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

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Oh, thanks, Travis!  I'd heard there was a LSH homage in the Black Hammer books, but I haven't dipped my toe in them at all. Jeff Lemire is one of those creators who I always think should hit with me, and for some reason I never quite connect with him. But an LSH style story with Torres art has two great things going for it! Thanks for bringing my attention to it!

Recently read:

Future State: JLA #1

Future State: Kara Zor-El, Superwoman #1

Future State: Superman/Wonder Woman #1

I Don't Know How to Give  Birth!, by Ayami Kazama

HA HA #1: This was a light week so I bought the first issue of a new limited series I might not have tried otherwise. I have been reading a lot of positive things about Ice Cream Man lately, so I decided to give W. Maxwell Prince's new series a try. It is dark and sad and depressing in the way only a comic book about clowns can be. Recommended (if this is the sort of story you find yourself in the mood far).

IMMORTAL HULK #42: Dark. Writer Al Ewing's comments on the letters page about the early issues of Hulk (through Tales to Astonish) reveal that he interprets them almost exactly as I do. 

SERIAL #1: Another comic book with a clown (in a minor role). Terry Moore makes a forensic mistake I would not have expected of him.

PENULTIMAN #4: Recommended.

ETERNALS: "THE DREAMING CELESTIAL" SAGA: There have been a lot of "Eternals" collections released recently (due, I suppose to the original release date of the upcoming movie), many of which (I have noticed from the solicitations) have overlapping content. This collection is the best of them. I consider it to be "Eternals: Phase 3" following Kirby's original and Thomas's run on Thor (which integrated the Eternals into the Marvel Universe proper). This tpb comprises the origin series from What If...? #23-30, Iron Man Annual #6, Avengers #246-248 and the second Eternals series (1985/86).

Much of it is written by Peter Gillis. Just yesterday I mentioned that he is not one of my favorite writers, but the stories in this collection represent the best of his work in my estimation. It is unusual for a collection of this sort to include an introduction (unless, perhaps, reprinted from an earlier publication), but this "Epic"-style tpb has a new one by Gillis himself explaining the thought process behind the stories contained withing. (It also reveals who designed Ghaur.) I recommend it to anyone who has read the Kirby and Thomas stories which preceded it and enjoyed them.

GENERATIONS: SHATTERED: I know this flows out of that "death Metal" thing, but it's really got a Crisis on Infinite Earths vibe to it. Given that there are (or were) supposed to be "infinite" realities, I just choose to interpret these as some of those and hit the ground running. The seeming randomness and haphazard way the main team of characters were gathered together reminds me a bit of Avengers Forever as well. Booster Gold was one of my favorite series pre-Flashpoint and, since I've enjoyed little of mainstream DC post-New52, I find myself eagerly awaiting Generations: Forged

Finally finished the Deadman Omnibus.

It didn't take me forever because of quality, but because I was much more interested in the early issues than the latter ones, for an entirely me-specific reason. And that is this: I didn't get DC's suspense books in the '60s, so I overlooked Deadman's original Strange Adventures series almost entirely. (I did have the first appearance, but either I thought it was a one-shot, or I didn't pick up later issues because of distribution. DC's non-superhero books had particularly poor distribution in my area.) I eventually got all those stories as back issues, but out of order in a random way, as was usually the case before the Internet -- I'd pick one up whenever I found it at flea markets and whatnot.

But I was buying DC's superhero books, so I read about Deadman in Brave & Bold in the '60s. And he'd appear in all sorts of places in the '70s: Challengers of the Unknown, DC Special Series, Justice League of America, Adventure Comics, World's Finest Comics, Phantom Stranger and DC Super-Stars. Mind you, I was still picking up the odd Strange Adventures back issue during this period. Many of these stories seemed to contradict each other, or at least leave me with more questions than answers, and not much of it stuck with me.

But I was all caught up by the time of Boston Brand's Adventure run in the late '70s, and the character (from my perspective) started following a linear path. He was the star of his own series, rather than a guest star acting randomly to serve plot needs, and a new status quo was established. At last, a Deadman who made sense! After Adventure, Deadman started getting the occasional miniseries, most of which built on the Adventure foundation and continued my sense of comfort with the character.

So when the Omnibus came along, I snapped it up, although I almost certainly have every issue reprinted within. Because I was jazzed about reading his 1960s and 1970s appearances in publishing order, so that they'd finally make sense to me. And sure enough, I blew through the book until it hit the '80s, establishing in my mind where all those adventures I read as a lad fit into the bigger picture. It's like sorting comics into boxes, which I love to do, except in my head.

