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

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I loved Sandman Mystery Theatre as well. It would make an awesome prestige TV show.

I read X-MEN LEGENDS #1-12, a series that tells X-tales set between issues or events in the X-Men's long history. I wasn't impressed, despite the murderer's row of talent. The only issue that stands out in memory is issue #10, in which a pre-Krakoa Mister Sinister puts clones (who don't now they're clones) of various faction leaders in a room to discuss mutant affairs. That was interesting. Then, once the experiment was over, the clones began to dissolve, and the remaining clones, even after realizing they're clones, fight to stay alive. Also interesting, because that's what they'd do.

This series has started over with a new #1, but I won't be getting it.

SILVER AGE CLASSICS: GHOSTLY TALES VOLS 1-2 were a lot of fun, but I'm not sure that fun is fungible. That is to say, it might be due to my unique history with Ghostly Tales.

Well, first, that alone is a big deal: PS Artbooks has finally started reprinting a series from a time frame where the Li'l Capn had begun collecting! So I have a number of issues reprinted in these books squirreled away in longboxes. Since by and large my collection doesn't extend earlier than 1960 -- and certainly not the off-brands PS Artbooks usually reprints -- this is the first time I've had personal experience with PS Artbooks content.

And I was amazed at how vividly I remembered the issues reprinted here that I had already read. I guess it's true: First learned, last forgot. Also, I probably re-read those issues (along with concurrent Marvel, DC, Archie, Tower, etc.) a few jillion times. This familiarity is very akin to love. I might have loved these stories.

Would someone reading them fresh today love them? Unlikely. But I did.

The "new" stories that I hadn't read before didn't strike me as particularly memorable. But they were in issues I didn't buy, and I can tell you why: The cover didn't grab me. The issues I have are blessed with fantastic covers, and the stories -- whether they lived up to that art or not -- lodged themselves in my brainpan as awesome.

Tackling this material as a much older Captain, I noticed that Ghostly Tales was something of a showcase for Rocke Mastroserio. If you've read any later 1950s or early 1960s PS Artbooks reprinting "suspense" titles, you're probably familiar with the name -- it's in those books that I personally learned it. Mastroserio wasn't very dynamic, but he was a strong draftsman and his rendering bordered on lush. His covers were terrific. He drew most of the stories in these two books, and inked much of the rest -- even over Steve Ditko, which says something. (What, I don't know. But it was a surprise to see, since Mastroserio is an overwhelming inker and almost obliterates Ditko.)

One exception to this general rule of thumb is the Dr. Graves feature, which is always drawn by Ernie Bache. Graves got his own title in 1967, but Bache didn't contribute, at least not in the early issues I researched. Instead, it was drawn by Charlton's usual gang, Pat Boyette, Rudy Palais, etc. (They contributed to Ghostly Tales as well.)

Anyway, here are some Mastroserio covers I remember so well:

I'm pretty sure that I've mentioned somewhere else that I was shocked to see Ghostly Tales #55 in 1966, since I hadn't remembered ever seeing the title before. How did I miss 54 issues? Well, it clearly says in the indicia that the numbering picks up from Blue Beetle #54, so I might not have known about Indicias yet. Hard to remember ever being that green!

I was looking forward to THE PASSAGEWAY HC, which launches a new horror universe by Jeff Lemire and Andrea Sorrentino. I had read a short story set in this new universe in the FCBD Image sampler, and it was genuinely disturbing, so I had high hopes.

Which have been slightly dashed. The Passageway is inscrutable, and possibly doesn't have an ending. My wife and I both read it, and announced to each other that we didn't understand it.

BATMAN: THE WORLD HC sounded like a great idea to me, and said so in some thread or other. The response from you Legionnaires varied from muted to dismissive, and I'm not too big to admit that y'all were right and I was wrong. Some of these stories are pretty good, but mostly they seem like audition pages for a DC gig.

