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

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"Just curious, were you not liking Far Sector?"

See, that's the thing: I was. (I don't always make the best decisions.) I was enjoying all the comics i recently dropped. (for a long time now, I haven't been buying comics I don't enjoy.) After posting yesterday (and in anticipation of DC possibly going all digital), I made a special trip to my LCS and picked up the latest issues of the all the comics I recently "dropped" (except Ra's al Ghul, which has apparently been cancelled) using trade credit. That way I figure I'm not really "out" anything, and I plan to re-read and re-evaluate those tiles in the days to come.

I was just curious. I'm really enjoying Far Sector, and I was curious what you thought of it.

Jeff of Earth-J said:

"Just curious, were you not liking Far Sector?"

See, that's the thing: I was. (I don't always make the best decisions.) I was enjoying all the comics i recently dropped. (for a long time now, I haven't been buying comics I don't enjoy.) After posting yesterday (and in anticipation of DC possibly going all digital), I made a special trip to my LCS and picked up the latest issues of the all the comics I recently "dropped" (except Ra's al Ghul, which has apparently been cancelled) using trade credit. That way I figure I'm not really "out" anything, and I plan to re-read and re-evaluate those tiles in the days to come.

DC's recently deceased 100 page giants proves that other formats at different price points ARE possible.

I'd be willing to take a comic in that format (harkens back to the 1990s in my opinion, printing wise) for a lesser price.

Thoughts? Opinions?

CURSED: I have never heard of the TV show or the book, but your review tells me all about it I want to know. It used to be I would read Star Wars or Star Trek movie adaptations to glean insights into backstory and missing scenes. (I wish the Star Trek movies were as good as the their respective adaptations.) I used to read the paperbacks first, largely because I had to wait for the movies to come to my town before I had a driver's license. (I used to dread the words "HELD OVER Fourth Week!") In more recent years, I would read the prose adaptation after seeing the movie. The Force Awakens, for example, had loads of room to expand upon event s from the movie, but there was not a "frame" in the book that wasn't in the movie. (Sorry this comment doesn't have much to do with Cursed, but I know where you're coming from.)

No need to undersell a valid, on-topic and interesting reply! It expands the conversation.

I should say what Cursed is about, though -- I just assumed everyone here would know, since it had a pretty big PR push and Miller's involved. Here's the skinny:

It's a re-telling of the King Arthur story, only it focuses on Nimue, the Lady of the Lake, before she becomes the Lady of the Lake. She's the most powerful fey in her fey village, which for some reason makes her hated. (Why would fey be prejudiced against their own kind? It makes no sense. Especially when there are all manner of species of fey running around in this show, many of them more powerful than Nimue. And at least she's human.) The Catholic Church is busy killing all the fey in the form of Red Paladins (they dress in red and answer to the Pope) and King Uther, who is weak and useless, lets them. When the Paladins attack Nimue's village, her mother gives her Excalibur -- although it's never called that -- which she had hidden since she had an affair with Merlin (you know where that's going) and charges her with taking "the Sword of Kings" to Merlin. (As a side note, Merlin lost all his power when he created Excalibur, and has been faking it ever since. But the actor playing Merlin is the same guy who stole every scene in Vikings as Floki, so I love every minute he's on screen, even if he's not quite the Merlin of legend.) So Nimue goes adventuring with Excalibur, where she meets various people, almost all of whom are later revealed to be familiar names like Arthur, Bors, Lancelot, Percival, Gawain, etc.

Of course, those people aren't necessarily like their heroic counterparts. In fact, most of the men in these stories are terrible people. Arthur, for example, is a thief, liar and mercenary. And, laughably, black. And most of the women are heroic, even Morgan le Fey. Who is also black. Oh, and there are plenty of lesbians. (Fun line from my wife, who gave up on Cursed after four episodes: "I can accept an Arthur who's black, but I can't accept one who's a liar.")

This reflects a trend in pop fiction that has become wearisome for me. Yes, pop fiction has in the past leaned too heavily on the white, male savior trope, and some long-overdue balancing is necessary. But does EVERY story have to have heroic women and weak, useless men? Does EVERY story have to have the "surprise lesbian reveal"? (Another fun line from my wife: "Is it still a surprise lesbian reveal when it's not a surprise any more?")

