2020 Comic Reading Challenge

Batman: Gotham Knights: 5 issues from 2002
Writers: Devin Grayson (3 issues), Scott Beatty (2 issues)
Skipping the Murderer?/Fugitive tie-ins here, so not that many issues. In #24, Bruce literally having a conversation with Batman like a split personality was pretty over-the-top. #32 made up for it, though; that one was great.

Starting Scott Beatty’s run, this Bane arc is a little contrived in premise, but it’s not bad in execution so far.

Also, the Batman: Black & White backup:

  • Here Be Monsters, by Paul Grist: I mean, yeah, there’s a story, I guess, but check out that Darwyn Cooke art!
  • Urban Legend, by Todd Dezago: Aside from a mildly clever bait-and-switch, there’s not much to this.
  • Toyride, by Mark Askwith: Um, what just happened?
  • The Monument, by Darwyn Cooke: Though sadly not the art.
  • The Delusions of Alfred Pennyworth, by Danielle Dwyer: Sort of a neat idea, I guess? But there’s not really an actual plot.

2,828.

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The Walking dead took over the week, with much of my downtime spent outside. It really is good, but there’s no way I coulda read this on a month-to-month basis. Dc-wise, I got into LEGENDS, remembering the days when events were more soap opera than cinematic. Marvel…is marvelThe fave was Billionaire Island, tho. Mark Russell, when his writting is on point and has a bite, it’s spectacular. And he’s paired with Steve Pugh, just like the FLINTSTONES book thats on here, so its a two-headed awesome read.

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Not reading much that’s not DC, but definitely want to read The Boys

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Been about two weeks and 61 issues read, for a total of 862 for the year. In addition to the usual club directed readings from World of Wonder, Doom Patrol and Superman Fan Club, plus the DC Book Club and a hit from JSA Club (all really well run, fun clubs) I’ve been deep into the Swamp. Wein’s original 13 issues are the best of 70’s DC horror as Swampy is a hard traveling Frankenstein’s Monster. This completely holds it’s own today. Jumped from there to Alan Moore’s run with Saga of the Swamp Thing 19. This is as spectacular as I remember it. Moore at his finest. Actually read some non-DC with Image’s Fraction/Dodsons’ Adventureman which is as much fun as something from these three creators ought to be.

Action Comics (1938) 1024
Adventureman 2-3
Batman 96
Dark Nights: Death Metal 3
Detective Comics (1937) 406 DC History Club
Detective Comics (1937) 1025-1026
Doom Patrol (1987) 26-31 Doom Patrol Club
House of Secrets (1956) 92 DC History Club
Justice League 51
Justice League (1960) 55-56 JSA Club
Justice League Dark (2018) 12 World of Wonder
Superman 24
Superman (1939) 241-242 Superman Fan Club
Swamp Thing (1972) 1-13 DC History Club
Swamp Thing (2000) 1 DC History Club
Teen Titans 37-38
The Saga of the Swamp Thing 19-31 DC History Club
The Saga of the Swamp Thing Annual 2 DC History Club
Vibe (2013) 1-5 DC Book Club
Wonder Woman: Come Back to Me (2019) 1 World of Wonder
World’s Finest Comics (1941) 90 Superman Fan Club
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Catwoman: 12 issues from 2002
Writers: Ed Brubaker (11 issues), Steven Grant (1 issue)
OK, this is really good, but, like, how many old, forgotten ex-best friends does Selina have? We’ve gotta be up to like five or six in this series alone, and it came up a time or two in the previous one.
2,846.

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COMIXOLOGY has a big Boys sale to hype the show, with the first 18(?) issues free. And some other really good deals. I know money’s always a tricky beast, but for the price, COMIXOLOGY UNLIMITED is totally worth it…and no, I’m not an Amazon-bot thing, heh

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ive fallen down the well on several series cuz they’re like, .49,.99 an issue. GIDEON’S FALLS is all as promised, awesome. SEX CRIMINALS, which you gotta get from the website cuz its a mature book about time freezing, glowing ding-dongs(ha ha) was .99 an issue. I have the Adventureman books, but haven’t read them for fear that it’ll fall off schedule and have a 3 month gap bettween issues. Good to hear its gonna be worth the wait

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Superbooks: 22 issues from 2002
Writers: Jeph Loeb (2 issues of Superman), Joe Casey (3 issues of Adventures of Superman), Mark Schultz (3 issues of Superman: The Man of Steel), Joe Kelly (10 issues of Action Comics), Benjamin Raab (1 issue of Action Comics), Chuck Kim (1 issue of Action Comics), Geoff Johns (2 issues of Superman)
Oddly small number of these because most of them are missing.

