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've never had a book about voudou recommended to me. I can say there was no mention of using it to create zombies! I know that is part of the legend. The one book recommended to me repeatedly is Graham Greene's novel The Comedians, which is set in the era of Papa Doc and his secret police the Tontons Macoute. Papa Doc hated it, but contemporary Haitians seem to think there is a lot of truth in it. I've got the Kindle edition and plan to read it before I return to the country, hopefully in January for this year's PAPJazz festival.

Captain Comics said:

Thanks for the voodoo info, Mark -- you are clearly better traveled than I, and have corrected my parochial, experiential view. This will help me when reading voodoo stories in the future, and alter my opinion of those I've read before. At the very least, House of Whispers will seem less hokey.

Are there any good books about the state of voodoo, or its history in pop culture? I know that Night of the Living Dead had some kind of impact on voodoo in pop culture -- prior to that, if you wanted to do a zombies movie, you pretty much had to set your story in the Caribbean. After George Romero, you could set a zombie story anywhere, and without the use of voodoo, which opened up the genre. I wouldn't doubt that also meant a decline in voodoo-related movies, but I don't know of any non-anecdotal evidence to that effect.

The Wicked + The Divine Vol. 7: Mothering Invention
Kieron Gillen, writer; Jamie McKelvie, artist; Matthew Wilson, colourist; Clayton Cowles, letterer
Image Comics, 2018

The story is moving towards its climax, but it begins with Ananke's origin, nearly 6,000 years ago. In the present, Cassandra and Persephone are stuck in a prison with Jon's disembodied head. They are beginning to understand the ritual of collecting god's heads that we saw in the origin scene. As events proceed in the present, flashbacks reveal the ancient power play between Ananke and her sister (who apparently assumes the role of the youngest god in the pantheon at each iteration: she is "The Child"). There is an extended sequence of their final showdown through the ages--a marvelous bit of historical research, but still visually monotonous (followed later by an even more static sequence of black panels as the surviving god tries to do something: hold off the Great Darkness?). Back in the present a pregnant Persephone abandons her child and her godhood. Back to being Beth, she finds there is still something magical about her. There are many questions answered in this arc, but some big questions remain.

After finishing Brubaker & Phillips' My Heroes Have Always Been Junkies--more on that later--I had some time to catch up with another e-comic that's been on my Kindle Fire for a long time. Dark Horse publisher Mike Richardson created The Secret with artist Jason Shawn Alexander. It's a horror story about some high school students who become entangled with a serial killer as the result of a phone prank. It has some interesting twists and turns, including a twist ending that could allow for a sequel. The paperback came out in 2007, so that seems unlikely. An altogether credible turn by Richardson, with atmospheric art from Alexander.

I put my ongoing reading projects on hold while I read Brief Answers to the Big Questions and The League of Regrettable Sidekicks, but I did manage to read some new things as well.

STRANGER THINGS #2: Okay, so that’s how Will made the lights flicker.

HEROES IN CRISIS #2: Lots of navel gazing, little action.

ARKHAM DREAMS #2: It’s been a long time since I last read The Maxx. I’m out of practice. Purty pitchers, though.

ARCHIE MEETS BATMAN ’66 #4: If only Allred were doing the covers as well as the interiors.

LEAGUE OF EXTRAORDINARY CERIBI: Again, more than ½ the issue is new. The reprints are up to March 11, 2017.

PLANET OF THE APES: THE TIME OF MAN: This is not part of my current reading project, but rather a one-shot that shipped last week. It features three “man-centric” stories, from three different continuities: 1) the classic film series, 2) Boom Studios’ comic book series, and 3) the new movie series. The first is a tale of Caesar’s boyhood (chimphood?) set between Escape from the Planet of the Apes and Conquest of the Planet of the Apes and features Armando draw in the likeness of Ricardo Montalban; the second is the story of a boy raised as a pet to a family or apes; the third deals with a group of human refugees who encounter a group of apes. It is water-colored in a style that closely resembles the recently completed Grass Kings. Recommended to Apes fans.

THE ADDAMS FAMILY: AN EVILUTION: Inspired by our current TV watching project, Tracy bought this 2011 collection of Charles Addams’ original cartoons for me. It’s not complete (of course) and not chronological, but rather is broken into sections by character. The cartoons are chosen to show each characters’ first and second appearances (sometimes years apart), and a random sampling featuring the respective character. There’s a good variety of art stuyles represented: some in black & white, some in color, some book covers, some unpublished sketches, etc. It’s a very good collection.

