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  1. #1966
    Run Runner shaxper's Avatar
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    I was creating links to all my old series overviews over at my little reviews portal when I realized that I could no longer find the original "What Comic Books Have You Read Lately?" thread anywhere. Fortunately, I archived some of the older reviews from that thread on my computer. I'm reposting them here so that I have them online somewhere where people can still reply to them, if interested:

    ________________________________________
    Wonder Woman vol. 2 #1-62 plus Annual #1 (The full George Perez run)

    Perez's run on WW truly reads like a maxi-series. It's fascinating how the premise first outlined in the first issue is so thoroughly concluded by the last -- and on every level, from basic external plot to the more complex internal conflicts of an entire tribal nation. This run was clearly a carefully considered labor of love. Surely enough, every other conflict or theme established throughout the series concluded by the end. The final story arc (War of the Gods) even managed to include every major character ever to appear in the title without dying (except for Ares), while crossing into nearly the entire DCU.

    But...was it any good?


    As far as I'm concerned, Diana's greatest moment will always be the second to last page of the first issue. Here, Diana is undergoing a sort of trial before becoming Wonder Woman. The trial involves her deflecting a series of bullets fired from a gun. Diana deflects them with an endearing look of absolute terror on her face, only to ultimately ask "By the gods! What is that thing? Where did it come from?" It captures a significant balance in the Perez series - Diana's absolutely lovable naivety versus the greater destiny that awaits her (shrouded in mystery and a plethora of clues). We don't know why there's a gun on Paradise Island, but we know it's a small part of something BIG that lies in store for Diana. It makes us understand that a great legacy awaits her. Meanwhile, we both laugh at and love the adorable face of a completely horrified young woman that has never seen a gun before and now is being made to deflect bullets. Perez's art is amazing in its empathy, and the pacing of the layout is dynamite.

    Unfortunately, less than halfway into the series, things begin to change. And, by the end of the series, Diana has lost most of that wonderful naivety (yet replaced it with little else), has achieved her destiny and replaced that only with "how shall I restore my good name" and "should I be a superhero now?", and Perez's first class art and layouts have been replaced with the outright horrific work of (first) Chris Marrinian and (later) Jill Thompson. In both cases, their inability to draw faces is so disruptive that it utterly annihilates any emotional subtext that Perez may have still been working at. By the end of the series, everything that made it great in the begining is now lost. We teeter on, resolving plot points, but plot points were never a strength of this series. The antagonists and premises were always bearable at best. The highlights were always those moments BETWEEN plots where Perez would take a moment to really explore Diana and the people around her.

    So the series faded out pretty quickly.


    My reading recommendations for this series:

    The series is intermittantly dogeared by pivotal moments in Diana's journey. Any of these would serve as excellent stopping points.

    -If you're curious (or a completist), there's no harm in reading until the end (issue #62) unless you can't tolerate bad art. It's a nice resolution to the run that comes probably thirty five issues too late. The stories are never terrible. They're just adequate.

    -If you'd like to follow until Diana fulfills her mysterious destiny (it's a bit less interesting after this), read until issue #50. It's a bit of disappointment as the climax to a sixty two issue run, but it's still worth reading.

    -Reading up to issue #41 will give you the first diplomatic visit to Paradise Island (as well as the chaos that ensues), and a nice "between plots" story that strongly develops Vanessa (an important supporting character in the series).

    -Reading up to Wonder Woman Annual #1 (which directly follows #22) will give you all of the best moments in the run while bypassing what I consider to be the biggest wrong turn the series took (relating to Lord Hermes and begining in #23). It culminates with the first time the insular Amazons allow strangers (friends to Wonder Woman) to visit Paradise Island, and the annual depicts the visitation and celebration with great detail (and avoids introducing a conflict alltogether - quite bold and different). This arc also includes the departure of the gods (issue #21) which is, itself, quite a culminating moment for Diana, and the "Who killed Myndi Mayor?" story in issue #20 (quite possibly the most powerful issue of the series).

    So I strongly recommend the first 22 issues and the annual. These are essential stories for WW, even when the plots are often sub-par. Plus you get all that great Perez art before Marrinian takes over. Beyond that, it really depends upon how curious you are.
    Last edited by shaxper; 02-12-2013 at 08:18 PM.

  2. #1967
    Run Runner shaxper's Avatar
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    Jack Kirby's Kamandi #1-38. (Note: #38 is actually written by Gerry Conway, but is pencilled by Kirby and finishes up a Kirby storyline. There's only one point late in the story that genuinely feels like it wasn't Kirby's idea).

