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

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This morning I read the collected edition of 4 Kids Walk Into a Bank from Black Mask. It's by Matthew Rosenberg with art by Tyler Boss. The art was very comfortable for someone used to the work of David Aja, Steve Lieber, or artists of that ilk. As for the writing, it was a solid effort, but not one that I loved.

It's about a girl and her three friends (all sixth grade-ish) who come to the point where they find it necessary to rob a bank to protect the honor of the girl's father.

It's very artfully done, but artful in a way that is very aware of its artfulness, which quickly became annoying to me. Matthew Rosenberg is clearly a fan of Wes Anderson movies, and instead of allowing those movies to inspire him, he simply copies them with the new chapter templates.

Even when I read the voices of the characters in more comedic voices in my mind, it didn't really help. I read the main character in the voice of Tina Belcher (Bob's Burgers), the fat character in the voice of Gene Belcher, the tall friend in the voice of Jimmy Jr., and the quiet friend in the voice of the autistic man from American Splendor. It did make it easier to read, but most of the writing just came off as self-aware-ly cutesy.

Plus, the story takes an extremely dark turn toward the end, and there is no connective tissue between that dark turn and the resolution many years later.

I had higher hopes for this one based on reviews I'd read, but clearly, your mileage may vary.

THE WALKING DEAD: I’ve finished v11 (#121-132) and have begun v12 (#133-144). I’ve read these before. I think I left off with v13. The most current HC is v14, so soon I’ll be moving on to 24 issues I’ve never read before.

RAGNAROK: I bought the first issue, liked it, decided to tradewait. There have been two HC collections so far, and I’m about midway through the first. Having just read a long run of Jack Kirby Thor, the “Ragnarok” story which ended the previous series, and gearing up for the Simonson run, I must admit this take is pretty interesting. I can almost imagine this is Marvel’s Thor.

DICK TRACY v23: I’m behind on many of my comic strip collections, but ever since it moved into the “Moon Era” I’ve been keeping caught up on Dick Tracy. I have no idea where Chester Gould got his science (it’s crap), but I like the space coupe and the aircars. These stories from 1966-67 are set firmly in the Moon era and feature Bribery (currently featured in modern continuity) and his sister Ugly Christine. I had remembered that, despite the shaky science fiction, the police work in these stories was good. Not in the particular one I’m reading now, though. His “humor” (a cigar smoking cat) is a bit off the wall, too.

LI’L ABNER: I’ve finished the 1951 dailies.

X-MEN FOREVER: X-Men: Legacy has reminded me of how much I miss the X-Men. I decided to go back and re-read the last X-series I read regularly, X-Men Forever. This one is written by Chris Claremont and continues from the end of his 16-year run as if he had never left. The series regular artist is Tom Grummet. It’s out of continuity, officially, but AFAIAC, it’s in. Wolverine is killed in the first issue, and Wolverine has also been “killed” in current continuity, so it kind of fits. There may be some other discrepancies, but I’m not aware of them. Well, maybe one, but I’ll discuss that next time.

Sorry to hear of your disappointment in the series, but thanks for reading it for so I don't have to. I remember when it came out I was interested, but I never did pull the trigger on it. There is always the next time!

Wandering Sensei: Moderator Man said:

This morning I read the collected edition of 4 Kids Walk Into a Bank from Black Mask. It's by Matthew Rosenberg with art by Tyler Boss. The art was very comfortable for someone used to the work of David Aja, Steve Lieber, or artists of that ilk. As for the writing, it was a solid effort, but not one that I loved.

It's about a girl and her three friends (all sixth grade-ish) who come to the point where they find it necessary to rob a bank to protect the honor of the girl's father.

It's very artfully done, but artful in a way that is very aware of its artfulness, which quickly became annoying to me. Matthew Rosenberg is clearly a fan of Wes Anderson movies, and instead of allowing those movies to inspire him, he simply copies them with the new chapter templates.

Even when I read the voices of the characters in more comedic voices in my mind, it didn't really help. I read the main character in the voice of Tina Belcher (Bob's Burgers), the fat character in the voice of Gene Belcher, the tall friend in the voice of Jimmy Jr., and the quiet friend in the voice of the autistic man from American Splendor. It did make it easier to read, but most of the writing just came off as self-aware-ly cutesy.

Plus, the story takes an extremely dark turn toward the end, and there is no connective tissue between that dark turn and the resolution many years later.

I had higher hopes for this one based on reviews I'd read, but clearly, your mileage may vary.

GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY #150: I bought this one because it features the return of Adam Warlock. It also features a 3-D cover, the first I’ve ever bought. Although I admit the effect looks cool, I generally eschew cover gimmicks of any kind. (I’m a purist that way.) But this time I didn’t have a choice because there was no standard version to choose. The Warlock story was six pages at the beginning and five pages at the end. For this I paid five bucks. If you’re a Guardians of the Galaxy fan, the main story was the last of a four-parter which began in #147, but I didn’t bother to read that and don’t plan to. (This is the last issue of the series.)

