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

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Reading through the Detective Comics: 80 Years of Batman hardcover, I got to "The Strange Experiment of Dr. Erdel," the origin of the Martian Manhuter. And it struck me... for the lead-up to a detective feature, it's not much of a story, is it? Erdel performs his experiment, summons J'onn, dies almost immediately afterward, and then J'onn demos a couple of his powers and floats around unseen for a while and decides to become a detective. We don't see why he's qualified for the job, we don't see him solve a case... he just shows up as John Jones and a police officer wonders what the rookie's first case will be... and then it's See you next issue, kids! 

I'd have much rather have seen a lesser-known story from later in his run, where he actually solves a crime. At least we got to see Air Wave and Roy Raymond do that! (Not so much with Pow-Wow Smith, but at least his origin isn't one we know the beats of in our sleep.)

COMIC STRIP CORNER:

LITTLE ORPHAN ANNIE: A couple of you have inquired about my “Annie” updates. March is the busiest month of the year in my department and I couldn’t keep up with them. Also there’s an ongoing project which is keeping me busy. I hoped to have that wrapped up soon, but in the meantime I’ve been reading the latest volume of…

DICK TRACY: We’re up to 1970. The “Moon Era” nuttiness is being phased out, but Gould has introduced “hippie” cop Groovy grove. After that I began reading read the volume eight of…

WALT & SKEEZIX: 1933-1934 concentrate almost exclusively on Skeezix and his gang, "The Secret Six." Blossom is barely in it at all. Walt (with Skeezix) and Phyllis (with corky) take separate vacations this year. By the time they return, she has gained a considerable amount of weight.

After thia I hope to get back to Annie.

MMW DAREDEVIL Vol. 3: This is where “my” Daredevil really begins. The first “Daredevil” comic book I ever bought new was either Giant-Size Daredevil #1 (which reprinted Daredevil Annual #1) or Marvel Adventures #1 (which reprinted Daredevil #22), whichever was released first. [NOTE: I did buy Giant-Size Triple Action #1 (which reprinted Daredevil #21 among others), too, but I don’t consider that a “Daredevil” comic.] I also acquired backissues of Marvel Super-Heroes (which reprinted earlier issues of Daredevil), but that was later.

I didn’t buy any other issues of Marvel Adventures until after I discovered Frank Miller’s Daredevil when I was in high school, when I picked up the entire run. When I was in college, I started collecting backissues of Daredevil where Marvel Adventures left off, and I eventually replaced the reprints with originals. After that lengthy preamble, ….

Volume three begins with a two-part team-up of the Masked Marauder and the Gladiator. I used to think that #22 was not a good issue to begin a series (Marvel Adventures) or a Masterworks edition because it begins by resolving a cliffhanger, but actually it dispenses with old business very quickly (2½ pages including the splash) and then moves on. Issue #24 features Ka-Zar once again. #25 features another 1950s era Captain America villain, retooled as the Leap Frog. Daredevil’s rogues gallery gets little respect, but as handled by Lee and Colan, these were serious threats. (Just look at the portrait on page nine.) It is only in the hands of lesser talents that Daredevil’s villains became jokes.

#25 also introduced the concept of Matt Murdock’s “twin brother” Mike. Apparently, Spider-Man had figured out Murdock’s secret and sent him a letter (!?), which Karen and foggy opened. Mike Murdock was the imaginary brother Matt concocted on the fly to be Daredevil’s alter ego. This was an ill-conceived notion and didn’t last long (then again, long enough). #26 features the Stiltman and ther Masked Marauder and Leap Frog, and the Masked Maruader’s up-until-then secret identity was revealed. (Big deal.) It wasn’t too hard to have figured out since Lee and colan didn’t give us too many suspects.

In #27 the Masked Marauder dies, and #28 features an out-of-place 1950s-style alien invasion story. #29 features the now-deceased Masked Marauder’s gang. #30-32 features Thor villains Cobra and Mr. Hyde, with a brief appearance by Thor himself in part one. Daredevil masquerades as Thor in a sequence Gene Colan simply didn’t pull off convincingly. The volume ends with King-Size Special #1 introducing “Electro and his Emmisaries of Evil” in a clear imitate the success of the “Sinister Six” from Spider-Man’s first annual. It didn’t have much of a plot, but gave Colan the opportunity to cut loose artistically.