    For those of you that have never read Kamandi, I'm sure you've heard some empassioned fans sing its praise on this board, so I won't bother delving into what makes it fantastic as a series. Instead, I thought I'd offer a sort of reading guide - charting the highlights and suggesting stopping points for a reader that isn't sure how far to go.

    In general, Kamandi seems to work by a rule of tens.

    The first ten issues are absolutely fantastic, crescendoing with the 2 part Tracking Site story in issues #9 and #10 (which I think are the best of the entire series in terms of imagination, characterization, revelations, and general excitement). Issues 4-6 before that were also particularly strong, with the introduction of Prince Tuftan and the sad story of Flower. Only Kirby's silly spoof of King Kong in issue #7 detracts from an otherwise powerful run of nine extraordinary issues.

    Issues #11-20 keep up the excitement and imagination to an extent, but rarely match the strength of those earlier issues. The four part Sacker Department Store saga, including Klik-Klak and Flower's twin sister, is compelling in many places. It would be an amazing run if the first ten issues hadn't spoiled us by raising our expectations for great storytelling so much higher. The next arc, featuring the gorillas of Washington DC (as well as the Nixon tapes), is interesting enough. Issue #16 stands out from the rest of the arc, offering a powerful revelation about how animals evolved in Kamandi's future, and also suggests that mankind might eventually rise again. The storytelling in this particular issue is done amazingly well and proves to be yet another dramatic high point for the series. The next two issues, involving a society of gophers, is average as Kamandi adventures go. Finally, issues #19 and 20 climax with The Last Gang of Chicago, which starts off semi-interesting, but ends on an amazingly powerful note. #20 also features the best cover art for the entire series.

    The excitement seems to decline again with issues #21-30, in which Kamandi hangs out with the dolphins, goes to a haunted house, and reenacts a sort of civil war amongst leopards and bulldogs. This is all mildly interesting, but the strength of the series until now has been the vast array of compelling characters and settings that Kamandi has encountered in his travels. By this point, the characters feel less remarkable and the settings seem less imaginative. Finally, issues #29 and 30 both offer us something exciting and new. Issue #29 features the cult of Superman, which both anchors Kamandi's story to the future of the regular DCU and offers an account of Superman's final moments. Interesting stuff, even when the rest of the issue is only average. #30 does one better though, having Kamandi and Ben Boxer abducted by an alien being. It begins a large story arc that will only begin to resolve itself with Kirby's final storyline.

    Unfortunately, issues #31-38 are far less compelling. The storyline descends into a tired conflict between the tigers and gorillas and ends up leaving Kamandi permanantly attached to two traveling companions (something Kirby has worked hard to avoid doing prior to this point - always trying to keep Kamandi's situation changing without any opportunity for tired familiarity). The ill-tempered Pyra ends up being a particularly annoying character whose motives make absolutely no sense. She seems to exist purely for the purpose of driving Kamandi into new conflicts -- and even these aren't as exciting as they should be. One particular story, in which Kamandi encounters the mutated remains of a soviet cosmonaut (#35), ends too quickly and with almost no dramatic impact nor exciting revelation for the characters. The idea is wasted on a meaningless single-issue story.

    Skipping ahead to the final issue (#59, and the only issue I have after Kirby's run), Kamandi is still travelling with the same two companions, and has even picked up two more. Kirby's challenge of constantly throwing Kamandi into new, terrifying and unfamiliar situations is lost. He has a family of sorts to fall back on now, taking away from the sense of danger and unpredictability, and not even providing us with compelling characters in return. Continuity has also broken down by this point, as Pyra now claims to have been on Earth for "several months" when it had been revealed in issue 38 that she'd been on Earth since the time of the Great Disaster.

    For what it's worth, issues #37 and #38 actually contain Jack's last fascinating plot premise (I guess he was saving this one for the end), but it's cut short, and the compromises that have been made to the general Kamandi premise by this point almost make me want to forget the story, all the same. Kamandi, as we know it, is already over.



    My advice
    The most die-hard of Kirby fans should probably read to #38, just to see it for him/herself.
    Anyone else couldn't do wrong by reading up to #29.
    Someone just looking to read the most compelling issues should read up to #20.

