The Threshold

Spotlight Sunday 9.23.18

One of the greatest pages in the history of comics means that there no escape from the spoilers ahead for…

Mister Miracle #11
Writer: Tom King
Artist: Mitch Gerads
Cover: Nick Derrington
Variant Cover: Mitch Gerads
Rated M

“Never underestimate the power of a good veggie tray.”

I considered shining the Spotlight on Thor this week, as the story of the ancient King Thor fighting the Phoenix-possessed Old Man Logan in the far future, with the latter annoyed at the former for bringing back the spark of life on Earth in a dying universe that he wishes would just get on with the dying already, or Buffy, which marked the end of the Dark Horse era, the license is moving on to another as-yet undisclosed publisher.

After all, given that it’s the only remaining Bonus from the days of the long-lost Weigh In, I was going to write at least a little bit about Mister Miracle anyway.

However, none of those other comics has this…

Darkseid is…a bit peckish.

…which earned the full attention of the Spotlight.

On its own, the page is simply great, but it’s that this is in many ways a pivotal scene that ties in directly to the stories denouement and flows naturally from everything that has come before – of course Scott brought a veggie tray to Apokolips, because that’s the sort of thing we’ve learned that Scott does – that makes it so much more than it already is.

Our story begins with Scott and Barda making their preparations for their journey to Apokolips to finalize a peace agreement between the gods, and as is characteristic of this series, that larger-than-life premise is presented in the mundane scenes of ensuring that they’ve packed enough diapers and haven’t forgotten anything that are a familiar experience for any new parents taking a trip.

With teething ring, and stuff Batman, and, of course, the veggie tray in tow, they arrive in the throne room of the silent and impassive Darkseid to make the exchange. DeSaad does all the talking, and he suspects that Scott and Barda are up to something, but there’s nothing to be done other than complete the transfer of custody.

Barda hands little Jacob over to his grandfather, and Darkseid, through DeSaad, calls for the immediate withdrawal of his troops.

There remains only the small matter of the Anti-Life Equation, the knowledge of which would allow Darkseid to assume control over all living beings.

A mere detail.

Being knowledge, it’s not actually something that Darkseid can give up, but in order to effectively put knowledge into practice Darkseid requires the beams of the Omega Effect, which he releases from his eyes.

And you know what the Bible says to do if an eye offends thee..

With that out of the way, all that’s left is for Scott to say goodbye to his son.

“So don’t think about this, buddy. Don’t remember it. Just kind of know…that your father. That I… I love you, Jacob Free.”

This is, of course, part of the escape plan, and Barda busts out a weapon hidden in the bottom of Jacob’s stroller that she hopes will ensure that Darkseid isn’t.

That doesn’t go so well.

I won’t  spoil the ending to this issue, but I will mention that there is a prophecy that states that Darkseid can only be killed by his son. While the assumption has always been that this refers to Orion, throughout the series there has been some question about who the real son of Darkseid is. Biologically, of course, it was Orion, but Orion was raised by Highfather on New Genesis, while Scott was raised on Apokolips. There’s also the small matter of Orion being dead.

The ending here kind of dodges that question, in a very clever way, but also provides something of an answer to the other question that has arisen throughout the story so far: Where and how does this story fit?

As we – and poor Mitch – finally escape from the prison of the uniform nine-panel grid in which we’ve been trapped so long and find ourselves in the wide-open world of a double-page spread, we learn at last that the answer to the where part, apparently, is that…it kind of doesn’t? But in terms of the how part, it might.

“See how it’s done in the next complete issue!”

I will add that, like any good mystery story, KIng has played fair with the reader. While there are surprises contained herein, all of them fit with what we have seen, and nothing comes out of left field.

Beyond simply singling out the comic I enjoy the most in a given week, part of what motivates me in making my Spotlight selection is whether there’s any sort of connecting theme between a given story and the state of my life. This week, I suppose, the theme was looking for a way out. An escape.

Unfortunately, I’m not the world’s greatest escape artist. I don’t really have a position anywhere on any list of great escape artists, so I take what I can get in the form of escapism.

Some people doubt the value of escapism, and sniff haughtily at the very idea of it having any value. Neil Gaiman tells a great story about that value, one which I won’t attempt to – poorly – retell here, but in many ways Mister Miracle brings that story to mind, as Gaiman’s uplifting tale of escape is mired in the horrific details of that from which escape was essential.

But we need those details. We need to have that understanding.

As much as Mister Miracle is an exploration of trauma and its effects, an allegory of escaping from those personal demons, it’s also a super-hero comic book.

It’s pure escapism of the highest sort.

Yes, it’s dark, and often horrifying. It has to be, because what we’re up against is dark and horrifying.

Darkseid is.

Depression is.

Anxiety is.

PTSD is.

Familial dysfunction is.

Sometimes the best approach to facing big problems is to break them down into smaller components. Into, say, nine panels distributed upon a page.

And sometimes the best approach is to make the problems bigger, to turn them into immensely powerful evil gods who mean to rob you of your hope. To make the mundane into the mythic.

Or, as this book so often does, make the mythic into the mundane.

That all of these approaches are taken in various ways – and that it works – is the miracle at the core of this miraculous series, and as we approach the end, I realize that the impact it’s had on me is one that I can’t escape.

Recommended Reading

If you’re not reading stuff by Tom King, and don’t realize by now that I’m always going to recommend that you do so, I don’t know what else to tell you.

That does it for the Spotlight for this week. Come back on Saturday for the Showcase.

As always, special thanks go out to Comic Logic Books & Artworkmy Local Comic Shop. Remember to support your LCS (find one here, if you don’t already have one).

Supporting OpenDoor Comics is a thing you can do, by whitelisting the site in your ad blocker, by purchasing something from the Supply Closet or the OpenDoor Comics Shop, by creating your own comics on the OpenDoor Comics platform, or through directly giving money via Patreon or PayPal.

Showcase Saturday 9.22.18

I didn’t get my hands on

I didn’t grab hold of

…I didn’t buy the comic with the Bat-penis, okay?

But here’s what I did buy this week.

From DC

BATMAN/CATWOMAN: THE WEDDING ALBUM – THE DELUXE EDITION – The historic wedding of Batman and Catwoman is commemorated in this must-have collector’s item, featuring the historic wedding issue and the tales leading up to the big day, plus behind-the-scenes design sketches and variant covers. Collects BATMAN #24, 44 and 50, plus the retailer variant covers from issue #50, wedding dress designs by Joëlle Jones, the script to issue #44 and more.

MISTER MIRACLE #11 – If there’s one thing popular fiction has taught us by now, it’s: never make a deal with the devil! And yet Mister Miracle is still listening when Darkseid approaches him with just such a devilish proposition—if Scott sends his newborn son to Apokolips, there will be peace on New Genesis. Since when has Darkseid been famous for his honesty?! It’ll be a miracle if this doesn’t blow up in Scott’s face.

NEW CHALLENGERS #5 – The team returns to Challengers Mountain, only to find it completely obliterated! And without the mountain to replenish their borrowed time, it looks like they’re out of second chances. But for the Challengers to live to fight another day, they’ll need to use a power with a consequence that spells certain doom!

From Dark Horse

BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER SEASON 12: THE RECKONING #4 – Buffy, Fray, the Scoobies, and the Slayers are in an epic battle against Harth, and his army of baddies. His attempt to steal the power of the Slayers has brought Buffy and her crew to the turning point that they have been trying desperately to avoid. With all other options spent, it is only Buffy and her sacrifice that can save the world . . .

