154 John Constantine, Hellblazer Vol 9: Critical Mass

You know how excited you get when you find out one of your favorite writers is about to take over writing one of your favorite characters?  All that giddiness, all the expectations?  I was so excited for this volume because Paul Jenkins meets John Constantine.  What could be bad about that?

Well..... this is probably my least favorite volume of this series so far.  For some reason, this just didn't click with me.  It didn't ring true. The volume starts off with an Eddie Campbell tale.  That just didn't do it for me at all.  I know of Eddie Campbell, but I can't say that I've read much by him.  So I don't know if this is typical of him or not.  The story didn't feel right.  John didn't feel right.  The circumstances didn't seem right.  But I was willing to overlook it.  I can't like everything, right?  Paul Jenkins arrives and starts his story right where Eddie left off.  I appreciate things like that.  More than I can express.  But at the same time, this just didn't feel like John Constantine to me.  I really can't put my finger on it.  Maybe say that this character was Jack Cunningham or something like that and I might like it more, but as a Constantine story, it just didn't work for me.

On the plus side, Sean Phillips' art is amazingly beautiful.  I could just stare at the pages all day long.  I just would rather not read them again.  LOL.  

I'm very much backlogged on this series.  Volume 17 or 18 just came out, so I need to catch up on Constantine's adventures.

John Constantine, Hellblazer Vol 9: Critical Mass
Writer: Paul Jenkins, Eddie Campbell, Jamie Delano
Artist: SEan Phillips, Pat McEown

153 Batman By Ed Brubaker Vol 2

I did not read these stories the first time around.  I was on a Bat-hiatus at the time.  Reading them now makes me regret that.  I don't know why I wasn't reading any of the Batman titles.  I think I was probably tired of Batman.  I don't know.  But I missed out.

The stories in this volume take place during the Bruce Wayne: Murderer or Bruce Wayne: Fugitive storylines.  Bruce was framed for killing his girlfriend Vesper Fairchild.  He was taken into custody, but soon escaped.  He became Batman full-time.  These are the stories written by Ed Brubaker, rather than this collection being all the stories published at the time in all the Bat-books dealing with this story.  It's a damn fine read, too.  Ed Brubaker tends to know what he's doing and he does it well.  Scott McDaniel's art really shined in this book, too.  What's also nice about this collection is that although the various members of the BatFam appear, they don't over crowd the stories.  They show up when they're needed and go away when they're not.

I'm not sure when Brubaker's run ended on this, but there may be enough material for one more collection.  I'm looking forward to that.  I think the Hush storyline started not long after these stories.

Batman By Ed Brubaker Vol 2
Writer: Ed Brubaker, Geoff Johns
Artist: Scott McDaniel, Andy Owens, Sean Phillips, James Tucker, Stefano Gaudiano, Eric Shanower
DC Comics

152 Float

I'll be honest.  I don't Kickstart nearly enough.  I tend to settle into the tried and true stuff.  If you read this blog, you see what I read.  Your basic generic superhero slop.  And I like it.  I used to read a lot more independent books back in the day, but the older I've gotten, the fewer risks I tend to take.

This book is written and drawn by my buddy Howie Noel.  It's an autobiographical book about his struggles with anxiety.  That's a subject near and dear to my heart.  I suffer from anxiety, but I tend to think of it as fairly mild anxiety compared to others.  But I know what it does to you, I know how it can make you feel helpless, lost, alone.  I know how crippling it can be.  So I was very anxious to pick this up.

First things first, this is one of the most visually stunning books I've read in a really long time.  Howie's art is a thing of beauty.  His storytelling in this book it top notch.  There's nothing complex about his layouts or finished art, but that's what makes it fit so perfectly here.  Some of the best pages are the splash pages throughout the book.  Very uncomplicated, very clean, very beautiful.

The story itself was not what I was expecting.  I think I was looking for a very talking head kind of book, but instead, as I read this, I realized it's less the story I was expecting and more like a day in the head of the storyteller, dealing with the anxiety.  Some of the cuts in the book feel a little quick and the more I thought about it, when you're having a panic attack or an anxiety attack, that's exactly what your brain is doing.  Going from one thought to the next in the beat of a heart.  I think it's a really effective storytelling technique, one that I didn't totally get at first, but the more I thought about what I just read, the more it gelled in my head.

