This is really a multi-week update because I’ve been “compiling” reviews in my notebook for a few weeks now. Plus, my most recent “weeks in …” have been horror-themed and war-themed multi-review posts instead of one of my usual ones, so this is making up for that. Despite this piling up, there’s not too much to show for all of it anyway. But in keeping with the spirit of this blog, I’m going to go right for it here.
Comics, Trades, and Graphic Novels
Conan the King #20-21. I got a random issue of this series (#27, I believe) from a grab bag and really enjoyed it, so I decided to go back to #20 and see if I could collect the series out to #40 or #50. I’m about halfway to that goal right now, so I will probably make a big decision on keeping the books when I have filled in that whole stretch. Issues #20 and 21 deal with Conan’s son seemingly being murdered and the older, “wiser” barbarian dealing with the fallout both politically and emotionally. But his son, Conn, is still alive … and I’m curious as to how this is going to resolve itself. It’s the type of book that gives you exactly what you think you’re there for when it comes to story and also has some dynamic art with gorgeous covers (many of which, during this period, are by Michael Kaluta). Now, I’m sure that they’re worth more than the buck or so I paid for them, although I’ve just been grabbing books that are intact regardless of condition. So for now, it’s a Keep.
Green Arrow #32 (2010). This is a Titans tie-in/completion comic that I was kind of reluctant to buy. I absolutely hate what James Robinson did to Lian Harper and this particular issue is the aftermath of Ollie Queen’s killing Prometheus for revenge. It also ends this particular volume (which is volume … 3? 4? of Green Arrow at this point?) and sets up the next series, a series that will begin with “Brightest Day” and eventually conclude as DC headed to the New 52. I had a number of issues from that series at one point and remember enjoying them, so I might track them down digitally. This? Well, it’s setup via destroying the character. It works on that level but for the most part all it did was remind me of how I fell out with DC around this time. Keep for completion but you should skip it.
JLA: A Midsummer’s Nightmare. I bought this off the stands when it came out in 1996, so it wasn’t anything new to me. But since I had sold my copies of the individual issues years ago and had not read this series since, when I came across this in a discount trade bin, I snatched it up. The story is of the classic superhero variety: the members of the classic Justice League have been captured and put into some nightmare world wherein they seem to have different lives and no powers; moreover, they forget who they are. It helps set up what will become the iconic Grant Morrison run on JLA, a series that was one of DC’s many exits from 1990s excess and that helped cement the company’s reputation of having great, fun superhero stories in the latter part of the decade. If you find this one online or in a bin, snatch it up. Keep.
Stalker #1, 2. A DC sword and sorcery mixed with Kung-Fu kinda book that was written by Paul Levitz with art by Steve Ditko and Wally Wood. I guess that particular creative team is enough of a draw, but this wasn’t really that exciting of a series. There’s some story about this guy whose soul has been stolen and he’s an assassin in a medieval court with some monsters to fight. While I was entertained, it kind of went in one ear and out the other. I don’t think I’ll find the other two issues of the series, and will continue to look for Arak and other books. Sell or Donate.
Starfire #1, 2, 3, 7. On the other hand, this short-lived DC sword and sorcery has some potential. A victim of the DC Implosion, this is the “original” Starfire (no relation to Koriand’r), a woman warrior who is fighting to save her planet. Yeah, it’s a bit “Red Sonja in space”, but I found that it worked pretty well and was right there in line with the Starslayer books that I had been reading. I’m keeping my review short here because I intend to finish the eight-issue run and then read and review all of it, so right now, I’m just going to say Keep and finish the run.
Terra #1-4. A series written by Jimmy Palmiotti and Justin Gray with art by Amanda Connor, this is the debut of Atlee, the third Terra in the DCU, who is part of a subterranean race that also birthed the second Terra (from the Team Titans), who just prior to this had been punched through by Black Adam in the World War III miniseries. Man, Geoff Johns hated ’90s Titans. Anyway, this is a fun “fish out of water”/”reluctant hero” story that guest stars Power Girl, who is always great to see, especially when drawn by Amanda Connor. There’s other stories featuring her–especially some Teen Titans stories that I own and think I’ve read but don’t remember well. I’m interested in seeing where else she’s been in the DCU. Keep.
Vigilante #21. This is the second-part of a two-parter that guest-starred Nightwing and a book I’ve been trying to get my hands on for quite a few years. Those mid-1980 Baxter series can be hard to come by in back-issue bins, probably because they were not as printed and distributed as the books that made the newsstand. Sure, I could have read this on DC Infinite, but I’m still trying to track down as many ancillary/guest appearances of the New Teen Titans as I can. It’s a frantic issue wherein the Vigilante seems to be going around and killing people while Adrian Chase does not seem to be in the uniform. Nightwing thinks it’s Chase and is yelling at and punching him throughout the issue instead of sitting down and talking to the guy. When the Vigilante shows up, Nightwing owes Chase an apology. This is prior to the mission to Tamaran and Starfire’s wedding, so Dick’s not in his “I’m going to yell at Donna Troy and get smacked around then get hypnotized into following Brother blood” phase … so I’m not sure why he’s such a dick in this issue. At any rate, it does help set up a long-running arc in Vigilante, which is that there is someone else in the suit and we don’t exactly know who it is … yet. Keep, but only because of the Titans connection.