  3. #1968
    Run Runner shaxper's Avatar
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    Teen Titans (vol. 1)

    Much of this run felt tedious. Writers that had no idea what to do with a younger, less established version of the Justice League thought the only thing to do with them was have them solve the mundane problems of other teens while trying to speak in forced teen jargon. The book gradually begins to show some maturity, most notably in issue #25, where the Titans are unable to stop a murder and surrender their costumed identities in penance, but the series didn't really become enjoyable to me until issue #37, where the title began to move into the horror genre. The darker tone, aided by some darker art, made for better reading than the bland stories about helping teens in trouble. The final issues of the original run (particularly #41 and #43) were the best of the series, in my opinion. They took more risks and offered more dramatic pay-offs, as a result. #41 features a ghost that forces Mal to re-enact the terrifying exodus of an escaped slave, and #43 is the tragic story of a boy tormented by monsters that the team is ultimately unable to save.

    What surprised me most, though, was that the brief bronze age revival (continuing with the original numbering) was actually pretty decent. Terrible cover art combined with terrible sales at the time had convinced me that these issues would be sincere disappointments. The addition of the Joker's Daughter aside (perhaps the poorest conceived Titan member of all time), these issues were at least as good as the better issues from the original run. The artwork was nowhere near as strong, but the writing managed to make the Titans interesting and likable in a way that had never been accomplished previously. By the penultimate issue, these semi-well rounded characters were beginning to feel like Wolfman and Perez's New Teen Titans to me. it's too bad that the final issue unceremoniously disbands the group with no warning whatsoever. Just when the title was finally beginning to attain real momentum (they'd just executed their first three part story, introducing a mess of new members, and it was really good!), the Titans abruptly decided that they'd be better off working solo without any real explanation beyond that. I felt cheated.


    Reading Recommendations: What you should read depends strongly upon your interest in the Titans in general...

    Someone just looking for good classic comics probably shouldn't bother with these runs at all. Some issues are quite decent but, without the appeal of nostalgia, they're certainly not amongst the most worthwhile classic comics out there.

    For the true Titan fan that wants to see how it all began, I would start with #25 and work your way up from there. #25 is the first real shake-up in Titans history, and all the important continuity stems from there. I'd also recommend reading Secret Origins Annual #2, which summarizes the entire original run in a single double-sized story. It does make a few intentional post-crisis modifications, but is otherwise quite loyal to the original stories.

    If you're a fan of the Titans and just want the best stories in this run, I'd start with #37. That's where the stories move away from helping teens in trouble and into the realm of the occult.

  4. #1969

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    Cerebus #28-43,

    I will say this about issue 43. It's so well written and the suspense is so good that I actually questioned if I remembered the election outcome correctly. I takes some skill to suck you in like that on a second read through. Just great stuff in these issues. The Moon Roach is awesome in this story.

  5. #1970
    I say thee nay! icctrombone's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by shaxper View Post
    Jack Kirby's Kamandi #1-38. (Note: #38 is actually written by Gerry Conway, but is pencilled by Kirby and finishes up a Kirby storyline. There's only one point late in the story that genuinely feels like it wasn't Kirby's idea).

    For those of you that have never read Kamandi, I'm sure you've heard some empassioned fans sing its praise on this board, so I won't bother delving into what makes it fantastic as a series. Instead, I thought I'd offer a sort of reading guide - charting the highlights and suggesting stopping points for a reader that isn't sure how far to go.

    My advice
    The most die-hard of Kirby fans should probably read to #38, just to see it for him/herself.
    Anyone else couldn't do wrong by reading up to #29.
    Someone just looking to read the most compelling issues should read up to #20.


    Thanks for the detailed review, Shaxper. I have the entire series and have not read all the issues. I need to pick a week to read it start to finish.
    Life is what you make it.

  6. #1971
    Ex-Cheeks Reptisaurus!'s Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rob Allen View Post
    Yeah, that green color on Doc on the FF cover was odd. I knew who he was at the time because I'd picked up Strange Tales #120 the month prior.

    Come to think of it, the cover of X-Men #4 two months earlier had the Scarlet Witch colored green. That confused the hell out of me. I wonder if there's any connection between these odd green-tinged characters on the covers?
    Just had time to check. I can see why Doctor Strange was greened out to emphasize the main characters in the foreground, but the Scarlet Witch has to be an embarrassing coloring error. "This one is called the.... Scarlet Witch! She must be green!"

    Maybe they got her coloring codes (or however that works) confused with Quicksilver?
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  7. #1972
    Welcome to Bleeker Street MRP's Avatar
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    Dove into another series that caught my attention in the Twelve Days of Christmas thread-Martian Manhunter: American Secrets #1-3.

