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The Master

Every comic you've read in 2018

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League of Extraordinary Gentlemen: The Black Dossier: I found this to be both the most engaging and the most perplexing volume of the LXG stories so far. It's 1958 setting makes things somewhat easier to absorb, there's slightly less cockney dialogue. But half of the volume dedicates itself to more and more historical revisionism, advertisements and what Moore essentially intended it to be which was a source book for the LXG world. It's good but every now and then the detours to the Black Dossier, on this first read, read like a random cutscene.

Moore's humor is in full force, albeit it's very targeted. This is the meanest, roughest, most earnest takedown of James Bond I've ever seen.

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Trade Paperbacks: 4

Single Issues: 13

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So, I didn't take that break, and I'm glad I didn't.

Injustice: Gods Among Us - Year Three #1-24 (#1-12): Year Three kicks off when the magic users come into play, and it is a much-needed breath of fresh air. Superhumans punching is fun to read, but it can only go on for so long. Bringing in this element, especially now, was perfect. While lots of punching continues, we're privy to more of the planning and scheming thanks to the likes of John Constantine and Batman teaming up. Of course John is playing his own game with its own rules, and Batman knows it. But he has no choice but to let John take the lead; with little to no kryptonite to be found, magic is there next best hope. In the end, we see John's long game, and it reminds us that human lives are at stake here. For every superhuman who's maimed or killed, hundreds if not thousands of normal people suffer the same fate. This is the best chapter so far, and a lot of that comes from a more consistent artistic team. They're able to perfectly nail Constantine and the other DC mages; their powers are epic and dark and linked to totems, but they're much more human in their nature than eye-beams and power-rings.

Injustice: Gods Among Us - Year Three Annual #1: The first story sets up John for Year Three #1, while the second brings the Teen Titans into play. (Their story runs parallel to Year One #1.) I know the Titans are kicking around in Injustice 2, but I don't know if they're in Year Four, Five, and Ground Zero.

Comics: 65

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Secret Empire Omega #1: kind of a lacklustre epilogue to a pretty solid event.

Sheena Queen of the Jungle #1: darn. I was kind of hoping this would be good. It's a genre that hasn't been well-served as of late.

Justice League of America #14: part biding my time until this arc is over, part kind of enjoying this issue.

Retcon #1: I'm intrigued. The basic premise is interesting ans imilar to the stuff I like to write, but there's something more going on here that I'm interested to see unfold.

Suicide Squad #25: fucking great.

Marvel Horror The Magazine Collection: a thick-ass collection of black and white horror oddities from the magazines. Some great stuff here from a good stable of creatives. LOVED to see my favorite horror story "In the Shadows of the City" get reprinted. I would like another volume of this stuff.

Bloodstone & The Legion of Monsters: bought this for the classic Bloodstone stories, but ended up enjoying the Legion of Monsters miniseries with Elsa even more. I guess I didn't really give it a fair shake the first time. It was maybe the tone that put me off. Too goofy. I stand by that, but wade far enough in and it's solid. I HATE the little one-off stories with Elsa and Boom Boom though. That shit is awful and literally has no audience in comics. Classic Bloodstone stuff is beautiful (for a large part) but pretty vapid storywise. I did not remember that Bloodtone is basically Marvel's version of Vandal Savage, who, instead of becoming a conqueror, went on to hunt monsters. 

Howard the Duck The Complete Collection vol 4: the final volume in this series that collects every last Howard appearance up to (and a little bit past) the death of Steve Gerber. Including the amazing arc in She-Hulk I forgot about. I need to reread some She-Hulk. This has got the last two issues of the magazine. The revamped final two issues of his comic book, the She-Hulk four issue arc and a ridiculous amount of appearances across the Marvel U including the incredibly odd appearance in the shitty late 90s Spider-Man Team-Up series Marvel did (there was a regular Spider-Man series they put out then too) where Howard and Spidey team up with what definitely appears to be Savage Dragon. Bonkers.

