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

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      I'm reading, skimming really, dozens of books as I creating the sixth and last volume of ZINDA BLAKE.

      Do you have any idea how that feels?

INFINITE FRONTIER: (Thoughts posted to "Infinite Frontier" thread.)

FIRE POWER #9: For the past couple of issues I've just been posting "Recommended," reasoning that anyone reading my posts about Fire Power is already either reading it himself... or not. This time, rather than post my own thoughts about the current issue, I thought I'd post the "Previously" blurb from inside the front cover: "After a brief battle, Ma Guang's worst suspicions about Chou Feng were confirmed, and he fled the tample of the Flaming fist. Meanwhile, the Johnson family said goodbyes of their own, before boarding a flight with Wei Lun to confront Chou Feng. Then, at a cruising altitude of 35,000 feet, the Serpent's Omen jumped Owen while he was exiting the bathroom, and now they're free-falling toward Earth..."

Okay, if you're not reading Fire Power, doesn't that sound intriguing? And that's just the previous issue! Maybe next month I'll tell you what happened in #9. Also, Fire Power runs one of the two best letter columns in comics today. 

RESIDENT ALIEN Vol. 1 - "WELCOME TO EARTH!": "Resident Alien" first appeared serialized in Dark Horse Presents in 2011, which I was reading at the time primarily for Nexus. The serialized chapters were then collected in Resident Alien #0, which I also bought, followed by a limited series. I didn't remember much about it other than that I liked it and planned continue reading the series. But the "zero issue" was the last one I saw (or noticed, anyway). Skip ahead ten years and Resident Alien has been made into a very funny television show. Inspired by the TV show, this week I picked up the first Resident Alien tpb, "Welcome to Earth!" reprinting #0-3. It's funny... I'm too impatient to wait a month between issues, yet I'm perfectly willing to wait a decade for enough issues to be build up to read at my own pace. Resident Alien (the comic book and the TV show) reminds me a little bit of The Walking Dead in that, while different from their respective source, both version of each are top notch. 

NEXT WEEK: Volume 2.

Lee Houston, Junior said:

One of my holiday special treats I bought myself was the pre-Crisis Wonder Woman: The Twelve Labors trade in Kindle format... when I finished reading issue 217 last night, Green Arrow is acting like it's the JLA's idea to assess whether or not Wonder Woman can rejoin the team. .. does anyone remember why the sudden gaffe, let alone if there was any explanation for this?

The period has three phases: intro issue by Len Wein (he was one of Schwartz's go-to writers at the time, writing Justice League of America), middle issues by Cary Bates and Elliot S. Maggin (the "Superman" writers), concluding issues by Martin Pasko (who has said he got the job of writing Wonder Woman because Schwartz had him read old Wonder Woman stories so he could tell Schwartz the feature's lore).

The writers likely plotted the issues face-to-face with Schwartz and then wrote them full script. #217 is one of Maggin's issues. It's my guess Maggin first encountered the framework in conversation with Schwartz rather than through reading #212 and was focused on how it had been explained to him verbally.

Maggin was Green Arrow's writer in the period. His feature was appearing in Action Comics. Black Canary often co-starred but not always.

#217 was one of two reprint giants during the run. The supporting features included a two-pager by E. Nelson Bridwell about the history of the Duke of Deception.

It was with #212 that Wonder Woman lastingly became a Bronze Age superhero title in approach. The depowered period ended in #204. #204-#206 initiated the use of a Bronze Age approach, but #207-#210 were something off on their own, simple-style retellings of Golden Age stories set on Paradise Island. #211 was an all-reprint giant.

Wonder Woman was a bimonthly at this point, so the trials period lasted nearly two years. Since the male heroes narrate the stories they're as much theirs as Wonder Woman's. But actually, that works well. It puts likeable male presences into the stories without making them her romantic interests, but since they mostly keep out of the adventure she remains the star.

I understand what you're getting at in regards to the different writers Luke.

The "I need to see if I'm still worthy" plot was notable for its time, especially since WW herself proposed the idea. The GA via Maggin perspective cheapened it to a typical mid-1970s cliche in my humble opinion and even if the writer made an honest mistake, Schwartz as editor should have corrected it before that issue was published.

IMMORTAL HULK #44: The physical threat this issue is the U-Foes. (I suppose the U-Foes have been around long enough by now and have appeared often enough to be considered "classic" villains.) Behind the scenes is Henry Peter Gyrich, who has strayed far from his original depiction, but has at least been portrayed consistantly for many years now. Writer Al Ewing handles the letters page himself, and for the past several months he's been emphasizing the time difference between when he is preparing the latters page and when we people of the (near) future are reading it. For example, he might point out that he is preparing the letter col in September, but we would be reading it in december and already know who the next President is going to be. This issue's LOC was written in mid-Novemeber. Past-Al has some shocks ahead of him. I have a hard time seeing how this continuity ever becomes PAD's "Maestro" continuity, but that's the nature of the beast (pun intended).

RORSCHACH #6: Most of this issue is a series of letters written back and forth between the series' two main characters before they met face-to-face. It's really quite fascinating to see their relationship develop before our eyes, especially knowing what their future holds.

