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I agree on Dracula. I wouldn't say he has any kind of moral code but he often seems to value the game of one upping people making things more challenging. You can tell when he feels threatened because a lot of that goes away. 

I am really interested to see the elements Hannibal King adds. I didn't know much about the character so the ending of #25 took me a bit by surprise. 

They are killing me with the slow roll out about Taj though. I want to know so bad and they are just drip feeding his backstory right now and it's so interesting. 

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I finally finished Astro City. It's one of those rare series where there are no bad issues. I enjoyed some stories more than others, and there was the odd character that didn't do much for me, but I can't think of a single issue that was bad, which is amazing given how long Busiek has been churning out stories. I'll have to fill the void in my day with something else now. 

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Totally agree. I got into Astro City around 98-99 and it's been one of my all-time fave series since completing the first volume. Back then, and through the 00s, the publishing schedule was often pretty spotty, but I always came back to it, even when I wasn't otherwise reading comics. I've finally found the last few volumes and am in the process of completing the series (almost done vol 13). Love how characters introduced in passing back in the first few volumes eventually get their stories fleshed out 10-15-20 years later. This comic is the ultimate in rewarding patience 

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Glad to see others here voicing their appreciation what has always been one of my very favourite series. Easily in my top three all-time with Sandman & ASM and depending on the day I will say it's the best - and certainly the most consistently excellent - series I have ever read.

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I changed my tune about Mike Ploog's work on Werewolf by Night just in time for him to leave the book. To be fair, I didn't realize that the story began in Marvel Spotlight. The first issue of the ongoing series was a bit jarring in retrospect. I still think some of his panels are way off, but I like the overall aesthetic he brought to the title, especially his designs for the villains. 

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I read the first arc of Sandman Mystery Theatre. This series has been on my bucket list for a while. I was actually on board with Vertigo when it first launched, but Sandman Mystery Theatre wasn't a title I picked up. I may have had a few issues or flicked through it at my local comic book shop, or perhaps I just read the monthly blurbs in Direct Currents, but it didn't seem unfamiliar to me. I'm not sure why I didn't buy it at the time. I knew who Matt Wagner was. I remember going on a family ski trip and heading to my comic book shop to get some comics to read at the chateau, and my friend who worked there went through the back issue boxes choosing stuff for me to take. One of the books he picked for me was a Dark Horse collected version of Devil by the Deed, which I loved. That led me to discover both Grendel and Mage. The first arc of Sandman Mystery Theatre drew on pulp influences, as you'd expect, but it was darker and more violent than I expected. I guess that's not a surprise given that it was a Vertigo book, but I wasn't quite prepared for some of the more graphic stuff (especially for a title about a Golden Age character.) I was hooked after issue 3, but if I had one criticism about an otherwise excellent arc, it's that there wasn't much mystery surrounding the identity of the killers and the ending was somewhat predictable. Good start to the series, however.

I finished Epic's Akira series. I know there are better ways to read Akira, but as I said a while back, I really wanted to read those Epic Akira volumes that I could never afford as a kid. It was interesting to learn about the process of how Epic worked with the Japanese publisher to adapt Akira for a Western audience. I wouldn't call it one of my favorite anime series, as it was drawn out and didn't really move me, but the artwork was excellent throughout and Epic did a fantastic job of coloring it. I am kind of inspired to watch the movie again after finishing the manga. 

Regarding my other reading habits, Ernie Chan has just rejoined Conan and Buscema's art never looked better, IMO. The What If? story didn't quite work for me, but the COTB ongoing series looks fantastic. Jonah Hex continues to be extremely readable on a monthly basis even if there aren't a lot of big stories. I just got up to the Five Years Later Legion of Super-Heroes issue where the Earth is destroyed (after all)... ok... and I am almost at the end of J.M. DeMatteis' Captain America run. 

I also knocked out a couple of volumes of Yasuhisa Hara's epic manga, Kingdom, which deals with the Warring States period of ancient Chinese history. I'm not even halfway through the series yet, but if you love epic battle scenes this is the manga for you. I enjoy it a lot but not in large doses. In fact, I often take long breaks between reading each volume. 
 

