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

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"Didn't they used to have a Deviant pal once upon a time - Karkas, I think his name was?"

Yes, Thena used to pal aropund with two Deviants, Karkas and Reject (a.k.a. "Sweet Prince").

"...they seem out of character here to me."

As with the X-Men, Marvel deviated (no pun intended) so far from the Kirby's original premise that I have long since found Marvel's recent iteration of The Eternals to be unreadable.

"To me, there's nothing in this that 'confirms' that the Jo Martin Doctor 'immediately' precedes the William Hartnell Doctor."

Hmm. Perhaps I read too much into (or completely misinterpreted) that "one year later" caption.

"(which felt more American than British to me)"

It did to me, too... except for the clothes the kids were wearing. Storywise, what would be the point of the epilogue (settling in England) if the main story had been set in America? I think it was supposed to be England, just not very well depicted. 

I'm sure we will have many more such conversations in days to come. 

I've started reading FCBD books, too:

DARK CRISIS #0 FCBD SPECIAL EDITION (DC Comics): This book leads with a new story by Joshua Williamson and Jim Cheung, a solid Flash vs. Clayface story affirming what we already know from Justice League #75, that the League is dead (and may have been for a while). It also affirms what we all expect, that a new League will arise from proteges, sidekicks, Teen Titans and legacy characters until the originals somehow return. Which is also suggested. So I give a thumbs up to Williamson for not pretending that the "Death of the Justice League" is anything but temporary. (And Cheung is fine as always).

Then we get two excerpts, one from Dark Crisis #1 and one titled "History of the DC Multiverse," which I expect is actually from Road to Dark Crisis #1. Once again my takeaway is that nobody's pretending anything we won't believe, in this case basically acknowledging that every Crisis tends to change the status quo, but nothing is permanent -- the DC multiverse is fluid, and will likely change again.

There are some plot elements introduced for the actual Dark Crisis, and lots of foreboding. Art and story throughout are high-quality DC house style.

FREE COMIC BOOK DAY 2020 AVENGERS VS. X-MEN #1 (Marvel Comics): Three shorts stories in this issue, setting up the "Judgment Day" crossover, which is also called A.X.E. (Avengers/X-Men/Eternals).

The first story isn't really a story so much as a set of allusions to events or elements that will come into play. (It is narrated by "The Machine that is Earth" who states flatly this he is giving us a prologue.) We get a glimpse of Avengers 1,000,000 BC, which looks to finally have a pay-off. The Avengers and Eternals fight a deviant, which gives us a reminder that the Eternals are now programmed to exterminate excess deviation (more like the movie, as opposed to the original Kirby concept). Then we see the Eternals discuss Krakoa, and whether the mutants' ability to overcome death is an excessive deviation. Yeah, we can see where this is going.

A second story introduces the daughter of Blade, about as superfluous and boring a character as I can imagine. Which won't stop Marvel from trying to make her a thing.

The third story is narrated by [SPOILER] who means to set the Avengers against the X-Men, which we see will involve a lot of death if successful. Then [SPOILER] kidnaps Mary Jane Watson, who has become a spokesman for Krakoa Pharma. Yeah, we can see where this going, too.

So no real surprises, but a competent set-up. All art is of typical Marvel quality, which is to say good to great.

THE BEST ARCHIE COMIC EVER! #0 FCBD EDITION (Archie Comics): This is an excerpt for an upcoming one-shot, The Best Archie Comic Ever #1!, which arrives in June. This book has a Pureheart framing sequence that allows for excerpts from other Archie books, namely Archie: Love & Heartbreak Special, The Archie Comic Ever!, Archie's Holiday Magic Special and Chilling Adventures in Sorcery. The back is filled with full-page house ads for other recent books, like Bite-Sized Archie, Li'l Archie and Friends Special, The Fox: Family Values and Archie Meets Riverdale. It certainly serves its purpose as a sampler, but it's cohesive enough to actually read. Meanwhile, the house ad for The Best Archie Comic Ever! tells us it is an anthology of alternate universe Archie stories. The cover shows Archie as Pureheart, Jughead and Betty as a cavemen, Veronica as a Bond-like spy, and Pop's as a space ship or satellite. I'm looking forward to it.

