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

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...The day before this last day:

  Finishing off a sampling of pre-TV era newspaper comic strip THE BUNGLE FAMILY in a HOGAN'S ALLEY issue.

   Finishing the SUPERMAN UNCHAINED book.

  This last day:


  VAULT OF HORROR #21 in a Russ Cochran EVc annual - Whatta horror comic cover (& story)! Whoooh hooh. Whooah Nellie!

...I think this Cochran EC had a different numbering than the original"s #32...and it had a " director's cut " - a heh heh heh - version of the actual issued original cover of the EC-isssue #32,,,which was distinctly too spicy for the newsstands of the 50s, even the pre-Code period! Settle down, Beavis. Anyhow, I'd buy a T-shirt of that Cochran cover!


On his way to Camelot, Prince Valiant first comes upon Merlin’s tower and he enlists the wizard’s help. Morgan Le fey would murder Gawain at the approach of an armed force, Merlin asserts. He can cast a spell on her, but he needs a possession she values highly, so he sends Val back to Dolorous Garde. Val is able to capture her favorite hunting falcon. Merlin’s spell works and Gawain in released. (Foster would soon back away from these purely supernatural elements in favor of more scientific explanations.) Val holds off pursuit by stringing a cross across the roadway.

Val is eager to win Ilene, but Gawain insists they first report back to Camelot. There, Arthur announces that all knights are invited to a tournament at Ord to celebrate the marriage of Arn to Ilene. Val is crushed. Early the next morning, Val sets out alone to seek Arn and fight him for Ilene’s hand. On the way, he sees evidence of Viking raiders. He meets Arn on a frail bridge. They tilt and Arn falls into the water. His heavy armor drags him down, but Val quickly doffs his and saves Arn from drowning. (He wants to win in a fair fight.) With Arn’s equipment lost, they set off together in search of arms to continue their duel.

LITTLE ORPHAN ANNIE: From time to time, I plan to transcribe “words of wisdom” from the strip, usually some comment to illustrate how little things have changed over the intervening years.

“Whenever conditions get really too bad, decent people always get together and run the crooks to cover – but, once the job is completed, the decent people relax and the crooks come right back again. There’s nothing new about that. Crooks are crooks and are looked down on – but how about the so-called respectable people? Are they so very good when they allow their poorer neighbors to suffer? Respectable people, eh? Lazy, selfish, self-centered, many of them. I calim anybody who can see others suffer, without doing what he can to help, is as bad as any crook – just because a man says he’s not responsible is no excuse – if we are able to help but we don’t help, we are responsible.” – “Daddy” Warbucks, 1932

LITTLE ORPHAN ANNIE: “Words of Wisdom” – “You know, lots of people never learn to amuse themselves. They always have to go to shows or parties or must have a crowd around in order to be contented. They never take time to really think. A serious thought bores them – their minds are shallow – they depend on others to amuse them. But anyone who is dull company for himself is certainly dull company for others.” – “Daddy” Warbucks, 1932

Daredevil #608, continuing the misadventures of Mike Murdock, mysteriously present in the flesh to bedevil (heh) his brother Matt. 

Picking up right from the end of issue #607, Mike goes to Foggy Nelson's office. Foggy thinks it's Matt playing a gag, but then Mike describes what Foggy is wearing and orders him, at gunpoint, to call Matt. Foggy makes the call, but Mike demands to see his phone, and is irritated to see Foggy called Daredevil. 

It wasn't until that moment that I realized: Mike doesn't know Matt is Daredevil. 

Throughout, Mike is in a mad scramble to save his own skin, and why not? So he makes an appeal to a major power player who seemingly dismisses him ... but after that meeting, Mike gets contacted by someone offering him a job. 

I don't know where this is going, but I'm in for the ride. 

I think we've discussed here before how so many of the Legionnaires' real names were typical 20th century names with minor misspellings, letters transposed, or some other transparent variation.

I used to play a game with myself where I'd try to guess what the original name was before it was "futurized." Did y'all? Here were some of my guesses:

Gim Allon: Jim Allen. That one's easy.

Dirk Morgna: Dick Morgan.

Reep Daggle: Rip Diggle? Reed Digger? Everything I come up with sounds like a name from Boogie Nights.

Thom Kallor: Tom Carroll

Luornu Durga: Lorna ... Darko? Stuck on this one

Imra Ardeen: Irma Arden

Rokk Krinn: Rick ... Carnes? Cruz? Carson?

Lar Gand: Lars Gander. Maybe he's related to Gertrude, the duck in Journey to the Center of the Earth.

