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

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The last few years, I gave myself character-related reading projects. This year, I decided I would focus on a creator instead.  Specifically, this is a "Reading Kirby Comics" year.

In the past week, I've been reading Golden Age S&K Captain America stories.

On the artistic side, this is a fun series to read because you can really see Kirby starting to stretch himself creatively, especially in terms of page layout and panel progressions.  Interior stories starting on even-numbered pages resulted in some really nifty 2-page splash pages, for example.

On the other hand ...

I've read my share of GA comics, but I've never read any that flew their "pulp origin" flag like these do.  I mean, HOLY COW!!! Just look at some of the story titles from the first few issues!

"Captain America and the Chessboard of Death"  (Next up, the Checkers of Doom!)

"The Queer Case of the Murdering Butterfly and the Ancient Mummies" (That's one helluva butterfly!)

"Captain America and the Unholy Legion" (I think Cap is subcontracting for The Spider.)

"Captain America and the Ringmaster of Death" (OK, now I'm sure of it.)

"The Gruesome Secret of the Dragon of Death" (This "Death" motif is getting out of hand.)

"Captain America Battles the Camera Fiend and his Darts of Doom" (I think they're just messing with me now.)

"Death Loads the Bases" (And Hitler's batting cleanup!.)

"Horror Plays the Scales" (Because Death already has baseball covered, I guess.)

"Murder Stalks the Maneuvers" (I'm sensing a new trend ...)

"The Strange Riddle of the Plague of Death" (Hey, Death! Welcome back, buddy!)

This is serious fun.

That sounds like serious fun, Doc! Gotta love those Golden Age titles...although, I am not a big BIG fan of the Golden Age material.

Doctor Hmmm? said:

The last few years, I gave myself character-related reading projects. This year, I decided I would focus on a creator instead.  Specifically, this is a "Reading Kirby Comics" year.

In the past week, I've been reading Golden Age S&K Captain America stories.

On the artistic side, this is a fun series to read because you can really see Kirby starting to stretch himself creatively, especially in terms of page layout and panel progressions.  Interior stories starting on even-numbered pages resulted in some really nifty 2-page splash pages, for example.

On the other hand ...

I've read my share of GA comics, but I've never read any that flew their "pulp origin" flag like these do.  I mean, HOLY COW!!! Just look at some of the story titles from the first few issues!

"Captain America and the Chessboard of Death"  (Next up, the Checkers of Doom!)

"The Queer Case of the Murdering Butterfly and the Ancient Mummies" (That's one helluva butterfly!)

"Captain America and the Unholy Legion" (I think Cap is subcontracting for The Spider.)

"Captain America and the Ringmaster of Death" (OK, now I'm sure of it.)

"The Gruesome Secret of the Dragon of Death" (This "Death" motif is getting out of hand.)

"Captain America Battles the Camera Fiend and his Darts of Doom" (I think they're just messing with me now.)

"Death Loads the Bases" (And Hitler's batting cleanup!.)

"Horror Plays the Scales" (Because Death already has baseball covered, I guess.)

"Murder Stalks the Maneuvers" (I'm sensing a new trend ...)

"The Strange Riddle of the Plague of Death" (Hey, Death! Welcome back, buddy!)

This is serious fun.

Savage Avengers Volume 1: City of Sickles

The fact that Conan is part of this Avengers team is what prompted me to pick this up.  However, I skipped over Avengers: No Road Home, which apparently introduces him to current continuity.  I may come back to that one later.

Savage Avengers basically exists as an excuse to throw together some of Marvel's more brutal characters and have them hack each other (and everyone else) to pieces.  It's clear that the plot exists merely as a framework to keep the carnage consistently moving forward.  To that end, I found it to be fairly entertaining if somewhat repetitive.  The art by Mike Deodato is effective in depicting the savagery.

“Just look at some of the story titles from the first few issues!”

In the introduction to one of the collected editions, Joe Simon once remarked that he thought of Captain America as a horror title.

PICARD: Now that I’ve watched the CBS All-Access show, I went back and read the three-issue “Countdown” series. Basically, it fills in the details of how the Romulans Zhaban and Laris came to live with him.

ORION: I didn’t enjoy re-reading this series as much as I thought I would. Jack Kirby always intended for his New Gods to have a definitive ending. He didn’t necessarily know what that ending would be, only that it would have one. (According to Mark Evanier, one version in Kirby’s mind had Orion killing Darkseid; another, Darkseid killing Orion; yet another, them killing each other. They would have been replaced by the “Young Gods of Supertown” from the back-up features.) When DC invited him back to cap off the series in 1985, the results were mixed for a couple of reasons. For one thing, he was no longer motivated by the same issues which fueled him 15 years earlier. For another, there was no way DC would have let him kill off either… any… of those characters.

