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

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AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #9: This is the only new comic I bought today so one would think it'd be a shoo-in for "Pick of the Week" but that's not the case. For one thing, it's a fill-in (J.R., Jr. on the outside, Patrick Gleason on the inside). Wolverine is on the cover, so I was expecting him, but this is an "X-Men" comic with a "Spider-Man" cover. I was able to read the first eight pages before abandoning it. the last two pages comprise an epilogue featuring Spider-Man and Mary Jane, but out of context it didn't make much sense (plus writer Zeb Wells has been cagey about what's going on between them, anyway).

Batgirls #10:   The Girls are still hunting the Hill Ripper, and Steph gets a potential love interest.  Still enjoying this book immensely.

Edge of Spider-Verse #3:  News stories of Pavitr Prabakhr and the Sakura-Spider, plus the debut of Earth-194's Felicia Hardy, a.k.a. the Night-Spider,  An OK issue.  I liked the Sakura-Spider story the best.

Deadpool Samiurai, vols. 1 & 2, by Sanshiro Kasama and Hikaru Uesugi.

SHE-HULK: I've been meaning to launch a comprehensive "She-Hulk" discussion for a while now, but knowing that Savage She-Hulk #1-25 was up first had been holding me back. With that series out of the way I should be able to proceed apace.

CAPTAIN BRITAIN: I've been meaning to reread bits of this for a while now, too. I started with #1 with the intention of reading though #27, but I'm only about half-way through at this point.

SANDMAN: Finished "World's End" (#51-56)), moving on to "The Kindly Ones").

LIFEDEATH / ADASTRA IN AFRICA: Inspired by Rob Staeger (see September 1, above), decided to reread Barry Windsor-Smith's trilogy of sacrifice and redemption, and it's a good thing I did because what I remembered as part three was actually part two. What makes the conclusion particularly memorable is the "Playboy-style" interview at the end of the book in which Adastra pokes fun at the X-Men and says things such as, "When you get past all the melodrama and the poetic talky-talk and everything this is really a nice story. It's got a lot of, y'know-like, density and substance to it." 

For those of you reading this who may not know, Lifedeath I & II were about Storm and appeared in X-Men # 186 & 198. It was planned as a trilogy, but Marvel gave BWS trouble about the content, so he changed the character to Adastra and took it to Fantagraphics. In the graphic novel, Adastra plays the part of Storm, and the interview reflects that.

Q) The editors at Marvel Comics didn't understand that bit.

A) So screw 'em.

Q) They said the story promoted suicide, that's why they--

A) What?! Are you shitting me?

Q) No, not at all, they--

A) What a bunch of assholes!

Q) The author said it was about spiritual epiphanies--

A) It's about sacrifice, not suicide, what morons! I don't wanna talk about this anymore--that pisses me off!

Q) I'm sorry I brought it up, Princess.

A) What are they, a bunch of kids?

Q) I have no idea.

A) They're probably from the "ME" generation, they've got no idea about the value of sacrifice for the greater good.

Q) Well, they certainly didn't understand the value of the story.

A) That's 'cause it wasn't spelled out for 'em. They need to be told what's what 'cause they can't figure shit out for themselves.

Q) Exposition is a comic book mainstay, I think. Could you tell the readers what you think of this matter, [erhaps just to clarify--?

A) What's to clarify--? It's about sacrifice and redemption! If you don't get that out of reading the story then eat shit! Who cares? D'you think any one of those tribal people even gave a thought to personal sacrifice being suicide--? Even while they were starving to death, y'know, [twiddling fingers for "quotes"] "final sacrifice" and all that shit like William Blake and whassisname, you know, whassisface...

But don't worry. In the story itself, Adastra speaks in Storm's "self-conscious, comic booky" way, "like she's got a broom up her ass, like maybe her bloomers are a bit bunched up" (according to Adastra). 

Oh, wow, that's fascinating! I remember hearing about the Lifedeath/Adastra In Africa connection, and the more I read Young Gods (which I finished the other night), I thought -- how would that even work? I can't think of two characters that are more different in temperament than Storm and Adastra! But if Adastra is acting... well, that makes a ton of sense!

Jeff of Earth-J said:

SHE-HULK: I've been meaning to launch a comprehensive "She-Hulk" discussion for a while now, but knowing that Savage She-Hulk #1-25 was up first had been holding me back. With that series out of the way I should be able to proceed apace.

I've been wanting to talk about the current She-Hulk series. I'm enjoying it, but this is the first book I've read that made me notice the "decompressed" storytelling, or at least the first one that made me care about it and actively dislike it.

With the second issue, Jack of Hearts comes (back) into Jennifer Walters' life. We've learned that the last time his radiation built up to unsustainable levels, he flew into space and exploded. Being a somewhat alien, he survived and was captured by somebody or something that put him in a containment chamber and drained his energies. Jack busted out, made his way to Earth and to Jennifer ... 

... and we're six issues in and haven't learned anything more than that, except Jack's energies aren't building up, thanks to a radiation meter helpfully provided by Reed Richards. Nothing about who captured him, or why. I wish there was some forward movement on that plotline.

So today for $4 to $5, you get one-sixth of a story that in olden times would be done-in-one.

True.