KOSHCHEI THE DEATHLESS TPB – Sent to kill Hellboy by the Baba Yaga in Darkness Calls, Koshchei the Deathless hinted at a long and tragic life before being enslaved to the Russian witch. Now Koshchei relives every horrible act on his road to immortality and beyond, with none other than Hellboy himself–in Hell.

From Marvel

THOR #5 – GET READY FOR KING THOR AND THE PHOENIX, BUB! In the far future, All-Father Thor reignited the Earth and sparked new life in the universe. But now, something is wiping out other worlds — and Midgard won’t be far behind. Luckily, Thor isn’t the only god left. But is the Phoenix-possessed Wolverine a friend or foe?

That does it for this week’s Showcase. Be sure to come back tomorrow to find out if any of these comics will shine in the Spotlight.

As always, special thanks go out to Comic Logic Books & Artworkmy Local Comic Shop. Remember to support your LCS (find one here, if you don’t already have one).

Supporting OpenDoor Comics is a thing you can do, by whitelisting the site in your ad blocker, by purchasing something from the Supply Closet or the OpenDoor Comics Shop, by creating your own comics on the OpenDoor Comics platform, or through directly giving money via Patreon or PayPal.

Spotlight Sunday 9.16.18

Repeat to yourself, “It’s just a comic; I should really just relax,” because there are spoilers ahead for…

Mystery Science Theater 3000 #1
Writer: Joel Hodgson, Harold Buchholz, Matt McGinnis, Mary Robinson, Seth Robinson, Sharyl Volpe
Artist: Todd Nauck, Mike Manley
Cover: Todd Nauck
Dark Horse

TURN DOWN YOUR LIGHTS (Where applicable)

If you’ve ever read one of my Spotlight Sunday posts, you know that there’s bound to be some rambling anecdote about my youth that is connected – often loosely – to the subject of the post before I ever get around to writing about the subject, and you won’t be surprised to learn that this post is no exception, particularly given that it’s an instance of something that’s been a part of my life for nearly thirty years mingling with something that’s been part of my life for more than forty.

Today’s ramblings take us back to the 1989…but not until after we go back a bit further than that to one evening earlier in the 1980s and a broadcast of the CBS Evening News. I would guess that it was at least 1981, as I believe Dan Rather had taken over as anchor by that time. The news on that particular evening – I was most likely half-watching it while waiting to watch whatever was on after that – had an “in lighter news” kind of segment focusing on what was deemed to be one of the worst movies of all time, a real stinker of a science fiction Grade Z movie from 1953 entitled Robot Monster.

The image of the movies titular monster, a man wearing a gorilla costume and an old-fashioned diver’s helmet with rabbit ear antennas on top of it and a clay mask behind the helmet’s glass that was apparently intended to look like a skull (it didn’t), burned its way into my memory, and was still in place however many years later when 1989 rolled around.

Then, as now, I didn’t really watch a lot of TV. We had gotten a satellite dish a couple of years earlier – the big, old-fashioned kind – so there finally more options than just the one channel we could consistently pull in with our old antenna, but we had also just moved back into the house after completing the post-fire renovations, and I had moved into my moody teen years, and for the first time in a long time I had an actual room of my own, one that I didn’t have to share with one or both of my brothers, and that wasn’t a tiny claustrophobic space like my room in the trailer we’d been living in.

My room had my books, my comics, my drawing table, and my music; why did I need TV?

Still, one Saturday afternoon found me with the house to myself, and I decided to turn on the TV to see what was on. I tuned in to the Comedy Channel – this was in the days before comedy was centralized – thinking that maybe one of the Monty Python movies would be on or something, and there, on the screen, was the be-helmeted gorilla I recalled from years earlier.

“Hey,” I said to myself, “it’s that movie!”

But it wasn’t just the movie; there were people talking over it, making jokes and funny comments about what was happening on screen. I immediately twigged to the basic concept, but I was confused about the weird little silhouettes at the bottom of the screen.

I had, of course, stumbled upon Mystery Science Theater 3000, but given that I was catching the tail-end – literally: it was the bit in the movie with the stock footage of lizards fighting each other, or as Crow T. Robot (I later learned) put it, “Gecko-Roman wrestling” – so I hadn’t caught the helpfully-expository opening credits.

Still, I was instantly hooked, and became a regular viewer for years to come. (Although there was the dark period in my life – in college, mostly – during which I didn’t get to see it, because the Comedy Channel/Comedy Central wasn’t part of any cable package where I lived.)

While I may not be the most devoted fan, I’ve seen most of the “experiments,” and have followed it to its various homes on its path from the Comedy Channel to Netflix, and now to…comics?

It’s a strange proposition indeed, but, I would contend, no stranger than my initial, contextless exposure to the show all those years ago.

So how well does it make the transition from screen to page? That’s what we’re here to find out, isn’t it?

(Sirens and flashing lights) WE’VE GOT COMICS SIGN!

First, the set-up, which is helpfully explained, albeit without the catchy tune, as the comic opens. Kinga Forrester has developed a method to allow people – and bots – to experience being inside a comic book, thanks to her “Bubulat-r.”

After performing her test run with her assistant Max – AKA TV’s Son of TV’s Frank – Kinga sends the bubbles up to the Satellite of Love to trap Jonah and the bots in the comic Johnny Jason, Teen Reporter, a comic from the 1960s put out by the long-defunct publisher Dell, that is in the public domain.

While Jonah and the others attempt, in vain, to avoid capture, Tom Servo wants to be in the comic, and dives on in.

Once inside, he takes on the role of the protagonist – the original art is modified so that Tom’s head is on Johnny’s body – and it becomes Tom Servo, Teen Reporter.

Gypsy, M. Waverly, and Growler land in different parts of the comic, but we don’t see where Jonah and Crow end up.

The story of the comic within the comic opens with a failed attempt at kidnapping a young starlet, which many believe was merely a publicity stunt. Tom, as a teen reporter, is tasked with finding the truth, and heads to the young starlet’s ranch to get to the bottom of it.

While visiting the ranch, Tom runs afoul of the ranch foreman, who is obviously jealous of the gumball-machine-headed reporter, but later becomes the life of the swingin’ teen party that breaks out that evening – at least he does after Kinga and Max pop in as part of the “ad trap” to incorporate their Totino’s Pizza Roll sponsorship to replace Tom’s head with a bowl filled with delicious Pizza Rolls – but runs afoul of someone once again.

After coming out on top in that altercation, it’s clear that the starlet is quite fond of Tom, and Tom is pleased that things are finally going his way.

Throughout the comic, a quick shot of a bot gives you a clue as to who’s doing the riffing, though there are still times during which it’s unclear who’s saying what, given that Tom himself is injecting his own commentary.

Still, it’s a fun idea, and a clever conceit for riffing a comic story, which has an obvious appeal for someone like me who is a fan of both comics and smartass commentary, and there is a lot to comment on in any given comic, between the story, the dialogue, the art, and comic book storytelling-conventions.

It would be fun to see this continue beyond the initial mini-series and expand to include crossovers with some of the bigger publishers. Imagine the possibilities of adding some riffing commentary to classic comics.

