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DC Comics December 2020: Great, Good, Decent

Introduction

Unfortunately, DC Comics December 2020 is not as good as Marvel Comics this month. I put 4 Marvel books in the great column and I think for the first time ever, not a single book in the decent column. Sure, there are 3 titles in the great column for DC this month. However, there are just as many in the decent and I might have been being generous with a couple of the good books this month.

It’s just that Christmas spirit I kept talking about in the previous article.

Granted, I’ve always been more of a Marvel fan than a DC fan. Chris got me into DC when he kept telling me how great Batman was with Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo. Then, I started collecting Aquaman and Wonder Woman because they starred in the first DC movies that weren’t absolute train wrecks. I mean, you have to collect Superman, right? Right?! Please tell me no. That way I can stop the charade that I believe the Bendis experiment will finally pay dividends.

I feel bad. There are things that I genuinely like about DC Comics. But, I tired quickly of the source wall nonsense. I started reading Metal and then stopped. I haven’t collected any of the Death Metal series. I saw an advertisement in several books for “Endless Winter”. There’s another limited series coming in January and February. I just feel like their core books have been ignored in favor of big, splashy events that never pan out. But, it is almost Christmas, so let’s focus on the positive. What’s “Great, Good, and Decent” about DC Comics December 2020?

The Great

Justice League 56 and 57 (Josh Williamson, Robson Rocha, and Xermanico): I’ve already established that I don’t care all that much about Death Metal. It might be (and possibly is) a fine event. So, this isn’t like Detective during Joker War. They just got Josh Williamson writing this book and that’s all I need.

Justice League Dark 28 (Ram V and Amancy Nahuelpan): I will spare you my man crush on Ram V. Actually, no I won’t. He is a superb craftsman at the height of his game with this book. Zatanna is probably my favorite character in the book, so it doesn’t hurt that she’s been featured in many of the stories.

Wonder Woman 766 and 767 (Mariko Tamaki, Steve Pugh, and Rafa Sandoval): I fawned all over Mariko last month, so I will spare you my girl crush on her. Nope, I won’t do that, either. I’m a bit slow on the uptake, so I didn’t discover Ms. Tamaki until her run on X-23, which was funny and heartwarming. She brings those same qualities to everyone’s favorite Amazon. This is the most the book has felt like the movie probably since Greg Rucka wrote at the beginning of Rebirth.

The Good

Action Comics 1027 (BMB and JRJR): You’d think that comic written and drawn by men known only by their initials would be better than this. House of Kent had such promise at the beginning. I wonder if Future State has messed with the mojo some. Now that I see it written, it’s as likely as anything. I really hope it’s worth it.

Aquaman 65 (Kelly Sue Deconnick and Miguel Mendonca): I think I might have mentioned in my article last month that no book had suffered from the Covid hiatus than Aquaman. Kelly Sue Deconnick was building up quite a bit of momentum with the War of Atlantis story and then they had some stop gaps fill in that killed the momentum. Well, she’s back to finish the story with a bang.

Batman 102 and 103 (James Tynion IV, Carlo Pagulayan, Danny Miki, and Guillem March): 103 was better than 102. With that being said, neither of these issues blew me away. I feel like Tynion is falling into the Bendis trap of trying to introduce too many new or different characters instead of sticking with the old faithfuls. Especially after the masterpiece that was Joker War, I’m disappointed with the direction of Bats.

The Decent

Catwoman 27 (Ram V and Fernando Blanco): Looking at it again, I might have been a bit harsh on this book. It very well could be in the good category. It’s just that I have such high hopes for a Ram V book at this point and this one doesn’t live up. I get that Catwoman is a thief, but it feels like they’re going to this heist storyline a bit too much in this title. Mix it up a bit!

Detective Comics 1030 and 1031 (Peter J. Tomasi and Bilquis Evely): Broken record time again. I just don’t like Tomasi’s take on this book. I will say that I liked these books more than before Joker War. Isn’t it weird how expectations are a large percentage of the outcome of these reviews? Oops, maybe I just gave away a trade secret.

Superman 27 (BMB and Ivan Reis): I will admit that I didn’t even read this book. I just can’t do it anymore. As I’ve said more than once, I’m not a fan of Superman to begin with. I’ve given the Brian Michael Bendis experiment a year and a half. I’ve threatened it before, but I think this book goes after Future State.

The Verdict

Marvel Comics delivered this month. DC Comics December 2020 provided just more of the same. Under normal circumstances, that would be fine. However, with it being Christmas, DC pausing everything for Future State, and the awesome month that Marvel gave us, I’m disappointed. I mentioned above that Future State might be the reason for the lackluster effort this month. I’ll never know, but like I say, it’s as likely as anything. I just hope it’s worth it at this point. I also hope it’s worth my investment in every title. Guess we will see soon enough.

Marvel Comics December 2020: Great, Good Decent

Introduction

I’ve given December the theme of a “Year of Gaming”. Over the next few weeks, I’m going to recap the last year in mobile, PC, and console. It’s actually the first year that I’ve been able to dabble in gaming in all three. But, first, it’s comics weeks. I already did Spawn. Now, it’s time for Marvel Comics December 2020.

