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Y’all probably need something good to read right about now…

§ August 9th, 2017 § Filed under jack kirby, this week's comics § 4 Comments

…so may I recommend the first issue of Mister Miracle, on the shelves of funnybook stores today?

I’m finally catching on to Tom King’s work…I’ve been reading Batman of late, I’ve been picking up those Vision “director’s cut” comics (collecting his 12-issue run two at a time), I finally got around to reading Omega Men, and they’ve all impressed me with their originality, their cleverness, their maturity and their entertainment value. King and artist Mitch Gerads continue these books’ commitment to the nine-panel grid in Mister Miracle, where it is almost like the ticking of a clock, each panel the same size and representing the same amount of story time, pushing the reader inexorably forward. This is a weird, almost nightmarish, but compelling take on the characters, where the inherent weirdness of Jack Kirby’s Fourth World is approached from an askew angle. Some familiarity with the concepts are required, but 1) most superhero comic readers have at least a slight knowledge of the New Gods; 2) the stuff you need to know is brought up in dialogue, and 3) c’mon, anyone picking this up is going to know Mister Miracle’s deal anyway.

There are some storytelling techniques that underscore the disquiet present throughout the narrative, but I don’t want to say more and spoil the surprises. Suffice to say this is a new take on Kirby’s creations here, replacing the standard (and usually great, don’t get me wrong) bombast with an unsettling tension.

Oh, and the cover stock is nice, too. Good ‘n’ sturdy. Would make a good coaster!

All in all, a nice way to honor Mr. Kirby’s memory, just in time for his 100th birthday.

Yes, I know about the Swordquest retailer incentive comics, too.

§ July 17th, 2017 § Filed under this week's comics § 3 Comments

Minor SPOILERS ahead:

So usually when I pick up an issue of DC’s recent “Rebirth” titles, since everything has two covers (at least) now, I’ll pick the cover with the image I like the most. I mean, duh, right? With Hal Jordan and the Green Lantern Corps, that decision is made easy by the fact that every biweekly issue has, as an option, a cover by Kevin Nowlan. I likes me the the Kevin Nowlan.

The comic itself I’ve been enjoying…well, quite a bit, actually. The focus right now is on the integration of former adversaries the Yellow Lantern Corps with the Green Lantern Corps into one big happy space cop family, and the subsequent bumps in the road, plus some subplotty stuff with GL Kyle Rayner hitting a rough patch with his paramour, the Yellow Lantern leader Sora. It’s actually all quite entertaining and very soap-opera-y in the best sense of the term, even if this book (like its companion title Green Lanterns more often than not seems to be about dealing with internal issues relating to the various Corps and their histories and not, say, punching Goldface. I mean, that’s fine, we had decades of punching Goldface, I’m not complaining. There’s just that Mike of Decades Ago who remembers reading Green Lantern before it got all complicated an’ stuff, and kind of missing those days once in a while, but understanding that’s just how it goes, sometimes.

Also, we as a people aren’t talking enough about Space Ape.
 
 

One of the very first things I bought on eBay (aside from the Swamp Thing Pencil Sharpener) was a still-sealed-in-the-box copy of Galaxian for the Atari 2600. No, not for the video game itself (though that did sort of kick off a brief nostalgia-fueled wave of Atari cartridge collecting, but that’s another story), but for the pack-in Atari Force comic book. You see, during the original wave of Atarimania, I acquired three of the games that had the AF comics, but never did get the other two. But then, along comes the eBay, and suddenly I can complete that set (along with finally getting a copy of Berzerk, a game I never got way back when as a friend had it and I could play it at his house).

I often thought about getting the other comics Atari had packed into their games. I mean, there aren’t that many of them, but I had my chance at getting Swordquest #2 and #3 without buying the cartridges, as the previous place of employment had ’em available singly at one point. And, basically, I just never got around to it.

