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...

BUG! #6: My LCS sold out before I got there last week, so I didn't get this until Wednesday. This is the final issue of a mini-series. It was very different from the current Mister Miracle, but I consider it equally as good. This one is heavy on philosophical elements and tackles some "big questions" of the DC Universe, such as: What is the relationshipo between the "Source Wall" on New Genesis and the "Source Wall" at the edge of reality? Whose hand is it that writes on the Source Wall? Does it have a body? Is it a hand?

FUTURE QUEST PRESENTS #5: This is a "Birdman" issue written by Phil Hester and drawn by Steve Rude. It takes liberties with the catroon status quo (*what little of it there was) by presenting "Falcon 7" as a computer-generated image. (Falcon 7 is, in reality, a beautiful woman.) Falcon 7 and Birdman are attrached to each other, but Birdman remembers almost nothing of his life before he gained his powers. They're fleshing our an origin story, though, which is more than the cartoon ever did. Another new addition is that Birdman and Avenger now communicate telepathically. (It's better than I'm making it sound.)

The Wicked + The Divine Vol. 5: Imperial Phase Part 1

Kieron Gillen, writer; Jamie McKelvie, artist; Matthew Wilson, colorist; Clayton Cowles, letterer

Image Comics, 2017

Ananke is dead. With their den mother gone, the gods have to decide how to go forward. And is "The Great Darkness" she warned about a real thing? The first issue in the collection is the magazine issue, a mock version of Pantheon Monthly featuring interviews with five of the gods (including a posthumous one with Lucifer) and an article about Ananke's death. It's a wonderfully creative concept: Gillen recruited several real journalists to conduct the interviews, playing the part of the gods himself. While there are some interesting insights into the individual gods and the dynamics of the Pantheon, it got tedious for me after awhile. I found I just wanted to get on with the story. Though they have agreed to cover up the truth about the murder, they still want to know what she was planning, especially the purpose of the huge machine she had Woden build for her. Baal is the nominal leader now, but he is unable to achieve consensus. So we're left with willful gods, mostly behaving badly. The Great Darkness appears (in the form of a great shadowy form) and it's all the gods can do to fight it off--but they are still not convinced they need to unite against it. And no one is really sure if they will all die in two years. As usual the collection contains a lot of bonus material: alternate covers, plus a raw transcript of the Lucifer "interview."

So I'm a Spider, So What?, vol. 1, art by Asahiro Kakashi, based on a light novel by  Okina Baba.  An un-named Japanese high school girl is sitting in class when there a bright flash of light and a stab of searing pain. When she recovers, she finds that she has been re-born as a low-level spider-creature in what seems to be a dungeon in what appears to be a cross between World of Warcraft and Pokémon. She must use her knowledge of how such games operate in order to survive. Interesting stuff.

THOR #145: I first read Thor #145 reprinted in Stan Lee’s Origins of Marvel Comics. It was one of the first Thor stories I ever read. I wish I could say I liked it at the time, but the truth is it didn’t do much for me. I like it much more now and can understand why Lee chose to include it. First, it presents a clear counterpoint to the origin story (as all of the choices do respectively). It shows Thor interacting with a crowd in a soda shop and it also features grandiose visions of Asgard with full-panel pages and the like. But I wasn’t thrilled with Balder, Sif and the Enchanters. I felt as if I was getting only part of a story.

LI’L ABNER: I’m reading through the latest collection (featuring dailies and Sundays from 1951-52) now, and it strikes me the Donald Trump is the new Al Capp. Both enjoy huge popularity from their base, yet both seem to be inclusive of it while distaining it at the same time. I suspect Capp saw the vast majority of his audience as “hillbillies,” yet they sided with him laughing at the “other” hillbillies.

THE WALKING DEAD: I hope to get caught up with this series (at least the hardcover collections of it) by the time the TV show returns in February. I had to back up a few volumes to get to a good “jumping on” point. Last night I started reading v10, which reprints #109-120. I think the collections are up to v13 by now.

I can’t believe I forgot to post this earlier.

STAR TREK: NEW VISIONS #19 – “The Hunger”

The Enterprise and crew encounter a planet which had been attacked by… Galactus?

Spock relates the “Lee-Kurtzberg theory on the origins of life”: “Two centuries ago they postulated an as yet undiscovered form of energy which makes it possible for planets to support life. The idea is largely discounted by serious planetary scientists.” Mr. Scott adds: “The notion of a ‘special energy’ that makes life possible [is] my best definition of hoo-doo.” Yet, among Star Trek’s best episodes are those which flout the laws of known science. And this planet certainly looks as if it had been drained of its “life force.” What will happen when the Enterprise catches up to the entity responsible for this destruction?