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1 hour ago, ohtani's jacket said:

I read the first arc of Sandman Mystery Theatre. This series has been on my bucket list for a while. I was actually on board with Vertigo when it first launched, but Sandman Mystery Theatre wasn't a title I picked up. I may have had a few issues or flicked through it at my local comic book shop, or perhaps I just read the monthly blurbs in Direct Currents, but it didn't seem unfamiliar to me. I'm not sure why I didn't buy it at the time. I knew who Matt Wagner was. I remember going on a family ski trip and heading to my comic book shop to get some comics to read at the chateau, and my friend who worked there went through the back issue boxes choosing stuff for me to take. One of the books he picked for me was a Dark Horse collected version of Devil by the Deed, which I loved. That led me to discover both Grendel and Mage. The first arc of Sandman Mystery Theatre drew on pulp influences, as you'd expect, but it was darker and more violent than I expected. I guess that's not a surprise given that it was a Vertigo book, but I wasn't quite prepared for some of the more graphic stuff (especially for a title about a Golden Age character.) I was hooked after issue 3, but if I had one criticism about an otherwise excellent arc, it's that there wasn't much mystery surrounding the identity of the killers and the ending was somewhat predictable. Good start to the series, however.

I read the Gaiman/Wagner Sandman Midnight Theatre collab recently and really liked it. I'm planning on checking out the Wagner stuff later, so I'm glad to hear it's worth checking out. 

On the Sandman tip, I read the first issue of Ordinary Gods from Image, based almost entirely because I like the cover, and I thought it was pretty good. It has a sort of Endless sort of conceit.

And while I'm here, the new Swamp Thing by Ram V has been pretty great so far. 

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Someone recommended one of his other current titles, The Many Deaths of Laila Starr, and it didn't really grab me, but I heard this run of Swamp Thing was good and was pleasantly surprised to see it was the same guy. 

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What is the general opinion around here towards John Bryne's Superman. I read all of that era a couple of years ago and really liked a lot of it. I liked how they brought Superman's powers down a little. I also thought Clark Kent was really well done in this era. He's a super accomplished writer and Lois feels threatened by his success more than anything.

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I enjoyed that run when I read it 20 + years ago. I was on a pretty big Bryne kick at the time. Man of Steel was a great modernization of the origin imo. It was interesting in that it was clearly influenced by the 1978 Superman movie, but would end up itself influencing the eventual Lois & Clark TV show in the 90s. The main Superman title was good, although I remember it petering out at the end. Action Comics, which became a team up book, had some highlights as well, depending on the guest

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I loved Byrne's Superman as a kid. Not sure how I would feel about it now. I still remember the famous story with Lex Luthor and the waitress. The story everyone mentions these days is Superman and Big Barda filming a porno. 

I finished the second and third arc of Sandman Mystery Theatre. Folks weren't kidding when they said the book gets even darker. I'm still not sure how I feel about that, to be honest. It's kind of weird reading a Golden Age hero involved in these dark, gruesome stories. Part of me thinks it's great and part of me thinks its gratuitous. In particular, The Brute arc escalated rapidly, and had a strangely off-putting romantic ending after a series of horrific scenes. Sandman isn't your typical early 90s anti-hero, but the series does have a Frank Miller feel to it, and I'm torn over how I feel about that, especially having read James Robinson's Starman recently, which balances the darkness with light and joy. It appears that the relationship between Wesley Dodds and Dian Belmont will be at the heart of the series. I'm all for romantic relationships being the heart and soul of a series, I just wish Wagner would stop having them meet by having Dian show up on Wesley's doorstep in the early hours of the morning. I mean, I get that one of the motifs is the night, and how Dodds can't sleep because of his nightmares and everything, but unless it was some deliberate reference to storytelling of the era, Wagner used that plot device way too often in the first three arcs. Having different artists on each arc is jarring as well. It worked in Sandman, but here I find the characters keep changing their appearance depending on the artist's style, which is confusing when you're in the early stages of a series. The art isn't bad per se, I just would have preferred a more consistent look and tone. All of this sounds like I'm more critical of the series than I am. It's still an intriguing read and early days in the series. 

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Those second and third arcs of Sandman Mystery Theatre are the absolute worst parts of the series. I'm not a fan of Watkiss or Taylor. After that it gets really good! Guy Davis gets more comfortable and future guest artists are pretty good too. The Phantom of the Fair "remake" is maybe my favorite one. At his best Davis feels like an alternate universe Ben Katchor who draws adventure stories.

