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The Master

Every comic you've read in 2014

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Yup. I want a Jack Cole Plastic Man collection that's like, you know, not a billion dollars.

Every now and then I run across a volume of The Plastic Man Archives for a not-obscene amount of money. I owned a few back in the day.

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Finished up Matt Fraction's run on Invincible Iron Man, like I thought it was completely derailed by the Fear Itself event and while the issues weren't bad, it wasn't what I was interested in reading. After Fear Itself the series definitely gets back to the characters and plots that were interesting to me, the spymaster storyline, the Stane/Hammer/Mandarin team up. I liked the end-game but tonally it was a little different from how it started to how it ended. Mandarin is a villain is based in mysticism and they didn't change that much here, but they definitely had a hint of much of it being sourced from insanity and ego. What you end up with is another run that starts off strongly, gets caught up in an company wide event that muddies the waters a bit, tries to recover, and then ends weaker for it. Brubaker's run on Captain America, Fraction's run on Iron Man, I wonder if Hickman's run on Fantastic Four ends up being similar.

Matt Fraction's Hawkeye issues 1-11: Man what a freaking fantastic comic book, every issue thus far is extremely enjoyable and David Aja and Fraction are just working magic together here. The whole thing is just beautiful to look at. Can't wait to continue this and get the full collection in an Omnibus edition.

Batman: Earth One - I enjoyed this when I read it. Don't remember much of it now, outside of the more well-rounded characterization of Alfred, and more depth to the death of the Wayne parents.

A+X: Read a couple of issues of this, it's supposed to be fun, and they're moderately fun, but they're so inconsequential and there's no depth that longer narrative runs have, that it feels like an absolute waste of time. Don't think I'll continue this.

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Static #1-12: So damned good. Easily a Spider-Man reference here, but better than almost any SM I've read. John Paul Leon's art is a goddamned revelation and the story tackles some actual teenage stuff that's interesting. Yes, girl problems, but also young views of racism and homophobia are totally challenged here. All while being fun.

Batman: Faces: This is a Matt Wagner Batman mini that I hadn't previously read. I think it was three prestige format issues so it's smaller than the other two I've read. Great stuff. A cool little mystery. Beautiful art.

Action Comics vol 1 Superman and the Men of Steel: On the cover is a quote from USA Today saying "Grant Morrison has written the best Superman comic that I've ever read" (or something to that effect) and I happen to believe him, but it isn't found in this collection. It's not great, but it isn't terrible. Rags Morales is a great artist, and I love his work in this book. It made up for there not really being a story compelling enough to get me to read the net volume.

Trades: 61
Comics: 703
Omnibus: 8
Graphic Novels: 15

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Been re-reading my Icon trades myself. I love Static, but as a series Icon is so much better. I was freaking thrilled when he and Rocket appeared on Young Justice.

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Hawkeye 20: Wrap up for Kate's LA story, and feeds into what is going to be the ultimate climax of Fraction's arc. If I'm understanding the implications of what Kate uncovers correctly, holy shit.

If I put this together right, MM is actually a clone of Kate, and with her dad bankrolling it... whoa.

Fun off screen cameo from Miss America, and Wu is having the time of her life on the art (with a purposeful reference to one of the better memes from the last few years). I'm sad this is Wu's last issue on the run, but as for what this sets up... well, fucksticks. Great issue.

Ms. Marvel 6-8: We finally get some explanation as to who the hell the Inventor is and what's going to be the larger arc for Kamala for a while, surrounding the kids that are going missing. Plus, we get some pretty awesome team ups for Kamala - Wolverine and Lockjaw. Continues to be a fun little book with cute art, a good core message for its intended audience and doesn't denigrate the culture of it's main heroine (which could be so easy to do). Great covers from McKelvie, too.

Wolverine and the X-Men 1-3: Picked this up because I liked the original run, was interested to see where the renumbering would go. They're clearly trying to set up for Wolverine's death, which I understand with upcoming storylines in the larger u, but on an individual level, not understanding the attempt to bring the Phoenix back and focusing on the whole "we must destroy Evan before he becomes Apocalypse" thing, given that I'm 90% sure that this was covered by another series a few years ago. Probably going to page through the most recent issues and see if it'd be worth it to pick it up, but I'm not exactly encouraged by this.

