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The Master

Every comic you've read in 2017

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Super Sons #1: This was a blast. The Jonathan/Damian dynamic is beautifully written, and the artwork is honestly some of the best I've seen in DC in years. This book's got me

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Dark Reign: The List - Avengers: The series of eight one-shots kicks off with Hawkeye (as Ronin) attempting to assassinate Norman Osborn, who, as head of the newly formed HAMMER, has made his own hit list. This one is okay. It's mostly setup for the other seven issues, in that Clint was jobbed out to put Osborn over as a threat for guys like Daredevil and Nick Fury.

Dark Reign: The List - Daredevil: Speaking of Daredevil, this elevates Bullseye to a level unseen since he killed Elektra. Not the best of the lot, but it has a brutal, bloody climax.

Dark Reign: The List - X-Men: If you can teleport with that much ease, the monster is no threat. Just send it to the moon or space or hell or wherever.

Dark Reign: The List - Secret Warriors: Fury teams with Osborn to take down a mutual foe, but I have no idea who the guy is. The title page is worth a look.

Dark Reign: The List - Punisher: I hate this one, and always have. By no means am I against extreme violence in comics, but to dismember The Punisher like that? Fuck that.

Dark Reign: The List - Hulk: It feels like this was a story meant to feature Amadeus Cho, but Banner got swapped in.

Dark Reign: The List - Wolverine: Besides a few panels with Osborn, this has nothing to do with Dark Reign. Hell, one of the final pages calls the events a "complete waste of time." Yeah, I don't think Jason Aaron was too pleased to insert this into his Wolverine run.

Dark Reign: The List - Amazing Spider-Man: Despite being Osborn v Spider-Man, it's an unmasked Peter who gets the last laugh. It's supposed to feel like a huge, final battle between the two, but it's a few kicks and punches and energy beams.

Comics: 35

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Klaus: the Witch of Winter: Yup, this feels like Morrison getting out the last of the All Star things he wanted to do, but with Santa. Feels super silver age. Dan Mora continues to be unfairly gorgeous, especially on the color front. We got this in the $1 sale, and I'm pretty cool with that.

Divinity III 3: Goddamn I did not see that twist coming, A+ on keeping me off my guard Kindt. Also, I kind of want to see a non colored version of this, because while the color work is solid, there is some stuff on the ink work that I didn't catch in the color work in the process work in the back. 

Seven to Eternity 1-4: First off: holy fuck Jesus Jerome Opeña paired with Matt Hollingworth is fucking god mode. Second off: Jim and I had a long conversation this evening that we will probably replicate for a podcast about how Remender hasn't really worked with women for most of his career, and it shows in how he writes them. There was one point in issue 2 where a lady dressed in white and super judgy calls someone who wears skimpy clothes and was questionably allied with the big bad a whore, and I rolled my eyes and groaned out loud in response. The premise is great, fantasy type western with a side dose of reverse prisoner's dilemma. The writing is solid if a little unclear at times with the sheer amount of shit going on on the page. For the $1 we got most of these issues for, worth a look. 

Single Issues: 73
Trades/Graphic Novels: 18
Omnibuses: 1

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Jonah Hex: Tall Tales - A bunch of short Hex stories.  Some better than others.  Don't think it worked well as a trade.  The 'Hex is a badass' story gets boring after a while.

Jacked - Did not enjoy the ending, but it was good until then.

 

Single Issues: 0
Trades/Graphic Novels: 13 (72)

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Mike, I enjoy the Secret Warriors and Punisher Dark Reign one shots. IIRC, the Secret Warriors one is one part John Hickman finally laying out a portion of the map of his SW run, and the Punisher is a great vehicle for Remender's heavy first person I'M A BAD MAN I'VE DONE BAD THINGS I'M GONNA MAKE IT UP TO MY DEAD/LIVING GIRLFRIEND/FAMILY/FRIENDS/CHILDHOOD PUPPY BY MORE BAD VIOLENCE narration.

Klaus oneshot: Please, Morrison, use Dan Mora on a project that isn't you goofing off.

Batwoman Rebirth oneshot: Batman talking down to Batwoman felt wrong. The mission of the issue is condense Batwoman's recent publication history into a 16+ page comic, with enough room for the important moments to breathe and a "wait what" final splash. It does that. Let's see where it goes.