I could kill two birds with one stone if I had been able to snag a PS5 before the arbitrageurs got them.

Marvel seems to have avoided the revolving door of creative teams that has plagued DC and, to an extent, Spawn. Granted, they haven’t gone unscathed. However, the only major disruption that I’ve noticed is that Black Panther has gone on hiatus. I think that many of you might disagree that is a major disruption, but I enjoyed the book. Coates has done a good job with Panther and Cap.

Even with T’Challa momentarily on the sidelines, there are plenty of good books coming from Marvel Comics December 2020. I’m still finalizing my rankings, but so far, I’m tempted to put more books in the great category than I think I ever have, especially for Marvel. Sure, there was the post Covid euphoria that lasted a couple of months. Perhaps this is just me being filled with the Christmas spirit. Whatever the reason, join me as I try to justify my glee.

The Great

Amazing Spider-Man 52 and 53 (Nick Spencer, Matthew Rosenberg, Patrick Gleason, Frederico Vicentini): First of all, forget what I said about the rotation of creative teams at Marvel. Apparently, it is just not as noticeable for some reason. Secondly, I’m missing parts of this story because they’ve done the “dot” issues (.LR for this) on Spider-Man again. I need to visit my LCS to pick up the missing issues. And, I will. Because this story has been awesome. I’m not usually one for “dark” Spider-Man stories, but Nick Spencer seems to have returned to the dark after a hiatus due to the abuse he suffered for Secret Empire. Completely unwarranted in my opinion. That’s neither here nor there. The bottom line is that Spider-Man is awesome right now.

Avengers 38 (Jason Aaron and Ed McGuinness): “Earth’s Mightiest Heroes” have quite possibly been Marvel’s most inconsistent team title this year. I can’t remember if I’ve pushed them into the great section before this month, but they have been trending that way for some time now. I loved the Moon Knight story and they payoff in this issue is worth it. Keep it going.

Immortal Hulk 40 (Al Ewing and Joe Bennett): I’ve sandbagged my review on this title for far too long. You could rightfully say, “Okay, it’s great. But, why?” Since it’s close to Christmas, I’ll oblige. Though the horror aspect of the comic has been toned down, the story has still been strong. Familiar faces from the past are popping up all over the place. They are affecting the story big time. The Immortal Hulk is both comfortable and surprising in a way that few stories do.

X-Men 14 and 15 (Jonathon Hickman, Leniel Francis Yu, Mahmud Asrar): Chris hyped this title for so long and then I got to sit down and finally read it and was a bit disappointed in the Empyre tie in. I know that I am missing big chunks of the story here because it is a true crossover. However, what I’ve seen of X of Swords has been fantastic. I might need to either pick up the trades (or to make Chris happy, fill in the missing issues). I’m one to roll my eyes at all of the events, but recently they’ve been exactly what books need to focus them and keep them on track.

The Good

Captain America 25 (Ta-Nehisi Coates and Leonard Kirk): It’s a mini anniversary issue! I suppose there are benefits to the every 5 year (or so) reboot. Like Hulk, Coates has old favorites returning to affect the story in quite positive ways. This book has been trending up with the most recent Daughters of Liberty/Red Skull story and I have given it the “pushing great” note.

Fantastic Four 26 (Dan Slott and RB Silva): This story was a bit of a mess at the beginning. Slott pulled it together after about the 5th or 6th page and it all went smoothly from there. Unlike X-Men, Empyre fit perfectly with this book and things got a bit sideways after that. Looks like from the teaser on the last page that big things are coming, so I have high hopes going forward.

Thor 9 (Donny Cates and Nic Klein): I’ve been down on Thor and Venom the last few months. Chris and I were texting and it just feels like Cates may have been taking on too much similar to Tynion with Batman and Justice League Dark. Well, if this issue is any indication, that fear was unfounded. All I have to say about this issue is “Wow.” Thor wakes up as Donald Blake to Hell on Earth. This one got the “pushing great” label, too.

Venom 30 (Donny Cates and Luke Ross): Venom Beyond did not live up to my expectations at all. It just felt like a mess and that they were filling space until the next event. This issue confirms that. This issue was good. I’m not sure about King in Black. However, as with other books, it looks like the event is focusing the book and driving it to be better. I will end up picking up the books at my LCS when I go to get the .LR issues of Spidey.

The Decent

There are no Marvel Comics December 2020 that are neither great nor good. Merry Christmas, Marvel!

The Verdict

I enjoyed Marvel Comics December 2020 very much. It might just be the Christmas spirit as I mentioned. However, I stand by my assessment that the books are good this month. For what it’s worth, I will say that I hope this continues into the new year. Please, please, don’t tell me that it is just the Christmas spirit from everyone at Marvel that made these books good this month. Marvel, make mine quality.

Love Letter to Spawn 312

Introduction

I mentioned in my previous Spawn review that I hoped there might be a payoff to the long setup. I can’t promise that it is here in Spawn 312. However, it does feel much closer after this issue. I mean, things actually happened. Silly that’s the barometer but that’s where we are right now.