Which is not to say Cursed is awful. The first few episodes aren't well-written and it takes a while for the story to get going. And in the first scene, Nimue is pursued by wolves who, in some shots, are obviously hand puppets. But when Cursed gets going it can be fun. The last several episodes have lots of action and reveals that are quite entertaining.

Although the bad writing persists intermittently. One mistake the writers make consistently is giving characters information they cannot possibly know.

One scene that sticks out in my memory is one where Bors, a mercenary with whom Arthur used to run, confronts Arthur and his uncle Ector in a tavern. Arthur has lied to Ector that he got Excalibur as a reward for a heroic deed, in order to induce Ector -- he's a rich castle owner who has made his distaste for the honor-less Arthur known -- to sponsor him in a tournament. Ector decides, after Arthur describes his heroism, that his nephew is all right after all and Ector will sponsor him. They repair to a tavern for a single drink, as the uncle specifies, before Arthur must rest for the tournament, which is the next day. 

First: Why? Why get a drink at all? Do football players drink the day before the game? Further, why go to a tavern? The rich uncle has booze everywhere in his castle. They could have had a drink in his dining hall, before Arthur goes to his room to rest. That would make a lot more sense than going into town for a single drink, and then going back to the castle to sleep.

But Arthur and the uncle HAVE to go to the tavern, because that's where Bors is. And they have to go where Bors is, so he can tell the uncle what a liar Arthur is, so that he won't sponsor him and Arthur has to find his destiny the way the plot says he's going to. That's the only reason, and it's not a good one.

So Bors comes to the table where Arthur and Ector are, and proceeds to tell the uncle that the story Arthur told him about how he got the sword is a lie. Eventually there's a fight, which Arthur and uncle lose. Uncle gets mad, and disinherits Arthur, who must then go back on the road ... and take the sword to Nimue, which is what the plot calls for, instead of winning the tournament and becoming his uncle's heir and staying in Tintagel, or wherever they are. This story doesn't want a rich, successful Arthur, so he has to fail.

But the "how" of the fail is nonsensical.

I've already noted that there's no in-story reason for Arthur and uncle to go the tavern. But there's more stupid to come:

  • When Bors starts running his mouth, Arthur jumps up and pulls his sword and starts a fight to "protect his uncle" and shut Bors up before he spills the beans. No, wait, that's what a normal person would do. Arthur just sits there passively, lets Bors finish ruining his reputation in long-winded fashion, and THEN starts a fight.
  • Arthur and Ector arrive at the tavern with two guards. Ector is rich, and is wearing jewels; of course he has guards. But they are mysteriously absent during the entire conversation and fight with Bors, which is why Bors (who has two friends) wins the fight. The guards charge in AFTER the fight is over. Perhaps they were outside arguing "you stay here, and make sure he doesn't leave."
  • Bors tells Ector that Arthur stole his sword from Nimue. There is no way that Bors knows that, especially since there's no way he can know that Arthur even has Excalibur. Even if he did somehow know (recognizing the scabbard, maybe?), he wouldn't know how Arthur had attained it.
  • Bors tells Ector that the story Arthur told him about the heroic way he got the sword is a lie. Arthur told Ector that story earlier that day, or perhaps the day before, at Ector's castle. In private. There's no way Bors would know this story, especially in such fine detail.
  • But let's say he does know. How does he know to tell that particular story, the only story of Arthur's multiple deceits that Bors would surely be privy to, that would affect Ector's opinion? Why not tell him a worse one from years before? That wouldn't affect Ector's opinion of Arthur, but Bors wouldn't know that.
  • How does he know he can change Ector's opinion?
  • Why would he bother to do so, when it might get him skewered by a guard?

All in all, nothing in this scene rings true and it's all wince-worthy and stupid. And this sort of "Wait, how does he know that" happens a lot in Cursed. It's bad writing, and I can't defend it.

One last note, specific to me I'm sure: Everyone in this cast is way too well-fed. The actress who plays Nimue in particular is, shall we say, not trim. This is a complaint I have with a lot of period shows set in times when money/food was scarce for the vast majority, or in wars, or in post-apocalptic wastelands. People simply don't get chunky in such circumstances, and it hurts my suspension of disbelief when characters who should have spent lifetimes on the verge of starvation are played by modern actors who've never missed a meal.

Please don't think I'm fat-shaming, because that's not my point. I'm just saying that I do a double-take when characters on The Walking Dead keep gaining weight.