RED SONJA FREE COMIC BOOK DAY 2022 (Dynamite Entertainment): This book reprints Marvel Feature #4 (1976), from the second iteration of Marvel Feature, which starred Red Sonja in her first solo series. I read the original Marvel stories when they came out, of course, but enjoyed re-reading this one for two reasons. One, obviously, is nostalgia. It was fun to feel the joy and wonder of a 14-year-old again, if only for a second or two. The second reason is educational. This story hearkens from a time when sword & sorcery was still new in comics, and I realized reading it how fresh it seemed, throwing into focus how the genre soon assumed a hide-bound formula that eventually sucked all the fun out. As to art, I noticed far more today the "fan service" of Sonja's depiction than I did at 14. I guess then I took it as a given that women would be drawn that way, whereas today I realize the negative effects it can have on young girls' self-esteem, how it perpetuates sexist attitudes, how it drives women and girls away from comics and how unrealistic a portrayal it really is.


THE DREAMING: "TRIAL & ERROR" SPECIAL (1998): This was a FCBD purchase, but not a FCBD offering (i.e., I found it in the $2 bin on FCBD; not bad for cover price $6!). A few weeks ago (p, 534, above) I read the 1998 one-shot Welcome Back to... The House of Mystery, Sandman #2 ("Imperfect Hosts") and Saga of the Swamp Thing #33, all of which deal with the "Caretakers" Cain and Abel. It was the Welcome Back to... The House of Mystery one-shot that brought the "Trial and Error" Special to my attention. In it, Cain is put on trial for the murders (plural) of his brother Abel, but what really sold me was that it was written by Len Wein. I have always been a fan of Wein, from my earliest days of reading comics, but even more so since his passing in 2017. I recently re-read his and Berni Wrightson's Swamp Thing, which really put me in the mood to read this special. It was everything I hoped and more.

BATMAN ODYSSEY (2010): My usual "tribute" to recently passed creators is to read something of their body of work. I was in the mood to read Neal Adams more "recent" 2K work, but felt over-extended. Then I realized I didn't have to read all 35 issues; I could concentrate on one mini-series at a time. I chose to start with the first six issues (the first volume) of Adams' 2010 Batman Odyssey. this series was kind of hard to follow on a month-to-month basis (because his non-linear storytelling is so loopy), but when read in a single sitting it hangs together more (not much more, but some more). 

THE BRAVE & THE BOLD (2007): The series I have chosen to read in honor of George Perez is the first dozen issues* he did with Mark Waid. This will be my third time through it. I read it first on a month-to-month basis as it was released, then a second time later in a single sitting. It always holds up. 

*Jerry Orway pecilled the last two.

Probably because of when I grew up, expertly rendered B&W looks awesome to me. Such is the case with EC Archives: Crime Illustrated and EC Archives: Terror Illustrated. Reed Crandall, especially, knocks it out of the park every time.

The stories are less impressive; many are adaptations of stories already done in EC Comics titles, or are formula enough that I could guess the "twist" ending long before I got there. But who cares? The art sells it.

I read EC Archives: Gunfighter Vol. 1 as well. It's not EC at its prime by any stretch, but I enjoyed it more than I expected to.

For one thing, they really go heavy on the Western gibberish, which I think comics leaned on more than any other medium. Sometimes I have to read through twice just to understand what the heck they're saying. Did you know salivate is a synonym of ventilate (as with bullets)? Well, EC used it a couple of times in the early going. Weird. But amusing.

Also, Graham Ingles proved (to me) better at Westerns than he was at horror, despite his reputation. Since he drew the bulk of this book, that helped a lot.

I did NOT read EC Archives: Panic Vol. 2. It's been out for years, and for all those years, it's been sitting in my to-read pile. That's mainly because I found Panic Vol. 1 such a chore to read. I've given up; it's going on the bookshelf unread. Maybe I'll find time to read it when I retire, or my wife can sell it mint when I'm dead. Either way, the Pile of Shame is reduced by one book.

More FCBD:

BUNNY MASK TALES (Aftershock): I thought, "Now I'll know what this weird thing is." I read the book, but I still don't.

Which is not to disparage the book. It's well done. Bunny Mask appears to be some sort of supernatural seeker-of-vengeance type -- she looks for "sickness" -- who sorta drives her victims to madness and speaks in a sort of vile poetry that doesn't reveal much of her nature or intentions. But woe betide you if you see her (most people can't).

Genuinely creepy. The art is serviceable, but the coloring is more notable, in that Bunny Mask sequences have a distinct color palette, as if taking place in a world slightly out of synch.

BONE ORCHARD #1 FCBD 2022 (Image Comics): The cover reads "The Bone Orchard Mythos: Prelude," which prompts the question, "What has Neil Gaiman wrought?" Ever since he used musical terms like "prelude" and "nocturne" in Sandman, everybody wants to get into the act. (With apologies to Jimmy Durante.) While "prologue" is the preferred term in literature, "prelude' CAN mean an event that presages another, more important event. It's just not often used that way.

