2018.012 The Shadow: The Death of Margo Lane

Give me the Shadow written or drawn by anyone.  I'll eat that up.  Give me Matt Wagner, writing or drawing anything.  I'll eat that up.  Give me The Shadow: The Death of Margo Lane and I'll eat it up and realize I was slightly let down by it.  I was trying to figure out what about it bothered me.  What let me down.  I think it's calling the book The Death Of Margo Lane.  Sure, she dies in the book in the second chapter (or does she?), but it felt like that was just a thing that happened rather than what the story itself was about.  It also felt lopsided.  Like the best parts of a larger story were cut out and presented to us as the whole story.  I can't believe I'm about to say this, but I would have liked to have seen this story fleshed out over a larger run than the five parts it was presented in.  I think the lopsidedness of it would have disappeared.

The Shadow: The Death of Margo Lane
Written by: Matt Wagner
Illustrated by: Matt Wagner
Dynamite Comics

2018.011 Batman Vol 4: The War Of Jokes And Riddles

Tom King has been doing solid stuff on Batman, but for some reason, I just don't think it's been as good as everyone has been saying.  I've liked it a lot, but his run IS coming off of Scott Snyder's, and that's probably what my issue is.  As good as Tom King's Batman is, it's not Scott Snyder's.  Well, after reading this book, I'm taking that argument and throwing it away.  I was captivated by this story.  It's been a long time since I've read anything that I could not put down.  There was something about the way he wrote this book that clicked with me.  I love that it was a flashback story.  I think that worked wonderfully.  It only strengthened it for me.  It was beautiful to look at.  He did things in this book that made me go "WTF?" but they worked.  I fucking loved Bruce Wayne hosting a dinner for Riddler and Joker.  That was my biggest WTF moment, but the moment I loved the best.

Tom King has set his own personal bar pretty high with this story.  I can't wait to see where he goes next.

Batman Vol 4: The War Of Jokes And Riddles
Written by: Tom King
Illustrated by: Mikel Janin, Clay Mann, Danny Miki, Seth Mann, John Livesay, Hugo Petrus
DC Comics

2018.010 Astro City: Reflections

I love that the volumes of Astro City seem to alternate between a big story or smaller, individual character pieces.  This volume has three stories to it.  I love reading Astro City because it always feels like a history lesson.  Sometimes we're seeing characters for the first time, but Kurt Busiek makes us feel like we've been reading about them for years.  Sometimes he uses a classic Astro City character and we're just getting yet another chapter in their history.  Sometimes he uses the perspective of a peripheral character to tell the story of a hero we already know.  This series is so smartly produced, I just don't know how he can continue to turn out story after story like this.  I really loved the Samaritan story and especially the Steeljack story in this volume.  The Furst Family story was kind of meh to me.

Astro City: Reflections
Written by: Kurt Busiek
Illustrated by: Brent Anderson, Alex Ross

2018.009 Batman - Detective Comics Vol 4: Deus Ex Machina

I like that James Tynion is rotating the focus of his arcs on this book to different members of the Batman Family.  Last time it was Cassandra Cain, this time it's Azrael.  I've never liked Azrael in the past, and this book does nothing to make me like him much more, but it was still an enjoyable read.  I

The biggest part of this book for me was seeing Zatanna again, back to her regular self.  It looks like the Justice League Dark nonsense was stripped away from her and she's the Zatanna we used to know again.  This book gives us a look at the secret history of Zatanna and Bruce Wayne.  They've known each other since they were teens when Bruce was studying and learning the things he needed to know to be Batman.  It's kind of cool seeing this connection they have from way back.

Detective continues to be a top notch Batman book and I look forward to more.

Batman - Detective Comics Vol 4: Deus Ex Machina
Written by: James Tynion IV, Christopher Sebela
Illustrated by: Alvaro Martinex, Carmen Carnero, Raul Fernandez, Karl Story, Richard Friend
DC Comics

2018.008 Vigilante: Southland

Can you like and hate a book at the same time?  Because I liked this and I hated this.  I think it was a solid story, but it was poorly told.  I don't know who Gary Phillips is, whether he's a comics writer or if this is his first experience in the medium, but his storytelling was very clumsy and in places, very cliched.  I think in someone else's hands, this story may have been executed better.  It reads kind of choppy the way he jumps from scene to scene.  It's unsettling sometimes.  But the story itself, like I said, is solid.  It's a fresh take on a classic DC anti-hero and I could definitely read more, but the stories would need a lot of work first.

