Thursday, April 6, 2017

Quarter Bin 101 "The Grievous Journey of Ichabod Azrael and other finds"

Black Knight #2, 3, 5 (Marvel)
(from 2016)
Frank Tieri is one of those comics professional I linked up with on social media before really knowing much about them much less having actually seen their material.  That's pretty much social media in a nutshell, I think.  Anyway, so this is the first time I've read his work, and I like it.  Black Knight is one of those fascinating characters that've just never really gotten their due.  Here his Ebony Blade is like a demonic Excalibur.  Seems to have spun out of Secret Wars.

Bloodshot Reborn #1 (Valiant)
(from 2015)
Although I'd read subsequent issues and the preceding inciting event in The Valiant, I hadn't read how the series began.  Explains all over again why I love Jeff Lemire's work with the character.  I wish more readers were aware of the truly stellar work Valiant has been doing with some of its material.

The Grievous Journey of Ichabod Azrael (and the Dead Left in His Wake) #2, 3, 4 (2000 AD)
(from 2015)
Reprinting material previously serialized in 2000 AD itself, this mini-series is like a secret origin of Rob Williams' later Martian Manhunter.  It's brilliant.  I found out that you probably shouldn't try reading it if you're struggling to stay awake, because it's printed small and your instinct will be to give up on it.  But it's a great find, it really is. 

Klaus and the Witch of Winter (Boom!)
(from 2016)
Unlike the other comics here, this one was bought at retail and not out of an actual quarter bin (Newbury stuck little orange tags on all of them, which I still haven't tried to remove), so it doesn't really belong, but I got it on the same day, so...Anyway, this was a follow-up to Grant Morrison's Santa Claus origin story, the first of a proposed yearly one-shot return engagement with the concept. Morrison exhibits his typically explosive imagination in ways that he hasn't since Joe the Barbarian.  Which suddenly puts Klaus into a new context, actually.

Letter 44 #13, 15, 16,17 (Oni)
(from 2015)
Charles Soule's vision of complicated alien contact is something I've been reading sporadically the last few years, really only when I get a chance at my semiannual trips to the Maine Mall, where Newbury Comics is (I previously had regular access to a different Newbury location in Burlington, which was where I discovered another Oni series, Wasteland, along with a lot of other good stuff, including my first Free Comic Book Day, which I'll remind you is coming up on the first Saturday in May).  Honestly, if I had regular access to Letter 44, I'd be reading it regularly.  Soule has come up with something that's kind of Arrival meets George W. Bush. 

Ninjak #2 (Valiant)
(from 2015)
Having just read the most recent issue of the series, I know that the stuff that happens in this second one continues to develop over the next two years.  Matt Kindt at this point is very much channeling his Mind MGMT, which at the time was still unfolding.  And just like that I have another Valiant series I want to read in its entirety...

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Reading Comics 203 "Fourth Trip 2017"

Grant Morrison's 18 Days #20 (Graphic India)
I love to keep tabs on it.  Would love to read the whole thing sometime.

Atomic Robo: The Temple of Od #4 (IDW) (2016)
Still an absolute pleasure to read.

Avatarex #3 (Graphic India)
This was the best issue of Grant Morrison's other Graphic India project to date.  Issues seem to be released sporadically.

Batman #20 (DC)
Best issue of Tom King's run so far, ties a lot of stuff together, including some further personal reflections he'd hadn't gotten to yet.

DK III: The Master Race #8 (DC)
Can't help but feel as if Frank Miller envisioned this as a career statement, his current role and how he remains as relevant as Batman.  Also, the Amazons are truly Amazonian basically for the first time ever.  Wonder Woman has really joined the trilogy.

The Fall and Rise of Captain Atom #4 (DC)
To say that Captain Atom has had an interesting publishing history would be an understatement.  Cary Bates returns from the past, too, to co-write a thoroughly considered story.

Green Lanterns #20 (DC)
Checking in.  Still loving it.  Still am hugely pleased that someone is finally getting Green Lantern(s) right again.

Ninjak #25 (Valiant)
Here's a character who always seems so important when I see him in other Valiant titles.  Despite the fact that Matt Kindt has been writing his solo adventures, I hadn't read them until now.  A mistake.

Providence #12 (Avatar)
The conclusion of Alan Moore's latest comics vision, an ode to Lovecraft and those obsessed with him.

