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

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...HEY KIDS! COMICS! #1 

  and chapters 3-4 of SUPERMAN UNCHAINED

  Thia is an adventure of the since-departed New 52 Superman - who was supposed to have had no romantic history with Lois Lane. I this story she briefly takes refuge with/visits Superman at the Fortress for the first time, I guess...which could have been the start of getting acquainted, too.

You Are Here is great... but it wasn't part of V2K, as I believe Vertigo's Y2K event was called. Baker's contribution to that was the excellent I Die at Midnight. 

Wandering Sensei: Moderator Man said:

I loved You Are Here. So much, in fact, I want to go pull it off my shelf and put it back in my to-read pile now after hearing mention of it. I thought it was so well-paced and well-acted through Baker's writing and art. You really get to care about these characters in a short time, and you feel the race against the clock.

I believe this was a part of Vertigo's Y2K event? I know that included a prestige format "Vertigo Justice League" (which wasn't called that) including Constantine, Animal Man, and other DC-turned-Vertigo characters.

Regardless, this is one of my favorite of Kyle Baker's works.

This is my first post since returning from a two-week vacation to Scotland and Wales. It’s a little hard getting back into the swing of things, and I usually find that, after an absence, I’m not always interested in the same topics after I return as those from before I left. It will be interesting (to me if no one else) to see which of my “reading projects” return.

LITTLE ORPHAN ANNIE: I do plan to delve back into this one, though, probably starting tomorrow. I will note that the Maw Green Sunday “topper” begins January 5, 1932. The fourth IDW volume contains a sampling of these, but not all as their inclusion would disrupt the flow of the main narrative. Gray had previously written her out of the strip by having “Daddy” Warbucks reward her with a fake inheritance and a house in the country, but in the toppers she moves back to the city and resumes running her boarding house.

PRINCE VALIANT: My trip inspired me to read Prince Valiant from the beginning. Although the last time I read it was less than 15 years ago, I have never read the newer hardcover collection created from the syndicate proofs.

HUMOURS OF HISTORY: 160 DRAWINGS by A.M.: I bought this book in Leaky’s Second-hand Bookshop in Inverness, Scotland. It is a 1915 collection of single-panel cartoons which originally appeared in the Morning Leader in 1903. The cartoons are rendered in a funny, anachronistic style and cover European history from 100 B.C. to A.D. 1830. I wouldn’t call it a comic book per se, but it is comics. If it were released today, it would be called a “graphic novel.”

I remember the odd artistic choice in Justice Inc. At the time I wrote it off as the Baker using the art to insinuate the impermanency of identity -- suggesting that faces can change, as the Avenger's does. Now I think I might have been overthinking it. Anyway, I agree that it wasnot only an odd choice, but made reading it, in your phrase, off-putting. I'd add ugly and bad storytelling, but I'm probably just angry because of disappointment. I usually love everything Baker does, and he's set himself a high bar.

ClarkKent_DC said:

Two from Kyle Baker: 

The first is You Are Here, a graphic novel from Vertigo. The story is very much in the Alfred Hitchcock man-on-the-run-because-of-mistaken-identity vein, except for the "mistaken identity" part.

It features Noel Coleman, who as the story begins, has spent a year in idyllic bliss with his girlfriend Helen in Upstate New York, so much so, he resolves to marry her. Helen is the kind of person stops whatever she's doing every day to watch the sunset. But Noel needs to go into the city to shut down his apartment and tie up some loose ends -- and that's where the problems start.

See, Noel is a jewel thief ... and he's wanted by the police for murder ... although that's a bogus charge, a story planted by a serial killer who's out to kill him ... because Nick slept with his wife. 

Of course, Noel hasn't told Helen about any of this. In his defense, the only part of the above he knew about was him being a jewel thief.

It's a wild ride through the city as Noel tries to duck all the forces after him and keep Helen safe.

The other is Justice Inc., a two-part miniseries written by Kyle Baker. Those two teamed up on a rather zany run on The Shadow back in the '80s, and this is in the same vein. It headlines another pulp hero, The Avenger -- the former Richard Benson, a vigilante fighting a war on crime after his wife and daughter are murdered. 

In this series, The Avenger gets recruited to be a CIA operative, tasked with infiltrating governments hostile to U.S. interests, assassinating and impersonating their leaders and steering the replacement regime to be more cooperative. To facilitate his existing talent at impersonation, a mad scientist implants a device in his spine to further transform his body. But he has doubts about what he's doing that only grow, and when he discovers he's not the only person who was experimented on, he breaks away and moves to take down the CIA from within. 

If you're somebody who likes stories about eeeEEEEvil government conspiracies, this is right up your alley. If you're not -- and I'm not -- you'll find it tiresome. 