Comics: 59

Trades: 1

Graphic Novels:

Omnibus: 3

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5 hours ago, Dread said:

Howard the Duck The Complete Collection vol 4: the final volume in this series that collects every last Howard appearance up to (and a little bit past) the death of Steve Gerber. Including the amazing arc in She-Hulk I forgot about. I need to reread some She-Hulk. This has got the last two issues of the magazine. The revamped final two issues of his comic book, the She-Hulk four issue arc and a ridiculous amount of appearances across the Marvel U including the incredibly odd appearance in the shitty late 90s Spider-Man Team-Up series Marvel did (there was a regular Spider-Man series they put out then too) where Howard and Spidey team up with what definitely appears to be Savage Dragon. Bonkers.

And again: Twitter is amazing.

I tweeted Erik Larsen asking if Steve Gerber (who wrote that shitty Spider-Man Team-up issue) ever talked to him about using Dragon, and he was like "Yeah, the story is continued in our Savage Dragon/Destroyer Duck crossover!" And now I remember that there was a Savage Dragon/Destroyer Duck crossover. And, of course, that Kirby drew the Destroyer Duck comic for Steve Gerber. Now I need to dive into my long boxes.

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The Superior Foes of Spider-Man #1-17: Technically, I think I read the first few issues at the end of 2017, but whatever. They're getting counted here. Anyway, this is a majorly fun read that deserves all of the hype and praise heaped upon it. At times it seems to find itself a little too cute, it definitely gets way more complicated than it needs to be, and Boomerang's ultimate goal is never truly established until the final issues, but it doesn't matter. It really is that fun.

Steve Lieber does a brilliant job humanizing these low-level Spider-Man villains, while, at times, reminding us how cool they are. The little actions -- such as when Boomerang stops an assassination attempt, Speed Demon's zipping in and out of panels, anything to do with Overdrive, and humanizing Shocker and Beetle despite their masks -- are what make his art come to life. The few big fights and battles are fine, but that's not what you're here for; you're here to see Boomerang look like an idiot while pulling off a major heist, and the entire creative team comes together to get it right.

Hellboy in Mexico: Possible review soon. It's a quick, fun read. In his past, Hellboy teamed up with luchadores to fight zombies and other beasties in Mexico.

Comics: 83

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There's Nothing Out There #3: still so damned great.

Weapon X #8: really great, I'm digging this a lot.

Winnebago Graveyard #4: I really thought the last issue was the end. It was a better end.

X-Men Blue #11: really fun.

Youngblood #5: Five issues in, the team finally exists. I'll stick around out of morbid curiosity at this point.

Angelic #1: terrible.

Dark Ark #1: MAJOR disappointment.

Gasolina #1: another major disappointment.

Generation Gone #3: fucking great.

Comics: 68

Trades: 1

Graphic Novels:

Omnibus: 3

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Injustice: Gods Among Us - Year Four #1-24 (#1-12): The Greco-Roman gods are here and Earth is in trouble.

The first half of this series is solid, but then it begins to feel very stretched as reveal after reveal is, well, revealed to less and less fanfare. So many strings are being pulled, it's hard to remember who's actually working together and who has their own agenda. In the end, it finishes with someone stepping in to tell Zeus to stop it.

Injustice: Gods Among Us - Year Four Annual #1: Plastic Man breaks into prison to save his son, and his actions set the stage for Year Five. This was fun, and it was great to see Plastic Man used as a badass.

Doctor Strange #384: Remember how a certain character returned an issue or so back? Yeah, that has a price.

Batman #39: To help an ally, Wonder Woman and Batman find themselves trapped in a bloody hellscape. Alone but together, for years, possibly centuries. The issue ends with a "Will they / Won't they?" moment, so we'll see where #40 takes us. It's a solid enough issue, but a little light on depth. There are a few points where Joëlle Jones presents Wonder Woman in a somewhat sultry manner -- there's especially one shot of the curves of her butt -- that do serve to raise the sexual tension but feel unneeded.

Action Comics #761: To help an ally, Wonder Woman and Superman find themselves trapped in Valhalla. Alone but together, for a millennium. Wait... what? Isn't that what I wrote above?

Batman Writer Tom King admitted the unintentional similarities on Twitter. He wasn't made aware of the 18-year-old issue of Action Comics until it was too late to make changes to his Batman story. Thus far, though the framework is very similar, the stories seem to be going in different directions. Action had Lois doubting her commitment to Clark (she made some deal with Lex), while Batman has Selina playing host to the ally Diana and Bruce are helping. When #40 is released in two weeks, I might record an episode of The Show covering these books.