But here’s Dynamite Comics, putting out a bunch of Atari-related comics, and as a retailer incentive they offered reproductions of the original pack-in comic from Centipede. Yeah, it’s a silly thing to want to have, but I’m glad I have it. It’s got nice art by Howard Post of Harvey and Star Comics fame, and, um, I may have liked it a little more than the new Centipede comic that it was the incentive for. I think I was expecting more High Fantasy (or at least Semi-High) like the old mini-comic, than the apocalyptic sci-fi war comic that we got. I mean, it’s not bad, and I’ll come back for issue #2, but I’m not quite sure I’m getting the setting…? It’s not Earth, but an alien world that’s just like a slightly more futuristic Earth, but they’ve heard of Earth and observed its broadcasts? Yeah, I know, that’s the thing that’s tripping me up about a dude standing along against the invasion of a space centipede. Hey, what can I tell you, I hit a bump, then I hit a bump.
 
 

Yes, I’m one of those people who bought the original Mage more-or-less as it was coming out in the ’80s (I think I started about halfway through and picked up the rest as back issues), then read Hero Defined in the late ’90s, and have been waiting for this ever since. I think that puts me squarely in the Mage “30+ Year” Club, patiently anticipating the arrival of the concluding mini. It’s very much the “old warhorse not impressed by these cocky new kids” story, but it’s Matt Wagner and it’s Mage and it’s great and it was sadly missed. And I was only half-joking about wanted “The Hero Disco-Dances” as the follow-up.
 
 

Okay, technically this isn’t from “this week’s comics” as per the tag on this post (but then again, the previous comics aren’t from this week, either), but I didn’t get around to reading it ’til last night and there you have it. Mostly, I just wanted to note the plot point (that Shadow has met Batman before, but “clouded his mind” to make him forget) makes all the previous Shadow/Batman crossovers canon. Well, “canon,” you know how DC is. And there’s a sequence showing other DC heroes being killed off, so that’s hard to reconcile. But, you know, close enough!

• • •

So long to Martin Landau of Space: 1999 and Ed Wood fame (yes, I know he did more, but I loved those the most)…Mark Evanier re-presents an interview he did with Landau about his cartooning career. So long also to George Romero…in whatever afterlife that may exist, let us hope that he and Bernie Wrightson are collaborating on one heck of a zombie movie.

PANTS STATUS: UNKNOWN.

§ May 17th, 2017 § Filed under swamp thing, this week's comics, watchmen § 1 Comment

[SPOILERS AHEAD]

I’ve had this ongoing fascination with the many ways Watchmen has been exploited by parties aside from the original creators. I mean, there were the wristwatches, the role playing game supplements, the Heroclix miniatures, these weird-ass shirts, the pseudo-crossover with The Question, the video games, the toaster, and I understand there was a movie at some point, too. Of course, the majority of it was all toys and tchotchkes and whatnot, and not actual comics, God no. Who could imagine Watchmen comics not by Moore and Gibbons? You’d have to be crazy to do something like…oh wait.

I had thought for sure the next step past Before Watchmen was going to be After Watchmen, the continuing adventures of Nite Owl and Silk Spectre, and Ozymandias, and Dr. Manhattan, and maybe Seymour. And in a way, that’s what we sort of got, once the whole “DC Rebirth” thing kicked off with a special one-shot that explicitly referenced Watchmen that tied it into the current DC Universe.

Anyway (did I mention SPOILERS because here they come) I was as at least somewhat correct in my suspicions that any actual on-page appearances of Watchmen characters in this whole “The Button” storyline would be very limited, saving it, apparently, for the just announced Doomsday Clock series coming this fall (and given a big ol’ two-page ad in the back of Flash #22 — or a four-page ad if you count the button-to-S-shield sequence, or even a forty-page ad, if you count this whole “Button” storyline). Despite the arguments that can be made for the whole…misguidedness, perhaps, of the situation, I can’t deny there was a weird sort of frisson seeing even just the brief glimpse of that specific character at the conclusion, our first physical appearance of someone from Watchmen in the DC Universe “Rebirth” narrative. Well, unless Mr. Oz turns out to be anything other than a red herring. (Personally, I think he’s Bubastis.)