One plus: Miller does transition illustrations for the show that pop up now and then, which are animated. Miller's style is perfect for this sort of thing, and they are quite charming.

WEIRD LOVE: I'm not certain what you mean by "books," but Weird Love ran 14 issues in perodical format, plus six volumes of collected hardcovers. 

I'm talking about the hardcovers. I was only aware of three of them, but had never looked it up. Now I know I need three more!

UNCLE SCROOGE: when Neil Armstrong first set foot one the Moon, Titntin was there waiting for him. Just sayin'. (See discussion.)

As was Uncle Scrooge, Donald and the nephews! (And lots more characters besides.)

In re: DIgital prices

I don't know all the details of digital pricing, but I do know that back when comics started releasing digital versions of print comics, the LCS owners screamed bloody murder until the publishers agreed to A) release digital comics the same day as the print versions, and not before, and B) price digital the same as print, so as to not undercut the brick-and-mortar shops. As far as I know, digital prices will remain the same as print as long as publishers are interested in keeping comic shops in business.

I don't really have a dog in the fight, as I no longer buy monthly issues. (Except for things I plan to write about, like summer crossovers.) My one concern about digital possibly replacing print is how that will affect back issue prices. If they stop making print comics, will my collection abruptly lose value?

I just don't know how an all-digital world will affect the demand for back issues. Negatively, I assume.

Oh, I don't know. The ready availability of... oh, practically everything... in archival format hasn't really affected back issue prices as far as I know. There will always be a segment of the collector market who will insist on originals. 

And thanks for more information on Cursed than I needed to know! :)

GREEN LANTERN EARTH ONE VOLUME TWO: I don't really remember the first book, and until I see it on the shelf, I won't be sure I actually read it. Anyway, I don't feel deprived, as vol. 2 gives me whatever info I need, as I didn't walk away with any questions.

Anyway, I rather enjoyed this book, which races lickety-split through disastrous circumstances that seem so plausible as to almost be inevitable. I read it at a sitting, as I didn't want to wait to see how things would turn out.

Hardman and Bechko (they're life partners as well as writing partners) make some serious changes in the GL mythos, while still using most of them. The Manhunters, the Guardians, Yellow Lanterns, Qward, Sinestro's betrayal, Arisia, John Stewart, Oa, the Central Battery, Kilowog, Carol Ferris, Krona, the multiverse, multiple other familiar Lanterns and more all make an appearance. But most do not survive. So we never actually reach the status quo we're familiar with from 60 years of Hal Jordan stories, and all bets are off. It's an exciting story.

Part of the reason it's so exciring is that the rings are treated pretty much as hammers. No elaborate light constructs, no boxing gloves, no sleek uniforms. This is a more gritty Green Lantern, where the rings do little more than shoot energy blasts and provide life support in space. I rather like that; one of the problems I've had with Green Lantern since the '60s is that I found it hard to believe that anyone with an IQ in three digits could possibly lose with an Aladdin's Lamp on their finger. It's one of the reasons fans got the idea that Hal wasn't too bright -- he didn't use the ring to full potential, and people like Black Hand could give him a  hard time. This version of the ring is eminently beatable. In fact, in this book it often is.

That is reflected, as I indicated, in the uniforms as well. The GLs all wear clothes that look similar, but they're individual to their culture. Hal's uniform looks like a jet pilot uniform, albeit dark green and with the logo. This, combined with Hardman's gritty art, makes the look of this book very hard-used and grubby. All of which brings GL out of the snazzy superhero world and more in a plausible, sci-fi setting. The whole thing felt more like Ray Bradbury than John Broome.

WEIRD LOVE: "UNLUCKY IN LOVE" AND MORE: My second Weird Love HC, and there's not much to distinguish this from the first.

I will mention again the strange fixation the women have in these stories in not kissing very many men, for fear of getting a "reputation." Was that ever really a thing? Every kid plays spin the bottle in middle school, don't they? Didn't people indulge in good-night kisses at the end of every date, even in the long-before time? Even in the '50s I expect that even the most cloistered girl would have kissed a good dozen males before marriage, as adolescent experimentation, if nothing else.

I find it odd, but as I've said before, it makes perfect sense if you substitute the F-word for "kiss" wherever you run across it. Oh boy, does it suddenly make sense!