WrestleMania 2017 Special (Boom!)
The recent Boom! launch of WWE comics has placed an emphasis on retelling stories originally presented in WWE programming itself.  There's a good bit of that to be found here, and it's done excellently.  Plus the New Day!

Superman #7, 20 (DC)
I had a look at an older issue because I'd heard Tomasi/Gleason were up to their old tricks of telling personal, standalone stories again.  I thought it was drawn by Gleason, too, but it turns out to have been Jorge Jimenez, who is typically excellent.  The latter issue is also the newest one, and once again features guest-stars from Tomasi/Gleason's last project, Batman and Robin.  You guessed it, Batcow and, ah who am I kidding?  Tomasi/Gleason continue to be master storytellers.

Old Man Logan #20 (Marvel)
Jeff Lemire will be taking a trip down memory line in his final issues, and this one's the setup.  A good one.

Thursday, March 30, 2017

Reading Comics 202 "Third LCS Visit 2017"

American Gods #1 (Dark Horse)
An adaptation of Neil Gaiman's novel, which is soon to be debuted in another adaptation, for television.  I haven't read the book in years, but I liked it quite a lot.  Still, reading some of it in comics form makes me realize it really has been years, so I may have to reread it.

Batman #19 (DC)
Tom King sets up an epic clash between Bane and Batman.  He continues to write sensationally.

Divinity III: Stalinverse #3 (Valiant)
Matt Kindt likewise continues to write sensationally.

The Amazing Spider-Man #25 (Marvel)
Dan Slott's epic run continues, this time with Norman Osborn.  I actually picked this up because Stuart Immonen begins his run (he's done Peter Parker before in the pages of Ultimate Spider-Man) with the issue.  Thankfully he retains his return to streamlined work previously seen in Empress and other recent work.  Actually, the most notable thing about the issue is Slott introducing...the Superior Octopus.  Which is really, really awesome.

Star Trek: Waypoint #4 (IDW)
The first Enterprise-focused comic ever!  Phlox was featured in a doctors confab a few years ago, but this is the first time the fifth live action series has gotten its own comics adaptation.  The writer somewhat flubs the opportunity, but still rightfully puts Porthos in the spotlight.  It's always about Porthos!

Superman #19 (DC)
Action Comics #976 (DC)
Peter Tomasi and Patrick Gleason are their usual sensational selves in the first issue, while Dan Jurgens continues to struggle to adapt to modern storytelling in the second.  But I like the "Reborn" concept and how Mxyzptlk was revealed to be behind the Clark Kent mystery, and how Jurgens gets to unique disparate continuities in the conclusion, which feels right regardless of my other qualms.

X-O Manowar #1 (Valiant)
Matt Kindt again, in this quasi-reboot of the franchise, completely nailing it.  Might be viewed as the Dark Knight Returns/"Old Man Logan" for comics' most famous Visigoth.

Monday, February 27, 2017

Readings Comics 201 "Second LCS Trip 2017"

Batman #7, 8, 13, 16, 17 (DC)
The first two issues are Steve Orlando writing, with plot suggestions from Tom King, chapters from "Night of the Monster Men," billed as the first crossover event of the Rebirth era.  Caught up in the mess is Gotham Girl, helping make it relevant to King's run.  #13 is the conclusion to King's "I am Suicide," which has been a breakthrough Batman story.  It segued into a breakthrough Catwoman story, and then #s 16 and 17, the first two installments of "I am Bane," the conclusion of King's initial arc in the series, begun with "I am Gotham."  This is the first time Bane has felt like Bane since "Knightfall."  Actually, this is pretty much "Knightfall: Rebirth." 

Catwoman: Election Night (DC) (2016)
Meredith Finch writes a parody of the 2016 election in the lead story. Penguin is cast as Trump, which is a slightly odd fit, given that Trump has never been outright been accused as a criminal, but the Clinton stand-in is cast as a murderer, so I guess it balances out.  It's just surprising to see someone finally just admit that neither of these candidates was a pinnacle of humanity.  Anyway, the backup feature is Mark Russell and Ben Caldwell reprising their Prez.  I don't remember Russell leaning so heavily liberal in his ideology in the original mini-series so much as skewering the political process in general, but after reading some of his Flintstones it may merely be more obvious to me now. 