I do like the general conceit of the Watchmen tie-in to the DCU, in having the “New 52” reboot actually being an attack on DC’s regular continuity by outside forces (i.e. a certain big blue presumably still naked guy). And that’s all “The Button” was really about, letting our heroes know that their universe is screwed up and that some immense power outside their universe was responsible…and also letting the characters and we readers know what’s at stake…that there’s still so much of their old pre-reboot universe that’s still fighting to come back. I do anticipate the eventual in-story explanation they’re going to have for why any of this was happening in the first place, why the character would do what he apparently did, and so on. The real world explanation, of course, is that clinking, clanking sound that makes said world go ’round.


Oh, and Swamp Thing is guest-starring in Batman this week. There’s a very nicely done two-page spread in this issue, which you should point your peepers at. Usually I wince at that much square-footage being used for so little in the limited amount of space any given comic book has, but I’m going to let it pass. This time.

When Dr. Manhattan does finally appear, he’s totally going to be wearing pants.

§ April 21st, 2017 § Filed under batman, buttons, dc comics, retailing, this week's comics, watchmen § 4 Comments

[Some minor SPOILERS for Batman #21 ahead.]

The lentincular covers are back on the shelves this week, thanks to DC’s first installment in the “We’re Finally Getting Around to That Whole Watchmen Thing” storyline running through Batman and Flash for the next few issues. Ah, the long-missed “zzzzzip-zzzzzip” sounds of those covers sliding against each other as customers pull their copies off the rack. Actually, I’m surprised it took DC this long to get back to doing these fancy movin’ picture covers, since they certainly grab attention (even if they’re hard to stack on the rack in any sizable quantity if you don’t have anything at the front of the shelf to keep them from toppling over and falling off, since they don’t exactly lay flat). I mean, I can understand why they don’t, given the extra lead time it takes to get these printed after taking in orders, so saving them for special occasions like this, where it’s worth the extra hassle, makes sense.

However, I will note that I’m getting lots of requests for the non-lenticular variants on this issue, as compared to the newsstand editions of the lenticular covers the last time we did this which mostly just kinda sat there and stared back at me from the rack with their sad little eyes.

Of course, none of this has anything to do with the actual content, which is the first storyline to actually revolve around the connection between the DC Universe and the Watchmen since that DC Universe Rebirth special from last year. Yes, there have been references here and there to “something bigger” going on behind the various reality-changing shenanigans going on, most notably in the recent “Superman Reborn” series of comics, as well as the occasional mention in Flash and either Titans or Teen Titans or maybe both…I’m specifically thinking of whatever one had the old Flash villain Abra Kadabra. The whole “Dr. Oz” thing that’s been in the Superman books had been assumed by some folks to be Ozymandias from Watchmen, though that seems a little too on-the-nose and obvious (which doesn’t rule it out, I do realize). He is involved somehow in the whole Watchmen event, but I feel like there’ll be a different reveal than “Gasp! It’s Ozymandias!” Maybe it’s Bubastis. Or an in-his-fightin’-trim Seymour.

Anyway, we don’t get a whole lot regarding any actual Watchmen characters yet, aside from what we can assume is an off-screen Dr. Manhattan doing away with the villain. There’s also a bit of business where the Comedian’s button reacts to the Psycho Pirate’s mask…a reference to (and likely a plot point based on) the conclusion of the now-30-year-old Crisis on Infinite Earths, which left Psycho Pirate as the one character who remembered the pre-Crisis multiverse…well, aside from everyone else who remembered it. (That situation was more-or-less twisted back into its original intent later in Animal Man.) And on top of all that, the comic is laid out in the 9-panel-grid in which Watchmen was largely presented.