I really, really recommend this book.

Writer: Howie Noel
Artist: Howie Noel
HCNoel Comics


151 Nightwing Vol 3: Nightwing Must Die!

The Nightwing book is a shitload of fun.  This is the Dick Grayson I love to read.  Actually, the Dick Grayson I love to read hasn't gone away.  He's here, he was front and center in the Grayson series.  He's one of the brightest lights in the DCU and he's generally been treated well and fairly.

This series got off to a rocky start, I think.  Clearly the first volume of this was intended to be the sixth volume of Grayson, but Rebirth happened and it had to be retooled.  It's clear just from reading it.  The second volume was more what the first volume should have been.  New city, new supporting cast, new outlook.  This volume picks up from where the last volume left off, though I do think things are a little rushed here.  Dick has a new girlfriend and she may be pregnant.  Their relationship seems to have progressed too far too soon in my opinion.  But otherwise, the rest of this book rings true.  

We've got Dick and Damian back together again.  I love reading the two of them together.  They are brilliant together.  We have Professor Pyg back again.  We have Dick's girlfriend, a former adversary, teaming up with him.  This book is a giant win to me.  I never want Tim Seeley to stop writing Dick Grayson.  Ever.

Nightwing Vol 3: Nightwing Must Die!
Writer: Tim Seeley, Michael McMillian
Artist: Javier Fernandez, Minkyu Jung, Christian Duce
DC Comics

150 Power Man And Iron Fist Vol 3: Street Magic

The good: Power Man and Iron Fist back together again, in the buddy book I was hoping for.  David Walker has spent a lot of time in this book building up a big supporting cast.

The bad: Power Man and Iron Fist feel more like the supporting cast and the supporting cast is the lead.  There's just too much going on here that Luke and Danny feel like they get fit in where there's room.

I've complained before about the current way Marvel likes to do series.  Hire a creative team, give them a year to a year and a half to tell a story, cancel the book.  Many Marvel books seem to produce about three trades before cancellation and reboot.  I wish they'd just publish books like the good old days.  Start a book, when that team leaves, bring on another to pick up the story where it left off.  Just as you get yourself invested in a series, it's over, it starts fresh with a new objective, a new cast, a new purpose.  There are some of us who do enjoy a little continuity here.

Overall, this series was a great deal of fun.  Even though this was my least favorite volume, I still highly recommend it.  This is the Luke and Danny I could read until the end of time.

Power Man And Iron Fist Vol 3: Street Magic
Writer: David Walker
Artist: Sanford Greene, Elmo Bondoc
Marvel Comics

149 Titans Vol 2: Made In Manhattan

Titans is my team.  Ever since I first discovered them as a (probably) ten year old when they revived the book, Titans has been my team.  This book, while not the greatest book ever published, is one of my favorites right now.  The reason being is that these are new versions of my favorite characters (okay, I'm not thrilled about that) coming back together realizing something has happened to reality and trying to figure things out as they go.  This is the book that lead directly into Rebirth.  I'm anxious to see how they peel back the layers of this onion.

This volume (re)introduces Bumblebee.  I'm happy about that, but I'm still slightly annoyed how Mal and Karen have been handled.  There's something not quite right, but I'm still happy they're here.  

This was the last book I was reading monthly from any publisher, but when DC started jacking up prices on their floppies, I dropped this book in favor of the trade.  I'm not 100% collected edition!  First time ever!

Titans Vol 2: Made In Manhattan
Writer: Dan Abnett, James Asmus
Artist: Brett Booth, Norm Rapmund, Minkyu Jung, Lee Weeks, Reilly Brown, Scott Hanna
DC Comics

148 Moon Knight Vol 3: Birth And Death

I'll be honest.  I loved Jeff Lemire's first volume of Moon Knight.  The second volume kind of lost me.  He was getting too heady for his own good.  But for some reason, it all paid off for me in volume three.  This is good shit.  I feel bad for doubting Jeff Lemire.  He does NOT fail.  Ever.

Moon Knight is one of the most complex and complicated heroes around.  He's insane.  Or is he.  How much of what you're reading is actually happening in the real world and how much is happening in his head?  It's next to impossible to say, but Jeff gets it.  He fucking gets it and it is such a great thing when you realize it.