Comics: 99

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I've a review of Batman #39 on The Batman Universe.net published right here

Superman #39 (2016): A very light, nice issue of Superman and the DC Superheroes behaving like they do on all of the younger-aimed kiddie material, though not out of character mind you (although Batman's presence was a stretch). It's nice to know that the Justice League at some point or another do behave like this, and is perfectly fine for what it is. I don't know if anyone here will get anything out of it, but it's okay.

Nightwing #37 (2016): To quote Mark Ruffalo's Bruce Banner in Avengers: Age of Ultron - "I'm in a loop! I'm in a time loop!" I said two weeks ago that the exact wrong story to tell with Nightwing was him being all haunted about starting off as Robin because it's been done to death and also is BORING. It's also the wrong story to tell for Dick Grayson. Jason Todd or Tim Drake? Absolutely. They had a legacy to live up to. Dick Grayson is the first sidekick ever. He shouldn't feel all insecure about being a crime fighter because what he and Batman would've been doing at the time of their early days would've been new. I'm not saying that Dick would've been as confident as a kid as he is as an adult, but the tone is completely wrong and comes off as though the writer is doing total guesswork for a story. Read the Robin Year One one-shot in 1995 by Chuck Dixon, Robin: Year One miniseries by Dixon and Javier Pulido, Batman Year Three or anything else before this, because this story is derivative and pointless. The book's been up and down for a while now, but although I was excited for a new writing team, I might drop it in an issue or two if the writer sticks on this type of storytelling.

America #11: It's an issue of America. Nothing more or less to report. Same weaknesses in the writing. The title has one issue left so I'm riding it out.

Champions #16: This was excellent. Both plots were fun and engaging, with just the right tone for each. This reads like Peter David and Todd Nauck's Young Justice. Best comic of the bunch today.

Peter Parker: The Spectacular Spider-Man #299: Really good! My one quibble is the brief Marvel-style hero vs. hero fight Spidey and Black Panther get in. That wasn't necessary, but otherwise very solid artwork from Adam Kubert and more great characterization for Peter. Chip Zdarsky's showing how it's done.

 

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Trade Paperbacks: 4

Single Issues: 18

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Superman #39: This felt like something I would have read in the early 1980s. It's a light, quick read that reminds us superheroes can be fun and inspiring.

Comics: 100

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James Bond: The Body #1: Post-mission, a beat-to-hell James Bond confides in his doctor. It's an interesting take on Bond, that is, giving him someone new to confide in. But I don't think it hooks me enough to read a miniseries. (Though, that could be my fault as I thought this was going to be a one-shot.) Art wise, Luca Casalanguida seems to be going for a Goran Parlov-like look. Straight-up, his Bond looks like Frank Castle. It's a little distracting. Down the line I might read the miniseries, but issue-to-issue doesn't seem to be for me.

Comics: 101

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Super Sons of Tomorrow (Superman #37-38, Super Sons #11-12, and Teen Titans #15): Future Tim Drake (see recent issues of Detective Comics and Geoff Johns' Teen Titans run) travels back in time to kill Superboy (Jon). Why? Because at some point in the future his solar flare power will ignite, killing millions in a heartbeat. To this end, Tim nearly murders Batman, imprison's Superman, and kicks the crap out of the Teen Titans. The other future members of the Justice League (Kon-El Superman, Cassie Wonder Woman, and Bart Flash) are only able to track Bat-Tim by using his time-severed hand to travel backwards to the present. When they arrive they do absolutely nothing. Tim (who begins calling himself Savior partway through the story) pulls a Quantum Leap, thus setting him off on a new mission. In the end, Jon and Damian share a heartfelt moment, while the Teen Titans feel broken. Why? Because 1) they're shocked that a version on Tim tried to hurt them, and 2) because some of them so very nonsensically decided, you know, maybe imprisoning Superboy is a good idea.

Jon and Damian speak like adults, not kids. The Titans act like fucking morons. The future / alternate Justice League does dick all. Batman and Superman are punked. And Bat-Tim / Savior is written so poorly. In the wrong hands, he's like Jason Todd during Countdown; though DC seems to have plans for him, no one knows what they want to do with him. In the end, I don't see the point of this story. If it was to transform Tim from future Batman to Savior, why couldn't this have been done during the much better "A Lonely Place of Living" story over in Detective Comics?

