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 making me eager to read Airboy. When the Eclipse series was cancelled in 1989 it ended on a cliffhanger: Davy Nelson and the Heap were swept into Misery's domain in issue #50. "Suddenly, 30 years later..."

AIRBOY #51 (2019):This one-shot from It's Alive! Comics was written by Eclipse series writer Chuck Dixon and brings that final story to a close. It was announced that Airboy would be an ongoing series, however, and the closure was marred by the blurb "GENERATIONS Part One" on the cover and #52 was previewed as "Coming Soon" but it's been three years and I've stopped holding my breath.

DARK CRISIS #1: I feel somewhat detached from the DCU these days, but the issue begins with POV character Green Lantern (not the one who perished with the JLA; the other one). Unfortunately, he disappears a few pages in. Structure-wise, it reminds me a lot of the post-Crisis Legends. It's odd seeing some of these generational characters rubbing shoulders as contemporaries. The art's real purty but the story is kind of lightweight. 

SPIDER-MAN #3: I don't know much about writer Zeb wells, but I'll bet I can guess which comics he read when he was growing up.

THE JOKER: Inspired by a recent rereading of Three Jokers, I set out to read all the Joker stories, in order, for as long as my mood lasted. So far I have read the first 13*, from Batman #1-2, 4-5, 7-9 & 11 plus Detective Comics #45, 60, 62 & 64. I have read this "character arc" (which takes the story through the Joker's execution by electric chair**) before, but I've never read just the Joker stories beyond it. I have an unbroken run through the early '50s (in reprints), except I am missing the stories from Batman #40 and #44.

*Batman #1 had two Joker stories if you're pedantic.

**He got better.

FRANKENSTEIN: Inspired by the impending release of the Dick Briefer slipcase, I thought I'd get a leg up on a comprehensive reading project by reading the Classics Illustrated version as well as Prize Comics #7-9. I have the "study guide" version of CI published by Acclaim Comics in the '90s, but I also own the original, probably the oldest actual comic book (as opposed to a reprint) in my collection (#26, 1945). The coloring is superior in the Acclaim version except Dover's famous white cliffs are colored brown. 

The first three installments of Dick Briefer's "New Adventures of Frankenstein" (available in the collection from Yoe Books) draw more from the Universal Studios movie version than Mary Shelley's novel, but it's different from even that as well. It is set in the modern day for one thing. The four-page origin could almost be set in the past, and one can almost imagine that the Dr. Frankenstein in this story is descended from the original. the monster runs amuck in the Bronx Zoo, terrorizes Manhattan, then swims out to the Statue of Liberty. The second story opens in the Coney Island amusement park before Frankenstein creates another monster, a man with the head and paws of a giant crocodile to confront his first. In the third story, the monster partners with a midget who leads him into a life of crime before betraying him. Looking forward to the slip-cased collection from PS Artbooks continuing these adventures. 

CAPTAIN AMERICA: SENTINEL OF LIBERTY #1: Now that two people are Captain America simultaneously I guess I'm going to have to start designating which is which. This one is Steve Rogers. I have been on a several-years-long break from Captain America (with one notable exception). One of the previous series (don't ask me which!) came to such a satisfying conclusion I felt I didn't need to read any more Captain America. Then I was drawn back in by that whole "Captain Hydra" thing (the "notable exception" I alluded to above), which was very well-written, but ultimately unsatisfying. 

I didn't have very high hopes for this new series (mainly because I am not familiar with either the writers or the artist), but I ended up being very impressed. Artist Carmen Carnero utilizes some highly effective layouts, including a double-pages 2-3 incorporating the concentric circles of the shield design, and an even more impressive montage on pages 6-7, blended perfectly with Joe Carmanaga's lettering which flawlessly leads the reader's eye exactly where it needs to go. On the writing side, Jackson Lanzing and Collin Kelly reveal (to me, anyway) that Captain America no longer actively maintains a secret identity; everyone knows he is Steve Rogers. His daily jog takes him around the island of Manhattan (32 miles!). He wears ordinary sweats, but carries his shield, He has also moved back into the exact same apartment on the Lower East Side where he lived when he was a boy (which is a little difficult to believe, but okay). Continuity-wise, his exact age is given as 104 (which is a little older than I pegged him, but that's okay, too). 