THE DOLLHOUSE FAMILY is part of the Black Label horror line that started so well with A Basketful of Heads, but has headed steadily downhill -- and precipitously so -- since. This is no exception. Dollhouse Family is a notch above the nadir of the line, The Low, Low Woods, but that's a pretty low bar.

It's a story about a girl who can escape a bad home life into a dollhouse, which, wow, so original. The twist, such as it is, is that there's something evil in the dollhouse that is trying to manipulate our protagonist into something or other. Why the Dollhouse didn't succeed with this evil scheme already -- there are various victims already in there, stretching back decades -- is unexplained, or I didn't care about whatever explanation was given. In the present, the protagonist isn't challenged too badly, and says "no" pretty handily. There's a dead girl who shows up, much like Eden in Locke & Key, who is supposed to be scary, but is far too cliched (and limited by author fiat) to really present a threat.

Dollhouse Family isn't a bad story, but it's not one that needed to be written. Or read.

Barbaric: The Harvest Blades One-shot - I know I've expressed my enjoyment of this book before. The basic outline is that Owen the Barbarian (which I think is a funny name for a barbarian) is has a cursed axe that makes him help people in need. When for the most part he wants to drink and have sex. The axe also talks to him, but he is the only one that can hear. It is also very bloodthirsty and gets drunk off of the blood.

This one-shot Owen is compelled to aid a town that is about to be attacked by devil bats. He teams-up with a "knight, a "thief", and a dark mage. I wasn't a big fan of the art, but this was a good comic. Humor and bloodshed, what more do you need?

Barbaric: Axe to Grind #1 - Now this begins a new mini as an old enemy of Owen's has returned. Owen ventures off to confront this nemesis with his brother Steele and the witch Soren in tow. Better art in this comic, but the humor and bloodshed remain.

Amazing Fantasy #1000:  Good stuff  in this.  I enjoyed it.

Thunderbolts #1:  Not bad, but not quite enough to get me hooked.

Short & sweet, Baron. I might end up getting AF #1000 now.

AMAZING FANTASY #1000: For a monthly comic to reach 1000 issues would take more than 83 years. What this comic book does represent, however, is Spider-Man's 60th anniversary. Comics in general makes more mistakes counting false "anniversaries" than they go making up numbers, so it seems odd they would pass on the chance to capitalize on an actual anniversary. Wonky numbering aside, this is my "Pick of the Week."

ANT-MAN #2: Back in 2006 Marvel launched The Irredeemable Ant-Man with the tagline "The World's Most Unlikeable Super-Hero." He was that. For 12 issues, I convinced myself I liked it. Ironically, it included the best portrayal of Henry Pym since Jim Shooter screwed him up. More ironic still, that heroic version of Hank Pym was later revealed to be a Skrull. Years after that, I came across the series in one of my boxes and realized it was written by the same guy who would go on to write The Walking Dead, so maybe that series had redeeming features after all. Unlike Amazing Fantasy, this comic is clearly labeled "60 Years" with an Ant-Man logo.

FLORIDA MAN #2: Since reading the first issue, I went on to read the first (of three) Florida Man paperbacks. The first issue covers, like, the first five chapters of the book so, even at that rate, the comic book series could continue for quite some time simply adapting the three existing books. But this issue announces that Florida Man is a three-issue mini-series. I was kind of on the fence about this series, but nevertheless I was hoping for more than three issues.

FANTASTIC FOUR: FULL CIRCLE: A slip-cased, Previews exclusive (with a poster and card-stock print) of Alex Ross's latest graphic novel, a sequel to basically all of the Negative Zone stories told over the years. "Easter eggs" abound. Not comics as how they were, but how we remember them. (The Neg-Zone pages are colored to look like a black light poster.) there was a real "sensawunda" to the old Lee/Kirby series, something not seen in more "realistic" modern comics for decades; Ross brings it back. There's an EYKIW in there (not just a "neat idea"), but it's done so respectfully as to maintain continuity (for those of us who care about such things). The standard version ships next week. 