Comics: 106

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DC Comics: Bombshells #1-3 (#1): Having finished Year Four of Injustice, I thought I'd actually take a break to try some of DC's other digital-first books. First up: Bombshells. These opening chapters do an excellent job setting up an alternate World War II America where women pickup the superhero mantle. Thus far we've seen Batwoman, Wonder Woman, Supergirl, and a killer cameo by Amanda Waller. Marguerite Sauvage makes each world distinct, yet they share similarities; we see Gotham City, Themyscira, and Moscow. Though she doesn't have much room in each chapter, Marguerite Bennett defines the characters we'll need to know and the time / place they inhabit.

Do to the strength of these three digital issues, I'll most likely read the complete series.

Comics: 107

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Fury (2001) by Garth Ennis and Darick Robertson:

This book is not made for me. Garth Ennis usually isn't. I can appreciate the renegade "comics should be able to tell whatever stories possible" approach, but his style way too often falls into the type of stories who mistake juvenile writing for mature writing. For 2001, sure, maybe this was fresh and new at the time. But to me it just reads as a thoroughly immature piece of shit. There's no story so much as there is a total indulgence in awful human behavior. And this isn't new or foreign to Ennis, that's not lost on me. I generally enjoyed Punisher MAX, especially the Barracuda stories, but through all six issues I couldn't get the word "pointless" out of my head. To each his/her own. 

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Trade Paperbacks: 5

Single Issues: 18

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Glitterbomb The Fame Game #1: fucking killer start to the second arc

Invincible Iron man #11: a good farewell to this format of the book.

Jean Grey #7: kind of tired of this.

Nightwing #29: a Dark Nights Metal tie-in! Oh fuck off...

Superb #3: decent.

Superman #31: solid.

US Avengers #10: fucking great, I mean, I don't know how this isn't the last issue of the series, but it was great.

Wonder Woman/Conan #1: god this was fucking terrible.

X-Men Gold #12: an issue dedicated to the weird mutant alien guy? Ok! I liked it!

All-New Guardians of the Galaxy #10, 11: great issues.

Batman #31: solid. Best part of the War of Jokes and Riddles so far. The only good part, really.

Black Hammer #13: fucking cool.

Black Eyed Kids $14: decent.

Diablo House #2: cornball. I'm out.

Fissure #3: this went weird places. Not sure if I like it.

Fu Jitsu #1: awful.

Hellboy ATBPRD 1955 Occult Intelligence #1: decent, I guess.

Justice League/Power Rangers #6: fucking beautiful.

Kill the Minotaur #4: fucking lovely.

Millarworld New Talent Annual 2017: bless him for doing this. I mean, none of the stories are any good, but bless him.

Comics: 89

Trades: 1

Graphic Novels:

Omnibus: 3

 

Edit: also, @The Master I am a couple issues into the first season of Injustice and HOLY FUCK, I love it. Though, I think you probably knew I would.

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10 hours ago, Dread said:

Edit: also, @The Master I am a couple issues into the first season of Injustice and HOLY FUCK, I love it. Though, I think you probably knew I would.

For my money, Year Three has been the best season of Injustice so far, but that first year was solid.

Days of Hate #1: In the year 2022, American is a shithole country overrun with hate groups. Two (?) people have taken it upon themselves to bring the groups down by any means necessary. Meanwhile, the ex-wife of one member has been snatched up by the government, and they want to use her to capture her ex-wife. I think. We're thrown into the deep end and expected to sink or swim. I'll give it a few issues.

Comics: 108

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4 Kids Walk Into a Bank #1-5: What starts out as a wholesome look at four friends living pre-teen lives (RPGs, video games, bullies) slowly turns into a dark bank heist resulting in a bleak ending and the realization that the bad guys sometimes win. Or that good intentions can get people killed. The creative team has a brilliant handle on these characters, their worldview, and the series as a whole. (The middle chapter gets a little zany, but it's needed as a bridge from childhood to adulthood.) While I want to say more, I'm fearful of spoilers. What I will say is the art is perfect. It's a beautiful mixture of slice-of-life drama, comedy, kids' adventure, indy darling sensibilities, and action -- there are even a few Scott McCloud references. The ham radio scenes, though few, are a masterclass in pacing, youthful humor, black comedy, and, eventually, sorrow and regret.

