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

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Bryce Carlson (Author); Vanesa R Del Rey (Illustrator)
BOOM! Studios, 2016

Hit: 1955 was a great crime noir miniseries about a hit squad operating within the Los Angeles Police Force. As the title says, this sequel takes place two years later. Detective Harvey Slater and his hit squad are still working on underworld infiltration of L.A.--one of the first scenes is a massacre at a nightclub. Femme fatale Bonnie Brae had escaped to the idyllic coastal city of San Clemente (I wonder if the writer was thinking about President Nixon's "Western White House" which was later located there). But the gangster Domino kidnaps her and takes her to Las Vegas, so in time the squad travels there and hatches an elaborate rescue plan. Things do not go according to plan (wouldn't be a proper noir if they did). This story did not appeal to me as much as the first miniseries, but it's still good noir. The collection includes a short prose story that details what happened to the squad member who got shot during the rescue, which fills in a part of the story only implied in the comic. Mention should also be made of Del Rey's creative layouts. Most of the pages use a strict panel layout (although it varies from page to page). But occasionally she breaks things up with pages that flow more freely, without panel lines.

DOCTOR STRANGE (Strange Tales #142-146): As I mentioned recently, I had completed my collections of Avengers, Captain America and Hulk by the time I graduated high school. Throughout college I set about completing my collections of others series. When I graduated (I remember specifically) I was in the midst of filling holes in Strange Tales. My fill was kind of spotty, so I wasn’t necessarily reading them at the time. After graduating college, I stopped collecting back issues for the most part.

Years later, Marvel Masterworks filled all the holes in my collection, but the last time I read Doctor Strange (a couple of years ago), I started with Strange Tales #169, when Doctor Strange took over the title. That still left MMW v2, reprinting #142-168, most of which I had never read. I had been saving this in reserve like a squirrel hiding nuts until the need arose to read some “new” old Marvel comics. I have read and re-read the stories in volume one until I know them backwards and forwards. So far I’ve read the first five stories in MMW v2, the last of the Ditko ones.

What I really can’t believe is why Marvel didn’t include those five 10-pagers in volume one. That way, all of the Ditko stories would have been contained in a single volume. What’s more, #141 ended in a cliffhanger, and #146 brought the arc to a logical stopping point: “THE END… AT LAST!” I’m going to stop, briefly I hope, to catch up on some of those “reading projects” I mentioned here yesterday. When I’ve finished some of those, I will resume Doctor Strange with the post-Ditko Strange Tales.

The Brave & the Bold (#50, 51, 53, 56, 59): I so much enjoyed The Bronze Age JLA Omnibus that I picked up The Bronze Age Brave & Bold Omnibus. I also have two (soon to be three) volumes of Jim Aparo Batman stories, mostly from B&B. (There is a small amount of overlap between the omnibus and the first of the Aparo volumes.) I thought these three (some to be four) volumes would make a good reading project. In addition, I also have one volume of the Brave & the Bold Archives which concentrates on the team-ups, so I thought I’d start with that one first.

I’ve had the B&B archive since it was published, and although I’ve read several of those stories elsewhere, I’ve never read the archive from cover to cover. As a matter of fact, I didn’t do so now, either. I skipped #52 (Sgt. Rock et al) and #54 (proto-Teen Titans) in anticipation of future reading projects; I skipped #55 (Atom & Metal Men) because I don’t like the Metal Men; DC skipped #57-58 (Metamorpho) because those issues did not conform to the “team-up” theme.

That left team-ups between Green Arrow & Martian Manhunter, Aquaman & Hawkman, Atom & Flash, Martian Manhunter & Flash, and Batman & Green Lantern. I’m a pretty big fan of the Silver Age JLA; it was the first DC series collection I completed. You can’t ever read a story for the first time twice, and the modern stories set in this time frame never quite capture the feel of those eras. These old B&B team-ups, though, are like “untold tales” of, if not the JLA, then of JLA members. Soon I will move on to the B&B omnibus.

I read Teen Titans 50 last night -- the introduction of Titans West, by Bob Rozakis and Don Heck.