There’s not too much to say about the art – and the comic itself says some of those things – but the original comic has the perfectly-competent, if bland, style of the comics of its era, Todd Nauck handles the host segment art characteristically well, and Mike Manley inserts the new elements into the existing comic art as seamlessly as possible. I also like that the printing creates the illusion of aging and yellowing, even though the comic is printed on relatively high-quality glossy paper.

The one weakness of the format is that if a joke doesn’t land it just sits there on the page, not as readily-forgotten as it might be with the dynamic flow of movie riffing. Fortunately, there aren’t too many instances of that.

Overall, it was a fun little comic, I look forward to seeing what comes next and finding out where Jonah and Crow ended up, and it’s something to tide fans over until the new season drops.

You can check out the ashcan preview of the comic for yourself by following the link in the issue details above.

What do you think, sirs?

Recommended Reading Watching

That does it for the Spotlight for this week. Come back on Saturday for the Showcase.

As always, special thanks go out to Comic Logic Books & Artworkmy Local Comic Shop. Remember to support your LCS (find one here, if you don’t already have one).

Supporting OpenDoor Comics is a thing you can do, by whitelisting the site in your ad blocker, by purchasing something from the Supply Closet or the OpenDoor Comics Shop, by creating your own comics on the OpenDoor Comics platform, or through directly giving money via Patreon or PayPal.

You can follow OpenDoor Comics on social media, too, and also be sure to share links to post.

In other words, keep circulating the links.

Showcase Saturday 9.15.18

It’s Batman Day!

Did I buy any Batman-related comics in honor of this special day? Take a look at the Showcase and find out! (Spoiler: I did.)

From DC

ABSOLUTE BATMAN: THE KILLING JOKE – One of the most popular graphic novels of all time, this twisted tale of insanity and perseverance is presented as an Absolute Edition for the first time. Looking to prove that any man can be pushed past his breaking point to madness, the Joker attempts to drive Commissioner Gordon insane. Refusing to give up, Gordon struggles to maintain his sanity with the help of Batman in a desperate effort to best the madman.

CATWOMAN #3 – The secret shot-caller who’s been borrowing Catwoman’s M.O. for a series of crimes steps out of the shadows in this issue, and her “secret origin” is unlike anything Selina’s run into before! Meanwhile, the police close in on Catwoman as well, as they believe she killed a cop during one of the crimes she’s been framed for. With nowhere to go and no one to turn to, Catwoman’s running out of her nine lives fast!

PLASTIC MAN #4 – Plastic Man fondly remembers his days as a simple street thug, when people knew his name and respected his talents (even though no one ever respected him). But he’s turning over a new leaf, mentoring the youth, saving old ladies from pick-pockets and younger ladies from kidnappers. Unfortunately, when he meets the kidnappers and realizes this entire episode’s nothing more than a setup? All those leaves flip back over with a vengeance!

SUPERMAN #3 – Guest-starring the Justice League! Locked inside the Phantom Zone, the Earth stands poisoned and its heroes lie dying, with no idea how to escape the deadly Kryptonian trap. But an even deadlier threat invades as Rogol Zaar teams with those who have been imprisoned inside the Phantom Zone to use Earth to escape, not caring if they destroy the planet to do it.

THE IMMORTAL MEN #6 – The Immortal Men are supposed to be a secret world-saving organization. But that cat will be out of the bag if they can’t stop the Infinite Woman and her brood of Bloodless soldiers, commanded by the Kill! And as the fight spills out into the greater DC Universe, which classic DC hero will rise to seek the answer to the unanswerable question: Who are the Immortal Men? (Of course, being dead is a lot worse than going public.)

WONDER WOMAN #54 – Diana’s model U.N. project goes up in flames when she tries to intervene and stop the exiled Bana-Mighdall Amazons from invading the nation of Qurac under false pretenses. She clashes with Artemis, who wants her exiled sisters to go to war, despite the fact that the expat Amazons are being manipulated…by none other than the deadly Rustam, Quraci seditionist and rebel leader! Now it’s up to Wonder Woman to lasso this runaway war train before it can get up to speed—and it’s about to pull out of the station.

From DC Vertigo

HOUSE OF WHISPERS #1 – An all-new corner has been added to Neil Gaiman’s Sandman Universe!

Welcome to the House of Dahomey, the houseboat of Erzulie Fréda, where the souls of Voodoo followers go when they sleep to beseech the flirtatious and tragic goddess to grant them their hearts’ desires and counsel them on their futures and fortunes. When you arrive, you’ll find a party is in full swing, filled with all kinds of fabulous and fierce folk, while fish fry and music blasts.

From her bayou, Erzulie scries upon the mortal realm and sees four human girls open a mysterious and magical journal filled with whispers and rumors that, if they spread, could cause a pandemic unlike any the Earth has seen, with the power to release Sopona, the loa lord of infectious disease and cousin to Erzulie, who is currently banned from the human plane.

But even the fearsome Erzulie cannot be of assistance when her dream river turns tumultuous, tossing her house from her realm and into another…

From Dark Horse

MYSTERY SCIENCE THEATER 3000 #1 – MST3K as you’ve never seen it before!

The riffing hilarity of Mystery Science Theater 3000 comes to comics when Kinga Forrester pairs her Kingachrome Liquid Medium with her latest invention–the Bubbulat-R! Jonah Heston, Crow T. Robot, and Tom Servo find themselves thrust into the 2-D world of public domain comics, with riffing as their only defense!

From Image

THE WICKED + THE DIVINE #39 – END OF STORY ARC A 2018 Eisner Award nominee for Best Continuing Series and Best Lettering by CLAYTON COWLES! “MOTHERING INVENTION,” Conclusion Well, it’s the end of the arc, in just about every way you could define those particular words.

From Marvel

DOMINO #6 – Project Armageddon wanted a Super-Soldier they could control… A weapon they could point… A trigger they could pull… Instead they got PURE CHAOS. Neena Thurman’s past collides with the present and nothing will be the same again. Don’t miss the stunning conclusion of KILLER INSTINCT!

EXILES #8 – The Watchers are back! And their all-seeing eyes are fixed firmly on the Exiles. Sure, the team’s time-traveling antics saved the Multiverse – but nobody messes with the timestream while these Watchers are on duty. Justice will be served – and you might be surprised who ELSE appears to dish it out. Featuring guest art from beloved HOWARD THE DUCK and PETER PARKER: THE SPECTACULAR SPIDER-MAN artist Joe Quinones!

That does it for this week’s Showcase. Be sure to come back tomorrow to find out if any of these comics will shine in the Spotlight.

As always, special thanks go out to Comic Logic Books & Artworkmy Local Comic Shop. Remember to support your LCS (find one here, if you don’t already have one).

Supporting OpenDoor Comics is a thing you can do, by whitelisting the site in your ad blocker, by purchasing something from the Supply Closet or the OpenDoor Comics Shop, by creating your own comics on the OpenDoor Comics platform, or through directly giving money via Patreon or PayPal.

You said it, Caped Crusader!

Spotlight Sunday 9.9.18

My tendency to pick first issues and my fondness for a certain Norse goddess mean that there are spoilers ahead for…

Asgardians of the Galaxy #1
Writer: Cullen Bunn
Artist: Matteo Lolli
Cover: Dale Keown
Rated T+

“It beats Hel.”

In my most recent Spotlight post about Thor, I mentioned that I was interested in seeing what Jason Aaron would do with Valkyrie, as she is a personal favorite of mine. I did so having forgotten – despite the fact that there was an ad for this comic in that comic – that Val would be popping up in a book not written by Jason Aaron.