The eternal question of this year. Did Covid make things crappy. Or, have things always been crappy and Covid just made us realize it?

I hate to mention Covid again. But, it definitely had an impact on things in one way or another. As I covered in a couple of my comics articles last month, it seems like Covid threw the comics world into more chaos than anticipated.

Books are being delayed and cancelled at an alarming rate. Creative teams looked haphazard for the better part of the last six months. I suppose we should consider ourselves lucky that we’ve had somewhat consistent comics releases in that time. Things could be worse. After all, Hallmark’s 25 Days of Christmas started three months early this year. So, let’s focus on the positive as we often try to do.

The Great

Supporting Cast: Part of my problem with the last issue is that he overpromised and underdelivered. The book promised a huge supporting cast only to have them show up in the last page of the issue and contribute almost nothing to the plot. Well, the main plot revolved around Gunslinger Spawn. She-Spawn had a small, but integral part.

Heck, even Cy-Gor (forgot the robot gorilla’s name in the last review) and Overtkill saw their parts in the story increase in both time and significance. See, I wasn’t being completely cheeky when I said that things happened in this issue. Things actually happened.

The Good

Gunslinger Spawn: I already mentioned him in the previous section. However, he deserves a section unto himself after this issue. I never was a fan of many of the “specialty” spawn. Heck, I was even lukewarm to the change from Al to Jim Downing. This is just one of those books where I want my hero to be solitary.

Okay, that sounds weird after I just said that the supporting cast was great. Allow me to explain. I can handle the occasional team up, like Spider-Man. Most of the time, though, I just want Simmons and his story. I won’t say I like Gunslinger Spawn now, but Spawn 312 went a long way to endearing me more to his character. Uncle Todd kept the momentum moving forward as I hoped.

The Decent

The Story: With all of that being said, it’s not all ectoplasm and symbiotes. Okay, I apologize for that one. I literally spent the last 15 minutes trying to come up with that and that’s the best take. I know. Just bloody awful. Hey, I apologized.

The point of that all is that the story is getting better. However, it still feels like it it moving at a snail’s pace. I get that Uncle Todd has become more deliberate in his old age, but does he really have to emulate Bendis so much? I suppose I should just consider myself lucky that, unlike the current Bendis Superman stories, this one is actually decent.

The Verdict

Spawn 312 represents a continued step in the right direction. After the greatness of the Dark Horror story and then the soft reboot that seemed to be moving things forward, Spawn got a bit stagnant for a few issues there. It might have partially been that the momentum was slowed by the Covid hiatus. Maybe it is just that the book naturally ends up having ups and downs. I mean, most stories are like that, especially one that has been run by the same guy for the last 25 years or so. Whatever the reason, I’m enjoying the book again and I can’t wait for the next issue.

Great, Good, Decent: Dc november 2020

Introduction

I finally got around to DC November 2020 review. Though, to be fair, this is actually a quicker turnaround that I’ve been accomplishing recently. I’m not quite back to the point where I can write before multiple deadlines. However, the articles are being written within a week of the deadline at least.

Gotta walk before you can run.

Speaking of running (Actually, this doesn’t have anything to do with running, but I wanted a smooth transition. Nailed it.), Chris and I were texting earlier in the week. He texted to warn me that it looked as if DC Comics might be on the precipice of another reboot. Granted, it’s been about 4 or 5 years since the last one.

But, still, I felt that familiar old irritation. Why do they keep doing this to us? Why can’t they just let the comics evolve for a decade and then maybe decide that it’s time to sell to a new audience? I have to say that I love what both Marvel and DC are doing right now for the most part and don’t think there needs to be a massive overhaul. Thankfully, Future State appears to be simply and “event” right now. Our conversation ended with us both in agreement that it was most likely to test the waters for an eventual reboot. *sigh* Well, while we can, let’s enjoy DC November 2020.

The Great

Batman 100 and 101 (James Tynion, Jorge Jimenez, and Guillem March): This issue has been hyped for months. Ever since Tom King was on the title and he promised something completely unexpected. Many assumed that meant that Batman might finally kill the Joker. That’s the ending I hoped for, but it wasn’t quite that. Nevertheless, this encounter has forced Bruce to rethink the way he’s doing things. I’m excited to see what that means. 101 promised to be a letdown after the excitement of 100, but that ending was magnificent.

Justice League Dark 27 (Ram V and Amancy Nahuelpan): Like Hulk, I’m running out of superlatives to use for this title. It stumbled slightly when Tynion left, but as I’ve said numerous times, Ram V has proven to be a worthy successor. Also, like Hulk, this is the title that I’d miss the most if they rebooted and it isn’t in the lineup like it looked like might happen.

Wonder Woman #763-765 (Mariko Tamaki and Steve Pugh): I started collecting WW for a few reasons. One, when it started after Rebirth, Greg Rucka wrote it. Two, I loved the movie version. Three, and not insignificant, it is a core title. For a bit there, it wavered. But, Mariko Tamaki has firmly taken the reigns and made it hers. Good choice, DC.