Vigilante: Southland
Written by: Gary Phillips
Illustrated by:Elena Casagrande, Moritat
DC Comics

2018:007 Green Arrow Vol 4: The Rise Of Star City

I mentioned a few posts back in my 2018 post that I've been introduced to some new comic nerds that I've been chatting with a lot lately.  Most of them agree that they're dropping this title.  I can't wrap my head around that.  This is one of DC's top Rebirth successes in my opinion.  This book is so fucking good.  I'm sure I've said it before, but I'll say it again.  The New 52 was a shit show.  I don't know what DC was thinking, but none of it was good.  They learned with Rebirth.  If they wanted to reinvent the entire DCU, this is how they should have done it.  This book is the (near) perfect meld of the old DCU Green Arrow, the New 52 Green Arrow and the tv Green Arrow.  All the best parts mixed together to give a contemporary look at the character.  Ben Percy is my hero for what he's doing with this book.  Best part of this for me is seeing how Roy Harper's history fits into the GA mythos in this new DC Universe.  And it does fit in again.  Team Arrow For Life!!

Green Arrow Vol 4: The Rise Of Star City
Written by: Benjamin Percy
Illustrated by: Juan Ferreyra, Eleonora Carlini, Mirka Andolfo, Otto Schmidt
DC Comics

2018.006 Hawkeye: Kate Bishop Vol 2: Masks

This book proves you can have a book that's smart, funny, serious and well executed without invalidating any of those things.  I loved this.  Kate Bishop is quickly becoming my favorite Marvel hero.  Kelly Thompson is doing magic with her.  Kate looks and sounds and acts just like the Kate from the previous Hawkeye series she shared with Clint Barton.  She didn't get reinvented when she got her own series.  Just given a new setting.  I don't know why more creators can't do this.

We get to deal with a lot of Kate's past in this book.  Her relationship with her father and mother take the spotlight for a good deal of the book.  I want more of this.  MORE!!

Hawkeye: Kate Bishop Vol 2: Masks
Written by: Kelly Thompson
Illustrated by: Leonardo Romero, Michael Walsh
Marvel Comics

2018.005 Shirtless Bear-Fighter!

Hands down, this has been my favorite read of 2018.  It's stupid as fuck, but it's stupid fun as fuck.  I do not laugh out loud at stuff I'm reading.  I may chuckle on rare occasion, but I don't laugh out loud.  Reading this book, in three or four places, I laughed out loud.  This book is that funny and fun and goofy and stupid.  It's fucking amazing.  If you want something stupid fun, read this.  You won't regret it!!

Shirtless Bear-Fighter!
Written by: Jody Leheup, Sebastian Cirner
Illustrated by: Nil Vendrell
Image Comics

2018.004 Champions Vol 2: The Freelancer Lifestyle

I enjoy this book very much.  Very very much.  It's kind of like Marvel's Teen Titans, a book that's always been very close to my heart.  Mark Waid seems to get these characters, even though he's (probably) older than I am.  LOL.  What I don't like about this book is what my biggest gripe about Marvel books has been for a good long time.  Any and all momentum a creative team has gets crushed by whatever the giant Marvel event is at the time.  This book is going along nicely and then Secret Empire hits.  Rather that completely stop what's happening, Mark Waid manages to incorporate being part of a crossover with the regular book, so the interruption isn't too jarring.  But it still is.  And I don't know some of these new Marvel characters the crossover is featuring.  And I kind of don't care.  

Hopefully there isn't a giant event during the run of the next six issues or so.

Champions Vol 2: The Freelancer Lifestyle
Written by: Mark Waid
Illustrated by: Humberto Ramos, Victor Olazaba
Marvel Comics

2018.003 Batgirl And The Birds Of Prey Vol 2: Source Code

I'm continuing to enjoy this book very much, but I've come upon a couple of realizations.  I don't know if the Bensons have ever written comics before.  This is my first experience with them.  I think they're going a decent job with the book, but I think the way they write, this book would be enjoyed more monthly.  I say that only because I feel like when they're telling a story that gets published over six months, reading it over six months makes it feel like it's going at the right speed.  Reading it in one fell swoop makes me feel like the story is rushed.  Six months may have passed in the real world, but in the story, maybe six days have passed.  Does that make sense?  I'd like to have seen this story as maybe the third arc of the book.  It feels like too much has happened too soon to me.

My only other gripe about this story is Huntress.  It feels like they don't know who she is.  She felt very empty.  Lacking personality.  Like, they could have had any character in that role and no one would have noticed a difference.  Again, I wonder if this is part of the issue I mentioned above.  They're trying to turn her from who she was in Grayson to who they want her to be here and it's too much, too quickly?  I don't know.