Seven To Eternity 1-4: JEROME OPEÑA AND MATT HOLLINGSWORTH ARE BASED GODS AND WE AREN'T WORTHY. Remender and Opeña cooked up a fairly familiar feeling fantasy universe (think D&D on an alien planet). The core story "transporting a prisoner that can offer you whatever your heart desires in exchange for your SOOOOOOOOOOUL" is the Prisoner's Dilemma. The team makes everything feel hella dramatic. I agree with Hannah's comments about Remender's female characters. If he fixed that up, he'd be a fantastic writer.

Constantine/Green Arrow Future's End one shots: Solid! Constantine's a traditional Constantine lying with a more powerful foe about magic, Green Arrow's is all setup. Then again, Andrea Sorrentino is fanfuckingtastic on Green Arrow, so that makes it all okay.

The First Three Issues Of Scarlet Witch: I'll actually check in on the series if there's an art team I like drawing the comic, so picking up the first three issues packaged together is a great tool. When Vanessa Del Rey is the weak link in the chain, that's a pretty strong chain.

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Dark Reign: The List - Amazing Spider-Man: Despite being Osborn v Spider-Man, it's an unmasked Peter who gets the last laugh. It's supposed to feel like a huge, final battle between the two, but it's a few kicks and punches and energy beams.

Comics: 35

They've not done an earnest Peter vs. Norman battle since Paul Jenkins wrote Peter Parker: Spider-Man. Tom Breevort does not want Osborn to learn of Peter's identity, despite it being a defining factor between the two of them since Stan Lee. Also he's a tool

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Mike, I enjoy the Secret Warriors and Punisher Dark Reign one shots. IIRC, the Secret Warriors one is one part John Hickman finally laying out a portion of the map of his SW run, and the Punisher is a great vehicle for Remender's heavy first person I'M A BAD MAN I'VE DONE BAD THINGS I'M GONNA MAKE IT UP TO MY DEAD/LIVING GIRLFRIEND/FAMILY/FRIENDS/CHILDHOOD PUPPY BY MORE BAD VIOLENCE narration.

It's been ages since I've read Secret Warriors, so I can't recall exactly how The List issue plays into the overall plot, but it does seem like Fury discovered a big piece to the puzzle he's attempting to uncover.

As for The Punisher issue, I may need to finally read Franken-Castle to see what comes from these events. Still, though, the dismemberment really bothers me.

They've not done an earnest Peter vs. Norman battle since Paul Jenkins wrote Peter Parker: Spider-Man. Tom Breevort does not want Osborn to learn of Peter's identity, despite it being a defining factor between the two of them since Stan Lee. Also he's a tool

Norman knowing the Peter / Spider-Man connection is at the heart of their relationship, so him not knowing seems off.

Who's a tool: Osborn or Breevort?

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Postal vol 4: this is how this book gets topical. Badass.

Spread vol 3: one of the best horror comics of recent years.

Birthright vol 4: probably the best fantasy comic ever.

Clara...after dark vol 8: more of the same. Bernet's work is still brilliant.

Superman #12: fucking great. I love when Mahnke does Superman.

Superman Annual #1: eh, not great after the previous issue.

Supernaut #3-5: this is what Grant Morrison wishes he could do. Brilliance.

Superwoman #5: pretty solid.

Teen Titans #2: this sucks. I'm out.

TMNT #64, 65: 64 is fucking crazy, 65 goes a little too far in letting the air out of the tension balloon. However, Mutanimals. 

TMNT Universe #4: four issues in and this comic in which the "Universe" has a rich tapestry of characters, has yet to have a comic story that doesn't involve any of the four turtles.

The Circle #1: not  great.

The Flintstones #6: consistently one of the best comics on the market.

The Great Divide #3: this book is fucking crazy.

The Lost Boys #3: ok, this is crazy. Kind of fun too.

The Mighty Thor #13: fucking fantastic. I want more of the League of Realms. Crazy good.

The Skeptics #2: this is basically the same issue as the first. Lame. 

The Unworthy Thor #2: fucking cool. So good.