The Good

Aquaman 64 (Kelly Sue Deconnick and Miguel Mendonca): I started collecting Aquaman for one of the same reasons as Wonder Woman. I enjoyed the movie. The first story arc was interesting. Ever since Arthur returned and there’s only been hinting at a showdown with Manta, the book has bounced between Good and Decent with a few issues close to great. Those issues have been written by Ms. Deconnick who is back after a (covid related?) hiatus. So, the future looks good.

Action Comics 1026 (Brian Michael Bendis and John Romita, Jr.): Either Bendis or Romita or both of them together figured out how to make a BMB patented “talkie” more interesting. The panel configuration in this book is all over the place. Backwards, upside down, sideways, sometimes all three at the same time. Overall, I’ve enjoyed this title more than Superman, but neither is giving me reason to believe that the BMB hire was anything more than a PR stunt.

Catwoman 26 (Ram V and Fernando Blanco): This had the “Joker War Collateral Damage” and it involved fallout from the last issue with the Joker. However, it served as little more than a set up for the next arc. I had to look up Father Valley. I thought he was a new character, but he’s not. I’m interested to see where V goes with this.

Justice League 54 and 55 (Joshua Williamson and Xermanico): Maybe Death Metal focused the title similar to how Joker War did with Batman and Detective. Perhaps it is Josh Williamson’s touch. Whatever the reason, this title is starting to recapture some of the fun at the beginning of Venditti’s run as writer. They probably just took my advice and read Avengers to see how to write a team title.

The Decent

Detective Comics 1028 and 1029 (Peter J. Tomasi et al): These issues are better than the title was before Joker War. It’s not as good as it was during the tie in issues. I realized that I think I just don’t like Tomasi’s writing style. Here’s hoping that he and I can find a compromise soon.

Superman 26 (Brian Michael Bendis and Ivan Reis): At this point, I’m only collecting the book for the artwork. This title might not survive on my pull list after Future State.

The Verdict

Other than Detective–and I’m realizing that probably won’t change unless I come to terms with Tomasi or they replace him–and Superman–which is subject matter and not even BMB has been able to make Superman interesting to me, the DC November 2020 books are very good. I’m still upset that they’re choosing now to take a hiatus and push Future State, but who knows. Maybe that will end up being awesome and I won’t even miss the regular titles. It remains to be seen in a couple of months.

Great, Good, Decent: Marvel November 2020

Introduction

I’m a bit late with Marvel November 2020 reviews. I meant to have all of the comics reviews done last week, but the end of the week got away from me. I know that doesn’t come as much of a surprise. Deadlines are often ignored during the school year. Alas, I do have a plan to try to get back on track. We’ll see if it comes to fruition.

This feels more true than ever this year.

If I’m able to stick to the plan, it’s going to be busy on the page this week. It’s the middle of the NFL season. Hearthstone has a new set releasing and they’re also beta testing a new game mode. MTGA is releasing Kaladesh Remastered. Thankfully, if I want to do a Commander Legends review, it releases next week. I’m exhausted just thinking about this other stuff.

Before we get on to the Marvel November 2020 reviews, a short note. As I was reading Amazing Spider-Man 50, I noticed that they have these ridiculous .LR issues in the arc. Therefore, I’m saving Amazing Spider-Man 51 for until I’ve been able to go to the store to pick up the supporting issues. *sigh* Why are they always doing my boy Spidey with these “dot” issues. Oh well, on to the reviews.

The Great

Immortal Hulk #38 and 39 (Al Ewing and Joe Bennett): I’ve said it before and I will say it again. This is the most consistently entertaining Marvel Comics title in the last decade, possibly longer. I loved the original vision of the title as a horror book. It has since introduced The Leader. This has precipitated a slight shift in the focus. It is still horror, but it is more focused on psychological horror. I will never forgive Marvel for killing this title in 6 or so months. Okay, that’s not entirely true, but I will be salty for a while after the final issue.

Maestro 3 (Peter David and German Peralta): Hulk is having quite his day in the sun. In addition to being in the best title and She Hulk having guest spots in Avengers and Fantastic Four, Peter David came back to write another Maestro story for us all. This issue was a bit slow until the final panel reveal. All I will say is that Maestro is going to the dogs.

X-Men 13 (Johnathon Hickman and Mahmud Asrar): Okay, this must have been what Chris was talking about when he said that this title was very good. I wasn’t too impressed with the last few issues, especially the weird Kree/Skrull tie in. Also, it looks like the X of Swords story is a crossover and I am missing context by not reading all of the issues. But, Apocalypse is back in this issue and I’m excited for what that means going forward.

The Good

Amazing Spider-Man #50 (Nick Spencer and Patrick Gleason): After 850, I was excited for this arc. I should have known better than to have expected great. Spencer often takes some time to set up his stories. That’s where this issue is. It’s a fine set up with one hell of a reveal at the end. I’m also salty because of the .LR issues. Why? Just why?

Avengers 36 and 37 (Jason Aaron and Javi Garron): Chris and I were texting earlier and he said something about having dropped Justice League from his pull list. I replied that they need to read Avengers to see how to properly write an ensemble book. What’s weird is that when Venditti took over from Snyder, I listed that as one of his strengths. I just think Covid has run amok on some of these titles. Neither here nor there, the Moon Knight arc has been fantastic and this book is bordering on great.

