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

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Oh, no! I bought this trade last year for cheap, hoping it would be an unexpected treat. Now it's sunken to the bottom of my pile. Thanks for the warning!

Captain Comics said:

I just read Bane: Conquest #1-12. Was that an attempt at a Bane ongoing, or what?

I assumed before I read it that it would somehow be connected to what Tom King is doing in Batman, especialy with "City of Bane" or whatever coming up. But no, it's entirely disconnected. And it's not like a maxiseries, because there are multiple stories, there's the establishment of (a cliched) supporting cast and multiple guest stars (Batman, Catwoman, Kobra, etc.).

Also, what is Bane doing living in a boat off Gotham, messing with Batman, when he's supposed to be running a worldwide crime empire ? And why do we only see, like three or four operatives (the aforementioned supporting cast) when Bane is supposed to be running a worldwide crime empire? Why does Bane's oft-mentioned crime worldwide empire never shown or demonstrated, but often mentioned?

I don't like Bane, and I'm tired of him, but even if I loved him, I would be disappointed in this stuff. It's like mediocre mid-1980s comics.

Don't listen to me, Jeff! Read it with a fresh eye, and then tell me all the good stuff that I missed because I don't like Bane!

I also read The Green Lantern #8, which was OK, and Batman Last Knight on Earth, which was pretty good. I really like how Capullo draws both Batman and Bruce Wayne, and have missed it. And the story is just some nutty apocalypse thing that clearly isn't in continuity, so I can enjoy it as an Elseworlds.

HEROES IN CRISIS #9: (See discussion)

DOOMSDAY CLOCK #10: (See discussion)

IMMORTAL HULK #18: Betty Ross-Talbot-Banner has previously transformed into the Harpy and the red Hulk. See this issue for her latest transformation. See this issue, too, for the latest iteration of the Abomination (truly abominable). And whatever did happen to Margo Chandler? (I lost track of her.

TRUE BELIEVERS SILVER SURFER: Every once in a while I have to buy one of these, even if it’s an issue I already have, just to get it on higher quality paper. This one reprints #51. You can’t go wrong for a buck.

DICK TRACY FOREVER #2: More proof (if any more be needed), not only that no one other than Chester Gould can do Dick Tracy, but also that Dick Tracy doesn’t work as an original comic book.

X-MEN: GRAND DESIGN: X-TINCTION #1: This issue summarizes X-Men comics released between 1986 and 1989, right around the time my interst in the X-Men was waning. True to form, this adaptation barely held my interest.

STAR TREK: YEAR FIVE #2: Part two of a pretty good story about the Tholians, but one definitely written from an early 21st century perspective. If this mini-series is supposed to cover the whole fifth year, they’d better get on the stick.

BATMAN: THE LAST KIGHT ON EARTH: This is my introduction to Synder/Capulio Batman. It’s pretty far-fetched. The plot (in which Bruce Wayne is an inmate at Arkham Asylum) reminds me of a two-part story from BM:LotDK in the ‘90s. This seems a rehash of that, but padded. It costs six bucks.

LEVIATHAN RISING: I stopped reading Superman and Action some time ago (after Bendis’s first story in each), and I don’t feel much has really happened since then. This one-shot special sets up the new Jimmy Olsen series (by Matt Fraction) and the new Lois Lane series (by Greg Rucka). Based on what I saw here, I’ll definitely be giving the Jimmy Olsen series a try. It’s the same quirky fun as the Silver Age version, but told with today’s sensibilities. Leviathan Rising costs ten bucks.

I don't buy any prestige format books anymore. I figure if they turn out to be good, I will read them when they are inevitably collected. I'll snatch prestige books from the back-issue dollar bin, but not off the rack anymore.

Jeff of Earth-J said:

BATMAN: THE LAST KIGHT ON EARTH: This is my introduction to Synder/Capulio Batman. It’s pretty far-fetched. The plot (in which Bruce Wayne is an inmate at Arkham Asylum) reminds me of a two-part story from BM:LotDK in the ‘90s. This seems a rehash of that, but padded. It costs six bucks.

You are wise beyond your years.

LEE/KIRBY FANTASTIC FOUR: Last night I read FF Annual #4 (the return of the Golden Age Human Torch) as a lead-in to re-reading some post-2004 Invaders continuity. Before that I read the recent HUGE Kirby is… Fantastic hardcover. For me, that’s like widescreen Technicolor after a lifetime of watching black and white TV.