Regardless of terminology, this is a really good read. It's by Jeff Lemire and Andrea Sorrentino, neither of whom need an introduction or any praise from me, and it's creepy as all get-out. It's a standalone short story about a writer who goes to a cabin in the woods to meet a deadline. In the process of numerous phone calls, we discover his marriage is in trouble and he has a mistress. I imagine the latter bit is established so that we're not too sympathetic to him. But meanwhile, his dog is acting oddly and creepy things are happening, which seem to center on an abandoned house in which the writer finds a weird mask and cult-like graffiti on the walls. All I can say about what happens next is: Brrrr.

According to essay at the end, this story presages a horror universe by Lemire and Sorrentino, beginning properly in June with something called The Passageway.

FREE COMIC BOOK DAY: TRESE: LAST SEEN AFTER MIDNIGHT (Ablaze): Trese is a supernatural detective/problem-solver in the Philippines. I've read a story here or there about her before (probably on FCBD), but this is the first time I've ever really seen her in action. It's got some imaginative spooky stuff, which is probably based on Filipino folklore, but I don't really know. It's decent, but not nearly as scary as the two books I've already mentioned.

THE INCAL UNIVERSE: FREE COMIC BOOK DAY 2022 (Humanoids):  I thought I'd read The Incal at least once in my many years, but it may be that I've only read parts of it. Because the 8-page summary at the beginning of the book mentions eventsI don't remember. I think maybe I only read "Part 1" or something. So let me put The Incal on my to-read list.

Anyway, after the summary are previews of two books that will be the first in a proposed "Incal Universe," both arriving in 2023. One is called The Psychoverse, and the other is Dying Star. I haven't the courage to attempt to summarize either. But if you like The Incal, you'll like this.

NOTTINGHAM (Mad Cave): This is set in the Robin Hood mythos, but it centers on the Sheriff of Nottingham. He has a name -- Everard Blackthorne -- which I think is something I haven't seen before. He's a sort of anti-hero; he acts as the sheriff and does terrible things when he must, but he shows hidden sympathies to the little people. References are made to "Hood" and "Alan Dale" and "Will Scarlet," but while Guy of Gisborne clearly hates them, it isn't spelled out how Blackthorne views them. That's really all I can tell you; I need to read more to understand the premise better, and whether or not I like it.

The art is of the scritchy-scratchy style that I don't like when it's inappropriate to the subject matter, but here it works quite well.

BLOODBORNE FCBD (Titan Comics): This book is based on a video game, and has had four volumes published already. This book opens with several pages giving brief descriptions of those four volumes, then we get a few out-of-context pages from Volume 5. It's only a taste, and not enough information to even summarize. "A boy has a bad day in a Dickensian-England-with-monsters kind of world" is about all I can say with authority.

Cap said:

Nottingham: This is set in the Robin Hood mythos, but it centers on the Sheriff of Nottingham. He has a name -- Everard Blackthorne -- which I think is something I haven't seen before. He's a sort of anti-hero; he acts as the sheriff and does terrible things when he must, but he shows hidden sympathies to the little people. References are made to "Hood" and "Alan Dale" and "Will Scarlet," but while Guy of Gisborne clearly hates them, it isn't spelled out how Blackthorne views them. That's really all I can tell you; I need to read more to understand the premise better, and whether or not I like it.

The art is of the scritchy-scratchy style that I don't like when it's inappropriate to the subject matter, but here it works quite well.

Cap, I got the trade of Nottingham last year as a gift, and I really liked it.

When it comes to FCBD, the owner forgot to my the comics I picked out into my bag, so I haven't read any yet. That being said, he put those comics and some others he thought I would like into my box, so I should be good.

I've only gotten through the "adult" books of FCBD. Next up is Teen, then younger readers, which I will probably just skim. And, as noted somewhere, there are four I didn't get.

Batgirls #6
Jurassic League #1
What If...Miles Morales #3

This week's favorite panel:

Batgirls #6  -  This series is very good.  It's gotten me interested in characters that I never really cared about that much before.

Jurassic League #1 - So far, this is more than just the silly gimmick that I thought it would be.  I hope they can keep it up.

What If...Miles Morales #3 - This series is OK, but not overwhelming.  I'm a sucker for alternate versions of characters, but this issue felt like it was spinning its wheels a bit.

