July 25, 2017

Post-Crisis Pull List - January 15th, 1987

January 15th, 1987
DC published 10 comics, I read 5 of them.  

Issue of the Week: 
Booster Gold (1986) 15 - "Runback" (Dan Jurgens, Bruce Patterson)

Booster's disastrous trip back to the future concludes. While Rip Hunter and Jack Soo come close to rescuing Booster and Trixie, releasing them from their binds, they're overwhelmed by the amount of police since the suits of both of the rescuees are low on power. But then it's Michelle Carter to the rescue in a school bus. Fortunately, school buses in the future fly and even have some limited defensive capabilities. They make it to another time machine but Broderick, the purple-suited fellow on the cover is waiting with his mentally-challenged muscle Animal. Furthermore, the time machine's power lines need someone to hold them together. Booster's all set to be the sacrifice until Animal recalls that Trixie saved his life. As such, he does the duty and five folks find themselves in 1987; Michelle has to tag along as well since she's a wanted criminal now too. 4/5
 
The Rest: 
Adventures of Superman (1939) 427 - "Mind Games" (Marv Wolfman, Jerry Ordway)

The Freedom League attack on Metropolis in recent issues utilized machines that trace back to the nation of Qurac. Now that he's back from Apokolips and Professor Hamilton is in police custody, Superman can trace down this lead to figure out why his city was assaulted by this group. When he has reached President Marlo of Qurac, hoping to learn the location of the terrorists, his mind is probed by two members of a mysterious group called The Circle, Zahara and her husband Prana. Despite his wife's warnings, Prana pursues a mind link between him and Superman and this eventually results in his death, a fate for which Zahara blames the Man of Steel. While I appreciated the continuation of the Freedom League plot and the art was fantastic, the antagonists were a little too ambiguous for me to love this issue. 4/5

Green Lantern Corps (1960) 211 - "Pink Elephants" (Steve Englehart, Joe Staton, Mark Farmer) 

The Green Lantern Corps get drunk, tie one on, get wasted. Not that most of them intended to. Guy Gardner can't get over the fact that the rest of the Lanterns are working on New Year's Eve. That stuffed shirt Hal Jordan seems to think that they need to protect the people that are celebrating instead of joining the celebrations themselves. So, Gardner takes it upon himself to spike their water, using his ring to help him intoxicate the more unusual (from a homo sapiens viewpoint) members like Salakk. Hal and Arisia get, uh... amorous, John and Katma get engaged, Kilowog gets depressed, Ch'p gets to dancing and Salakk gets mean... and passes out. Elsewhere, Kari Limbo's party sense goes off and she rushes over to the citadel where she proceeds to inject Guy in the neck with the spiked water before indulging herself. When in Rome... I guess. But when they come under attack suddenly, Guy has to use his ring to sober himself, Hal, Arisia and John up quick. The antagonists are... pink elephants. What's more, these pink elephants seem to know their names! Arisia finally puts it together that Salakk is generating these pachyderms in his sleep. After all that Russia business, this was a fun, silly issue. 4/5

Infinity Inc. (1984) 37 - "The Heritage" (Roy Thomas / Danette Thomas, Todd McFarlane, Tony DeZuniga)

"The Origin of Northwind" proclaims the cover. Yes, that's pretty much what we get in "The Heritage" and we're getting it now because Hector Hall is hanging out with Hath-Set. Norda (that's Northwind) hangs out with his grandfather who seems to have prepared him from birth to take on this challenge. The Hath-Set story is an interesting one, but this issue leans a little too much on flashbacks and history. I guess it does what it says on "the tin," but I'd rather get deeper into the actual "Silver Scarab Saga." 3/5

Shazam: The New Beginning (1987) 1 (Roy Thomas / Danette Thomas, Tom Mandrake)

Legends was, in part, designed to feature characters that would be appearing in several new titles beginning after the mini-series concluded. New Justice League and Suicide Squad teams were formed within the story and while there were plenty of characters on hand, editorial asked that the new Flash, Wally West, and Captain Marvel be given prominent roles. Flash, Justice League and Suicide Squad all went on to have healthy runs, but this mini-series was all that Captain Marvel had until Jerry Ordway retooled the character in 1994. It doesn't seem to have been sales that were the problem and writer Roy Thomas has suggested "there might have been some sabotage." 