LITTLE ORPHAN ANNIE – AUGUST-OCTOBER 1934:

Bleek’s “Ghost Gang” divvies up the profits of their latest haul: $1 million apiece. Annie saves Bluster from a beating at best, a lynching at worst, but she didn’t know it was him. Annie regrets the way things have turned out for “Daddy.” Now that his powerbase is secure, Bluster feels sorry for him, too. Annie is forced to protect a criminal hiding in Bleek’s house, but she has a plan to bring down the “Ghost Gang.” Bleek mistakenly thinks Annie holds a grudge against the cops for Warbucks being in prison.

Annie approaches Bluster with a deal: she will help Bluster put the “Ghost Gang” away if Bluster will free “Daddy.” He agrees, but she insists that he put it on paper and sign it. The “Ghost gang” pulls one last job, but it’s a set-up and they get caught. Bluster has the signed document promising to free Warbucks stolen, then he betrays Annie. Meanwhile, Wun Wey has not only been keeping tabs on Bluster, but on Warbucks unfaithful secretary Z.Z. Hare as well. Hare is still in an asylum in Mexico, but he has regained his sanity.

Bleek’s lawyer, Busard, plans to soak him for all he’s worth. Free on bail, Bleek and his gang attempt to kill Annie and Libby, but Wun Wey spirits them away to a safehouse. Wun wey, Jake and Flophouse Bill fly to Mexico and free Hare. Then they take incriminating secret films as well as Hare to the governor, who has Warbucks secretly freed. Bleek discovers where Annie and Libby are being hidden, and on Sunday, October 28, everything comes to a head. Bleek and his gang make a play for Annie, but “Daddy” comes to her rescue. “Daddy” is caught in Bleek’s sights, but Sandy saves him. The police arrive (Warbucks brought them but run ahead), and Annie learns that “Daddy” is free!

This Wednesday, Little Orphan Annie Vol. 15 (reprinting strips from March 13, 1950 to October 28, 1951) will be released. I had estimated that I could complete this project by the end of the year if I read one month’s worth of strips each days. Two weeks ago I was keeping a good pace at three months a day, but then I took a whole week off. We’ll see what happens.

“FUTURE HISTORY CHRONICLES” (PLANET OF THE APES):

If I didn’t like “Kingdom on an Island of the Apes” when I was a kid (and I didn’t), I really didn’t like the “Future History Chronicles.” Like “Kingdom,” the “Chronicles” was too far a departure from the Planet of the Apes premise [I felt at the time]. Plus, Tom Sutton’s highly detailed pencils were too subtle for me to appreciate, which were reproduced un-inked, a rarity even today. Also like the Derek Zane stories, I appreciate the “Chronicles” series more now.

The serial appeared in issues #12, 15, 17, 24 & 29. Doug Moench had an additional 18-page script plotted when the magazine was cancelled with #29, ending the serial on a cliffhanger. The first chapter is set on an enormous city-ship called Hyromeda. It is split between fore and aft, with Gorillas occupying the front half, and chimpanzees and orangutans in the rear. Below decks, human slaves work the oars, several stories tall. The action begins with the assassination of a chimp by a hooded assassin just before negotiations with the gorillas are set to begin. Additional killings set the apes against one another, but the assassin is a human, Alaric, from below decks.

The humans set the ship afire and flee in the lifeboats, leaving the apes to burn or drown. In addition to Alaric are Reena, his wife, his best friend Starkor, and an architect gorilla named Greymalkin. In future installments they build their own city-ship and set about attacking ape-controlled city-ships to free the slaves. The tone is morally ambiguous because they will sometimes allow the human slaves to share the apes’ fate if they cannot be freed.

CHILD OF TOMORROW: I am always in the middle of an EC collection from Fantagraphics, but I may go weeks at a time without reading them. This one features the work of Al Feldstein. I left off with “Origin of the Species” (a little more than halfway through the book, because that is where Feldstein stopped drawing the stories he wrote. Starting with “House in Time,” the rest of the stories are written by Feldstein but drawn by others.

