RandoMonday: Titans #4

Here’s a comic chosen at random from my collection.

Titans 4

Titans #4 by Dan Abnett, Brett Booth, Norm Rapmund, Andrew Dalhouse, Carlos M. Mangual, Brittany Holzherr, Alex Antone, and Booth/Rapmund/Dalhouse (cover)

“The Return of Wally West, part 4: Now You See Her…”

No sooner is the pre-Flashpoint Wally West back in the post-New 52 DC universe and back with his old pals, the Titans, Abra Kadabra shows up to enact revenge by kidnapping the New 52 Linda Park, threatening to kill her to defeat Wally. Meanwhile, the Titans fight magically conjured doppelgangers as they search for Linda. In the end, Kadabra places everyone in peril, forcing Wally to race off to try and save them all.

sigh DC’s Rebirth had such promise, but this train wreck of a title was a slap in the face to Titans fans. Who said Dan Abnett was a good writer? The opening story, of which this issue is a part, is derivative and unimaginative. The Booth art (he has never been a favorite of mine) is same ol’, same ol’, and his slanted panels get annoying. It’s Dalhouse’s colors that make this issue more than just a waste of my time and money.

I recommend you avoid this run of Titans altogether, but if you insist,it’s available on the DC Universe app and at Comixology.

LBR X Retrosode 1: Batman #700, Superman #700, and Wonder Woman #600

Direct Download (15:14)

LBR X logo 1400

2020 is the 10th anniversary of the Longbox Review podcast, and to celebrate, I am spotlighting 10 episodes from the archive. This is a rebroadcast of episode 1 where I talked about Batman #700, Superman #700, and Wonder Woman #600.

Thank you for supporting the podcast over these 10 years.

RetroRead: Marvel Two-in-One

A few years back, I decided I wanted to read those old team-up books I enjoyed in my youth, like Marvel Team-Up and DC Comics Presents.I recalled enjoying those done-in-one stories starring a favorite character and someone else from the Marvel or DC universe. I figured I couldn’t get every issue, so I decided to try to get only those issues guest-starred characters I liked or were interested in. One of those books that I didn’t have a whole lot of experience with was Marvel Two-in-One, starring the Thing and a guest each month. So, over time I bought the following issues:

  • 3: Daredevil
  • 5: Guardians of the Galaxy
  • 17: Spider-Man
  • 30: Spider-Woman
  • 32: Invisible Girl
  • 37: Matt Murdock
  • 38: Daredevil
  • 39: Vision
  • 40: Black Panther
  • 45: Captain Marvel
  • 50: Thing
  • 51: Some Avengers and Nick Fury
  • 61: Starhawk
  • 63: Warlock?
  • 69: Guardians of the Galaxy
  • 84: Alpha Flight
  • 85: Spider-Woman
  • 86: Sandman
  • 90: Spider-Man

Reading through these, the first thing (heh) I realized was that this comic book was a stealth Thing ongoing series! These were not done-in-one stories like I thought (I mean some were, but still) with some stories spanning three issues. And now my dilemma is this, some of these multi-part stories I quite enjoyed but I am missing a piece of the puzzle, and that hurts my comic book obsessive brain. I guess I should have tried to get all of the issues after all.

The second thing was that some of these team-ups were not. Spider-Woman was more of an adversary in #30 and Vision in #39 was an imposter (except for maybe a panel or three). If these were done-in-one stories, I’d be more irritated by that but because they were one part of a larger story, I guess I can forgive the false advertisement. :)

The third thing is that the Thing is not a very likable character. He has this reputation for being a gruff, but lovable guy, but I mostly found him to be a petulant man-child. But what I did find endearing in Ben is his love for Alicia Masters, which is an ongoing part of this series.

Marvel 2in1 37

While some of these issues are just not that great, I wanted to highlight a few that I enjoyed. #37-39 is one of those three-part stories that was interesting, especially because of the legal component (and remember when comics would/do compress something that would take months into mere panels?) and the focus on Matt over Daredevil, at least for part of the story.

Marvel 2in1 50

Issue 50 was one of the few done-in-one stories where Thing travels back in time to give himself a Reed Richards developed formula that would have cured past Ben. Of course, in the mighty Marvel tradition, past Thing fights present Thing for several pages before present Thing wins and administers the elixir to the unconscious Thing, curing him. Thing returns to the present to find himself unchanged, and Reed explains that all Thing did was create an alternate timeline. Thing comforts himself by complimenting his current rocky appearance over the “dinosaur hide” he used to have. I’ll keep this issue for sure.

Marvel 2in1 69

Another one I’ll keep is #69, which is an issue of the series that I bought when it was first published but let go at some point. This was probably my third exposure to the Guardians of the Galaxy (after Avengers #177 and Marvel Team-Up #86) and I found the time travel aspect involving Vance Astro interesting, especially the “fog” that’s created because of the proximity of the two Vances and their mental powers. Also, Vance Astro is one of those characters I’ve wanted to read more about especially because of this issue and eventually when Marvel made the younger Vance (as Justice) a member of the Avengers.