A few weeks back, I went to a C.H.U.D. (Comics Here Under a Dollar) sale and loaded up on all the comics I could carry. A few of the treasures were coverless copies of Superman's Girl Friend Lois Lane and Superman's Pal Jimmy Olsen annuals. They were chockfull of Silver Age goodness, including stories that jam more plot (and exposition) into eight pages than today's full-length comics do in eight issues. 

Huh. And here I thought C.H.U.D. stood for Cannibalistic Humanoid Underground Dwellers.

"I've been wanting to talk about the current She-Hulk series."

I have been enjoying it, and have posted about the first six issues, individually, above. I must admit, I hadn't noticed the decompressed storytelling until you pointed it out. 

"Oh, wow, that's fascinating!"

I'm glad you appreciated the transcription.

"I can't think of two characters that are more different in temperament than Storm and Adastra!"

In the interview, after Adastra made the comment about Storm having " a broom up her ass, like maybe her bloomers are a bit bunched up," the interviewer responded...

Q) I think that's the way the X-Men actually talk. 

A) But it's so bloody stilted and theatrical--Who the hell talks like that? Sounds like she's addressing the U.N. or something. Talk about stuck-up!

Q) You feel that the script should have been changed?

A) Changed--? Burned more like it. I hate all that self-conscious, comic-booky bullshit.

Q) I believe that if the script was modified to reflect your own speech, the story would have seemed irreverent.

A) Well, that's bullshit. I'm not always drink on my ass, y'know. I can be perfectly god-like when I have to be.

Q) But an underlying motif of the story is the character's naivete about the depth of the tribal beliefs that they are in the care of the gods. It seems unlikely that you would have handled the situation quite the same way as...

A) Why does everyone think I'm such a bitch? Look, leave the script, I don't give a rat's ass one way or the other, okay?

Q) All right.

A) Good. Let's order up some wine, then.

The interview is illustrated with DVD-style "deleted scenes" in which Adastra keeps messing up her lines and a voice from off-panel shouts "CUT!"

ADASTRA: This is so--so utterly meaningless. Bleeding your life away while I prattle...

VOICE: CUT!

ADASTRA: WHAT--?!

VOICE: That's a caption, Princess--"internal monologue."

ADASTRA: But--I hate that shit.

I really need to get my hands on that book!

And, likely, the two volumes of OPUS as well.

SHAOLIN COWBOY: "CRUEL TO BE KIN" #5The Cowboy takes on racists. Good vicarious self-actualization transferal. 

X-MEN LEGENDS (v2) #2: It is not often a Shaolin Cowboy does not make my "Pick of the Week," but it is also not often a comic book affords me this much pleasure working it into continuity.

FANTASTIC FOUR #46: It is also not very often (anymore) that I buy a comic just because I like the cover. But I saw this one  last month and couldn't get it out of my head. (This issue didn't ship yesterday; the one that did is a "body-spray" crossover.) I happen to know that Fantastic Four is coming to an "end" soon, and this happens to be Dan Slott's last issue as writer. [Incidentally, #45 has a pretty nifty cover as well, and I bought that one, too, just because it was a light week.] It's been a while since I last bought an issue of the Fantastic Four, and I know no one else here reads it, either (at least no one ever posts about new issues), so I thought I'd concentrate on characters rather than plot. 

Here's a shot of the core team:

#45 is the tail end of the "Reckoning War" multi-parter so I'm not going to spend a lot of time on it, but isn't that a neat cover? The story's pretty good, too (what I was able to pick up from it), but it was really the cover of #46 that attracted me.

Ben and Alicia are married now, and have two kids: a Skrull girl named Nikki and a Kree boy named Jo. (That's them clustered on the left.) Moving from the center across the back row are Reed, Johnny and Sue (obviously). Johnny has been unable to "flame off" since an attack by Dr. Doom, but he is cured this issue. Mr. Fantastic has his left hand on Franklin's head, but Franklin has black hair now. (That happened in #45 for reasons not entirely clear to me.) And if front of Sue is Valeria, of course. Mr. F.'s right hand is reaching out to welcome Professor Joanna Jeffers, Reed's recently-discovered half-sister. And that isn't the only surprise this issue.

It was also revealed (not this issue, but to me) that the planet Spyre was their destination when the four took their fated trip in issue #1. In a clear EYKIW (but not a Mopee), the radiation shields were working fine on that trip; the chief scientist of Spyre attacked them by magnifying the effects of the cosmic rays. They appear to be allies now, and the Spyricans serve the purpose the Inhumans did in the old days. But that's not all: on their return trip they are also drawn into the Mircroverse! All that (none of which seems superfluous), and the issue is still "done-in-one." 

JUSTICE WARRIORS #4: AHOY!, mateys! 

SHAM COMICS (v2) #6: Artists this issue include Steve Ditko, Mort Meskin, Marvin Stein, Bob Powell, Joe Orlando, Wally Wood and Al Williamson. 

5 Bullets 6 Men - If anything, I think that is a great title. Someone has killed the Don of the criminal empire and his 4 top lieutenants at a restaurant in The City. Detective Waverly is called in to solve this crime. All of the men were killed with a single bullet to the head, and seemed to not have fought back. All of the witnesses claim they saw nothing. This will be a tough one to crack.  This was a neat little whodunnit. The art was serviceable to the story. It was also in B&W, and that fit the comic perfectly. The main problem is that part of it was printed out of order, but it wasn't so bad that you weren't able to follow what was going on. Recommended.

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