2020 Comic Reading Challenge

So this past month, besides reading my usual new releases and digital content, I also started to reread all the books in the Hellboy universe. Unfortunately my marvel unlimited subscription lapsed and got deleted before I could renew it so I tried to remember everything I read off of there but think I’m still missing some. Oh well.

Detective Comics 1028-1029 (2)
Strange Adventures 6
Dark Knights: Death Metal 4
" ": Robin King 1
" ": Rise of the New God 1
Justice League 54-55 (2)
Rorschach 1
Batman 101
Batman: White Knight Harley Quinn 1
Batman: Three Jokers 3

Captain America 24
Amazing Spider-Man 50,51, 50.LR (3)
Marvels X 6
Venom 29
Web of Venom: Empyre’s End 1
Wolverine: Black, White & Blood 1
Daredevil (2019) 1-14 (14)
X-Men 5-6 (2)
Marauders 5-6 (2)
Empyre 1

Spawn 311
Hellboy & the B.P.R.D.: The Return of Effie Kolb 1-2 (2)
Chilling Adventures of Sabrina: Madame Satan 1
Alien: Original Screenplay 4

The Visitor: How and Why He Stayed TPB (5)
Hellboy and the B.P.R.D.: 1956 (5)
" ":The Best of Vargu & Others TPB (5)
Rise of the Black Flame TPB (5)
Abe Sapien: The Drowning & Other Stories (16)
Hellboy: Seed of Destruction TPB (4)
Hellboy: Wake the Devil TPB (5)
Hellboy: Library Edition vol.2 (10)
Hellboy: Library Edition vol.3 (9)

Total: 109
2020 Total: 970
30 MORE TO GO!

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I’ve just decided to fall back into that hole myself. Started rereading the whole universe again. It never gets old, I love everything about it.

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There’s alot of BPRD stuff up for borrow on COMIXOLOGY, with the gaps in the Flash series, Im gonna give some a whirl

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And speaking of the Flash series, that was truly some ahead-of-its-time stuff. Cary Bates, from issue 275(death of iris) up till the end issue 350, told a long game tale very Bendisesque and common by today’s standards. Good stuff, held back at bit by the art, which hurt most pre-crisis DC books in relation to Marvel.

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I keep forgetting to post these, so I’ve got a bunch to cover at once:

Batman: 11 issues from 2003-2004
Writers: Brian Azzarello (6 issues), Judd Winick (5 issues)
The “Broken City” arc: Meh. Art sucks. Writing is trying too hard to be edgy. There are intermittent good ideas but it’s mostly boring. Way too much running around and monologuing for a relatively simple mystery. And the ending is a random unrelated Joker cameo and yet another retcon about what Bruce was doing right before his parents took him to the movie. Oh, and this follows immediately after Hush in the same series, but Killer Croc is completely different.

The early bit of Winick’s run is… huh. Scarecrow becomes the Hulk? That’s the plot? (I mean, some credit for the slight variation on the obvious twist of it being his lab assistant instead of him.)
3,499.

Superman: 7 issues from 2004
Writer: Brian Azzarello
So this is the beginning of the “For Tomorrow” arc, and… Oh dear. This arc threatened to be good for a little bit, but meh. It’s got lots of important-sounding but ambiguous dialogue that’s mostly just confusing. I was willing to write it off as building suspense early on, but as this thing drags along, I have less and less patience for it. And while I can barely tell what’s going on, I think Batman and Wonder Woman are out of character? Or Superman is?

I mean, this thing clearly wants to be Superman’s Hush, what with the Jim Lee art and the first cover being a mirror of a Batman one. But whatever its… eccentricities, Hush was much better written just from moment to moment. Both stories are mysteries, but in mysteries even more than other kinds of stories, it is very important to be clear so the audience can distinguish between things they don’t know because you haven’t told them and things they don’t know because you’re being obtuse for no reason.
3,506.

Wonder Woman: 13 issues from 2004(-2005 because I accidentally read the January issue)
Writer: Greg Rucka
Backup stories in #200: Robert Rodi (Golden Age throwback), Nunzio DeFilippis & Christina Weir (Silver Age throwback)
OK, I… have some issues. Which I have managed to wrangle down to a somewhat smaller wordcount than my previous draft, so I hope you appreciate me.

Wonder Woman is in an oddly small amount of this run; we get as much of random embassy staff talking her up as we do of her actually doing anything. And when she does do things, she’s a lot more impulsive and easily deceived (Did she not notice Ares’ oddly specific phrasing when she lasso’d him? She’s got to be used to that trick by now.) than all of the talking about her would have us believe. And for that matter, there’s this big mystery that winds up being solved by Batman. I obviously like Batman, but if the best Wonder Woman can do about the main plot of her own book is call him to solve it for her, that’s just sad. It should almost be a Batman arc.