Baker's style is colorful and expressive in You Are Here. For Justice Inc., he makes an odd artistic choice: The art is done in painted color, and then inked, but he leaves the faces uninked. Consequently, they are hard to discern. It's very off-putting.

Oh, shoot! I think both of these books are about a man and a woman in present day--and maybe they came out around the same time? You're right; I did get them mixed up. I should read them both again. I know I own them both.

Rob Staeger (Grodd Mod) said:

You Are Here is great... but it wasn't part of V2K, as I believe Vertigo's Y2K event was called. Baker's contribution to that was the excellent I Die at Midnight. 

Have any of you read Kyle Baker's Shadow series from the late 80's? I haven't, but I've always wanted to check it out.

And unless I'm mistaken, didn't Baker also do a Dick Tracy miniseries at about that same time?

I read the first several issues of Kyle Baker's Shadow but I don't remember too much about it. (I was always more of a "Doc Savage" fan.)

The first two parts of his three-part Dick Tracy series served as a prequel to the Warren Beatty movie; the third part adapted it. It was visually interesting, but the story was kind of "meh." Also, the first two issues pre-dated the release of the film and the third issue was released to coincide with it. there's a "big reveal" at the end of the movie, but it was left out of the comic book so as not to spoil the movie.

A friend loaned me "Why I Hate Saturn" around the same time these came out. I enjoyed it, but never bought or re-read it.

I've never read Andy Helfer's and Kyle Baker's The Shadow. I recall it was canceled because of some nonsense about The Shadow's brain being put in a robot body or some such. The licenser, Street and Smith, objected, and DC put out a new Shadow series drawn by Eduardo Baretto set in the 1930s, in the classic vein.

As for the Dick Tracy series, I remember that I didn't like them. I was expecting the art to resemble the Chester Gould style, but that didn't happen. Baker was drawing them in his most cartoony style but seemed to be under an editorial mandate to draw Tracy with Warren Beatty's face, which just looked weird.

And I still remember a bit of business that yanked me right out of the story: Tracy was after some crook and found him because he ate walnuts, so they dusted the walnut shells for fingerprints.

In a word: No. I'm not a CSI, but I've read enough Ed McBain 87th Precinct stories to know you can't get lifts off walnut shells. 

Wait, I read some stuff, too.

THE NEW MUTANTS #6: Since the main story seemed to wrap up last issue, I assumed this issue would be a "day in the life" of some sort that would set up a new status quo for a new series to dovetail with the movie next year. I was so in love with my own expectation that I was actually a little disappointed to find out that this issue is a continuation of the first five, in the sense that what has happened before was all part of a master plan from an unexpected source, which is revealed here. There's a big fight, it looks like the New Mutants have lost and ... it ends.

Yep, a six-issue miniseries ends on a cliffhanger. Was it meant to run longer? Is there a second mini in the works? Beats me. I will say the surprise reveal was welcome in returning two of the New Mutants from the past into the fold (making them available for future stories), but I'm still a little disappointed in the art.

On the latter point, it's tighter in some way, which is welcome. But Adam Gorham still manages to make Illyana unattractive. Since she's my favorite character -- and the most powerful, making the others literally superfluous -- that hurts my appreciation.

MARVEL TWO-IN-ONE #9: The story, about the de-powered Ben and Johnny getting by on minimum wage on a parallel world -- looks like it may (thankfully) be over. I won't spoil the climax, except to say it may play into Fantastic Four #2. This title, which could have been titled Tales of Blue Collar Despair, has been such a disappointment that I'd be OK if it ended here, but since it's continuing, I hope they try to make it more like the pre-S.H.I.E.L.D. Strange Tales, which is to say, make it fun. The last few issues of whiny Johnny and depressed Ben -- both without powers -- has been tedious for me.

X-MEN BLUE #34: Magneto goes full-on villain (again), which is fine with me, because he was a full-on villain for the first 20 years I read comics, which happened to coincide with my formative years. I never bought his reformation, although I was obviously supposed to. (Damn you, Claremont!) Maybe this time it will stick.

One angle is that he is now aware of a dystopic future, and has dedicated his life to stopping it -- by killing the scientists and corporate execs who make it happen, and erecting monuments to himself on the sites of those he murders. Since those statues exist in the dystopian future, you'd think he'd avoid that. Ah, well. Vanity, thy name is Erik.

The art is a Jim Lee pastiche, and is fine.