Captain America 24 (Ta-Nehisi Coates and Daniel Acuna): I can’t think of a better writer to wrestle with the implications and aftermath of Captain America as a Nazi than Coates. Like Avengers, this books has flirted with greatness during his tenure. In this issue, Sharon Carter is back and so is the Red Skull. Bring it on.

Fantastic Four #24 and 25 (Dan Slott et al): I didn’t like Empyre as much as I thought I would. The aftermath has been fun, though. Thing and his girlfriend (wife?) adopted the two alien babies, leading to some hilarious interludes. I wouldn’t put it in the same tier as Avengers or Captain America, but it is definitely trending up recently.

Venom 29 (Donny Cates and Luke Ross): Like Hulk, I enjoyed the reimagining of this title as a horror book. This most recent arc has gotten away from that in favor of a future sci-fi vibe. In my opinion, it hasn’t been as successful. Supposedly something big is coming next issue and there’s some event starting, then. Sorry, Eddie, I already spent a stupid amount on Future State. I’ll catch you in the TPB.

The Decent

Thor 7 (Donny Cates and Aaron Kuder): Overall, I haven’t enjoyed the Thor titles since Legacy. I enjoyed the Odinson to All-Father story of the previous series. In my opinion, this one has struggled to find a proper footing. The Galactus story was fine. I stated in the last review that this arc would most likely just be a filler between the other two arcs. And, so it appears to be .

The Verdict

Marvel November 2020 is better than recent months have been. Hulk is still the best book I’ve read in decades. Maestro has proven to be a wonderful surprise. Avengers, Captain America, and Fantastic Four are all pushing great. I admit that my giddiness a few months ago was most likely due to having comics back after the Covid drought. This time, it is probably because of the holidays and recent news that has me giddy. Whatever the reason, I look forward to what the end of the year will bring.

Great, Good, Decent: Milestone Amazing Spider-Man 850

Introduction

“Amazing Spider-Man 850 coming soon”. I texted these words to Chris last week as I was organizing my comics for the big October 2020 reviews. He replied with, “Already?” I know that he was very excited for 800. He collected several variant covers for the issue as it was the penultimate before the Legacy renumbering.

Even so, there is some evidence that Marvel might not be all that great at counting in some of these Legacy reveals.

I followed my announcement up with the fact that the the new number 50 came right after number 750. I wondered if they might try to celebrate both anniversaries in succession. Luckily, it looks like they realized the quandary and will use #50 in a different manner by launching a new story. I have to ready myself because this one looks dark. Surprisingly the (spoiler alert) return (again…how many times now?) of Gobby wasn’t. Read more in my Amazing Spider-Man 850 review, starting now.

The Great

Gobby is Back! – I already told you this in the introduction. Granted, I gave it a sarcastic comment. That’s just my nature. Trust me. I’m always here for classic villains returning in any book. I loved it when they introduced Leader into Immortal Hulk. Joker War has resurrected Batman and Detective Comics.

Now, the Green Goblin returns to–

*checks notes*

*rubs eyes*

*puts on reading glasses*

*whispers off camera* Is this right?….Okay, here goes. *ahem*

Now, the Green Goblin returns to fight side by side with Spider-Man. The Sin Eater (more on him later) proves to be a bit too much for our favorite wall crawler. And, so, Norman Goblinizes himself to join the fray. Together, they triumph. Goblin uses the good deed to proclaim his original debt to Peter repaid and returns quickly to his villainous ways. Expect to see more of the Green Meanie in future issues.

The Good

Spider Family – I either misread or misinterpreted the end of the previous issue. The Spider Family is, in fact, back. However, I interpreted them as being back to stop Spider-Man or work against him. While that part is true, their actual intentions became more clear in this issue.

They came back from the future (or an alternate dimension, I guess it isn’t that clear) to help Spider-Man survive the fight with Sin Eater. So, they stopped Spidey from preventing Norman from changing. That allowed the Goblin to help Ol’ Webhead defeat the Sin Eater. I may still be misinterpreting this whole scenario. To be perfectly honest, I just skimmed some books last week to get the reviews done.

The Decent

Sin Eater – I’ve made no secret of the fact that I haven’t been the biggest fan of the Sin Eater arc. He just doesn’t “feel” like a proper Spider-Man villain. He belongs more with Doctor Strange perhaps, with a few modifications. Ghost Rider would prove to be a worth foe. For me, Spider-Man doesn’t match up well against these supernatural types.

With that being said, I like Kindred. He’s back at the end of this book. Perhaps that means he will be part of the next story. I mean, we find out in my Marvel comics review for November on Friday or Saturday. Part of me wants to sneak a peek, but I’ll be good. I already had to warn Chris of potential spoilers in this article.

The Vignettes

Instead of following in the footsteps of DC Comics and filling this issue with short stories, Marvel instead split the main story into 3 acts (how Shakespearean of them) and then featured 3 short stories at the end of the issue. Coincidentally, they split nicely into a Great, Good, and Decent.