Marvel 2in1 86

Finally, #86. Here Sandman has had enough. When Thing happens upon him in a bar and starts to trash the place in anticipation of the fight to come, Sandman tells Thing to arrest him. This surprises Thing enough that they get to talking. We learn about Sandman’s history as a poor kid growing up on the mean streets, his love that he ends up losing, and his various run-ins with New York’s superheroes. After hearing Sandman’s story, Thing buys the next round and leaves, telling Sandman he has an opportunity for a fresh start. This comic, or rather its cover, inspired me to write a similar scene in a short story. I’m glad I was finally able to read the issue that contributed to that story.

What about your experience with Marvel Two-in-One? What were your favorite issues and why? Comment below!

RandoMonday: Clean Room #15

Here’s a comic chosen at random from my collection.

Clean Room 15

Clean Room #15 by Gail Simone, Sanya Anwar, Quinton Winter, Todd Klein, Maggie Howell, Molly Mahan, and Jenny Frison (cover)

“All the Pretty Edges”

Clean Room was a wonderful series that began in 2015 but ended all too quickly. This issue is an interlude from the main story, but it’s still a wonderful tale of loss, grief, and the lies we tell each other and ourselves. But first, a bit about the series from DC Comics’ website:

Astrid Mueller is the enigmatic and compelling guru of a giant self-help organization—a devastatingly powerful figure in the industry between psychology and religion. Journalist Chloe Pierce’s fiancé decided to pick up Astrid’s book, and within three months he was dead. Something in Astrid Mueller’s book made Philip blow his brains out all over Chloe’s new kitchen.

Now Chloe is on a mission to find out who Astrid Mueller really is. What is this Clean Room she’s been hearing about where your deepest fear and worst moments are revealed? Chloe intends to immerse herself in the Clean Room and wreak havoc on Astrid’s empire.

In this issue, the story is told from the point of view of one of Astrid’s converts, Mary Carmody. She lost her husband in a suicide pact that she didn’t complete, and later she thinks she’s going crazy because she keeps seeing her husband’s broken and bloody corpse. This leads her to the An Honest World organization and Astrid herself. After she learns the truth about why she is there, she reaches a breaking point. Astrid helps her by having Mary relive her “bereft day” (think Star Trek‘s holodeck) and gifting Mary a final goodbye to her husband, apparently leading her down the path of recovery.

Putting the haunting aspect aside, this story is about grief and acceptance, and the storytelling team do a good job at conveying those facets — I feel I know this woman and what she’s going through. I could quibble about the art not being “spooky” enough, but I like that the somewhat “cartoony” style sufficiently navigates between the horror and  slice of life elements. The one thing artistically that doesn’t fit as well to me is the Frison cover. While well done, it doesn’t really have much to do with either the story or Mary’s journey.

Clean Room was one of my favorite Vertigo titles of the last several years, and I hope I see an eventual return of the book. There was a trade released that contains this issue, but it would be easier to it and the entire series on Comixology.

RandoMonday: Xombi #1

Here’s a comic chosen at random from my collection.

Xombi #1 by John Rozum, Frazer Irving, Dave Sharpe, and Rachel Gluckstern

“The Ninth Stronghold, Part One: Prison of Industry”

I’ve written about Xombi before, but it was such a great series that I’ll let this duplication of a sort pass. Plus, how does this issue hold up after almost 10 years? But first, some plot!

Xombi is David Kim, a man infected (imbued?) with nanomachines that help keep him in peak physical condition and can rearrange the molecular structure of things he touches (in this case, paper to popcorn). David gets a tip from an associate to go to the Prison of Industry and prevent a prisoner from escaping. When David arrives, he is greeted by some rather extraordinary (superpowered) nuns. They investigate the prison, which is located on a long table because the prison is shrunk down to model size, but the prisoner David came to see is not there. The group is then attacked by snow angels and the issue ends with evil spirit-possessed children coming to (presumably) kill them all.

So, how does this issue fair after all these years? Quite well, it turns out. Frazer Irving’s art is the standout (I had, at that time, encountered his work first in Batman and Robin, shortly before this series debuted), but Rozum’s ideas (at least, I assume they were Rozum’s — was any of the wacky stuff from the Milestone edition of Xombi?) are pretty on par. It’s rare for me to find a comic book whose writing/plot/ideas mesh so well with the art/presentation, and Xombi was one of those books. It’s a real pity that Xombi did not continue as part of the New 52 relaunch in 2011.

There was a trade released in 2012, but is now out of print. However, it is available on Comixology and on the DC Universe app. If you’re looking for something quirky and intelligent, try Xombi.