When Walt Simonson took over from John Byrne, I didn’t think DC would have let him, either. (Turns out I was right, but it didn’t seem that way for a time.) when Simonson had Orion kill Darkseid in an early issue, I didn’t buy it (in the “Don’t ask! Just buy it!” sense). By the time several months passed and Darkseid was still dead, it began to look as if DC was serious this time. A few more issues passed and Darkseid did eventually return, but by that time I had kind of lost the story. I thought it would read better in one “satisfying chunk,” but it didn’t really.

What DC should do (IMHO), is turn the franchise over to a series of different creators and let each of them end the saga in their own way in a series of “Elseworlds.” They came close with Jim Starlin’s Death of the New Gods, which stuck for a good long while. I don’t think that was ever reversed “officially”; just that after some “crisis” or another, there the characters were again. I’ll be moving on to that one soon, but I may take a break for a while.

IF YOU CAN’T FIND IT, YOU DON’T OWN IT: Hawkworld. Short version: I drove myself crazy over the holiday weekend trying to locate the original three-issue mini-series.

Jim Osborne: The Black Prince of the Underground - This I read in pieces, because some of the art is very disturbing. I definitely needed a break from it. I really enjoyed seeing his art improve over time, and some of it was fantastic. I knew nothing about Mr. Osborne so I liked the biography in the beginning of the book. he started around '69 and by the mid-70s he was pretty much done. It was an interesting read.

DEATH OF THE NEW GODS: When this first came out I didn’t believe it was actually, for all intents and purposes, the end of the New Gods. DC has since brought them back, of course, but it stuck for a good long time. I think this is only the second time I have read it. I read it once when it was coming out, then agreed to read it again along with DneColt (my “skull brother”) when the tpb came out, but that never happened for whatever reason.

SECRET SOCIETY OF SUPER-VILLAINS, v1: I should have liked this a lot more than I did. I contains a bevy of super=heroes and villains, including favorites such as Manhunter and Darkseid. I remember when this first came out (has it been eight years already!?), I just couldn’t gin up enough interest to even finish it. Unfortunately, I had had to pre-order the second volume before the first had even shipped. I set them both aside to delve back into at a later time.

That time is now. I started re-reading volume one a couple of weeks ago with the intention of reading both volumes, but I stalled in the middle of volume one again… for weeks. I finally finished it over the weekend and I am forcing myself through volume two, but man is it boring!

DARK SHADOWS (GOLD KEY): I’m re-reading this series to complement my current main reading project, 32 Dark Shadows paperbacks. The comics aren’t very good, but I’ve read them before and knew exactly what to expect. At least it’s a change of pace. I will say they are better then I remember them being. Joe Certa’s art is somewhat reminiscent of Mike Sekowsky’s.

I remember being disappointed in Secret Society of Super Villains back in the day, but not why. I guess it doesn't matter. I don't intend to ever re-read those issues.

I have been reading a lot of stuff (and still haven't put a dent in my Piles of Shame). I read The Runaway Princess, EC Archives: Impact, Babylon Berlin (the graphic novel), Nicnevin and the Bloody Queen and Noisemakers: 25 Women Who Raised Their Voices and Changed the World. But you'll have to wait for my column to publish (probably on Thursday) to see what I thought about them. Sorry.

I also read The Blue Road, Tamba the Child Soldier and Zombillenium v4, but I may be writing about those the following week, so you'll have to wait on those, too. Sorry again.

I read the DC anniversary issues that came out before the pandemic shut everything down -- Flash #750, Wonder Woman #750 and Robin 80th Anniversary. I don't have anything to say about them; I enjoyed them, because I'm a fan, and a history guy. So this is right up my alley. It probably is for any longtime fan, too.

I am a little curious what they're going to do with the last story in Wonder Woman #750, which establishes her as the first superhero, not only before Superman, but years before her actual, real-world debut in late 1941-early 1942. That's part of Dan DiDio's 5G initiative, which may or may not happen now. What I've read about it I haven't liked, so I kinda hope it goes away, and that WW story becomes Mopeed. There's been no word, though, so who knows?

I also read Return to Romance: The Strange Love Stories of Ogden Whitney. In a conversation on this board about Books About Romance Books, I finally figured out what I had and what I didn't, and it turns out the only Book About Romance Books I didn't have was the Ogden Whitney one. So I got it. It didn't give me any great insights or epiphanies, though -- I didn't see Whitney's stories as being a whole lot different than the mainstream of the time, certainly not as eye-opening as the St. John's stories, some of which were reprinted in some other book I have. It was interesting to read them all in a row, though, and kinda gave me an Ogden Whitney "vibe." It felt very '50s-early '60s sitcom to me.