The Great (A Family Affair by Saladin Ahmen and Aaron Kuder): Tells the story of Vulture’s granddaughter getting into a scuffle with Spider-Man due to a misunderstanding. Spidey puts her straight (possibly) and she may have a reckoning with granddad.

The Good (Four Shoes by Tradd More): A weird story where Spidey is taken into an alternate dimension via a glowing cube on the Brooklyn Bridge. His mission? Save a dog from some kind of knight/wizard lady? I don’t know. It’s better than I’m making it sound here.

The Decent: (All You Need Is… by Kurt Busiek and Chris Bachalo): I expected more from these names. This story felt like a way to simply jam as many Beatles references into the story as possible. I….am not a Beatles fan, so I don’t see that as a worthy goal.

The Verdict

Amazing Spider-Man 850 is all I hoped for. The return of the Goblin is predictable. However, I didn’t see the team up coming. Also, I enjoyed the history lesson in the second chapter of the story. Sin Eater is gone (good riddance), Kindred returned, and Gobby is on the loose. This books was wavering a bit for me recently. However, similar to Joker War and Leader, this issue might serve to refocus and bring it back to greatness.

Great, Good, Decent: DC Comics October 2020

Introduction

DC Comics 2020 is a bit of a misnomer just as Marvel Comics October 2020. First, it is now technically November. Second, I got behind in my reading and reviewing. These are the comics that I received from DCBS in both September and October.

Sue me. Things have been a bit busy at work this year.

However, as I wrote in the Marvel Comics review this (technically last) month, I’m committed to getting back on track by the end of the year. While I committed to that last year as well, I learned some tricks during the quarantine that will help this time. The only weird thing is that you will now be treated (?) to two straight weeks of comics. Think of it as a proper reboot of the page. Comics fans love reboots. Right? Right?!

The Great

Action Comics 1024 and 1025 (Brian Michael Bendis and John Romita Jr.): I’ve made no secret of my severe distaste for Superman. If my younger brother Tim ever reads the page, he might disown me for the amount of times I’ve said it. However, BMB has been doing his best to reverse that opinion. Right now, he is succeeding with Action. This story is fun and focused. That was missing from the Leviathan story.

Batman 96-99 (James Tynion IV and Jorge Jimenez): After reading issue 96, I texted Chris and said, “I’m really enjoying Joker War.” He agreed that it has been really good. This is the story that I’ve been waiting for from Tynion since he took over the title. I hope it continues.

Justice League Dark 25 and 26 (Ram V and Amancy Nahuelpan): I wept when they took Tynion off of this title. It was probably my favorite DC book since Rebirth. It took a few issues, but they found a worthy successor. Ram V is great on this book and I want this to be long term.

Wonder Woman 759-762 (Mariko Tamaki and Mikel Janin): I’ve been looking forward to this since I saw the announcement in the previous issue. Then, she wrote one of the vignettes in the Detective Comics 1027 anniversary issue. Now, I finally get to experience Mariko Tamaki on Wonder Woman. It’s worth the wait and hype. Love it.

The Good

Catwoman 24 and 25 (Sean Murphy, Blake Northcutt, et al): Catwoman has been iffy ever since Joelle Jones left. Ram V filled in nicely for a few issues, but then it went a bit off the rails. It was just inconsistent. I’m not ready to declare Sean Murphy the savior, but these two issues were fun.

Detective Comics 1025 and 1026 ( Peter J. Tomasi and Kenneth Rocafort): Detective Comics disappointed me more than the main title. I knew that Tynion would eventually find his footing. Not so for Tomasi. However, Joker War has focused him and this book. It might be great if not for the main title, which is absolutely killing it.

The Decent

Aquaman 62 and 63 (Jordan Clark and Marco Santucci): As I’ve been looking at the books on Previews World (also where I grab my cover shots), I’ve noticed that many of the creative teams have been reshuffled because of the Covid break. It might explain why it has been so inconsistent. This book is a fine War for Atlantis, but it’s not what I hoped from this story.

Justice League 50-53 (Various, but it looks like they might have settled on Joshua Williamson and Xermanico for the DM tie ins?): Perhaps no title has suffered more this year than good old Justice League. Scott Snyder seemed to have put it at the bottom of his priorities. After they took him off the title, it became a fun team title again. Then, it wandered in the darkness for a couple of months. Death Metal might serve to focus it similar to how Joker War did for the Batman books.

Superman 24 and 25 (Brian Michael Bendis and Ivan Reis): BMB has not successfully changed my mind about Supes in the main title. He keeps introducing new characters that should add to the mythos and make the character more appealing. None of them have. I just don’t care. If I get rid of a book (and I have no plans to do so because I get so few books lately), this is the first to go.

The Verdict

DC Comics October 2020 is much stronger than Marvel this month. There were a couple of good books that I considered making great and the only decent book that I truly did not enjoy was Supes. Join us next week as we do back to back comics in an attempt to get the page back on some sort of predictable schedule. See you in a couple of days for Spawn 310 and 311.