WONDER WOMAN & DETECTIVE COMICS – THE COMPLETE COVERS: For many years I have owned two small volumes of Action Comics covers from issue #1-600, and I hoped more would be published one day. Insight editions (a different publisher) has released the first volumes of two series featuring 300 issues each of both Wonder Woman and Detective Comics. The volumes are hardcover and even smaller than the earlier Action Comics series (less than three inches tall would say). I saw them in Previews a couple of months ago and special ordered them.

LITTLE ORPHAN ANNIE – NOVEMBER 1934:

Now that the jewel thieves have been captured, it’s time to go after the crooked politicians. Harold Gray engineers it in such a way that justice is fast-tracked. Libby is quickly and unceremoniously written out of the strip; “Daddy” and Annie see her of on a train with no mention of where she’s going.

The criminals have been punished, but “Daddy” is still broke and must start over at the bottom rung. To save on expenses, he and Annie move into a modest apartment. Warbucks refuses help from Wun Wey, Jake and Flophouse Bill. He takes a manual labor job as a dock worker. By the end of the month, they move to an even smaller, cheaper apartment. Thanksgiving is just the two of them, round steak and fried potatoes.

PRINCE VALIANT (#312-350): “Return to Thule”

Unable to get Aleta off his mind, Prince Valiant travels to the fens of his youth to receive a third prophecy (which ends up being much like the first two) from Horrit the witch. Val encounters Sligon, still happily living in Val’s boyhood home. Val realizes how much he misses Thule. It has been three years since he left; he is now 18 years old. Before returning to Camelot, Val visits Merlin at his castle to make sense of Horrit’s prophecy. Merlin basically tells him not to worry about it.

After a series of short adventures, Val and his squire, Beric, leave Camelot and book passage on a ship heading north. The passengers are a colorful lot and have many interactions with one another. After an eventful (to say the least!) voyage, Val returns home to hear his father in in treaty negotiations with Valgrind of the inner lands. Suspecting treachery, Val disguises himself as a troubadour and joins Valgrind’s party. He thwarts Valgrind’s plot and Val and his father have a tearful reunion.

GREEN LANTERN #1: I’m not sure whether I like this or not. It’s definitely a new beginning, yet I feel I’ve missed so much. In reflection of Showcase #22, a GL spaceship lands on Earth and Hal Jordan (already a Green Lantern, although the Oans have temporarily taken his power battery) finds it. The backstory of him having been a toy salesman and an insurance salesman is in place, so I guess Flashpoint continuity is out the window…? No matter. I’m barely familiar with it, anyway. The first issue is spent setting up the future direction of the series. There’s not a lot to go on, story-wise, but I was encouraged by a short interview with writer Grant Morrison and artist Liam Sharpe after the story. I am not enthusiastic (yet) but I am optimistic.

IMMORTAL HULK #8: This issue was more than a little disturbing. The Hulk has literally been cut to pieces and placed inside specimen jars. His heart has been cut in half. After sundown it starts beating. When brought into proximity of the other pieces, the Hulk’s hand snaps its fingers, breaking the jars, and the pieces begin to reassemble. If that’s not disturbing enough, the pieces form around the lead scientist, absorbing him into the Hulk’s body. And if that’s not disturbing enough, when the Hulk later changes back to Bruce Banner, Banner’s body sort of “melts” out of the Hulk’s body and “falls” from it. The Hulk has undergone some strange transformations over the years, but this is the weirdest. Also, Hulk has crossed a line pretty clearly delineated a few years ago that he has never taken a life.

THE WRONG EARTH #3: This issue was sold out by the time I got to my LCS. I added it to my p&h so I won’t miss #4.

I'm still trying to understand the direction of Immortal Hulk. Obviously  this Hulk is far too dangerous to leave loose and there seems to be no way to completely stop him and he pummels Thor with ease! And like the now war-driven Sub-Mariner, this Hulk will be part of the coming Defenders reunion. Doctor Strange will have his hands filled!

X-MEN BLACK (5 one-shots): Meh. Mojo was inconsequential, Juggernaut was mediocre and Mystique was disappointing.

The best was Magneto where they gave him some of Sir Ian McKellan's charm and relaxrd the character a bit. They set up a new and "ripped from the headlines" threat and the knowledge that Magneto, in this story, is right!