The Thomases' new origin for Captain Marvel feels of a kindred spirit to other post-Crisis revamps. There's an effort made to contemporize while maintaining some of what made the character special. This origin is also the first to tie-in Black Adam. And years before the Dursleys stuffed Harry under the stairs or Olaf preyed on the Baudelaires, Billy Batson's mother's step-brother Thaddeus Sivana gains custody of him for his inheritance and then sticks him in a storage room. As unusual as it is to see Billy a ward of Sivana, he still encounters the wizard Shazam, of course. While, given the choice, I prefer Ordway's version, I'd have been quite happy to see this version have a longer stay and I'm looking forward to reading the rest of the mini-series. 4/5

Also published by DC: Adventures of the Outsiders 44, New Teen Titans 30, Swamp Thing 59, Warlord 116, Who's Who 26.  

My thanks to the site Mike's Amazing World of Comics without which this project would not be possible.  

 

July 20, 2017

Post-Crisis Pull List - January 8th, 1987

January 8th, 1987
DC published 9 comics, I read 4 of them.

Issue of the Week: 
Batman (1940) 406 - "Black Dawn" (Frank Miller, David Mazzucchelli) 

I first read "Year One" in trade. That's still the only way I've read the bookends, but at some point I picked up both middle parts in slightly beat up single issues. They make for an interesting comparison to the collected edition. I find the ads in the originals kind of intrusive -- ads don't often bother me, but Mazzucchelli and colorist Richmond Lewis create such a strong mood that I find interruptions more jarring that usual. There are also differences, as Lewis "remastered" the coloring for the trades. I found a nice comparison of a page from this issue. Anyway, as for the story, middle parts sometimes sag a bit, but Miller plotted this tale tightly. As Bruce Wayne realizes that he needs an ally in Jim Gordon, Gordon suspects Wayne is Batman and questions whether arresting him is the right thing to do "in a city where the mayor and the commissioner of police use cops as hired killers..." 5/5

The Rest: 
Blue Beetle (1986) 11 - "Havoc is... the Hybrid" (Len Wein, Paris Cullins, Dell Barras)

If you listen to From Kid to Flash, the Hybrid may sound familiar... or maybe you've just read those issues of New Teen Titans. While the Titans had to prioritize dealing with Brother Blood, Mento has continued to collect unwilling folks for his experiments for his perverted version of the Doom Patrol. For some time now, there's been a subplot involving Kord Industries working on a new promethium alloy and during a test, Mento causes it to spill onto Kord employee Curt Calhoun. What follows is a battle between Blue Beetle and the Hybrid over the ambulance that carries Calhoun, a conflict that eventually draws in the Titans at the end of this installment. Blue Beetle is consistently entertaining. Wein and Cullins manage to maintain a light, fun tone while still being able to incorporate moments like Calhoun's accident. 4/5

Legion of Super-Heroes (1984) 33 - "Forgotten Planet" (Paul Levitz, Greg LaRocque, Mike DeCarlo / Arne Starr)

"The Universo Project" continues and I've begun to see that Levitz has been playing a long game as pieces he put into place as far back as the first issue I covered come into play. In that issue, Star Boy resigned from the Legion so that he could take over for the missing Atmos as champion of his home planet Xanthu. And while the Legion vowed to find Atmos, I kind of forgot about him. Last time, we saw Saturn Girl break the control that she and several other Legionnaires were under on a strange planet. This time, they free everybody else and, wouldn't ya know it, Atmos is among them! Universo machinations continue to impact Legionnaires elsewhere as well and I am enjoying how everything is escalating. 4/5

Superman (1986) 4 - "Bloodsport" (John Byrne, Karl Kesel)

The cover of this issue has always made me skeptical of its contents. While I've become more forgiving of the tropes that kept me away from comics in the '90s, a character named Bloodsport toting a gun that large always screamed '90s-before-the-'90s to my passing glance. I thought it might not be that great of an issue. And while I still find Bloodsport a bit silly, and while I still think the cover predicts numerous of the like a few years later, having actually read this issue, I can confirm that its contents are quite good. Bloodsport guns down a diner full of people including children and while that's not the sort of violence I'm expecting from a Superman comic, Byrne really sells the horror of Superman's reaction to the carnage in his facial expression. He also makes a gun-toting villain a threat for the Man of Steel, even if by relying on Kryptonite, but since at this point there's only a bit of it and Superman knows Luthor possesses it, the familiar vulnerability feels fresh and relevant. 4/5

Also published by DC: Electric Warrior 12, Secret Origins 13, Sgt. Rock 415, Star Trek 37, Who's Who in Star Trek 2.

My thanks to the site Mike's Amazing World of Comics without which this project would not be possible.   

July 18, 2017

Post-Crisis Pull List - January 2nd, 1987

It's a new year! Welcome to 1987! Check out my wrap-up of 1986!

January 2nd, 1987
DC published 8 comics, I read 6 of them!