Great, Good, Decent: Marvel Comics October 2020

Introduction

After a month, we’re back with Marvel Comics October 2020 review. I was just trying to organize my thoughts to see if I could get this thing back on track by the end of the year. I’ve been okay about updating over the last couple of weeks, so maybe I can keep that momentum going through the end of the year. That sounds familiar because I said the same thing at the end of last year.

Except he didn’t say half of the things he said, don’t you know?

As I organized, I noticed that I set October aside as horror month once again. And, once again, it passed without any discussion of horror games. Also, at the beginning of the summer, I started writing a series of horror short stories that got forgotten for another year. I mean, really, this whole October has just been lackluster. So, let’s try to forget with some Marvel Comics October 2020.

The Great

Captain America 21-23 (Ta-Nehisi Coates and Bob Quinn): I’ve made it abundantly clear in the past that I don’t like these “ripped from the headlines stories”, but this one has me hooked for some reason. Unlike some of the other books that have tried this, Coates layers on a much better metaphor that makes it entertaining instead of exhausting.

Immortal Hulk 36 and 37 (Al Ewing and Joe Bennett): I will be saying this for the next year or so, but I can’t believe they are killing this comic. It is the most consistently entertaining story of the current Marvel era. I hope they reverse this decision.

Maestro 2 (of 5) (Peter David and German Peralta with cover by Dale Keown): When I saw that my favorite Hulk writer was working with my favorite Hulk artist (even if it was only for covers), I knew that I had to have this book. There was the definite possibility that it could have not lived up to the hype. But, it very much did. Looking forward to the rest.

The Good

Amazing Spider-Man 46-49 (Nick Spencer and Marcelo Ferriera): Sin Eater story is fine, but it’s already getting a bit old. Gobby’s back and the Spider-Family is after Peter. Things are setting up nicely for a showdown in Legacy 850 next month.

Avengers 35 (Jason Aaron and Javi Garron): I have been liking the Khonshu story and the Tony and Carol “Raising Arizona” side story is entertaining as hell. Now, they’re setting up for an epic battle next issue between Khonshu and the Panther.

Venom 27 and 28 (Donny Cates and Juan Gedeon): When Chris and I talked a few months ago, he agreed that my giddiness about comics was only due to the fact that they were back after the Covid19 hiatus. I think that’s correct. I don’t see this being the fun story that I thought it was after reading issue 26.

The Decent

Fantastic Four 22 and 23 (Dan Slott and Paco Medina): More proof that the glow faded. I don’t think that Empyre is as exciting anymore. This is still a solid issue and I will buy Empyre later. Don’t tell Chris, but it will most likely be a trade.

Thor 6 and 7 (Donny Cates and Nic Klein): A let down for the end of the previous arc. It got progressively weirder and lost me when Thor ended up as the herald of Galactus. Now, Thanos is involved in the story somehow. The next arc is a 2 part interlude. Hopefully, whatever’s after that gives the king of thunder a good story. Otherwise, I might stop collecting this title.

X-Men 10-12 (Johnathon Hickman, Leinel Francis Yu, et al): Chris likes this title. I liked the previous title with Hickman in charge, too. These issues weren’t my favorite. Not sure why the X-Men are involved in Empyre. Now, another event looms on the horizon. Hopefully it captures some of the magic again.

The Verdict

Marvel Comics October 2020 are a decidedly mixed bag. Initially when I started to rank the books for this article, I found that I rated them too highly. So, Chris was right. Some of my joy a few months ago came because comics were back after being gone for so long. That’s not to say that the books are bad. Far from it. Overall, I enjoyed them. Just not as much as when they returned from the Covid19 break. Until next month, Excelsior!

We Love Detective Comics 1027: Another Amazing Milestone

Introduction

As I was looking through my comics to organize them for review purposes, I saw that Detective Comics 1027 was a super-sized anniversary issue. I thought, “What a weird number for an anniversary issue. What anniversary could they possibly be celebrating?” I should have known that it was 1000 issues since the introduction of Batman to the title. Of course, that made me make the mistake of looking for the first Detective Comics.

I shouldn’t have been surprised, but I was. I guess I am naive when it comes to these things. This looks racist AF.

The typical 1930s racist America displayed in comics form notwithstanding, Detective Comics has been one of the comics that I’ve collected since the beginning of Rebirth and my introduction back into comics. At first, it was James Tynion IV that kept me reading the book. When he left for the main Batman title, there was a bit of a learning curve for the new writer. But, I think that Joker War has focused him and the last two issues I read were great.

As far as Detective Comics 1027, it is a series of vignettes similar to the 1000th issue. Therefore, I will treat this review similar to that one. I will forgo my usual “Great, Good, and Decent” format and simply give a sentence or two review for each of the stories.

Blowback by Peter J. Tomasi and Brad Walker

This was a fun way to show off some of the most prominent members of his rogue’s gallery. The pay off was kind of lame, though I missed “The End” and thought they were doing a heroes reunion, too.

The Master Class by Brian Michael Bendis and David Marquez

Instead, it was this story that started with the sidekick reunion. This is a typical BMB “talkie” with a decent ending. Batman even gets “sentimental” with his former sidekicks.