One sad commentary is that Magneto forms a new Brotherhood, and the group shot at the end contains THREE almost interchangeable redheads. Good lord, X-Men comics love the gingers! I think one of them is supposed to be Marrow, and I'm guessing one of the others might be Madelyne "Goblin Queen" Pryor, just 'cuz she's an evil redhead. The third is a mystery to me, unless it's one of the many X-Men redheads -- Jean Grey, teen Jean, Rachel Grey, Hope Summers -- somehow turned. Any guesses?

MOON KNIGHT #198: I'm not sure I'm really following how writer Bemis is separating MK's four personalities (all but Khonshu seem interchangeable to me). He rings in a psychologist to make a complicated diagnosis I didn't really follow, except for the suggestion that Moon Knight likes hurting people.

Well, there's only two issues to go, so I guess I'll stick around to see how it shakes out. Maybe I'll understand better after MK #200.

EXTERMINATION #2: Not a whole lot happens this issue, except that Angel gets kidnapped by Ahab and an unexpected player is revealed to be a hound at the end. So I guess something will happen next issue.

DAREDEVIL ANNUAL #1: This issue presents the first meeting between Daredevil and Misty Knight, in her pre-bionic days as an NYPD detective. It's fine for what it is, but doesn't really tell us anything we didn't already know about these two characters. It almost feels like a throwback to 1970s storytelling, but that could be that I'm mentally placing this story where it would fit chronologically, which is before Iron Fist debuted in 1974.

Branching out a bit:

THE UNEXPECTED #4: I'm reading it, but I'm not what you call enjoying it. The title, at this point, is about Neon the Unknown and the new FIrebrand, and the former's powers are too vaguely defined to allow for dramatic tension (He can do anything! Unless the plot says he can't!), while the latter is just flat-out unpleasant. The plot involves a mystery isotope of Nth metal and there's a lot of jibber-jabber about the Dark Multiverse and vaguely defined terrible outcomes. The main villain is Onimar Synn, another vaguely-defined character (He can do anything! Unless the plot says he can't!). So I don't really understand what's going on, or what the stakes are, or what the heroes need to do to "win," or why Neon can't just wave all this away, which doesn't improve my attitude. This issue at least has some guest stars I know something about (Signal and Huntress), while next issue has Hawkman, so maybe that will brighten up this book for me.

US VS. MURDER INC. #1: Brian Michael Bendis' Jinxworld comes to DC, at least for me, since I haven't read Scarlet #1 yet. Here's a tale of the first female hitman (hitwoman or hitperson, I guess) for the New York Mafia, and how she is trained and comes to be. (It starts when she's 11.) I found it fairly by the numbers, and my appetite for Mafia stories was sated long ago by Godfather and Godfather II. Godfather III, Goodfellas, Casino, Carlito's Way -- all this stuff seems to tell essentially the same story over and over. Not being Italian, I've had my fill. But for what it is, it's well-written.

My opinion is probably tainted by the presence of Michael Avon Oeming's artwork, of which I've also had my fill. I don't despise it, and recognize that his cartoony style can occasionally deliver emotional information that more realistic art struggles to do. But this is not a story to be told in cartoons, and some other artist should have been selected.

VALIANT HIGH (TPB): This collects what appears to be a three-issue miniseries positing most of the Valiant characters as teenagers in high school. This sort of thing, along with the "assassin high school" genre, has become almost a cottage industry in comics from Japan to the U.S. And I have to say, Archie gives me all the high school "action" I really need -- I'd rather read the grown-up adventures, thank you very much.

But it's written well enough, assuming you know enough about the adult characters to make the appropriate associations. The story is told from the teenage Live Wire's perspective, where she is an awkward, introverted brainiac, who has drifted away from her best friends from middle school, Faith and Charlene (who I think is dead in the regular line). She's got a crush on the football quarterback, Eric Dacia, and over there is Gilad, Aram, Archer, Peter Stanchek and Colin King. Bloodshot is a coach, Dr. Mirage is a teacher, Harada is the principal, and the rest of the Valiant gang show up here and there. There's an actual plot, mysteries to solve, and so forth. I'm so far removed from high school that all I remember is that I was glad to get out of it, but for readers in their teens and twenties it might feel right at home.

Adding to the "mediocre Archie story" feel is art by Derek Charm, whom I did not like on Jughead and do not like here. That doubtless colors my opinion.

ZOMBIE TRAMP VOL 13: I haven't read any of this title since the first couple of issues. Back then it was a black humor title with titties, which I assumed would be its status quo rolling forward. But no, in the ensuing time it appears there's been an entire mythology built around Zombie Tramp and the Necrominicon, with rules for various supernatural characters and a "chosen one" future for the Tramp, who achieves her "kaiju form" at the end. Evidently this is leveling up in this cosmology, and portends bigger adventures for her. In the meantime, this is relatively serious stuff, with humor of any kind taking a back seat. There are still titties, though.