Salu Digby: Sally Davis

Tinya Wazzo: Tina Williams

And so forth.

Wandering Sensei: Moderator Man said:

When I read that annual, I noticed that too. And then I realized that Ayn Rand itself sounds very much like a Legionnaire's real name already.

And now for some books:

RED HOOD AND THE OUTLAWS #26: I don't usually read Red Hood, because I don't think it's remotely plausible that Batman lets this guy run around killing criminals -- a guy for whom Batman is directly responsible. RIght, Jason doesn't always kill criminals -- he sometimes takes the pledge, like in the recent Detective run with the huge Bat-squad -- but he's killed at least one, and that should be enough for Batman. (And he has killed considerably more than one.) But because using Red Hood allows DC to have another Bat-book, Batman is suddenly acting counter to 80 years of characterization. That burns me up, so I don't read the book and try to pretend it doesn't exist.

But I'm branching out, in case you hadn't noticed, and I'm reading books as they float to the top of my Dropbox que (where I put each week's review copies and advance review offers). Red Hood and the Outlaws #26 was at the top, so I read it.

I should preface this by saying that it didn't make any sense until I went back and read Red Hood and the Outlaws #25 and RHATO Annual #2. These three issues together were sufficient for me to follow what appears to be a sea change for the character.

If you haven't been following Red Hood and the Outlaws, it was as funhouse-mirror version of Trinity, starring an ersatz Batman (Red Hood), Superman (Bizarro) and Wonder Woman (Artemis). But the latter two have been shunted to a parallel earth, where all we've seen so far is a devastated city and Hall of Justice. Which is strange -- not because dystopic parallel earths are any surprise at this point, but because Artemis plays a major role in the concurrent Wonder Woman #54.

And Red Hood has had another falling out with Batman, over an attempted assassination of The Penguin (which apparently happened farther back than I wanted to go). So he's alone when the most recent book begins, and he is now positioned as a sort of Punisher, with a vendetta against The Mafia The Underlife. He kills a bunch of Underlifers and makes a friend of sorts with an attractive, twentysomething FBI agent. (Are there any ugly female FBI agents? Or fat agents? Or agents over 30? Not in pop culture!)

That's it. I think we can all kind of write what's going to happen next ourselves, because the blueprint is so obvious. The art is more angular than I care for, but it's serviceable. If you like Punisher, you might like this version of the archetype.

SUPER WEIRD HEROES VOL. 2: PREPOSTEROUS BUT TRUE! This is what my column is about this week. If you liked the first one (which I did), you'll like this one.

THE FLASH #54: Here's another title I haven't read for a while -- not because of lack of interest, but because there was always some other book or books clamoring to be read first.

Evidently, this title is now suffering from the Rainbow Lantern Syndrome. Like with Green Lantern's explosion of other-colored power rings and lanterns, Flash's Speed Force is turning out to be one among many. This issue shows Flash and Trickster suffering from the "Strength Force," while I know "Still Force" already exists (due to its appearance in Justice League) and the next-issue blurb promises the Sage Force in The Flash #55.

Meh. I thought the multi-colored Lantern business was brilliant when it was introduced, but it got so overused that I got bored with it. So I'm already bored with Flash's multi-Force business before I've even read it.

We also see Iris and Barry in some sort of lovers' quarrel based on pre-Crisis stuff (apparently Iris remembers some of it). And we're getting the original Trickster back. Which is also getting tiresome. If there's stuff from the Silver Age that you foolishly threw away in Crisis, DC writers, just re-introduce it or act as if it's a given. It's starting to feel like we're on a hamster wheel.

The art is sort of ugly '90s super-exaggeration, but that might just be suggested by the Strength Force, which Hulks out both Flash and Trickster.

DUCKTALES: QUESTS AND QUACKS: I chatted about Disney's Comics & Stories last week, about how the Barks-based artwork is actually better than Barks, I assume because of the decades that have passed where later artists -- standing on the shoulders of a giant -- perfected his style to where it presents a gorgeous, comprehensive world, where artists never draw a line wrong to pull you out of it.

This book is the opposite. It does have Uncle Scrooge on adventures to get richer, which is very Barksian, but his companions are the big-chested duck who flies planes (I've forgotten his name), usually only one of the nephews (Dewey in one, Louie in another), and several little girl ducks who do not appear to be the trio we're used to, but I don't know who they are. And since characters only rarely address each other by name, I never could learn their names.

And the art, to my eyes, is unacceptable. It's angular, it's harsh, it's super-modern and it's not Barks-based. Hard pass.

