LONE WOLF & CUB v16: Five more stories, 75-82. Ogami Itto finally learns the secret of the Yagyu letter, and Retsudo Yagyu begins to openly pursue the Lone Wolf and Cub, after losing his only daughter (and last child, the fifth) to Ogami's blade. If I didn't know there were still a dozen volumes to go, I'd swear the story was barreling headlong to its conclusion.
LONE WOLF & CUB v17: gara...gara...gara...gara...
Quotes from today's comics:
"Whoa, old Bats...Let's not look a gift evil god on the mouth, okay?"
"Prepare to tell Inquisitor Troi everything."
"The 'mount up', silver stranger -- and take to the stars!!"
"Mass murderer. Dictator. Ruthless. Methodical. Focused. Gifted tactician and hand-to-hand fighter. And crazy as sixteen cats in a two-cat bag."
KA-ZAR, LORD OF THE SAVAGE LAND #1: I was ambivalent about buying this comic in the first place. On the one hand, Ka-Zar was once one of my favorite characters, but on the other, the advance press about this direction didn't sound very appealing. I'll be more specific over in the Ka-Zar discussion, but what tipped the scale was the back-up feature, a 9/11 tribute titled "The Four Fives" by John Romita, Jr. who drew the 9/11 tribute in Spider-Man #36 20 years ago. The nearly wordless story is written by Joe Quesada and features Spider-Man and Captain America paying tribute to the fallen on the anniversary of the attacks. It's a touching tribute, but I cannot recommend the new Ka-Zar #1 on the basis of the back-up alone.
DEFENDERS #2: This story is supposed to be evocative of Kirby-level cosmic, but in scripting the character Taaia, Al Ewing falls victim to a trap often exhibited by tyro writers, namely, he puts a word or phrase in nearly every single word balloon spoken by the character in quotation marks. Don't believe me? "Impossible foe" - "time-tourists" - "first strike" - "Taa-quake" - "Mr. Metallic" - "fish" - "catch" - "trouble zone" - "duck and cover" - "wormhole" - "science fortress" - "hyper-lab" - "what is known" - "run hot" - "Baby Galen" - "womb tube" - "donor seed" - "explorer of the fantastic" - "cosmic wonders" - "techno-cot" - "lolly-gaggers" - "space skimmer" - "The Lifebringer" - "Lifebringer One" - "Anti-All" - "under-lands" - "Breaker of Worlds" - "mount up" - "energy snack" - "maximum power" - "cosmic awareness" - "strange force" and "cut the power". Kirby never used "unnecessary quotation marks" to that extent. Ewing had that one "joke"... and "ran it into the ground." Oddly, he didn't put "tesseract space" and "Mother Cube" in quotation marks; must have been an "oversight."
BLUE AND GOLD #2: I forgot not to read the "online comments" (now he's got me doing it!) until about halfway through. Booster and Beetle go public with their new free heroes storefront idea just as Ted is removed as Kord Industies' CEO.
SNELSON #2: I think I'm a little too old for this series about a "cancelled" comedian. the last four comedians I saw live were Janeane Gorafolo, Marsha Warfield, Elayne Boosler and George Carlin.
GORGO ATTACKS: Chances are, if you are at all interested in Gorgo, you already own the collection of all the Ditko issues. For the completists out there (of which I am one), this collection features the stories by Joe Sinnott , Joe Gill and Vince Colletta from issues #5-10 and #12. Mu one comments if that Fantaco Enterprises didn't do themselves any favors by reprinting the unretouched art on slick, glossy paper stock.
FANTASTIC FOUR OMNIBUS VOL. 4: This volume reprints #94-125 and documents the slow transition from Lee & Kirby to Roy Thomas (next volume). It also includes the introductions and essays from the MMW editions (by Stan Lee, Jon B. Cooke, Dick Ayers, Joe Sinnott, Roy Thomas, Mark Evanier, Sean Kleefeld and John Morrow) as well as original letters pages. It also includes "The Lost Adventure" pieced together from art originally intended by Jack Kirby to be #102, which eventually ran in vastly altered for in in #108.
LONE WOLF & CUB v18: Chapters 88-92.
FANTASTIC FOUR: LIFE STORY #4: This entire series is built around Earth's first encounter with Galactus. Mr. Fantastic first became aware of him in the late '60s, 20 years ago as this issue begins, and by the end of the issue his arrival is still six years away. (His herald showed up on Earth ten years in advance to warn of his arrival.) It better be worth it.