The flip side of that is when I hit the '80s stories, my enthusiasm fell off a cliff. I had not only read these stories, I remembered them, and they were already sorted into mental boxes. Despite arguably being the best stories, quality-wise, I had to force myself to push through them. There was no tingle of discovery to be had, no anticipation of learning something new. It was like checking your work in math.

But lo, the work is done. And here are the results.

First: Deadman appeared in a lot of different books with a lot of different creative teams in his guest-star days, so this Omnibus covers a lot of DC ground. To my delight, I discovered that I recognized literally every writer until the book hit Andrew Helfer. It was practically a game; I'd read a few pages to see if I could guess who wrote the story before checking the credits, and I was invariably right.

Overwrought dialogue? That's Marv Wolfman. Earnest, doleful omniscient narrator? That's Len Wein. Strange patois that no one on Earth ever spoke? Bob Haney. It was kinda fun. And if I was ever uncertain, I just had to wait for an exclamation. For example, only Haney characters say "Holy Hannah!" (All these years later, I still don't know who Hannah is. Biblical, I assume.)

Another fun aspect is just re-living the attitudes and rhythms of those long-ago days. I read a LOT of comics in those days, so re-experiencing those days was was like sliding into a warm bath or comfortable shoes. That's another reason for the late '70s and '80s reprints holding less interest for me; after discovering girls, then going to college, then joining the work force, comics fell a few notches on my "Things I Like to Do" scale and my "Things That Are Important" scale. I still loved them, but they weren't a dominant aspect of my life like when I was in elementary school.

Getting back to the stories themselves, I was gratified to see my vague, youthful impression of contradiction was actually true. Boston's characterization tended to shift based on who was writing him, and what his role was in the plot. (And, honestly, it helps if you think of the Haney stories as happening on a parallel Earth -- Earth-Hannah, perhaps.) When the Strange Adventures run ended in 1969, all the plot threads -- Nanda Parbat, Sensei, Lotus' conversion to evil -- were abruptly abandoned when the character landed a back-up slot in Aquaman. Speaking of the Sensei, Deadman's inability to possess him in the 1960s wasn't explained until Helfer retconned Deadman's origin in the late 1980s.

Amusingly, Arnold Drake -- who wrote the first Deadman story in 1967 before handing the writing reins over to Jack Miller/Neal Adams -- wrote his second one in 1974 as if the intervening stories had never happened. That is to say, Neal Adams wrapped up the Hook/Sensei storyline in the Strange Adventures run, but when Drake returned to the character in Phantom Stranger, Boston was still looking for the Hook (and over-emoting about it) despite that character having been dead for about five years. Well, maybe it was an inventory story. At any rate, it certainly confused the Li'l Capn at the time.

Speaking of Adams, his Deadman art was done at one of his peaks, and are a joy. Another fantastic artist, Jose Luis Garcia Lopez, had an extended run on the character as well. Most of the other artists don't thrill me, but those two make the book worth the money.

So overall I'd recommend the book, especially to those with only a glancing experience with the character. This is all the Deadman you need to know, all wrapped up with a ribbon, with some terrific artwork.

My first "Deadman" was one of those 100-pagers, World's Finest #223 (which also reprinted the second appearance, IIRC). In the early '80s I read the entire Strange Adventures run via the Deadman reprint series. After that, the New Gods reprint series led me to Deadman's appearance in Jack Kirby's Forever People #9-10. That was a weird one! Jack Kirby didn't much care for the character (nor, indeed, did he like writing characters created by others), but it was forced on him. I don't recall if it was Carmine Infantino or DC bean-counters who wanted Kirby to put his touch on this character whose (finite) story had already been brought to a conclusion, but they didn't like what he did. 

It has been my observation that the Deadman story from Forever People is more or less a "Mopee" in DC continuity. (In it, he got an artificial body to operate in.) There was a "comprehensive" collection of Deadman stories collected in a series of tpbs several years ago and, IIRC, the Forever People issues were left out. My question is this: does the Deadman Omnibus contain the Forever People stories? 

World's Finest Comics #223 (Ju'74) was the first time that I saw Deadman, too! 

It was also the first time I encountered the Legion of Super-Heroes via the Composite Superman reprint!

My initial reaction to the Angst Acrobat of the Choir Invisible was that he was a "secret weapon" of Batman's that he seldom used and kept to himself.

But I liked Boston Brand as a character and looked forward to any other books with him in them though I never saw his Strange Adventure stories unless they were reprinted which they weren't en masse until the Deadman reprint series.

