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

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War Bears #1: Margaret Atwood and Ken Steacy give us this story about a Golden Age comic creator. I did not know what to expect when I picked this up, but it's not exactly what I would have thought from the cover. Ken Steacy's art looks better when it's the line art instead of fully-painted, in my opinion.

This book does not exactly reflect the times in which it is set, but it's comics. It doesn't claim to be the real story.

One other thing is that there is no difference between the art of the main story and the art style of the Oursonette comic drawn by the main character. The difference is instead shown by the fact that the comic is done in black and white and the main story is done in color.

Nonetheless, this is very interesting as a sort of alternative history. It's an intriguing look at what could have been. I'm interested enough to buy the next issue, which is a sign of good writing.

Captain Comics said:

NEIL GAIMAN'S ONLY THE END OF THE WORLD AGAIN: I usually like evertything Neil Gaiman does, but I glanced off this one without really "getting" it.

I had just received my copy and was prompted to put it on top of my reading stack by your comments. I got through it a lot faster than I expected. Only one-third of the book is devoted to the story itself. The rest of the book is every single page of the story (uncolored) facing its layout page. Makes one feel a little cheated. I see now that there was a paperback collection of this story (which was originally serialized somewhere) in the year 2000. The TPB weighed in at 48 pages while this one is 152 pages. The TPB has Nixey’s art on the cover, showing the oddly-drawn humans. The new one only shows the werewolf. I don’t think it’s made clear enough that Russell adapted the script and laid out the pages but didn’t draw the book.

I think that it's maybe Gaiman's stab at an H.P. Lovecraft-type story. There are ancient alien gods in a northeast (Maine? Massachusetts?) fishing village, which are stymied in the end by our protagonist.

I think the Lovecraft stories established Innsmouth as being in Massachusetts. It’s not Gaiman’s only stab at Lovecraft. The new book A Study in Emerald, which I also bought but have only skimmed, is based upon a 2004 Gaiman story that is firmly in Lovecraft-land. It, however, is a lot meatier, stirring The Old Ones, Sherlock Holmes, Jack the Ripper and probably more into a story adapted and drawn by Rafael Albuquerque, scripted or co-scripted by Rafael Scavone, with colors by Dave Stewart. It looks painted, but I guess that’s because the coloring was done by computer.

Sorry, spoiler. But I have to mention it because our hero is a werewolf, so it's kinda bait and switch when we realize he's the good guy late in the story, after believing all along that he's a killer. (He isn't; he hunts deer.)

It’s cute that his sign says he is “Lawrence Talbot, Adjustor,” as in the movie The Wolfman. He may hunt deer, but on page 2 of the story he’s vomiting a child’s fingers.

Everyone in the story is an oddball and slightly sinister, and one guy might be based on Sidney Greenstreet, and there are people watching the progatonist who aren't explained. In fact, his whole schtick isn't explained; he appears to be new in town (I think?), opens some sort of detective agency, and now he'll move on. Maybe the implication is that he goes to where ancient gods are doing bad things? Unexplained.

I got the impression that he was seeking out the people trying to bring about the end of the world courtesy of The Old Ones. I haven’t really been a big Lovecraft fan, but the impression I have of his work is that it is foreboding and somewhat vague.

Maybe I'd have liked it better if I didn't absolutely despise the art. The credits tell me P. Craig Russell did layouts, but I don't see any of that -- I just see Troy Nixey's ugly, slapdash, cartoonish art where everybody's nose looks like a potato.
Someone explain to me what I missed with this book. Given its provenance, it must be better than it seems.

I think I liked it better than you did, except for my comments at the top of my post. I’ve become a lot more tolerant of different (and sometimes ugly) art styles over the years.

Is the series set in Canada?  During the war, Canada restricted the import of non-essential goods (egads, they mean comic books) so Canadian publishers started producing comic books (“Canadian Whites”) with color covers but black-and-white interiors.  That might explain the difference in coloring between the main story and the “comic.”

Wandering Sensei: Moderator Man said:

War Bears #1: Margaret Atwood and Ken Steacy give us this story about a Golden Age comic creator. I did not know what to expect when I picked this up, but it's not exactly what I would have thought from the cover. Ken Steacy's art looks better when it's the line art instead of fully-painted, in my opinion.

This book does not exactly reflect the times in which it is set, but it's comics. It doesn't claim to be the real story.

One other thing is that there is no difference between the art of the main story and the art style of the Oursonette comic drawn by the main character. The difference is instead shown by the fact that the comic is done in black and white and the main story is done in color.

Nonetheless, this is very interesting as a sort of alternative history. It's an intriguing look at what could have been. I'm interested enough to buy the next issue, which is a sign of good writing.