Issue of the Week:
Wonder Woman (1986) 3 - "Deadly Arrival" (George Perez/Len Wein, George Perez, Bruce Patterson)

What am I going to do when Perez's Wonder Woman ranks as one of my favorite comic runs? Apologize to the books DC publishes with it, I guess! And to you, reader, for the lack of variety in my selection for issue of the week. Perez continues to build up the post-Crisis world of Wonder Woman. Last issue, Deimos and Phobos, sons of Ares, showed up, drawn like their father from Greek myth. And while they're up to no good here, Diana receives some more allies in the form of Harvard professor Julia Kapatelis and her daughter Vanessa. Taking in Wonder Woman has its risks though as the Kapatelises discover when Phobos sends them a statue that turns into the villainess Decay. Meanwhile, his brother takes a more subtle approach behind the scenes spewing rhetoric that sounds frighteningly familiar in 2017. 5/5 

The Rest:
Demon (1986) 4 - "Begins Our Tale of Woe" (Matt Wagner, Art Nichols)

Well, that's that then. Matt Wagner's Demon never really made much of an impression on me. I like the character, loved Kirby's original and have appreciated Etrigan's appearances elsewhere. I can even get behind some of the ideas Wagner has here but the execution left me lukewarm. I will say I am intrigued to see the character show up again down the road, however, given what occurs at the end of this issue. (If you want to be spoiled, here's a summary.) 3/5

Fury of Firestorm (1982) 58 - "Gambit" (John Ostrander, Jo Brozowski, Pablo Marcos) 

Beneath a sorta awful cover lies a decent comic as the post-Crisis Parasite is introduced. Ruby Jones, a fella that's not all that swell a human being, becomes an even worse super-villain, one with a power that makes him a pretty formidable opponent for our nuclear hero (and Superman, whom Parasite would end up being more associated with than Firestorm, really) as the nice cliffhanger makes clear: Parasite absorbs Firestorm's power, separating Ronnie and Professor Stein and leaving them seemingly in severe danger. 4/5 

Justice League of America (1960) 261 - "Last Stand" (J.M. DeMatteis, Luke McDonnell, Robert Lewis)

Justice League of America volume one comes to an end and only Martian Manhunter and Vixen are left to deal with Professor Ivo after his androids have killed two of their teammates and traumatized others. It's a solid issue, if not spectacular, maybe a little anticlimactic, but, your feelings about the "Detroit era" aside, the flagship team of the DC Universe needed a bit of a refresh. Manhunter, having only recently disbanded the team, discovers he's interested in being a part of a new start while Vixen decides she needs a break, needs to find a different path. 3/5

Outsiders (1985) 18 - "...Rage, Rage Against the Dying of the Light" (Mike Barr, Jim Aparo, Carl Gafford) and  "Freeway of Fear" (Mike Barr, Brian Bolland)

Continuing from last issue, the Outsiders and Batman (that just sounds wrong) battle an Eclipso separated from his customary host, Bruce Gordon. Barr and Aparo do a nice job of making the villain seem like a genuine threat; our heroes avoid confronting him directly due to the power level he has achieved. In fact, it takes Gordon's sacrifice -- not of his life, but of his freedom as he allows himself to once more be merged with Eclipso -- to put an end to the conflict... for now. Given what comes later, this story kind of makes for a nice prelude to The Darkness Within. Batman also rejoins the team and that's probably for the best; his presence in these past two issues was welcome. I'm surprised DC didn't bother putting his name back in the title, though. The backup is a fun little tale that sees looks fantastic thanks to Brian Bolland. 3/5

Vigilante (1983) 40 - "God Save the Children" (Paul Kupperberg, Tod Smith, Greg Brooks)

Also continuing from the previous issue. From editor Mike Gold: "There isn't a happy ending here. Paul did his homework in preparing for this story and having a happy ending would promote a false sense of security. If it shook you up... well, then you got the point." The Vigilante beats a brutal path through Times Square back when 42nd and Broadway was a pretty sleazy place to find a guy to get a name of another guy. Then he goes and deals with that other guy, but has to take out a lot of other guys on the way to that guy. All these guys (and a gal or two) deserve what he dishes out, but for as many guys as Chase confronts, there's a lot of other guys out there. In the end, Kupperburg allows Vigilante to think that he's made a difference, but undercuts that with panels showing that the heinous acts continue elsewhere. I admit to not thinking much initially of the "Suggested for Mature Readers" label on this title, but it's definitely to be heeded. 4/5
 
Also published by DC: Tales of the New Teen Titans 76, Watchmen 8.  