CAPTAIN AMERICA: SYMBOL OF TRUTH #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 Sam Wilson. He seems to be sweet on Misty Knight. The Falcoln is Joaquin Torres. There's a senator, Mansfeld, I'm not sure yet is a good guy or a bad guy. Acting on a tip that a train is transporting super soldier serum, Captain America and the Falcon instead find four immigrants, including Joaquin's cousin Luisa. The Falcon doesn't trust the transportation provided by Senator Mansfeld, so captain America suggests he accompany them, which he does. At the Cumberland Federal Correctional Institute, the White Wolf (a.k.a. "Hunter") pays a visit to Crossbones and offers him a job and the honor of killing Captain America. I haven't read Captain America in a while, so I don't know whether this "White Wolf" is a character we're supposed to know or if he's someone new.

G.I.L.T. #2: For anyone who may not remember from last month, the acronym stands for The Guild of Independent Lady Temporalists. The difference between a temporalist and a time traveler is that a time traveler travels beyond his or her own lifespan, whereas temporalists travel back in their own lives, their older consciousness entering their own younger bodies. Hildy does this all the time. Her apartment building, which is modeled after King Solomon's temple and is located on the intersection of powerful ley lines, is the nexus of all that psychic energy. the back door is a portal, but only for the initiated owner.

This time, however, when Hildy travelled from 2017 to 1973 to the day of her own wedding to stop it, someone else, someone much younger, came through as well. If someone stays in the past too long, he or she eventually takes on the characteristics of his or her younger self, and if he or she does something too out of character, he or she gets booted back to the present. But in this case, all bets seem to be off. Hildy's soon-to-be (or not) husband is a cult leader, and her wedding day is the day the other woman's (now girl's) mother joined his cult. Hildy and her two girlfriends (who are in on the G.I.L.T. from previous visits, take off for Paris. Something happens, though, and the Pan Am jet from 1973, along with all its passengers, appears in 2017. 

THE SANDMAN: OVERTURE (2013): "2013"? That can't be right, can it? I bought the first issue new, read it, decided to tradewait. I had kind of lost the story of the Sandman series there toward the end, and always meant to reread it in its entirety, but i have tried several times and never gotten beyond a certain point. Because I (used to, anyway) always start over at the beginning, consequently I have reread the early stories numerous times, the later ones (beyond a certain point) only once. But Overture was to have taken place immediately before #1, a "zero issue" if you will. So I gave it a shot, liked it, but ultimately decided to tradewait. Even the collection I'm reading now I bought in 2015. But while I'm waiting for my wife to finish Martin Pasko's Swamp Thing so I can move on to Alan Moore, I thought I'd read some Neil Gaiman. 

For some reason, I got the impression that relied heavily on information from the series. Reading it for a second time today, I'm not sure where I got that impression. I may have intuited it, because that certainly became the case with the second issue. In any case, I don't think anyone not familiar with the series proper would (or could) appreciate it as much as someone who had previously read the entire thing. It reminds me a bit of Grimjack: Killer Instinct, the origin story which predated even the Starslayer back-ups. In that case, though, I think a new reader could, potentially, start there, but would better experience the backstory as revealed in dribs and drabs throughout the series itself. But I digress.

The artwork of Overture is breathtaking. It's the kind of comic book I could never discuss with my sister because she is so bullheaded about comic books. I could never discuss any comic book, or comics in general, with my sister for longer than say, one minute, because she likes visualizing the stories for herself (as reading a novel). Yet she watches movies. Even reading novels doesn't provide her with the experience she thinks it does because the author is putting those images in her head for her. My point is, the artwork is so intertwined with the narrative that I couldn't imagine this story being told in any other medium. 

On Free Comic Book Day, my eldest daughter picked up the prelude to Dark Crisis, which she passed along to me.

This was the first comic I've actually read in literally ten years. It was a good attempt, on DC's part, to pull me back in.

I stopped reading comics largely because of the re-occuring, all too frequently expensive, gimics, most commonly packaged as "Crisis" or "The Death Of..." all of which, at the point I stopped reading, no longer held any meaning to me. This comic, addressed all of that, rather humorously. Yes, all those universe ending, that never happened until it did again, stories are shown to have happened; and, (SPOILER ALRERT)

The primary members of the Justice League are dead; but, as the story points out, someone will find them. They'll be back.

This left me at a crossroad. For the first time, the concept that radical periodic change to the comic book history I knew and enjoyed is the new norm became plain to see. That principle charactors will die, when convenient, and come back at a predetermined time later, is now a simple plot point. This puts all of that out there. Honestly. The comic doesn't pretend any different. I like that. It's as if the gimic is that's there are no more gimics. ( are they still doing multiple cover variants?)

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