I also read Harley Quinn: A Celebration of 25 Years, which came out a few years go, whenever that 25th anniversary actually was. But it ended up in my wife's reading pile, and didn't make it to me until this week. Once again, I had no epiphanies. I knew there had been different status quos for the character, each established during one line-wide reboot or another, so seeing her loving Joker, not loving Joker, living in Gotham, living in Brooklyn, whatever, none of it was a surprise. The main thing I got out of it is something that I already knew, which is that I can only tolerate the character in small doses.

I read Pre-Code Classics: Operation: Peril v2 from PS ArtBooks also. It's just as preposterous as the first collection, but I found I liked it better. I guess I just got used to how eye-rolling P.I. Danny Danger is and how laughable Tyler Typhoon is. Once I let my suspension of disbelief actually work, instead of dismissing these terrible concepts out of hand, they were mildly entertaining. The highlight, as in the first volume, is the "Time Travelers" strip, which at least gives us a little (quasi-) history.

NOT HAWKWORLD: I still have been unable to locate my Hawkworld limited series. I don’t even like the story all that much, but I recently thought I might like to re-read the GA archives, the SA archives and Hawkworld back-to-back. From time to time I am unable to find one series or another until one of two things invariable happens: 1) I lose interest in finding it, or 2) I find it.

The thing is, I know exactly where it was for the past several years. It was on a bookshelf next to a tpb collection of Joe Kurbert’s Silver Age Hawkman. But a couple of years ago, I culled all tpbs from my shelves I had duplicated in HC format. At that time, I have a vague memory of using the three-issue series as “filler”; that is, I put it in a not-quite-full longbox at random to keep the other comics from falling over. I do this every once in a while, reasoning that I don’t really care about [series], and when I come across it by accident at some point in the future I’ll be surprised.

At this point, I’m ready to simply buy a collection, but my LCS is closed.

I feel for you, Jeff. Not being able to find something is irritating, but not being able to find something you're not really all that interested in makes the need to find it all the more irritating.

Here's my latest can't-find-it story: When writing Zombie Chicken Little says comics are doomed! Again!this week, I figured I'd scan the cover to my copy of Seduction of the Innocent as part of the art. But despite searching the Cave top to bottom, I couldn't find it. Very frustrating.

Then, the next day, I turned my chair around to pick up a book from the stack of books behind me that were (I thought) nothing but a grouping of books for a specific chapter of the book. Under the book I picked up was Seduction of the Innocent, simply in the wrong pile. I had not looked in that pile, since I thought I knew what was in it. As one of the Captain's rules reads, "It's not what you don't know that trips you up, it's what you think you know (and fail to double-check) that does it."

For the past few days I've been reading The Complete Steve Canyon volume 2, limiting myself to a month a day. It's a blast! For a while I'd held off on reading this, since I didn't have volume 1, but I reminded myself that people used to pick up comic strips (and books) all the time -- even in the middle of stories! -- and just jump right in. And that's what I did. And by the time I finished January 1949, I was hooked. 

Milt Caniff is every bit as good as he was in the years before, when he was doing Terry and the Pirates, and I'm immediately finding a lot to love about this strip as well. So much so that I ordered Volume 1 from an eBay seller, and it should arrive by the time I get to the end of this volume at my current pace. Then I'll get to go back and see how everything started! IDW's Library of American Comics volumes are a treasure, and this one is no exception. 

Chrononauts Volume 2: Futureshock: I had read and enjoyed the first TPB collection of this title. I enjoyed the second volume even more. The artwork may not be everyone's cup of tea, but the writing of Mark Millar is very good and the story moves well in a collected edition. If time paradoxes bother you, it's not for you. A lot of time-tweaking goes on.

I've had time delve into my unread boxes, and this what I've just completed:

Brave and Bold #120 - I dunno if this is the Bob Haney-est of comics, but its got to be up there. Here we have Batman kind of flung into the far future and helps Kamandi escape some slavers. Kind of, in that his body is in Gotham in a coma, but Batman still makes to the future.

Brave and Bold #167 - On the front page we are told this is a Golden Age Batman story. This time Batman teams up with the Blackhawks to destroy a new Nazi super-weapon. Since this takes place on Earth-2, the writer, Marc Wolfman, can have a tidal wave hit Gotham City and not have any further ramifications. It was neat seeing Dave Cockrum on art. Finally, it concludes with the origin of Nemesis.

Brave and Bold #196 - Ragman rescues Batman from certain death. They switch costumes so "Batman" can enter a certain trap. "Batman" barely survives, so when he returns he is in dire straits now. Bruce takes the Ragman costume so he "Ragman" can make it to his stakeout. They then get back into their original costumes to take out the bad guys.

Captain America Annual #4 - Written and drawn by Jack Kirby. I liked the idea of Captain America versus Magneto and the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants, and even the story that goes around it. Cap and SHIELD saving a new mutant. I wasn't a fan of the art, or dialogue, and the new mutants had give-up names like Peeker, Lifter, and Burner, and the also had give-up costumes.Story was still good enough to carry it through.

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