I’m not 100% convinced we’re going to see any Watchmen characters in this particular story, honestly, beyond maybe a fleeting glimpse…I mean, we’ll find out within the next three weeks, of course. There’s more to come, too…the Batman issue I just placed orders for is already following up on the events in this storyline, so my guess is whatever big reveal we’re getting now is going to be “huh, there’s a multiverse and this button is from another universe and someone from said universe is futzing around with us.” Okay, I think the characters knew most of that already, but my point is that the full-on “Naked Blue Man Versus the DC Universe” is waiting for a Big Event Crossover Thingie down the line, and not happening in this Batman/Flash crossover that’s running now. Like I said, we’ll find out how right or wrong I am soon enough.

Every time I mention Mark Russell, I think of the piano-playing political satirist.

§ March 31st, 2017 § Filed under pal plugging, self-promotion, this week's comics § 8 Comments

So the interesting thing about these Hanna-Barbera/DC superhero team-up books is how in most cases, some attempt is made at making them…well, if not in continuity with the regular DC universe (such as its continuity is right now), at least not directly contradictory. Well, to be fair, I don’t know if that’s the case in the Suicide Squad/Banana Splits book since I haven’t read it yet, as 1) I’m not a Suicide Squad guy, and 2) my only real experience with the Banana Splits is enjoying the cover of their theme song by the Dickies. But Green Lantern and Adam Strange cross over into alternate universes to meet Space Ghost and the Future Quest gang, respectively…and even Top Cat falls through some interdimensional portal to meet a cowled crusader of some note (setting up what seems to be a very Howard the Duck-ian premise for the forthcoming series). It’s sort of the difference between the early Marvel/DC crossovers where Spider-Man and Superman have just always existed in the same world and they didn’t get around to meeting each other until 1976, versus the Marvel/DC crossovers from a couple of decades later where the Marvel and DC continuities were explicitly described as “different universes,” with even a jointly-owned character who could facilitate said meetings.

The exception seems to be Booster Gold/The Flintstones, which just throws Booster back in time to the Flintstones’ version of the Stone Age, without worrying about, you know, how Anthro fits in, or whatever. This was written by Mark Russell, who writes the regular Flintstones series, and as such this particular crossover fits right in the darkly satirical tone of that book. Russell also scripts the Snagglepuss back-up in the aforementioned Suicide Squad/Banana Splits comic…and of course I read at least that part of the book immediately. Yes, Snagglepuss is, as the writer describes him, a “gay Southern Gothic playwright” in the 1950s, and how he deals with officious types who don’t approve of him and his work. The brief sample we get is a tad more serious than Flintstones, but Snagglepuss’ dialogue is fun to read, and I look forward to hearing more of what that ol’ mountain lion has to say in his upcoming series.

As for the others: Adam Strange/Future Quest is right in line with the Future Quest series, fitting right in with the tone of that comic…I mean, what’s one more weird adventure character like Adam Strange in a book already full of them? Lots of fun, and, oddly enough, semi-connected to Strange’s appearances in the recently-completed Death of Hawkman mini. Green Lantern/Space Ghost has some nice art by Ariel Olivetti (making it match quite nicely with the Olivetti-illustrated Space Ghost mini from a few years back). Maybe a little wordy, with maybe too many small-ish panels, but you definitely get plenty of story for your buck that way. And while I’m generally surprised at just how much Hanna-Barbera has let DC get away with so far, Howard Chaykin’s “Ruff ‘n’ Reddy” is…well, Chaykin-y. Not for kids, though frankly the number of kids who are currently Ruff ‘n’ Reddy fans can probably be counted on one anthropomorphic paw.

Anyway, they’re all weird, and I enjoyed what I’ve read so far, and I expect I’ll enjoy the Banana Splits one, too. Hopefully they’ll do more Hanna-Barbera team-ups, because quite frankly once I thought of the Killer Croc/Wally Gator pairing, I’d had great need to actually see it.

• • •

In other news:

  • Blogging pal Tegan is writing for Medium, and her recent column on the passing of Bernie Wrighson is a must-read.
  • I have a few favorite artists who’ve drawn the Thing…Jack Kirby, of course, and John Byrne, and Barry Windsor-Smith…and RON FREAKIN’ WILSON.
  • And don’t forget…if you’ve got comics questions for me to answer, or topics for me to discuss, drop ’em in the comments to this post!