I've been making my way through Hellblazer recently (I'd probably read about a third if the series before this). I loved Delano's run, especially when Phillips, Pugh, or Ridgway on art. It's a shame Ridgway was too much of a stick in the mud to want to stick around. He's a guy I wish had more classics to his name but it's really just the first nine Hellblazers, The Dead Man, and that Judge Dredd Wizard of Oz parody. I wasn't crazy about the Ennis run. It felt a little too superhero-ified, ironic considering the author. I liked Delano's quieter stories better. I'm taking a little break before starting the Jenkins run. I'm looking forward to more Sean Phillips art.

The new Fist of the North Star reprints are pretty exciting. I read the first one last week. A wonderfully lurid mix of Mad Max and pro wrestling with a new creative disembowelment every few chapters. I don't know if future volumes will be able to maintain that without getting stale but I guess we'll see. I'm not really expecting the transcendent feel-bad men's adventure stories you get in Lone Wolf and Cub or Golgo 13 but I'd love to be surprised.

I also just replaced my old water damaged copy of Watchmen. I was determined that I'd only but a copy with the old DC bullet logo on it. I lucked out with an outrageously cheap ebay listing for a never book club edition with the 1987 cover (the broken window). I'm looking forward to reading it again. I'd read it several times over the years but when I picked it up again in January 2017 I developed a whole new appreciation for it. That's partly my age, and partly what was going on around me at the time. A number of synchronicities created the sensation of the book bleeding out into the real world. I picked it up the day before they announced the Doomsday Clock moving closer to midnight. The Standing Rock protests were in the news the same day that I read the scene where Dr. Manhattan dismisses humanity's relationship with nature with a comment that people would probably just build an oil pipeline through the martian landscape. I always appreciated the formal aspects but that was the first time I really cared about the human part of the story. Now I'm excited to revisit it again while keeping in mind a comment Tegan O'Neil made about the story being a mix of All the President's Men and The Aresteia. Seems like an interesting lens for exploring it.

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I finished up the fourth arc of Sandman Mystery Theatre. The return of Guy Davis made a huge difference. I thought his pencils were better than the first arc, and I can understand why he was the definitive artist on the series. Throughout the arc, I had the distinct feeling that this was how the book was supposed to look. One thing I really liked about the arc was how awkward Dodds was as a crimefighting vigilante. Instead of being some avenging angel, he worries that he accidently killed someone he used his gas on, he gets shot, and keeps bungling his secret identity act and jeopardizing his romantic relationship with Dian. There was a lot of sex in this arc, but it didn't feel gratuitous to me. Wagner and Seagle took time to detail the lives of people who were in same-sex relationships during the era instead of making it purely titillating. One criticism I do agree with is the covers. I don't think the photo covers have aged well at all, and I don't like the layout or the colors either. They worked on Sandman because McKean made original pieces of artwork that sometimes included photographs, but they come across like a failed idea on Sandman Mystery Theatre. 

I watched Akira for the first time in decades after recently finishing the manga. The manga obviously has a lot more depth to it since it's over 2000 pages long, but the film is an excellent adaptation. I was impressed with how well the animation held up. The direction is superb and the backgrounds are gorgeous. They basically string the beginning and the ending of the manga together. The personal relationships aren't as strong as they are in the manga with the exception of Kaneda and Tetsuo, and there are a number of characters who are cut from the movie completely, but the biggest difference is that the titular character, Akira, is barely featured in the movie at all. The ending to the manga is drawn out and more detailed, however you still get the general gist of it in the movie. I'm glad I watched the film again and regard it as a nice companion piece to the manga series.

 

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I finished the fourth arc of Sandman Mystery Theatre. I really like the tight plotting of these four issue arcs. The pacing is excellent and everything ties together beautifully. The stories aren't really mysteries per se. We generally know who the killer is before the hero does. However, the way Wagner and Seagle pull together the plot threads is impressive. I do hope they start introducing some murder mysteries that happen outside of the main characters' social circles, however, as it doesn't seem plausible that they could be so closely related to so many different crimes (unless there is a storyline reason I'm missing related to Sandman's dreams.) I'm really starting to like the Dian Belmont character. I loved how they handled the discovery of Wesley's secret. It's such a strong dynamic with Wesley being guilt-torn over not being honest with Dian, and Dian discovering the secret for herself and being plagued by anxieties over how to broach the subject. They're well on their way to becoming a memorable comic book couple for me. One thing, though -- Dodds is supposed to be in his late 20s, but the way Davis draws him at times, and the way they color his hair, he often looks middle-aged. Am I the only one who feels that way?

