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

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Y'know, I always thought the Taskmaster could have been a phenomenal musician, but he instead chose a life of crime. If he'd been a character in the Astro City universe, that's what he might have done. 

I read a trade paperback collection of Made Men: Getting the Gang Back Together, a five-issue series from Oni Press. As the story begins, a squad of Detroit police detectives are ambushed and shot dead. The last holdout is Jutte Shelley, who in that moment -- as the members her team are dead, maimed or bleeding out -- embraces her destiny.

See, her true name isn't "Shelley," it's Frankenstein. And she knows all the secrets of her famous great-uncle Victor, and those of her not-famous-at-all grandmother, who actually is more advanced in the sinister arts of rejuvenating bodies. 

Jutte appeals to a benefactor -- a connected mob boss who needs a favor -- and uses those skills to revivify herself and her team, to varying levels of success. Then they go after the bad guys who set them up, and set themselves up as do-gooders fixing wrongs, like the A-Team.

It's a weird mix of cop drama, gothic horror and murder mystery, and I don't think it quite hangs together. 

FANTASTIC FOUR #13: A worthy addition to the pantheon of Hulk/Thing battles. I just wish it had been “done-in-one” in #12.

INVADERS #8: I have a strong feeling that this title is pulling a “Captain Hydra” on the Sub-Mariner, but instead of the Cosmic Cube, the corrupting artifact is the Serpent Crown; instead of the Red Skull, the catalyst is Professor X. I’m ambivalent about this direction. On the one hand, those “Captain Hydra” stories were well-written and quite entertaining, but on the other, Nick Spencer pretty much ruined that version of Captain America, and honestly put me off the current version as well.

MARVEL MASTER OF SUSPENSE: If you own all of the “Atlas Age” Strange Tales, Journey into Mystery, Tales of Suspense and Tales to Astonish Marvel Masterworks and the Amazing Adventures omnibus and think you own all of the Stan Lee/Steve Ditko collaborations, think again. This volume (the first of two) reprints every Lee/Ditko story (some of them from quite obscure sources) between the years 1956 and 1961. Besides, you want them all in dedicated volumes, don’t you?

THE JOKER BRONZE AGE OMNIBUS: I try to avoid spoilers, event when it comes to advance solicitations of reprint collections. When I read that this omnibus would reprint the entire 1975-76 Joker series including the never-before-published 10th issue, I was already sold. When this shipped yesterday I was surprised at how HUGE it is! In addition to the aforementioned Joker series, this volume includes every Joker appearance from 1973 (“The Joker’s Five-Way Revenge”) to 1986 (Batman #400). Plus, it kicks off with the Joker’s last Silver Age appearance from Justice League of America #77 (1969) and an introduction by Denny O’Neil.

Back in the ‘80s there was a collection of The Greatest Joker Stories Ever Told.” Forget that. Although that volume contained stories pre-1969 and post-1986, The Joker Bronze Age Omnibus has it beat all hollow. With so many Golden Age Joker stories currently available in omnibus format, this collection is essential to read “the life story of the Joker.” And I know you want that in a dedicated volume, don’t you?

I'm plowing through the Batgirl edition of the old black-and-white Showcase Presents books DC used to publish. It includes stuff from Detective Comics (starting with, of course, "The Million Dollar Debut of Batgirl!" from Detective #359, January 1967), Batman, World's Finest, The Brave and the Bold, Superman Family and Justice League of America.

It's tough sledding. I like seeing some of these old stories, particularly the ones that I know about only through the covers shown in old house ads from way back when. But the lack of color hurts. 

Also painful are the sexist attitudes in many of these tales, starting with the cover, which is taken from the splash page of "Batgirl's Costume Cut-Ups" in Detective Comics #371 (January 1968). The story has Batgirl afraid that her vanity is getting in the way of her crimefighting, as she reacts in the moment to things like her mask being pushed out of place by straightening it out instead of punching some goon. The resolution is horrid; she, Batman, and Robin are in an all-out brawl and she notices she has a run in her tights -- which has all the henchmen drooling. One knuckle-dragging lout even exclaims, "Whatta pair'a gams!"

DC took some heat for that cover, and I recall it being discussed here in the Comics Cave ...

... and being dismayed that several of us didn't think there was anything wrong with using that image over well, anything else that would have presented Batgirl as a competent hero instead of a cover that furthers the notion that crime-busting is man's work.  

I've always been of the persuasion that female heroes should be taken as seriously as the male ones. Somehow I avoided being infected with the sexism of my era. (It might come from growing up in a household that was, after about fourth grade, all female -- even the dog.)

So, yes, I remember the run-in-the-stocking story well, as it annoyed the Li'l Capn, who would have been about 10 or 11. I thought Batman's attitude then was obnoxious, and I certainly don't want to re-read it now.

But I was also annoyed that Batgirl became a butt-kicking superhero without much training. I wanted her to be taken seriously, and it's hard to do that when she's punching out full-grown men on the basis of whatever throwaway one-liner about her Olympic-level something-or-other they made in a caption. Both Batman and Robin had a lifetime of training, and even there I found it hard to believe Robin could hold his own against grown men with guns (at least until he hit majority). I wanted the same for Batgirl, and didn't get it.