Loki: Agent of Asgard 5: so yeah, this book is pretty much Loki being James Bond, getting his own neat supporting cast, and eye candy on top of it. I'm not gonna object to it, but it does feel like it's going to be tied into just about every major storyline going on at any given time (see Original Sins) by editorial mandate, which... not sure how I feel about that. Probably gonna be something fun to pick up every once in a while.

Saga 22: Definitely getting into the everything falls apart stage of things. Things are exploding with Alana and Marko, and if I'm correct, there are only a few more issues left until the end of the first volume as BKV and Staples are calling it; we're going to see the dissolution of the marriage by then. More on the Prince Robot front and with his son's kidnapping, which is getting even more interesting.

Wicked and the Divine 3: Again, McKelvie and Wilson are absolutely fucking killing it on the art here. The Morrigan and Baphomet are going to be interesting to watch, just based on their interactions alone (which makes up the bulk of the issue). Us getting a bit more of Laura and her parents is interesting. The end, though, where they manage to do a pretty big exposition dump and do some neat things with how Laura is second handedly conveying the information, is honestly one of the best examples I've seen of it. That last page? Welp, shit. The icon pages between sections are also really good for helping keep track of everything, too.

Hawkeye v Deadpool 1: I got this on the recommendation of several Twitter folk, and this looks to be an interesting crossover; it's the sensibility of the Fraction Hawkeye (without him actually being on this title) with the crazy of Deadpool, and what looks to be at least an interesting drone plot going on. Some neat carryovers between both titles, too. Probably not going to pick up the full crossover, but it looks fun.

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I've the latest issue of Ms. Marvel downloaded on my phone, awaiting to be read.

Spider-Man: The Gathering of the Five

This is often hailed as one of the worst stories of Spider-Man of all time, but I feel in the last ten years or so I've seen so much worse. It's basically remembered as the story that both brought back Aunt May and set Spidey in motion for the John Byrne reboot the following year. As a story, it's meh. Norman Osborn's written well enough, if a bit too mustahce-twirly. Spidey I find is, again, strong in character, especially from the Howard Mackie scripts. There's a nice subplot about Mary Jane quitting her majoring in psychology to get back into modeling, as well as an issue where Jameson pulls a gun on Norman. The story as a whole flounders because not only did they bring back Aunt May (who, expect for in the JMS run I defy anyone to say is a character they honestly like), but the entire next-to-last issue cliffhanger of the Green Goblin unmasking Spider-Man before killing him was all a hallucination in his mind and Spidey webbed him up off-screen. This is clearly the beginning of the decades-long mandate in the Spider-Man Editorial offices of NOT in any way giving a shit when it came to big stories like these. It's lousy overall, but not without it's good parts. Spidey's had way worse storytelling inflicted upon him after this story.

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Henry & Glenn Forever & Ever: This is the second collection of the cartoon adventures of the gay married couple Henry Rollins and Glenn Danzig and their Satanic cultist neighbors Hall and Oates. Seriously, one of the funniest fucking things I've read in years. Hilariously so. It helps to know who the real guys are, though. So there's that. Tom Neely's art is a very brisk cartoony style, but sometimes he diverts to other artists' styles in fits of pure genius such as Glenn Danzig reciting the lyrics to his song as portrayed by Jack Kirby, or Henry Rollins using his big fist to save Danzig from a "monster" in the style of Mike Mignola. It's big, and I read it all today. Loved it. There's also a foreword by Rob Halford that amounts to two pages of "I saw what you did there." Brilliant. I need to track down the first collection now.

The covers themselves are worth the price of admission:

STK628609.jpg

The Shadow Over Innsmouth: This oneshot has The Shadow in the town of Innsmouth facing fishpeople. It's not great. I was probably a little too excited for it.

Multiversity #1: This comic is BUILT to be read monthly. I love it. It's dense and there's a lot going on, but anytime Lord Havok gets a shot at being cool, I'm game. Also, Captain Carrot! I'm in for the long haul. Not much to say yet.

Daredevil Vol 6: Unfortunately this is a five issue trade that includes two issues of Waid's Hulk run that's already been collected in the Hulk trade. So, It was basically 10 bucks for 3 new issues. They're good though. So there's that. Daredevil attacking Silver Surfer is an image that won't soon leave me.