Many Happy Returns by Matt Fraction and Chip Zadarsky

I thought this was Dini. It wasn’t, obviously, but it definitely had his art style and sense of humor. Told the story of the tradition of Joker giving Bats a “birthday” present once a month since the beginning. I have to admit that I like these additions to the mythos.

Rookie by Greg Rucka and Eduardo Risso

True to form, Rucka tells the story of a female protagonist. This one is a rookie cop on the Gotham force who ends up quickly making her mark and catching Batman’s eye. This was a good, even if only ancillary Batman story.

Ghost Story by James Tynion IV and Riley Rossmo

A really cool story about ghosts that ties in with Batman’s parents and 2 characters that I don’t think I’ve ever seen before. I don’t think I’ve said this before (*wink wink*), but I miss Tynion on this series. Sure, his main title run is getting better with Joker War, but I wish he was still here.

Fore by Kelly Sue Deconnick and John Romita Jr.

Typical middle of the issue lull. Not a great story. No real recognizable characters. Especially after the Tynion story, this one rings hollow.

Odyssey by Marv Wolfman and Emanuela Lupacchino

Interesting filler story about Bruce’s grandfather and a ship that his company sailed. It ended up sinking and taking many priceless heirlooms with it. Ever since, Wayne Enterprises has been looking for it. Similar to the Fraction story, I liked the extension to the Bats mythos.

Detective #26 by Grant Morrison and Chris Burnham

Not sure I 100% get this story. Seems to be an alternate history (or maybe an alternate introduction of Batman) where an aspiring hero gives up the ghost (pun intended) because Bats comes in to steal his thunder.

Legacy by Tom King and Walter Simonson

I was excited to have TK writing Bats again. I should have known better. He always uses this format to write experimental stories. This one felt arbitrary and disjointed but maybe I just don’t know enough about the character featured.

As Always by Scott Snyder and Ivan Reis

This is more like it. Sort of. This is a dream team and Snyder gives us a glimpse of his both his time on Bats and also the Justice League title. The story, overall, is weak but I did enjoy the little Easter eggs that he included.

Generations: Fractured by Dan Jurgens and Kevin Nowlan

This was an elaborate set up for another comic with the title Generations. That reminded me of the Marvel comics before Legacy. Sure enough, the end of the story showcased an older style art. It’s not quite the same as the Marvel generations, but I’m still intrigued by the idea.

A Gift by Mariko Tamaki and Dan Mora

DC introduced their new Wonder Woman writer in the pages of this book. This is also an introduction to another story, this one continuing in the very pages of this book. Ms. Tamaki knocks this one out of the park. I can’t wait to see her Wonder Woman.

The Verdict

Overall, Detective Comics 1027 is a fun read. There are some lulls, but that’s to be expected with so many writers and artists involved in the book. I didn’t like this one as much as Detective Comics 1000 or even Action Comics 1000, but it was still full of fun stories. It serves as a fitting tribute to the Dark Knight and his 1000 issues of Detective.

Love Letter to Spawn 308 and 309

Introduction

Spawn 308 and 309 arrived simultaneously a couple of months ago. Therefore, after a Zendikar review that took far too long and a detour into the NFL for a couple of days, we are back to our bread and butter on the page. That’s right. It’s time for some nerd content. More specifically, I’m going to catch up on the comics I’ve missed the last couple of months and write some reviews.

Trying to catch up be like…

I’ve already read Spawn 308 and 309. I know, no large feat. However, it feels like I actually accomplished something simply by reading those two books. Now, I can try to plow through the other two dozen or so that I have from the last two months. That might seem like a massive undertaking since it took me a couple of months just to read the two Spawn issues. However, Tuesday is my lighter day teaching and I will have time (theoretically) to devote to reading. But, first, to finish this review of Spawn 308 and 309.

The Great

Ken Lashley’s Art: I have had a love/hate relationship with the art in Spawn since I’ve come back to comics. Sure, there have been some other books that I haven’t enjoyed the art, but this one has had some of the most varied art over the last couple of years. But, I texted Chris and said, “I like Ken Lashley’s art. It has a bit of Capullo vibe.”

The Good

Uncle Todd’s Writing: I was excited to have Uncle Todd back and writing for the old Hellspawn. I learned, again, that you should be careful what you wish for. Uncle Todd is good in small batches. However, when asked to carry a story for much longer than a few issues, he loses the thread a bit and things start to unravel. I’m not saying that’s happening here just yet, but the potential exists.

The Decent

The Story: Speaking of writing, I just can’t get into this story. I liked the “reboot” of issues 300 and 301. Ever since, this story of time traveling, cross overs, and Heaven’s War on Earth is just leaving me cold. These latest issues were slightly better. I’d rather they go back to the creeping terror of the “Dark Horror” story.

The Verdict (Spawn 308 and 309 are fine)

I titled this article, “Love letter to Spawn 308 and 309”. I wouldn’t say this reads so much as a love letter. Then again, they say that if you love someone, set them free. If they come back, then they’re yours. Otherwise, it was never meant to be. I don’t think that I need to set Spawn free again just yet, but I’m certainly not looking forward to new issues like I was before the pandemic.