My first issue of Daredevil was #3, but after Wally Wood left I only tolerated the book (and almost dropped it on multiple occasions) until Frank Miller came along. I was much more patient in those days, I guess.

And JD, John Lennon was born in 1940, so he was just the right age to be a Captain Marvel fan!

My earliest memories of Daredevil was #116 versus the Owl and teaming with the Black Widow who I always think of as "Matt's girl" (sorry, Elektra!) and Marvel Team Up #25 versus the Unholy Three/Trio/Ani-Men.

I missed the first year or so of Miller's run but I bought a lot of the pre-Miller issues (#80-157) fairly cheap at conventions!

Frank Miller's first issue was #158(MAY79). At this point I was either about to or already had gone cold turkey on buying comic books*. My work had become very demanding and I had become increasingly interested in revival house and new movies. Comics were piling up and I reluctantly just stopped buying. My only experience to date of the Miller Daredevil is through the Ben Affleck movie and the Netflix show.

*I never stopped buying Comic Buyer's Guide, so I knew what was out there.

I occurs to me that Mr Hyde and the Cobra were more suited to be Daredevil villains than Thor villains. It's unlikely they would have given Thor more than five minutes of trouble.

I always liked the look of the Ani-Men. I think their headsets gave them an unique look.

My Martian Manhunter collection began in House of Mystery, when every issue he fought some new monster from the Idol Head of Diabolu, which was unlike his Detective run. Plus I had his Justice League of America appearances -- which, again, were unlike his Detective run. Every once in a while, DC would reprint "The Strange Experiment of Dr. Erdel." But other than that one story, for years I had no knowledge of MM's Detective run.

Then DC published the Showcase Presents: Martian Manhunter, and I finally read those stories. And, boy, were they bad! The "Erdel" story might be the best of them! I will give you that he did solve crimes in those stories (sometimes), but usually by suddenly developing a new super-power. At least that's how I remember them!

Rob Staeger (Grodd Mod) said:

Reading through the Detective Comics: 80 Years of Batman hardcover, I got to "The Strange Experiment of Dr. Erdel," the origin of the Martian Manhuter. And it struck me... for the lead-up to a detective feature, it's not much of a story, is it? Erdel performs his experiment, summons J'onn, dies almost immediately afterward, and then J'onn demos a couple of his powers and floats around unseen for a while and decides to become a detective. We don't see why he's qualified for the job, we don't see him solve a case... he just shows up as John Jones and a police officer wonders what the rookie's first case will be... and then it's See you next issue, kids! 

I'd have much rather have seen a lesser-known story from later in his run, where he actually solves a crime. At least we got to see Air Wave and Roy Raymond do that! (Not so much with Pow-Wow Smith, but at least his origin isn't one we know the beats of in our sleep.)

Last night, I read a few comics that I had dug up a couple weeks ago.

Trencher #1-4: From Image in 1993, I'm not sure I had actually ever read these issues, the only four parts of the series from Keith Giffen. This was pretty unlike most of the Image comics coming out at the time, but they were very much like another creation of Giffen's, Lobo. Trencher is kind of a repo man for the dead, if that makes any sense. If it doesn't, track these down in a cheapie box and buy them up, you will get it.

This was a lot of fun, and the art is Giffen at his Giffen-est. I love this style, and I haven't seen it used all that much from him. I think somewhere I have the issues of Shadowhawk by Giffen, so I look forward to finding those and reliving the madness.

DICK TRACY FOREVER #1: This issue seems to take its inspiration from 1930s era gangster movies moreso than the Dick Tracy comic strip. #1 contains three stories, none of which end so much as simply stop. Tracy’s written out of character, using slang he never used in the comics. Tess Trueheart is in two of the three stories and refers to Tracy as “Richard” no fewer than seven times. In 46 years, I don’t think she called him “Richard” even once. (The only one who did so was Vitamin Flintheart on occasion.) I can’t imagine who this is aimed at. If one is familiar with Dick Tracy, he’s bound to come away disappointed; if one is not, there are plenty of authentic Chester Gould reprints available one should read first.