This is much different from Cullen Bunn's run, which I adored.  I was hoping for more of that from Jeff, but what Jeff gives is on such a different level, I cannot complain.

I highly recommend Jeff's run.  Three volumes, all one story.  While I kind of hate this concept that Marvel is gung ho for, something like this makes it work and work well.

Moon Knight Vol 3: Birth And Death
Writer: Jeff Lemire
Artist: Greg Smallwood
Marvel Comics

147 Wonder Woman And Justice League America Vol 2

DC should really be ashamed of itself.  Justice League should be the company's flagship title.  A book featuring the biggest and the brightest heroes banded together.  By this point in the company's history, Justice League was a group of D-List, at best, characters.  And not just one book of D-Listers, but three full series full of the worst of the worst.  I understand how this happened.  When the JLA was revamped into Justice League International, it had a solid creative team that took a lot of B-Listers and turned them into the premiere DC Superteam.  As time went on, the creative teams got worse and worse and the roster reflected that.  Luckily this is getting to the end of that era.

This book collects a big crossover between all the Justice League books.  It's an awful crossover that culminates with the death of Ice.  Booster Gold also dies, but only kind of dies.  But his Tony Stark Iron Man suit keeps him alive until a new creative team can fix the disaster they made of him.

This book is just not good.  It's everything that was wrong with the 90s all collected into one handy volume.

Wonder Woman And Justice League America Vol 2
Writer: Dan Vado, Mark Waid, Gerard Jones
Artist: Marc Campos, Chuck  Wojtkiewicz, Sal Velluto, Ken Branch, Kevin Conrad, Bob Dvorak, Robert Jones, Rich Rankin, Jeff Albrecht
DC Comics

146 Daring New Adventures Of Supergirl Vol 2

Oh boy.  Where do I start?

I love Supergirl.  I was stoked that she got her own series back again with this book.  I really do remember liking it a little more than I do right now.  Looking at it with fresh eyes, I realize what a total fucking disaster this book was.  I don't know if DC even cared very much when they decided to give her her own series again.  To me, this is what I imagine the pitch was.  Let's give her a book, let's try to write it for women, but put no effort into it whatsoever.  Because it really feels like it was written to try to appeal to a female audience.  Let me correct that.  Written poorly to appeal to a female audience.  Nothing against Paul Kupperberg, but this was not the way to do it.

I was never keen on Carmine Infantino, especially at this stage in his career.  He was not fit for the book.  The plots were terrible.  The art was terrible.  And the book got cancelled in time for the Supergirl movie, a movie I loved, but a movie that was terrible.

I'm so happy DC decided to collect this series.  As bad as it is, it really does hold a special place in my heart.

Daring New Adventures Of Supergirl Vol 2
Writer: Paul Kupperberg
Artist: Carmine Infantino, Eduardo Barreto, Bob Oksner
DC Comics

145 JLA: A Midsummer's Nightmare - The Deluxe Edition

I just realized it's been nearly a month since I've posted anything.  Time has been at a premium lately and I really haven't read much.  This will be the first of six or seven posts.  That's all I've managed to read this month.  It's kind of sad because I have such a big backlog of books.  My October shipment was only four books, which meant I could delve into my backlog.  Or not, as it happens.

Anyway, the first of the six books I'm going to briefly talk about is JLA: A Midsummer's Nightmare.  Originally a three issue mini series back in the 90's, it set the stage for Grant Morrison reviving the JLA.  By this point in time, the JLA was a giant joke (see the next post).  This mini-series served to bring the big guns back together, something that was sorely needed.

I remember loving this series when it first came out.  This time around, however, I just found it to be okay.  Maybe I loved it so much because it was the first time in years that the REAL JLA got together again?  Maybe it was just in that time this book was top notch.  Styles and trends change over the years.  Reading it this time, I thought it was a solid story, definitely rooted in it's era, but that era kind of tainted it just a touch for me.  I thought the art was good, but somewhat generic.  Nothing stand out for a series that served a bigger purpose.

I do love these Deluxe Editions DC is putting out.  The pages are just a little bit bigger, the art is just a little clearer than originally published.  It's a really nice way to reprint these books.