Comics: 183
Trades: 9

Graphic Novels: 7

Omnibuses: 2

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They've not done an earnest Peter vs. Norman battle since Paul Jenkins wrote Peter Parker: Spider-Man. Tom Breevort does not want Osborn to learn of Peter's identity, despite it being a defining factor between the two of them since Stan Lee. Also he's a tool

Norman knowing the Peter / Spider-Man connection is at the heart of their relationship, so him not knowing seems off.

Who's a tool: Osborn or Breevort?

Breevort

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Yeah, Frankencastle is something I thought was a fucking ridiculous idea and never bothered until it came out as the complete collection trade half off on DCBS. It's fucking great. Top 5 Punisher stories for sure.

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What little I've read of Rick Remender's run on The Punisher has never landed with me. But, I will give it another shot.

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Red Hood and the Outlaws: Rebirth and Red Hood and the Outlaws #1-6: If you can get past the childlike / convoluted "I'm not surprised by your plan because your plan was part of my plan so I knew your plan before you even planned your plan" villainous plot, this was a lot of fun. The Red Hood / Bizarro scenes were especially touching, I want more of Bruce and Jason attempting to fix their relationship, and Artemis' reluctance to accept the team is enjoyable. Dexter Soy nails the character, making each look strong by utilizing their different power levels and skills, he keeps the action grounded despite having a Superman clone and an Amazonian warrior in the book, and his pacing flows nicely from scene to scene. Though I don't see this as a monthly read for everybody, I do think it's a good way to spend part of a lazy Sunday.

Comics: 42

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Josie and the Pussycats 4: Continues to make me cackle, and is well written and well drawn to boot. I'm in.

Hawkeye 1: More about this on the podcast, but I'm really hoping that this starts to develop its own identity instead of leaning super heavily on the Faction/Wu/Aja arc. 

Doctor Strange: The Oath: Martin is real fucking good, and the story is wonderful (except for a shoehorned in romance with Clea that mainly feels like it was there bc they had a romance back in the day). Had a few Lee/Ditko stories in back, but tbh the main lure was the process work. 

Cinema Purgatorio 1-7: Mostly read the Alan Moore bits (him taking on various film genres and histories), and the Gillen story (Pokemon meets Mad Max meets general deconstruction). For the $1 we got it for an issue, definitely worth it.

Single Issues: 82
Trades/Graphic Novels: 19
Omnibuses: 1

Edited by Venneh

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Trinity #1-6: With the post-Flashpoint Superman dead, Wonder Woman and Batman are reluctant to accept his replacement: post-Crisis Superman. That all changes, though, when the three of them are trapped together, learning their greatest secrets and fears in the process. Meanwhile, an enemy from the past plots his return.

Overall, this was a great team-building book, in that it felt natural the way Wonder Woman and Batman learned to trust this new (to them) Superman as one of their own. Francis Manapul does a beautiful job narrating and scripting the three as they travel from Hamilton County to Smallville to Gotham to Themyscira to a nightmarish hellscape and back to Hamilton, all while facing themselves and their pasts. Whether you know them from post-Crisis or post-Flashpoint, the Trinity feel as they should; they are a well-oiled machine fighting for a common goal.

Artistically, the Manapul issues (#1-2 and 5) are the strongest, but Emanuela Lupacchino (#4 and 6) does an admirable job matching the vibrance of Manapul. Clay Mann (#3) is the odd-man-out here, which is not to say his issue is poorly illustrated. Quite the contrary. His style is so drastically different from the rest, that he suffers by comparison. While it works for the darker, Batman-centric story, next to the lushness of Manapul and Lupacchino, it feels jarring. That said, Mann's double-page spreads better follow the innovative layouts and cinematic action of Manapul. So while his issue may not be as bright and colorful as the other five, from a storytelling standpoint it's on-par.

This is a great start to this new ongoing, which I'll be grabbing in trades.

Comics: 48

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Wonder Woman: The Golden Age Archives Vol. 1: collects the Wonder Woman stories from All-Star Comics #8, Sensation Comics #1-24, and Comic Cavalcade #1-5, with Wonder Woman #1-7.

FREDERIC WERTHAM: "Superman is a fascist!"

FANDOM: "That's preposterous!"

WERTHAM: "Batman is a pederast!"

FANDOM: "You're reading way too much into things!"

WERTHAM: "Wonder Woman is the ultimate wish-fulfillment for lesbian BDSM!"