As far as I’m concerned, Clark Kent still wears a hat in the comics, whether they draw him in one or not.

§ March 8th, 2017 § Filed under this week's comics § 1 Comment

(Some minor SPOILERS AHEAD if you want to go into the new Action fresh.)

So we finally get some answers in Action #975 as to the nature of the Other Clark Kent, with the revelation done in such a way as to provide a nice anniversary issue-style showcase of some of Superman’s other adversaries over the years. They’ve done such a good job keeping this mystery going, and keeping in compelling, that I’m a tad a’feared that momentum will be lost once this plotline is wrapped up, much in the same way the Super-books meandered a bit after the roller coaster ride of the “Death and Return of Superman” storyline. Not that the Mystery of the Extra Clark was so overwhelming a thing that it took over the comics like Superman’s death did, but it was a great hook that kept people talking and wondering.

I’ve noted once or twice that I was hoping the resolution to the mystery did not involve the larger metaplot of the Watchmen incursion into the DC Universe…and, well, it might still, sorta, depending on who this Mr. Oz is that’s been turning up in the books. And it seems to be tied to all the multiverse-rejiggering that’s going on, but I’m glad the revelation involved the character it involved, and it wasn’t all Clark whipping off the fedora and declaring “ah HA, it is I, Dr. Manhattan!” That might have tied into the larger DC Universe activity, sure, but would have felt like a cheat.
 
 

This was an odd comic. Written by R.L. Stine, best known for the Goosebumps series of horror novels for young folks, it takes a tongue-in-cheek-ish approach to Marvel’s swamp monster as he tries in vain to get his movie career going. It’s actually a fun read, even though a talking Man-Thing, with the mind of Ted Sallis now fully functioning within, still takes me getting some used to. I know, I know, none of this is in regular Marvel continuity, I suspect, so I should just go with it, but I’m just used to there being more of a line between the kind of swamp creature Swamp Thing was (human trapped in a monstrous body trying to find a cure) and the kind Man-Thing was (mindless monster with practically no memory of the human it used to be). But that’s my problem, not yours. It’s certainly a different direction for the character, and I’m perfectly okay to see where it goes.
 
 

I haven’t even had a chance to read this yet, and I should probably be worried that the last time cross-company crossovers were so prevalent we were in the midst of an industry-wide slump and everyone was hanging together so they wouldn’t hang separately…but I gotta be honest, I love these nutty things. The first issue of Planet of the Apes/Green Lantern was mostly all set-up, so I’m looking forward to whatever weirdness awaits me in the new issue. Plus, the regular covers have been great, but the variants:

…are to die for.
 
 

Mostly, I’m just glad that we’re 56 issues into this reprint series, and it’s still going. The series is nearing the end of the Dell Comics run (with #65), and I’m hoping it continues into the Gold Key era (even though some of those are 80-pagers). Ideally, I’d love to have them reprint all the way through the 1970s Charlton Comics Popeye by George Wildman, though that’s probably unlikely. I’m guessing the emphasis is on getting all of Bud Sagendorf’s Popeye work back into print, which would include some of the Gold Key books, so maybe those will get printed after all! At the very least (and I know I’ve said this before) I’ve love to have a new printing of this cover.

I’ll just apologize for the last gag right here.

