2021 Comic Reading Challenge

Batman and Detective Comics: 12 issues from 2006, post-One Year Later
Writers: James Robinson (4 issues of Detective Comics, 4 issues of Batman), Grant Morrison (4 issues of Batman)
Face the Face crossover by James Robinson: You killed the Ventriloquist? So we could have Two-Face back? I gotta be honest, I would not take that trade. (And no, Peyton Reilly in Dini’s run didn’t really improve the situation. Like, she wasn’t an uninteresting character, but her, uh, dynamic with Scarface feels very tacked on to the general concept, and she spends too much time trying to one-up Arnold Wesker.) And, uh, RIP KGBeast, Magpie, and Orca too, I guess. That’s, uh, that’s not as great of a loss, but still. I mean, Ten Nights of the Beast was at least the highlight of Jim Starlin’s run (which is a low, low bar, granted, but still), but the character concept very quickly became dated. Byrne’s Man of Steel is legitimately good in a non-damning-with-faint-praise way, but Magpie has a simultaneously really bland and oddly specific gimmick. Orca just… sucks. So, like, if you have to kill four villains, having those be three of them is sound. But the Ventriloquist is a classic (ironically originating in a terrible run). He deserves better. And in general, the idea of Harvey Dent being the only one who could take care of Gotham for a year is ridiculous, and his reasons for becoming Two-Face again are even sillier. And the actual killer they’re hunting for most of this goes down in a frickin’ backup feature. And the Great White Shark being the mastermind comes completely out of nowhere. Frankly, I didn’t even know he’d already existed by this point; I thought he was from later.

First couple issues of Morrison’s run: As one Bruce Wayne insightfully said in an issue I read recently (just before a ten-page fight scene, ironically enough), “If there’s one thing I hate… it’s art with no content.”

Of course, I don’t strictly agree. Personally, if there’s one thing I hate, it’s Damian ■■■■■■■ Wayne. Not least because just after Cassandra Cain got screwed over, they introduce a character who is exactly Cassandra Cain, but a straight-up psychopathic supervillain.
544.

S.H.I.E.L.D.: 12 issues from 2015-2016
Writer: Mark Waid, Al Ewing (backup story in #9)

Review

This is kind of a fun series, but it is very “Editorial said I have to make it like the TV show, so here’s exactly those characters.” Except it’s mostly about the random superhero guest stars in every issue anyway, which feels like it kind of defeats the point, to the extent that there is a point.

I tried to transliterate Horguun’s signature from the runes before they explained it, and I’m pretty sure that actually says Warguun.

The Dum Dum Dugan retcon is horrible, and immediately sets about showing all the reasons it makes no sense. How did he never get injured enough to make it obvious that he was a robot? Why can he only use all these robotic abilities now? And how did Jasper Sitwell die (again), anyway? Speaking of dying multiple times, when Dugan died back in the '88 series, Fury treated it as a real thing. If he could just transfer to a new robot body the whole time, like this story implies has happened multiple times, who would care? And wouldn’t Hydra (and their nefarious scheme for resurrecting him never actually went anywhere - I forget whether I mentioned that in those reviews) notice that they didn’t recover an actual dude?

On another translation note, the Alphonse guy from the Howard the Duck issue somehow translates his name from French into French, so that a caption can then further translate it into English. Well, horrifically mangled French into somewhat less mangled French, but both versions are definitely made out of French words. It’s a funny issue, but I legit can’t tell if this is a joke or not.

And most importantly, the Liverer should’ve been named Gaquacktus.

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Batman: Legends of the Dark Knight: 11 issues from 2006, post-One Year Later
A couple very bluh arcs and an actually pretty good one.

  • Cold Case, by Christos N. Gage: It’s really funny how many stories in the couple years after War Games go out of their way to very conspicuously take place before War Games. Anyway, the reveal of the killer is annoying because it kind of disrupts the tragedy of Freeze’s backstory (not just by the revelation that Nora knew about what he was doing, since at least the implications of that are acknowledged, but because it makes it so that Victor was always off his nut rather than being driven to it by circumstances). Plus this arc in general suggests that several of Batman’s enemies are really old so they can be suspects in a case from before Thomas Wayne’s death.