Who’s Who: The Definitive Directory of the DC Universe #14 and Who’s Who in the Legion of Super-Heroes #2, 3, 4. I’m now down to a few issues of the Legion miniseries and the annuals from 1989 (which I’m on the fence about collecting, tbh) and then I have the entire original run of Who’s Who, as #14 finished the first series for me and I’m edging closer to getting all of the Legion issues. I really don’t have too much to say about the original series that hasn’t already been said. It’s amazing, the art is great, and I could spend hours reading all of it. As far as the Legion series is concerned, this is a different flavor but it really works because what it made me do was want to read 1980s Legion of Super-Heroes comics, which I now can thanks to the DC Infinite app. So I’m looking to forward to finding the rest. Keep.
Wonder Woman #300. I probably didn’t need to buy this when I was at the Baltimore Comic-Con last week because I have a DC Infinite subscription (something I don’t include in the “uncollecting” stuff here) and I could have probably read it there. But I found it for a couple of bucks in nice condition and since I’m a sucker for an anniversary issue, decided to pick it up. Plus, I have a love of the late-Bronze Age, pre-Crisis DC books, especially books that were published when I was at the height of my Super Friends viewing. I’ve read my fair share of Superman, Green Lantern, and Batman from around that time (and intend to read more), but pre-Crisis Wonder Woman has been a blind spot. Sure, I’ve read a few issues that have been reprinted in some places or have read issues that tie in to the New Teen Titans, but never just for the heck of it. So here we were, with an issue that is all about Wonder Woman encountering some nightmare demon type of thing and getting set up to marry Steve Trevor. She even appears to ditch the Diana Prince persona (“sacrificing” herself to save a plane from being blown up by a bomb) and also makes a visit to Earth-2 to visit the Golden Age Diana and Steve Trevor. Now, by the end of the comic, things were more or less back to normal (and the series has approximately 324 issues left, as it will end with Crisis), but this served as a great look at who Wonder Woman is as well as a decent jumping on point for her as a character. Keep.
This is My America by Kim Johnson. Reading this for work, as a fellow teacher and I try to find YA novels that center around social justice issues and that we can use for a literature circle project. This is a solid story about a Black family who deals with accusations of murder and various town secrets, many of which are rooted in deep-seeded racism. The protagonist is a junior in high school named Tracy Beaumont, whose father is sitting on death row and whose brother finds himself accused of murder. What we see is an accurate look at the injustices of our law and justice system. It’s gripping, fast-paced, and a great read. Read.
Obit. This documentary profiles the obituaries department at The New York Times, something you wouldn’t find particularly interesting at a glance, but documentaries have this way of finding the fascinating in the mundane and this is no exception. A piece for real journalism geeks, we learn how stories are chosen, how they are researched and written, and what happens when there’s a mistake or some sort of misprint in a published obituary. My professor in college is right in that the obituaries is one of the best sections of the daily paper because there is always someone interesting who dies every day; this film proves it. Right now, you can find it on Kanopy. Watch.
Lillehammer 1994: 16 Days of Glory. This is my latest (and penultimate) watch of the Bud Greenspan Olympic docs that are on HBO Max. I think that except for the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics film, this is my favorite, and that’s probably because I think that the Lillehammer games were the most “tuned in” I ever was to the Winter Olympics back in the day. This, of course, was the Olympics of the Nancy and Tonya controversy (which Greenspan covers without being tawdry), Johann Olaf Koss, Bonnie Blair, and Dan Jansen, whose gold medal race is easily in my all-time favorite sports moments. And as he does, Greenspan gets you invested in even the most foreign of sports. I never thought I’d find cross-country skiing so gripping, but there I was. Right now, this is streaming on HBO Max and like the others, you can watch it in segments. Watch.
Super Dark Times. A 2017 tense thriller that takes place in 1996 that’s about a couple of best friends who accidentally kill an acquaintance (who is one of those annoying “why are we friends with this dick” types that wound up in your circle back in those days) then covering it up. Things start to get weird between them for obvious reasons as one of them gets consumed by his guilt, and you’re expecting it to end up with the friendship dissolving and perhaps him struggling with telling someone about what they did. It kinda goes in that direction but takes a much darker (some might say super dark) turn by its end, which I have to say it doesn’t 100% earn. It was disturbing enough to stay with me and the theory videos I watched on YouTube as to where the hell that ending came from were worth it, but there’s other things that I’d watch before this. Maybe Watch, Probably Skip.