Then again, it’s not like she can’t appear in Thor…

It’s been a while since I’ve read anything in which Val has appeared – not counting her alternate universe version in Exiles – so I wasn’t up-to-date on her current circumstances, circumstances that are somewhat like the circumstances of her earliest days in the comics.

For quite some time, Brunnhilde the Valkyrie’s spirit was separated from her body and was being controlled by Amora, the Enchantress, who would periodically place Brunnhilde’s spirit into a host body that would transform to take on the Valkyrie’s powers and appearance. For quite some time, Val occupied the transformed body of a mortal woman named Barbara Norris, eventually being restored to her own body after the body of Norris died, and then her body was turned to ash, and her spirit was transported into another host body, and then she and all of the other Asgardians died.

After being restored once again, she eventually ended up in the state in which we find her now…which we’ll get to in a minute.

Not really being up on things that have happened in most Marvel comics over the past decade or so is a common theme for me when it comes to this comic, which ties in to Infinity Wars, which I haven’t been reading, and features characters with whom I’m only vaguely familiar in some cases, and not at all familiar with in others.

It starts out at some unspecified point in the recent past with two of the latter, a woman named Annabelle Riggs, a human archaeologist, and her girlfriend, an Inhuman named Ren Kimura. The two are enjoying a lovely – and, we learn, all-too rare – day together, and Annabelle is clearly about to ask Ren a very important question.

Annabelle is whisked away, and we skip from then to now, finding the rest of the Angela-assembled team on some faraway world engaging in battle with various alien menaces as Annabelle attempts to read the runes on a container to discover what their as-yet unnamed opponent had come to this planet to find.

As a troll moves in for the kill on a distracted Annabelle, we learn – although people who, unlike me, have been reading all of the other stuff already know – that there is more to Annabelle than her archaeological skills. Annabelle, it seems, has something of a timeshare arrangement with the Valkyrie, who takes over and enters the fray, in the process accidentally smashing the container.

In addition to Val/Annabelle, Angela, and the Destroyer (being controlled by an unknown pilot), the rest of the team consists of Skurge the Executioner, whom we last saw in Hel, Thunderstrike, the son of Eric Masterson (who had been Thor for a time), who wields his late father’s enchanted mace, and…

KORG, NO! Oh, never mind, that’s not Korg. No, I’m not racist for thinking that all Kronans look the same! They just do; they’re stone men!

Throg wields a hammer made from a shard of Mjolnir, and is a character who ultimately emerged from the classic storyline during Walter Simonson’s iconic run in which the Odinson had been transformed into a frog by Loki. (That wasn’t just a throwaway gag in the movie.)

We jump back in time again to shortly after Annabelle was “recruited” and find the team aboard a ship, powered by a fragment of the Rainbow Bridge, and learn that there are secrets that Angela is keeping about who’s behind this team she’s put together and what it is they’re supposed to be doing.

The discussion is interrupted by the autopilot disengaging as they reach their destination and are greeted by the site of dead Dwarves from Nidavellir floating in space, their bodies chained together, and all of their fingernails removed.

They beam down to the planet below, and that brings us nearly back to the present, where it’s revealed that their enemy is Nebula, looking much more like the movie version than I ever knew her to look in the comics.

Having gotten what she came for, Nebula, with the help of the axe provided her by the Dwarf which can cleave through dimensions in the same way that Skurge’s axe can, she takes her leave, and we find ourselves back in the now.

With their leader gone and having been routed by the Asgardian and Asgardian-adjacent members of Angela’s team, Nebula’s forces decide that cheesing it is the better part of valor.

Val takes her leave as well, transforming back into Annabelle so that the mortal woman may resume looking at the runes on the ruins of the reliquary that contained the strange horn that Nebula absconded with.

Before doing so, she asks Skurge not to tell Annabelle that she was the one who broke the reliquary.

“I tried to stop Valkyrie from destroying the stone. Alas, she was lost to a berserker fury.”

Annabelle discovers that the horn relates to the Nagflar, the Ship of the Dead, built from the fingernails of the dead.

And not just one ship, an entire armada.

It gets worse from there.

Ragnarok is a cycle of death and rebirth for the gods, but when they’re reborn, they get new bodies. Their old bodies remain as lifeless husks, waiting aboard their Nagflars for someone to take command and lead them in battle to inflict the pain and torment they’ve known in death onto mortals through the power of the horn that Nebula just absconded with.

Even worse, Asgardians don’t have a monopoly on Ragnarok. There are countless gods throughout the cosmos who have gone through their own cycles of death and rebirth countless times.

As Annabelle tells the others aboard the ship what she’s learned, and speculates about how many other similarly-shameful secrets the gods have kept throughout the ages, we see Angela discussing their next move with the mysterious pilot of the Destroyer, who is also her mysterious benefactor:

My name is Kiiiiiiiiiidddd…KID LOKI!
(Hey, at least I didn’t go with “Kid Ragnarok.”)

Given that there are so many Marvel books that I haven’t read, reading this one will likely require a lot of diving into Wikis, but I am at least passingly-familiar with everyone involved, so that makes it a bit less of a daunting task for a book that draws heavily from a deep bench of obscure, minor characters with convoluted backstories.

I’m probably least familiar with Angela, at least in this incarnation, who has an especially convoluted backstory both in fiction and in real life. Co-created by Neil Gaiman, Angela first appeared in Todd McFarlane’s Spawn. The rights to the character ended up with Marvel as part of a tangled legal case that involved not only the rights to Angela but also the rights to Miracleman (or Marvelman, as he’s known outside the US), which also ended up in Marvel’s possession.

Once brought in to the Marvel Universe, she was revealed to be the daughter of Odin and Freyja, and her introduction brought with it the revelation of a heretofore-unknown tenth realm, a place called Heven.

It’s all…well, you can’t spell complicated without comic (books).

Still, Bunn does a good job of letting you know what you immediately need to know, and the fractured, non-linear approach to the story keeps what might otherwise be an exposition-heavy infodump interesting and entertaining.

I’m generally not a fan of the body sharing trope – and honestly, what would be so bad about letting Val just have her own body? – but there is a bit of a twist on this implementation, in that prior to sharing a body Val and Annabelle had been an item, so I imagine that Annabelle has moved on and found new love will lead to some kind of tension.

(Unless, of course, that’s already been dealt with in some of those comics I haven’t read.)

I’m not familiar with Lolli, but while I like the art overall – it’s reminiscent of Marc Silvestri or Whilce Portacio – there are places in which the inking seems a bit too loose, and others where it’s a bit too clumpy.

The coloring by Federico Blee seems oddly retro, in a way, harkening back to the earliest days of digital production, and in combination with those loose/clumped inks, the whole thing looks a bit rushed.

(I say this from my own experience with inking and coloring in a hurry.)

If it were up to me, given the tone of the book and the cast of characters, Art Adams would be handling the art chores. It’s a good fit for his style, and I have a fondness for the way he draws Asgardians in general and Valkyrie in particular.

The trend of attempting to create some alignment with the movies continues here, with Nebula’s movie look – though here they retain the original granddaughter of Thanos identification – and with the scene with the slaughtered Dwarves.

It’s an auspicious – if uneven – start, and it’s enough to prompt me to pick up the next issue, though we’ll give it a couple of more issues to see whether I ultimately add it to my pull list as floppies or trade-wait.