THE WRONG EARTH: NIGHT & DAY #3: So much more than what it appears to be on the surface. Still, for those who don't like a little thought with their comics, there is still the surface story.

SERIAL #2: As happens with every Terry Moore comic, I get sucked in and forget that I'm reading a comic until the end just sneaks up on me. Happens every time. It's really quite a remarkable phenomenon. I daresay that even those who missed #1 would be sucked in by the narrative of #2. 

I finished the Kindle version of Wonder Woman: The 12 Labors last night after reading another chapter of both Troubled Blood (Cormoran Strike #5) and the latest Drzzt adventure.

Martin Pasko came on board for the last 3 issues and had an interesting take on both Hawkman and Atom covering Trials 10 and 11, as well as how to wrap it all up with Batman, unless that had been planned from the start and he just did the writing.

Besides the writers' revolving door on the story arc, this and a whole lot of other series of the times seemed to suffer from not having a regular art team. Granted the Superman titles had Curt Swan doing most of the penciling and Dick Dillin on the JLA, but maintaining steady inkers for a consistent look from one issue to the next seemed to be a problem at times in my humble opinion.

Anyway...

Events did seem a little compressed (especially the finale) since by this point the average comic book of the day went from 20 to 18 pages of story and art. The plot made sense, but the villain of Labor 12 left me just scratching my head in disbelief.

And while I'm surprised there was any question whether or not Wonder Woman was still qualified to rejoin the Justice League to begin with, all of this occurred back when I was first getting into comic books, so the only ones I managed to get at the time straight off the spinner racks (remember those folks?) were the Black Canary and Elongated Man hosted issues.

Wasn't sure how things turned out for quite a while because the next issue of Wonder Woman I found had sent the series back to Earth/World War 2 in support of the first season of the Lynda Carter TV show.

Thursday has become my day to read new comics. I made some unusual (for me) choices this week, so let's delve right in.

SUPERMAN RED AND BLUE #1: Superman Red and Blue is similar in concept to 2002's Captain America: Red, White & Blue (Yikes! Has it really been almost 20 years!?) in that the only colors used are red and blue. (The "white" is kind of implicit.) Okay, so it's not unique but it is unusual. I haven't bought Superman for a while now (except briefly when BMB took over), and I enjoyed these five stories, traditional ones with the pages broken down into panels.. What "black and white" does for Batman, "red and blue" does for Superman.

BATMAN: RA'S AL GHUL #5: This one is so far behind schedule (about a year, IIRC) I thought it was cancelled. I'm glad it's not, though. Before last year's hiatus, Mark waid had been scripting, but with #5 Neal Adams has taken over that, too. Adams has something of a tin ear when it comes to natural dialogue, but his artistic skill remains undiminished. The story's kind of bonkers, but that's all right with me.

CAPTAIN AMERICA ANNIVERSARY TRIBUTE: Here's one I enjoyed much more than I expected to. It's a re-telling of two stories from Captain America Comics #1 plus Avengers #4 as reinterpreted by a number of different artists. I generally don't like comics which feature a different artist on every page because there's no "flow" to the art; I would generally like to see any one artist handle the whole thing. what sets this project apart is that each artist was engaged to reinterpret a single specific page of the original. If one artist were to have done the whole thing, he might have broken down the action differently across multiple pages. Another difference is that each pages uses the exact same dialogue as the original. Also, for the most part, the storytelling uses traditional panels. It is an interesting and worthwhile experiment. I wouldn't mind seeing more of this kind of thing in the future.

BLACK KNIGHT: CURSE OF THE EBONY BLADE #1: This one I picked up on a whim. BMB made the Avengers unreadable for me, but I do like to pick up an issue from time to time to see if Marvel has course-corrected. (They haven't.) The Black Knight has traditionally been a favorite of mine, so I flipped through it, liked the artwork and decided to give it a try. Again, most of the stories are broken down into panels (seems to be a "theme" this week). What I have liked about the Black Knight in the past is that he has been (to quote Steve Ditko) "a man with a clear understanding of right and wrong and the courage to choose to act." 

No more.

Dane Whitman has at last surrendered to the "insatiable lust for violence and mayhem" of his Ebony Blade. His fellow Avengers describe him (and I quote) as "annoying" (Thor), "troubled" (Black Panther), "kinda sad" (Captain Marvel) and "eccentric" (Captain America). The characterization of the individual Avengers fares no better. Granted, I've been out of the loop for a while, but here's Thor: "HA! These gore-slathered wretches splatter most agreeably!" Ugh. 

for some reason, I thought this was a one-shot, but when I got to the end I discovered it was continued. I can see this being someone's Black Knight, but not mine

MARVEL #6: A satisfying end to a satisfying series. The Nick Fury story this issue was drawn (and written) by Greg Smallwood, whom I've never heard of. His style looks quite amazingly similar to Steve Rude's. If he's any faster than Rude and is ever assigned an ongoing series, I'll likely buy it whatever it is. Another story features the Silver Surfer and the original Human Torch set so far in the future neither really remembers the 20th century. They come into conflict when Galactus comes to devour the now "human-less" Earth.

