It seems certain I’ll finish my goal of reading 2013 comic books in 2013. The Grendel: Hunter Rose Omnibus included the one-shot Devil by the Deed, the two anthology mini-series Black, White and Red #1-4 and Grendel: Red, White & Black #1-4, and the mini-series Behold the Devil #1-8. It’s an astoundingly well-realized universe, considering it all started out as an illustrated prose one-shot that read more like a Rolling Stone article than a comic book, covering the life and death of an exceptionally skilled assassin.
Louder than Words #1-6
The reason I spent fifteen minutes giggling like an idiot, showing family members my favorite gags. It’s just a reminder that Sergio Aragones is a comedy genius.
The Avengers #1-12. 12.1, New Avengers #1-12, Annual 1
The opening arc of The Avengers is my favorite of the bunch. Bendis and Romita Jr set the stage for Age of Ultron, as the reassembled Heroic Age Avengers battle all sorts of menaces from possible futures. There are times when Bendis and Romita Jr aren’t the best fit. But then Bendis is smart enough to have lots of new villains show up. I’m also a sucker for time-travel. I do like the epic scale of the other stories, and the interactions between the heroes. That’s something Bendis gets right, even in his weaker issues.
Captain America #153-186
After reading Steve Englehart’s run, I’m tempted to do a piece exploring why Stan Lee’s work holds up better than that of his successors. Anything involving gender and race is really ham-fisted here. The Secret Empire plot works, and the 50s Cap reveal, which has had significant impact on later stories. gets going two issues in. I don’t mind the fill-in writers, although there is some padding/ filler, with one issue of flashbacks especially egregious. The stories were referenced in What If? #44. It’s a bit harsh to say that this one-shot is “What if Steve Englehart’s run was really good?” as it builds on that era, and surpasses it.
Uncanny X-Force #19.1, 20-30 features more stories from a good run, as an X-Men team that pushes the limits continues to face the consequences of that. The Manhattan Projects #1-9 is a fun and insane reimagining of iconic 1940s figures. League of Extraordinary Gentlemen Volume 2 #1-6 was a fantastic sequel, revealing the “truth” behind the events of HG Wells’s War of the Worlds. It features the nastiest comeuppance in comics history, as one member of the dysfunctional team betrays the team, and is punished for it. Rival Schools: United by Fate #1, a video game adaptation for a series I’m not familiar with, is a reminder of the benefits of reading a bad comic book to cleanse the palate in between all the stuff that shows up on best of lists.
Batman #251 was Neal Adams’s famed take on the Joker, when his gimmicks were still surprising. Brave & the Bold #111 had a twist on the framed villain cliche. The Joker #3 pit the villain against the Creeper. Batman #321 had Joker target his old enemies, a solid but generic single issue story. Batman #232, 243-244 featured early appearances by Ras Al Ghul.
Detective Comics #590-594 was more of the Alan Grant/ Norm Breyfogle run. It’s still good. Batman and the Monster Men #1-6 was a solid mini-series by Matt Wagner retelling a story from one of the earliest Batman comics, set at a time when Bruce Wayne thought that he might be able to rid Gotham City of crime.
Joker’s Asylum was a series of one-shots focusing on the villains of Gotham City, told like EC Comics. The Joker story lacked teeth, while Jason Aaron’s take on the Penguin was truly creepy. Detective Comics #468-475, 478-479 has Englehart’s brief run, which holds up pretty well, and Len Wein’s follow-up with that crazy Clayface I know from Alan Moore’s other Batman story.
Tales of the Batman: Tim Sale collected Sale’s non-Jeph Loeb work. Blades by James Robinson from Legends of the Dark Knight #32-34 was my favorite, as a new arrival to Gotham City is forced to compromise his values. Madmen The kidnapping of Bruce Wayne was the most fun part of Shadow of the Bat #7-9 had Bruce Wayne get kidnapped.
Man of Steel #1-6 is generally a series of good self-contained stories set early in Superman’s career, with definitive takes on Lex Luthor, Lana Lang and Lois Lane. The new version of Krypton is a disappointment. Superman For All Seasons #1-4 works well as a companion to that, or as an introduction to the character. Both are essential Superman stories.
DC Comics Presents #78 is Alan Moore’s slightly more obscure one-shot, an unconventional team-up with Swamp Thing, in which Superman has to learn that there are times when struggle is bad. Superman Annual #13 has an astounding amount of psychological depth, as Moore and Gibbons show what it would be like if Superman actually got everything he really wanted.
Superman: Red Son #1-3 reimagines the hero in the cold war setting, spanning several generations. Speeding Bullets is a great merger of Superman and Batman.
Superman #141, the Return to Krypton, has some interesting ideas, as well as a romance that’s referenced in “For the Man Who Has Everything.” But man, is it ridiculous. There’s a reason Marvel started kicking DC’s ass in the Silver Age. It’s not that the story is really bad, but if this is the best of the best…
Superman #164 was better, exploring the potential good within Lex Luthor. Superman #199 was a fun crossover with the Flash. Superman #264 introduced Superman’s Flash Thompson. Superman #296-299 was an okay arc as he tried to choose between being Clark Kent and being Superman. Superman #300 is an okay attempt to consider what Superman would be like in the real world. Superman #416 was another good Lex Luthor arc, although the back-up story has an interesting twist with the ancient Superman of the future.
Total So Far: 1231 Comics
Best Comic I read all month: “For the Man Who Has Everything”