For those of you interested in the Warlock piece of it, I think this chapter can be safely skipped, but here’s a summary. Warlock come to awareness in the Gemworld (or I suppose it’s called “Stoneworld” now, since the Infinity Gems have been rechristened the Infinity Stones), a kind of limbo where he spent many years before. A brief, mainly pictorial, recap of his past is provided. He emerges from his cocoon to be greeted by Kang the Conqueror.

I am a big fan of Marvel’s “cosmic” books, especially those written by Jim Starlin. I’ve read several other non-Starlin cosmic books and most of them were… well, pretty good actually. But Starlin continues doing his own brand of “cosmic” in a series of OGNs (one trilogy completed, another on the way). In those he demonstrates that he can work within the new paradigm, even though he did not create it himself (not that everything Starlin himself has done has been stellar). I’m looking forward to reading the new Starlin series, but I have also decided to buy this new non-Starlin Infinity thing and see where it goes.

CAPTAIN AMERICA #697: As much as I like this new series my enjoyment is tempered by the rumor I heard that Mark Waid will not be on the title beyond #700.

PHOENIX RESURRECTION #2: I’m enjoying this story so far, but I’ll tell you what yanked me out of the story this issue: the guy mowing Jean’s lawn at 7:30 in the morning. And he had already mowed another lawn in the neighborhood! He was using a push mower and apparently working by himself, so when did he start? 6:00A? Uh, uh… no way. Willing suspension of disbelief is one thing, but even if the neighborhood doesn’t have an HOA there ain’t no way that’s gonna fly.

PLANET OF THE APES URSUS #1: I’m very impressed by the first issue of this six-issue mini. So far, it’s similar to the 2011 novel Conspiracy on the Planet of the Apes in that it starts where the movie does, but then follows Landon’s story rather than Taylor’s. It also incorporates plot elements of a previous comic book mini-series set 10 or so years before the events of the first movie. The art is some of the best I have seen in a POTA comic.

X-MEN: GRAND DESIGN #2: I have a strong distaste for comic books that try to be movies or TV shows. I like movies and TV, but I don’t consider either medium inherently superior to comics as an art form. Any comic which takes that tack automatically starts with a strike against it AFAIAC. The reason I mention that here is because, although Grand Design definitely utilizes the strengths of comic book storytelling, it does have something in common with a movie adaptation of a comic book, namely, that it adapts the source material to fit the needs of the story being told.

For example, the alien characters faced by the X-Men in the early days (Lucifer, the Mutant Master of "Factor Three") are all somehow tied to pursuit of the Phoenix force. Issue #2 of Grand Design covers the first 66 issues of the original series. (Issue #1 covered continuity implants, flashbacks and retcons.) Pretty much every issue of the original series is dealt with, some summarized in a panel, some in a page. For those familiar with X-Men continuity, it’s fun to guess why the cartoonist made the choices he did. For example, it makes better storytelling sense that, when Xavier faked his death to concentrate on the impending Z’Nox threat, the entire team was in on the deception, not just Jean Grey. On the other hand, I have no idea why he decided to insert Machine Man (!) into the Magneto/Stranger story.

I am enjoying this series quite a bit and I recommend it to anyone who likes the X-Men, whether familiar with established continuity or not, however I don’t recommend it to anyone who is going to get hung up on the deviations from established continuity.

Wow, I had no idea this miniseries had even started. I am waiting on the trade (hopefully hardcover) on this one. I'm just a fan of Ed Piskor's work, and am really interested to see what he does with this.

Jeff of Earth-J said:

X-MEN: GRAND DESIGN #2: I have a strong distaste for comic books that try to be movies or TV shows. I like movies and TV, but I don’t consider either medium inherently superior to comics as an art form. Any comic which takes that tack automatically starts with a strike against it AFAIAC. The reason I mention that here is because, although Grand Design definitely utilizes the strengths of comic book storytelling, it does have something in common with a movie adaptation of a comic book, namely, that it adapts the source material to fit the needs of the story being told.

For example, the alien characters faced by the X-Men in the early days (Lucifer, the Mutant Master of "Factor Three") are all somehow tied to pursuit of the Phoenix force. Issue #2 of Grand Design covers the first 66 issues of the original series. (Issue #1 covered continuity implants, flashbacks and retcons.) Pretty much every issue of the original series is dealt with, some summarized in a panel, some in a page. For those familiar with X-Men continuity, it’s fun to guess why the cartoonist made the choices he did. For example, it makes better storytelling sense that, when Xavier faked his death to concentrate on the impending Z’Nox threat, the entire team was in on the deception, not just Jean Grey. On the other hand, I have no idea why he decided to insert Machine Man (!) into the Magneto/Stranger story.