One thing I’ll call out specifically is that I’m inordinately proud of myself for reading the Bizarro issue with the pages in reverse order as published rather than starting at the end and working backwards. It was dumb and confusing and it was probably just meant to be read right-to-left since the panels on any given page were in proper chronological order, but I am proud nevertheless.

OK, the one series that’s mostly intact is Action Comics, which is a bit hit and miss but the hits are solid ones. Though, Guy Gardner as a demon is… um… a… choice. That this series made.

The “Ending Battle” crossover is really exhausting because it’s like non-stop action scenes. Running across four titles and eight months, that’s eight issues of mostly “Fly to a place, punch a face.” Also, the main villain spends an entire issue doing illusions, and the big cliffhanger is “OMG, he killed Lois!” Yeah, sure. Pull the other one. And it’s basically building up to Joe Kelly being all “Hey, remember when I wrote What’s So Funny About Truth, Justice, and the American Way? I remember when I wrote that. That was pretty cool, right?” And I mean it was pretty cool, I’m just not sure this story adds much to it.
2,868.

Avengers: 56 issues from 1998-2002
Writers: Kurt Busiek (53 issues), Jerry Ordway (3 issues)

Review

Hey, that’s not Morgaine le Fey! Where’s the gold armor? That’s clearly Circe. Note the purple hair and the (lack of) fashion sense.

Speaking of which, it amuses me a lot that in an opening arc where George Pérez copies his own Circe design for the villain, they also pick that moment to bring back Wonder Man.

And then this happens:

Why can’t you people Kirby properly?!

Anyway, the subplot where Scarlet Witch can summon Wonder Man but doesn’t want to because she doesn’t want to use him as a weapon could almost be good, except for like a year’s worth of issues, nobody even suggests looking for a way to bring him out permanently, which would obviate the whole dilemma.

Speaking of those two, they’re getting a lot of focus, and I keep hoping that this run can sell me on them, but I really just don’t find them all that interesting.

It doesn’t stop amusing me every time Thor addresses Justice as “young Justice.”

And then Jerry Ordway butts in to play around with the Marvel Family, as if he weren’t doing that enough at DC. (Jokes aside, this arc from 1999 reads more like it’s from 1979, both in terms of sketchy dialogue and being based largely on obscure Bronze Age stories. Not that Busiek’s stuff doesn’t reference old stories, but I feel like he sort of blends it better.)

The Count Nefaria arc is probably my favorite of the run. It’s interesting, has some good character stuff, it doesn’t overstay its welcome, and the Thunderbolts are in it.

The Kang arc, on the other hand, is uninteresting, has lots of kinda repetitive character stuff, massively overstays its welcome, and, most damningly of all, the Thunderbolts are not in it.

We’re talking over a year in the closing stretch of this run spent on what’s functionally a bog-standard alien invasion. I mean, I know, Kang is technically human and just from the future, but it’s still a bunch of invadey people who come from a space ship. And so for about fourteen issues, Kang just no-sells everything anybody tries to do against him while monologuing about what a genius he is. I’m frustrated just binge-reading it. Picking it up month-by-month at the time must’ve been agony.

2,924.

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TITLE # of Issues Date
All-Star Squadron (1981) #5-6 2 8/2 JSA Book Club
Red Hood and the Outlaws (2011) #16-19 4 8/5
Red Hood and the Outlaws Annual #1 (2013) 1 8/5
The Batman Who Laughs (2018) #1-3 3 8/11
The Batman Who Laughs: The Grim Knight (2018) #1 1 8/11
The Batman Who Laughs (2018) #4-7 4 8/12
Red Hood and the Outlaws (2011) #20-24 5 8/13
Red Hood and the Outlaws (2011) #25-28 4 8/14
Red Hood and the Outlaws (2011) #29-34 6 8/15
Red Hood and the Outlaws: Future’s End #1 (2014) 1 8/18
Red Hood and the Outlaws (2011) #35-37 3 8/18
Red Hood and the Outlaws Annual #2 (2014) 1 8/20
Red Hood and the Outlaws (2011) #38-40 3 8/22
Red Hood/Arsenal (2015) #1-2 2 8/22
Red Hood/Arsenal (2015) #3-6 4 8/25
Red Hood/Arsenal (2015) #7-13 7 8/26
Red Hood and the Outlaws:Rebirth (2016) #1 1 8/27
Red Hood and the Outlaws (2016) #1 1 8/27
Justice League of America (1960) #55-56 2 8/28 JSA Book Club
Justice League of America (1960) #64-65 2 8/28 JSA Book Club
Justice League of America (1960) #73-74 2 8/29 JSA Book Club
Total 59

Did pretty decent this month. I’ve wanted to read The Batman Who Laughs once the last issue was available. I’m really excited for the McFarlane figures coming out soon.

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Starting in on 2003 here. No events to speak of, so that simplifies things.