FANDOM: "That... oh. Um..."

It is nuts that this existed when it did. Created in 1941 by William Marston (and almost certainly his wife Elizabeth Holloway Marston) with art by Harry G. Peter, Wonder Woman has a very specific reason for being: to showcase a strong central female character who resolves problems with love and understanding more than through direct physical violence. And by and large, that's on full display here. There are about two years' worth of appearances here, and as World War II was in full swing the whole time, Diana is almost exclusively up against Nazi spies, Japanese soldiers, the German-American Bund, and occasionally the Italian army. There is precisely one supervillian in this entire book, the Cheetah, and she doesn't put in an appearance until roughly 80% of the way through it. Otherwise, it's all war stories, all the time.

The interesting approach tends to be in how bad guys are dealt with. Men are generally dispatched in the typical way, in that they're brought to justice by Diana, or tackled by Steve Trevor (who's kind of useless), or hit in the face with a chair by Etta Candy over and over again until they agree to stop spying on people. (Etta Candy, to my utter shock, turned out to be fairly awesome. For all intents and purposes, she's Diana's sidekick, and the leader of the Holliday Girls sorority at the local college, of whom we will speak more in a bit.) Women, on the other hand, are usually given the opportunity to reform. This opportunity comes in the form of being allowed to discover the happiness that comes with submitting yourself to a mistress. Invariably, chaining a woman up, blindfolding her, leashing her, having her crawl on all fours and receiving a spanking from the Holliday Girls will awaken something inside her that makes her realize she doesn't need to deliver secret plans to the German army to feel fulfilled. And I'm not making that up; that literally is the plot of the third story in this book.

Now, to be clear: I am not, by any means, down on this. People find the thing that fulfills them, and if they find other people compatible with that, then that's awesome. However, this is that guy who will not shut the fuck up about his thing. This is the book or movie or whatever where the main character discovers that she gets turned on by wearing fur hats, and then it's just scene after scene after scene of people discovering that fur hats get them off as well, and about fifteen scenes later everyone on the planet is wearing a fur hat in a big sweaty pile. And for Marston, that's bondage. Every story - literally every story - features it, and it runs the gamut from your typical adventure "Quick, tie her to this chair so she can't get away" type of thing to "It's time for the annual Paradise Island hunt, where half the women on the island are dressed in animal costumes and hunted by the other half, and when they get captured they're hogtied, 'skinned', 'cooked', and 'eaten'". Marston was trying to normalize non-traditional family dynamics, and frankly I applaud that, but there's a lot here were he was uncomfortably obviously typing the script with one hand.

Harry Peter's art is really interesting. Even in the Golden Age, it was incredibly old-fashioned (he'd been a newspaper cartoonist since the turn of the century, and his style is very reminiscent of illustrations of children's books from the late Victorian/early Edwardian era). It's like nothing else that was on the racks, and even if you can't put your hand on your heart and call it especially great (his anatomy is really wonky), it's definitely eye-catching. And unusually, with one or two exceptions, he drew every story in this collection.

This is really interesting stuff, and much of it is incredibly fun. For many, many reasons, this is worth a look, and yes, one of those reasons is to see a story where the villainess has a dog, who is not so much a dog as a beautiful woman in a dog costume, leashed to her throne, asleep on the floor, who only ever says "woof", and be reminded that this was a story sold to eight-year-olds in 1942, and that's actually kind of awesome.

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Now I kinda want a fur hat. Also, I need to read this for Etta and her chair.

Ha! Beat me to it.

Marston is a fascinating person. Wonder Woman is almost certainly based off of a combination of his wife and Olive Byrne, the young woman who lived with them in a poly-amorous, BDSM relationship. And he also invented the lie detector test. So, he was totally fascinated with BDSM and truth. And fur hats apparently. Or did I read too much into that?

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Yeah, Wonder Woman was visually modeled after Byrne, right down to the metal bracelets she wore. In these early issues, the fact that they can deflect bullets is a really neat side benefit, but it's spelled out that they're expressly there as BDSM paraphernalia. The insights into the Holliday Marston/Byrne household are plentiful.