  • The Madmen of Gotham, by Justin Gray: OK, issues. First, how many dark secrets that actually turn out not to be his fault did Thomas Wayne have? Second, the second attacker’s whole beauty fixation is kind of defused by the fact that she’s, uh, really just not that ugly. Third, “a baby tuna crewman” isn’t actually a valid anagram for “Bruce Wayne, Batman.” It has an extra A in place of an E. Try “Ben ran away, met cub” or something. Fourth, the legend about Gotham, Nottinghamshire has very little to do with the plot, so the references to it in narration feel very pretentious. Fifth, wow, this is a very, uh, wow handling of mental health issues.

  • Darker than Death, by Bruce Jones: OK, this started out pretty awkward, and “Greasy” was… a lot. But the solution to the mystery was actually clever. Not that I didn’t guess it, but I felt very smart when I did. The only thing is that I feel like if Lilith was faking fainting over the finger in the mail, Bruce would’ve been able to tell, so it seems like she was legit unconscious. If it weren’t for that, I probably would’ve suspected her the whole time.

Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.: 10 issues from 2016
Writer: Marc Guggenheim

Review

Wait, wait, I don’t get this.

If Mark Waid just left, why are we only doing Tower of Babel now?

I mean, uh, what a creative plot concept. Never woulda guessed.

The name “Battlecarrier” makes no sense. It’s like a Helicarrier, but it’s a battleship instead of an aircraft carrier. First of all, when can we expect the Helidestroyer, the Helisubmarine, and the Helipatrol Boat? Second, they replaced the wrong half of the original portmanteau. It’s different from a Helicarrier because it doesn’t carry things, it battles them. So it’s a Helibattleship. If that sounds like a stupid name, it’s only because the idea is kind of stupid.

Anyway, the drive with Batman’s Coulson’s plans to defeat heroes “can’t be copied because it’s on a quantum drive.” But, like, you have to be able to look at the information to use it. So you could, like, take a picture of whatever you’re looking at, or, I don’t know, hand-copy it.

In the Civil War II tie-ins, for an event where Team Tony is obviously, objectively right, and in a tie-in that’s about Tony convincing Coulson to switch sides, they managed to write an extremely unconvincing sales pitch for Tony to make. He leaves out the part where Ulysses’ predictions are not reliable, which is kind of the key reason Carol’s an idiot in this event.

And… friggin’ Elektra is a S.H.I.E.L.D. agent now? On the list of least trustworthy possible people to recruit, she’s got to be near the top.

So, in conclusion, meh. This felt like it had a bit more of a point than the Waid series, I guess, but at least that one was a lot more fun and didn’t suffer from, y’know, all the gaping plot holes.

Nick Fury: 6 issues from 2017
Writer: James Robinson

Review

How many times did Robinson write “Nick Fury pushes a button and a problem goes away” into the first issue, anyway?

Also, oh my god I was joking about the Helipatrol Boat, but Hydra actually has one, that’s incredible.

I dig the art, though, actually. Sort of inspired by some of Steranko’s wilder layouts, but not directly copying them.

And you know what, actually? Given that I haven’t liked most of Robinson’s work (again, Starman notwithstanding) and the whole concept of Nick Fury Jr. is very silly, I was really ready to come out swinging on this one, but… it’s good. Like, it’s not deep, and there’s definitely a lot of “I win” gadgets and convenient, vaguely sourced “intel,” but it’s good, silly, visually interesting fun.

And yes, I know I can’t even get through a sentence saying I liked something without criticizing it. I have a problem, all right?

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Already flyin into the unknown this week. Goin thru classic Avengers issues, tryin to sort thru Quicksilver n Scarlet witch’s histories cause of,yknow, that show…and then classic Hellblazer’s, pickin up where i quit collecting the book back in the daze

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I can’t wait for my February Summary, I have something big to share. I’m going to try and do something new. It’s an experiment, but I’m very excited to post it. As Such I might post it a few days earlier than the end of the month. Sadly, this month hasn’t been really big on quantity, however, what I have read, and what I’m going to do with what I read should make up for that. So if I end up posting my summary tonight, its because I’m impatient. Also I feel like what I read after my summary won’t matter, as they’ll be on my reading challenge google sheets, and I won’t cover them as in depth as I will what I have read.

So hopefully, my experiment will be as enjoyable to read as it has been to write so far(I’m writing it as I read, so that might give a hint to what it is).

