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

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Last night I read the first three issues of Kieron Gillen’s Peter Cannon Thunderbolt. I’ve never read any of the original Peter Cannon stories, but I thought this was an interesting take.

Gillen has apparently taken inspiration from Watchmen and, in a clever twist, he casts Peter Cannon in conflict with an other dimensional version of himself who appears to be based on Ozymandias (who was ironically based on Peter Cannon in the first place!). Most of this is done in the 9 panel grid motif with some pretty decent art.

The story basically spins out of the events of Watchmen in much the same way that Doomsday Clock does and even features alternate versions of the Charlton characters filtered through their Watchmen counterparts.

This is one of the few Dynamite titles I would actually recommend.

Thanks for doing this, Dave! Yeah, I think even the most generous reading of this -- switching all the inconclusives to deaths -- only gives us a dozen. (Or slightly more, depending on how many people were in that dirigible,)

Dave Palmer said:

I don’t get 24 deaths.  Some people do die, and with the exception of the two vampires, I don’t think killing was ever Batman’s intention.  How do you interpret the deaths.  Again, I don’t get 24 unless I missed something big, like a lot of deaths when the dirigible crashed.

His phone conversation seems to be with Murray Boltinoff.

Jeff of Earth-J said:

Yeah, that picture on the bottom appeares to be the reference for the panel of him speaking on the phone.

Like I said, not how I pictured him!

What did we do before the internet?

I read the first issue of Peter Cannon: Thunderbolt and liked it, Tec. When I couldn't find issue 2, I decided I'd wait for the rest to go on sale for a buck apiece on Comixology; Dynamite puts their whole line up fairly regularly.  

Faithless #1: This comes from Boom, and it's written by Brian Azzarello and drawn by Maria Llovet. This is about a witch (who starts out as a wanna-be witch?) who loves sexy times. It's not a Tarot book, so it's done more respectfully than you might be expecting. It's good. She meets another woman who is trying to break up with her boyfriend, but he's not having it. That's when Faith's abilities first become manifest. Not for the faint of heart, but it's a good comic. I will probably continue reading this one.

Invisible Kingdom #1: This first issue, on the other hand, was about cosmic space nuns, and while it was very well written (thanks to G. Willow Wilson) and beautifully drawn (Christian Ward), it wasn't quite enough to keep me reading. Don't get me wrong, it's very interesting, and the characters are pretty well-developed in their first issue's worth of pages. But it's simply the subject matter that wasn't enough to keep me around until next issue. There is something backward going on in the midst of a woman who seeks to become a space nun, and a group of cargo-shippers who both begin to realize that something very illegal is going down that involves both of their worlds. If you like space opera, this might be your thing.

The Curse of Brimstone #12: This final chapter of the title sees Joe face off against the bad guy (I still haven't figured out who exactly this guy is...the Salesman, he's called? Why does he have the powers of Firestorm?). It is a pretty crazy issue, which feels very padded out, but also rushed, like the title was suddenly canceled, but they couldn't wrap up what they had planned, so they just decided to spend the whole last issue marking time up to the last page, where a character suddenly changes in a way that will never be played out, because the book is canceled, and likely to be forgotten. It's written by Justin Jordan, who I normally enjoy, and the art is by Denys Cowan, who I always love. His work here stands out as the highlight of this issue.

The Terrifics #14: Honestly, this book gave me the warm fuzzies. The major battle might as well have been from a Superfriends episode, but the fallout of the battle was magical to me. It showed that this group has become a family, and it goes so far as to say it outright. Mr. and Mrs. Miracle, Metamorpho and Element Dog, Phantom Girl, Plastic Man, and Offspring (a character whom I was afraid was gone forever) all came together at the end after bidding farewell to Tom and Tesla Strong after their big battle. Very well written by Jeff Lemire and drawn nicely by Joe Bennett with inks by the power team of Scott Hanna and Dexter Vines.

Redlands #10-12: These three issues came out pretty rat-a-tat, as opposed to the previous issues. I think there may have been a lull so that the creative teams can catch up for awhile. This is a truly horrific series about witches who live in rural Florida, and it is an amazing series if you haven't read any of it yet.

I truly do not know how to describe this series, but if you are into any of the supernatural comics that deal with the occult world, like Wytches, The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina (comic or Netflix series), or any of the older comics like Eerie or Creepy, you should love this book.

Batman Europa: I read this hardcover on loan from the library, and while it was okay, I'm really glad I didn't pay for it. It was a miniseries from a couple years ago, but I guess had no idea what it was about.

First, it was written by Brian Azzarello and Mateo Casali. It was drawn with layouts by Giuseppe Camuncoli on all four issues, with finishes by different artists on each of the four issues: Jim Lee, Giuseppe himself, Gerald Parel, and Diego Latorre.