Unless there's a sequel, the final two story pages seem out of place, but that leads me to spoiler territory.

If this creative team, as a whole, does not wind up on Hawkeye, Marvel will have missed a trick.

Comics: 113

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Hal Jordan and the Green Lantern Corps #33-36: Every once in a while I try to get into Green Lantern. It happened in the 1980s (hence my love for Guy), the 90s (my love for Kyle), the 2000s (Rebirth, Sinestro Corps War), and recently (Sinestro, Godhead). Despite my desire to want to like an ongoing Green Lantern book, the series never clicks with me long-term. That might have changed with this storyline: Twilight of the Guardians.

After the few remaining Guardians are abducted by The Controllers, a team of Lanterns -- Hal, John, Guy, Kyle -- band together to find their mentors, kick the crap out of The Controllers, and bring any complicit parties to justice. The plot sounds bog standard; anyone could come up with that in their sleep. However, what makes this four-issue story so damn fun are the interactions between the four Earth Lanterns and the methods in which they wield their rings.

Starting with the art by Tom Derenick (breakdowns #33-35), Jack Herbert (#33-36), and Jose Luis (#36), the team does exactly what any Green Lantern book should do: define the characters by the usage of their rings. Hal's refined power with bland constructs, John's are intricate and sometimes militaristic, Guy's are sports-themed and bristling with raw emotion, and Kyle's are big and crazy geeky things. No two Lanterns should ever have the same constructs, even if they're from the same planet. And these issues fully understand that; there's a scene where Kyle is making constructions out of Hal's playbook, which Hal calls him on. It's a brief but wonderful moment, because it demonstrates Kyle's head is not in the game. Though I might not know what came before this story, thanks to the art and a touch of dialogue, I know something has cut Kyle to the bone.

Continuing, it isn't just what they make, but how they choose to use the constructs. There's a page where all four men attack The Controllers in unison. Hal fires rockets, John swings a mace attached to a gauntlet, Kyle has giant robot hands to scoop up and crush the foes, and Guy -- oh my god, Guy -- makes a car. Does he get into the car and smash into The Controllers at top speed? Nope. Does he zip around to pack The Guardians into it? Not a chance. Does he open the driver-side door, wedge a Controller's head in there, and smash it? Yes, yes he does. Guy freaking Gardner uses the most powerful weapon in the universe to crush a skull with a door. That is some straight-up brilliance and true character work.

Even The Guardians have several moments to shine, artistically. They have a scene of badass rage during the climax, tender moments on the opening pages, and a powerful return to glory. And the final page will excite fans of early 90s DC space adventures. This book doesn't miss a beat in the art department.

Writing wise, it shines just as brightly. The Lanterns each have their little quirks, but they come together as a team with ease -- especially when they realize The Guardians have been taken. They all band behind John without question, following his orders to a tee. No one flies off the handle, breaks rank, or any of those other clichés. Robert Venditti perfectly captures their brotherhood; they might not always get along, but they act as one when called upon.

Then the most surreal thing happens: Guy makes a Four Horsemen reference as he brings his friends together. Said reference comes back several times too, culminating in the "Four Corpsmen" attempting to suss out which one of them is Ric Flair. (As I noted on Twitter, I see Guy as a Double A fan. I could see him enjoying Brian Pillman, too.)

So despite the rather mundane framework, the creative team crafts a story that's engaging and distinctly Green Lantern-related; allows the characters to shine as individuals and as a unit; sets up major ramifications for The Guardians, the GLC, and the DC Universe; and it drew me in. I'm genuinely excited to read the next storyline -- Power of Zod -- and the series up to this point.

Punchline#1-4: A young artist meets a dying woman who bestows her with power, and then they dying woman lives, trains the new hero, and tells a tale of her past. This isn't bad, but it's nothing new, adds little to the genre, and is seemingly going nowhere. We're given hints that the dying-not-dying woman works for a greater cause, but it's never explored. I'm done with it.