My thanks to the site Mike's Amazing World of Comics without which this project would not be possible. 

July 12, 2017

DC Silver Age - December 1955 and January 1956

December 1955

Detective Comics (1937) 228 - "Escape to the Stars" (Dave Wood, Joe Certa) 

J'onn J'onzz's character is tested in this tale. As detective John Jones, he tracks down Alex Dunster, a thief who has stolen various scientific equipment. Among the pilfered items: Dr. Erdel's machine that brought J'onzz to Earth. Dunster has discovered what Erdel could not: how to send items back. J'onzz is tempted to use the machine to return home, but that might allow Dunster to escape justice. On the other hand, if he confronts Dunster, the machine might be broken. J'onzz decides to apprehend the criminal as is his duty as a detective and, sure enough, Dunster smashes the machine. J'onzz is able to bring Dunster to justice, but he cannot go home. It was a nice surprise that this was more than just another case for J'onzz and even though one could predict that he would remain stranded, the predicament provided a nice character-defining moment for our favorite martian. 4/5

Also in this issue: "The Outlaw Batman" and "The Machine That Captured the Past" (Roy Raymond)

Superman's Pal, Jimmy Olsen (1955) 10 - "Jimmy Olsen's Martian Pal," "Jimmy Olsen's Forgotten Adventure," "Jungle Jimmy Olsen" (Otto Binder, Curt Swan, Ray Burnley)

In the first story, Jimmy gets into amateur radio and receives a contact from Mars... or so he thinks. Superman later observes that the replies from Mars return without the delay such a distance would impose. Later, the cub reporter goes undercover as a elevator boy named... Dick Hunter, gets a knock on the head and forgets he's really Jimmy Olsen; and he learns to beware monkeys when they steal everything -- even his clothing -- from the camp he's guarding in the Yucatan and he has to spend time a "jungle boy." 3/5 

January 1956

Detective Comics (1937) 229 - "The Phantom Bodyguard" (Joe Certa) 

This one is a standard case. Essentially, John Jones is assigned to protect a guy who claims someone is trying to kill him. There are several more attempts on his life. He blames his business partner, but it turns out he staged the attempts to frame his partner and create an excuse to kill him. 3/5

Also in this issue: "The 10,000 Secrets of Batman" and "The Diamond Mine on Broadway" (Roy Raymond)

Superman's Pal, Jimmy Olsen (1955) 11 - "Superman's Seeing-Eye Dog," "Jimmy Olsen, Clark Kent's Pal," "T.N.T. Olsen, the Champ" (Otto Binder, Curt Swan, Ray Burnley)

For a time, Jimmy has x-ray vision and he uses it to assist his pal; he becomes Clark Kent's pal instead of Superman's when he stays with the other reporter while work is done on his apartment; and an accident causes Jimmy and a fight promoter to think that he's a fighter. He ends up in the boxing ring against Gorilla Gordon. Good thing he's Superman's pal; the Man of Steel helps him survive the match. 3/5 

World's Finest Comics (1941) 81 - "The True History of Superman and Batman" (Edmond Hamilton, Dick Sprang, Stan Kaye) 

Batman and Superman are undoing and then redoing some of their heroic feats. What the--? Well, there's a historian from the year 5956 that's blackmailing them into this silliness by threatening to reveal their secret identities if they don't fix their methods to match what he has recorded in his book. Lois gets mixed up in all this too, since she figures she can satisfy her primary goal in life -- discovering Superman's secret identity -- if she can get a look in this history book from the far future. Of course, she never does, even though she goes as far as flirting with the historian. Eventually, Batman realizes that he won't reveal their identities anyway because that would contradict his book as well. We're still left with the question, though: who the heck else in 5956 is going to know or care if his book is accurate? 3/5

Also in this issue: "The G.A. Goes G.I." (Green Arrow) and "The Frontier Informer" (Tomahawk)


My thanks to the site Mike's Amazing World of Comics without which this project would not be possible. 

July 10, 2017

Mythmaking ETC 035 - Post-Crisis Pull List 1986 Wrap-Up

On this episode: Looking back at my coverage of the post-Crisis DC universe from July through December 1986, including my picks for best writer, artist, title and character.

See the blog posts at Chris's Comic Reading.

Read Mike Voiles's articles starting here:
Crisis on Infinite Earths: The Dividing Line Part 1

Download / RSS / iTunes
E-mail: mythmakingetc{at}gmail.com
Twitter: @mythmakingetc

July 7, 2017

Post-Crisis Pull List - December 26th, 1986

December 26th, 1986
DC published 11 comics, I read 7 of them.  

