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The Master

Every comic you've read in 2019

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The Pervert: by Michelle Perez and Remy Boydell

A story told through illustrations of anthropomorphic animals of a trans woman sex worker and the trials and tribulations of her life. Very bleak and depressing, but well told graphic novel.

The Flash Annual #2 (2019): This was a great issue, combining both the return of classic Bart and the fallout from what happened to Wally in Heroes in Crisis.

Teen Titans Annual #1 (2019): Red Hood vs. Damian Wayne. Needless. But the second story with the Titans fighting a new villain in the mall had a Wolfman/Perez feel that I dug. Art was better too.

Heroes in Crisis #5: This continues to be the worst event DC's done in a long while, and the worst comic I've read since America Chavez's book last year. Every single character, from Batman to Batgirl to Harley Quinn to Booster Gold to Lois Lane - fan favorites, all of them - is irritating as fuck. The artwork on the women is bad as well.

Ms. Marvel #35 (2019): S'okay. I love how all ages friendly this book is, but this particular story was filler to be. Harmless nonetheless.

Amazing Spider-Man #815: Decent issue, but Chris Bachalo's artwork...I'm not a fan. It's distractingly unclear to read and his graffiti style lacks the grace of a Damion Scott to make it appealing despite its own obfuscation. Also, can we dispense with the whole Peter Parker is still in his mid-twenties bit? The guy is at least 30-31 years old by now. Marvel has to get beyond this age hang-up they have with him.

Captain America #711: The plot's nothing we haven't seen with Cap before, but Coates' writing is really coming into its own with this book and character. This is why I was excited for him to take over the series. Good stuff.

Batgirl #31 (2019): Babs really got her ass kicked in this one.

Action Comics #1007: Arguably the best book DC's putting out right now.

 

Single Issues: 26

Trade Paperbacks: 3

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Young Justice #2 (2019): Methinks this series is a bit overwritten. These characters don't have to be involved in a big plot, they just have to bounce off each other. But Bendis and Gleason get the tone right, and I like seeing what's come the closest to a "classic" version of Cassandra Sandsmark after...after the original YJ series to be honest. I kinda thought that character was damn near ruined after OYL, and she was definitely ruined in the new 52.

Man and Superman: What was originally going to be a 4-part series is now a super-length story by Marv Wolfman and Claudio Castellini (the single most underrated comic book artist ever). It's yet another iteration of Superman's origin of a sort, focused more on Clark's moving to Metropolis and him confronting his fears about how he'll come into being as Superman. It's well written and superbly illustrated. Word to the wise: Castellini draws the apex of the ideal human physical form. If gigantic muscles upon muscles and women always wearing shorts shirts with long legs is a turn-off, you'll really hate his art. As far as Superman stories go, Wolfman balances Clark's hesitance with his willingness to act well. It's Smallville-esque without being noticeable or distracting. This is also probably the greatest introduction to Lois Lane ever done. A lot of Superman fans online are calling this an instant classic, and I dunno if I'd rate it that high, but it's a very good Supes story nonetheless.

The Immortal Hulk #13: Another great issue.

Killmonger #4: This was the best issue so far with great art, but I'm a touch muddy on how this has anything to do with Wakanda screwing him over.

Batman Beyond #28 (2019): The threat of Joker killing another Robin is overplayed and confused with the meta-narrative of its impact in comics.

Single Issues: 31

Trade Paperbacks: 3

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Claudio Castellini's covers were the lone reason I purchased Fantastic Four Unlimited circa 1994 / 1995. His covers will metal as fuck, and I dare anyone to say otherwise.

To this day, when I think of Doctor Doom, his is the one that comes to mind.

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Hunt for Wolverine Mystery in Madripoor #2: this was really good.

Infinity Countdown Darkhawk #3: I'm out. Nowheresville

John Carpenter's Tales of Science Fiction The Standoff #1: horrible. 

Marvel Two-In-One #7: so fucking good.

Mickey Spillane's Mike Hammer #1: hard case picking this up was a grand idea. Great stuff.

Multiple Man #1: fuck...I've missed this character.

Old Man Hawkeye #6: still great.

Old man Logan #42: Kraven vs Wolverine in the Savage Land. Great.

Pestilence a Story of Satan #2: still cool.

Red Sonja #17: good.

Sentry #1: Jeff Lemire is the perfect guy to write this.

  • Comics: 41
  • Trades: 2
  • Graphic Novels:
  • Omnibus: 1

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Legends of the DC Universe #6: A flashback tale depicting the first time Robin (Dick Grayson) met Superman. Kevin Nowlan's artwork here kills. Great little story.

Ms. Marvel #38 (2019): G. Willow Wilson's last consecutive issue. Her run's been kind of drying up anyway, so it was okay but nothing spectacular.

Amazing Spider-Man #816: Good issue, solid writing, but I hated the art.