§ February 22nd, 2017 § Filed under this week's comics § 3 Comments

So the previous issue of Scooby-Doo! Team-up (featuring Frankenstein Jr.) was a little disappointing, in that there were little-to-no backgrounds in any of the panels. The figure drawing was fine, the writing was at its usual witty standard…but without the backgrounds, they might has well have all been floating in space, rather than in the concert hall the story was supposedly set in. This new issue is a vast improvement in that regard, with the Scooby gang running into Quick Draw McGraw in a dusty western town, with plenty of mountains and deserts caves and streets an’ all. A little scenery goes a long way to establishing some kind of time and place for the goings-on, and the Frankenstein Jr. story suffered without it. …Another aspect of this series I wanted to mention is how they could have very easily had the Scooby-Doo crew team up with a different DC superhero every issue in attempt to grab those direct market sales, but I’m glad they’re balancing issues with Harley Quinn with issues co-starring…well, Quick Draw McGraw, for example. Now, if only we can get Swamp Thing into this comic…
 
 

The current Hellboy storylines seem to be at an end, for now, and I’ve no idea if there’s going to be any forward motion in the Mignolaverse anytime in the near future. There is, however, no end of comics filling in the backstory and the missing years of Hellboy ‘n’ company, and the latest is The Visitor How & Why He Stayed, following up on the aliens that briefly appeared at the very beginnings of Hellboy’s funnybook adventures. I remember during a reread of the Hellboy comics thinking “what was up with the aliens?” and just figured that was an abandoned plot point which no longer fit into Mignola’s evolving storytelling for this series. Thus, this book comes as bit of a surprise, but a welcome one, and certainly a different take on the franchise’s past outside the “here’s another early adventure with Hellboy and the BPRD,” Not that those aren’t fine and great, of course, but The Visitor feels new, like a stretching of the premise. We may not be moving ahead in the Mignolaverse’s timeline just yet, but at least we’re pulling that previously-existing timeline into some different directions. …By the way, if you like the Adventures of Kid Hellboy, this will be a good comic for you to pick up.
 
 

Okay, we still don’t have any definitive answers as to who this Other Clark Kent is, but at this point my initial fear that this story would resolve as part of the larger Watchmen-in-the-DC-Universe metastory has lessened a bit. This appears to be a more conventional “someone we know in disguise as Clark” story (wouldn’t be something if it was Matrix, who somehow survived along with the pre-Flashpoint Clark ‘n’ Lois into the New 52 universe?), but we’ll see what happens. I do still think that the Superman books, as interesting as they are right now, are due for some event crossover rejiggering, with Dr. Manhattan merging timelines together so that the New 52 Superman never existed, the current Superman has always been Superman, the same Lois has always been around, etc. That leaves the fate of Jon, Clark and Lois’s son, with an indeterminate future, but that all depends on how the Super-Sons title fares, I guess. Or maybe that book can just start teaming up with kids of other superheroes. …Can’t think of a whole bunch of them right now, but I definitely pictured Damian Wayne teaming up with the Ghost of Aquababy. …Hey, look, if Richie Rich can team up with Casper….

I’d like a dog to narrate MY life.

§ December 9th, 2016 § Filed under this week's comics § 1 Comment

Big news is that Rick Veitch has released a new installment of Roarin’ Rick’s Rare Bit Fiends as a print-on-demand book via Amazon…I ordered that sucker as soon as the news hit my feed reader on Monday, and had a copy in my hands by Wednesday. Unfortunately whoever packed my copy didn’t do a great job of it, and it showed up damaged. I should have a hopefully undamaged replacement arriving around the time you’re reading this, assuming you’re reading this sometime in the morning or early afternoon on Friday, December 9th, 2016. However, flipping through it was a welcome return to Veitch’s dream diaries, and I hope we see more installments of Rare Bit Fiends in the future. You can order it here, and you can take a gander at some sample pages on Veitch’s site.

I also keep meaning to order his other print-on-demand book Super Catchy. Maybe after I’m done with the Christmas shopping, which I should probably start someday.

UPDATE: A copy in more acceptable condition was delivered today…after being initially delivered to another address. Ah well, at least I got it eventually.

• • •

Other comics this week:

Flintstones #6 continues its bizarrely dark take on the Hanna Barbera characters, which is a phrase that in most cases would rightly send you running in the other direction, but here that “dark take” works absolutely marvelously. The social satire, the horrible lives of the animal-appliances, poor old lonely Mr. Slate, the pitch-black humor, all working together to make what may be my favorite comic on the stands right now. I never would have imagined that would be the case when these HB relaunches were announced way back when, but man, I love this comic.
 