Recommended Reading

The Simonson run on Thor, which includes the original “Frog of Thunder” storyline.

(I will never not recommend the Simonson run.)

That does it for the Spotlight for this week. Come back on Saturday for the Showcase.

As always, special thanks go out to Comic Logic Books & Artworkmy Local Comic Shop. Remember to support your LCS (find one here, if you don’t already have one).

Supporting OpenDoor Comics is a thing you can do, by whitelisting the site in your ad blocker, by purchasing something from the Supply Closet or the OpenDoor Comics Shop, by creating your own comics on the OpenDoor Comics platform, or through directly giving money via Patreon or PayPal.

Showcase Saturday 9.8.18

It’s Saturday, and you know what that means. If you don’t know what that means, you’re about to find out, because it’s time for the Showcase.

From DC:

ADVENTURES OF THE SUPER SONS #2 – Kids today, amiright? What with their vaping, texting, emoji-ing and whatnot—never mind what happens when teen villains the Gang get their hands on Gold Kryptonite! That’s exactly what the young bad guys plan to do to impress the Earth’s biggest villains! Super Sons Robin and Superboy stand face to face with Rex Luthor, Joker Jr. and other psychos pulled right from your nightmares. The Gang has already robbed Superboy of his powers, and now they’re ready to reveal their grand plan!

From DC Vertigo:

THE DREAMING #1 – From the upheaval of THE SANDMAN UNIVERSE #1 rises THE DREAMING—a kingdom in chaos.

There is a place where stories are born. Today its walls lie slashed and bleeding. Dream has abandoned his realm, and until he is found, its residents must protect its broken borders alone. But the most senior storysmiths are tormented by invasive secrets, the warden Lucien is doubting his own mind—and beyond the gates something horrific waits with tooth and talon.

Only Dora, the monstress, finds opportunity in madness, stealing dreams for the highest bidder. But she has no idea how deep the danger lies.

Meanwhile, in Dream’s gallery, something new is growing…

From Marvel:

ASGARDIANS OF THE GALAXY #1 – Spinning out of the events of INFINITY WARS comes an epic space opera from DEADPOOL veterans Cullen Bunn and Matteo Lolli! Angela, the not-so-beloved half-sister of Thor. The hotheaded Valkyrie – and the human who shares her form, Annabelle Riggs. Skurge the Executioner, freshly returned from Hel. Throg, the mightiest frog of thunder. Kevin Masterson, the boy who took his father’s mace to become the hero Thunderstrike. And the Destroyer, the Asgardian armor built to take down Celestials – its wielder unknown. The events of INFINITY WARS set NEBULA off on a quest to rule the galaxy – wielding an Asgardian weapon even Thor would fear – and it’s up to this team of gods, assassins, frogs and heroes to stop her.

MOON KNIGHT BY LEMIRE & SMALLWOOD (HARDCOVER) – Marc Spector (A.K.A. Moon Knight/Jake Lockley/Steven Grant) has been fighting criminals and keeping New York City safe for years – or has he? When he wakes up in an insane asylum with no powers and a lifetime’s worth of medical records, it calls his whole identity — identities —into question. Something is wrong, but is that something Marc himself? Delve deep beneath the mask of Moon Knight to meet the many men inside his head! While Steven Grant prepares for a box-office smash, Jake Lockley is arrested for murder! And as the muddled mind of Moon Knight reaches its limit, the secrets of his past are revealed in a story of birth, death and rebirth unlike any other. Trapped outside of reality, Moon Knight’s survival depends on answers — but Marc Spector is plagued by nothing but questions! Collecting MOON KNIGHT (2016) #1-14.

That does it for this week’s Showcase. Be sure to come back tomorrow to find out if any of these comics will shine in the Spotlight.

As always, special thanks go out to Comic Logic Books & Artworkmy Local Comic Shop. Remember to support your LCS (find one here, if you don’t already have one).

Supporting OpenDoor Comics is a thing you can do, by whitelisting the site in your ad blocker, by purchasing something from the Supply Closet or the OpenDoor Comics Shop, by creating your own comics on the OpenDoor Comics platform, or through directly giving money via Patreon or PayPal.

Spotlight Sunday 9.2.18

The merry-go-round broke down, which means there are spoilers ahead for…

Harley Quinn/Gossamer Special #1
Writer: Amanda Conner, Jimmy Palmiotti, Sholly Fisch
Artist: Pier Brito, David Alvarez
Cover: Amanda Conner
Rated T

“Why is someone out ta get ya? Are you somebody’s pet or somethin’? Maybe a government experiment fer hair growth of aging, bald, white guys? An iconic cartoon character that no one can remember the name of?”

DC continues its series of crossover specials featuring Looney Tunes characters on the loose in the DC Universe, adding some additional pairings to last year’s roster.

I haven’t read all of them – I did two last year and two this year – but this is the first I’ve read that didn’t require a major tonal shift or change in design to fit a cartoon character into a comic book universe, which is an advantage to pairing up with Harley Quinn.

I haven’t been reading her regular series, but I have picked up a few specials here and there, so I know that the tone is generally lightly humorous with some darkness around the edges, and a focus on Harley’s nature as an agent of chaos, a nature she shares with a certain carrot-chomping rabbit.

While Gossamer is rendered at least somewhat more realistically here – inasmuch as a giant hairy monster can be – there isn’t the kind of significant overhaul to his look that some of the other Looney Tunes have gone through as they stepped into the DC Universe.

Our story begins with Harley and Ivy enjoying a day at the beach while they can; Ivy has to head back to Gotham, and Harley needs to prepare for an oncoming hurricane.

Harley tries to convince Ivy to stay and help her ride out the storm, but to no avail, and they part on a fourth-wall-breaking meta-joke about DC’s upcoming line of more adult fare.

…okay, there are some tonal shifts from cartoons, though plenty of media intended for kids contain innuendoes and the occasional double entendre designed to appeal to older audiences. In this book, it’s more a difference of degree than kind, though as you’ll see, the degree is pretty extremen.

In any case, after sleeping through the worst of it, Harley heads out to survey the damage, stumbling upon a large crate that washed up on the shore. She opens it to find Gossamer, and, being Harley, is delighted and not the least bit afraid.

She immediately befriends the monster and brings him around to meet her friends, so they can all get together for breakfast.

Harley takes him shopping for some shoes, and happens to find a place that put in a special order for size eighteens that never got picked up, and from there it’s back to her place where she proceeds to clean him up and attempts to give him a bit of a makeover, complete with some allusions to Gossamer’s iconic cartoon appearances with Bugs, and some more jokes that kids won’t get and that I’m surprised the DC censors let her get away with.

Their fun is interrupted by a giant robot that grabs hold of Gossamer, and which has a familiar smile painted on its face.

Harley and friends manage to take it down, but Harley decides that the Joker must be behind it all and decides to head to Gotham to have it out with him.

(Gossamer, meanwhile, just happily goes with the flow.)

After fruitlessly inquiring about Mistah J’s whereabouts among Batman’s rogues, she stops in to visit Ivy, who does know where the Joker can be found.

Where indeed?

We find the Joker doing that thing he does, which is to say dangling a chained-up Batman over a huge vat of acid.

Harley and Gossamer interrupt the Joker’s fun, and while the Joker denies being behind the giant robot, Harley refuses to believe him.

“Flaky fruit tart?” Is this one of the old Hostess® ads?