A terrorist wearing the costume of his war-time ally the Destroyer clues him into the first story's EYKIW: "The shield isn't what you think. It's not your symbol... it's theirs." The first page shows what appears to be a scene of the shield being forged in Nazi Germany. If this turns out to be "true" it's not a show-stopper for me. I mean, so what? It wasn't his original but he acquired it early enough in his career that he made it his own in any case. (I remember FDR gave it to him personally, as revealed in the Stern/Byrne run.) If it should happen that the Nazi's actually made the shield, does that contradict established continuity? Frankly, I don't know. I think Mark Gruenwald may have written an origin story for the shield, but I didn't read it. (I stopped reading his run a couple dozen issues in). CA: Sentinel of Liberty #1 is my Pick of the Week

THE MARVELS #11: For those of you who don't approve of the insertion of the fictional country Siancong among the real-world countries of Viet Nam, Laos and China, the fictional origin of that country revealed in this issue may placate you. Then again, it may not. Issue #12 will be the last. Too bad. Guess I didn't realize this was a limited series, but I should have guessed. Nothing this good can last long.

BEN REILLY: SPIDER-MAN #5: I've been enjoying this one right along, but I'm kinda glad it's over. The reasons I was drawn to this character in the '90s and this series earlier this year no longer exist. 

CODE OF HONOR AND OTHER STORIES: In case you're scoring at home, this is the 32nd Fantagraphics volume spotlighting different EC artists, this volume being John Severins' turn. This volume also features the works of lesser-known artists of the "Pre-Trend" era, Lee J. Ames, Stan Ash, Ann Brewster, H.C. Kiefer, and Ed Waldman.

I had intended to buy five new comics today, but you may have noticed I bought only three. That is because two I was expecting didn't ship. Maybe next week.

Batgirls #7
Spider-Gwen: Gwen-Verse #3
What If...? Miles Morales #4

What, no pictures? 

Here you go.

Jeff of Earth-J said:

What, no pictures? 

The Batgirls book is quite good. I've been enjoying it a lot.  The other two are OK, but not great.  If they weren't limited series, I'd probably drop them, but as it is, I'll hold on until the end.

The Baron said:

Batgirls #7
Spider-Gwen: Gwen-Verse #3
What If...? Miles Morales #4

BRAIN BOY VOLS. 1-2 (PS Artbooks): I didn't actually read both volumes this week, as I'd already read the Brain Boy stories in the Dark Horse collection. In Vol. 1 I read the non-Brain Boy material in the Brain Boy comics, and the back-up, Space Busters #1-2 (Ziff-Davis). In Vol. 2, I read the non-Brain Boy material in the Brain Boy comics, and the back-up, Space Patrol #1-2 (Ziff-Davis).

I don't remember much about the Brain Boy comics, only that the were mediocre. Flipping through, I fuzzily remembered that he suffered from Silver Age Green Lantern syndrome, in that the writer's efforts to generate drama required the ultra-powerful lead character to make so many dumb mistakes as to make the reader question his intelligence.

Here's something I didn't glean from the Dark Horse collection: There was an ongoing character in the back of Brain Boy named Michael Ozimandias. There's nothing remarkable about him; he's one of a long line of white guys who learn mystic secrets in the Orient and becomes an occult detective. I was just delighted to learn that he existed.

As to Space Patrol and Space Busters, the backup stories were one-and-dones, and typical rockets-and-ray guns sci-fi of the period. The only significance to the title-character stories is that were drawn by Bernie Krigstein (Space Busters #1, Space Patrol #1-2) and Murphy Anderson (Space Busters #2). Anderson is Anderson (and always welcome), but Krigstein didn't look like himself. He was experimenting with some other style in Busters (I didn't recognize it), and in Patrol he was clearly aping Milt Caniff (although to me it came of as more Frank Robbins).

Writing credit for Busters and Patrol is iffy at the GCD, but I'd bet my last space dollar that they were the same guy. The two strips are pretty interchangeable, with a square-jawed hero working for some solar system-wide law-enforcement/military agency, with a comedy-relief sidekick. As usual, we are subjected to lame "futuristic" slang ("Hot rockets!") and technical terms ("space dollar"). And sci-fi writers in the '50s seemed to believe that all the planets were A) habitable and inhabited, and B) always lined up in a neat row ("We're passing Mars ... we'll be at Jupiter in no time!").