Veronica Cale is the real main character and I don’t think I like her all that much. Her backstory and motivations almost make sense, and she actually raises a few decent points, but nothing that comes close to justifying this elaborate homicidal conspiracy. Stuff like the one-upping of older villains and, frankly, all the fanservice shots feels like it’s trying to sell us on her. I just don’t really like sales jobs, especially not for completely new characters.

There’s also a lot of awkward tapdancing around how “extreme” or “radical” the stuff in Wonder Woman’s book is, but, in keeping with the “Wonder Woman doesn’t do things” theme, she doesn’t actually say very much. What we hear about second-hand also sounds… vaguely liberal but nothing people wouldn’t have heard a million times even in 2004. I disliked the forest fire scene when I read it (it was from a 2003 issue so this was a while back), but I think I was misreading it as saying something more like the out-of-context soundbite that comes up later. Doubling back to reread it, it’s actually a good effort at having her be genuinely weird and controversial, but the scene comes out of nowhere and it’s the only real example.

And I generally don’t like excessive political grandstanding, but this story is ultimately a political thriller. If the nature of the main character’s politics is a plot point, they should be laid out and they should support that plot point.

I’d read the Medusa arc out of context before, and I was fine with it because it’s more focused on standard superhero action. Comparing it to the initial plotlines, though, I sort of respect those more for trying to do something more original. That said, to the extent that “Get into a fight with a monster” is also a valid plot concept, it’s one that I think is executed more competently than the earlier stuff.

On an entirely separate note, also in the Medusa arc, what’s with the President? Shouldn’t this still be Lex Luthor’s term? Or if something happened to him in another book (Maybe Superman/Batman or one of the Superbooks that isn’t digitized?), maybe Pete Ross?

(My favorite part, though, is the pseudo-Golden Age story in #200, it’s hilarious)
3,519.

Luthor was no longer president after Superman/Batman #6; the headlines in that issue say that he was indicted in absentia, presumed dead, and Pete Ross became President.

Then, in Superman: Secret Files and Origins 2004, Pete drops out of the election and Jonathan Horne wins the Presidency. He is the DCU President for a few years after that, including in the Medusa arc of Wonder Woman.

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So agree with “for tomorrow”. Brian Azz wrote the awesome 100 bullets and then went superhero but changed nuthin! So what you get is a Superman book…that reads like 100 bullets, then a Bat-book that reads like…100 bullets again, etc. He’s very Frank Miller like that, all his characters have the same “voice”.

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And on an entirely other note(heh), its 70 degrees here in the middle of Ohio, so im back outside in the hammock goin down strange print-paths. Anyone ever read STRIKEFORCE MORITORI?

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You know, I just bought a new reader. But you keep mentioning this hammock reader. I’m really going to have get me one them, too! :innocent:

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Gonna be another beaut out today. First, a bike ride to work on leg strength, then its, STOP! Hammock-TIME! to chill with some longbox classics.

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:rofl:

Batman: Legends of the Dark Knight: 9 issues from 2004
Anthology
Awkward shift to not doing prequel stories anymore here. I guess burning the diary at the end of “Testament” was supposed to signal that, but it didn’t feel like much of a finale.

  • Testament by John Wagner: This is still pretty heavy on the cliches and pretty light on other interest.

  • Lost Cargo by Devin Grayson: Hm, another case of potentially decent writing sabotaged by the artist. All of the gangsters look pretty much the same, and it’s kind of important who’s who.

  • Full Circle by A.J. Lieberman: Was… was this supposed to have something to do with something? Batman basically shows up at the end of an otherwise unrelated original story and says “Yup. A thing sure did happen. Maybe. I think.”

  • The Secret City by Dylan Horrocks: Do- Do you know what a computer is? I just feel like I should clarify this, because you seem to be under very similar delusions about this subject to the writer of Oracle: The Cure, and I need to be certain this isn’t contagious. In fact, I’m fairly certain The Cure, as the later story, is a direct rip-off of this plot.

3,528.

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Only 8 days ago I typed it in getting my mojo back. October 5- 15
Captain Marvel: Vol. 2: #6-11
Avengers (2018): Vol. 6: #26-30
Batman and the Mad Monk: 6 Issues
Batman: The Monster Men: 6 Issues
Batman: The Riddle Factory: Stand alone
The Green Lantern: (2019): #7-12
Batman Gotham Nights #1-4
Animal Man: Vol. 1: #1-9
Thunderbolts (2013): Vol. 3: #13-19
Wonder Woman: (1987) : #0, 90-93
Sub-Total: 54
Total: 1419

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Green Lantern: 11 issues from 2004
Writer: Benjamin Raab (5 issues I think?), Ron Marz (6 issues)
The conclusion of the Black Circle arc was pretty solid, all things considered. Not sure how to feel about Jen cheating on Kyle. It feels out of character for her, but she also deserves better than him, so… I guess it’s a wash?