A week ago Friday I grabbed something off the stack of comics next to my bed -- The Best of World of Archie Jumbo Comics #51 -- and opened it to a random page, which put me in the smack dad middle of this story from 1971. Reading it two days after what happened at the Capitol, it strikes me with conflicting feelings of being of its time, off the mark and on the nose all at once.

Jeff of Earth-J said:

It has been my observation that the Deadman story from Forever People is more or less a "Mopee" in DC continuity. (In it, he got an artificial body to operate in.)

I hadn't heard of this aspect of the Deadman stories before reading this post. I think I bought all of the original Kirby Fourth World issues when they were first published, but I wasn't at all thrilled by Forever People and don't think I read them all. My first thought is that this 1972 comic was "inspired by" the 1965 first appearance of the character NoMan in T.H.U.N.D.E.R. Agents #1. He inhabited artificial bodies, too, but he was their inventor and he had a LOT of them, not just one.

The DC Fandom Wiki says this about Forever People #10:

"Due to contradictions in continuity, the events from this issue are considered non-canon by the standards of Earth-One continuity. In both Earth-One and Post-Crisis continuity, Boston Brand was murdered by a villain named the Roy 'The Hook' Martin in Strange Adventures #215 (as confirmed by Rama Kushna). This series posits that Deadman was murdered by the Scavengers. The alterations to Deadman's origin are not referenced in any other comic title other than this one."

I suspect his short guest run in Forever People isn't included in the Deadman Omnibus because it isn't favored by anyone. Did they include his more recent appearances in which he is drawn like a skeleton wearing a costume instead of a ghost who looks like he did in life?

I read this Archie story online last year after someone brought it to our attention. Like everything else in the Archie world of that time, the story is simplistic.

My draft experience began with the guidance counselor in my high school calling me to his office when I turned eighteen. I didn’t know what it was about until I got there. He had me register for the draft. They never gave me any guidance beyond this, even when, at fifteen, they knew that my father had died just before the first day of school. They were annoyed that I didn’t  come to school for a few days.

In April 1968 I was almost twenty and I received my draft notice. I showed up and the same day found myself at a fort for Basic Training. I didn’t go home for two days after already being sworn in, unlike the Archie gang. I had already been given what was called a pre-induction physical. They didn’t have us take a written test until shortly after arriving at Basic Training. When I was drafted you could be a draftee aged anywhere between 19 and 26. Volunteers, or which there were many, could be as young at 17 or 18. One of the guys in my training company had his 26th birthday right after being drafted.

A lot of pressure was applied so that in December 1969, ironically right after I got out of the Army, they implemented the draft lottery. Birthdates for the coming year were drawn randomly so that people could better understand what was likely to happen. I believe they were only dealing with men turning 19 that coming year. If your lottery number was somewhere between 200 and 365 you could probably be confident that you wouldn’t be drafted.  So the 1971 Archie story almost certainly wouldn’t have had all of the Archie gang drafted at the same time. Other than portraying the character of Clyde as an idiot, the writer doesn’t seem to know what he’s trying to say about the draft or the war.

Also, the need for troops had declined by 1971. There were 3.4 times as many U.S. troops in Vietnam in 1968 than in 1971. Similarly, there were 3.1 times as many draftees in 1968 than in 1971.

Official numbers of troops and draftees:

Troop Levels by Year and by Allied Country in Vietnam War

Official numbers of draftees in 20th Century by Year 

MAESTRO: WAR & PAX #1: Back when Peter david was writing the Hulk, I used to hope that the Pantheon would be granted their own title. I didn't realize that The Incredible Hulk was their title. the first issue of this limited series re-introduces the Pantheon... and Machine Man... and (at the very end) Dr. Doom.

RORSCHACH #4: A new character has been introduced, a new piece to the puzzle. It's the kind of story that just sucks you in. I can hardly wait to see how all the pieces fit together. 

Both Maestro: War and Pax and Rorschach are books I'm trade-waiting, and am eager to read them. I'm hoping for a Maestro collection with all of his appearances, as I didn't read the last miniseries and the original two-parter is hard to get to in the Cave.

The answer to a question posted a couple of times: The Deadman Omnibus does not include the Deadman stories from Forever People. I'm kind of glad of that, since they're so off-model, plus they weren't very good. But you can be sure they contributed to the Teen Capn's confusion about the character. (I turned 13 in the summer of 1971.)

As to the skeletal Deadman, when did he begin appearing? Maybe 10 or so years ago? This Omnibus doesn't get that far, ending after Deadman's first miniseries (by Helfer and Garcia Lopez). There's a lot of fully-fleshed Deadman to go before we hit the skeleton. Which means we need a second omnibus, DC!

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