DC Universe Comic Book Reading Challenge

For this challenge, I read Vertigo’s 20 issue SWAMP THING series from 2000. This series is unique in that it doesn’t focus on Alec Holland or Swamp Thing himself, but Swamp Thing’s daughter (and Constantine’s… it’s a long story), Tefé Holland. I could have easily seen this being the plot of, say, Season 8 or 9 of the Swamp Thing live action series, if it were never canceled. Tefé is pretty interesting, in her own right. She never quite reaches the heights of her father’s series, but hey — who can claim that? Regardless, it may not be Brian K Vaughan’s best work, but you can see the blueprints within of the writer he’d become. (I especially like the two hapless Department of Agriculture agents following Tefé’s anomalies, and getting in way over their heads.) Definitely for mature readers only.

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I read the more kid oriented “Superman Family Adventures.” It was light-hearted and goofy. Definitely worth a glimpse if you want comedy, superheroes, super pets, and more. I only read issues 1-3 but definitely considering reading the rest of this one. Onto the next one!

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For this challenge, I read Rann/Thanagar War, because I’ve already read Villains United and Day of Vengeance, and I wanted to see some Hawkgirl. The series’ authorship by Dave “Watchmen” Gibbons was unexpected. As always, Ivan Reis and Joe Prado’s art is incredible. And as an artist himself, Gibbons knows when to let the action exert its space. The unexpected highlight? Queen Komand’r, aka Blackfire, who I’ve been curious to know better since catching up on Justice League Odyssey. She seems right at home on the battlefield.

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I read the digital first series (first 12 chapters due to the format) called “The Legend of Wonder Woman.” It was a shorter read because of how it was created. The artwork is beyond beautiful. The story being told, while familiar, felt fresh and engaging. It was a confident retelling of many aspects of her origin, but added layers that made this reader pause and take in what a writer is capable of doing with this character if given the opportunity to shine. There are 27ish chapters total, so I am comfortable saying this is one I will return to and finish out.

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For this challenge, I read Flashpoint: Kid Flash Lost, a Bart Allen miniseries Flashpoint tie-in that I haven’t read since it was first printed in 2011 — and this time, rather than reading all the Flashpoint tie-ins at once, I could pay special attention to it.

First of all… those Buccelatto/Manapul covers, man. There’s nothing like ‘em. One of the best art teams of modern comics, by far. Even if I prefer Wally to Barry, I’m glad we got to have them on Flash as long as they were.

This is one of the few Flashpoint stories focused on a character who isn’t from the Flashpoint universe — apart from the main Flashpoint series itself, I believe the only other one is Booster Gold. And it’s the last time we really see him for 7 years, before returning in Bendis’s YOUNG JUSTICE. But even then, he’s back to being Impulse. It’s nice to hang out with Kid Flash Bart for a bit, with all his memories and experiences of Post-Crisis canon in place.

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For this challenge, I read Captain Atom #83-89, from 1966: as of now, DCU’s sole offering from the Charlton Comics era. These issues are notable for featuring the debut of Ted Kord as the Blue Beetle, who would get his own solo series the following year (backed up by the debut of none other than The Question).

The Captain Atom stuff was pretty fun, especially the quaint retro sci-fi aesthetic. It was also a surprise to see Punch and Jewelee, who I suppose I’d forgotten were originally Charlton characters. (It definitely explains their analogues in Marionette and Mime present in Doomsday Clock.) But the highlight was definitely the Ted Kord back-up stories in #83-86. It was nice to see that he’s always been kind of a goofy dork.

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For this challenge, I read THE LEGEND OF WONDER WOMAN #1-4, from 1986. I just finished Kurt Busiek’s excellent BATMAN: CREATURE OF THE NIGHT, and was curious about his take on Diana from the earliest days of his career. It’s actually kind of funny thinking I chose this for the more “modern” prompt, since the whole thing is a throwback tribute to the tone of Wonder Woman’s Marston-era adventures in the 40s. Diana was undergoing a huge status quo change Post-Crisis, so I suppose this was written for fans to say goodbye to the classic rendition of the character. For fans of Golden Age comics, it hits the spot.

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I read 2 five issue series for this one because I could not fathom reading Detective or Batman and feeling forced to read more to finish an arc off. Batman is usually my least favorite character, but I somehow chose my selections wisely. I read Batman: Gates of Gotham and Batman: Turning Points. I found myself totally immersed in Gates. With books and comics I have always been interested in history tied into sweeping stories. Here we see so many threads that could be continued elsewhere if desired by a writer. This had a world-building element to Gotham I was not expecting. It made me wonder if I would like Court of Owls. It also didn’t hurt that Dick was Batman. For Turning, it was interesting to see the storied history of Gordon and Batman that was the focus of these issues. Seeing critical moments of DC history and of their relationship kept me reading until the sappy and beautifully heart-string pulling ending. I would love to read more Batman stories like these!

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For this challenge, I read SUPER POWERS! (2016) #1-6. (It’s a 6 issue mini, I couldn’t stop at 5. :sweat_smile:) I’ve already read Tiny Titans, and this book seemed to me like it might draw influence from Jack Kirby’s SUPER POWERS stories from the 80s, so I was interested to see the “Aw Yeah Comics” team’s take on the more cosmic side of the DCU.

What‘s a little confusing about this series, though, is that it presents a very different continuity than other comics — particularly when it comes to Kryptonian lore, like we wandered into the middle of a story. I suspect this was built as a sequel to Art and Franco’s SUPERMAN FAMILY ADVENTURES title, which I have not read. So I guess I’d recommend reading that first before this.