Legends of the DC Universe #7-#9: A flashback tale depicting the first meeting between Hal Jordan and Oliver Queen. Written by Denny O'Neil, whose cheesy, over-the-top but still really earnest 70s run I love, this is a decent story was good artwork from the team of Greg Land and Dick Girodano. I don't too much buy Ollie's transformation by the end of this, as this is meant to be very early in his career. But I dug it alright.

Wonder Twins #1: I dug this. The artwork by Stephen Byrne was slick and stylish, and the writing was the right touch of goofy. Zan and Jayna are modernized and updated, but not too much. They're a combination of their Superfriends versions and the interpretations from Smallville. But I liked how lighthearted the book was.

Detective Comics #998: I've been digging the story but this issue was merely okay.

Superman #8 (2019): S'alright

 

 

Single Issues: 40

Trade Paperbacks: 3

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Shadow Roads #1: this was not a great first issue

The Realm #7: not the best issue of this series, but still solid.

The Silencer #6: this is good, but I hope there's a focus shift soon.

The Terrifics #5: pretty solid.

Thor #2: yeah, I'm out. Not a great start.

  • Comics: 46
  • Trades: 2
  • Graphic Novels:
  • Omnibus: 1

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Wotakoi: Love Is Hard for Otaku v3: Continues to be a funny and sappy as hell romance manga focusing on (three now!) nerdy couples. This is finally past what the anime has adapted so far, so it’s all new material, and I continue to like the two volumes in one approach to translation. 

10 Dance v1: An old school boy’s love manga - slow burn, rivals turned dance partners turned ???, polar opposites, the whole nine yards. I’ll definitely read more when it comes out.

Trades/Tankobon: 3
Single Issues: 5

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Die 3: o hai fantasy masterclass and deconstruction, I am here for this. Still skeptical that Hans can keep up on a monthly schedule, but the art continues to be amazing.

Unnatural 7: Mirka Andolfo does supernatural furry comics, it pretty

Vindication 1: I know Image really prides itself on not having editors but uh maybe they should. Just saying. Yiiiiiiikes.

Criminal 2: Brubaker and Phillips do a very thinly veiled take on Steve Ditko But A Dirtbag, and apparently the issues aren’t all going to be the same story chronologically, which should be interesting.

Blackbird 5: I haven’t picked this up in a few issues, but they make it easy to follow, and it’s so neat to watch Jen Bartel leveling up art wise.

East of West 41: Combination flashback and setup issue for what’s to come. I’m interested to see what’s to come.

Seven to Eternity 13: Well, it looks like Remender is attempting to wrap this up? Maybe? I mean, it’s been so sporadically released I wouldn’t be surprised. But damn dat Opena tho.

Monstress 20: SANA TAKEDA PRETTY, also some stuff going on in the background plot wise that I’m still trying to figure out. 

Trades/Tankobon: 3
Single Issues: 13

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Gideon Falls vol 1 The Black Barn: fucking outstanding. I'm glad I waited to read this in trade rather than continue monthly. I'm pissed I haven't give myself enough time to read it until now. This is the best horror book on the market right now.

Vampirella Roses for the Dead #1: good but not great. I'm so behind on comics that my standards just upped themselves pretty heavily.

X-Men Blue #30: still good.

  • Comics: 48
  • Trades: 3
  • Graphic Novels:
  • Omnibus: 1

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Umbrella Academy: Apocalypse Suite and Dallas: Reread in light of the Netflix adaptation. Still good, fun shit with wonderful art. 

Trades/Tankobon: 5
Single Issues: 13

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Nightwing #57 (2019): Decent. I kind of question Barbara's state of mind considering how she and Dick were right before he lost his memory but whatever.

Batman #65 (2019): Meh. I like Gulliem March tho.

Wonder Woman #105-#114 (1987): In my descent into madness over John Byrne that I posted about on Twitter, I read for the first time Cassandra Sandsmark's first appearances. This is 1996, so Tim Drake, Conner Kent Superboy and Impulse have already been around for a bit. In her early appearances, Cassie's the spunky daughter of a museum curator who Wonder Woman keeps hanging out with. She's energetic, excitable, frequently disobedient and all about following Wonder Woman on adventures. In short: she's a typical kid character in a story, practically Scrappy Doo. That being said I really like her and these spat of issues. Byrne is a great artist, and the status quo of Diana hanging out with her friend Helena and her 14 year old daughter is really fun to read. Plus, Diana isn't nearly as dismissive of giving Cassie powers as other heroes might be. She's still likely to side with Cassie's mom, but when she's not around Diana sees no problem putting the shoes of Hermes on Cassie and flying around Gateway City. It's really cool, and different from the other 90s sidekicks origins. 

Single Issues: 52

Trade Paperbacks: 3

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Unity vol 1 To Kill a King: Intense. Can't believe I waited so long to read this.