    I vaguely remember getting this when it came out, but it didn't stand out in my memory, and the books long since left my possession, so I had to re-acquire these from Lonestar (issues 1-2) and a local store having a big sale on back issues (#3). I am glad I did. This was a great quirky, subversive little tale that had so many layers to peel away to find more stuff and beautiful art by Eduardo Barreto.

    Manhunter has been one of my favorite DC characters since I discovered him when he returned to the JLA in the later part of the series run just before the JL Detroit days, and especially during the early DeMatteis/Giffen/Maguire days of the League. This series was a decidedly different take on his mythos, but one that was brilliantly executed and fully realized. It fit into the larger picture of the DCU of its time (circa '92) even though set in the early 60's. Who can resist analogues of Mad Magazine, Elvis and the Beaver combined with beatniks, jazz, rock-n-roll, pink Caddies, the Mafia and intricate alien invasion plots, plus a cameo of Castro playing baseball? Pure gold. I was never a huge fan of Gerard Jones' DC work (Emerald Dawn is always what I think of and I really disliked that series of events for GL), but he hit this one out of the ballpark. If he had produced more layered material like this for Dc, I think I would have become a fan.

    -M
    A lunatic is easily recognized...You can tell him by the liberties he takes with common sense...and by the fact that sooner or later he brings up the Templars.
    -Umberto Eco

  8. #1973
    Elder Member MajorHoy's Avatar
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    I've been on an old Western re-reading kick this month:

    DC:
    * Showcase #72 ("Top Gun"; Jan.-Feb. 1968), which reprinted stories with the Trigger Twins and Johnny Thunder

    Marvel Comics:
    * Kid Colt Outlaw #137 (Nov. 1967)
    * Kid Colt Outlaw #206 (May 1976) . . . reprinted main story from Kid Colt #110
    * Kid Colt Outlaw #212 (Nov. 1976), reprinting story from Kid Colt Outlaw #114
    * Mighty Marvel Western #45 (June 1976)
    * Mighty Marvel Western #46 (Sept. 1976)
    * Night Rider #1 (Oct. 1974) - reprinted main story from Ghost Rider #1 (1967 series)
    * Rawhide Kid #40 (June 1964)
    * Rawhide Kid #50 (Feb. 1966), guest-starring Kid Colt
    * Rawhide Kid #125 (March 1975) . . . reprinted main story from Rawhide Kid #35
    * The Ringo Kid #4 (July 1970), reprinting stories from 1956
    * Western Gunfighters #8 (April 1972)
    * Western Gunfighters #19 (Nov. 1973)
    * Western Gunfighters #27 (Jan. 1975)

    Charlton Comics:
    * Gunfighters #53 (June 1979), featuring Wild Bill Hickok, Annie Oakley
    * Gunfighters #61 (July 1980), with Kid Montana; Wild Bill Hickok and Jingles; Masked Raider; Wyatt Earp; and Lash LaRue
    * Gunfighters #65 (March 1981), featuring Kid Montana, Black Fury (the horse), and Cheyenne Kid

    AC Comics:
    * Black Phantom #3 (1990)

    I'm also finishing up reading All-Star Western Vol. 1: Guns and Gotham tpb from DC's New 52.
    Congress shall make no law . . . abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

  9. #1974

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jezebel Bond View Post
    Daredevil (Miller run) from 158up....have gotten to 175 so far.
    Still could be the best DD run ever!

  10. #1975

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    Action comics silver /bronze age. I started collecting comics around 1978 and if it wasn't Marvel and drawn by Byrne or Perez I wasn't interested. Stupid kid. Since I am now 44 and my tastes have changed I figured it was time to start collecting AC plus some other 70's 80's DC and I have to say I rather enjoy them.

  11. #1976
    Senior Member dr chimp's Avatar
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    An essential Spiderman collection featuring Roger Stern writing a series of one shots of ridiculous losers (eat your heart out morrison) ending in hollow victories for Spiderman each issue and the ongoing saga of him accidentally hurting the department secretary issue in issue out then into Bill Mantlo who builds up a more epic storyline of the owl, dr octopus, and the kingpin all looking to take the city for themselves. Different writing styles but both excellent and Mantlo effortlessly picks up Sterns ongoing plots.
    "...so Hitler sends Iron Jaw's son to America to get revenge on Crimebuster." S.H.

  12. #1977
    New Member EGADCOMICS's Avatar
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    "The Greatest Batman Stories Ever Told" Volume 2, a great compilation of classic Batman stories. "Gil Jordan, Murder by High Tide" by M. Tillieux, a fantastic book with great illustrations.