I get an inexplicable sense of satisfaction reading these old stories, as if I'm filling in a blank in my knowledge or sliding that long-sought Captain Phlegm #4 into the longbox between Captain Phlegm #3 and Captain Phlegm #5. I don't expect anyone else to experience that, and without it, I can't really recommend these stories.

PS ARTBOOKS PRESENTS: CLASSIC ADVENTURE COMICS VOL. 4

No, I haven't read Classic Adventure Comics Vols. 1-3 yet. Not only is PS Artbooks releasing books out of order, but I'm so far behind (mainly due to their delays) that I just read whatever's on top of the pile. Last night, it was this book. It features Voyage to the Deep #1-4 (Dell) and Escape from Devil's Island #1 (Avon).

Doesn't that logo for Voyage to the Deep look an awful lot like the logo for Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea? That's probably no accident, as the movie premiered in 1961, and was successful enough to spawn a TV series (1964-68). The comic book fit right in between, 1962-64.

Voyage to the Deep isn't an exact rip-off of Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea, but it does star a submarine and a well-respected, hardnose skipper. After that, there's not much comparison.

The submarine in question is the Proteus, so named because it can change shape, like the Greco-Roman myth, by expanding and contracting its hull. Don't ask me how it works, any more than I can explain how the Proteus can use atomic torpedoes and not blow itself up.The Proteus also shakes off gigantic sea monsters by electrifying the hull, a trick that seems universal in undersea stories these days, and if I had to bet, I'd say came from the original movie (which I haven't seen).

The Proteus battles the plans of an unseen, unnamed "enemy" that keeps trying to destroy all life on Earth. Since the book was canceled after the fourth issue, we never find out anything about this Enemy. But in the first issue it tries to flood the world; in the second it tries to trigger a worldwide ice age. And so forth. The Enemy's preferred method of destruction is nature itself, carried to extremes. Naturally, the Proteus foils each of these plots in heroic, last-minute fashion.

I say the book was canceled, but it wasn't because the creators weren't giving it their all. I've read a lot of Dell books, and by and large they're competent but kinda dull. Not so Voyage. Whoever the writer was -- GCD doesn't know -- he or she was given to flights of purple prose describing what would happen if the Enemy's plan of the day succeeded. And I mean flights! I'm not saying it's good, but I am saying it was pedal-to-the-metal, leave-no-flourish-unturned writing that makes Chris Claremont look like a Cliffs Notes intern.

And the art is by Sam Glanzman, famous for his autobiographical "U.S.S. Stevens" stories. His style doesn't speak to me personally, but I admire his professional polish, military accuracy and whole-hearted commitment. Again, you can't fault the creators for the quick cancellation, because it looks like they gave it their all.

Escape from Devil's Island (1952) is a one-shot that doesn't seem related to the Escape from Devil's Island movie (1935) or Schlitz Playhouse TV episode "The Man Who Escaped Devil's Island" (1954), except thematically. A man is framed for murder and sent to the notorious prison off the coast of French Guiana, where he is put to hard labor. He schemes his escape, and eventually he and two others attempt to do so. He suffers terribly in the prison, and just as much in the attempted escape (piranha, constrictors, etc.). Today we would call this torture porn, but thankfully the competent art, by Everett Raymond Kinstler, isn't too terribly graphic. It is coarse, though, which is appropriate for the subject matter.

Jeff of Earth-J said:

CAPTAIN AMERICA: SENTINEL OF LIBERTY #1: Now that two people are Captain America simultaneously I guess I'm going to have to start designating which is which. This one is Steve Rogers. I have been on a several-years-long break from Captain America (with one notable exception). One of the previous series (don't ask me which!) came to such a satisfying conclusion I felt I didn't need to read any more Captain America. Then I was drawn back in by that whole "Captain Hydra" thing (the "notable exception" I alluded to above), which was very well-written, but ultimately unsatisfying. 

I didn't have very high hopes for this new series (mainly because I am not familiar with either the writers or the artist), but I ended up being very impressed. Artist Carmen Carnero utilizes some highly effective layouts, including a double-pages 2-3 incorporating the concentric circles of the shield design, and an even more impressive montage on pages 6-7, blended perfectly with Joe Carmanaga's lettering which flawlessly leads the reader's eye exactly where it needs to go. On the writing side, Jackson Lanzing and Collin Kelly reveal (to me, anyway) that Captain America no longer actively maintains a secret identity; everyone knows he is Steve Rogers. His daily jog takes him around the island of Manhattan (32 miles!). He wears ordinary sweats, but carries his shield, He has also moved back into the exact same apartment on the Lower East Side where he lived when he was a boy (which is a little difficult to believe, but okay). Continuity-wise, his exact age is given as 104 (which is a little older than I pegged him, but that's okay, too). 