Trades: 63
Comics: 705
Omnibus: 8
Graphic Novels: 15

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Untold Tales of Spider-Man Omnibus: collects Untold Tales of Spider-Man #1-25 and -1, Amazing Fantasy #16-18, Strange Encounters, Annual 1996 and 1997, and material from Amazing Spider-Man Annual #37.

This was so much fun. In 1995, Marvel (deep in the throes of wanting to be Image Comics so badly their teeth hurt) launched a handful of experimental titles designed to be kid-friendly with a $0.99 price point (at a time when comics were going for $1.99) in an effort to attract new demographics into the comic shops. This one, from Kurt Busiek (in the post-Marvels glow and generally being allowed to do whatever he wanted at Marvel) and Pat Olliffe, with occasional help from Roger Stern, Tom DeFalco, and Ron Frenz, takes place in the first year of Spidey's career, and has a very strong Silver Age feel. The art is weird, as a very 90s artist is trying to evoke Steve Ditko, and it takes over a year for him to come to a comfortable middle ground, but luckily Busiek (who's always been more comfortable writing Silver and Bronze Age style than he ever was writing whatever else was going on around him) nails exactly what he's aiming for. A hellaciously fun comic, and worth your time for nothing else than the 1996 Annual, with art by Mike Allred and Joe Sinnott, that is just a straight up comedy issue between Spidey and the FF. I missed this book.

The Thing, vol. 2 #1-8: Dan Slott. Andrea DiVito. Kieron Dwyer. Ben Grimm. Here, take my money. Take it all. Another incredibly lighthearted and fun comic that has fighting in it because comics have to have fighting in them, but really this is just an eight-issue sitcom. Slott does comedy extremely well, and the Thing is tailor made for his sensibilities, while simultaneously exploring the consequences of someone like Ben suddenly becoming a billionaire overnight. Also, regardless of what it's called, this is Marvel Two-in-One vol. 3, as Ben gets pretty much everyone to bounce off of, and also LOCKJAW IS AWESOME.

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The 1997 Annual of Untold Tales of Spider-Man was the first (and only) comic I ever bought from the spinner rack at the grocery store. I must have read that thing a hundred times.

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Guardians of the Galaxy 100th Anniversary Special: seriously one of the worst comics I've read in the past few years. What the hell is Ron Marz trying to do here? Pile O' shit.

Bodies #1: Several timelines, same place, same crime, same body. Insanely awesome premise. Wonderful art. Totally a trade buy.

Captain Victory and the Galactic Rangers #1: I wasn't prepared for this...I might go for the trade, but it really doesn't feel in the spirit of Kirby at all.

Hellraiser Bestiary #1: an anthology set in the Hellraiser universe. Not the greatest. I've been impressed with Boom!'s Barker stuff, so I'll try this in trade, I think.

Daredevil Cage Match: a oneshot featuring a fight between DD and Luke Cage back in the day. Kind of fun.

Dark Ages #1: Kind of a bore.

Death Vigil #2: Sejic is KILLING IT here. Art is the beautiful sketchy cartoony stuff from his deviant art page and the writing is dense and fun. I'll try to cut off the monthlies in exchange for the trade.

Dreams Coraline: Terry Dodson doing a cheeky story about a nanny in Victorian times who is of course hot. She stumbles into the weird world of what looks like if Jules Verne was a child with unlimited ability to create. Weird. Super fun. Very french.

Dreams Sketchbook: the issue sized sketchbook to accompany the GN.

Room 179: Giovanna Casotto is a hot Italian cartoonist who draws herself into X-rated graphic novels. I met her several years ago and she gave me this and a few others. Kind of odd.

X-Women #1: The nonsense over Manara lately made me go back and read this. It kind of sucks, but it shore is purty!

Meathouse Man: Oneshot adaptation of a George RR Martin short story that SUCKS. Oof.

Justice Inc. #1: Doc Savage, Shadow and Avenger together in one comic series? Talk about a pulp fan's wet dream! Too bad it's not very good. The whole first half of the issue is just people talking. What the fuck?

God is Dead #16: fucking great series. Need to catch up on more recent issues.