The most interesting was Emma Frost which combines her ambition with the #MeToo movement as she rises above her kinky origins. It sets up potentially a new Hellfire Club with Emma as its new King, though it makes the X-Men look very stupid!

DC/Hanna-Barbera III: Better than the last one and way better than the last DC/Looney Tunes set. 

Deathstroke/Yogi Bear: Yogi is the most like his cartoon counterpart and makes him both annoying and likeable!

Green Lantern/Huckleberry Hound: Poignant and timely story with one major flaw. It didn't need Huckleberry Hound! They could have substituted ANY other DC, HB, WB or LT character and you would have the same story!

Nightwing/Magilla Gorilla: best of the bunch. This Magilla, though nothing like his cartoon counterpart, is a complex character with flaws and insights. It also includes a reimagined Grape Ape as his "youthful ward" to connect him with Nightwing. This could have been a "canon" DC story if it involved Gorilla City!

Superman/Top Cat; Weakest of the bunch but then I have no nostalgic fondness for Top Cat!

THE GREEN LANTERN #1: I'm with Jeff in that this book didn't really excite me, or decide me on whether or not I want to continue. That's not a good look for a first issue, especially one so highly touted.

I will, of course, give Morrison a chance to wow me. This first story sure was odd, paralleling Showcase #22 to a large extent. But we did get some odd bits, like Dr. Manhattan's symbol appearing on the Book of Oa, an indication of several Sector 2814 Lanterns we haven't seen before (and aren't human) and an indication of why a Green Lantern would ever need a spaceship with the "meat wagon." (DC has explained why Abin Sur was in a spaceship before, but never to my satisfaction.)

I can't comment on the interview at the end, because my DRC didn't include that. And one last thought: What is wrong with Hal's biceps on the cover? That's just bizarre.

ARCHIE 1941 #3: This book is so slow-moving as to be boring. And I'm not interested in a lot of the supposed drama, like a miscommunication between versions of Mr. and Mrs. Andrews that I've never seen before and never will again. I'm hanging in there on the strength of the premise, but something needs to happen soon!

GREEN ARROW #46: This title started a story in issue #44 that was immediatlye dropped in #45 due to the Heroes in Crisis events, where Ollie had some dramatic confrontations with the League (and punched Superman), developments that were dropped like a hot potato as we go right back to the story in #44. Wow, that's clumsy.

ARCHIE MEETS BATMAN '66 #4: The art is so, so bad. Just ruins it for me.

BATMAN SECRET FILES #1: Enjoyed all these stories, which aren't in continuity and don't feature Bat-psycho.

BRITTANIA: LOST EAGLES OF ROME #4: This mini wraps up without doing any great harm to the principals or premise, so maybe we can look forward to another sequel. I will, anyway, as I enjoy this historical confection.

I read Rob's story in the back of The Wrong Earth #3 last night!

I thought it was a fantastic twist on The Picture of Dorian Gray. Not sure if that's what you were going for Rob, but please know that it was a fantastic story. I love how fully developed it became in such a short space of time.

Black Science Vol. 8: Later Than You Think
Rick Remender, writer; Matteo Scalera, artist; Moreno Dinisio, colors
Image Comics, 2018

When we left the series Kadir had possibly doomed the entire universe. But this arc begins with Sara and Grant going through a kind of inter-dimensional marital therapy. Sara gets to see what her life might have become if she followed her dream to become a performer, and both of them get to meet several people they had lost contact with...and they rediscover their connection. But they have not forgotten the search for their children that has driven much of the action in the series. When the opportunity presents itself to use a Pillar drill to get to the base level of reality, they take it (as other versions of themselves have apparently also done). Just when everything seems lost, their old team (including the children) comes to the rescue. The main question for longtime readers is: with so many versions of these characters in multiple universes, are these "our" Sara and Grant? Are we actually seeing the resolution of their story, or is it just another thread in the multiverse?

I bought The Wrong Earth #2 and #3 today and just read Rob's story. I like that everything isn't explained. Chester's reactions strike me as believable. Very good writing.


Wandering Sensei: Moderator Man said:

I read Rob's story in the back of The Wrong Earth #3 last night!

I thought it was a fantastic twist on The Picture of Dorian Gray. Not sure if that's what you were going for Rob, but please know that it was a fantastic story. I love how fully developed it became in such a short space of time.

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