And Etta was really fun. She's basically the only person on the planet not especially cowed by Wonder Woman, and keeps calling her "kid" and "doll". And she leads the Holliday Girls, a local sorority whose job it is to burst through a door and beat the fuck out of bad guys any time Diana calls. Also they're a marching band.

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I've read about early Wonder Woman a lot in the past few years before reading it myself, and I've come to the conclusion that the generic Xena-like Super Hero version is such a sellout hand-me-down compared to the hyper feminist matriarch she was created to be. She was telling girls to grow up and become president in the 40s. THE 1940s.

Basically, the more like the original WW by Marston and Peter, the better. Grant Morrison's Earth-One a fantastic modernization.

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TRUTH: Red, White & Black: The seven issue miniseries by Robert Morales and Kyle Baker about the Tuskegee-Inspired Experiments on black soldiers in an attempt to recreate the Super Solider Serum. An utter classic. Kyle Baker needs to be more prolific on mainstream books, his art flows between unbelievably cartoony to perfectly realistic. The writing is fantastic, and gives a thoroughly realistic take on the origins of Captain America. Highly recommended.

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XO-Manowar 1: More on this on the podcast that I should be sending off to Mike shortly. TLDR? Not out till March 22nd. Still, FUCKING BUY THIS BOOK. 

Single Issues: 83
Trades/Graphic Novels: 19
Omnibuses: 1

Edited by Venneh

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Prowler #6 (2016):

Pretty good. After what happened in Clone Conspiracy #5 I had to see how this book would continue since Hobie was revealed to be alive at its end. There's more genuine emotion in this issue than there was in the whole of Clone Conspiracy.

Batgirl #8 (2016): Fuck this. This is such hollow writing with plainly cardboard characters. Barbara Gordon's really unlikable in this run.

Amazing Spider-Man #24 (2015): Crap. Sorry Dan Slott. You don't get to have Ben Reilly be an unrepentant bad guy and try to do this "I'm going to figure out who I want to be and find myself" bullshit whilst never justifying it with a good story or believable motivation. We are now in Adam Beechen ruining Cassandra Cain country here.

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Slayer Repentless #1: ok, sure. I'm along for the ride. This has to be the first time a band's done this. Two very innovative rock and roll comics going on now with this and Kiss.

The X-Files Origins #4: not the greatest by any means.

The X-Files #8: you know those episodes of TV where the plot does not move forward even a tiny bit and you know they just had to readjust the pacing of the season? That is this.

Triggerman #3: pretty good.

Uber Invasion #1: wow. This is going to be fucking amazing. What a place-setting though. Not often you get first issues like this, even though this is more like a volume 2.

Unfollow #14: Not sure I needed to know the origin behind the old rich guy. I don't see much here that will come up later on.

Venom #1: this was terrible.

Vigilante Southland #2: ok.

Violent Love #1: also ok.

Comics: 192
Trades: 9

Graphic Novels: 7

Omnibuses: 2

 

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Elektra #1: A little light on the writing side, but the art is why you should read this one. Juan Cabal is going for a Jamie McKelvie / Phil Noto vibe, but it stand out as its own style. Some of the storytelling decisions are stunning. Especially the flashback on page six, the subtle zoom-ins on seven and eight, and the use of the roulette wheel on 11. Also, I need more of the hipster thugs.

Kingpin #1: Fisk wants a down-on-her-luck local journalist to pen his biography, but she's reluctant because of who his past. The story is mostly setup for their relationship, so there's not a lot going on here; this issue will read better, I think, collected alongside the rest of this opening set of issues. Sarah, the journalist, is an interesting character in that she's a recovering alcoholic who's lost her kids in the divorce, but that's all we know thus far. Writing wise, I'll probably give it another one or two to hook me.

Artistically, Ben Torres brings a mix of Frank Miller and Scott McDaniel, with a touch of Ron Garney. It works for a Daredevil book, but I hope he moves away from showing his influences and slides into his own style.

Bullseye #1:  A bored Bullseye attempts to save a drug-runner's son, people die via paperclips. Wasn't crazy about this one, but the final page of the main story gave me a chuckle.

Old Man Logan (2015) #1-5: While it's a good exploration of what makes this version of Logan tick, it's four issues of him touring Battleworld before falling ass backwards on the new Earth-616 in the final book. If you read the first and last of these five, you won't miss much.

Comics: 56

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