  13. #1978
    Welcome to Bleeker Street MRP's Avatar
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    Per Polar Bear's Request...

    since a review of this was requested, I am adopting the format I use in my From the Sorcerer's Scroll Review thread...

    Forbidden Tales of the Dark Mansion #10 March-April 1973
    Cover: Nick Cardy
    Frontspiece: Michael Kaluta & E. Nelson Bridwell

    Story 1: The Monster (10 story pages, color)
    Writer: Jack Oleck
    Art: Alfredo Alcala

    Art: 8/10
    Story: 7/10
    Overall Impression: 7/10

    Synopsis: A women and her lover return to her summer home in the swamp with her daughter. The year before, she and her lover had murdered her husband and hidden the body in the swamp. They are attacked by a swamp monster, but with the help of the sheriff and his deputies destroy the monster, but not before she slips up and confesses her crime. The monster however was not attacking her but trying to bring flowers to his daughter.

    Commentary: Pretty standard morality tale contrasting the power of love and hate. The swamp monster seems derivative of Swamp Thing or Man-Thing, and this was published 2 years after both debuted so there is no chance of any independent parallel development here, and that lack of originality of concept weighs this down and makes it feel like it was an unused or rejected plot for one of the two characters salvaged for a mystery book. It was well executed, but not terribly innovative.

    Story 2: They Walk by Night (8 story pages, color)
    Story: Jack Oleck
    Art: William Payne

    Story:8/10
    Art: 6/10
    Overall Impression: 7/10

    Synopsis: A couple of down and outs take shelter in a department store from a winter storm and one of them gets the surprise of a lifetime.

    Commentary: It's an interesting twist. The idea of mannequins being monsters has freaked me out since I saw the early Jon Pertwee Doctor Who episodes featuring the Autons, and these are just as creepy to me. However, the art avoids all traditional panel layouts-it maintains a decent narrative flow despite this, but the inks and colors are very murky and it makes some of the scenes mash together and become somewhat indecipherable. The facial expressions are very good, but the general murkiness of the art makes it difficult to read and follow the story at times. The lettering style also avoids traditional takes. If I had to make a guess, they artist was emulating Eisner's style but lacked the master's talent and knack for integrating letting and narrative into the art seamlessly. Overall the art just screams poor Eisner pastiche rather than innovative. The idea behind the layouts sound, but the execution was lacking.

    Story 3:Clearance Sale (4 story pages, color)
    Plot: John Jacobson
    Script: Steve Skeates
    Art: Al Bistur

    Story: 6/10
    Art: 6/10
    Overall Impression: 6/10

    Synopsis: An employee shows up early to clean up the department store before it opens but one display in particular gives him fits.

    Commentary: Ok, so two creepy mannequin stories in one issue, but this one is much less effective, and coming right after the other one feels predictable and pedestrian. The art is ind of blase and murky as well, so it just adds to the drabness of this tale. On its own, and not in the context of the story that came before it, it might have stood up better, but as it was, it felt like filler for the last few pages of the issue.

    So overall an interesting issue. The one very innovative story suffers from poor artistic execution, while the other two stories lacked real originality. Alcala's art in the first story made it a stronger piece, but overall this felt like a very average comic without much besides the Cardy cover and gorgeous frontspiece by Kaluta to make it stand out.

    -M
    A lunatic is easily recognized...You can tell him by the liberties he takes with common sense...and by the fact that sooner or later he brings up the Templars.
    -Umberto Eco

  14. #1979
    Senior Member Polar Bear's Avatar
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    Fascinating review! I especially liked the attention you gave to Payne's art. IIRC, the origin of my interest in that story was the Slings and Arrows Guide hyping that particular story, so your rejection of the artwork (6/10) is of especial interest.

    I don't think I'll delete the issue from my want list, but I'll definitely lower the priority on it. Thanks much!
    Anyway, it is cool for you to acquire acrimony of crumbling time on blast this website.
    --best spam ever

  15. #1980
    Senior Member Jolly Mon's Avatar
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    I picked up a stack of back issues from a local antique shop for a buck an issue, which included some Infinity, Inc, several issues of Moench's Spectre, some Solo Avengers, and one of the funnier covers (on a "serious" comic) of recent decades:

    Click image for larger version. 

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    and JLA # 102

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    which includes a letter column entry from later comic pro, Mark Gruenwald.
    One lab accident away from being a super-villain

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