Comics: 121

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Batman: The Doom That Came to Gotham #1-3: Review forthcoming, but I will say this is an excellent Elseworlds set in 1929 America. After spending 20 years on the sea, Bruce Wayne returns to Gotham to hunt an ancient evil that's infecting friends, foes, and the city. While I'm not very familiar with Lovecraftian lore, this series does a great job folding it into Batman lore. The likes of Two-Face, Poison Ivy, Mister Freeze, The Penguin, Ra's al Ghul, Talia, and more are all easily updated thanks to Mike Mignola, Richard Pace, and Troy Nixey. At 48-pages each, these three issues could have been served by a fourth of equal length; the final chapter and the resolution come quickly, but they don't feel rushed. Simply put, the world was so rich, I wanted more.

Comics: 124

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The Omega Men #1-12: Hmm. Kind of a slog, and I'm not sure what we're supposed to be left with at the end of the series. Kyle Rayner is kidnapped by freedom fighters who are trying to bring down corrupt governments, but later we discover they're more akin to terrorists and the governments are acting this way because they're trying to get their hands on a super rare element which will prevent their worlds from becoming the next Krypton. (Earth is even in on this.) So who are the bad guys: the people trying to save their planets from certain destruction, the people trying to save oppressed worlds, no one? Maybe it would have clicked with me more if we got to know the characters better. Yeah, we see brief snippets of their respective pasts, but nothing that made me connect with anyone. (And when did Kyle become a devout Catholic? That's not a complaint; it's an honest question.)

The Deep #1-6: Fun but surface-level. :rimshot: Okay, seriously, this creative team should be on Fantastic Four, Power Pack, Stars and STRIPE, or any team-oriented adventure comic.

Comics: 132

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Gotham by Gaslight: Dunno why it's taken me THIS long to read for the first time. It's pretty good. I've been mainlining a lot of Jeremy Brett Sherlock Holmes lately, as well as read more of Alan Moore and Kevin O'Neil's LXG comics, so I've seen 1880s era done better, but this is still enjoyable. 

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Injustice Gods Among Us Year One: #1-36 and Annual = 13 comics: Fuck, I loved this completely. It's dangerous, which I love. It's only a slight push to the morality of the DCU that it works so completely. What if Superman had his One Bad Day? Can't wait to check out the next season.

Comics: 102

Trades: 1

Graphic Novels:

Omnibus: 3

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Thanos #15: Non-spoilers, but I called the Space Ghost Rider's reveal after reading issue #13. This issue was okay. It was mostly setting up the battle that's going to take place next issue, but I love seeing Thanos argue with Lord Thanos.

Marvel Two-in-One #2: Reed and Doom were in college in 1998. Well, I'm old. :( Good issue, very dense.

Comics: 135

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7 hours ago, The Master said:

Doomsday Clock #3: This is going nowhere.

Comics: 133

Doesn't seem like it. Although it's some of the best Gary Frank artwork I've ever seen, it can't help but reek of Watchmen fanfic to me at this point.

Detective Comics #973: Very good actually, although I'm sick of Tynion's writing of Cass Cain constantly crying as though he's penning a hurt/comfort fanfic. She's much more dimensional than he's presenting her to be.

Batgirl #19 (2016): Not bad but to be honest I didn't care.

Hal Jordan and the Green Lantern Corps #37: Solid. Zod, Ursa and the Eradicator are great villains for the GLs to fight against.

Spider-Man: Blue: A re-read, one of my favorite Spider-Man stories. I'll admit up front it's riddled with problems. The continuity it attempts to re-create is all over the place. Stories and sequences are out of order, entire actions are re-told and make less sense and Loeb's voices for most of the characters is off, especially Peter. It's not gross mis-characterization, but it still doesn't register correctly. This is also blatant Gwen Stacy porn from those who only read Marvels and never anything from the original comics, as she's characterized as this unattainable goddess. All that being said, the mood of the book is wonderfully romantic. It achieves the melancholic jazzy feel it goes for, and for the era of Spider-Man it's recreating it serves as a wonderful homage. I can enjoy this while recognizing everything thrown out the window for the story to exist because there's so much understated emotion in each page.

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Trade Paperbacks: 7

Single Issues: 22

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Hal Jordan and the Green Lantern Corps #37: Someone's going to die by the end of this storyline. From the Four Corpsemen lovefest in #36 to John threatening to resign but being convinced to stay to Zod being a monster, there's no way the stage isn't set for John, Hal, Guy, or Kyle to wind up dead. Really good book with fantastic artwork.

Comics: 136

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