Here some quick thoughts/reactions to the comic books I read during February, 2023 (count: 97 — the most in the last year!). What did you think of these issues?
Justice 5: I wrote about this issue here, in my ongoing posts about this series.
Superman: Space Age 1: I read this after I read Mike Allred’s phenomenal run on Silver Surfer with Dan Slott (from the previous month’s reading) and this was … not as amazing regarding Allred’s art, comparatively. It’s a bit of an Elseworld’s tale, putting Superman, well, Clark Kent, as a contemporary of JFK (“Superman” doesn’t appear until page 69 of 90). It’s an origin story, and not just for Superman — both Batman and Green Lantern’s origins are revealed, with Princess Diana showing up at the end. While some of that is interesting, what I find fascinating is the apparent commentary on DC’s first Crisis. The story opens in 1985, with the destruction of the Earth. Later in the issue but twenty years earlier, Clark interviews Pariah, who tells him of the Anti-Monitor and the imminent destruction of the universe. Given how the issue opened, I’m very curious how this is resolved, if at all (perhaps this is one of those parallel worlds that didn’t make it?). But I will be content reading about Superman (and the Justice League) during the Space Age.
Legionnaires 1-7: Despite my self-proclaim love for the Legion of Super-Heroes, there’s a large portion of the Legion’s publishing history I’ve not read, so I decided to start where I left off and that meant rereading the Legionnaires series. I had bought and read the first 12 issues years ago, but I wanted to start over and then get to stuff I hadn’t read before. Boy, this may be harder than I thought, because I find some of the characters obnoxious and the humor sophomoric. This may be a long slog.
Sunburn (by Simon Grane and Andi Watson; Image Comics): This graphic novel was a delight. It’s about a young woman who spends a summer on a Grecian island, and while there she finds and loses love and discovers an inner strength that I found charming. Also charming was the depiction of the island life — you can almost feel the heat of the day and the evening relief, thanks in large part to the coloring. There was an aspect of the plot that I found confusing and perhaps unnecessary to the overall narrative, but I still recommend the book.
Impossible Jones v1 (1-4) (David Hahn and Karl Kesel; Scout Comics): I was really looking forward to this collection. I love superhero stories about people who are “bad” and work at redemption, and this seems to be heading in that direction with the main character being a thief who is mistaken for a new hero. However, the Plastic Man cartoon-like antics and humor turned me off.
Nightwing 100: This has a nice “family” cover showing the relationships Nightwing has developed across the DC universe. Inside, we get some pages by former Nightwing artists, including Scott McDaniel, Eddy Barrows, and Mikel Janin, among others, that help celebrate Dick’s past and connections he’s made through the years. What was extremely satisfying was the confrontation with KGBeast, the man who shot Nightwing in the head. Batman had his run-in with the Beast some time ago, and Flash even humiliated him, but finally Dick has his opportunity to deal with his would-be murderer. What’s great about this scene is that Dick isn’t approaching it from a place of vengeance, just the desire to end the fight so that he can help others. Then there’s the “ask”. It started off the issue with a conversation between Dick and Bruce, and later the Justice League scene reveals what the ask is: Nightwing, we want you to lead a new Justice League. We get back to that opening scene and Bruce tells Dick why they want him: “The way you look for the best in everyone. The way you seek to help before you seek to punish”. Bruce then apologizes to Dick if he failed him and for pushing him away, and Dick just hugs his father and tells him he loves him. … I’m not crying, you’re crying! The issue ends with Dick Grayson buying the prison in Bludhaven and announcing it as the new headquarters of the Titans, leading to that forthcoming series. I can’t wait.
Daredevil v7 Lockdown (31-36): I started the Zdarksy-written Daredevil run being most impressed not with Matt’s (yet another decline and redemption) arc, but Wilson Fisk’s. Matt being in prison didn’t interest me, but seeing how the Kingpin navigated a “normal” life outside of crime and then later his relationship with Typhoid Mary did. Also, seeing how Elektra struggled with living up to Matt’s ideals was fun. It’s very odd to be more interested in the supporting cast, especially when it comes to Daredevil comic books, that I think I’m done with DD for now.