Astonishing X-Men #13: this was great

  • Comics: 49
  • Trades: 4
  • Graphic Novels:
  • Omnibus: 1

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Batman #66 (2019): Whatever. King's done these types of issues before.

Green Arrow #50 (2019): Poor Ollie

Doomsday Clock #9: This is still betrayal in that it has the DC Heroes fight Dr. Manhattan on Mars, but things are happening and the artwork is great so I'm very entertained.

Young Justice #3 (2019): Bendis Speak Aplenty! Wow with Conner's past and present...good stuff.

Amazing Spider-Man 16.HU: Odd issue numbering...good stuff with the Black Cat. 

Single Issues: 57

Trade Paperbacks: 3

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X-Men Masterworks vol 1: Jesus...this is the drizzling shits. It collects the first 10 issues of X-men by Stan and Jack. There is no through-line. It doesn't know what it is. It is a strike force? Is it a teen superhero book? Maybe. Is it a school? No. Not really. The only issues that have even an inkling of enjoyment are the Vanisher and Unus the Untouchable appearances. Those are pretty solid and remain some of the best, most unique X-villains. It will be a while before I check out volume 2.

Batman #50: fuck this was awful. I'm a mediocre issue away from dropping.

  • Comics: 50
  • Trades: 5
  • Graphic Novels:
  • Omnibus: 1

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14 hours ago, Dread said:

 

Batman #50: fuck this was awful. I'm a mediocre issue away from dropping.

  • Comics: 50
  • Trades: 5
  • Graphic Novels:
  • Omnibus: 1

Get ready for a lot of those.

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27 minutes ago, Donomark said:

Get ready for a lot of those.

Maybe I'll just cut my losses. I'm clearly behind on comics anyway. Might as well streamline.

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Richard Dragon, King-Fu Fighter #1, #5-#18:

Read this as the start of a Lady Shiva reading project. Every issue is written by Bronze Age Denny O'Neil, which is a mood. O'Neil's a very anti-racist writer  but he's locked by the styles and sensibilities of the time (1976-1977), so some unfortunate tropes pop up. For instance, Ben Turner (Bronze Tiger) is introduced as an easy-going, wise, skilled martial artist. Once the series gets going however, he's pushed to the role of sidekick (he helped train Richard) and near the end is reduced to angry black man status over the death of his fiancee. His whole portrayal was disappointing to witness.

But Lady Shiva is fucking awesome throughout. She's rendered oddly, with a very oval face and skin-tone that you hope isn't technically yellow, but her character is a great starting point for the beast that she becomes down the line. She's always tagging along with Richard and Ben for the danger, having a thirst for violence and tempering her skills. She's utterly indomitable and night unbeatable, only losing fights through villains' trickery or James Bond bad-guy traps. She has a stupid looking costume but wields a sword, with which she kills more than one person throughout the 18 issue series. The Lady Shiva that's eventually characterized in the modern comics is Neutral Evil. Depending on the writer, she's either a wandering killer or a flat-out bad guy. This initial Shiva is Neutral Good, every bit as dangerous and violent, but working with the heroes. Really makes you wonder when the transition starts to happen from good to bad...

Gonna read her appearances in The Question next.

Single Issues: 72

Trade Paperbacks: 3

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27 minutes ago, Donomark said:

Gonna read her appearances in The Question next

Did someone shine the Preston-signal over here?

But seriously, ten years on and Shiva is such a force of nature in Question. She serves Vic's story more than her own, but you get such a feel for her. She's the best, she knows it and she's desperate for a challenge. She's definitely neutral good character, and she fits the dirty world of Hub City, while clearly being above it. 

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The Question #1-#2, Annual #1, Green Arrow Annual #1 (1988), Detective Comics Annual #1 (1988), Detective Comics #427:

4 hours ago, Preston said:

Did someone shine the Preston-signal over here?

But seriously, ten years on and Shiva is such a force of nature in Question. She serves Vic's story more than her own, but you get such a feel for her. She's the best, she knows it and she's desperate for a challenge. She's definitely neutral good character, and she fits the dirty world of Hub City, while clearly being above it. 

Wow.

This is some of the best Denny O'Neil comics I've read. It has a terrific late-eighties modern style without ever falling into stupid parody. It's by far the best Denys Cowan artwork I've seen. And Shiva's characterization, reappearing after a decade from the Richard Dragon books, is arguably her best stories of all time. She's fantastic, and the close-up shots Cowan gives her in the Annual are gorgeous. 

Going to the Question for a bit, I love how O'Neil basically kills off the Ditko Question in the very first issue. It's an interesting move, and certainly is a marker of the philosophical and political differences between the two creators. O'Neil's Question basically calls the Ditko Question as in the crime-fighting game for his own ego. I'm positive Ditko would disagree, but it makes for engaging reading.