The fight is interrupted by the return of the giant robot, which grabs Batman and Joker and tosses them away before grabbing – and swallowing – Harley and Gossamer.

It finally dawns on Harley that maybe this never had anything to do with her, and that the robot was sent to retrieve Gossamer.

They arrive at the home of the scientist who created Gossamer – modelled after the scientist from Gossamer’s second appearance in “Water, Water Every Hare” – who explains that he and his beloved Gossamer were going on vacation and taking a trip to Italy, but Gossamer couldn’t get on a plan, as he lacks a birth certificate and was therefore ineligible for a passport, so they travelled on a cargo ship, with Gossamer as cargo. The ship sank during the hurricane, and so the scientist sent out his robots in search of his lost creation.

As a reward for Harley keeping Gossamer safe(ish), the scientist offers Harley a potion that will give her super powers for a week. Gossamer and Harley say their tearful goodbyes as he and the scientist climb into the robot to fly away for their interrupted vacation. The robot doesn’t have enough fuel to make it to Italy, but Miami is doable.

Before leaving, the scientist arranged for his driver to take Harley home, and on the way, she engages in some meta-musings about what she should do with the powers that the potion will give her.

While it’s clear to us who the driver is based on the way he talks, it all ends on a mysterious note for Harley, as she still has no idea who painted the robot to look like Mistah J.

Yes. Yes, you are.

As is the case with all of the Looney Tunes crossovers, the book is rounded out by a shorter back-up story, by Sholly Fisch and David Alvarez, that flips things around and presents the DC character in a format that is more like Looney Tunes, as we find a decidedly more cartoony Harley on the lam and in search of a place to lay low for a while.

She spots a spooky old castle and what she thinks is the silhouette of her old pal Hugo Strange and heads towards it in hopes of gaining safe haven for the night.

Instead, she stumbles upon the home of the mad scientist and Gossamer. The scientist doesn’t appreciate the interruption, and orders Gossamer to rid him of this pest, but Harley channels her inner bugs and Gossamer is amused by her antics, and so the story takes a turn as the scientist attempts to win back Gossamer’s affection.

The scientist engages in the study of the science of humor, but all of his attempts fall flat until he discovers that Gossamer is primarily amused by slapstick and by things – literally – blowing up in the scientist’s face. And so, after assenting to taking some pies and seltzer water to the face, and anvils to the head, the natural order of things are restored. Sort of.

This was a fun little diversion that, as Harley noted, marked the temporary return of husband and wife team Jimmy Palmiotti and Amanda Conner to working on Harley after recently ending their popular run on her regular title. Personally, I would have liked to have seen Conner handling the art chores on it, but she doesn’t seem to do a lot of interiors these days, which is a shame.

Not that I have any real complaints about the art. It was fine, and a good fit for the story, and I liked the style in which Gossamer was rendered, maintaining a certain cartoonishness that didn’t seem out of place with his surroundings.

I also liked the art on the back-up story, which was an update of the classic Looney Tunes style that worked well in a print medium.

Obviously, despite the presence of cartoon characters, this wasn’t really kid stuff, which has been the case with most of these crossovers. Last year’s Batman/Elmer Fudd, for example, was a pretty dark story, though that’s not really surprising, given that it was written by Tom King. Then again, almost any story featuring Elmer Fudd is generally pretty dark if you think about it. I mean, he’s usually trying to murder the story’s main character. For fun. (Also, as a kid, the whole “Kill the wabbit, kill the wabbit, KILL THE WABBIT!” bit in What’s Opera, Doc? was kind of terrifying and traumatizing.)

My pulse isn’t really on the thumb of what the kids are into these days – do they still say “into?” – so I don’t really know what the current level of popularity is for the Looney Tunes cast of characters, but given that even the kids who loved Space Jam when it came out have been adults for a while already, I suspect that their appeal is more nostalgic than current, so it makes sense to have a little bit more in the way of adult fun with these crossovers.

And while the adult humor was a tad more salacious than what could be found in the classic cartoons – some carryovers from her regular series are the smutty details of the pets that Harley keeps, such as her wiener (dog), Nathan, her cock, Mike, and her beaver, which she always takes with her* – they really seem more like modern-day equivalents of the kind of things the old cartoons got away with in their own time.

Of the two DC/Looney Tunes crossovers I picked up, I chose to write about this one because I enjoyed it more, even though the other was written by Gail. Honestly, I’ve always kind of hated Tweety – and Gail didn’t really make him any more likeable – and my favorite Sylvester shorts were always the ones with him and his son.

Besides, while I don’t read her regular series, I do have a fondness for Harley, and I haven’t had a chance to write about her misadventures so far. While the story took a different path than one might have anticipated, Harley was a good pairing for Gossamer, as she is, more-or-less, the DCU equivalent of Bugs Bunny.

Recommended Reading:

Conner and Palmiotti!

That does it for the Spotlight for this week. Come back on Saturday for the Showcase.

As always, special thanks go out to Comic Logic Books & Artworkmy Local Comic Shop. Remember to support your LCS (find one here, if you don’t already have one).

Supporting OpenDoor Comics is a thing you can do, by whitelisting the site in your ad blocker, by purchasing something from the Supply Closet or the OpenDoor Comics Shop, by creating your own comics on the OpenDoor Comics platform, or through directly giving money via Patreon or PayPal.

*Stuffed. His name is Bernie.

Showcase Saturday 9.1.18

If you’re wondering whether I went to the comic shop and bought comics, wonder no more: I did.

Of course I did.

And of course I made a Showcase Saturday post.

Check it:

From DC:

CATWOMAN/TWEETY AND SYLVESTER SPECIAL #1 – In his relentless pursuit of Tweety, Sylvester suddenly finds himself with a new, human ally—Catwoman. Tweety then realizes that he’s going to need some help too, and recruits a super-hero of his own. It isn’t long before the scale of the conflict begins to get out of control and suddenly theres’s a full scale war between cats and birds that threatens to take over all of Gotham.

HARLEY QUINN/GOSSAMER SPECIAL #1 – A violent storm leaves a large crate washed up on the beach at Coney Island. When Harley breaks it open to see what’s inside, she suddenly has a new playmate to add to her cast of friends—a large, furry, orange beast called Gossamer. It’s all fun and games until a giant robot attacks them. But who sent it? Harley immediately suspects only one man, but is it really The Joker behind this destructive rampage?

From Dynamite:

RED SONJA #20 – As the castle prepares for the Feast of the Deities, Sonja and her friends reluctantly take on the job of event security for the owner, the shifty Rusa Sandak, while Sonja attempts to solve the mystery of the missing Lord Skath… at the local tavern.

From Marvel:

EXILES #7 – Blink’s original time-traveling companions make an appearance, including fan-favorites Sabretooth, Morph and Nocturne! And they’re just in time for a showdown with the gunslinging Brotherhood of Evil Mutants! But what does that mean for Blink and her NEW family of Exiles? And the Exiles aren’t the only familiar faces in town. They call him “King,” and you do not want to find yourself in his Vibranium crosshairs. Who is the Black Panther of the Wild West – and what does he want with the Exiles?!

That does it for this week’s Showcase. Be sure to come back tomorrow to find out if any of these comics will shine in the Spotlight.

As always, special thanks go out to Comic Logic Books & Artworkmy Local Comic Shop. Remember to support your LCS (find one here, if you don’t already have one).