I've started re-reading Young Gods, one of the serials in Barry Windsor-Smith: Storyteller from the 90s. Irreverent and Kirby-inspired, it's a ton of fun so far, and I've only read the shorter chapters in issues 1 and 2; each issue of the anthology had a lead feature, followed by the other two serials as shorter backups. So I've got a full-length story to read next. So far, two gods (Heros and Strangehands) are going out for one last night of fun before Heros marries Celestia, to form an alliance with her pantheon (or family; it's unclear). They run into Adastra, a mohawked warrior/carouser who's sick of he sister's wedding prep. They're currently on the run from Heros's dad's vizier, who's come to drag them back to the wedding. Good times!

The other stories are Freebooters (which I remember as being my favorite) and Paradoxman (which I don't remember grabbing me). I might get to these other ones, but for now, I'm just doing Young Gods. 

Adastra appears later in a BWS graphic novel Adastra in Africa, which was a reworked idea he had for a Storm comic (Lifedeath III, I think).  

I take it you're reading from the original periodicals. Both Young Gods and Freebooters were later collected, completed and expanded in volumes of their own (Paradoxman never was.) Adastra in Africa was done straight, but supplemented by a Playboy-style interview in which Adastra blasts Marvel for being too short-sighted to publish the conclusion of the Lifedeath trilogy. 

I remember Storyteller. It was released, by Dark Horse, right around the same time Dark Horse was also releasing Lone Wolf & Cub in its original format. Storyteller was supposed to have been a 12-issue series, but it was cancelled after nine dues to... low sales? I even bought the slipcase to store the completed series. [You know what fits really well in lieu of those unreleased issues? Frank Miller and Geoff Darrow's Big Guy and Rusty the Boy Robot. This PSA brought to courtesy of Earth-J.]  I remember there was a lot of pissing and moaning in CBG's "Oh, So?" about the size of these projects.

"Storyteller is too big! Lone Wolf & Cub is too small! WAH!" It used to make me so angry. A comic should be published in whatever size it was intended by the artist. Speaking of which, I probably owe BWS an apology. Not that I ever said anything in public, but when he promised completed and reworked versions of Young Gods and Freebooters in collected format, I didn't believe him. Mea culpa!

Speaking of BWS, a collected edition of his Archer & Armstrong was solicited for early August. It hasn't shipped yet, but I'm hoping to see it any week now. Freebooters is reminiscent A&A, just as Young Gods is reminiscent of Jack Kirby's New Gods

I really need to seek out those completed versions. I didn't realize they were ever made, or maybe I forgot because they were announced when money was tight. Are they in the Opus volumes? 

And yes, I remember the complaining about size. It's one of the reasons I love that slipcase -- they're on a shelf, and I can find them easier than I can find most of my other comics. 

Speaking of which, I should look for my copies of Big Guy & Rusty... or Hard Boiled, which I imagine will also fit.

Hardboiled is regular magazine-size, IIRC, but yes, it should fit as well. That's a good idea. You're right about the slipcase making that series easier to find on a shelf than it would be in a box. I'm not sure about Opus; I don't have those. the collected editions were released in 2003 (Young Gods) and 2005 (Freebooters) by Fantagraphics. They are both packed with DVD-style "extras" so one needn't feel guilty about "duplication." I don't know how easy they'll be to find at this point (or how expensive), but good luck. Adastra in Africa was published, also by Fantagraphics, in 1999. In 2011, Marvel released Lifedeath in its "Premiere Classics" line. It features all of BWS's X-Men work, from #53 on and including individual covers. All four of these sit together on the same shelf in my library. 

Yes, I can confirm that Hardboiled is magazine size.

Jeff, I was probably one of the ones complaining about Storyteller back in the day. I have them in magazine B&Bs but they don't really fit in there. A minor complaint at this point. Hell at one point I just had them shoved under my bed. Out of sight out of mind. hahaha

I've always said, that I love the way the Lone Wolf & Cub books look on my bookshelf, but is that the size the creators intended? A serious question because I honestly don't know.

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