SUPERMAN #3: Well, I have to give Bendis a lot of credit here for one thing in particular: More-plausible pseudo-science.

One of the things that marked DC Comics as comics for kids -- at least to me -- in the Silver Age was the laughably implausible plot twists, like Thanagar and Rann changing places, or Earth's moon getting destroyed (multiple times) before being somehow restored. (In fact, that just happened recently in Justice League, and nobody seems to care.)

I didn't mind the twists, I just minded how ridiculous it was that two planets switching places in their respective solar systems wouldn't destroy both worlds. Earth is in the "Goldlilocks" zone where everything is in precise balance to allow life to exist. If it were to switch places with some planet in the Alpha Centauri system, we'd all be dead in minutes, if not seconds.

Our atmosphere would very likely outgas, suffocating us. Air pressure would change drastically, crushing us or letting us explode. Temperatures would swing wildly, one way or the other. Without our moon and usual gravity, tides and tectonic plates would run wild.

We would be too heavy or too light for our new position, and our orbit would immediately decay. The radiation levels would be wrong, too strong (annihilating us all) or too light, which means a collapse in natural systems that support the food chain. Volcanoes, earthquakes, tsunamis, mass die-offs -- the list of disasters that would afflict a planet that was moved from its position in its own solar system goes beyond biblical.

And that's exactly what's happening in Superman. A S.T.A.R. Labs experiment appears to be the cause of the planet going into the Phantom Zone, and the effects are immediate and dire. It's not as bad as it should be -- or there'd be no story, since everyone would be dead -- but everyone's getting sick, the atmosphere is being poisoned, natural disasters are erupting everywhere, planes and birds can't navigate, and on and on. Earth needs to go home immediately, or everyone is going to die, whether Rogol Zaar attacks or not.

Oh, wait. Rogol Zaar IS attacking, after killing Nuclear Man (unnamed, but clearly the guy from Superman IV: The Quest for Peace), teaming up with Jax-Ur and recruiting an army of evil Zoners. Superman -- pretty much the only Earth citizen who is not getting sick and needs to get right on reversing this situation -- is going to be pretty busy instead. And since he couldn't beat Rogol Zaar before he got an army of super-criminals at his back, Supes is vastly outmatched.

This isn't good for Superman and the Earth, but it's good comics.

YRAEGEL: URM THE MAD: I think it's a good thing that Titan is reprinting what appears to be the entire ouvre of outre French artist Phillipe Druillet. But I don't expect it make any sense.

This book is a case in point. What story there is doesn't really start for quite a while, with caption after caption of purple prose describing catastrophe that goes nowhere, explains nothing and gets really tiresome really quickly. Somewhere along the way Yraegel appears -- I think I may be expected to know him from previous books, but I am unsure -- and I didn't notice, as my eyes were glazing over. He has sex, and a son -- I had to read the book's description to understand that's what happened -- and ... I dunno. I gave up reading and just looked at the pictures.

Which is the point for any Druillet book, for my money. The guy's style is amazing, original and, I feel safe in saying, completely insane. So the book is worthwhile to me just for the pretty pictures. The ugly ones, too. Sometimes a single drawing is both.

WONDER WOMAN #54: I seem to have missed an issue or two, because the last issue of WW I read featured the death of her brother, which was such an incredibly terrible, wrong-headed, very bad, no good, reprehensible story idea that everyone involved should be shot. Come to think of it, maybe I had such a bad taste in my mouth that they introduced such an awful idea (A brother? A BROTHER? If Diana needs a sibling, GIVE HER A SISTER. Geez, this is Wonder Woman, not Boy Comics.) that I skipped over WW for a couple of months.

Anyway, somehow WW is accompanied by Artemis (the Wonder Woman of the Bana-Mighdal tribe) and Atalanta (the long-lost founder of Bana-Mighdal) to Bana-Mighdal, which is currently battling the armies of its host country, Qurac. Rustum -- you remember him from Suicide Squad, right? -- is leading the Quraci army, and somehow he's alive, which he explains in a few panels (and mentions Vitamin 2-X, which created the original Blue Beetle in 1939). Anyway, a big fight begins. Before that the Bana-Mighdalians reject Atalanta, who is appalled how bloodthirsty and anti-Amazon ideals the Bana-Mighdalians have become. I don't know where that's going, but it's interesting

The art is virtually without shading, which is almost normal these days, and I usually don't like that. Here, though, it gives a vibe of antiquity, like the characters stepped off a Roman frieze or a Greek urn or an Egyptian heiroglyphic. That works for me.