Daredevil #14, 15, 16 (Marvel)
These are the first issues of Charles Soule's run on the title I've read.  After his departure from DC, I feared Soule wouldn't get the visibly he deserved at Marvel, and with the news that he'd been tasked with the relatively thankless job of following a much-loved Mark Waid run, I figured I had to be right.  But I'm not always right, and anyway, I was still curious as hell about what he was doing.  Turns out I had nothing to worry about.  These issues are great.  I don't know or care what other readers think about them, but hopefully Marvel is paying attention and will elevate Soule further up the ladder later on.

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Reading Comics #200 "First LCS Visit of 2017"

Batman #14-15 (DC)
This two-issue interlude features Tom King working alongside signature collaborator Mitch Gerads (Sheriff of Babylon) exploring King's vision of the Batman/Catwoman dynamic.

Divinity III: Stalinverse #2 (Valiant)
Divinity III: Aric - Son of the Revolution #1 (Valiant)
Divinity III: Komandar Bloodshot #1 (Valiant)
Divinity III: Shadowman and the Battle of New Stalingrad #1 (Valiant)
Matt Kindt's epic vision continues, this time in full-on event form with multiple writers participating in spin-off one-shots.  Love the debut and concept of Red Legend, as well as where Kazmir, the third cosmonaut, has been all this time.

The Flintsones #3, 5, 8 (DC)
Figured I'd check out this Mark Russell (Prez) interpretation of the classic cartoon.  I learned more about his creative vision, certainly.

Justice League of America: Rebirth #1 (DC)
Steve Orlando has officially joined the ranks of elite writers at DC.  Love his Lobo, which is the classic one and not the much-derided New 52 version.

Kamandi Challenge #1 (DC)
Dan DiDio (can't believe I hadn't created a tag for the guy until now) and Dan Abnett help launch this latest ode to Jack Kirby with his Last Boy on Earth, which is a concept as set up by DiDio could really be a great story well before he ever learns the truth. 

Star Trek #57 (IDW) (2016)
Star Trek: Waypoint #3 (IDW)
The first issue features the third of four installments from an ode to Spock's legacy as a tribute to the late Leonard Nimoy.  The second features Voyager and Deep Space Nine stories that I found pretty insightful.

Superman #11, 14 (DC)
Pete Tomasi and Patrick Gleason set up Super Sons with the first issue and begin "Multiplicity," which is a direct ode to Grant Morrison's Multiversity, with the second.

X-O Manowar #50 (Valiant) (2016)
I was never particularly a fan of this Valiant rebirth title, but I figured I'd have a look at the final issue.  Most notable are the bonus stories from Fred Van Lente and Matt Kindt, whose effort gives a brief preview of his upcoming relaunch.  I hadn't really considered until this issue that the character is pretty similar to Alpha Centurion. 

Sunday, October 9, 2016

Reading Comics 199 "What I've been reading lately"

This is just a quick look at what I've been reading the last month or so.  Expanded thoughts will probably follow later...

  • 18 Days #13-14 (Graphic India)
  • Atomic Robo: The Temple of Od #2 (IDW)
  • Avatarex #2 (Graphic India)
  • Blackcross #6 (Dynamite)
  • Bloodshot Annual 2016 (Valiant)
  • Blue Beetle #1 (DC)
  • Civil War II #3, 4 (Marvel)
  • Civil War II: Ulysses #1 (Marvel)
  • The Death-Defying Doctor Mirage: Second Lives #1, 3, 4 (Valiant)
  • Doom Patrol #1 (DC's Young Animal)
  • Earth 2: Society #16 (DC)
  • Empress #4, 5 (Icon)
  • The Flash #5, 6, 7 (DC)
  • The Fuse #21 (Image)
  • Klaus #5, 6, 7 (Boom!)
  • Snotgirl #3 (Image)
  • Action Comics #964 (DC)
  • Trinity #1 (DC)
  • The Vision #11 (Marvel)
Lots of really interesting reading, for sure.  Got to have a look at some slightly older stuff I'd been reading and/or wanted to check out previously, plus catch up with material I'd been following all along, as well as great new stuff.  All of which helps begin to round out a very good year in comics so far!

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Quarter Bin 100 "True Believers: Thor #1"

True Believers: Thor #1 (Marvel)
From November 2015/December 2014

writer: Jason Aaron

artist: Russell Dauterman

A total of twelve comics across four value packs, and I'm left with a decidedly familiar impression of Marvel: these guys just aren't for me.