I am enjoying this series quite a bit and I recommend it to anyone who likes the X-Men, whether familiar with established continuity or not, however I don’t recommend it to anyone who is going to get hung up on the deviations from established continuity.

Tales of the Batman: Alan Brennert

On the old board we once did a poll of the Greatest Comic Runs ever, and one of my nominees was Alan Brennert's run on Batman. I was cheating a little bit becuase his Batman stories were spread across several different titles. But man, were they good. Back in the early 80s they really stood out. There was nothong quite like them and I still hold them in high regard to this day. So I was happy to finally get a digital copy of this fantastic collection. Really great stuff that holds up very well in my opinion. And Brennert's introduction is excellent as well.



Richard Mantle said:

Finally read digitally - JSA The Golden Age

Well written, well drawn interesting spin on an Elseworlds Justice Society.

Recommended


One of my favorite comics ever. And the main reason, along with Starman, why I continually ask "what the heck happened to James Robinson?"

Amen! He always seemed like the smart-but-seldom-used Batman writer. It was always a treat to get a Brennert story.

Detective 445 said:

Tales of the Batman: Alan Brennert

On the old board we once did a poll of the Greatest Comic Runs ever, and one of my nominees was Alan Brennert's run on Batman. I was cheating a little bit becuase his Batman stories were spread across several different titles. But man, were they good. Back in the early 80s they really stood out. There was nothong quite like them and I still hold them in high regard to this day. So I was happy to finally get a digital copy of this fantastic collection. Really great stuff that holds up very well in my opinion. And Brennert's introduction is excellent as well.

Bitch Planet Vol. 2: President Bitch
Kelly Sue DeConnick, script/co-creator; Valentine De Landro, art & covers/co-creator; Taki Soma, art (Issue #6); Kelly Fitzpatrick, colors; Clayton Cowles, letters
Image Comics, 2017

The first collection was a stunner, but it could be accused of a lack of focus. There was so much groundwork to be laid in establishing the society (especially the rules for women) and a large cast of characters. The second volume is laser-focused. It begins with an issue devoted to Meiko Maki's back story (ably illustrated by guest artist Soma in a more manga style), and the "President Bitch" arc largely revolves around her, even in her absence. Meiko's architect father has been brought to the prison planet to construct a playing field for the Megation game, in record time. The prison wardens badly need his cooperation, so they go out of their way to keep her death in a prison riot a secret. One result of that riot is the demotion of former warden Whitney to prisoner in the general population. When a virtual visit with his daughter is arranged, the penny drops for Mr. Makoto (he was probably becoming suspicious already). He takes over the power station and cuts the power, which leads to many unexpected revelations. The facility is much larger than we knew. There's a whole area with transgender prisoners, and one very secret prisoner: ex-president Eleanor Doane (of the title) who was thought to be dead. She's ready to lead, and in addition to the prison planet there is a secret society back on Earth that is ready to follow her. The collection concludes with interesting conversations between the co-creators which shed considerable light on the collaborative process in this arc.

Casanova: Acedia Vol. 2
Matt Fraction, Michael Chabon, writers; Fábio Moon, Gabriel Bá, illustrators; Dustin Harbin, letters
Image Comics, 2017

The Acedia Vol. 1 collection came out in October, 2015; Vol. 2 in May, 2017. Matt Fraction and his co-creators are clearly committed to the series, but patience is required. After reviewing the previous volume I jumped in, and the story does indeed pick up right where it left off. Casanova Quinn still does not remember who he is, and the man he is working for (currently going by the name Akim Athabadze) is also a mystery. A mysterious couple--who Casanova seems to remember--is trying to convince him to kill his boss (who they describe as "a monster"). Athabadze is on his guard, and seems to know who Casanova really is. Meanwhile, Casanova's enemies are coming for him from another dimension, as are the Metanauts (who are still trying to kill Casanova Quinn in every dimension). As usual it's too surreal to make linear sense, but it's fun to come along for the ride. I do think that Chabon & Bá's Metanauts backup stories were better integrated with the main story line than they were in the first volume. I believe this concludes the fourth of the seven deadly sins the parts are named for (Acedia means "sloth" BTW): three more to go!

SWAMP THING #14-24: I’m reading most of this post-Wein/Wrightson run for the first time. The first of these issues continued to be written by Wein, with art by Nestor Redondo, and continued much in the same vein as #1-13. Then David Michelinie took over from Wein. Issue #20 saw the last of Abigail Arcane and Matt Cable, and was the last strictly in continuity (AFAIAC). Gerry Conway wrote issues 23-24 (although David Anthony Kraft scripted #24), which featured a new direction. The Swamp thing made his way to his home state of Oregon, and Alec Holland’s brother Edward and his woman Ruth joined the cast. Edward, also a scientist, was able to “cure” his brother, returning him to humanity. Alec and Ruth are attracted to each other, setting up a romantic triangle.

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