Detective Comics: 12 issues from 2003
Writers: Paul Bolles (2 issues), Ed Brubaker (9 issues), J.C. Gagné (Backup feature in 4 issues), Jon Lewis (Backup feature in 1 issue), Jason Hall (Backup feature in 1 issue), Greg Rucka (Backup feature in 1 issue), Rick Spears (Backup feature in 3 issues), Brian K. Vaughan (1 issue)
I was going to break down the different arcs and backups, but I’ll boil it down for you: The main stories are all really good (well, the Vaughan issue is a little meh but it’s not bad for the most part) and the backups are mostly pretty bad. The Rucka one seems to be just a random prologue to some other subplot which I assume is happening in a different title but I guess there’s nothing specifically wrong with it, and the Spears one is interesting so far, but the first few are all bluh.
2,936.

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Action Comics: 12 issues from 2003
Writer: Joe Kelly
So, we’ve got a couple filler issues, the end of a four-part crossover where the first three are missing, a kinda mediocre milestone issue, the rushed conclusion of the new Zod’s arc (which was all right, but his motivations and backstory don’t really make much sense once they’re revealed), and an arc about Traci Thirteen, Natasha Irons, and a new Supergirl that winds up being a really wordy wall of clunky banter. Meh. Not the best year for this title, but nothing unreadably bad, I guess.
2,948.

Sensational She-Hulk: 33 issues from 1989-1993
Writer: John Byrne (27 issues), Steve Gerber (4 issues), Simon Furman (2 issues)

Review

So, I’m here for three reasons, in ascending order of importance.

  1. She-Hulk seemed cool and fun in her guest appearances in Busiek’s Avengers run.

  2. She-Hulk graduated from my law school. #gobruins

  3. John Byrne writing comedy? This, I’ve got to see.

And it actually works a lot better than expected. There’s some Byrne Overexplainy Exposition Speak™ and it’s not the funniest thing I’ve ever read, but it’s got a good laugh or three per issue and is a generally fun read. If anything, the biggest problem is falling into the trap of not realizing that breaking the fourth wall isn’t inherently funny in itself.

Overall, though, I find this book sufficiently sensational. And-

Wait a minute. Hold up.

US-1 is in this?!

I take back every bad thing I said about it, this series is flawless.

I make this determination just in time to notice a bunch of missing issues, too. Tragedy.

The little chunk of Steve Gerber’s run available is OK. The sense of humor is slightly different (took me a while to put my finger on how, but I think Byrne’s stuff gets a lot of fodder from poking fun at comic tropes, while Gerber relies more on general absurdism) and I think while Byrne’s style can be a little clumsier at points, I find it overall funnier.

When Byrne comes back, the series starts crutching more on unnecessary cheesecake shots to an extent that it didn’t before. While it tries to lampshade them to some extent, it’s distracting and it’s not especially funny, when the comedy is the main thing I enjoy about this series. (I mean, it some ways I kinda don’t mind but-)

But we also get She-Hulk helping Ulysses Solomon Archer, who is now a space trucker, defend a space truck stop by punching sentient meteors in the face from atop a flying car, so I can’t stay too mad.

In all seriousness, this series is a little bumpy at points but is overall a really fun read. Bunch of undigitized issues, though. Seems like they were mostly interested in collecting the Byrne runs.

2,981.

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Only one issue of Batman that I haven’t read for 2003, and it’s the first part of a long story, so I’m actually going to just pick it up when I do the 2004 issues.

Wonder Woman: 11 issues from 2003
Writers: Phil Jimenez (2 issues), Walt Simonson (6 issues), Greg Rucka (3 issues)
Thoughts on the closing couple issues of Phil Jimenez’s run: First, I only just now noticed I’ve been misspelling his name (it’s got two ‘e’s, not two ‘i’s) and that’s really embarrassing. Second, just once I’d like to see a superfight in some other country where one or more local heroes show up and are actually competent and useful. Third, I’ll just reiterate that he actually made Angle Man cool, which I’m pretty sure means there’s hope for everyone.

The “Game of the Gods” arc by Simonson is pretty light on content for its length. Most of it is just trying to sell us on how intimidating the bad guy is. And while Trevor Barnes was a little bland, I kinda liked him and didn’t want him to get killed off.

For the first few issues of Rucka’s run, it’s a bit too early to have a particularly informed opinion.
2,992.

She-Hulk: 12 issues from 2004-2005
Writer: Dan Slott

Review

OK, hm. So. That’s all three of the words I use to start 90% of my paragraphs in a row, so you know I’m about to say something insightful. I kinda really want to like this more than I do. The superhuman law firm premise is interesting, definitely. Some of the plots are very clever. But… I have issues.