AVENGERS #89-97 – “THE KREE/SKRULL WAR”: I can hardly believe that last week I was ambivalent about rereading “The Kree/Skrull War” again (for the umpteenth time) as part of my Captain Marvel reading project. It has been “only” about 10 years since I read it last, but I read it last weekend yet again and I’m glad I did. The again temporarily cancelled Captain Marvel series flows seamlessly into Avengers #89-92, and #93-97 kick the war into high gear. Plus it folds “Inhumans” continuity from Amazing Adventures into the mix, as well as recent Avengers. There’s a lot to recommend this series, and I get something new out of it every time.

CAPTAIN MARVEL MASTERWORKS VOL. 3 (Plus): Volume three begins with what I think of as “The Wayne Boring Trilogy.” Boring was the premiere Superman artist of the 1950s but he was fired by the bastards at DC when he and other freelancers had the temerity to ask for health insurance. So he came to Marvel and was assigned to a restart of Captain Marvel. the first two issues were written by Gerry Conway and the third by Marv Wolfman. Avengers #103 had a one-page lead-in to the revamped series.

These issues introduced Rick Jones’ girlfriend Lou-Ann, Captain Marvel’s photon powers, and aslo gaimed him a second pair of universe-switching nega-bands. (The first pair were destroyed in the Kree-Skrull War.) Conway threw in several little tributes to the original Captain Marvel (Dr. Savannah for Dr. Sivana, Dr. Mynde for Mr. Mind and so on). I always thought Rick Jones came off as a bit of a jerk in these stories. The nega-bands allowed Mar-Vell to leave the Negative Zone for only three hours at a time, yet rick complains if he has to stay more than 20 minutes. You’d think he could at last sleep there giving Mar-Vell some freedom, but Rich keeps him there for weeks at a time.

Captain Marvel and Rick appeared in Avengers #106-108 between issues #23-24, and in Marvel Team-Up #16-17 after that. Those issues are not included in the Masterworks edition, but Iron Man #55, the beginning of Jim Starlin’s Thanos/Cosmic Cube arc, is. I return to this story every couple of years just to gauge my reaction based on new perceptions I bring to the table. After moving to Captain Marvel #25-29, the story moves to Marvel Feature #12 and 4½ pages of Daredevil #105 (Moondragon’s origin). Then it’s back to issues #30-32 before crossing over into Avengers #125 before wrapping up in #33.

Starlin was creating an entirely new method of comic book storytelling, including a wordless 35 panel page in #28. No prior comic book story, not even the “Kree/Skrull” war, was this ambitious in scope. In retrospect, Starlin might have a better job of re-introducing the Cosmic Cube and the controller, but as that has never occurred to me before, the offence cannot be that egregious. Also (and this may be more my failing than Starlin’s), it took a couple of issues for him to pinpoint the location of Isles Dernieres, where the Cosmic Cube was found. (Do you know where they are without Googling?) “Metamorphosis” in #29 redefined Captain Marvel every bit as much as #17 did. Starlin’s origin of the Titans was later folded in with Jack Kirby’s Eternals. Although the two are mutually exclusive, both versions (or I should say “either”) work for me.

STAR TREK: YEAR FIVE #1: As with any TV or movie adaptation, it is essential that the main characters look like the actors who play them; there is no problem with this series in that respect. The dialogue borders on verbose, but is appropriate to the story. Similarly, I didn’t count the number of call-backs to TOS, but while they are numerous, they don’t cross the threshold into too many. John Byrne’s Star Trek: New Visions series stopped abruptly and unexpectedly about a year ago. Star Trek: Year Five has taken its place as best Star Trek series currently being published. Recommended to fans of TOS.

MARVEL COMICS PRESENTS #4: The wolverine story is the fourth part in the ten year jumps between chapters. The Spider-Man story is set on opening day of the original Star Wars… with lines around the block. Sorry, no. Star Wars release was limited; its popularity didn’t come until later. There was a time when Moon Knight was one of my favorite series, but that was back when Doug Moench and Bill Seinkevicz were doing it. I’ve sampled it from time to time since then, but it hasn’t really appealed to me since. The Moon Knight in this series is… intriguing. He no longer wears the cape and cowl, but rather an all-white three-piece suit and hood. The panel arrangements were innovative. I doubt it’s enough to make me seek out more new Moon Knight, but it was my favorite story of the three.

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