I mean, I can read the odd Marvel and enjoy it quite a bit, but it just seems as a rule that I just don't get this company.  Case in point: this comic.

Like True Believers: Black Widow #1, it was a reprint of a comic that was older than I thought it was.  Unlike True Believers: Black Widow, however, True Believers: Thor #1 is the start of a bold new story, in which, in keeping with what Marvel has been doing across its line for a few years now (cue semi-appropriate comparisons to DC's Silver Age, or post-Infinite Crisis), changing identities, ethnicities, and sexes for a large portion of its heroes.  Basically, keeping the names and changing everything else.

How can you possibly do this with Thor?  A very-well-established Norse god?  Whose name is Thor, and whose secret identity is Thor?  Good question.  Jason Aaron still doesn't have an answer, by the way.

I used to be a huge fan of Jason Aaron.  Scalped was a work of genius.  I even liked his work when he started dabbling in Marvel comics.  But it just seems as if he's been totally overwhelmed in the years since, and will try anything, and take any suggestion from his bosses.  Such as turn Jane Foster into Thor.

I mean, if ye so lift the hammer Mjolnir, thy arst granted the power of Thor.  But become Thor?  Really?  This one just don't make no sense.

This issue doesn't even pretend to make sense of it.  It opens with some fairly generic action.  Then we spend some time with Thor absolutely not explaining what's going on, which sets the tone for the next several years' worth of stories.  And then a woman lifts the hammer.  Later, we find out it's Jane Foster (y'know, Natalie Portman), but this big concept debut issue just kind of has her wander in unannounced, at the end of the issue, and lift the hammer, and be transformed.

Jason Aaron supporters say it fits in perfectly with what he'd previously been doing.  Anyone else will be able to tell that he was merely fulfilling a Marvel mandate to make Thor a woman, for diversity's sake.  We've all seen superheroes undergo gimmick changes.  There's nothing inherently wrong with gimmick changes.  But Thor is Thor.  The hammer doesn't make the man.  Er, woman.  There's absolutely nothing wrong with diversity.  But there are female mythological characters you could introduce, Marvel.  Have a look around! 

It's a special kind of logic that in this form is twisted so badly, you really need to be drinking the kool-aid to appreciate it.  I'm a DC guy.  I've seen a lot of weird stuff.  But this is bad storytelling and publisher mandate taken to a whole new level.

So no, I'm not a Marvel guy.  I'm a DC guy.  And twelve random issues did absolutely nothing to change that.  More often than not, this DC guy just felt like he was being insulted as a reader.

For those wishing to keep score:
  • True Believers: Black Widow #1 - fail
  • Captain America: White #1 - pass
  • Captain America: Sam Wilson #1 - fail
  • Hail Hydra #1 - pass
  • Hawkeye #2 - pass
  • Howling Commandos of S.H.I.E.L.D. #1 -pass/fail
  • Karnak #1 - fail
  • Nova #1 - fail
  • Star Wars: Obi-Wan & Anakin #1 - pass
  • Star Wars: Shattered Empire #2 - pass/fail
  • Star-Lord and Kitty Pryde #1 - pass
  • True Believers: Thor #1 - fail
That's 5 fails, 5 passes, and 2 that are somewhere in-between.  You'd think that would equate a fairly mixed bag, but batting .500 in this instance is not good.  The fails are epic.  The passes in large part exemplify what it is to be Marvel, indicating the very kind of insular reasoning Marvel fans are always accusing DC of implementing.  I don't know.  Maybe it's confirmation bias.  Maybe twelve random comics was too large a sampling.  Maybe I just take this stuff too seriously.  Maybe I'm too close to DC to judge it the same way.  I mean, I tend to read what I like (which any sane person would do), and if that seems like a much larger percentage at DC than Marvel, again, that just goes to prove that I read DC more than I read Marvel.  These were twelve random comics.  I was pleasantly surprised a few times.  That's a good thing, right?  And again, I've deliberately sought out and enjoyed plenty of Marvel over the years, some of which is reflected in this very sampling. 

The object lesson here is, I should quit trying to make this so hard.  I like comics.  All comics follow peculiar logic.  All stories do.  I'm not going to like all of it.  That's it.  The end.  Nod, nod.  Wink, wink.  Say no more...

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