 

Star Wars: Doctor Aphra brings to the Star Wars comic franchise something desperately needed: some measure of unpredictability. I’ve been enjoying all of Marvel’s new Star Wars books so far, but despite the twists and turns of each storyline, we know where the main characters end up, as the majority of the books take place between Episodes IV and V. Aphra is new to the comics, a supporting character from the Darth Vader series, who has her own original-to-the-comics supporting cast accompanying her, so the characters aren’t restricted to specific paths. I mean, not to say the creators haven’t been doing a good job telling stories with Luke, Han and Leia in this period…perhaps a better way of saying this is that with Aphra, we have a new character that is fresh to us, for whom we don’t know her eventual fate, which makes her story perhaps a little more compelling. Plus, her supporting cast is basically Star Trek’s Mirror Universe of other familiar members of the Star Wars family, with Evil Artoo, Threepio, and Chewbacca analogues, all of whom are a lot of fun.

Now if this paves the way for the eventual Jaxxon solo series, that would be the best.
 
 

So with Reggie and Me #1, this makes the second of the Archie relaunches to be narrated by a dog, I believe? Which is fine…it gives us a sympathetic outsider’s view of Reggie’s life, which this first issue is devoted to setting up. Not so much a story as a character sketch, it establishes his mostly adversarial relationships vis-à-vis the rest of the Archie Universe. One of the main appeals of Reggie in the original Archie comics is that he may be a jerk, but he’s a funny jerk…it’s funny to watch him be a giant ego monster and eventually (at least sometimes) get his comeuppance. The Revamp Reggie with its slightly more (and please pardon the expression, particularly in a comic with a dog narrator) “realistic” young-adult bent doesn’t really have a lot of laughs, particularly when compared to the classic Reggie comic presented as a back-up in this issue. I did like the comic, but I hope the mood does lighten a little in future issues.

They could team-up to fight Swamp Thing’s newest nemesis, the Reverse Swamp Thing.

§ November 30th, 2016 § Filed under superman, swamp thing, this week's comics § 5 Comments

ATTENTION! THIS IS NOT A DRILL: Swamp Thing appears in this week’s Superman Annual #1:

sann1swamp
Aside from the fact that this is the…fourth? “Superman Annual #1” to be released by DC over the years, it’s not a bad comic. Swamp Thing confronts Superman about the fact he’s not really from this universe, the harm that’s causing and what must be done to fix it. Somewhat reminiscent of DC Comics Presents #85, another story where Swamp Thing has to come to Superman’s aid, only this time Swampy is all up in Superman’s face, as opposed to surreptitiously doing so in that old team-up book. Maybe a little too heavy on the fight scenes, but it does establish Swamp Thing as being able to hold his own against the Man of Steel, which was fun to see.

So between this, Swamp Thing appearing in Batman in a month or two, and Swampy’s appearance in Wonder Woman a couple of years back, the old muck-encrusted mockery of a guest-star has completed his tour of the recent versions of the DC Trinity, post-Flashpoint/Rebirth. Now to get him to pop up for brief team-ups in DC’s other superhero books…like, I don’t think he’s been in The Flash ever. Well, the Flash has been in Justice League Dark with him a couple of times, but clearly we need a Flash/Swamp Thing race in the Flash comic itself.

Hey, in 2021 it’ll be Swamp Thing’s 50th anniversary. We gotta start planning for this stuff now.

Probably no incredibly subtle political jabs contained within this post.

§ November 16th, 2016 § Filed under this week's comics § 3 Comments

bprd147

Now I haven’t been keeping up with interviews or news stories about what may or may not be happening with the “Mignolaverse” in which Hellboy, Abe Sapien, the B.P.R.D. and whathaveyou from this point forward, now that the “present day” stories in that milieu seem to have come to their conclusion in this week’s B.P.R.D. #147, with Hellboy and Abe’s own current storylines having come to a stop within the last few months. Of course, we’ll continue having the flashback Hellboy and the B.P.R.D. series, and surely more Witchfinder and Lobster Johnson stories, and then there’s this series about the aliens that appeared very early on in the Hellboy comics.