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Ok Here Goes :

February 2021 Reading Challenge

This month, regrettably, has been rather dry in the quantity of comics I have consumed. This has been due to a variety of factors, school, family, emotions and etc. I will not go into detail, however I will say that the same cannot be said about the quality of content.

One thing that can be noticed about this month’s reading is that I have begun to list volumes in my reading list, as due to a recent discovery of the service Hoopla. Ensuing that of Neil Gaiman’s Sandman, I had recalled that the ComicBookHerald had put out an article discussing Hoopla and how the Sandman was one of its denizens. As such, I decided to sign up, and oh how glad I was to do so.

This month, I have begun to read comics volume by volume. This has proven to be a much more organized and enjoyable experience than the chaotic mess that it is jumping from issue to issue without any ordered say in what to read next. As such, I had decided to list my reading by volume, however there were still those issues that had been read alone, which will still stay on record as single issues(ie. on the second and the 9th). By doing so, I have found that I can recall and appreciate the content absorbed much more, even allowing me to write about those comics after the experience. With this new insight into how I read, I’ve also decided to continue the theme of reading by volume, not just on Hoopla or physical, but also on MU and DCUI.

From this, I have decided to review a couple of my experiences—but not all, as that would be a bit too much writing for my illiterate self. For this month I will review Neil Gaiman’s the Sandman Vol 1. (2019)(Which includes the first two volumes of the Sandman) and Brian K. Vaughn’s Y: the Last Man Vol 1. (Don’t worry the reviews will be spoiler free).

The Sandman Vol 1.(2019) , for one, came as a delightful surprise. While slow at first, Gaiman was able to slowly, but incrementally grab my attention and interest, as the story grew increasingly more captivating and emotionally exhilarating. I can confidently say that the story had successfully and concretely incited emotions and feelings that no other comic had ever made me feel. In fact, there were even moments in which I had actually felt a part of myself die inside, and that’s a good thing, because it meant that the story had been successful with drawing me in and connecting me with one of its minor characters, before taking that character away in an abrupt and delightfully horrifying instant. The Sandman is great with bringing the reader in and creating connections with minor characters that seemingly have no purpose at all, while simultaneously seeming to mean the world all in their short one issue arcs, before disappearing forever. I can confidently say that the Sandman is the most emotionally engaging story I have ever read, whether it be comic or novel.

Before reading Y the Last Man, I had originally planned to read and review Garth Ennis’s the Boys. However, after reading a few issues in, I found it not as entertaining as I had imagined, that said, it was still quite fun, however reading the comic after seeing the show was a little too hard. Although there were differences the similarities were all too apparent, and it wasn’t worth it to have it be the topic of my second review for the month of February, so I decided to put finishing it on hold, and read Y: The Last Man instead.

So for the second review, I will be talking about Brian K. Vaughn’s Y: The Last Man(After this, I’m omitting the Y for readability) Vol 1. I first heard, or should I say saw, The Last Man, as a poster on Chuck Bartowskie’s wall in the TV show Chuck. I had no previous knowledge of what I would experience, reading The Last Man. However, I had expected it to be a popular series to be displayed on television like it was. I had made many assumptions on the series plot. I could have not been more wrong. The series started slow, and honestly quite mundane, but that was probably a smart move made by Vaughn. By the end of the first issue, all it took was 5 seconds, or in the comic’s sake, 5 panels, for everything to change. The whole tone, setting, and theme of the series changed drastically. What the series does masterfully is break expectation. The farther I read, the more drastic the series grew. While the plethora of abrupt escalations took me by surprise, every time, something that I rarely get to experience, the thing that surprised me the most had to have been the series’s tackling of the sheer number and intensity of controversial ideas. In the end Vaughn’s Y : the Last Man does have some good writing, the dark humor sprinkled in does make for some good chuckles, however personally, the political themes centered around the plot does off put me a little, as personally, I feel politics are becoming too much of an everyday thing, and I’d rather seperate my broccoli from my ice cream, and that is a personal choice. Y the Last Man is indeed well-written(for its first volume at least), however, its shameless ideological intensity concerning that of sexuality, politics, and religion may not be for everyone.

All in all, this has been an extremely entertaining experience. I had a real blast in reading and writing for this summary. I hope to continue this trend throughout the rest of the year. Again, I hope you enjoyed reading this as much as I did writing it, thank you, and see you next month.