But don't get me wrong, I'm enjoying the fuck out of this book.  I look forward to more.

Also, I'd be remiss not to mention the amazing variant covers collected at the back of the book by Yanick Paquette.  Amazing, amazing stuff.

Batgirl And The Birds Of Prey Vol 2: Source Code
Written by: Julie Benson, Shawna Benson
Illustrated by: Roge Antonio, Claire Roe, Breno Tamura, Yanick Paquette
DC Comics

2018.002 Adam Strange: The Silver Age Omnibus

Adam Strange is one of my all-time favorite characters.  I can't tell you why, though.  Not because it's a secret, but I really don't know what draws me to him.  He's cool, he's got a simple yet effective design, but otherwise, I don't know.

And I should NOT have enjoyed this book as much as I did.  The reason being every Adam Strange story is basically the same.  He pinpoints when the next Zeta Beam will hit Earth to take him back to Rann.  He arrives to be greeted by his true love Alanna, a crisis ensues that only Adam can save Rann from, the Zeta Beam wears off and he's drawn back to Earth.  Lather, rinse, repeat.  But there is such a charm to these stories that I can't stop reading them.

The bulk of them are drawn by Carmine Infantino, not a favorite artist of mine.  But Carmine's work on Adam Strange is some of his finest work.  There's some STUNNING Murphy Anderson art in here that fills me with such joy.

There are some stories in this book I've never read before.  I had no idea there was an Adam Strange descendant in the future who took on his mantle.  Only two or three stories, but still.  Brand new to me.

One of the things I discovered in this book, also, is Lee Elias' run on Adam Strange.  In his stories, he drew Adam without his familiar cowl, which just looked odd to me at first, but by the time I finished that run, I kind of dug seeing this version.

The New 52 ruined Adam Strange for me.  I hope DC gets it's act together to Rebirth him back to his old self.

Adam Strange: The Silver Age Omnibus
Written by: Gardner Fox, Dave Wood, Jerry Siegel, Denny O'Neil
Illustrated by: Carmine Infantino, Gil Kane, Mike Sekowsky, Murphy Anderson, Lee Elias, Phil Kelsey, Joe Giella, Bernard Sachs, John Giunta, Sid Greene
DC Comics

2018.001 Aquaman: The Waterbearer

One of the great things about an Aquaman movie coming is that DC is putting all sorts of Aqua-related material back in print.

I read this monthly when it first was published, but to be honest, I really don't remember any of what was printed in this volume.  When I think back to Rick Veitch's run, I recall his Black Manta storyline, but barely any of this.  I remember the Lady of the Lake giving Arthur his water hand, but little else.  

I found this book to be a little slow in places, but I recognize that Rick is setting all his pieces in place to start telling the story he wants.  This is a welcome change from Peter David's Aquaman.  While I can't really stand Peter David, I did enjoy many aspects of his run.  But I like this more.  Rick Veitch is putting Aquaman back where he should be, stripping away all of the bullshit laid on him by Peter David.  

I look forward to the next volume of this book to refresh my memory of this run.

Aquaman: The Waterbearer
Written by: Rick Veitch, Steve Conley
Illustrated by: Yvel Guichet, Darryl Banks, Norm Breyfogle, Rob Haynes, Joshua Hood, Deitrich Smith, Sal Velluto, Mark Propst, Bob Almond, Dennis Janke, Rob Leigh, Sean Parsons, Bob Petrecca
DC Comics

2018 Here We Go

I will confess that I actually enjoyed logging and mini-reviewing everything I read last year.  Sure, sometimes it felt like a chore when I would let the books build up before finding time to log them here, but overall, it was a lot of fun.  I learned that I read way more than I thought I did.  I read 184 books last year.  If you asked me last January what my total would be, I may have guessed it would be 80.  Let's see how far I can get this year.

One of the things that made me happiest about this little experiment is that it's influenced others to track what they're reading this year.  My ex-sister-in-law posted on Facebook that I have inspired her to both track what she's reading this year, but to also read more.  I find that awesome.  Also, my friend George introduced me to some of his comic nerd friends and invited me to a little chat group with them.  I told them about this blog and what I actually read last year, which inspired George to create a spreadsheet for us to log what we're reading this year.  It's eye opening when you realize exactly what you've read over the course of a year.

I doubt I will update this more often this year than I did last year, but I will still post about all the stuff I read.  Feel free to comment on any of the posts.  Tell me if you read what I did and if you liked it or not.