CAPTAIN AMERICA ANNUAL #1: I bought this one on a whim. I decided not to buy the new Captain America series, and, judging by the cover, this annual could be slotted in with that series of “Theater of War” one-shots from several years ago. Initially, I wasn’t too impressed with the story, but then I read the writer’s introduction at the end. She incorporated a certain amount of her own family history into the plot, which I’m sure was very cathartic. As a comic book I’d give it a C, but as a college-level creative writing assignment I’d give it an A+.

LIFE OF CAPTAIN MARVEL #1-3: I read all three of these issues on Friday, and I barely remember them now. I remember liking them, but feeling they’re very decompressed.

PRINCE VALIANT: Humiliated after his defeat in the tournament, Val leaves Camelot and, aftewr two years of wandering, returns to his home in the Fens. In January of 449, Val returns to Horrit the witch for a second prophecy, which foster does not reveal (other than it turns Val white and couses him to tremble). She recognizes the “Singing Sword” as Flamberge, made by the same mage who forged King Arthur’s Excalibur.

“No keener blade was ever wrought, and to its owner will come hard victory, if he fight with a pure heart and in a good cause,” she proclaims, “but woe to him who uses t for evil gain!”

We jump ahead to Spring. Val plans to regain his father’s lost throne, but before he can do anything about it, he discovers the Saxon fleet amassing in the Fens for their 10th invasion attempt of England. Val rides to Camel,ot and notifies the King. Because he is familiar with the Fens, he is allowed to plan the attack. Because his plan is instrumental in defeating the Saxons, Val is knighted on the field of battle (#103).

Val’s father asks for one of the Saxon’s captured ships for his part in the defense, which Arthur grants. Sligon’s 12 year rule of Thule has not been a happy one. He bargains the throne of Thule for Val’s father’s home in the Fens, and the castle is won without bloodshed. Wanting true peace and quiet, though, Sligon leaves his wife and daughter, Claris, behind. The pretty, young Claris sets her sights on Val, but Val is still holding a torch for the dead Ilene.

Claris decides to use Val’s friend, Alfred de Gerin, to awaken Val’s jealousy, but she awakens more tha she bargained for. Alfred steals a kiss from Claris, which leads to a dual between Alfred and Val. Val eventually sees through Claris’ shallowness and fickleness, and paints a boisterous picture of what life with him would be like. He leads her through the rain to a castle where Alfred is waiting, and the two are wed.

Val soon becomes bored with peaceful Thule and rides forth in search of adventure. He meets a witch in “The Cave of Time” and does battle with Father Time himself and loses his youth temporarily. Or it could have been the drugged wine.

LITTLE ORPHAN ANNIE – AUG-SEP 1932: The ship is almost ready to set sail. The captain admits he hired a pretty rough crew on short notice. At the last minute, Annie backs out so that “Daddy” and Trixie will get along during their trip. Trixie still thinks they’ll be travelling on the yacht. She contacts a friend, Clara Treat, who runs a home for incorrigible girls called “The Highgate School for Girls.” Trixie arranges it so that Miss Treat (get it?) can draw unlimited funds in her own name from Warbucks’ account. After meeting her, Warbucks describes her a “guff and homely”; I say she looks like Robert De Nero wearing a bad woman’s wig. Last week I said I didn’t recall how Trixie is written out of the strip, but I don’t think she returns from this cruise.

On the train on the way to Highgate, Annie overhears Miss Treat tell another passenger about the reform school she runs. That night, Annie pulls the emergency brake cord, and she and Sandy flee. Annie has some cash on her, but a reward has been offered which means people will be on the lookout for a red-headed kid with a dog. She spends two weeks on the road and has several small adventures. Finally, she comes to Cosmic City.

The first people she meets are Phineas P. Pinchpenny and Mr. and Mrs. Futile. Tom Take is mentally deficient and a kleptomaniac. Bert Barrister is a lawyer. Pinchpenny runs Annie off, but the Futiles take her in. she starts school. The other kids are friendly at first, but after a day or two their parents told them to snub her because she’s an orphan. She meets a lame boy named Augustus Pincher. Annie calls him Gus, but the other children known him as “Limpy.” Gus’s father is the town constable.

Mr. Pinchpenny holds the Futile’s mortgage and they are behind in their payments. When he learns they’re caring for Annie, he sends Constable Pincher to take Annie to the county farm, but Pincher delays. In the meantime, Gus falls in the quarry with plenty of adults and children looking on, but only Annie jumps in and saves him. After that, the Constable tears up the court order. Then Constable Pincher confronts Pinchpenny and tells him off. Incensed, Picnhpenny foreclose on the $547 the Futiles still owe (ostensibly because they can apparently afford to take on “free boarders, meaning Annie).

On the day the futiles are to be evicted, Annie pays off their mortgage with the money “Daddy” gave her, but now she’s broke.

Dave Palmer said:

Is the series set in Canada?
 