Something Is Killing the Children v5 (21-25): This series has always been on the chopping block for me, and I think I’ve reached that point. I love the dark, expressive, and moody Dell’Edera art, but the overall story has always felt a bit thin. When they started exploring the back history in v4, my interest perked up, but this latest volume just seems like rinse, repeat of what I’ve read before.
Once & Future v4 (19-24): Speaking of rinse/repeat, this series is starting to feel like that as well. But we get Dan Mora art and the added layer of multiple version of King Arthur and Merlin showing up near the end, which makes me compelled to read on anyway. I just wish the lead characters would do more than fight the myth of the issue and move on to the next one in the next issue. I have the sense that we’re moving towards something, but it’s a slow-go.
Thief of Thieves v3 (14-19): It’s interesting. In comparison to say, Something Is Killing the Children, this is another rinse, repeat book, but it works for me for some reason. In part, it’s the caper aspect that I like, as well as Redmond’s charming personality. This volume reads like the second act of the overall story, but looking ahead at future volumes, I wonder if the overall series will be as satisfying.
Fantastic Four 48: I’ve long loved Sue (since the Hickman-written run) and this issue (and the one before it where Exterminatrix has taken over the Baxter Building) continues to show us how bad-ass Sue really is. Even her husband agrees: “Sue is the most powerful of us all. Because she’s always pushed the boundaries of what is possible… precisely because she doesn’t know the meaning of defeat.”
Batman/Superman: World’s Finest 11: Mora and Waid were able to take a story about a new character that has been retconned into Superman and Batman’s past and make me care about their relationship. When Superman tells Boy Thunder he was everything he’d hoped for in a son (though Superman couldn’t say the word, he was so emotional), it plucked my heartstrings. The reveal of Gog at the end was interesting because is this David (Boy Thunder) to be the new Magog?
Human Target 10-11: #11: G’Nort has NEVER been a favorite character, but I think I respect him just a little bit after his appearance in this issue (such is the power of an artist/writer’s different take…). And of course the Guardians of the Universe have secret files on everybody in the universe, no matter how creepy that is. I’m sure fans of Guy Gardner were thrilled to see he wasn’t dead after all, though given his behavior in this issue, they may not be pleased for very long. #12: The mystery is revealed! Truths are spoken, and that was one damn fine double splash at the end after that very emotional exchange between Chance and Ice. Just a lovely comic book all around.
Danger Street 2: Unlike the previous Tom King written book in this log, I am unsure about this one. It’s a cake still baking. There’s a lot of quality ingredients, but until it’s done, will the sum of its parts be any good? I like the Lady Cop scenes, can’t stand the Green Team, I never did like Creeper, and while I don’t like how Warlord is handling what Starman did, I’m intrigued by where this could lead. What surprised me about this issue was the hug Darkseid gave Highfather. WTF?!
Saga 61: As always, it’s Saga’s issue endings that really make this series sing, and this issue sets up further strife between Hazel and her mother, which is going to kill me in time, I’m sure.
New Champion of Shazam 4: I got this mini (as opposed to waiting for it to be on the DCU app) because I wanted to support a female character series and see Doc Shaner’s art. But the story was just so lackluster. Though his line work was fine, Shaner’s coloring didn’t help the middling feel of this series. Despite this, I hope we see more of Mary in the future.
Area 510 (Justin Greenwood and Jay Faerber; Oni Press): I was really looking forward to reading this newest book written by one of my favorite comic book writers, but while this was a fine 16 Blocks / War of the Worlds mashup, but it read more like an opening chapter and I wanted more or I just wanted more of the characters in this story as opposed to the focus on plot. Either way, I found this a bit lacking in substance.