Brigitte's Quickies 1: these are more X-rated GNs but from a French Canadian artist named James Lemay. Not as beautiful art as Casotto, but he gave them to me too. Whatever.

Brigitte's Quickies 2: essentially these are 3 page porn stories. Some are pretty funny, but there's nothing extremely worthwhile to them.

Trades: 63
Comics: 717
Omnibus: 8
Graphic Novels: 19

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Captain Victory and the Galactic Rangers #1: I wasn't prepared for this...I might go for the trade, but it really doesn't feel in the spirit of Kirby at all.

This is a topic that interests me. Did you ever do a King and I on it? What projects have come the closest to continuing Kirby's properties in his spirit?

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It is. I'm close to doing some more K&I's on a very irregular basis. I'll plug that in to maybe a series of columns.

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I actually did, in fact, read these old comics I got: Captain Marvel Adventures #27 (September 1943) and Whiz Comics #108 (April 1949), 145 (May 1952) and 148 (August 1952).

Cap was just such a fun character. These are some incredibly goofy stories and actually feel like Weisinger-era Superman in places (unsurprising, as these are all wriiten by Otto Binder). There's just a charm and whimsy (a word I hate but is the only accurate description) that you won't find anywhere else. Adventures is, of course, Cap's own book, and features the first full appearance of Mr. Mind, the evilest worm in Creation, as well as a fucking awesome cover that screams World War 2, and the only reason I could have ever afforded this is the fact that it's in really rough shape.

63104_20060915002701_large.jpg

Whiz Comics was Fawcett's big anthology title, and all the issues star the same four features: Captain Marvel, Ibis the Invincible, Golden Arrow, and Lance O'Casey. There's a reason Cap is the only one of these anyone remembers. Golden Arrow is an archer who fights Old West crime, and Lance O'Casey is a sailor... diver... guy. Both of them are quite dull. Ibis is still owned by DC and they use him (or a newer version of him) from time to time; he's an Egyptian magician with a magic stick that can do literally ANYTHING, and his stories are less "how can Ibis get out of this situation?" than "how will Ibis decide to go about getting out of this situation, seeing as how he is all powerful and nothing could ever pose any threat ever?"

Because Fawcett went out of business, the copyrights on their comics were never renewed, so pretty much every story they ever did is in the public domain, meaning that the actual comics themselves are less in-demand than comics from other companies, so the prices were actually pretty reasonable.

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Untold Tales of Spider-Man Omnibus: collects Untold Tales of Spider-Man #1-25 and -1, Amazing Fantasy #16-18, Strange Encounters, Annual 1996 and 1997, and material from Amazing Spider-Man Annual #37.

This was so much fun. In 1995, Marvel (deep in the throes of wanting to be Image Comics so badly their teeth hurt) launched a handful of experimental titles designed to be kid-friendly with a $0.99 price point (at a time when comics were going for $1.99) in an effort to attract new demographics into the comic shops. This one, from Kurt Busiek (in the post-Marvels glow and generally being allowed to do whatever he wanted at Marvel) and Pat Olliffe, with occasional help from Roger Stern, Tom DeFalco, and Ron Frenz, takes place in the first year of Spidey's career, and has a very strong Silver Age feel. The art is weird, as a very 90s artist is trying to evoke Steve Ditko, and it takes over a year for him to come to a comfortable middle ground, but luckily Busiek (who's always been more comfortable writing Silver and Bronze Age style than he ever was writing whatever else was going on around him) nails exactly what he's aiming for. A hellaciously fun comic, and worth your time for nothing else than the 1996 Annual, with art by Mike Allred and Joe Sinnott, that is just a straight up comedy issue between Spidey and the FF. I missed this book.

I recently grabbed all of the issues at my LCS and re-read them for the first time in over a decade. Untold Tales was one of my first gateways into Spider-Man when I was a grade-schooler. I loved it. I really dug Pat Olliffe's Ditko-ish artwork. It's done in a way that doesn't think Ditko's art was bad (unlike the current artist on Learning to Crawl) and keeps it's own style but still evokes the original style. The attention to detail in terms of which issue fit during the Lee/Ditko days in extraordinary, and could only come from the writer of Marvels. I was at SDCC a couple of years ago and tried to haggle over the $100 omnibus, with zero results. How'd you get your hands on it?