I have read some pretty great comics over the past couple days. Here are some of the highlights.

DC Holiday Special 2017 #1: I won’t go through all the stories of this book, but amongst them were some real treats by some top-notch talent.

  • “Twas the Night Before Christmas” was a Batman Christmas horror story, and it was a solid little tale by Denny O’Neil and Steve Epting.
  • “Going Down Easy” was a Sgt. Rock WWII story by Tom King and Francesco Francavilla. It’s a great story for the way it was crafted as much as anything else.

Hellboy Krampusnacht: This was a great story written by Mike Mignola with art by Adam-freakin’-Hughes! It takes place in Austria in 1975, which is one of my favorite thing about Hellboy comics, the way they ping pong all around history. It’s a fairly standard Hellboy story, which is not a bad thing by any means. What really sets it over the top is the art.

Assassinistas #1: Tini Howard and Gilbert Hernandez give us a solid first issue of this book about three assassins who have to have been trying to leave the old life behind, but when one of them steps on the wrong side of the law (in direct, personal conflict with the other), they have to go back to their old ways. One of the assassins’ college-age son (and his same-sex partner) are pulled into the action as well. This is the best thing that I’ve seen come out of Black Crown, and I think I will actually continue reading this book.

Wormwood Gentleman Corpse Christmas Special: Ben Templesmith turns in a story about Wormwood having to take over Santa’s body to bring order back to the North Pole. Either you like Templesmith’s art or you don’t, but if you do like it, this is a fun little story for Christmas.

Dark Nights Metal #4: Ha! I love how crazy this book is. We see Daniel/Sandman being put to good use. Starro is being put to good use. Stir in some Black Adam and we have another fun riot of a story. The only thing is that once again, Dr. Fate was useless, just pointing his finger in the background with do-nothing energy coming out of his hand before he is defeated. Dr. Fate should be a powerhouse, but he is never treated as such. But enough of the hate, I loved 95% of this book because it’s not afraid to be ridiculous.

Judas #1: From Boom Studios comes this book of religion told from the point of view of Judas as the almost-victim in a story where he is the protagonist. He is a man who had no real choice but to carry out his destiny as one of the most well-known villains in history. It was written by Jeff Loveness and drawn by Jakub Rebelka.

Batman White Knight #3: Despite its wordiness, I love this book. It’s beautiful, and it’s an Elseworlds story that is just about a half-step out of sync with the proper DCU. I love how you’re not quite sure who to root for, the way you feel when you watch The Wire. I’m not comparing the two; I’m just saying that it’s a very similar brain-twist.

Archie #26: As much fun as it has been to read Mark Waid’s writing this book, I think I’m done with it. It’s just teenage soap-opera. I like the show Riverdale, but that soap-opera has some bigger, more dangerous stakes to it. I’m going to stick with the Archie horror books.

Samurai Jack #1: The third issue of this book came out a couple weeks ago, but I’m behind on reading it. This book was written by Fabian Rangel, Jr. and drawn by Warwick Johnson-Cadwell, which makes this a must read for me. I’ve never been a huge SJ reader, so I’m not sure how this book fits in with everything else, but it is samurai-slashing/cyborg/alien goodness. Very fun indeed.

The Gravediggers Union #2: Wes Craig and Toby Cypress give us another chapter in the noir-ish story about the horror-infused world of a group of former grave diggers. In this chapter, the crew visits a bayou-dwelling fortune teller to find information about a group called The Black Temple. I love how moody this book feels. It’s dark without being too dark, and light without being overly so.

Sleepless #1: This book was a big surprise for me. I loved it--a story of a girl who should rightfully take the throne that she knows she can’t, and her non-sleeping guardian. If you’re up for something different, give this one a shot. The art by Leila del Luca is really lush, and Sarah Vaughn’s writing flowed very smoothly. I’m going to stick with this one!

Jeff of Earth-J said:

Spock relates the “Lee-Kurtzberg theory on the origins

of life”: “Two centuries ago they postulated an as yet undiscovered form of energy which makes it possible for planets to support life. The idea is largely discounted by serious planetary scientists.”

I'm getting ST: New Visions in collected form. Shouldn't that be the "Lieber-Kurtzberg theory?"

