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

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My Hero Academia vol. 30

Dark Knights of Steel: The Gathering Storm #1 - This is a reprint of the first three issue of Dark Knights of Steel. The main reason I mention this, is because the owner of my LCS didn't realize that when he ordered. He thought it was a one-shot in the same universe, so he ordered quite a bit. He just ended up giving copies away.

That being said, I enjoyed this. A really good Elseworlds tale. Here, Jor-El and Lara-El escape Krypton before it explodes, and land in "England" while Lara is giving birth. They soon have their own kingdom, and rule with their son Kal-El. Batman helps enforce the laws of no magic allowed in their land.

A neighboring kingdom is the Kingdom of Storms ruled by King Jefferson. He has sired his own offspring with various storm powers. Trouble is brewing between the 2 kingdoms. Re-affirming, I like Tom Taylor's writing.

I'm going to be in big trouble as soon as Tracy sees the charge from my LCS because I drove in instead of waiting until Saturday for her to take me. (Although I couldn't wear my boot while driving, I did wear it in the store.) As it turns out, Marvel and DC shipped but Diamond did not (which means I'll get the new Astro City one-shot and Edgar Allan Poe's Snifter of Death #6 next week). Here's a look at the new comics I was able to buy...

AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #93: The final chapter of the "Beyond" saga. It took them 19 issues (plus five tie-ins which I did not read to [SPOILER] turn Ben Reilly into a villain called "Chasm" [END SPOILER].

THE X-CELLENT #2: If you read the first issue (or any issue of the two previous series starring these characters) you have a pretty good idea what to expect. If you have not, this is not the place to start. 

SILVER SURFER: REBIRT #3: A throwback to the '90s (in a good way). 

My Pick of the Week:

HULK: GRAND DESIGN: MONSTER: I honestly do not remember the last time a new comic book made me this happy! A lot of that feeling has to do with the Hulk being my "first favorite character" (as I have been wont to say) and the comic books summarized here are among some of the earliest I ever read. I really enjoyed the previous "Grand Design" series (X-Men by Ed Piskor and Fantastic Four by Tom Scioli), but the first issue of this series, by Jim Rugg, strikes me as being a bit different from the other two. The other two were pitched as "what if these series were planned to unfold as they did from the very beginning?" So far, "Monster" is more of a summary than a reimagining... but that's perfectly all right by me. 

As with Ed Piskor before reading XM:DG, I am wholly unfamiliar with Jim Rugg's work. (I was familiar with Scioli before FF:GD.) Whereas I might quibble with which stories he chose to highlight (#222? Really?) and which ones he left out entirely, anyone wholly unfamiliar with the Hulk, after reading this issue, would have a good overview of the character as a whole from the beginning up to #300. Rugg's art style changes to mimic the artists (even the inkers) of the original stories. He also breaks the fourth wall from time-to-time in order to reproduce actual covers, house ads, the cover of Rolling Stone magazine, Japan's Haruku: Monsutaa Komiku (Hulk: Monster Comic, which I have not eve heard of much less read), comic strip art, ads for the Hulk television show, the Hulk cartoon, etc

Issue #300 is a good point to end this first issue, this first phase. the 300th issue marked the end of the classic Hulk;  the "Crossroads" Hulk was a transition; John Byrne began a whole new era which eventually morphed (via Al Milgrom) into Peter David's lengthy run. I can hardly wait until the next issue: "Madness!"

Highest possible recommendation (to Hulk fans). 

MARVEL PREVIEWS: I also picked up the latest Marvel catalogue. There will be some interesting new series released this June. Moreon those when the time comes. 

FIRE POWER #19

SHE-HULK #3: Back in 2020 I was considering starting a She-Hulk discussion. Writer Rainbow Rowell is shaping this to be  the best She-Hulk series I have ever read (but I haven't read them all). She has also managed to make the Jack of Hearts, a third-stringer at best, into a viable supporting character for the first time ever

ONE-STAR SQUADRON #5: It occurs to me that this is the only DC series I'm currently reading (except Blue & Gold which has one issue left and Barman '89 which has two issues left), and it's coming to an end after one more issue. (I had been reading Tom King's Supergirl series, but that's over now.) I don't want to not read DC Comics; I just wish they were doing something with the ongoing series that interests me. 

EDGAR ALLAN POE'S SNIFTER OF DEATH #6: My favorite story this issue was the one in which we elected the worst President ever: Death.

PROJECT: SUPERPOWERS: I really want to like this series, but I've bought them before and know I won't so I didn't buy it.