JLA: A Midsummer's Nightmare - The Deluxe Edition
Writer: Mark Waid, Fabian Nicieze
Artist: Jeff Johnson, Darick Robertson, Jon Holdredge, Hanibal Rodriguez
DC Comics


144 Batman: War Games Book Two

When giant crossovers are done right, and infrequently, they can be amazing.  I thought the entire War Games crossover was pure gold.  There was one, focused story, it ran through the entire Batman Family of books, none of it felt forced, none of it felt padded out.  It was on point and a great read.

Basically, for a year, we got a story that took place over the course of a few days.  Batman had fired Stephanie Brown as Robin.  She still wanted to prove her worth to Batman and it backfired in her face.  Batman has contingency plans for everything.  EVERYTHING.  Stephanie took one of those plans and unintentionally turned it into a reality, sparking the biggest mob war in Gotham's history.  It took all of Batman's associates to end it, but it did so much damage to Batman's standing in Gotham, his allies standing in Gotham, and his own relationship with his allies that it took years to fix.

It really is a great story with amazing consequences that laid the groundwork for more stories.  That's the sign of a great "event story."

Batman: War Games Book Two
Writer: Anderson Gabrych, A.J. Lieberman, Devin Grayson, Bill Willingham, Dylan Horrocks, Ed Brubaker, Bruce Jones, Russell Lissan
Artist: Pete Woods, Cam Smith, Brad Walker, Troy Nixey, Mike Lilly, Andy Owens, Al Barrionuevo, Francis Portella, Jon Proctor, Robert Campanella, Rodney Ramos, Mike Huddleston, Jesse Delperdang, Paul Gulacy, Jimmy Palmiotti, Kinsun, Aaron Sowd, Sean Phillips, Thomas Derenick, Adam DeKraker, Drew Geraci, Paul Lee, Brian Horton, Eddy Barrows, Jay Leisten, Chris Marrinan, Andrew Pepoy, BIT, Giuseppe Camuncoli, Sandre Hope
DC Comics

143 Tales Of The Batman: Gerry Conway Vol 1

When I think of Gerry Conway, I don't necessarily think of Batman, but as it turns out, he's written his fair share of Batman stories.  Everything in this book I've read before.  Most everything I've read I read when it was brand new.  There are a couple exceptions, but very few.  This book has a nice mix of stories from Batman, Detective Comics, Batman Family, Brave & The Bold, World's Finest and Man-Bat. 

A couple of the stories in here I have very strong, fond memories of, though I had no idea they were Gerry Conway stories.  The first being the story from Batman Family #17.  And it's not even the story itself that I have really fond memories of, but the entire issue.  I remember all the stories kind of blending into one another.  The story reprinted in this volume has one of my favorite BatFam sequences ever. Huntress breaks into the Wayne Foundation building and is quickly "discovered" by Batman and Robin.  It's the first meeting between Batman and Huntress and I love it.  Batman brings Huntress to meet Kathy Kane, who in turn takes Huntress to meet Batgirl.  That story isn't in this volume, though.

Another story I have very fond memories of is from World's Finest #250.  I don't think the story is nearly as good as I remember it, but I'm a sucker for anniversary stories with lots of guest stars.  This tale isn't just the Superman/Batman story you'd normally get in World's Finest.  It also stars Green Arrow and Black Canary and the WWII Earth 2 Wonder Woman, all who also had features in World's Finest.  I do love these kinds of stories, whether they are successful or not. 

This book also has a fair amount of Brave & The Bold stories.  I love those tales.  LOVE THEM!!!  Especially the ones that are the more impossible ones, like Batman teaming up with Scalphunter.

I wouldn't say there's anything in this book that's outstanding, but it's a great read cover to cover nonetheless.

If DC is going to reprint more Gerry Conway stuff, I hope their next project is the Fury of Firestorm series.  That, to me, is classic Gerry Conway.

Tales Of The Batman: Gerry Conway Vol 1
Writer: Gerry Conway
Artist: Steve Ditko, Ernie Chan, Michael Golden, George Tuska, John Calnan, Jim Aparo, Don Newton, Jose Luis Garcia Lopez, Carmine Infantino, Rich Buckler, Al Milgrom, Frank McLaughlin, Vince Colletta, Dave Hunt, Dan Adkins, Steve Mitchell
DC Comics