Morning Glories Vol.10 : Expulsion

Nick Spencer, words; Joe Eisma, art; Rodin Esquejo, covers

Image Comics, 2016

My hat is off to anyone who can follow this series without annotations: between the time travel and the non-linear storytelling, it's almost impossible to keep track of everything. That said, I actually found this Season 2 ending arc reasonably easy to follow--if only because I've given up on completely following the threads. I'm not sure why the collection is titled "Expulsion," since its central event is the Student Council election,  and most of the individual issues were apparently given "Election" titles. Anyway, Casey challenges longtime incumbent Isabel for the Student Council presidency--and wins, probably through Ian's intervention. Guillaume challenges the Headmaster by arranging for the Blue team to win the Towerball finals; and Vanessa and Ian face off in the science fair. When Casey is taken to meet the Headmaster (only the Student Council president is allowed to meet him) she is shocked to discover that she doesn't recognize him! He is a character previously known as the Scientist, and it's not clear if he is someone we have seen before, or someone with a relationship to one (e.g. Abraham's son). There are also several character deaths, but given the flexible nature of life and death in this series, it's hard to know how much they mean. There are a couple of sequences that make the historical cycle of events explicit, showing characters in the past presumably involved in the same struggles as the current cast of characters (some adult dialog reinforces this). At the end the Headmaster sends Casey to the tropical beach that has recurred in the series, for a "summer vacation." The series is on hiatus, and "Summer Vacation" has been mentioned as a possible title for Season 3 of the series. It seems clear that there won't be the fifty more issues originally projected. If it does return, I'd be happy to have a faster pace and more answers.

"Shouldn't that be the 'Lieber-Kurtzberg theory?'"

Oh, you're right... it was. Chalk that up to my error.

PHOENIX – THE RETURN OF JEAN GREY #1: This is a good example of a modern super-hero comic. By that I mean that it’s very entertaining, but it reads just like a [good] TV show. Comics is a different medium; I hate when it’s derivative like that. I tried the first couple issues of those X-Men relaunches a couple of months ago, but they were soured by that artist who interjected his politics into them. Maybe this’ll be a good jumping on point for me, because the last X-Men I read regularly was the [most recent] death of Phoenix. The art is good… serviceable… but it’s not my idea of what good superhero art should be. Like most modern comics, it’s paced to provide only a hint of a story (but I don’t feel as if I should criticize a modern comic for being a modern comic). There’s a nice afterword which provides insight. I always like that.

ACTION COMICS #994: When it’s all said and done, I’ll probably end up filing this with my Booster Gold comics rather than my Superman comics.

DOOMSDAY CLOCK #2: Good stuff.

KAMANDI CHALLENGE #12: Actually, I haven’t read this one yet. Flipped through it, though. Looking forward to reading it.

VARK KNIGHT RETURNS #1: Contains the nastiest set of wedding vows I have ever heard.

BLACK PANTHER PANTHERS QUEST TP: I led a discussion of this 25-part serial on the old board. I rather liked that one and wish I could read it again. The story is tied to a particular time and place: South Africa, 1986. It concerns T’Challa’s search for his mother in the Apartheid era. If the cover looks familiar, it’s adapted from a Bill Reinhold pin-up originally published in Marvel Fanfare.

I read the first four parts of The Beautiful Death from Titan Comics. I originally only had the second issue (thinking it was the first when I nabbed it), and then just earlier this week got hold parts 1, 3, and 4. This is a post-apocalpytic story (yes, another one of those) that transcends the genre by being beautifully and intricately drawn, and with a very strange, last people on Earth/ghost story. It's very difficult to describe this story, but it's really good. It's translated from French.

Then I read the first two parts of Street Tiger from Amigo Comics. This touts itself as a "weird revenge story". It reminds me a lot of Helena Crash in its tone (which I realize probably means nothing to most of you, or anyone for that matter). It's about a helmeted guy who runs around town taking revenge on all of these mob bosses and people who have wronged him. It's kind of quirky, but not in the cutesy sense. The art looks like that of someone who might do a guest-spot in an Adventure Time comic. I have the other two parts, so I will read those soon.

I also read Mister Miracle #5 today. I find myself being in a constant state of fear while I read this series. I know that's the idea, to feel constantly uncomfortable and on-edge, but I have to say that, unlike with Tom King's other books, I am really glad that I have other things to read in between, all of which are more upbeat than this series.

It's a fantastic read, but man, it's such a downer.

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