I'm still going strong with Jonah Hex and Conan the Barbarian. I just read Jonah Hex #50. I have no idea how they are going to write Mei Ling out of the series -- is she going to leave him? Will someone kill her? The suspense is killing me. Conan just went through an amazing run -- one of the best so far -- but big John finally hit the wall and now we've got a reprint and a three-issue Howard Chaykin story that was supposed to run in Savage Sword of Conan. It's amazing how much work Buscema produced on a monthly basis, especially all of the extra work he somehow found time for. 

For some reason, I decided to read the Punisher mini-series from 1986. I don't know why I did this. I guess for the same reason that I sometimes watch 80s action flicks. The mini-series was trying to be edgy and groundbreaking, but afterwards I read the first issue of The Question Quarterly, and that issue alone blew the Punisher mini-series out of the water. 

On a whim, I read the three-issue Hawkworld prestige mini-series. Honestly, I'm not sure how I feel about post-Crisis reboots anymore. I used to think they were cool, but now I'm not so sure. There's a certain timelessness to great comic book runs, but with these reboots, I immediately place them as late 80s or early 90s. One thing I'll say for Hawkworld is that the art is absolutely gorgeous. I haven't read a lot of Truman's work, but the pencils I've seen on Grimjack are kind of ugly to me. His work on this series was stunning.

I also read Formerly Known as the Justice League. Justice League International is probably my favorite comic book series of all-time. I started reading it as a kid with the Kooey Kooey Kooey island storyline and was absolutely hooked. Many of my favorite childhood comic book memories involve hunting down the back issues of that series. You can never go home again, and you can never truly recapture the magic, but it felt like visiting old friends. There were a lot of characters whom I hadn't thought about in forever, and some side-splitting laughs. Maguire's art remains top shelf, and he's still a master of facial expressions. If you liked the humor of the original series, and the non-stop banter, then this sequel will feel like old times. The appeal of the original series was that it made fun of the doom and gloom of the mutant books and the stuff I mentioned above (Hawkword & the Punisher.) I'm not sure where the reboot fits in the scheme of modern comics (I did like the self-referencing joke they made about 80s nostalgia reboots), but it's the same silly fun.

 

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The Johns run on Hawkman is really good if you haven't read it. I like the concept of Hawkman but it's really over complicated. I do find the Golden Age Hawkman stories to be fun for what they are though.

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I finished J. M. DeMatteis' run on Captain America. It took me a while to get through it as it wasn't a huge page turner for me, but I made it to the end. The reason I wanted to read the run was that I've always liked DeMatteis as a writer, and I really like the work he did on Spectacular Spider-Man in the 90s. DeMatteis likes to put his characters through a lot of anguish and mental torment, and they lash out at their loved ones a lot. We got plenty of that here. He really dug deep into the soul of the man, Steve Rogers. Captain America isn't a favorite of mine, and strikes me as a difficult character to write much like Wonder Woman or Superman, but DeMatteis did an excellent job of portraying Cap as more than just a symbol or an icon, but a guy with all sorts of anxieties. But he was also a guy who had hope, and believed in people and the values and ideals of his country. Now, a lot of that stuff is difficult to relate to as a non-American, but DeMatteis certainly explored it in depth.

One thing I love about DeMatteis' work is the relationship between the hero and his antagonist. He develops these incredibly complex relationships between the hero and villain that aren't purely black and white. In Spectacular Spider-Man, it was the relationship between Peter Parker and Harry Osborn. In Captain America, it was Cap vs. the Red Skull. I don't know how much of Red Skull's backstory DeMatteis invented for this run, but the issue where Red Skull tells his life's story to Cap while Cap doesn't say a word the entire issue was a phenomenal piece of storytelling. Another thing i love about DeMatteis work is that you get those pages with no dialogue or captions that let the art tell the story, and those standalone pages are always emotionally powerful.

For the most part, I thought the art was serviceable. Zeck did some good stuff before they pinched him for Secret Wars. DeMatteis' final issue was re-written by the editors, and he quit the series in anger which is a bummer, but overall I thought it was a decent run. I doubt it's something I'll revisit, but I'm glad I stuck it out to the end.  