Wandering Sensei: Moderator Man said:

War Bears #1: Margaret Atwood and Ken Steacy give us this story about a Golden Age comic creator.

I googled "Oursonette" and found a short story by Atwood from the Globe and Mail, Jul. 1 2017. Steacy did the spot art. It's about the end of WWII and the Canadian comics industry. Atwood's bio says she previously did a graphic novel with Johnnie Christmas called Angel Catbird.

The superheroine's name is from French: ourson, bear-cub.

Jeff of Earth-J said:

CAPTAIN AMERICA ANNUAL #1: I bought this one on a whim. I decided not to buy the new Captain America series, and, judging by the cover, this annual could be slotted in with that series of “Theater of War” one-shots from several years ago. Initially, I wasn’t too impressed with the story, but then I read the writer’s introduction at the end. She incorporated a certain amount of her own family history into the plot, which I’m sure was very cathartic. As a comic book I’d give it a C, but as a college-level creative writing assignment I’d give it an A+.

I know that it's numbered 1, but what year? The numbers don't mean anything anymore.

I remember someone pointed out years ago that magazines other than comics are usually referred to as "Life Magazine April 1946" rather than issue number. It used to be that the only confusion would be Green Lantern Golden Age #1 and Green Lantern Silver Age #1, and possibly a couple of others. Now the numbering confusion is pervasive and constantly accumulating.

"I know that it's numbered 1, but what year? The numbers don't mean anything anymore."

It's brand new, came out just last week. 

PRINCE VALIANT:

In an effort to appease Attila the Hun, Roman Emperor Valentinian has given his sister to him in marriage. Attila disappears with his new bride into Pannonia (modern day Hungary), but his hordes continue to pillage unchecked. In a tavern, Price valiant hears of Camoran’s castle, Andelkrag, under siege by the Huns. He decides to go to Andelkrag and do whatever he can to help Camoran. He creates a diversion which leads to a skirmish and, in the confusion, Val sneaks int the castle. Andelkrag is maned by “warrior troubadours” who live life to the fullest and have nightly feasts, despite being under siege.

Months pass (strip time), giving Foster the opportunity to show how war is waged in medieval times. Finally, they run out of food. Camoran sets his castle afire, and the ladies, rather than be captured by the Huns, march up a high tower and throw themselves into the flames. The men prepare for one final battle. Val joins them as they exit Andelkrag through a secret tunnel. The battle is hard an bloody, and by the next day, Val is the only one on either side left alive.

He collapses in exhaustion. While he sleeps, the jeweled hilt of his singing sword is eyed by Slith, a self-described “thief and robber, juggler, actor, singer and magician.” Val awakens just in time and proceeds to calmly and methodically drown Slith. His curiousity gets the better of him, though, and he allows Slith to live. They begin to travel together, and it is during this time the Val learns juggling and other sleight of hand which will serve him well in years to come.

LITTLE ORPHAN ANNIE – OCTOBER 1932:

Harold Gray spends much of October introducing Annie to the citizens of Cosmic City. In addition to Mr. Pinchpenny, the Futiles, Tom Take and Bert Barrister, Annie meets Mose Mendicant, Doc Dose, Miss sweet (the teacher), Mr. Bitter (the principal), Caleb Shopp (who owns the local store) and Mr. Agate (who runs the newspaper), among others. This gives Gray (through Annie) the opportunity to observe life in microcosm and pontificate on it. Annie orders some mail-order can-openers to sell, and Annie learns (and readers are “taught”) Gray’s lessons in perseverance.

The local paperboy, “Lug,” doesn’t do a very good job. He doesn’t deliver papers to subscribers, but rather tries to sell them for his own side profit. Mr. Agate pays him a dollar a week, but Lug doesn’t earn it. Lug eventually decides to go “on strike,” and Annie gets his job. (Every other kid is too scared of Lug to apply.) Annie not only delivers papers, but also helps out around the office, earning $1.50 a week.

Mr. Pinchpenny tries to get Annie fired, but Mr. Agate refuses. Pinchpenny pulls his advertising from the newspaper, but Agate writes an editorial, not naming any names, but everyone in cosmic city knows Pinchpenny is the target. Pinchpenny threatens to sue, but soon comes to realize the lack of advertising is hurting his business. Mr. Agate gives him a new contract… at double the previous rate.

...Recently:

ARCHIE 1941#1

EDGE OF SPIDERGEDDON #1

BARTMAN one-shot (forget exact title)

Mark Waid - Jack Kirby " collaboration " in CAPTAIN AMERICA #700   What was the story behind this?

Just for fun as far as I know.