HAPPY HOUR #5:  Recommended, as always, but this issue also has a story written by our own "Grodd Mod" Rob Staeger! 

I'm currently reading 3 weeks worth of comics, but here are a select few:

Two Moons #1 - Captain Comics had asked about this wondering about the protagonist. For his enlightenment, no he is not part of the Confederacy. Two Moons is a member of the Pawnee tribe who fights for the Union. If it isn't bad enough to be in the Civil War now he has to deal with monsters too. A really good first issue.

Taskmaster #4 - This has been a very enjoyable miniseries. Taskmaster has been framed for the murder of Maria Hill, and Black Widow is hunting him down. Nick Fury knows (maybe just thinks) he is innocent and he has to get the movements of 3 different people to use the Rubicon Trigger which is what Maria Hill was working on when she died.

This issues Taskmaster travels to Wakanda to try and get Okoye's movements, and he executes his plan to near perfection.

Blade Runner Origins #1 - This series tales who the Blade Runner department was formed. There has been a "suicide" at the Tyrell Corporation and Detective Moreaux is tasked with the investigation. He is the first police officer to step inside their building. Hilarity...mayhem ensues. This was another strong first issue.

If I'm posting about new comics, today must be Thursday. Only three this week.

MAESTRO #3: The Pantheon have captured the Hulk and trick him into becoming Bruce Banner. Then they kill him. Now the trick it to keep him dead.

HAHA #3: An appropriately wordless story about a mime.

DIE!DIE!DIE!: When this series is not being published, I tend to forget that it's my favorite comic book. This issue features Barack Obama. the premise is: "Planets like Earth choose to live separated from the Galactic Community. the population gets to be blissfully unaware of the existence of aliens. To maintain that right, once every four years, an appointed champion must survive an onslaught from the Galactic Community." This is Obama's third time defending the Earth. If he fails, "the Galactic Community moves into Earth and starts divvying it up."

This issue's double-page center spread is an homage to Neal Adams' wraparound cover to Superman vs. Muhammad Ali so, if nothing else, you should have fun identifying the "celebrities" in attendance. This comic has reportedly "entered the pantheon of all-time crazy-pants, batsh*t insane comics." Unfortunately, with this issue, it goes on hiatus until further notice. On the bright side, the second collection will be available on April 21. 

MARVEL MASTERWORKS DAZZLER v2: I don't always read MMW as soon as they come out, but i always read the introductions the day they are released. I don't remember when or why I first started reading Dazzler, but I know I was buying it new by #38, the beginning of the Archie Goodwin/Paul Chadwick run. I probably started buying it with that issue, but their run lasted only five issues and the series was cancelled with #42. It was probably the completist in me that decided to pick up the first 37 backissues, which were cheap.

I didn't like the rest of the series very much, and soon liquidated the entire run except the first two, the "Galactus" issues and #38-42.(MMW v2 collects #14-25.) I was also going through a "phase" at the time during which I accumulated all of Marvel's "women" series (She-Hulk, Spider-Woman, Ms. Marvel) as backissues, in addition to The Cat and Tigra, which I already owned. Dazzler was easily the worst of those series, and I never regretted getting rid of them. Danny Fingeroth's introduction to MMW v2 gave me a new perspective, though.

Back in the '40s and '50s, certain comics were aimed at boys, others at girls. I have since come to realized that Stan Lee, for example, later incorporated aspects of romance comics into his superhero comics so they could be enjoyed by both boys and girls. The 1980s was ambivalent in that decade's view of women, and Dazzler (inadvertently, perhaps) reflected that and was equally ambivalent. Dazzler was, in many ways, a throwback to the girl's romance comics of the '50s and '60s.

I have no plans to re-read Dazzler any time soon, but when i do it will be with that perspective. 

Bleed Them Dry vol. 1 - I still remember when this was solicited I saw  "A Ninja Vampire Tale", Say no more!, I thought to myself, as this hit me squarely in the 7th grader in me. If *you* need more convincing: the year is 3333 and humans and vampires live together in the huge metropolis of Asylum. Someone is hunting vampires and the human Detective Harper and her vampire partner Detective Black are tasked with finding out who is doing it.

We start dealing with dimension hopping, the yakuza, vampire/human hybrids. There was a lot going on here, and I enjoyed it. You get a combo of sci-fi, crime, horror and a touch of martial arts. Somehow it works.

Lee Houston, Junior said:

Wasn't sure how things turned out for quite a while because the next issue of Wonder Woman I found had sent the series back to Earth/World War 2 in support of the first season of the Lynda Carter TV show.

The immediate sequel was her first adventure back with the team in Justice League of America #128-#129. Wonder Woman #223 saw the return of Steve Trevor, who'd been killed early in the Diana Prince era.


 #222 was Jose Delbo's debut on the feature. He drew it off an on for several years. The Pasko/Delbo handled the team into the start of the WWII era, except for #224 (art by Curt Swan) and #225 (writing by Elliot S. Maggin). #226-#227 involve a singer based on Judy Garland.

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