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It's done in a way that doesn't think Ditko's art was bad (unlike the current artist on Learning to Crawl)

Wait. Wait. Wait. You gotta elaborate on that one.

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I was at SDCC a couple of years ago and tried to haggle over the $100 omnibus, with zero results. How'd you get your hands on it?

I was in a comics shop that was selling their copy for $35. I just happened to luck into it. I've had my eye on it for a while, but as much as I enjoyed this title back in the day, I'm frequently finding that "things I enjoyed in the 1990s because they were better than most of everything else at the time" does not automatically translate into good comics in 2014, and the best I was finding online was in the $50-60 range. However, for $35, I took a shot, and I'm glad I did.

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Grindhouse: Doors Open at Midnight Double Feature: This trade covers four issues. Two sets of two issue arcs. It's presented in a flipbook style. It takes well-worn exploitation genres and mashes them up for maximum cheese. Great stuff. Prison Ship Antares is a women in prison story on a space ship. Bee Vixens From Mars is a sexploitation thing mixed with alien invaders themes. Awesome.

The Guns of Shadow Valley: A GN by Dave Wachter that I think was Kickstarted but then Darkhorse published it in hardcover. Fuck, it's beautiful. Soimething like this gives me hope that my weird western comic will sell.

Trades: 64
Comics: 717
Omnibus: 8
Graphic Novels: 20

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It's done in a way that doesn't think Ditko's art was bad (unlike the current artist on Learning to Crawl)

Wait. Wait. Wait. You gotta elaborate on that one.

Totally just my opinion, but the current artist for the Slott mini-series Spider-Man: Learning to Crawl is clearly going for a Ditko type of style, but it comes off almost disrespectful, as though Ditko's admittedly cartoony style had no sense of facial expressions or anything. Here's an example.

AmazingSpider-Man1.3-p.19.jpg

Offile's style definitely echoes Ditko's no doubt, but he made it a bit more modern and natural looking while style keeping with the period.

UntoldTales1_01-700x1024.jpg

Again, just my opinion. Neither matches Ditko's best, but both approach it in different way with varying levels of success.

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Meteor Men #1: This is the first time Jeff Parker has steered me wrong. This Oni miniseries ends on the page that it should have begun with. There is no doubt from the very first page that the end of issue one ends the way it does. So why bother telling the story? Should have been 4 instead of 5 issues. Needed an editor.

POP #1: Goddammit! Another idea close to something I'm developing. Mine's still different enough to go forward, I think. Beautiful art.

Savage Hulk #3: Jean Grey absorbs gamma radiation and becomes a Jade Giantess with perfect control over her psychic and telekinetic powers. Whoa.

Sex Machine #1-3: This is a pornographic ripoff of Weird Science. It's kind of weirdly heartfelt too.

Sherwood TX #1: It's been three days since I read this and I couldn't even hazard a guess at what a logline would be. It left zero impression on me.

Sundowners #1: Excellent. I will be grabbing this in trade. A truly unique comic book.

Teach Me: Saucy Italian GN.

Terminal Hero #1: I haven't seen Lucy, but I find it incredibly strange that this came out weeks after that and also dealt with a medical procedure to "unlock the unused portions of the brain." This one doesn't have Scarlett Johannson.

The Fade Out #1: Snooze...The most typical story I've read in a long time. HUGE disappointment. Add insult to injury and Devin Faraci is given a couple pages at the back. Gross.

George RR Martin's In The House of the White Worm #1: Awful. I'm beginning to think that all this guy is is Game of Thrones and Wild Cards.

Trades: 64
Comics: 728
Omnibus: 8
Graphic Novels: 21

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I re-read the Kelley Puckett/Damion Scott run of Batgirl *points to signature* in the last few days I.E. the first 37 issues. Did it for an upcoming essay I'm writing but seriously, this is one of the best, most underrated comic book runs ever.

Cassandra Cain's one of my favorite characters, and this initial 3 year run of her title is why. It sets up what makes her so completely compelling and provides the Batman Universe with a totally unique character for Batman, Oracle, Robin, Nightwing and Gotham City to all interact with. Many of the issues are sparse on dialogue due to the nature of the character and the fact that Damion Scott's dynamic pencils sell her incredible fighting skills so much to the point that you know this can only be done in a comic book. Scott's most certainly hit or miss for some people, and his style changes rapidly throughout his run (Compare his work during No Mans Land and the first six issues of Batgirl to the end of his run and his run on Robin when Stephanie Brown replaced Tim, it's night and day), but his style and the way he illustrates the fight scenes make him one of the best "fight scene" artists to ever work in comics.

