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 GERM": I forgot to mention this 1999 story of a small European dictatorship in the midst of an epidemic when I posted the character names earlier. In it, Ditko applies Objectivism to a ruler more interested in staying in power than in the welfare of his people. His medical expert eventually refuses to continue to apply his rational mind to an irrational regime. The story comes to an end when to chancellor (second in command) and his family are shot dead by border guards while trying to flee the country. 

*heh* Comic books have such far-fetched plots sometimes.

Jeff of Earth-J said:

a ruler more interested in staying in power than in the welfare of his people. His medical expert eventually refuses to continue to apply his rational mind to an irrational regime.

Pure fantasy, right?

In one of my old reviews of a Ditko work, I made the slightly inaccurate comment that where names were concerned, "Apparently Ditko never met a consonant blend he didn't dislike." This was in reaction to a Missing Man story in which the hero had a boss named "Mister Wrds" and fought a villain whose name was variously Raem, Maro, or Roma..

THE MISSING MAN: Coincidentally, that story was next on my list to read (and Raem, Maro and Roma wold certainly have made my lisy of unusual ditko names). "The Germ" is from Steve Ditko's 160-Page Package (the first in the Ditko "Package" series), and "Am I Maro, Roma or Raem?" is from Steve Ditko's 80-Page Package (the second). The second issue "packages" (pun intended) all of the previous "Missing Man" stories plus two new ones. The story Gene mentioned was originally presented in Pacific Comics Presents #3 (March 1984). I like the "Package" presentation because, although in b&w, it is complete. (Pacific Comics' coloring was crap, anyway.) 

The previous "Missing Man" stories were pretty much straightforward superhero fare, but with this one Ditko goes "full Rand" on us. It reminds me very of much of the original depiction of Marvel's Deathlok (who at first had three personalities representing, id, ego and superego). Raem Lanet was caught in an explosion and turned into a cyborg, which caused his personality to fracture. As Ditko explains, "Raem--or whar he is now--acts as if his mind is unfocused, as if it were split in two. At times his rational side percieves, identifies and integrates sensory evidence properly... and then his emotional dis-value responses kick in and override his reason--his rational judgments. That lethal contradiction must be tearing him apart, into two separate entities. The problems in interface with his robotic half and his human half are literally destroying him! Like an error in a program that short circuits the terminal... eerie!"

The Missing Man himself is another in a series of protagonists with ill-defined powers and non-existent origins. He works with a Dickensian group called "Ma's Detective Agency." When he activates his "powers" (whatever they are), his body becomes invisible except for cartoonish arms and legs, his hair, ears, mouth and glasses. He doesn't appear to have any super powers, and he is still tangible (we know because he can be punched) ; he just looks weird. The only "explanation" (if you can call it that) we are ever give for his powers comes from the caption to a pin-up: "Syd Mane-- an electronics and computer trouble-shooter, solves a different brand of trouble as the MISSING MAN."

Although never made explicit, given what I know about Ditko's philosophy, the character represents what is "missing" in super-hero comics: man at his best, man the hero.

I read through the first of my recent Rebellion acquisition, The Vigilant Legacy #1. If you ask me, this was too much like American comics, and I say that meaning Marvel or DC. They took old characters from British comics, like Dr. Sin, the Leopard of Lime Street, Adam Eterno, Pete's Pocket Army, Steel Commando, etc., and updated them so that they are "gritty". And they are even pitted against updated versions of Dr. Mesmer and Von Hoffman. Luckily, I have a few more Rebellion comics that are sure to be on the more fun side I would have expected. Nothing against Simon Furman and Simon Coleby, the series creators, but this just isn't what I was wanting while I'm stuck at home.

STRANGE ADVENTURES #3: So far, this series has not captured my interest the way King's Mister Miracle did. (I'm sure the reason is partially due to the long gap between issues #1 and #2.) Although I enjoyed Mister Miracle on a month-to-month basis, I recently re-read the entire series (see above) and picked up on a lot I had missed the first time through. I am hopeful that will be the case with Strange Adventures as well. 

IMMORTAL HULK #35: This issue was somewhat disappointing in comparison to the last, due in part to a guest artist.

DC GOES TO WAR: I haven't read this cover-to-cover yet, but I am pleased with the contents. Although it includes some first appearances, the focus is primarily on good stories. It will look good on the shelf next to the recent Blackhawk: Blood & Iron collection (better than any Golden or Silver Age Blackhawk stories I have read), and Jack Kirby's The Losers (the only iteration of that team I have found palatable) as well as more complete collections such as Simon & Kirby's Boy Commandos (2 volumes), and "DC Archive" editions of Blackhawk (1 volume), Enemy Ace (2 volumes) and Sgt. Rock (4 volumes). 