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For this challenge, I read the next 5 issues of GOTHAM ACADEMY, after choosing the first three for Challenge #10 (read at least 3 issues of a title focused on a female that is not Wonder Woman). It was so charming, I had to go back for more… though I may save the rest to see if I can use it for the next set of challenges in September 2020.

Love some of the faculty pulls we have here. Simon Trent as the drama teacher, Aunt Harriet as the girl’s dorm counselor. Man, I know I’ve said this before though, but THIS ART!!! It’s like some kind of candy for the eyes. Just gorgeous to look at.

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I read “Superman Confidential” issues 1-5 and 11. 11 ended up being the end of the arc for some reason. Someone else may know why, if so please let me know! I enjoyed this story. It was a fresh take, for me, on seeing his origin while staying grounded in modern Superman stories. Superman is a character I have found growing on me over reading various back titles and this continues to show me what a fascinating character he is. I liked that it also allowed other characters to shine as well. I like strong supporting characters that don’t take away from the lead superhero. Here Lois and Jimmy are written as strong with their own distinct personality. I can state I rather enjoyed these issues. To round out the needed 10, I read more of Superman Family Adventures. I had read 1-3 already so I read 4-7 for this one. I love these kid oriented books. They are funny and smart at the same time. I will work on finishing the series soon!

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I just finished the 1995 mini “Nightwing.” I may dislike Batman, but there is something that I enjoy about reading a Dick Grayson story. I don’t know why I am drawn to all of the Bat side characters, but dislike him so much. I enjoyed this look into where Dick gets his new costume and a backbone a little. He is a strong character with a heart of gold. The artwork here is on point as well. Dick goes from a disco machine to more of a sleek ninja type within the matter of a few issues. I loved it all. Man am I enjoying this trip into the comic library I am taking through this challenge. I am reading things I probably would never have gotten around to otherwise.

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For this challenge, I read the following comics:

GEOFF JOHNS — DC First: Flash/Superman #1. We’ve all heard the story of Superman’s races with Barry, Wally, and even Bart. This issue tells the tale of Superman’s race with the original Scarlet Speedster, Jay Garrick. And thanks to Abra Kadabra, whoever wins, dies: which is something neither of them is willing to let the other do. As far as Superman/Flash races go, this one is pretty good!

MARK WAID — The Kingdom #1. I’ve been meaning to get to this follow-up to Kingdom Come for a while, but the absence of Alex Ross’s interior art only showcases how much of the majesty of the original book was his. It’s also particularly mired in the concept of “Hypertime,” a post-Zero Hour concept invented to allow DC to have a multiverse without calling it a multiverse. Kind of a half measure, in my opinion.

GAIL SIMONE — Batgirl (2011) #31, featuring the return of Ragdoll - a favorite character from Simone’s Pre-Flashpoint Secret Six. I was a big admirer of Gail’s work prior to 2011, but something about this Batgirl run has always seemed wrong to me, like she and editorial were at odds with one another the whole way through. Maybe it’s just that I still really miss Oracle. But at least Ragdoll seemed his old creepy self in this issue. Getting to write him again must have felt like coming home. But the Babs scenes… they just open up a pit in my stomach. God, I miss the old Barbara.

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First, Nightwing is NOT a side character! He is his own character, with his own team, his own villains, his own city. DC just poorly utilizes him.
Second, Batman is stale, has no personality or character, and will forever be stagnant never growing or learning. There will never be any development for him. So I understand not liking him. Whereas characters like Nightwing and Batgirl have all the personality and character compensating for Batman. That is why you like reading their solo stuff.
Third, I would suggest Chuck Dixon’s run on Nightwing, Tim Seeley’s Grayson series, and The Judge and Wyrm story arcs from right before they started the terrible amnesiac Ric ■■■■. All great stories.

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For this final challenge, I read the following issues:

NEAL ADAMS — Harley’s Little Black Book #5, a not-so-stealth sequel to the landmark SUPERMAN VS. MUHAMMAD ALI which Adams had drawn decades earlier. It’s incredible to see just how good an artist Adams still is to this day. His style is intensely expressive and unmistakable. Conner and Palmiotti must feel like they pulled off the heist of a lifetime getting him to do an issue of their funnybook. That said, given the choice… read the original first.

GEORGE PÉREZ — The History of the DC Universe (1986) #1-2. A chronological masterpiece overlooked far too often in the wake of Pérez’s previous collaboration with Marv Wolfman, Crisis on Infinite Earths. In COIE, Pérez drew the end of the universe. Here, he draws it up again. My one warning is that some pages can be difficult to read, with colored text on colored backgrounds. Another is that much of this chronology is currently outdated. But Pérez’s art is terrific on every page.

JOE KUBERT — DC Comics Presents (1978) #66. I’ve seen this issue on a lot of “Best” lists when it comes to writer Len Wein and Kubert himself, and I’ve always been curious to check out the origins of Blackbriar Thorn, one of DC’s more enigmatic elemental beings. This story puts Thorn against the unlikely duo of Superman and The Demon, Etrigan. What I read wasn’t necessarily an all time great story, but a spectacle nonetheless, representing well the late Bronze Age style of the DCU. And the ending is a riot. Classic Superman shenanigans.

And that’s all 25 challenges! Thank you so much for putting this together, @PrincessAmethyst. This was a very fun way to explore the archives.

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I have decided that I will start the next group of prompts on January 1 2020 and everyone will have until January 1, 2021 to complete the next group! I have 23 of 25 of the new prompts created. Can’t wait for everyone to see the new ones.

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