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So Hickman is leaving the X-Office after writing the Inferno "mini" (160 pages in 4 issues).

https://ew.com/books/inferno-jonathan-hickman-last-x-men-comic/

-The positive. I've really loved the new status quo and how many of the X-line writers have taken the ideas and settings from HoX/PoX and Hickman's main X-Men book to explore and creative new stuff (Spurrier, Ewing, Wells and Ayala being the top, really liked what Duggan has done in 2021 too). Hickman is basically saying  that he wanted to advance the story so he could get to the 2nd phase of his original plan, but everyone just wanted to stay "in phase 1" and keep playing with it. So he decided to pivot, do Inferno to answer some questions from HoX/PoX and set up the stage so that everyone can keep doing their thing without his "master plan" to worry about.

I'm glad the Krakoa Era will continue and hopefully the group of writers doing interesting stuff continue and even more compelling authors join in the January "relaunch".

Also, he's staying at Marvel -his Substack work is not exclusive and seems it's gonna be very collaborative too so he's gonna have time in his hands- so he's going to continue to write interesting stuff. Hell, he might come back to the X-line eventually.

 

-The negative: the uncertainty. Having Hickman as "Head of X" gave me confidence everything was actually moving with a purpose and an end goal in mind. Even though I'm happy they are stretching the life out of this new status quo, I worry that without his big name to back them up, Marvel will end up fucking up the X-Office and, with no more end goal in sight, will crash the ship without a big, epic and satisfactory ending. Now, there was no certainty that wasn't going to happen if Hickman stayed but "plans changing" might be something that comesback to bite them in the ass.

 

 

Also. Marvel announced Chip's Daredevil run will have a "final issue" in November but his story isn't over. I guess it's just a relaunch with him writing the new n°1 issue? I hope so, Chip's their best damn writer.

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On 8/15/2021 at 4:57 AM, ohtani's jacket said:

I finished J. M. DeMatteis' run on Captain America. It took me a while to get through it as it wasn't a huge page turner for me, but I made it to the end. The reason I wanted to read the run was that I've always liked DeMatteis as a writer, and I really like the work he did on Spectacular Spider-Man in the 90s. DeMatteis likes to put his characters through a lot of anguish and mental torment, and they lash out at their loved ones a lot. We got plenty of that here. He really dug deep into the soul of the man, Steve Rogers. Captain America isn't a favorite of mine, and strikes me as a difficult character to write much like Wonder Woman or Superman, but DeMatteis did an excellent job of portraying Cap as more than just a symbol or an icon, but a guy with all sorts of anxieties. But he was also a guy who had hope, and believed in people and the values and ideals of his country. Now, a lot of that stuff is difficult to relate to as a non-American, but DeMatteis certainly explored it in depth.

One thing I love about DeMatteis' work is the relationship between the hero and his antagonist. He develops these incredibly complex relationships between the hero and villain that aren't purely black and white. In Spectacular Spider-Man, it was the relationship between Peter Parker and Harry Osborn. In Captain America, it was Cap vs. the Red Skull. I don't know how much of Red Skull's backstory DeMatteis invented for this run, but the issue where Red Skull tells his life's story to Cap while Cap doesn't say a word the entire issue was a phenomenal piece of storytelling. Another thing i love about DeMatteis work is that you get those pages with no dialogue or captions that let the art tell the story, and those standalone pages are always emotionally powerful.

For the most part, I thought the art was serviceable. Zeck did some good stuff before they pinched him for Secret Wars. DeMatteis' final issue was re-written by the editors, and he quit the series in anger which is a bummer, but overall I thought it was a decent run. I doubt it's something I'll revisit, but I'm glad I stuck it out to the end.  

DeMatteis talks about this run (and his scrapped plans for the series moving forward) in an interview on the Epic Marvel podcast. He's always fun in these settings, and I really enjoyed hearing his enthusiasm for the character and his work on the title in hindsight. I do think it's interesting to hear how many elements & ideas eventually went on to be fleshed out & fully developed by future writers as well.

I like what we got with the end of Civil War, the reemergence of Bucky as the Winter Soldier, the ascension of Sam Wilson, etc. decades later - but I think it's just plain cool to hear there were things like a Native American Cap, Nomad assassinating Cap, etc. all being pitched at a much earlier (some may argue at a premature) point in comics history.

I know comics podcasts aren't for everybody, but I always seek out interviews with these creators. And this one's a solid listen - as are most from DeMatteis on any show.

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Dipping my toes into the Demon Slayer manga. Really enjoyed the first 12 chapters or so. It's kept a nice pace and got through the training phase relatively quickly. It feels fairly different for being a shonen battle manga. 

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