Long-time Round Table members will recall that I had the same complaint about Patsy Walker in Avengers #144, who became a Captain America-level fighter by virtue of A) putting on the Hellcat costume, and B) having been a cheerleader. I wanted to take her seriously, but they didn't give me a reason to. IIRC, later stories had her being trained beforehand by ... Beast? Somebody. That helps a bit.

Batgirl's pre-cowl training has been upgraded in recent years, too. But in 1967? Not so much.

Anyway, I too bought the DC Showcase: Batgirl collection for the same reason I bought the DC Showcase: Elongated Man collection: It gathers the early adventures of a hero who tended to appear in a variety of titles, and thoughtfully puts them in chronological order for me. I own all those books -- for both characters -- but pulling them out to look something up would be a nightmare. So I'm glad to have the collections.

Doesn't mean I have re-read those terrible stories, though!

"I wanted to take her seriously, but they didn't give me a reason to."

Wasn't there something about technology being woven into her costume?

I'd like to know how that worked!

It's not like Batgirl had no fight training; in those early stories, she would note she was a brown belt in judo at least once per issue. 

It's not like training was terribly crucial to all of the other superheroes back then. Spider-Man didn't have any; sure, he has powers, but no training. Daredevil supposedly did, but exercising and doing gymnastics in a gym by yourself really can't teach you how to fight other people. The Fantastic Four didn't spend all their time practicing fighting. Testing their powers, yes, but not battle. 

Now, there's an insistence that all superheroes must have had training. Innummerable retcons have made it so Batman has spent half his life learning numerous martial arts disciplines. Black Canary has been retconned into The Greatest Martial Artist in the World, and on and on. I suppose it's meant to make it more "realistic" that somebody who goes out of his or her way to pick fights with armed goons can survive the experience, but I just accept that they can, training or no -- mostly because I don't believe "realistic" = "better." Lack of training is not my 11th impossible thing.

STAR TREK YEAR FIVE #4: Is this a limited series or an ongoing? Year Four (from another publisher) was a limited series, but so far only a couple of days of “year five” have passed.

THE ORVILLE #2: Like the TV show, The Oriville doesn’t take itself as seriously as Star Trek.

SECOND COMING #2: My favorite of the AHOY! Comics titles.

KIRBY IS MIGHTY! / KIRBY RETURNS!: I am reading both of these HUGE collections simultaneously. “Mighty!” reprints classic Lee/Kirby issues of Thor: Origin/first appearance. Hercules, the Colonizers, Ego, Ulik/Trolls, Galactus. If it would have been up to me, I would have chosen the reprinted origin (with the framing sequence which explains who Don Blake really is), more Hercules (Pluto/Hades) instead of the Colonizers, and the High Evolutionary instead of the Trolls, but with Lee/Kirby Thor of this era, you really can’t go wrong. Issue #138 features an early version of the “Boom Tube” BTW, except it’s called a “dimension tunnel” and it’s used by the Trolls (and it’s missing it’s distinctive “boom”).

Kirby Returns features three or four issues each of Black Panther, Captain America, Machine Man and Devil Dinosaur from Kirby mid-70s runs. My wife appreciates the coolness factor of these massive volumes, but also noted how awkward they are to actually read.

We've been recently talking about the original James Blish adaptations and Bantam paperbacks of Star Trek here, but while many consider the animated series at least part of what might have been Season 4, there is a Pocket Books Star Trek anthology called Constellations that worked from that premise as well.

I just finished Project Superpowers Evolution from Dynamite. For all intents and purposes this is Project Superpowers Chapter3 . This involves an alien invasion led by the nearly god-like P:andora. He has turned one of the heroes against them, and is looking for something he lost long ago. If you are familiar with the previous series you can probably figure it out. This was good, I reckon. If pretty by the numbers, with good art. The Mighty Samson was used as comic relief and it worked more than it didn't.

I did get curious as to how it was labeled. In the trade it says it was originally published as Project Superpowers vol.1. On Dynamite's website it lists the individual issues as Project Superpowers vol. 3. Then on the Goodreads website, they have the trade as Project Superpowers vol. 2, which is actually what makes the most sense to me.

I’ve read three new comics so far this week:

POWERS OF X #3: Will respond on John’s thread.

HISTORY OF MARVEL UNIVERSE #2: Will respond on bob’s thread.

SHAM COMICS #4: Risqué bordering on vulgar. This theme this issue is medical comics.

I'm sure the practice of window shopping applies to comic books too.

We go through the store(s) and every once in a while a cover catches our eye, even though we have no interest in the title/issue it's attached to.

While I gave up on the Mighty Marvel Mutants long ago between everything getting so convoluted versus Marvel no longer wanting Chris Claremont as a writer, I do have to give kudos to whoever the artist is for the cover on House of X #2 (of 6). It is an eye catching kaleidoscope design.

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