Also: Man, if these stories accurately reflect how adult women had to live in the '50s and '60s, then the "good old days" would really have sucked for women. I doubt that it is accurate, as these stories were written for pre-pubescent girls, and meant to train them to keep their legs closed. But I don't doubt that there are elements of truth in there, and it makes me sad.

Also: I notice none of the men are ever worried about THEIR reputations. They can kiss (or anything else) as much as they want!

AQUAMAN: THE SEARCH FOR MERA DELUXE EDITION: My brother's Aquaman collection ended with #41, and while I finished out the series with back issues over a number of years, I read those books out of order and my memory of them is fuzzy to non-existent. So I was interested in re-reading these stories in proper order and getting a better sense of what they were about. (I also had to buy backward from around #15, but I've re-read those recently in Showcase form.)

And I do have a lot of thoughts about Aquaman (first series) #41-48, some new and some old memories that re-surfaced as I read along.

For one thing, I was not excited by these books back in the day, because a very young Jim Aparo had replaced Nick Cardy on the interiors right around issue #40. Now, I was a huge fan of Cardy back then (still am), and he was really the only reason I read and re-read Aquaman, which I thought, even as a lad, was a pretty stupid book. I was angry that Cardy was reduced to only doing the covers, because I was a kid and I didn't understand why Nick Cardy couldn't draw every issue of Aquaman and Teen Titans, and why Curt Swan couldn't draw the entire Superman line of books every month, forever.

But even if we dismiss my childish expectations, the Aparo on display here is not the Aparo most of us grew up with. His anatomy, in particular, is just awful. Her would get better, but this stuff isn't impressive.

Also, Aparo made no effort to actually think through how people would behave and how physics would operate underwater. He drew everything as if everyone and everything was on dry land, including having characters walk everywhere, instead of swim. In fight scenes, Aquaman or Aqualad would be drawn surrounded, to show their dire situation ... even though, underwater, you can swim directly upward. Surrounding people doesn't really work, unless "up" is blocked as well.

This extended to even the smallest detail, like when Aqualad is injured and in what amounts to an Atlantean hospital, and on his night stand is a half-filled glass of water. A half-filled glass of water. Under. Water.

I don't remember if this bothered me back in the '60s, but reading this book today, I find it a bit silly that Aquaman, Aqualad and Aquagirl don't have names. They are, simply, Aquaman, Aqualad and Aquagirl. No Arthur yet, or Garth or Tula. Steve Skeates, and Bob Haney before him, really didn't put much effort into fleshing out who these people were. Even Aquababy was just "Aquababy."

The supporting cast was equally shallow. There was Mera, and Vulko and ... OK, that was it. More than 25 years after his creation, Aquaman still didn't have a supporting cast much beyond his immediate family. And for the most part, none of them had actual names. Seven years after Fantastic Four #1, the Aquaman cast had no distinguishing personal characteristics beyond "square-jawed" and "earnest" and "heroic" -- pretty much what they had in 1941.

I did notice something historically important: Black Manta's helmet did something besides disguise his face in this run. The eye lenses sent rays that blinded/dazzled Aquaman. That was a first; prior to this run Manta was like all of Aquaman's enemies: boring. The force blasts from the eye lenses was still far in the future in 1968, as was the reveal that Black Manta was, in fact, Black.But at least he had something useful in combat for the first time, as opposed to his previous self, or The Fisherman or Ocean Master or, or ... actually I can't think of any other Aqua-foes. None of them were worth remembering.

Because none of them had super-powers. None of them had lethal equipment. None of them should have given Aquaman any trouble whatsoever. Much less Mera, who was far and away the most powerful character in the book (but had to be downplayed to avoid overshadowing Aquaman).

Call the Li'l Capn a budding feminist if you want, but 10-year-old me would have preferred the Adventures of Mera to Aquaman, because she, at least, could do something besides talk to fish. It irritated me that she wasn't allowed to do more, especially because I understood why. I guess I was a budding feminist.

With all that being said, this run of Aquaman was a first, and a pleasant surprise. And that's the continuing story. Most Aquaman stories to that point were one-and-dones that were never self-referential, even when there was more than one story in an issue. With the advent of Steve Skeates, we had a story that ran, in part, over eight issues. That was Aqua-new, and welcome.

One trope of Aquaman stories that I never understood was why surface-people would even bother trying to take over Atlantis. Even if you had an army to do so, you would be in an environment that you could not survive in! You could not travel, respond or fight as fast or easily as the Atlanteans. You would need constant technology to breathe, special suits to endure the water pressure. You could not eat, sleep, relax, go to the bathroom without leaving yourself vulnerable to retaliation. You couldn't bunker down in Atlantis or barricade it. So why bother?