ROCKETEER: I didn't buy this one, either. I was planning to, but by the time I got to my LCS it was sold out (at least of the A and B covers). It's been eight years since the last Rocketeer series, making it difficult for retailers to predict sales. And, as Cap pointed out in "This Week in Comics," what's Rocketeer without Dave Stevens? I actually liked the last series, though (or one of the last series at any rate). The "sketch variant" and "retailer incentive" covers were still on the shelf, though, so I flipped through them. art looked nice. May tradewait or may buy next week if restocked.

Pick of the Week:

ASTRO CITY: I've really missed this series. When it's done right (which is most of the time) it's one of the best series on the market. This one is a "Teen Titans" pastiche. It occurs to me that Astro City appeals to the same part of my brain as Howard Chaykin's Hey Kids! Comics!, except the roman a clef elements are comic book characters instead of creators. Kurt Busiek wrote a three-page editorial about what's been happening since the last series and what's ahead.

G.I.L.T. #1: I am going to exploit the loophole that Astro City actually shipped last week (but didn't make it to my LCS) in order to break my own rule and post two "Picks of the Week." G.I.L.T. stands for "Guild of Independent Lady Temporalists". Their prime directive is "Do not alter any major feature of the past without co-op board approval." It is the latest series from AHOY! Comics, so you know it's good. 

A few weeks ago, I remembered I'd bought a number of issues of 2000 AD digitally but never finished reading them. They were from early 2018. So I made it a project to read them all, and when I got to the end of the books I'd bought, well... it's an anthology, and some stories were continued in the next issue. So I bought a bunch more, and am reading them. At which point I'll probably read a handful more. There's always a Judge Dredd story to lead off, but the other features swap out. Some stories I like more than others. 

My favorites in the run I've read so far have been:

Sinister Dexter -- basically a cheeky buddy movie with two hitmen; in the most recent installment, one of them started thinking in word balloons and is wondering what's up with that and will it ever go away.

Skip Tracer: A sci-fi bounty hunter with some really nice art by Paul Marshall.

Survival Geeks: Pure humor -- four roommates get pulled into dimension hopping adventures. In the one I read, they go to a sci-fi con and one gets recruited to be the new companion for Inspector Qui (a Doctor Who pastiche, but he's a serial killer, draining his companion's life essences). Plus, the art by pal Neil Googe is full of fun background references to other SF franchises.

Judge Dredd: I've never really gotten into Dredd before, but seeing a variety of stories about him from a variety of creative teams has gotten me into the groove. 

Strontium Dog: More sci-fi bounty hunter goodness. The story I read, "The Son," is basically the finale of the strip, at least for a while, as the strip was created by John Wagner and Carlos Ezquerra, and Ezquerra passed away after completing this one. It's a good one to end on, though, as Johnny Alpha (the lead character) gets teamed up with the son of a former partner, and it stirs up some unresolved feelings of guilt. 

There are a few series too steeped in their mythology for me to really dig into -- Jaegir was entertaining, but I didn't really know what was going on (a lot of intergalactic war and old grudges), and Damned: The Fall of Deadworld is sci-fi dystopian horror, which isn't a genre I really enjoy -- and tying it into Dredd mythology makes some of the finer details kind of impenetrable to me. 

But overall, digging into these 2000 ADs has been a great experience, and I'll probably be buying a new batch once I move more of the books I currently have into the "completely read" folder. Right now I've got a long-ish vampire serial, Durham Red (yeah, she's a bounty hunter too, 2000AD definitely has a "type") to read, and then some new serials begin!

One other thing -- an exceptionally smart thing, I think -- is that occasionally 2000AD publishes an issue that's entirely first chapters of serials (or one-offs). Which means that every few months, there's a jumping on point for new readers who don't have to worry about picking up a story later in the chapters. That's what got me to pick up my first issues in 2018 (starting with Prog 2073), and it looks like there'll be another one at Prog 2100. It's smart thinking. 

Jeff, it’s not just Marvel. A lot of collections are falling way behind schedule, especially Dark Horse. There are a lot of reasons for it (paper shortage, supply chain, pandemic). Books are chronically late these days across the board.

As for me, I just finished another ACG collection (Vol. 14 of one of them), which I’ve already forgotten, and Neil Gaiman’s Chivalry, which was a pleasant piece of gossamer. My wife and I both finished it in about an hour each.

"Jeff, it’s not just Marvel. "

Perhaps it just seems that way to me because my personal pre-orders that are running late are primarily Marvel. (Since I wrote that post, one of seven 2022 Marvel pre-orders has shipped.) Similarly, other companies don't seem to be as affected (from my POV), and at least twice recently I have noticed that pre-orders shipped two weeks before their solicit dates. 