The artwork is cartoony, so it's not my cup of tea. (That also means the tittties don't have their desired effect on me. I prefer real ones, or at least drawn ones that look real.) That's a bit of a bait and switch IMHO, like US Vs. Murder Inc. Am I asking too much for serious stories to have serious art, or is cartoony the new normal?

Ah, well. I didn't hate it. I'll try a few more on for size, just to learn the cosmology, if nothing else.

WALT DISNEY's COMICS & STORIES #743: This is, cover to cover, material reprinted from European comics. That is not a complaint, but just an observation.

The Duck stories are very good. In fact, I enjoy them more than the Carl Barks reprints I'm reading, which I know is heresy. But they're up to date on today's world (computers, cell phones, etc.), whereas the Barks material is pretty dated in that regard, and really starting to read as relics from another age. And it's been more than 60 years since Barks began drawing ducks, and these modern European artists have had that many decades to master that style, and learning to draw every element in Duckworld from every angle. It's clean, it's convincing and it's consistent.

I was never a Mouse fan, but the same applies here. The spirit of the Floyd Gottfriedson material is present, but the plots and stories and artwork are updated for modern sensibilities. I enjoyed these as much or more than the older material.

I don't much enjoy the rest of the material. There's a Br'er Fox story, for example. How many years has it been since Song of the South? Too many, because the whole approach is way too dated, too stereotyped and vaguely insulting to Southerners like me. I'd have much preferred a story about one of the "princesses" I know nothing about -- Ariel, Jasmine, Mulan, etc. I haven't seen a Disney movie since the '70s, so they are all terra incognita to me. Are there no Beauty and the Beast stories to be told? Did Sleeping Beauty and Rapunzel only have a single adventure? I'd like to have learned more about these characters than read warmed-over '50s stuff.

PREDATOR: HUNTERS V1 (TPB): In a Venn Diagram, the plot of this book falls in the overlap of Predator, The Most Dangerous Game and The Island of Dr. Moreau. It was an unexpected approach, one in which the Predators are not in control -- bad people are. That meant shifting loyalties for the reader allied with a strong plot, which means good fun.

I guess that's why Predator: Hunters II is currently being published!

The art is straightforward and unremarkable, which is fine by me.

CALL OF DUTY: ZOMBIES #1: There are no zombies in this book, and I don't play Call of Duty, so I have no idea what connection the title has to the story! But I did enjoy the story, so I don't mind.

Set in 1910, a mysterious bearded person (who bears a close resemblance to King Schultz in Django Unchained) enlists a former Parisian criminal from the Foreign Legion to help him find a mystical object. There are bad Parisian criminals after it, too, who dress in white three-piece suits and have French accents, like Belloq in Raiders of the Lost Ark. Since the object in question is the "sceptre of Ra" and most of the action takes place in the North African desert, the whole thing has quite a Raiders vibe to it. The artwork supports that idea, so I'm on board.

"I was expecting the art to resemble the Chester Gould style, but that didn't happen. Baker was drawing them in his most cartoony style but seemed to be under an editorial mandate to draw Tracy with Warren Beatty's face, which just looked weird."

That's what I meant by "visually interesting." :P

Captain Comics said:

DAREDEVIL ANNUAL #1: This issue presents the first meeting between Daredevil and Misty Knight, in her pre-bionic days as an NYPD detective. It's fine for what it is, but doesn't really tell us anything we didn't already know about these two characters. It almost feels like a throwback to 1970s storytelling, but that could be that I'm mentally placing this story where it would fit chronologically, which is before Iron Fist debuted in 1974.

I just read Daredevil Annual #1 (would they please stop with the new number one business for annuals? Please?) and thought it was a serviceable buddy cop story. I've only seen Misty Knight here and there over the years, so I had forgotten that she actually was on The Job, as they say, for a while.

One niggling thing about that, though. The artist gave Misty a (badly drawn) revolver, and each time I saw it, it threatened to yank me out of the story. If the artist had done the barest minimum of research -- like, watching an episode of Blue Bloods -- he would have drawn Misty with an semi-automatic pistol.

The New York Police Department switched from revolvers to Glocks back in the '80s. Anybody who had a revolver could keep it until he or she retired, so that's the sign of an old-timer -- like Lenny Briscoe and Joe Fontana on Law & Order. Even though this story is set in the past, Misty isn't an old-timer.

Been reading through the Avengers No Surrender trade having not really enjoyed Avengers stuff for some time but this is actually engaging me.

The issue focussing on Red Wolf and with Hawkeye returning to his costume is probably my favourite Avengers stuff since forever!

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