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