Sullivan (Vertiginous Mod) said:

Saga Volume 8
Fiona Staples, artist; Brian K. Vaughan, writer
Image Comics, 2017

The previous volume was devoted to the War for Phang. This one opens with Alanna seeking an abortion on an outpost planet called Pervious: she lost the child she was carrying during the escape in the previous issue, and the unborn fetus is now a threat to her life. But the unborn child is still having an impact on its mother, as she discovers she now has spellcasting powers, something normally only found in those with Wreath blood. The baby was half-Wreath, so...although the mechanism is unclear. She doesn't have any control, which causes her to "forecast" a projection of their possible future son Kurti while the family is on their way to the Badlands to seek a back-alley abortion. Meanwhile Petrichor is visited by Badlands desperadoes, but is saved by Sir Robot. So many surprises. Two standalone issues catch us up with The Will (including Lying Cat) and Ghüs. And I can't leave this without saying how much I love those multicolored zebras!

ADVENTURE COMICS #317:

This is another formula-driven (and sexist) plot in which the Legion admits a new member, Dream Girl, who proceeds to study the Legion’s constitution and set up circumstances for other Legionnaires to be expelled. Her intentions were good, but she does do one pretty rotten thing with (for all intents and purposes) permanent consequences: she changes Lightning Lass’s power to the ability to make things lighter. Lightning Lass (now Light Lass) joined the Legion to replace her brother. Now that he has been revived, their powers are duplicated, but it was still a pretty rotten thing for Dream Girl to have done without permission. Now it has become Legion lore. At least her membership is revoked at the end.

Speaking of Legion lore, it strikes me how long-lasting romantic relationships are within the Legion. This issue, for example, sets up the attraction between Dream Girl and Star Boy, a relationship which has lasted well into the 21st century.

#317 features another round of Legion auditions. In addition to Dream Girl, a guy petitions for membership based on his invention which makes feathers as heavy as lead. If I didn’t know better, I’d swear some of these bozos apply just to get the free flight belt given to every applicant.

This story is also notable for the first non-appearance of the Time Trapper, who is described as a “scientific criminal.” At some point prior to this story Cosmic Boy and Sun Boy encountered him, but the Trapper himself does not appear in this story. His story will slowly build in the months to come.

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