Ron Marz comes back for the final arc of the series and it’s all an elaborate, extended setup for a plot twist where Major Force doesn’t shove a supporting character into a kitchen appliance. We are seriously running out of variations of this stupid scene. And Major Force does not make an adequate evil mastermind; the guy has just never been that smart.
3,539.

Daredevil: 46 issues from 2015-2018
Writer: Charles Soule

Review

This run started pretty meh. Maybe just above bad. The first seven issues or so were rough. And it very, very slowly became by far my favorite Daredevil run, which is saying something.

OK, so initial impressions: I like giving Daredevil a protégé and the character is reasonably interesting, though the invisibility gimmick and the name “Blindspot” are very meh. Tenfingers is sort of interesting but he just looks goofy as all hell. And anyway, he doesn’t have ten fingers, he has twenty fingers, so shouldn’t that be his name? “Tenfingers” isn’t any less silly than “Twentyfingers.”

New costume isn’t awful but the art style uses this faded neo-noir-ish palette that’s almost black and white, and I just have to think how much better a lot of these shots would look with the red outfit because Matt would pop a lot better. He’s got the red highlights on this look that sort of serve that purpose, but it’s not the same. With a more saturated palette across the rest of the book, the black costume would ground him while the highlights would still pop (and they could make for some cool silhouette shots where you see nothing but the red parts), but with as washed out as this is, he needs all the color he can get.

Oh my god I just noticed the colorist is named Matt Milla, that’s amazing

Like, the colors are fine, but they must have hired him the minute they saw his name.

Anyway, the casino heist two-parter is awesome; that’s the second run in a row that I only really started enjoying with an early Spider-man teamup.

From there it actually starts to get really good. My one major gripe is the reveal of how he got his secret identity back. It’s made out to be this big moral compromise on his part, but aside from inexplicably not telling Kirsten, he didn’t even do anything. Like, the story acknowledges that, but it’s just anticlimactic. Honestly, the vibe I get from this run is that Soule realized how meh the first couple arcs were and did a hasty course correction that improved the overall quality but is jarring to read. I don’t know if that’s actually how it played out, but there’s a definite tonal shift somewhere around the Spider-Man teamup or the subsequent Muse arc. Not that it necessarily gets “lighter” – the Spidey issues are gimmicky and fun and would be right at home in Mark Waid’s run while Muse is terrifying and gory, so in some ways it gets darker over those two arcs. But compared to Tenfingers, Muse is a more creative concept and Matt isn’t acting so edgy. And we’re finally allowed to have colors other than red and black, that honestly helps a lot.

The arc where he’s trying to get a court to approve superheroes testifying without revealing their identities is great, though it dips a little into lawyer-speak that probably makes more sense to me because I’m a law student. Stuff like referencing the immensely confusing names of New York courts (a sane, rational state goes district/trial court < court of appeals < state Supreme Court; NY goes supreme court < supreme court, appellate division < court of appeals – same things, stupid names) or not actually saying what a Writ of Certiorari is (it’s when the U.S. Supreme Court reviews your case – you petition for the writ and then they may or may not grant it).

And everything from then on is good too. In particular, I would read a series that was just The Adventures of Mayor Murdock. Like, he wouldn’t even have to be Daredevil. The scenes of just him doing Mayor things are the best.

Except the Hand is apparently lead by a monster that eats fear and then burps the city to death. You think I’m kidding? Read it. It’s a thing.

The ending is foreshadowed well, though I can’t help but think the fakeout ending would have been stronger than the real one.

And… I gotta talk about Phil Noto’s art in the closing stretch of the run. Namely… What happened here? His (slightly earlier) work on Black Widow was gorgeous and this is… really pretty ungorgeous a lot of the time. There are some great shots here and there, but it all looks very rushed. Was he, like, doing two books at once or something?

3,585.

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And is/ and or/ was a lawyer, so his contributions to DD always felt justified. He had a good run on SHE HULK, another lawyer, that was cool.

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Yeah, I read that earlier. The arc with Matt in that series was one of the reasons I wanted to pick this run up too. I’ve really liked everything I’ve read by him so far.

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Dude was everywhere for awhile, kinda like BENDIS, and know the new guy, DONNY CATES. Last i saw, he was doin some Star Wars, not to much superheros.

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Just finished 2008 “Countdown to Final Crisis” for 51 issues.

New DC total is 632.

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I’m sorry.

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Sorry but only because there’s not a better word for it. That was a rough read.