Anyway, I’m hoping there will be more stories at some point continuing the story after the B.P.R.D., but for now I’m glad things have reached some kind of conclusion. The current short-run Hellboy projects are probably a lot more accessible for casual readers, as even for someone who’s been reading comics in this particular universe since the get-go, I got a little lost sometime with who was doing what and did or did not like whom and even who was a mummy (which, I mentioned before, I couldn’t believe I had forgotten). I suspect, however, once the palate has been cleared a bit, we’ll get some kind of new B.P.R.D. relaunch picking up where the old series left off. Unless someone’s mentioned that, yes, this is exactly what they’re doing, in which case I’ll really suspect that’s their plans.

I’m also hoping for some kind of all-Mignola Return of Hellboy comic book series in the future. Hey, there’s a tiny possibility it could happen, and there ain’t no law against wishin’.
 
 
infironman2

I’m trying to like Infamous Iron Man, which is essentially a solo Doctor Doom comic where he seems to be trying to turn over a new leaf as a superhero. I admit, it’s the bashful blue-eyed Thing’s appearances in the comic that got me to pick it up, though watching Ben act like an ass in the Latverian embassy was equal parts amusing and feeling maybe just a little out of character, maybe? I mean, just straight up destroying historically and artistically significant items was a wee bit jerkier than I’m accustomed to from him. But, you know, I can manage. And I know this certain style of talky dialogue throughout the book is Bendis’s trademark, but for someone like me who hasn’t read much of his work, it takes some getting used to. I’m all for reading a Doctor Doom series, however, so I’ll stick around and see where it goes.
 
 
thanos1

When I opened my store, I gave up a lot of my personal collection for in-store stock, including all my Thanos-related comics. All those Infinity Gauntlets and Silver Surfers and so on, and had I realized a lot of these same books were going to turn up over and over again in collections people would try to sell to me at the shop, maybe I would have held onto them. What’s done is done, however, and by giving up those comics, that sort of dissuaded me from reading new installments of the character’s saga in, for example, those recent Jim Starlin graphic novels. I figured, eh, I’d read enough over the decades, I’m done with that big purple guy.

And then this new first issue shows up, and it’s written by Jeff Lemire, and I like the cover, so I end up reading a new Thanos comic again. It’s all set-up, reestablishing Thanos as a Bad Dude and prepping a couple of other folks for a confrontation with him, and it feels kinda Starlin-y, sorta maybe, if perhaps a little less weird, a little more somber. I mean, not that Starlin’s Thanos couldn’t be dark, given that he wanted to kill most everybody and rule what was left, but it was all so out-there and strange and wacky that it seemed breezy and fun. This new Thanos #1 is not breezy, but still an enjoyable reintroduction to the character, and relatively continuity-lite for anyone new to the character after seeing his brief appearances in the Marvel films.
 
 
diekitty2

Despite appearances, definitely not for kids! Archie’s Dan Parent continues with this weird parody of comics and the comics market, which starts of with an ersatz “classic” 1960s Kitty story in which she teams up with the Casper the Friendly Ghost like-a-look Dippy, which feeds into the back half of the book where Dippy has returned to kill Kitty! It’s a full-on Harvey Comics parody drawn by an Archie artist, which is amusing just in and of itself, and I think you all know how much I like Harvey Comics. In a weird way, this comic reminded me of that long ago first issue of Miracleman from Eclipse Comics, which started off with a vintage Marvel/Miracleman story (redialogued by Alan Moore), then followed it with the new, updated, gritty, “realistic” version of the character. Kind of the same thing here, only slightly more for laughs, and a little more explicitly self-referential in its commentary on comics publishing. Fits right in as a thematic cousin to all those reflective superhero reboots, like Moore’s Surpreme.

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