SORTING INVADERS AND DEFENDERS: I haven’t posted about how I organize my comics since Alan M. stopped posting here regularly, but I recently decided I wanted the 2019 Invaders and Defenders series in the same box because of the Ron Garney covers. The problem is, earlier volumes of those same series are in two different boxes. The solution seems simply, doesn’t it? Just combine the two series in a single box. But, aye, there’s the rub. They had been filed in two mid-size boxes with other continuity related to each series, and there was too much to fit in a single long box. I winnowed some wheat from the chaff, but now I didn’t have enough. After buying the 2004 Invaders series and the 2012 Defenders series (both of which I passed on initially) and adding the 2015 Squadron Supreme series (which I had stored in another box entirely!), I think I’ve finally hit that “sweet spot” of Invaders/Defenders continuity which fits snuggly into a single box.

Jeff, if you saw the lackadaisical way that my comics aren't organized, you'd probably adopt me just so that you could disown me.

Jeff of Earth-J said:

You are wise beyond your years.

LEE/KIRBY FANTASTIC FOUR: Last night I read FF Annual #4 (the return of the Golden Age Human Torch) as a lead-in to re-reading some post-2004 Invaders continuity. Before that I read the recent HUGE Kirby is… Fantastic hardcover. For me, that’s like widescreen Technicolor after a lifetime of watching black and white TV.

SORTING INVADERS AND DEFENDERS: I haven’t posted about how I organize my comics since Alan M. stopped posting here regularly, but I recently decided I wanted the 2019 Invaders and Defenders series in the same box because of the Ron Garney covers. The problem is, earlier volumes of those same series are in two different boxes. The solution seems simply, doesn’t it? Just combine the two series in a single box. But, aye, there’s the rub. They had been filed in two mid-size boxes with other continuity related to each series, and there was too much to fit in a single long box. I winnowed some wheat from the chaff, but now I didn’t have enough. After buying the 2004 Invaders series and the 2012 Defenders series (both of which I passed on initially) and adding the 2015 Squadron Supreme series (which I had stored in another box entirely!), I think I’ve finally hit that “sweet spot” of Invaders/Defenders continuity which fits snuggly into a single box.

“Jeff, if you saw the lackadaisical way that my comics aren't organized, you'd probably adopt me just so that you could disown me.”

Actually, I’m not nearly as up-to-date sorting new comics as I used to be, not for the last 10 years or so, but I am meticulous about certain themed boxes. (Last night I sorted “Cosmic.”) Generally, I throw my new comics (bagged and boarded) into a short box. When that fills up, I sort them into “Marvel,” “DC” and “Other” short boxes. When those fill up, I transfer them to longboxes. When the longboxes are full, I move them to “The Vault.”

These are the comics I read last night…

HULK LAST CALL #1: Definitely my “Pick of the Week.” An untold Hulk tale implanted near the end of Peter David’s lengthy run, by Peter David and Dale Keown. It takes place during the time Betty was “dead” and deals with Bruce Banner hiring a hit man (guess who) to kill him then calling the suicide prevention hotline where Betty once worked to see if someone there could talk him out of it. Banner relates the tales of the second time Betty became the Harpy, and must intercede when Mr. Hyde attacks the call center.

Mike, if you’re reading this post, don’t miss this issue.

GREEN LANTERN #8: Every iteration of the DCU (pre-Crisis, post-Crisis, post-Zero Hour, New 52, etc.) should have its own GL/GA team-up. This is the one for whatever iteration we’re in now.

SHAZAM #6: The “Magiclands” story continues. In the real world, Billy’s father returns. What effect will this development have on Billy’s foster family?

PAPER GIRLS #29: The results of the 2016 poll of what the future (2019) would look like are published. One issue to go!

STRAY BULLETS #41: Sick and twisted (as usual).

SUB-MARINER #14: Gearing up to read some “recent” Invaders series.

Bought (& read) to-day:
STAR WARS #107 - " True Believers " reprint.
SPIDER-MAN: LIFE STORY #2 - This is good! The first issue I've seen. I will tradewait, though.

“ONCE AN INVADER”: This four-part story (Avengers #82/497-84/499 and New Invaders #0) leads into the New Invaders series (2004). I was excited to read this when it first came out, but ultimately disappointed. I did not, at the time, follow the story into the new series. If the Avengers avenge and the Defenders defend, this particular group on Invades invades. In this story, they help topple a dictatorial regime in a fictional Middle Eastern country, but they then have to deal with the consequences of that action. (Why does that sound familiar?)

This story is also somewhat notorious for an ill-advised love affair between Hawkeye and the Wasp. I must admit, I did not even remember the naked, female, android human torch (Tara) until I re-read it yesterday. I did not even recognize Scott Kolins’ cover of #84 as an homage to John Buscema’s Sub-Mariner until someone (on this board back in 2004, I think) pointed it out to me. Scott Kolins does elaborate backgrounds, which is usually a plus, especially on interior art, but this cover is over-rendered.