Supporting OpenDoor Comics is a thing you can do, by whitelisting the site in your ad blocker, by purchasing something from the Supply Closet or the OpenDoor Comics Shop, by creating your own comics on the OpenDoor Comics platform, or through directly giving money via Patreon or PayPal.

Spotlight Sunday 8.26.18

Some thoughts on the nature of comic book storytelling and an interest in checking in on how things are going mean that that there are spoilers ahead for…

Action Comics #1002
Writer: Brian Michael Bendis
Artist: Patrick Gleason
Cover: Patrick Gleason
Rated T

“Up in the sky!”
“Oh look! Tourists!”

Between Action and Superman, Bendis is now four issues into his post-debut regular run, so I thought it was worth taking a look at how things are going.

Before I get into that, I will, of course, take a bit of a detour and discuss something seemingly unrelated, because that’s the kind of thing I do here.

As a young comic book reader, like so many others both young and old, I really liked The Uncanny X-Men. In the period during which I was reading the series, there were many different artists who worked on it for stints of various lengths, such as Dave Cockrum, Paul Smith, John Romita, Jr., and Barry Windsor-Smith, so while at any given time you were likely to find a good, fan-favorite artist working on it, the only real constant, and I would say the driving force for the book’s enduring popularity, was writer Chris Claremont.

I stopped reading the X-Men titles – by that time there were two – not long after Claremont left, but long before that I had found that my enjoyment of the series had waned. Part of it was due to my own changing tastes and personal growth, part of it was due to a loss of interest in the narrative and to some of the storytelling trends that were developing in mainstream comics, but mostly it was what I’ll call the Claremontisms.

These were some of the tics that Claremont had as a writer, a combination of recurring themes, dangling sub-plots that often seemed to go nowhere, and, more than anything, the dialogue.

Even in the early days of reading, I found certain aspects off-putting, such as the tendency for people to use expressions that no else in real life or in other media uses, and for one person to always insert the name of whoever they were speaking to into a parenthetical.

Sometimes it would be an insult rather than a name, as with…

“The phrase, dunce, is ‘fer shure.’”

…but it always followed the same pattern.

Or hey, how about this gem:

“You should’ve let him splat – serve the rude, crude, nasty boy proper ‘n right!”

In fairness, some of the tics served expository purposes intended to bring new readers up to speed, which is why we got so many reminders that Psylocke’s Psychic Knife was the focused totality of her telepathic powers, but as a long-time reader the cumulative effect just wore me down.

All writers have their tics – I certainly have plenty of my own – but some are more noticeable than others, and some have a greater impact on the reader, to the extent that the writer comes to be defined by them.

Claremont is one such writer.

Bendis is another.

But here’s the thing. When it comes to writing comics, Claremont was an absolute master of the craft. Despite everything else, he knew how to get to the emotional core of a character and knew how best to take advantage of the storytelling form.

Writing comics comes with a unique set of challenges and opportunities, and the best writers know how to work around and with them.

Throughout his career, Bendis has demonstrated such a mastery of the craft, and it’s why he’s become the fan-favorite comics superstar that he is, and why, as I mentioned in the Spotlight post on The Man of Steel, his defection to DC was such a big deal.

But…just as Claremont is Claremont, Bendis is…Bendis.

With Claremont, characters spoke in a way that was unlike the way anyone spoke, but with Bendis, characters all speak the same way, and it’s the one area in which he is less-than proficient in his mastery of his chosen medium.

Bendis dialogue is undoubtedly more naturalistic than anything Claremont ever wrote, and while the sardonic tone and cutting wit can be kind of charming and entertaining – see the opening quote – it seems, as others have noted, to be written for the stage rather than the page.

Read aloud, by actors, his dialogue would likely have more pop, and the different voices and intonations would help to alleviate the flatness and sameness that it has in print.

But this isn’t the stage, it’s the page, so we’re left with that flatness and sameness, no matter how hard we might try to give it more life and distinctiveness with our own internal voices.

With all that said, there much to recommend his work with Superman so far; Bendis has demonstrated that he as a clear understanding of the core of who Superman is, particularly in his most recent issue of Superman in which the Action Ace provides – via voiceover monologue – an explanation for how he retains his sanity despite being able hear every scream, every cry for help, and to see every disaster, every atrocity around the world. Like Mr. Rogers, he does the Superman equivalent of looking for the helpers.

It was a great bit and provided a clear and true insight into the nature of Superman.

Hey, wasn’t I supposed to be writing something about Action Comics here? Oh, yeah, I was.

The issue opens on the busy streets of Metropolis and the tourist look up to see the kind of sight that jaded Metropolitans have learned to ignore over the years, as up, in the sky, they see neither bird nor plane, but Superman…dropping a man to his death?

That’s the story according to new City Beat reporter Robinson Goode, at any rate, the one running on the front page of The Daily Planet.

Or it would be, if not for Perry pointing out that it was impossible, not simply because it’s not the sort of thing Superman does, but because it’s something that Superman couldn’t have done, given that he was in Coast City with the Justice League when the man – a low-level crook known as Yogurt – fell from the sky.

Last issue we learned that the accusation that Superman had been starting the fires plaguing the city resulted from the real culprit – who just so happens to have been Yogurt – paying the kid who made the accusation to do so.

This leads Perry to instruct Miss Goode to scrap her already-debunked story and go out and find the real story of what’s going on with these clumsy attempts at framing Superman.

Meanwhile, as he reveals he often had Lois do with Clark’s stories, Perry tells Clark to pursue the same story from a different angle, to see if he can find something that Goode is missing.

Last issue we also got a look at how organized crime operates in Metropolis, with a network of mobsters who meet in giant, sound-proof lead tank, and pay someone to keep an eye on the skies to determine whether the Big Red S is in town.

In this issue – in a scene that will be edited to remove the use of the word “autistic” as a slur in future printings – we see one of those mobsters calling in to check on Superman’s status and learning that yes, he is on his way out of town.

Whatever plans he had next come to a halt, however, thanks to the intervention of the Guardian, who Bendis seems to be merging with Gangbuster, given that the shield-carrying hero proves to be considerably more vicious – and unhinged – than Jim Harper has ever been shown to be in the past.

Guardian is very unhappy with the mobster – Boss Moxie – not only for starting fires in his city, but also for dropping dead bodies from the sky and traumatizing children.

Before Guardian can do whatever he’s planning, however, he meets a new villain we met last issue, the person who actually did drop Yogurt from the sky, Red Cloud, who is a sentient…well, red cloud.

Cut to the hospital where Maggie Sawyer and team are visiting the room in which the Guardian has ended up. He’s in rough shape, though Boss Moxie is even worse shape, having ended up in the morgue.

The initial thought is that Guardian went over the edge and killed Moxie, but the signs point to someone else, as there’s no indication that the Guardian laid a hand on him.

Barely conscious, and through gritted teeth, Guardian warns Maggie of “Rrdd! Cloudd!”

Meanwhile, Clark heads to a bar where the friends of Yogurt are gathered to mourn their lost friend.

He learns that Yogurt was the Firestarter – though he didn’t start all the fires – and that that whole point of the fires was simply to distract Superman so that he couldn’t interfere with other crimes the crooks were committing. He reports that information back to Perry, who is disgusted by the crooks’ complete indifference to the lives they put in danger just for the sake of keeping Superman distracted.

“That is some Gotham City level psychotic sociopathic nightmare. If I were Superman, I would fold this entire city up into a quesadilla.”