Some thoughts:

a) It's weird to see the Titans complaining about the Long Island Rail Road. But everyone else does, so why not? Rozakis was definitely drawing from experience there.

b) It's also weird to see the Titans wonder about which colleges they would go to. Kid Flash worries about paying for it; Donna wants to head to a West Coast college with a beach.

c) Also weird: Harlequin is on the team. Even in these days of Harley Quinn, Superhero, it's odd to see someone dressed so much like the Joker not have everyone running for the exits.

d) Beast Boy's name of the SF TV show he was on was Tork! I guess it's appropriate that he's named after a Monkee. His producer, named "J.S.," looks to be modeled on Julius Schwartz.

e) Did we ever find out how Charlie Parker (Golden Eagle) got his Thanagarian wings back after his appearance in JLA? I'm sure we did, but the editor only promises that they'll get around to telling us. And considering the title was canceled in 3 more issues...

f) There's a whole page spent on Charlie getting stiffed by a customer at a gas station he works at,, and then getting chewed out by his boss. There was so much focus on this that I thought the brutish guy who stiffed him was Gnarkk.

g) Aqualad apparently gets moody when he hangs out with the Titans. (I think this is later used to write him out of the book; he has a bad reaction to pollution in the surface world or something.)

h) it's so weird that Mal Duncan had two concurrent costumed identities -- Hornblower and The Guardian. Bumblebee much prefers his Hornblower ID. 

70s JLA spoiler warnings.

In Justice League of America #109 Hawkman's mission on Earth ended, and he and Hawkgirl returned to Thanagar. The Golden Eagle issue, #116, was a teaser for Hawkman's return in #117. (The title was a bimonthly for a period and returned to monthly status at the time of Hawkman's return, so he was gone just over a year.)

Charlie became the Golden Eagle because the Matter Master's wand changed him into a pseudo-Hawkman with actual wings. He could change between his normal and Golden Eagle forms. He was returned to normal at #116's end.

Charlie appeared again in #117. He minds the JLA satellite while the JLA head off into space, and to my surprise he was present at the end of the issue when Hawkman is readmitted into the League.

Originally it was thought that Charley would take on the Snapper Carr role in the mid-70s JLA but he was quickly dropped.

In Teen Titans #50, Charley says that Hawkman gave him a pair of wings and anti-gravity belt so that he could continue as the Golden Eagle, implying a mentor relationship that we never saw.

Charlie Parker? That can't be an accident.

They spelt his name "Charley" (I missed this above), obviously so the names wouldn't be identical.

Thanks, Luke & Philip! I missed the second editorial note saying "See? Here's the promised explanation!" and I assumed he was referring to Hawkman giving him wings from the beginning, and he'd lost them. I didn't know anything about his real origin & the Molecule Master. 

And yeah, Charlie or Charley, he's still Bird.

Aquaman Rebirth v2 Black Manta Rising

I've really rated this Aquaman series - I fear DC are going to swap him in for a more gruff/bearded/less history-laden version as we drift into Justice League film territory - shame as this version deserves credit.

I didn’t post anything to this discussion yesterday, so I’ll post two today.

CAPTAIN AMERICA #149-152: Beginning: a reevaluation of the issues I traded away in while in college. These four issues give us Batroc the Leaper, a New Stranger, and the Scorpion & Mr. Hyde. Batroc is pretty much always boring; this “Stranger” is like the Kirby character, one dimension removed; and the Scorpion/Mr. Hyde story didn’t really thrill me, either. Sub-plots include Police Sgt. Muldoon giving rookie cop a hard time, and Nick Fury’s gal Val making a play for Captain America.

Lee and Romita introduced the concept of Captain America going undercover as a rookie cop back in issue #139. Steve Rogers’ relationship with police Sgt. Muldoon mirrored his relationship with drill Sgt. Duffy back in WWII. It was an interesting couple of issues, but once the initial case had been solved, maintaining that status quo was a mistake as future writers had no idea where to go with it. And the less said about the infantile love triangle between Cap and Val and Fury the better.

These four issues are written by Gerry Conway. Whenever a 1970s dipped in quality for a couple of issues, invariably those issues were written by Gerry Conway.

MONSTERS OMNIBUS: I love Marvel monster comics of the late ‘50s/early ‘60s. Always have. Not only did they used to turn up as filler in sundry “Giant-Size” comics of the ‘70s, but I also used to buy the monster reprint titles such as Monsters on the Prowl. Back in the 1990s, before I had accrued enough seniority in my job to take holidays off, I had to work one particular Thanksgiving. Fortunately, the weekend before I attended a show and bought up a stack of those reprints for a buck apiece. There was little to do a work that day, so I spent that holiday getting paid double time and a half to read old Marvel monster stories. I tried duplicating that experience the following years, but never quite replicated it… until now. It may not be Thanksgiving, but I’m certainly thankful Marvel chose to reprint all of Kirby’s monster stories between two covers (actually four, because a second volume is forthcoming).

Street Angel: After School Kung Fu Special: This was a hardcover book that looks and feels about like a children's picture book. It was about my old friend, Street Angel, from the book by Jim Rugg. This was a very short story about a homeless girl who attends high school and has to face a bully. I love how nonplussed she is by the threat, and her solution to it. The art here was awesome, and the story was pretty good. If you see this in your local library, get it!

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