So, first, while it does get funnier as it goes on, the early issues in particular rely a lot on absurd, vaguely humorous ideas that never quite support any specific joke. And, like, while Byrne’s run on the Sensational title took a while to warm up, that was twenty-seven issues (well, I think one of them was missing, so twenty-eight?) and this is twelve, so taking five or six to warm up is a lot more detrimental. And it’s just not really committed to a comedic tone. It keeps wanting to shift gears into more serious plots (like the last three issues being basically pretty much straight superhero action) but then it has all these leftover goofy ideas that were obviously conceived with comedy in mind. And it’s not like comedy and drama can’t be blended well, I just don’t think that this is really an example of that.

Second, I have some thematic gripes. The opening arc basically portrays She-Hulk as shallow and dumb, and indicates that it’s a good thing when she lets the “real” Jen out. OK, the message is that being yourself is good. I can buy that, sorta. Only even in the goofy previous run, that’s not really the impression I got of her characterization, so we’re starting off with a character assassination of the title character. And it’s long been established that Jen likes being She-Hulk and finds her green side more comfortable. So really, you can read the message as that you shouldn’t be who you want to be if other people find it upsetting or intimidating.

3,004.

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Month of August

Who’s Who 14 - 17 - DC Library

Elseworlds:
Green Lantern: Evil’s Might 1 - 3 - DC Library

Flash 139, 144 - 146, 147 (twice), 148 - 152 - The Flash Silver Age Omnibus vol. 2

The New Teen Titans (1980) 1 - 2 - The New Teen Titans Vol. One
The (old) Teen Titans appearances:
Showcase 100 - Hard copy
DC Special Series 11 = DC Library
DC Comics Presents 26 - The New Teen Titans Vol. One / DC Library

1940:
Detective 35, 36

Scooby Doo (1997) 49 - 52

Total - Month 28 - Year - 665

Got a little motivated on Who’s Who. Looking forward to finishing up and comparing notes with the DCU Encyclopedia. Some (ALL) of those '85 - '86 entries really need updating. But still fun to read.

Finished the last official Elseworlds tale, Green Lantern was a fun turn-of-the-(20th)-century yarn; will be scanning the Library for more Elseworlds tales.

Reading through Flash and got hooked on Reverse-Flash; mostly because of Tom Cavanagh’s awesome portrayal. His first two appearances he didn’t have real speed or the Red Glowing Eyes (or a real name). But he did have sparkly eyes that he used to focus his mind control (?) on you. Waiting to get to the part where he kills Iris and Flash kills him. But loving to see Flash progress through the Silver Age (he’s literally the start and finish of it.)

Been reading through all of the Teen Titans appearances. Showcase 100 and DC Special Series 11 had honorable mention and last appearance of the old team. They were great stories on their own. Showcase was a monumental Silver Age pre-Crisis crisis featuring nearly everyone that got their start or reboot in the mag. DCSS was a great Flash(Jay), Flash(Barry), and Kid Flash(Wally) romp. Finally, made it to the New Teen Titans. I was just as excited reading NTT again now as I was when I first pulled them off the 7-Eleven spinner rack in 1980. All I can say now is “Titans are back bitches!”

Only got two issues in for my 1940 installment of reading through the years on the DC Library. But they were both great Bat-tales. Issue 35 had the first proto-Batmobile upgrade from high-powered red sedan to the high-powered dark blue roadster (Now he won’t have to park so far away from the crime scene in his new tactical dark color.) Issue 36 saw the first appearance of Professor Hugo Strange. (Batman also casually fires a firearm to attract police attention to the crime scene; weird.) And the Library had the entire anthology of both issues. Hope they continue this with the rest of Detective (and start doing it on Action; I miss Zatara).

Scooby Doo is a fun run. Issue #50 was a great anniversary issue; dedicated to the late William Hanna (1910-2001). Great nostalgic issue with dozens of past villains and fellow Hanna-Barbera alumni including Blue Falcon, Funky Phantom, Speed Buggy and many more. At the end of the story Fred, Daphne, and Velma speculate that it would have taken at least 30 years to accumulate so many villains which would make them “almost fifty years old. Spooky!” Spooky indeed.

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From,say, 320(?), where Flash kills Eobard till the end, 350, is a good readthru. Cary Bates was doin stuff then that would be considered “normal” now, the long plan story. In some old comic mag, maybe Amazing Heroes, this didnt go over well at the time, and Infantino’s art wasnt cuttin it in the early 80s.

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The Flash: 12 issues from 2003
Writer: Geoff Johns
Zoom would be a lot easier to take seriously if he didn’t keep making this ridiculous expression:

Anyway, the amnesia arc is stupid and happens because Spectre Hal decided to be an obnoxious literal-minded genie.
3,016.

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Amazing how things change @boodikhan . And that expression is apropos for Zoom @BatJamags lol . That’s the way I always pictured him anyway. He always had true hate for Flash.

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