If I have any complaint (more of a "quibble" really), it is with the inclusion of Garth Ennis's "War in Heaven" Enemy Ace" graphic novel. As good of a story as that is, if DC were going to include any "long form" story at all, I would have preferred George Pratt's "War Idyll." In it, a Viet Nam vet masquerades as a journalist in order to "interview" WWI Ace Hans Von Hammer in his nursing home. Nothing in "War in Heaven" contradicts "War Idyll" per se, but "War Idyll" is my favorite "war comic" ever.

DICK TRACY v28: Only one volume to go (solicited for December release) and Chester Gould's Dick Tracy will be collected in hardcover in its entirety. Last week (while speculating what Steve Ditko would make of the year 2020), I wondered what stance Gould would take regarding systemic racism in the police. Would he side with "good" cops, or against "bad" cops? While addressing a citizens' group in this volume, Tracy had this to say: "when the law and the courts back up the trained policemen in using his gun, whenever and if he deems it necessary, without fear of being censured, harassed or indicted--street crime can be reduced 50% in 30 days." I have no idea where he pulled that statistic (out of his arse, perhaps), but I think I have my answer.

CBG: I first discovered the Comics Buyer's Guide in 1986. I took out a subscription in 1989. when I moved to Texas in 2001, I recycled the 1994-2001 issues, but kept the 1989-1994 ones. At that point, I continued to recycle new issues from week-to-week, but when the newspaper switched to magazine format, I began saving them again (because I had shelf space I needed to fill). I didn't like the new format, and let my subscription expire in 2007, but I still have three years worth of issues on my bookshelf taking up [now] desperately needed space. 

I'm going to save #1595 (the first issue in magazine format) and the "Battle of Ages" issue, but beyond those, no individual issue stands out in my memory. Before I recycle them, however, I'm going to re-read them, one at a time over the course of however long it takes, to see if there are any articles/columns worth saving. Would anyone be interested in a discussion of 15 year old "news"?

Regarding CBG, I always enjoyed the articles, especially those of Don & Maggie, Captain Comics and Mr Silver Age. I had saved Fred Hembeck's pages until I bought The Nearly Complete Essential Hembeck Archives Omnibus, which includes all of his work except what he did for the comic companies. My actual CBG issues are long gone. They took up a lot of space and turned brown and brittle.

I recently acquired the entire original run of Infinity Inc and am reading them in between all of the "peak TV" and have sixteen issues to go. Regarding war comics. I used to buy and read Sgt Fury. After I got back from Vietnam, I put them all in the dumpster (really). I never really followed Sgt Rock or the other DC war characters, except for Enemy Ace.

The Marvel comic The 'Nam was initially written by actual Vietnam vet Doug Murray (under Jim Shooter, who asked him to create it). The first twelve issues were collected in three TPBs. What I have read so far really impressed me. Murray wound up leaving after issue 45, when Marvel's new leadership was pushing to include superheroes and particularly The Punisher. I have bought issues 13 to 45 and expect delivery shortly. This interview of Doug Murray in CBR is worth reading:

CBG: The reason I discarded the 1994-2001 issues when I moved is because I thought the publication became somewhat "rudderless" after Don Thompson died. I continued to read it mainly for the columnists. I'm several issues in to my re-read by now, but I've changed my mind about a discussion. I may mention something here from time-to-time.

SGT. FURY: 43 issues have been collected in four volumes of Marvel Masterworks. I have them shelved between Rawhide Kid and Nick Fury/SHIELD.

THE NAM: When this series was new, I decided to stick with it as long as the original creative team did. Consequently, I dropped it when Michael Golden left. I subsequently picked up most of the remaining issues as backissues at a quarter sale. I remember one time over Thanksgiving, my brother-in-law (a Viet Nam vet) read several of them. There was too big a difference in our ages for us to have ever talked about his experiences, but I know he had a rough time. I later learned some details from my sister and his brother.

Re-read Albion. Good stuff, but probably more enjoyable if you have some knowledge of British comics of the 60's and 70's/

While I got into CBG fairly late (2001) and I have all the magazine ones, I got rid of all the newspapers as well though I did cut out the articles I liked, mostly the columns by Mister Silver Age and Captain Comics, of course!

I had a subscription to CBG from issue 700 to the end. Would consider Don Thompson's passing more of a "hiccup" than being rudderless since Maggie Thompson was still in charge.

Big complaint would be when F+W took over and the title switched to a monthly magazine format. THAT was the beginning of the end in my personal opinion.

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