I'm interested to see where this goes, even though I have no idea how the story began.

Captain Comics said:

WONDER WOMAN #54: I seem to have missed an issue or two, because the last issue of WW I read featured the death of her brother, which was such an incredibly terrible, wrong-headed, very bad, no good, reprehensible story idea that everyone involved should be shot. Come to think of it, maybe I had such a bad taste in my mouth that they introduced such an awful idea (A brother? A BROTHER? If Diana needs a sibling, GIVE HER A SISTER. Geez, this is Wonder Woman, not Boy Comics.) that I skipped over WW for a couple of months.

Wonder Woman has a brother? Wha --- ?

I know I'm going to regret hearing the answer, but -- what are you talking about?

Well, you see, the Punisher and the Russian...

ClarkKent_DC said:

Captain Comics said:

WONDER WOMAN #54: I seem to have missed an issue or two, because the last issue of WW I read featured the death of her brother, which was such an incredibly terrible, wrong-headed, very bad, no good, reprehensible story idea that everyone involved should be shot. Come to think of it, maybe I had such a bad taste in my mouth that they introduced such an awful idea (A brother? A BROTHER? If Diana needs a sibling, GIVE HER A SISTER. Geez, this is Wonder Woman, not Boy Comics.) that I skipped over WW for a couple of months.

Wonder Woman has a brother? Wha --- ?

I know I'm going to regret hearing the answer, but -- what are you talking about?

LITTLE ORPHAN ANNIE: “Words of Wisdom” – “Life sure is funny – you can scheme and plan and hope, but you never can see one inch into the future – even tomorrow is always a mystery. No chance to sneak a look at the last chapter to see how your life is going to turn out in the end – you have to take each page as t comes – life’s sort of a serial – one installment each day. Maybe that’s why life’s so interesting.” – “Daddy” Warbucks, 1932

Some things I've read during the last week:

The Black Monday Murders Vol. 2
Jonathan Hickman, words; Tomm Coker, art; Michael Garland, colors; Rus Wooton, letters
Image Comics, 2018

I'm not sure if this is the end of a miniseries or if it is ongoing. It certainly could be the conclusion (with some interesting possibilities for a sequel). The power struggle between the rich families escalates into a final confrontation, a terrifying ritual known as "balancing the scales" (which comes complete with one of Hickman's obsessive diagrams explaining how it works). Thomas Dane the enforcer narrowly escapes death by his own hand--compelled by a command in the arcane ancient language the moneyed elite all speak--and plays a role in the Epilog. He has found a family member who went into exile, likely an important character if the story continues. The police detective and the professor meet the god Mammon: fitingly enough, he is an actual god who lives in the basement of the Federal Reserve building in Washington, DC. When the detective goes to see the Rothchild CEO, he tells her what he knows--and says he wants in. This came as quite a surprise to me, and would make a sequel very interesting indeed.

Deadly Class Vol. 7: Love Like Blood
Rick Remender, writer; Wes Craig, artist; Jordan Boyd, colorist
Image Comics, 2018

All of the chickens come home to roost in this installment, which is primarily a gigantic battle royale between groups of Kings Dominion students, Yakuza thugs sent to retrieve Saya, and local police on the Yakuza payroll. They have all come to Mexico, where Marcus and Maria have reunited, hoping to escape from this madness. There is a flashback providing previously unknown details of Zenzele's background. Marcus and Viktor have a showdown, then become allies--and there is a major character death, a surprisingly low body count given the massive violence in the arc. In the course of all of the violence there are several refernces comparing it to "a Frank Miller comic," although I think Remender may have him beat here, at least in terms of scale.

Monstress Vol. 3: Haven
Marjorie Liu, writer; Sana Takeda, artist
Image Comics, 2018

Maika Halfwolf makes it to the neutral city of Pontus, where she hopes to find some refuge from her persuers. But things do not turn out so simply. In exchange for asylum Maika must use her bloodline (and Zinn, the Monstrum that lives inside her) to unlock some of the secrets of her ancestor, the Shaman-Empress. We find out who Master Ren the cat has been serving, and young Kippa the fox turns out to be more important than she appeared. The jail containing the old gods is opened--a threat to everyone in the world--and finally Maika finds a way to close the door. Behind all of this the various political factions are either trying to start a war, or prevent it. I continue to have trouble following the political machinations: the series has a large cast, and it can be hard to keep track, especially when some of the characters only appear occasionally. But Monstress continues to be striking and unique visually, and the action tends to carry things along even when all of the details aren't in focus.


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