But the crossover between Batman, Green Arrow and Question was cool in how Shiva interacted with the three of them. In the 'Tec annual, we see her meeting Bruce for the first time and not being much of a match for him. That's the encounter referenced in Death in the Family, when she meets him again, and has progressed a helluva a lot to being his martial arts equal.

Death in the Family is comparably the most antagonistic Shiva is in her appearances by that point, especially with it being the first time someone else besides O'Neil writes her. She's not villainous exactly, but she had no problem being hired to train terrorists. It matches her appearance in Question #1, and is consistent with her personal code of going where the action is. But when DitF is read out of context from her appearances beforehand, she appears to be more of a villain. But she's really not, just a fighter with a serious boner for a challenge. Jim Aparo makes her looks like a tiger licking its chops when she sees Batman. I'm also buying the retcon of her being Cassandra's mother less and less in reading these old issues. I'll have to re-read that when I come to it, but it makes more sense that she'd not have had any kids at that time in her life. (Additionally, Cass would've been just a bit younger than Jason at the time, anyway...)

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Captain America #1: Coates has an uphill battle here. I feel like the whole "jump into the future" plot this is following up was a whole lot of inconsequential nothing. While there's not a lot going on here, I feel like they are laying some good groundwork here. Art is not my favourite, but as long as the story gets going, I'll check it out.

Captain Canuck Invasion: *insert jerk off motion gif here*  

  • Comics: 52
  • Trades: 5
  • Graphic Novels:
  • Omnibus: 1

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Batman: The Grim Knight #1: This was an entertaining read. It's not all that original as a concept, but the very straightforward, simplistic story of Batman vs. Gordon made it compelling. I'm interested more in the Grim Knight than The Batman Who Laughs.

Wonder Twins #2: Not as fun as the first issue, but in no way bad.

Red Hood: Outlaw #32: Lobdell keeps on going back and forth with Bruce and Jason's relationship, and it's getting old. I also don't see Jason "outsmarting" Bruce in the way that he did at all believable. Not that it makes Jason too smart, it makes Batman too stupid.

Superman #9 (2019): Good stuff. Really liking Bendis' writing of the Crime Syndicate.

Amazing Spider-Man #818: Awesome, action packed issue. This reads like the Spider-Man I got into as a kid, post-Clone Sage/Pre-Reboot. Great stuff.

Single Issues: 83

Trade Paperbacks: 3

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Deadly Class vol 7: really fucking great.

Mage: The Hero Denied Book Three vol 5: this is the newer series, the one before the end. It's solid. I really like the updated world and what everyone from before is like, if indeed they're still alive. 

The Umbrella Academy Apocalypse Suite vol 1 & Dallas vol 2: These are good. They don't hold up from first reading, but each volume has its moments. Of the two, Dallas is probably stronger. 

  • Comics: 52
  • Trades: 9
  • Graphic Novels:
  • Omnibus: 1

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The Magnificent Ms. Marvel #1: I was a little skeptical going into this issue, but it ended up being really engrossing. Nice drama and a great cliffhanger. Bravo Saladin Ahmed.

Single Issues: 84

Trade Paperbacks: 3

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Detective Comics #359, #363, #369, #371, Batman #197:

The first several appearances of Barbara Gordon as Batgirl. Reading these for a presentation next month (same for the Shiva reading project) I've read #359 and read plenty about her subsequent appearances, but I'm checking these Silver Age gems out now.

Honestly I'm surprised how well Babs comes off in these early issues. Unlike Yvvone Craig, she regularly socks it to the bad guys, often outfighting them and beating them senseless without Batman and Robin's help. Her detective skills are keen, and I wasn't aware that her photographic memory was a part of her character from the very start. She's also, at first, despite the writers' best intentions, not a sexistly rendered character. Her first encounter with Catwoman is, where Selina has a mad-on for her over jealousy over Batman, but Babs has no intention of chasing Batman around except to fight crime. 

'Tec #371 is the nadir though, where her femininity is explicitly and repeatedly illustrated as vanity, and an inborn detriment to her crime fighting skills. She's regularly tussled over her appearance, screams out loud, worries over mud catching onto her costume and in general is a hateful shell of her previous story's self. The ending, where she shows off some leg to distract the bad guys is marginally better in how it demonstrates her trademark ingenuity, but overall it's like someone in editorial read her first few stories and went "She's getting out of hand, we have to remind the readers that she's still only a woman." It's Godawful.

The letters pages are interesting, with women writers happy that Babs is consistently being shown as strong and that Batgirl isn't dued down by Batman for doing "man's work". What's really surprising is the few times readers lament the campy tone of the books. This is the late 60s, but even then readers yearn for the moody, darker, detective Batman over anything like the 60s show.

Single Issues: 89

Trade Paperbacks: 3

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