A terrorist wearing the costume of his war-time ally the Destroyer clues him into the first story's EYKIW: "The shield isn't what you think. It's not your symbol... it's theirs." The first page shows what appears to be a scene of the shield being forged in Nazi Germany. If this turns out to be "true" it's not a show-stopper for me. I mean, so what? It wasn't his original but he acquired it early enough in his career that he made it his own in any case. (I remember FDR gave it to him personally, as revealed in the Stern/Byrne run.) If it should happen that the Nazi's actually made the shield, does that contradict established continuity? Frankly, I don't know. I think Mark Gruenwald may have written an origin story for the shield, but I didn't read it. (I stopped reading his run a couple dozen issues in). CA: Sentinel of Liberty #1 is my Pick of the Week

I think we both addressed the shield EYKIW elsewhere, but it's worth repeating your point ("so what?") and my agreement with same. If the Nazis created the first shield, it's not like it carried Nazi philosophy with it. Whatever its origins, Steve Rogers made the shield his own, and imbued it with his symbolism. And, as you noted, the current shield is unrelated to the first. The backstory of the shields has been retconned enough that it makes my head swim, but currently the first, triangular shield was destroyed; a second triangular shield was used and stored at Avengers HQ until destroyed by Mr. Hyde; the first discus shield is actually the third shield; the current shield is probably still the first discus shield created by Myron McLean with vibranium from Wakanda (which is "unique unto all the worlds" or somesuch, says Thor to Superman in JLA/Avengers), but has been destroyed and re-created (Beyonder, Molecule Man, etc.) several times. So what, indeed.

I also want to signal agreement with your assessment of Mark Gruenwald's run on Captain America. It has been hailed as some sort high-water mark in the character's history, but I found it somewhere between "mediocre" and "unreadable." (And yes, I read them all. Pray for me.) I think the hagiography is due to the author's untimely death, and to his duration on the title, which might be the longest in Cap history. There are others who enjoyed Gruenwald's run, and God bless 'em, but Gruenwald's take didn't work for me. (Except the introduction of Cap Wolf. It was stupid, but such a cool visual and such a preposterous, comic-booky idea that I always enjoy seeing it again.)

Jeff of Earth-J said:

BEN REILLY: SPIDER-MAN #5: I've been enjoying this one right along, but I'm kinda glad it's over. The reasons I was drawn to this character in the '90s and this series earlier this year no longer exist. 

On this title, I"m kind of curious: How does Marvel deal with the fact that this series extended beyond the point that Ben Reilly: Spider-Man ceased to exist, and became Chasm? Actually, that's borderline rhetorical, as I assume they didn't. I guess what I really want to know is how a reader deals with the fact that everything he or she is reading in a miniseries they committed to is now moot? Or does this mini somehow lead to Chasm?

TAILS OF THE SUPER-PETS TPB

This is a collection of mostly Silver Age tails -- sorry, tales -- of the various animal spinoffs of DC superheroes. As you'd expect, there's plenty of Krypto, Comet, Streaky and Beppo. But there's also Bat-Hound, Wonder Woman's Kanga, Aquaman's Topo and Chameleon Kid's Proty.

It's trendy to slam the Silver Age these days as unreadable, and some of these stories are pretty dopey. (And I can't fathom why Krypto, Beppo and Comet are drawn realistically, but Streaky's face is always drawn like a cartoon.) But some of them do retain their charm -- seriously, it's churlish to make fun of Krypto -- and to my delight, there were a few I hadn't read.

BATMAN: THE IMPOSTER HC

It's hard to tell if this Black Label story is set in continuity or not. It can fit, but it doesn't need to.

It's set when the Dark Knight is just starting out, and owes more to The Batman (2021) than Batman (1989). Bruce Wayne is not only a cipher and a recluse, but he knows it and wants it that way. He has a run-in with a very smart female cop who figures out who he is, and vacillates between arresting him and sleeping with him. It's her influence that may (or may not) result in Bruce Wayne gaining a life.