I didn’t dislike this story as much as I did initially, but that may be because I got through it in a single sitting rather than having it drag on over the course of four months. For more discussion, see pages 49-50 of Richard Mantle’s “Complete Invaders” discussion. I will continue with the New Invaders series next week.

DAREDEVIL MASTERWORKS v6: This volume reprints ten issues (#54-63), all by Roy Thomas and Gene Colan. Thomas’s writing style is all but indistinguishable from Stan Lee’s at this point, and the art has a solid visual consistency, all but one being inked by Colan’s mentor Syd Shores (the odd one out by George Klein). In issue #54, Matt Murdock fakes his own death, then spend the rest of that issue and the next battling Starr Saxon, who has assumed the identity of Mr. Fear (second of that name).

In #56, Karen takes some time off to mourn Matt Murdock’s supposed death, returning to her childhood home in a story obviously based on TV’s Dark Shadows. Although Page House resembles the Bates’ house from Psycho more than it does Collinwood, Barnabas Collins is even mentioned, making the source material a dead giveaway. Daredevil spends two issues fighting Death’ Head (a ghoul with a surprise identity who rides a skeletal horse), then reveals his identity to Karen at the end of #57.

Issues #58-60 deal with an aspiring new crime-lord (also with a surprise identity) who calls himself Crimewave. In issue #58, after Foggy and Matt concoct a story to cover Matt’s “death,” Crimewave sends Stuntmaster against Daredevil at a charity event. In #59 Daredevil fights the Torpedo, and in #60 Crimewave is defeated. Foggy’s girlfriend, Debbie, feels forced to break up with him due to public pressure surrounding her being an ex-con. Matt promises Karen that he will give up being Daredevil, then almost immediately reneges.

In #61 Matt breaks a date with Karen (on her birthday, no less) in order to fight the “Trio of Doom”: Mr, Hyde, the Cobra and the Jester. In #62, he fights Nighthawk (who started out as a glory-hound on the wrong side of the law before becoming a member in god standing of the Defenders), and in #63 he has a rematch with the Gladiator while Karen leaves town… apparently for good this time.

The highlight of this volume is definitely the art, but Colan's best inker is yet to come.

A trip to the library, and I came home with 1602 and DC's Greatest Imaginary Stories, Vol. 2, featuring Batman & Robin.

Yeah, I'm late to 1602. but that's what libraries are for.* It's a wonderful project and clearly a prestige one. I confess it was a little hard for me to suss out the identities of all the displaced characters, and I was a bit disappointed that the whole thing hung on a time-displaced Captain America. It seems almost every time Captain America is placed in a What If?-type tale, the setting is that the world has devolved into a fascist dystopia and he has to fight against it. I wish writers wouldn't keep rehashing that trope.

DC's Greatest Imaginary Stories, Vol. 2, featuring Batman & Robin includes the stories in which Alfred writes fan fiction that posits Bruce Wayne has married Kathy Kane and they have a son, Bruce Wayne Jr. These stories don't hold up well. Robin is jealous of being replaced, but he takes on the Batman identity and trains Bruce Jr. to be "Robin II."

All of the men spout the sexist nonsense that Kathy shouldn't be crime-fighting. One horrid story has Batman hide Kathy's costume to keep her from going out. Resourcefully, she tailors a Batman outfit to fit her and joins them in the field. Unfortunately, the cowl and mask don't quite fit and at one point fall off, exposing her face ... which instantly leads everyone in sight to exclaim "That's Kathy Kane, Bruce Wayne's wife -- so Wayne must be Batman!" barf photo barf.gif

A more interesting story has Batman growing up bent on revenge against Superman because he mistakenly believes Superman killed his father. It's pretty dark for a story from way back when.

Another is an episode of Superman's Girl Friend Lois Lane, in which Batman has been carrying a torch for Lois (he even has a secret shrine in the Batcave, but we aren't supposed to think that's creepy). Of course, Batman adheres to guy code and keeps it to himself. He gets his shot because the ever-jealous Lois gets bent out of shape over how much time Superman is spending with Wonder Woman (at the time in her Diana Rigg out-of-costume days) and breaks up with him. Wayne woos her, marries her and then tells her she's married to Batman. Superman doesn't like it, but realizes he had his chance and blew it. Nice art from Curt Swan marred by muddy inks from Mike Esposito. I've almost always seen Mike Esposito paired with Ross Andru; seeing him on a really good artist makes me realize why I never liked the Andru/Esposito team on Amazing Spider-Man, which they were when I first started reading comics in earnest.