Issue of the Week:
Detective Comics (1937) 572 - "The Doomsday Book" (Mike W. Barr, Alan Davis / Eufronio Reyes Cruz / Terry Beatty / Carmine Infantino, Dick Giordano / Al Vey / Paul Neary) 

50 years of Detective Comics and Mike W. Barr finds himself in the driver seat to celebrate this golden jubilee. And he does a swell job, telling a 54 page story with the help of no-less-than fourteen other people  counting the editor and the cover artist. Barr balances respecting both the caped hero that has headlined this title for most of its run as well as its history as comic featuring stories about sleuths. Toward the latter purpose, we enjoy the presence of other bloodhounds: Slam Bradley who appeared in the first issue of this mag (and I became a fan of when Ed Brubaker was writing Catwoman), Elongated Man, and Holmes himself. The various artists are deployed well; sometimes too many cooks in the kitchen and all that, but this time the broth came out quite tasty. 5/5

The Rest: 
Action Comics (1938) 586 - "The Champion" (John Byrne, Dick Giordano)

Well, we've arrived at the end of the Legends crossover running through the Superman books this month and I enjoyed each installment a bit less than the last. Since I loved the first part, that's not as bad as it sounds. As I said about the last installment, I'm not wild about brainwashed Superman stories. The Man of Steel battles New Gods Orion and Lightray until the former uses his Mother Box to clear the Kryptonian's head. It was satisfying to see Superman sock Darkseid one, but then the ruler of Apokolips sends him back to Earth and this whole diversion feels a bit inconsequential in the end. 3/5

Captain Atom (1987) 1 - "Point of Origin" (Cary Bates, Pat Broderick, Robert R. Smith)

And the next Charlton "Action Hero" to receive a title is Captain Atom. The star of the show might be General Wade Eiling, though, as Bates and Broderick create quite the antagonist for their new Captain, Nathaniel Adam. Wisely, when the story jumps forward eighteen years, there's no caption to inform us and that effectively imparts some of the confusion our hero has emerging into this later year. Cary Bates was only 38 when this was published, but already had 20 years of experience as a funny book writer. It shows. He knows how to introduce a character and set the stage for stories to come. 4/5

Cosmic Boy (1986) 4 - "Time Without End" (Paul Levitz, Keith Giffen / Ernie Colon, Pablo Marcos)

Levitz had created an interesting conundrum for the titular character and his lady friend in the previous issues, as they found themselves stuck in the 20th century. At the end of the last issue, the pair found themselves at the end of the time, face-to-face with the Time Trapper. Intriguing cliffhanger. Unfortunately, this finale mostly amounts to a race against time (of course), as the duo work to convince their foe to return them to their era. It's not terribly interesting. And, despite being issue four of a four-issue mini-series, it ends with a "to be continued" directing us to Legion of Super-Heroes 36 four months later, leaving this feeling less like an ending. 3/5

Hawkman (1986) 8 - "The Beginning of the End" (Tony Isabella / Dan Mishkin, Richard Howell, Carlos Garzon)

As new writer Mishkin scripts over outgoing Isabella's plots, we see a continuation of the Darkwing (not Duck) story that I actually enjoyed more than the first chapter. When Superman shows up at the end, I was as surprised as the Hawks. It seems that the "shadow war" with the Thanagarians is escalating and I'm curious if it will continue throughout the rest of this title's run or resolve into other matters. 4/5

Legends (1986) 5 - "Let Slip the Dogs of War" (John Ostrander / Len Wein, John Byrne, Karl Kesel)

This penultimate issue of the story sees Dr. Fate assemble together most of the heroes we've seen so far to oppose Darkseid. I covered this miniseries on episode 49 of From Kid to Flash. 4/5

Question (1986) 2 - "Butterfly" (Denny O'Neil, Denys Cowan, Rick Magyar)

I was really close to making this the issue of the week. In the end, I gave it to Detective because it's a special issue, I gave it to Question last month, and I figure there's a good chance I'll give it to Question again. But, man, this was a fantastic issue. Some nice prose from O'Neil in the captions -- musings on time and death -- kick things off as Vic Sage sinks into the river after being shot in the head. He has a surprising, but plausible enough recovery only to be called out by Batman as an amateur. He needs training. Fortunately, Lady Shiva sends him off to study under Richard Dragon, another O'Neil creation. After a comic book equivalent of a training montage, Question returns for the men who killed him. 5/5

Also Published by DC: All-Star Squadron 67, Mask 2, Tales of the Legion of Super-Heroes 345, Teen Titans Spotlight 8

My thanks to the site Mike's Amazing World of Comics without which this project would not be possible.