Also, apologies again for my illiteracy, here’s this month’s reading(so far, concidering that I’m turning in my summary a week early lol) :

Date Title Platform
2/2/21 LET THEM LIVE!: UNPUBLISHED TALES FROM THE DC VAULT (2021-) #1 DC Universe
2/9/21 THE DREAMING: WAKING HOURS #1 DC Universe
2/20/21 The Sandman Vol. 1 (17 issues) hoopla
2/21/21 Y : The Last Man Vol 1. (5 issues) hoopla

Here’s the link to the google sheets doc again just in case : 2021 Reading - Google Sheets

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Good,good. Of the two, and they’re both excellent reads, I’d take Y over the Boys as well. The Boys really gets to meandering towards the end. And lemme just state right here, right now, before the Y THE LAST MAN tv show soon pops up and there’s babies all over named YORICK…I saddled the middle kid with that moniker 12 years ago. My wife is a cool and understandin’ woman.

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To be fair, it’s just a cool name.

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Okie dokie, with some serious trepidation I went n ordered the new Stan Lee biography book. Now I will neither solely praise the man, nor strictly damn him, he did so much for comics, he did so little for the others that made comics, etc. But now I got a superawful feeling that this book is gonna do for him what HEROES IN CRISIS did for Wally. It took me 2 months before reading that last HIC issue, and I’m getting the same feels about Stan’s book…

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Alright, me thinks I’m going to keep my monthly summaries limited to 2 reviews. Although, I might jump in with one if I read something that I really want to talk about, and keep that as a separate post so that I only have two reviews per monthly summary.

However, I’m going to post and bookmark this as sort of wish/waitlist for things I want to review if I see something that I think I might want to talk about in an upcoming summary.

Maybe List:
Garth Ennis’s the Boys Vol 1.

Waitlist:
Doctor Doom ( 2019-2020) // The Whole Series considering it’s only 10 issues //

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Alright. I’ve decided what I’m going to review for March’s Synopsis. Here are some drawings of some of their covers:

Sorry about the Preacher one. The hair is admittedly a bit choppy, ok all of it is but… yeah.
Also I already started Morris’s Animal Man, and I am LOVING it.

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Question, for my March Synopsis, should I just draw seperate drawings of characters featured in the most prominent comics I read for the months? Or should I make a post style drawing that has the same characters all drawn on one or two pages, with a giant piece of text saying (Insert Month Here)____ 2021?

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I’m not gonna suggest you do anything beside more and in any way you wanna. Let the creativity flooooooww

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And that Jesse has a very Paul Pope mouth, good one

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Robin: 8 issues from 2006, post-One Year Later
Writer: Adam Beechen

They also introduced a character who is not Cassandra Cain at all, and was a straight-up psychopathic supervillain, but with the added indignity of inexplicably having Cass’s name for some reason. Well, Cassie’s name, anyway. Maybe it’s Cassandra Sandsmark. Would make about as much sense.

Now, this was apparently not Beechen’s call and he didn’t have time to research, but a lot of the assumptions he clearly made about how Cass, uh, works are inconsistent with even a cursory summary of the character.

Anyway, uh, RIP Nyssa al Ghul, I guess. I… honestly don’t recall her being all that interesting in the comics, but she had literally nothing else to do with this arc other than exploding.

In other news, Lady Shiva knows how to find Robin on the grounds of Wayne Manor. This should be a lot more concerning, I think.

The ensuing stories are reasonably passable, I guess. I was going to snark Dodge for being literally just Misfit from Birds of Prey, except he’s actually the older character by a month. So… probably coincidence? And general communication fail?

I actually do sort of really appreciate that Bruce is acting like an actual human in this. That’s annoyingly rare, especially in titles where he’s not the protagonist.
591.

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Just hit 1,000 for the year. Now I need to qualify that a lot of them were Injustice so they are pretty short comics. I had a lot of vacation time and reduced hours at work and I love reading so these numbers are pretty crazy compared to last year.

Of course, I have another week off coming up in March so who knows what I might get up to.

At least I’m getting my money’s worth of online comics services!

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Summary

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I was going to keep them separate by month but that will be way too much work so I will stick with the totals in the spreadsheet.

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Wow!
How do you keep reading the same stories straight without getting tired?

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When I read what you said about Nyssa I’m not sure why but I started laughing so hard I started coughing.

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Somewhere there’s a Rucka mini with Nyssa in it, somethin somethin demon…

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