Instead, Superman takes his frustrations out on the asteroid belt.

Back at the Planet, Cat Grant stops by for a visit, and lets Clark in a secret that she didn’t know was a secret: Lois has finished her book.

Wait, what?

Yes, that’s right; last issue we learned that Lois is back from her jaunt into space, but left Clark in the dark about that fact.

Elsewhere, we see that Miss Goode is working with the mob, and she has one small request:

Got a pocketful of…

We get a little background on the person in charge who is “always listening,” and is a she; presumably it’s Red Cloud, about whom the only thing we do know is that in human form the cloud is a woman.

The employer says she will see what she can do about fulfilling Miss Goode’s request.

There is also some discussion about a certain reporter – whose name they don’t say out loud, for obvious reasons – who, as Miss Goode notes, seems to have a certain someone wrapped around her finger.

This leads us into the final page in which we see a woman out walking the streets with her carryout order looking up at the sky and then trying, and failing, given who she is trying to hide from, to be inconspicuous.

And so we end with another mystery, along with the mystery of “Who is Red Cloud?”

One thing I’ve noted so far in the regular run is that the mysteries don’t seem to endure for too long – the cliffhanger ending of The Man of Steel in which Superman was accused of starting the fires was resolved right away, and the attempt at framing Superman for the murder of Yogurt was resolved immediately, just as the attempt at framing the Guardian was resolved immediately.

(Per some house ad copy, the Red Cloud identity will remain mysterious for two more issues, anyway.)

I’m sure there’s some reasonable-ish explanation for Lois not telling Clark she was back – she wanted to isolate herself to work on the book would be my guess, though that doesn’t tell us where Jon is – but that will nevertheless lead to some drama, as will the continuing issue of the financial problems at The Daily Planet and the snooping around of Miss Goode.

There are a lot of little elements I like that Bendis has introduced, such as the various ways in which criminals try to operate in a city occupied by a living panopticon. It’s mostly things that others have touched upon, but that’s bound to happen with a character who’s been around for eight decades, but there’s still a lot of narrative potential to mine from the idea.

Of course, as I continue to say, Bendis is Bendis, so for every bit that I like, and every example of his mastery of the craft, there are things like this:

*gritting of teeth intensifies*

It’s interesting that he’s given Perry so much time in the *ahem* spotlight, but I don’t think he quite has a handle on the character, and while there are attempts to give him his own voice, well…you know who is you know who.

Patrick Gleason does solid work, and provides a sense of continuity, as he’s been on art duty for many of the Metropolis Marvel’s adventures over the past few years.

Overall, the Bendis run is going better than I’d expected, and that ability to reach the emotional core of the character is serving him well enough to get me to overcome my resistance to some of the other elements of his work.

I like the idea – at least, the idea as it exists in my head – that there’s sort of a war of attrition with these clumsy attempts at framing the heroes. Granted, Yogurt was killed because his attempt at deflecting attention by framing Superman for the fires served as something of a Streisand Effect, but I think the remaining members of the mob have come to see some value in it, realizing that over time, the public may lose some of its skepticism as the accusations continue to pile up. I’m not certain that’s where things are headed, but if they are, it’s a solid approach, and would lend a certain verisimilitude to the narrative.

Whatever the case, I’m sticking around for the foreseeable future.

Recommended Reading:

Something a little different this time. I’ve been reading this book and enjoying it a great deal. You might like it, too.

Comic Book Implosion: An Oral History of DC Comics Circa 1978

It’s an interesting look – from multiple perspectives – and a pivotal point in comic book history, with lots of insider information on some of the inner workings and interpersonal dynamics that provides a lot of detail on the stories behind the stories.

That does it for the Spotlight for this week. Come back on Saturday for the Showcase.

As always, special thanks go out to Comic Logic Books & Artworkmy Local Comic Shop. Remember to support your LCS (find one here, if you don’t already have one).

Supporting OpenDoor Comics is a thing you can do, by whitelisting the site in your ad blocker, by purchasing something from the Supply Closet or the OpenDoor Comics Shop, by creating your own comics on the OpenDoor Comics platform, or through directly giving money via Patreon or PayPal.

Showcase Saturday 8.25.18

It was a busy morning at the comic shop, which is, for me, always a bittersweet experience, in that I like to see them doing brisk business, but on the other hand…people.

Anyway, let’s see what I bought:

From DC:

ACTION COMICS #1002 – A bold new era of the adventures of the Man of Steel continues as bodies fall from the sky and buildings burn around the City of Tomorrow. Even Superman must wonder how well he knows the city he protects as an unknown criminal element begins to rise throughout Metropolis.

BATMAN BEYOND #23 – Batman’s got a bull’s-eye on his back in part four of “Target: Batman.” Thanks to the machinations of the Scarecrow, the entire city of Neo-Gotham is looking to take aim at the Dark Knight—including his own partner, Robin! Will hero turn against hero when fear is in the air? Elsewhere, former Royal Flusher Melanie Walker looks to upgrade her image and take on a new heroic mantle, so she seeks advice from newsman Jack Ryder—unaware that he’s a total costumed Creeper!

THE TERRIFICS #7 – Welcome to Millennium City in part one of “Tom Strong and the Terrifics”! To cure themselves of the Dark Energy bond that’s gripped them, the Terrifics use the Dark Multiverse antenna to track down the one man who can help them—Tom Strong. In Millennium City, the Terrifics follow Strong’s signal, only to find his lab destroyed and his loyal A.I. aide Pneuman shattered. And the weirdness doesn’t end when a mystical tree transports the team across the universe.

WONDER WOMAN #53 – At the behest of Aztek, Diana and Artemis join her for a trip to Mexico, but there’s no sightseeing on the agenda. Instead, they must rescue a long-lost Amazon who’s being held captive by rogue deity Tezcatlipoca, who’s trying to break into our world. Can our three heroes save the missing Amazon, stop a raging god and not kill one another in the process?

From Dark Horse:

BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER SEASON 12: THE RECKONING #3 – The battle against future vampire and Slayer twin, Harth, and his legion of evil, has already begun in the present when Buffy, Fray, and the Scoobies return from the future ready to fight. The Reckoning is now, and if the future can be changed, it will take everything that Buffy has to save the Slayers and our world!

From Dynamite:

BARBARELLA #9 – Barbarella has been lied to. Worse, she’s been weaponized, and someone’s going to answer for that, for sure. (Well, assuming she survives the judgement of the Esseverine sun-giants, and an armada of a thousand ships…)

RED SONJA/TARZA #4 – Lord Greystoke may be a man of means, but money and possessions mean nothing compared to his family. Once they are threatened, Tarzan will stop at nothing to keep his loved ones safe. And if his enemies think they know fear, they have yet to experience the fury that is Red Sonja unleashed!

From Marvel:

WARLOCK: SECOND COMING – Collects Warlock (2004) #1-4. Adam Warlock returns! In a world on the brink, humanity’s time is running out. But deep in the jungles of South America, a solution is being forged — one that will bring about a grand new utopia for planet Earth. And that solution is…Him! Created in the depths of “The Beehive,” Adam Warlock is the final solution to the madness of mortals — but can this artificial man become a god? And if he can, will he be benevolent…or vengeful? Prepare yourself for the Second Coming of Adam Warlock as the golden gladiator lays his judgment upon the world!

That does it for this week’s Showcase. Be sure to come back tomorrow to find out if any of these comics will shine in the Spotlight.

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