Some Comics in Brief, 12/19/20

I know I just did one of these, but I was recently writing a full review for a few books that I recently read, and I couldn’t get beyond two paragraphs, so I decided to sum up what I’ve read recently. Maybe because I’m pressed for time (and have other things to do) and maybe because a number of these were “one-off” stories or series?

Anyway, the usual rules apply here.

The Shadow (1986) #1-4 (DC): I had reviewed half of this series back in June and had said I was going to keep it for now because it was a solid read and I only had two issues to find. I found those two issues on the cheap and decided to read it. It’s a gorgeous-looking book because Howard Chaykin’s art is really dynamic and works incredibly well with the Baxter paper upon which it’s printed, but the story is a bit … off? I mean, I don’t know what to make of it, to be honest, because it feels like I’m watching a reunion/reboot movie of an old television series (which is probably what he’s going for) and since I don’t have any investments in the characters, I found myself trying to figure out whether or not it was a good story. It certainly was entertaining, and if you’re a Chaykin completest or fan, it’s definitely on the list. But I’ve read better stuff from him (and kind of have a hankering to seek out some of his other stuff), so I think this one gets passed along. Sell/Donate.

The Question Annual #1 (DC): The third part of a three-part annual crossover between Detective Comics, Green Arrow, and The Question. Written by Denny O’Neil, it’s an “international intrigue” story that centers around Lady Shiva and an old sensei. If I’m recalling the Detective Annual (which I have in trade), it began with Batman and a story that tangentally involves Ras Al Ghul, but here The Question takes center stage and is fighting mostly toughs, thugs, and henchmen. There’s a newness to this version of the character that I wasn’t used to–I’m used to the one who was portrayed on the Justice League Unlimited cartoon–but his (no pun intended) questioning of his abilities in the face of having to fulfill this sensei’s last wishes as well as take down the bad guys and solve the mystery while Batman is there is a really good character note. I enjoyed this one and am going to see if I can find the Green Arrow annual to round out the storyline. Keep.

The Atlantis Chronicles #1, 6 (DC): Coming out in 1990 at the exact moment I started buying Batman and Superman comics, this one passed me by 30 years ago. It’s no surprise–it was an expensive, oversized series that was aimed at telling the lore of ancient Atlantis as a prelude or tie-in to an Aquaman series. I know that Aquaman would get another series within a year or so, but I’m not sure if this was the catalyst or if this was intended as a sequel to the 1986 miniseries. Either way, it’s gorgeously illustrated by Esteban Maroto, the artist who drew the “new format” Amethyst minseries a few years prior. It’s also written by Peter David, who would go on to write an Aquaman book in 1994, which I know is most notable for bringing us the “harpoon-hand” Aquaman. This series feels like we are reading the epic poem of this late civilization, or perhaps something along the lines of Histories. I’ve only read two issues that I fished out of a quarter-bin sale, but this is another want-list add. Keep.

The Demon: From the Darkness (DC): A digital trade paperback that collects the 1987 miniseries as well as issue #22 of the late 1980s/early 1990s ongoing, this finally answered the question I saw on a number of DC house ads: “What has Matt Wagner done to The Demon?” The answer lies in some quest for Jason Blood to separate himself from Etrigan, which leads to a confrontation with Merlin, who is responsible for the bonding of Blood and Etrigan. It’s a pretty good story, even if I’ve never been a huge fan of Etrigan and only bought this because it was on a deep discounted sale on Comixology and ‘had always been curious.” I have nothing against Matt Wagner–in fact, I absolutely love Grendel–but this just seemed like Jason Blood and his girlfriend were going to various castles in Europe and trying out different spells that would hopefully help him out. There didn’t seem to be much of a villain in the piece, either. I will say, though, that that story to issue #22 is that of Etrigan taking on a witch and it’s a really good one-and-done story. Plus, Wagner’s art is always outstanding, so the books are great to look at. But unless you find it for really cheap, I’d Skip It.

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