The final imaginary tale is from Batman (Vol. 1) #300, "The Last Batman Story -- ?", set some 30 years in the future in which a semiretired Batman and an adult Robin take on a criminal cabal called Spectrum. It's a pedestrian story written by David V. Reed, elevated with art by Walt Simonson and Dick Giordano.

* I still marvel at the fact graphic novels and hardback and paperback collections of comics are even in libraries. When I was a kid, you rarely saw them, and the few that libraries had were inevitably stolen. 

“A trip to the library, and I came home with… DC's Greatest Imaginary Stories, Vol. 2, featuring Batman & Robin.”

Here’s something I posted about that collection two years ago:

I read this second (and, sadly, last) collection of “Imaginary Stories” over the weekend. The first, “The Marriage of Batman and Batwoman” from Batman #122 (March 1959), is not technically an Imaginary Story at all. It is a dream, Dick Grayson’s, but it fits well with the next six stories (which are not, strictly speaking, “imaginary” either). These are tales written by Alfred the butler about a possible future when Bruce Wayne marries Kathy Kane and retires, and Dick Grayson and Bruce Wayne, Jr. become “The Second Batman and Robin Team.” I read some of these as a kid (reprinted in 100-Page Super-Spectaculars), but I didn’t read them all. I didn’t even know how many there were. The answer is “six” and they’re all collected under these two covers.

The next story, “The Clash of Cape and Cowl!” from World’s Finest Comics #153 (November 1965), is a proper Imaginary Story. In it, Bruce Wayne’s father is killed while working on an anti-kryptonite serum for Superboy, young Bruce jumps to a wild conclusion and sets about on a life of revenge against the one who he believes killed his dad but who actually didn’t. He even goes so far as to reveal his own secret identity to Lex Luthor, but he gets what’s coming to him in the end.

In “The Bride of Batman!” from Superman’s Girlfriend Lois Lane #89 (January 1969), Superman doesn’t listen closely enough to the Beatles’ song “You’re Gonna Lose That Girl” and he, well… you figure it out. This story actually as a happy ending.

I wasn’t reading DC comics in 1978, but “The Last Batman Story…?” (Batman #300) presents an interesting look at the near future (not just Batman’s, ours) with artwork by Walt Simonson and Dick Giordano. It’s an interesting story in its own right, but it’s the two-page epilogue that really makes it.

“I still marvel at the fact graphic novels and hardback and paperback collections of comics are even in libraries. When I was a kid, you rarely saw them, and the few that libraries had were inevitably stolen.”

Yeah, that coulda been me.

Not really, but when my mom and dad went with my brother to college freshman orientation back in 1973 they had no choice but to take me along. They dropped me off at the college library, which was fine with me. Browsing their periodicals room, I was shocked, pleased and surprised to discover, among the Lifes and Times and National Geographics, they had bound volumes of MADmagazine going all the way back to the beginning! (I thought they were missing the first volume, but I didn’t realize at the time those early issues were comic books, not magazines.) I coveted those volumes as much as I have ever coveted anything in my life. When I went to college (a different one than my brother attended), among the first things I did was to check the library for bound copies of MAD magazine, but my college didn’t have them. (They were probably stolen.) Just as well... I wasn't cut out for a life of crime.

"Hey, man... when I was a kid, I stole books." - Detective Ron Harris, Barney Miller.

...SHAZAM! #6 ~ Is the writing team on this the exact writing team for at least the story of the movie? I suppose  this must have been planned as the movie was planned ~ Making this/the comic perhaps the most closely following each other such venture of all time?! The exploring of the question of Billy's father introduced in the movie sold this to me ~ As a sixth issue, this seems unresolved ~ Was the first arc #1-4???

  Was the concept of all of Billy's foster siblings being the Marvel Family introduced in that immediately post-New 52 JUSTICE LEAGUE back-up??? I never finished it/got the last issues let alone the book. Were there any Shazam! titles or features in the era in between the arc's ending and the new title? Has the concept that the figure Billy turns into was once, anyway, referred to as " Captain Marvel " ever been referenced ~ or even hinted/joked about - in-story?????????

  I suppose the fact that Warner Bros. bothered to make a Shazam! movie at all is owed to the 70s-successful TV series - and whatever lingering worth the memory of the 40s version may yet carry/be seen as.

  I think I have read that the reported " at one time, CAPTAIN MARVEL ADVENTURES outsold SUPERMAN may be total sales over a year, from the time that CMA was published bi-weekly. True??? I've thought that, in the years that DC has owned the character, they've tended to treat him as a " retro-like the good old days-innocent " character for the younger market, " nicer " than the norm for superheros at that rime.

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