Thor v4 God of Hammers (19-24): The Cates/Klein run on Thor has been different and interesting. They pick up on something mentioned in the Aaron-written run about Mjolnir and run with it (and I love how Klein and Wilson portray the God of Hammers). I also love the the depiction of Thor as king, especially the “heavy is the head that wears the crown” angle. This arc would make a great Thor movie. But, like with another Marvel character I love, I think I’m done with Thor for a while.
Time Before Time v3 (13-17): They introduced a new character, bounty hunter Sebastian, and I’m totally on board with that guy. He’s doing a crappy job and he knows it, but he’s doing it for family. We even get a caper story thrown in involving some interesting cannon fodder. Despite my liking this new guy, however, I am more invested in Tatsuo’s (and Nadia’s) journey. Unfortunately, an apparent (it is a time travel story after all) sacrifice changes everything. Now I have to decide if I keep with this book given what looks like a change of characters.
Killadelphia v2 (7-12): This just felt like a repeat of volume 1, and there’s nothing compelling in this volume for me to continue.
Legion of Super-Heroes 40 & Amethyst v2 1: These will be featured in a future The Legion Project episode.
Ultra: Seven Days (1-8): Years ago I read the first issue for free on Comixology and was interested in the idea. In the intervening years, my appreciation for the Luna Brothers’ work has diminished. However, while the art was a bit under par, I was surprised at some of the emotional depths these characters reached.
Skyward v1 (1-5): While I especially loved the depiction of the main character’s hair on the cover to this collection by Lee Garbett and the overall care the creators brought to showing us what a world with lesser gravity would be like, the old trope of Dad knowing how to fix the world but because of his sacrifice, his daughter takes on the responsibility just didn’t maintain my interest, possibly in part because the villain of the piece is so one dimensional.
Fables v16 (101-107): I loved this book up to volume 11, more or less. I stopped buying the trade collections because it was starting to repeat itself. However, I always wanted to read volume 16, “Super Team”, because of the superhero connections I imagined it would have based on the cover image alone. I should not have bothered. While it was kind of fun to see Pinocchio attempt to put together a team of superheroes to help save everyone because of the power of superhero stories, the actual execution of that idea was just not there. It was like Willingham had been forced to put in a superhero angle to drive up sales and he didn’t want to, but he would do it his way, which is to say, not very well. We don’t get to see the Fables characters actually be “superheroes” except in a short day dream scene and the defeat of the main antagonist was resolved in a deus ex machina fashion, i.e., disappointingly.
Iron Man 25: This final Cantwell-written issue was a nice change of pace given how cosmic things got near the beginning of the run. Iron Man is a little wigged out by the Iron Man Day celebration he’s not too keen on attending when he comes across a guy having a heart attack (love the symmetry regarding that). At the end, and not feeling his best, Tony is surprised and delighted when some friends show up to support him (including the MVP of this run for me, Hellcat). Nicely done creative team, nicely done.
Air v1 (1-5): I had heard over the years how good this was, and with Dark Horse reprinting the series, I had to try it. This was a delightful surprise in that it enters the metaphysical in an almost Morrisonian fashion. Blythe is an acrophobic flight attendant who has the ability to cross into “forgotten” and hidden lands. It’s also a commentary on capitalism with its struggle between “old” energy interests and the “new” technology of Air. I am worried that the antagonistic cabal in the series will be reduced to trite caricature, but I’m looking forward to reading the next volume to see where this goes.
Manifest Destiny v5 (25-30): It’s been a while since I read the last volume (October 2021) and the one before that was a year ago! My slow engagement with this series is not an indication of the quality, because each volume pushes the story forward in interesting and different ways. In this volume, the intrepid and overwhelmed travelers do more harm to each other than the monsters they’ve encountered previously, but it’s still connected to overall narrative. I think this is one of those great series that readers like, but it’s not as flashy as others and hasn’t received the attention it deserves.