The story is relatively simple, but that's not a problem. Batman and his bestest pal, the Joker, are both infected with a virus. The cure for this virus sends them all around Europe--Berlin, Prague, Paris, and Rome--chasing clues as they gradually both slow down as they drain toward their demise.

The surprise villain isn't actually that big a surprise when you realize that the first time he attempted to destroy Batman, he also made sure he was really sick and tired to make him easier to beat. And if, like me, you are sick and tired of the "Batman Loves Joker" approach to uninteresting storytelling, then the cure itself will make you sick.

I really really like Brian Azzarello's writing normally, but this is not one of his better efforts for my tastes. The art is kind of cool, though.

I don't have much to add to what Jeff said, as I agree completely with his sentiments. This is one of the best Marvel comics I have read in years.



Jeff of Earth-J said:

SPIDER-MAN LIFE STORY #1: First, a nitpick concerning the advertising copy (which also is repeated on the first, non-story, page): “In 1962, a 15 year old boy…” I have read the Lee/Ditko Spider-Man many times and nowhere is it mentioned that he was 15 years old. I get the impression that he is probably a high school senior, but three years into the run, Peter Parker graduated high school. Assuming he was 18 then, someone simply counted backwards, assuming the comic took place in real time.

That assumption, however, could not be further from the truth (as the entire point of this series, which does take place in real time), tends to support. I don’t know who came up with that “15 years old” fallacy, but it wasn’t Chip Zdarsky, the series writer. Within the first two pages we learn: 1) it is 1966, 2) Peter has been Spider-Man for four years, and 3) he is a junior in college.

Beyond that, this story deals with the familiar but changes it in a unique way I have never experienced before. When Marvel was publishing Spider-Girl, OI used to pretend that it was the story of Spider-Man if he had aged in real time. Even then the math didn’t quite work, but this series is off to a good start. In this issue, Iron Man and, by the end, Captain America are fighting in Viet Nam (also not necessarily for the side one might expect in one case). Viet Nam weighs heavily on Peter Parker’s mind. Do his “great powers” not obligate him to the “great responsibility” of fighting for his country? Flash Thompson’s enlistment (in the original he was drafted) also plays a role. The main superheroic part of the story is the defeat of Norman Osborn, the Green Goblin, and the circumstances under which he discovered Peter’s secret and what he does about it. The situation is familiar, yet entirely new.

One additional note: the cover depicts the commonly accepted explanation of what the heck Spidey is swinging from as the end credits roll in the 1968 cartoon. I can hardly wait to see what happens next. This is my new favorite current Marvel title.

In addition to Spider-Man: Life Story #1, I also have read Superior Spider-Man # 1-4. 

This is a new series which debuted in late 2018, where Otto Octavius has once again decided to be a hero and not only a Spider-Man but the "Superior Spider-Man" (seriously, when people call him Spider-Man, he "corrects" them).  He has a new cloned body, with a new secret identity (college professor Elliot Tolliver), a new home base of San Fransisco, and a ton of flaws.  He tries to do the right thing but needs a lot of direction to get there from his former love interest Anna Maria Marconi.  He's egotistical, narcissistic, severely lacking in empathy, and basically thinks the rest of the world is beneath him because he's a genius.  In one hilarious scene, he refers to Victor von Doom as "that dropout".


The previous series from a few years back had Otto switching bodies with Peter Parker and assuming his identity.  While that series was (imo) well told, everyone knew (despite what Marvel said or hinted at the time) Otto was a place holder and at some point Peter would be back.  There were signs from the beginning that things would not end well for Otto and it didn't take long for the old villainous tendencies to pop up.  With this series, Otto and Peter have a truce to the point where Peter vouches for his old foe with Anna Maria.  It feels like Otto is making an honest effort to reform this time.  Maybe it will work, but then again it also seems like he is one bad moment from reverting to megalomaniac Doc Ock.

So far, the series has been fun.  Otto is even more socially awkward at times than Peter Parker at his nerdiest.  Anna Maria figured out Otto was Elliot Tolliver in about 5 seconds (and really, "Otto" is right there in his new identity, spell it out) and threatened to turn him in to the police until Terrax the Tamer, former herald of Galctus showed up, intent on destroying the city of SF.  From that point on, she is in his ear, helping him during the battle and guiding him to doing the right thing.  He also employs the formerly (?) villainous team of Night Shift to be his minions, with sometimes hilarious results.

MMW CAPTAIN MARVEL Vol. 2 (plus):

Marvel Masterworks Captain Marvel volume two begins like a round robin effort casting about for a direction that will work. It begins with issue…

#10: Arnold Drake & Don Heck. This issue reads like most of the stories in the previous volume. It begins with Captain Marvel standing in front of a firing squad. The rest of the issue is a flashback catching up to where the issue began and ends with the same cliffhanger. This issue marks the starting point for the mish-mash of stories to follow.