THE BRAVE & THE BOLD: Inspired by Alan Stewart's "Attack of the 50 Year Old Comic Books" blog, I decided to read the "Earth-J cut" of the early B&B team-ups: #50, 51, 53, 56 & 59. I have been reading a post a day of Stewart's blog ever since doc photo brought it to my attention last month. Stewart has been posting once a month since 2015, each post about a comic he read 50 years ago that month starting from the first comics he bought in 1965. I'm currently up to 1967 myself and am eagerly awaiting his younger self to discover Marvel comics. 

The two Silver Age DC series I personally am most familiar with are Justice League of America and the "Legion of Super-Heroes" (from Adventure Comics and elsewhere), but this time I wanted to reread some comics I wasn't quite as familiar with, so I chose the early B&B team-ups. To me, those stories read like "interstitial" JLA stories which didn't involve quite enough members to establish a quorum. Coincidentally, the issue I'm up to today is The Brave & the Bold #72, which is in neither the B&B archive nor omnibus. fortunately, it is in the Spectre omnibus, so I can read along. 

My blog-inspired reading continues with...

THE "INTERIM" JLA: I have read the Gardner Fox/Mike Sekowsky JLA many times, but there is an "interim" period after Fox and before the satellite era (#66-77) which, I think is unfairly overlooked. (And yes, I am aware that Sekowsky did not pencil Fox's final two issues, #64-65.) It took new scribe Denny O'Neil a couple of issues to get up to speed, but new penciller Dick Dillin hit the ground running. JLA Archives Vol. 9 begins with JLA #71, and that's a good jumping on point.

It begins with a look at Wonder Woman in her Diana Rigg-inspired phase, but quickly shifts emphasis to the Martian Manhunter. J'onn J'onzz had been out of the book for a while, and this issue explains why. (I daresay Denny O'Neil did more with the Manhunter in this one issue than Gardner Fox did in his entire run.) #72 ostensibly features Hawkman, but it begins and ends with the Red Tornado, who saves the day. #73-74 is the annual crossover with the JSA, but none of the Leaguers come off looking particularly well as the keep the Red Tornado cooling his heals for two weeks... for no reason, really, they just just blew him off while the JSA and all of Earth-2 was in danger. #74 is significant because the Black Canary's husband dies and she transfers over to Earth-1. In #75 she and Green Arrow hook up and provide a perfect segue into O'Neil's GL/GA run.

I have been ambivalent about #77 for a number of years. On the one hand, it provides and ending to the Silver age Joker's career; but on the other, it makes a traitor of Snapper Carr. I read it today for the first time in several years, though, and came away with a new appreciation in light of the world we now find ourselves living in. "Still," says Superman at one point, "these are unusual times! People read about wars... riots... they can't understand what's happening" (not that I'm letting "people" entirely off the hook here). I see now that Snapper Carr had to have betrayed the League in order for the story to have had any meaning. I also find it ironically coincidental where Batman was being held hostage by "John Dough". 

I'm intrigued. I didn't really read the Justice League until the satellite era, and then only sporadically. I was aware of Snapper Carr and even read some old issues with him (and toss out a bad pun about him in a published work), but I was unaware of how his story arc ended.

[SPOILERS FOR JLA #77]: Using a kind of anti-Randian philosophy, a man calling himself "John Dough" gains popularity by  celebrating the "average man." The Atom opines, "I don't blame them for mistrusting anything that's strange--including super-heroes," to which Green Arrow responds, "Baloney! Look, the human race has progressed so far as it has because men and women were brave enough to accept the different." Later on, he goes on to say, "Dough's glorification of the average is sheer nonsense! The 'world's work' gets done because of what's different in individuals... each person has a talent, a skill, a thing he does better than his fellows! Take enough of those talents, put them together, and you build a civilization! Deny them and you cancel everything that makes us human!"

I see too many parallels in this story with United States today. And, not to put too fine a point on it, but Batman was held hostage in a model of the "Trump Satellite." Oh, and "John Dough" ended up being the Joker. [END SPOILERS]

Recently reading "The Tick-Tock Traps of the Time Commander" (B&B #59) put me in the mood to read the sequel, "The Clockwork Crimes of the Crime Commander" (Animal Man #16). the problem with that plan, though, is that I recently pre-ordered the Grant Morrison Animal Man omnibus, and if I read it now, I won't be in the mood to read it again when it ships in August, a lesson I learned recently when I was in the mood to read All-Star Superman before the deluxe edition I had on order shipped. (Hmm... another Grant Morrison series.) Anyway, I decided to read just #16. I think I'll be fine.

If I ever wrote comics books (yeah, right), two villains I would like to use are the Time Commander and the Lord of Time (and maybe the Mind-Grabber Kid as well).

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