Captain Comics said:

Also: Man, if these stories accurately reflect how adult women had to live in the '50s and '60s, then the "good old days" would really have sucked for women. I doubt that it is accurate, as these stories were written for pre-pubescent girls, and meant to train them to keep their legs closed. But I don't doubt that there are elements of truth in there, and it makes me sad.

It’s not the 50s or 60s, but the 70s:

I used to watch The Mary Tyler Moore Show (1970-1977) when I was able to sit in front of the TV. Having no ability to record shows, I probably saw about half of them. Currently we are watching the series on streaming. There are a lot of clever under-the-radar bits. When Mary's parents visit, Mary's mother shouts out to her husband "don't forget to take your pill," to which Mary answers "I won't." We constantly see Mary dating, almost always a previously unseen new guy and it's occasionally implied (very carefully) that she had sex. A character is asked how many men a woman could "be with" (or words to that effect) and still be considered a good person. The character answers "Six", to which Mary loudly exclaims "Six!!??, SIX!!??"

Originally her Mary Richards character was going to be recently divorced. This was nixed because the viewers were thought to be incapable of seeing her as a different character than Laura Petrie from The Dick Van Dyke Show. They were afraid that people would think Laura and Rob got divorced!

Captain Comics said:

Also, Aparo made no effort to actually think through how people would behave and how physics would operate underwater. He drew everything as if everyone and everything was on dry land, including having characters walk everywhere, instead of swim. In fight scenes, Aquaman or Aqualad would be drawn surrounded, to show their dire situation ... even though, underwater, you can swim directly upward. Surrounding people doesn't really work, unless "up" is blocked as well.

This extended to even the smallest detail, like when Aqualad is injured and in what amounts to an Atlantean hospital, and on his night stand is a half-filled glass of water. A half-filled glass of water. Under. Water.

I wonder if Aparo was told to present things as if they were on dry land because the readers wouldn't be capable of understanding anything else. {Like the later thinking that readers (writers?) couldn't understand multiple Earths.}

AQUAMAN: For an alternate take on "The Search for Mera" (mine), click here.

BADGER #18-21

STAR TREK: YEAR FIVE #11-13: This is one of those series I had decided to drop, but I hadn't yet read the three most recent issues, and one of my precepts is "Buying comics and not reading them is stupid," so I thought I'd get caught up. Just be cause this is a monthly series and a year has twelve months doesn't mean the series has to last twelve issues. Given "comic book time," tear five could go on, if not indefinitely then at least fro a good long while. But, with #13, the Enterprise is back on Earth, and the the new ships and uniforms (setting up ST:TMP) have already been introduced, so it's just a matter of time. 

#11-12 comprise a story about Gary Seven, who is now an enemy. This is their second meeting overall,and Gary Seven in now inexplicably in the 24th century, although some 80 years have passed for him (so no Roberta Lincoln). the cat-woman Isis can now apparently turn into any form she wants, as in this issue she mimics a Tholien. I also figured out that the misuse of personal pronouns that has bugged me throughout this series is purposeful. 

Verdict: I liked the previous issues more than i did these three most recent ones, but I don't see this series lasting more than an issue or two so I might as well stick it out.

BADGER #22-25

GREEN LANTERN: I started re-reading Archive volume one today, which comprises showcase #22-24 and Green Lantern #1-5. 

FAR SECTOR #1-7: I read issues #1-4 as they were released, but didn't read #5-6 because I had lost the story. When #7 came out, I publicly announced my intention to drop the series, but a few well-chosen words caused me to pick up #7 after all. I just finished re-reading #1-4 and reading #5-7 for the first time. If there is a more socially relevant comic book currently on the stands, I don't know what it is. Many current issues are reflected withing, such as police violence and use of force against peaceful protesters. I like the bits of this Green Lantern's past that are revelaed in dribs and drabs through out. It seems frivolous to even mention it, but if you want details on her unique ring, that's there, too. VERDICT: If you are a fan of Green Lantern, or socially relevant comic books, or just plain good science fiction and are not reading Far Sector, I'd advise you to pick up the trade. Me, I'm already seven issues in to what I believe is a 12-issue series, so I'm sticking with it.

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