Puckett's writing immediately establishes who Cassandra is and what she needs to come to terms with throughout her title. She's one of the best fighters in all of the DCU, but cannot read or write and finds herself often at odds with Barbara Gordon and various other normal people. Batman sees her as the "perfect" partner and relishes his role in shaping her to be another solider in his war against crime. You've never seen Batman act like this before, to the point where it's literally a father/daughter relationship. As such, there's often a Mother/Father dynamic between Oracle, who wants to make Cassandra into a better person, and Batman, who wants to make Cassandra into a better crime fighter. There are several scenes where the two agree and disagree over what's best for Cass, acting like a divorced couple. Cass herself is perfectly fine just being Batgirl to the point where she doesn't see having a secret identity as any big deal.

Her origin story also sets her apart from every other member of the Bat-Family. She's a trained assassin and has killed before, but only once and spends the rest of her life trying to atone for it. The fact that she was trained since birth by David Cain and raised to be a killer gives her an identity crisis in figuring out if she can change or if she's always meant to be a killer. This is exhaustively worked through in many issues and always showcases the fact that she'll dive into a hail of gunfire and take gunshots to the head if it means saving someone's life. It's obvious why Batman is over the moon with her, but it's ridiculously self-sacrificing and that's confronted by the idea that Cassandra has a serious death wish. That puts her against Lady Shiva, who relishes a death battle, Robin who is freaked out by her, and Steph Brown with whom the two become fast friends.

I could go on and on, but I'd be rambling. I've talked about Cass at length on a Batgirl Special I did for the Batman Universe.net which can be found under the TBU Specials Podcast section. Cassandra had two other writers on her title, but Kelley Puckett was far and away her best. Surprisingly, Chuck Dixon did a few fill-in issues during the Puckett run which I wasn't too crazy about. He included Robin, Spoiler and the Connor Hawke Green Arrow, and I got the sense that he had no idea how to write Cassandra, as the story was another one of his 80s action movie adventure types of stories where the plot overtook most of the characters and the only bits of characterization we got from Cass was met with "She's so weird!" by Steph, which clashes with how Puckett wrote her.

*EDIT* Oh yeah, also picked up Chew vol.8. Been reading via trade since it debuted in 2010 and am still digging this series. Highly consistent and entertaining. It was a sweet and emotional return from a recently deceased character and continues to bring the fun and action. Rob Gilroy is another underrated as hell artist.

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Silver Surfer (2014) #1-4: This is a lot of fun. Dan Slott is famously a huge Doctor Who fan, and this is his transparent way of getting to write those kinds of stories. Dawn Greenwood is absolutely adorable, and threatens to go too far into preciousness (the character is very obviously an author favorite) but right now she's just on this side of appealing for me. The weirdness of the Surfer making Wizard of Oz jokes is battling against the fact that those jokes are actually fairly amusing. Mike Allred is, of course, crushing it, as he always does when he's able to cut loose in Kirby's sandbox. I don't know if this series has long term potential, but in bursts I quite enjoy it.

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Godzilla Rulers of the Earth Vol 1 - So much fun but a bit too short and quick. It was nice to see Zilla against Godzilla in a match that didn't last 20 seconds, cause I like Zilla as a monster. Still won't win though, as it should be. The artwork by Matt Frank is probably the best Godzilla art I've seen. I might like his stuff more than Art Adams'.

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Patsy Walker: Hellcat #1-5: This was batshit insane, confusing as hell, made zero sense, incredibly goofy, and quite funny. Patsy gets sent to Alaska by Tony Stark to be their representative of the 50 State Initiative, and is wrapped up in witches and demons and a yeti and a talking calendar from the moment she steps off the plane. Kathryn Immonen writes Patsy as a weird, scattered goofball, and it makes for an extremely appealing main character. David LaFuente's manga-inspired (but not slavishly so) artwork delivers all the charm while selling the monsters and danger as well as the physical comedy. It's a jumbled mess of a story, but it's a fun jumbled mess of a story.