BATMAN '89 #2: I like this comic book series much better than the movie it's based on.
STAR TREK: YEAR FIVE #24: I haven't liked the storyline that cast Gary 7 as a villain. In this issue, the "five year mission" comes well and truly to an end, but there's still one issue to go. I suspect #25 will bridge the gap leading into The Motion Picture.
BLACK'S MYTH #3: I liked this one as much as I did #1 & #2.
SECOND COMING #5: The second series has not been quite as good as the first, although it's still better that 990% of the rest of what's out there. This has been the best issue of the second series so far.
LONE WOLF & CUB v19: Chapters 93-97.
I've been enjoying The United States of Captain America, and I hope the new characters don't just fade into occasional guest shots or space fillers for Crisis on Infinite Earths style crowd shots. , but I also feel that realistically they ought to all get killed the first time they come up against a high-level super-villain without Steve, Sam or Bucky around.
At least the story ought to end with Steve saying something like, "I'm proud of you all, and you all show great potential, but if you're gonna do this, then we're gonna train your asses, 'cuz we don't we really don't wanna see a headline reading 'Amateur Hour Captain America Drawn and Quartered By The Abomination' two years from now", only probably phrased more diplomatically.
THE DEATH OF DOCTOR STRANGE: I had absolutely no intention of buying this issue. but I did pick it up and flip through it. Usually that's enough to dissuade me. But this looks like a comic book (with panels and everything). A lot of the time (when considering new purchases), the art is so off-putting I can't bring myself to plunk down the money and actually read it. Flipping through this one, though, two full page panels attracted my attention: 1) the peanel depicting the death of Dr. strange, and 2) the issue's cliffhanger ending. To be perfectly honest, I intended to buy just this first issue and let it stand as "the death of Dr. Strange," but I actually want to find out what happens next! The writing (by Jed MacKay) is non-traditional but, I must admit, it's very good. Lee Garrett's art is nice, too. It hasn't been just too long since I read nine volumes of Marvel Masterworks Dr. Strange, from the beginning to #57 of his second solo series (many for the first time), and you know what I discovered? Most of them weren't all that good. The last time Dr. Strange was recommended to me (by Captain Comics, not too long ago), I didn't take up the offer. But if you're looking for a new take on Dr. Strange, one that's different from the character you might be familiar with, you might want to give this first issue a try. Now I just have to decide whether to follow the rest of this series or tradewait.
THE UNITED STATES OF CAPTAIN AMERICA #4: I didn't enjoy this issue as much as the previous ones for whatever reason. (I liked the back-up better than the lead this time.) Still, the series needs to be taken as a whole. One issue to go.
X-MEN LEGENDS #7: That whole "House of X" story turned me off so much I didn't think I would ever buy an X-book again (did I say that last month?), so I jumped at the chance to refamiliarize myself with characters from the X-verse. I dropped Wolverine after the Byrne run and seldom picked up an issue since. I have read a few stories featuring Jubilee (as this one does), but I really don't have much of a clue what purpose she serves (other than "sidekick"). A footnote places this story sometime after Wolverine #33, so that's about when I stopped reading. the story is fairly straightforward and is continued next issue.
SUPERGIRL: WOMAN OF TOMORROW #4: Halfway through. This is definitely a middle chapter. I have two Supergirl "omnibus" I'm considering reading once this mini=series wraps.
LONE WOLF & CUB v20: Chapters 98-102.
LONE WOLF & CUB v21: Chapters 103-107
LONE WOLF & CUB v22: Chapters 108-111
I have accepted for a long time that Lone Wolf & Cub is generally acknowledged as one of the best examples of Japanese manga, indeed of international comics, based on the early chapters, which I had read twice before. But I had never finished it. The early chapters were more-or-less done-in-one, but these last three volumes have been actual chapters in a single three (and counting) volume storyline. Four years have now passed since Itto Ogami (or Ogami Itto, if you prefer) was framed for treason. He charges 500 Ryo for each assassination but, until now, we haven't known what he was doing with he gold or what he planed to use it for.
You know another series I "never quite finished"? Will Eisner's The Spirit. "Common knowledge" has it that it really got good in the post-war years. Although i have read some of those stories, I have yet to read them all. Will Eisner's Spirit is one of three comics epics I may move to next after completing Lone Wolf & Cub.