#11-12: Arnold Drake & Dick Ayers. This issue’s story is titled “Rebirth!” and it marks a change of direction. Medic Una is killed by friendly fire and Mar-Vell is hurled into interstellar space by Yon-Rogg. He encounters a powerful being who calls himself “Zo” and who grants him super-strength, teleportation and the power to cast illusions. Zo grants him some time to wrap up his personal affairs, but before he can take revenge upon Yon-Rogg, he becomes entwined in the Man-Slayer robot’s attack upon the Cape. The Black Widow is also involved, and Mar-Vell’s disappearance makes Walter Lawson a suspect.

#13-14: Gary Friedrich & Frank Springer. Marvel continues his fight against the Man-Slayer, he confronts Yon-Rogg and saves Carol Danvers, but Yon-Rogg escapes. Captain Marvel finally finishes off the Man-Slayer, and then fights Iron Man, who is being controlled by the Puppet Master, in the middle chapter of a three-part, multi-title crossover. The issue ends with two full-panel pages and a double-page spread in which Marvel is finally summoned by Zo.

#15: Gary Friedrich & Tom Sutton. Zo reveals his plan for Mar-Vell. A large idol has been erected by the followers of the god Tam-Bor on Mar-Vell’s home planet, Hala. The idol has magnetic properties which threaten the entire galaxy. It is Mar-Vell’s mission to destroy the idol. Unfortunately, the only way to eliminate the threat is to destroy the planet. This issue is filled with Steranko-esque layouts.

#16: Archie Goodwin & Don Heck (inked by Syd Shores). The whole bit about Zo turns out to be a hoax perpetrated by Ronan the Accuser and Imperial Minister Zarek. Their plan was to thwart Mar-Vell’s mission to destroy the planet, become heroes, and overthrow the Supreme Intelligence. They used Mar-Vell as a disposable pawn and tricked him into the Zo scenario using what is essentially a holodeck. In gratitude for helping to defeat Ronan and Zarek, the Suppreme Intelligence grants Marvel a new powers. Back on Earth, Yon-Rogg kidnaps Carol Danvers.It is this issue which introduces the concept of a blue-skinned race of Kree.

Roy Thomas: At this point, Roy Thomas has an idea to revive the title, but feels he has to write it himself to make it work. Drawing on a number of sources, he approaches Stan Lee. Thomas’s primary source of inspiration was Fawcett’s old Captain Marvel series (which, at that point, didn’t look as if it would ever be published again), substituting Rick Jones for Billy Batson. For Captain Marvel’s new look, he drew upon little-know 1946 hero Atoman, and Rick Jones’, James Dean’s from Rebel Without a Cause. He also drew upon a poem by Thomas Randolph and several other sources as well. Thomas then gives Archie Goodwin and Don Heck new assignments, and has the final three pages of #16 redrawn to meet his needs. On his way Back to Earth, Captain Marvel is drawn into the Negative Zone for no particular reason (other than writer’s fiat).

Gil Kane: Enter Gil Kane. Kane had done some work for Marvel (on Captain America in Tales of Suspense and Hulk in Tales to Astonish) some years prior, and at this point he approached Stan Lee for mare work at Marvel. (I read Kane’s earlier Marvel work reprinted in the ‘70s, and was surprised, years later, that he was better known for his DC work on Green Lantern and The Atom.) In particular, Kane expressed interest in drawing Captain Marvel. (It would have been the version in the green and white uniform he had in mind, obviously.) That’s an interesting “what if” to ponder.

#17: This issue introduces the new status quo by Roy Thomas and Gil Kane. Rick Jones crossed over from a recent stint in Captain America (and I think those issue work better as a lead-in, from Rick Jones’ point of view, than the previous issues of Captain Marvel). Plot-wise, Mar-Vell confronts Yon-Rogg but he escapes.

#18: This issue introduces the concept that Rick Jones is a folk singer and also introduces his soon-to-be manager, Mordecai P. Boggs (modelled after Col. Tom Parker). Gil Kane changes to John Buscema between pages 12 and 13, but Kane will be back next issue. Yon-Rogg uses the Psyche-Magnetron to defeat Mar-Vell, but Mar-Vell turns the tables, defeats Yon-Rogg and saves Carol Danvers. (Years later we will learn that the Psyche-Magnetron had an unexpected effect on Carol Danvers, but that’s another story for another time.)

#19: Carol Danvers is written out of Captain Marvel in much the same way Dodo Chaplet was written out of Doctor Who. The story in this issue was suggested by Gil Kane and deals with the idea that the main character was a victim of a Nazi concentration camp. It was recent reprinted in “We spoke Out,” the Craig Yoe-edited collection of comic book stories which dealt with the Holocaust.