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In 1994, Marvel came out with three painted, prestige format one-shots named after their three major anthology/split titles of the Silver Age and featuring the characters that had filled those pages.

Strange Tales by Kurt Busiek and Ricardo Villagran, featuring the Human Torch, the Thing, and Doctor Strange (with a cameo appearance by Nick Fury) was far and away the best of the bunch. Using the framework of one of Ben's poker games, Busiek tells a number of stories that pay homage to the original book, right down to the appearance of a giant kaiju monster named Orrgo the Unconquerable! Just a ton of fun, and the artwork looks really great.

Tales of Suspense by James Robinson and Colin MacNiel, with Captain America and Iron Man, on the other hand, was pretty dreadful. Super serious business ensues when Fury sends Cap and Tony (separately for no real goddamn reason) after some terrorists with access to Stark armor. Robinson's script is awful, the art is muddy and dull, they find a reason to put Cap in armor and it sucks, and even though I got this for under a dollar I wish I hadn't.

Tales to Astonish by Peter David and John Estes, starring the Hulk, the Wasp, and Henry Pym, rounds things out, and it's okay. This is the period when the Hulk was in Professor mode, Henry wasn't using a code name, and the Wasp just kind of hung out with Hank despite not being married to him anymore. Loki gives power to a crazy guy and the heroes team up to beat him up. David's story is ho hum but his dialogue is decent, but I liked the art well enough. A little on the dark side but expressive and moody.

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In 1994, Marvel came out with three painted, prestige format one-shots named after their three major anthology/split titles of the Silver Age and featuring the characters that had filled those pages.

Strange Tales by Kurt Busiek and Ricardo Villagran, featuring the Human Torch, the Thing, and Doctor Strange (with a cameo appearance by Nick Fury) was far and away the best of the bunch. Using the framework of one of Ben's poker games, Busiek tells a number of stories that pay homage to the original book, right down to the appearance of a giant kaiju monster named Orrgo the Unconquerable! Just a ton of fun, and the artwork looks really great.

Tales of Suspense by James Robinson and Colin MacNiel, with Captain America and Iron Man, on the other hand, was pretty dreadful. Super serious business ensues when Fury sends Cap and Tony (separately for no real goddamn reason) after some terrorists with access to Stark armor. Robinson's script is awful, the art is muddy and dull, they find a reason to put Cap in armor and it sucks, and even though I got this for under a dollar I wish I hadn't.

Tales to Astonish by Peter David and John Estes, starring the Hulk, the Wasp, and Henry Pym, rounds things out, and it's okay. This is the period when the Hulk was in Professor mode, Henry wasn't using a code name, and the Wasp just kind of hung out with Hank despite not being married to him anymore. Loki gives power to a crazy guy and the heroes team up to beat him up. David's story is ho hum but his dialogue is decent, but I liked the art well enough. A little on the dark side but expressive and moody.

My thoughts exactly, Dan.

X-Files: Year Zero #2: This is turning out to be a pretty great little miniseries. I'll stick around to see how it plays out.

Alice Cooper #1: The new one from Dynamite. It isn't good. Sadly.

Death of Wolverine #1: This on the other hand, is pretty damned good...

Ex-Con #1: I know I read this, but it left absolutely no impression on me.

Grendel Vs. The Shadow #1: 1. Matt Wagner is writing and drawing Grendel again! And it's Hunter Fucking Rose! 2. Matt Wagner is writing and drawing The Fucking Shadow! If none of that makes you want to buy this, then you're dead to me.

Original Sin #7, 8: This was the big event? Fuuuuuckkkkkkkkk Youuuuuuuuuu!

Uber #17: Continues to kick major ass. Love this book.

Wonder Woman #33: so sad this is ending soon. Dammit! So. Good.

Savage Dragon #195-197: keeping on. Great new direction. I was skeptical, but I should have just trusted in Larsen.

Walking Dead #126-130: Damn. Never been a fan of the "jump ahead in time" story even though the concept appeals to me. I just feel like it hasn't really been done very well before. This is pretty good though. What they've done with Negan makes my heart pound.

Trades: 64

Comics: 745

Omnibus: 8

Graphic Novels: 21

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