WALT DISNEY'S DONALD DUCK: "THE BLACK PEARLS OF TABU YAMA": There's not a lot new to say about these collections of decades-old Carl Barks stories. I do enjoy them, and am always glad when a new volume comes out. I do have a couple of general observations, which are:

1) Initially these books were coming out in the order the editors thought they'd sell best, or something. (I vaguely recall some explanation of that nature.) The first one out was Vol. 11, the second one out was Vol. 5, and so forth. But the publishing order has settled down recently to pretty much numerical order -- except the first four volumes have never been published. This is Vol. 19, and I guess when they reach the end (somewhere in the late 20s?)  they'll go back and do the first four, which are probably only for completists (like me).

2) Reading all the Carl Barks stories is one of those Bucket List sort of things -- famous comics that I've always wanted to read, and would always feel a little inadequate until I did. It was only a winsome hope for the Li'l Capn, but it's fast becoming a reality for Old Man Captain, thanks to the Golden Age of Reprints. And I'm checking them off rapidly. I have the complete Golden Age JSA on the shelf. I'm getting close to polishing off the complete "New Trend" EC titles. I have the complete "Peanuts." I have all the Sunday Tarzans by Hal Foster, I've read all the Foster Prince Valiants, and my Alex Raymond Flash Gordons are coming along nicely. There are more, but those are the ones that leap to mind.

SHE COULD FLY #1-3: The main character has an "obsessive" disorder, which is autobiographical on the writer's part, according to the afterword in the first issue. I am unfamiliar with the "O," as he calls it, but Jesus Christ, this girl is constantly hearing a voice -- her own, I assume -- telling her to kill everyone around her, and she imagines it vividly. She also almost murders her grandmother. What is this, and how come I've never heard of it? And how did this guy manage to end up writing comics, instead of being locked up? I always filed this sort of stuff under schizophrenia, but evidently it's something else.

Anyway, that's -- interesting, of course. So this isn't your run-of-the-mill comic book. There's also a plot about a flying machine, which a woman invents but dies before anyone knows anything about it. The flying -- the freedom -- appeals to our teen obsessive, and she gets mixed up with a variety of parties trying to recreate the device.

The art is a few notches above adequate, and 'tis enough, 'twill serve.

I'm not entirely sure I like this, but I'm certainly following with interest.

JUSTICE LEAGUE #7-8: I liked this series at first, with Big Ideas coming at you breathlessly. But now it's settling into turning all those ideas into some sort of coherent mythology -- and slowed to a crawl. Plus, I'm not really all that interested in psychoanalyzing Luthor, or seeing any of the ersatz Batmen again (the latest issue adds The Batman Who Laughs to the Legion of Doom). It's gotten rather dreary, and the Justice League is hardly in it. It's still Justice League, so I'll always read it, but I'm feeling a little bit restless.

MISTER MIRACLE #11: Another excellent issue. I think it's pretty obvious to all of us at this point that this is some sort of non-continuity tale -- a dream! a hoax! an imaginary story! -- since they're not going to kill off all these characters. But it's really well done and absorbing. Not only is the story terrific, but the presentation -- the dreamlike repetition, the strange interference, the feeling that everything is simultaneously too normal, and not normal enough -- really makes it arresting.

DICK TRACY: DEAD OR ALIVE #1: Loved the story, hated the art.

I know Chester Gould wasn't the world's greatest draftsman, but his world was consistent, coherent and professional. The art on this borders on amateurish, with faces changing shape from panel to panel, and a '60s underground comix vibe that is wholly out of place here.

Of course, I bow to Jeff of Earth-J on all things Dick Tracy, but that's my take.

OLIVIA TWIST #1: Imagine if you will, Oliver Twist taking place in a dystopic future, with all the main characters gender-swapped. Got it? OK, you don't need to read this book.

Seriously, this feels like the sort of thing I would have written in high school English class, when I was writing parodies of Once and Future King and Everyman. Olivia Twist is a high school assignment in creative writing, not an actual creative story -- and I think anyone here could do it.

BRITTANNIA: THE LOST EAGLES OF ROME #3: Racing to its climax. Good book.

BATMAN #55: This issue is little more than an excuse to get to the Nightwing development we've probably all heard about on the Internet. Still, I enjoyed the interplay between Bruce & Dick, which was different than I've ever seen but what I always imagined.

BATMAN: DAMNED #1: Dark, dark, daaaaaaaaark. Also, John Constantine. That's all I can say, because I have no idea what's going on yet.

GREEN LANTERNS #55: I think I may have missed an issue, but the bad guy is still Cyborg Superman, who might be a more impressive villain if he didn't look like he was made up by a 10-year-old. But he's impressive enough, proving once again that the Guardians are arrogant incompetents, and the Corps isn't much better. The good guys are on the ropes, because they're all written as idiots. ("Something's wrong with Mogo! The rings are all compromised! The weather's gone insane!"  "Well, let's just put a pin in that and go to lunch.") Not that it matters, since the whole franchise is about to be rebooted by Grant Morrison.

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