Martin Goodman: It is at this point that Martin Goodman cancelled the series based on pre-#17 sales figures.

Avengers #72: Martin Goodman may have been short-sighted, but Roy Thomas kept Captain Marvel and Rick Jones in the public eye by featuring them in this issue of the Avengers. This issue is not included in volume two of the Captain Marvel MMW, but it follows up on plot elements not only from Captain Marvel, but from Captain America and Nick Fury as well. Specifially, Scorpio is revealed to be a member of the crime cartel Zodiac, and captain America and Rick Jones reconcile.

#20-21: The post-#17 sales figures come in, and Martin Goodman reinstates Captain Marvel, for two issues only, after six months. The story features Bruce Banner and the Hulk.

Sub-Mariner #30: Captain Marvel’s next appearance is in Sub-Mariner #30, also not included in the Captain Marvel MMW under discussion. First they fight, then they team-up.

Not Brand Echh #9: This story is included in volume two, but it should have been included in volume one because it is a parody if the three-part origin story. It’s not very funny, but if you read this story first before the others in this volume, you can save yourself the time of reading volume one. I may have been pronouncing Medic Una’s name wrong all my life. I always thought it was OO-Na, but in this story, Roy Thomas calls her Una-Who, suggesting that he, at least, pronounces it YOU-Na.

This volume (next volume, too, for that matter) is a fascinating example of how a comic book might evolve over a short period of time.

NEXT UP: Captain Marvel and Rick Jones appear in “The Kree/Skrull War” in Avengers. I haven’t yet decided whether or not to re-read it at this time (it hasn’t been just too many years since I last read it), but I plan to move on to another volume of Daredevil while I decide.

I've been neck-deep in book research, so I can't really contribute -- I'm skimming stuff like the 1940s Mystery Men and Green Mask and it isn't very interesting. I've started reading the latest Golden Age Batman Omnibus but it's pretty repetitive so far and slow going.

But I can comment on what you guys are commenting on.

Jeff, your description of early Captain Marvel mirrors my memory of books I read in real time and have had zero interest in re-reading. The latter green-and-white Captain Marvel stories were just a mish-mash of mediocrity and rotating B-list creators. Even when Gene Colan drew the book, Vince Colletta was inking it, reducing it to crap. (I'm thinking of the issue that introduced the Aakon. I hope I'm remembering a-rightly.)

Roy Thomas really saved the character by turning him into the original Captain Marvel, at least superficially. It really solidified Rick Jones as the Eternal Sidekick, making his later association with Rom almost inevitable. And the primary-colors costume was far superior to the clunky green-and-whites (which remained useful to identify Kree soldiers).

I may have mentioned this before, but I didn't know anything about the original Captain Marvel until the Roy Thomas Captain Marvel issues. I was aware that "Shazam!" was a 1940s comics reference, but there was no Internet and nothing on it at my library, so I couldn't look it up. I saw Captain Marvel (played by Lyle Waggoner) in a comic book sketch on The Carol Burnett Show, but he wasn't named and I wondered who that guy was with the Pirates of Penzance cape, but none of the adults I consulted knew.  (Evidently there was another Carol Burnett Show sketch with Captain Marvel played by Tim Conway. I didn't see that one. Or maybe I"m mistaken about Lyle Waggoner, although it's hard to believe I could confuse him with Tim Conway.)

But with Thomas' Captain Marvel, something twigged me into understanding that it was an homage to a previous character. And as I thought about it, I began to put the pieces together ... "Shazam!", a superhero who switches places, a character famous enough to be on Carol Burnett that I'd never seen, the name Captain Marvel, scanty information from the few "history of comics" books I owned ... I suddenly got it. Captain Marvel was based on ... Captain Marvel! Five years or so later, DC finally published the first comic book featuring the original Captain Marvel since 1953, cementing my assumptions.

Sensei, I also read Batman: Europa when it came out, and echo your complaints.Bah!

'Tec, I discussed the Dynamite Thunderbolt a few pages back, where I also discussed the Watchmen connection. I should dislike it just because Gillen is building on something he didn't write, and the original writer has expressed his distaste for such, but I couldn't help but like it. It doesn't change a word of Watchmen, but it gives us an exploration of some of the concepts beyond the 1986 setting (and brutal ending) of Watchmen. It scratches an itch I didn't know I had.

And thanks, everyone, for adding to my reading list. I'll be looking for Redfields, Faithless and Spider-Man: Life Story.

Pardon my ignorance folks, but I thought Peter Cannon, Thunderbolt was at DC when they bought ownership of all the Charlton heroes back in the 1980s before the original Crisis On Infinite Earths.

So how did the character wind up at Dynamite?

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