Meanwhile, an imposter is pretending to be Batman, killing people for his own agenda, which muddies (forever, the story implies) Batman's reputation. The Darknight Detective puts on his Sherlock Holmes hat to figure out who it is.

That's the plot, but is it good? And yes, I'd say it is. It's more about personality and themes than action, which is a pleasant surprise, but there's action too. And Batman playing detective, which is always welcome (and increasingly rare). The art, by Andrea Sorrentino, is masterful.

PS ARTBOOKS: I have been thinking about starting a thread to discuss PS Artbooks, but I think you and I are the only ones reading them and, between this discussion and your weekly "This Week in Comics" I think we've got them pretty well-covered (albeit not all in the same place for ease of future reference). I have recently started to rearrange my PS Artbooks on the shelf. Up until recently, I have been shelving them by the designation on the top of the binding: "Pre-Code Classics" or "Silver Age Classics." Recent volumes have added a third designation: "PS Artbooks." 

One thing I noticed as my PS Artbooks shelf filled and spilled over onto another is the the vast majority of "Silver Age Age Classics" have been published by Charlton Comics. In addition to the "line" designation at the top of the binding, the logo of the titles' original publishers are at the bottom. I "suddenly" have quite a respectable collection of 1950s Charltons. Recently I have been supplementing my other reading (Seduction of the Innocent, All in Color for a Dime) with collections from PS Artbooks and other publishers. A couple of days ago I read Richard Ellington's chapter of AICFAD about Planet Comics in which he also mentioned several other titles published by Fiction House and it occurred to me how cool it would be if I organized my shelves by publisher rather than alphabetically by series title.

(ASIDE): Last week I quoted Fredric Wetham: "An average child who is no particular television addict and takes what is offered absorbs from five to eleven murders a day from television. If he would confine himself exclusively to adult programs, the number would be less." That's humorous but it may be true as well. I read the recent reprint of Charles Biro's TOPS Comics (he of the infamous Crime Does Not Pay). While an obvious product of the same editorial style, TOPS is far less violent and sensational than CDNP (another reason to shelve PS Artbooks by publisher). 

But you started out talking about the Classic Adventure Comics series, so let's do that. This series (for those of you who don't know) reprints short-lived series or one-shots not likely to be collected elsewhere. In addition to Voyage to the Deep and Escape from Devil's Island, earlier volumes comprise the following one-shots: Son of Sinbad, Secret Missions, The Mask of Dr. Fu Manchu, High Adventure, Great Exploits, The Black Tarantula, Moby Dick, King Solomon's Mines, New Adventures of Jack the Giant Killer, Superior Stories (Presenting The Invisible Man), The Hooded Menace, The Unknown Man, Marco Polo, Robin Hood and Robinson Crusoe. Expanding our look to the Classic Sci-Fi Comics series, we have: Out of this World, Rocket to the Moon, An Earth Man on Venus, Rocket Ship X, Man O' Mars, Captain Rocket, Attack on Planet Mars, Flying Saucers, Robotmen of the Lost Palnet, Space Man, Destination Moon, Vic Torry and his Flying Saucer, "When Worlds Collide" (Motion Picture Comics), "The Man from Planet X" (Fawcett Movie Comics), The Green Planet, Lost Worlds (2 issues), Zip-Jet (2 issues) and Space Mysteries. Most of these are pre-Code (i.e., "Golden Age") and there's not a super-hero in the bunch.

(I didn't buy the Brain Boy volumes because I bought the Dark Horse ones a couple of years back.) 

CAPTAIN AMERICA

"...the first, triangular shield was destroyed; a second triangular shield was used and stored at Avengers HQ until destroyed by Mr. Hyde; the first discus shield is actually the third shield."

In addition, I thought Rick Jones had one...? ...not only in Future Imperfect but also in modern continuity. Perhaps it was a replica. 

SPIDER-MAN

"How does Marvel deal with the fact that this series extended beyond the point that Ben Reilly: Spider-Man ceased to exist, and became Chasm?"

"Chasm"? Ya got me on that one. (I'm unfamiliar with that iteration.) As far as continuing the character beyond his death, there was mini-series in 2009 which retold "The Clone Saga" start to finish in a mere six issues and gave it the ending  it supposedly was supposed to have had all along (i.e., Ben Reilly lives). As far as I have been able to determine, this series in now accepted canon.

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