The Threshold

Spotlight Sunday 3.18.18

With death very much on my mind this week, in determining which book to feature in the Spotlight, I decided that I should focus on a story that puts life – or perhaps Anti-Life – at its center, and so there are spoilers ahead for…

Mister Miracle #7
Writer: Tom King
Artist: Mitch Gerads
Cover: Nick Derington
Rated M

“I don’t know…He looks more like a…Just like a lump.”

Last week I mentioned that I often dream that my long-dead father is still alive, or is, somehow, alive again.

As is the inevitable nature of life, my mother now has the opportunity to join him in those dreams.

But just as life ends, life begins, and this issue focuses on the latter.

When last we saw Scott and Barda, Barda revealed that they were about to become parents. During the hiatus between issues – a hiatus that occurred to allow artist Mitch Gerads and his wife to experience at least some of what Scott and Barda experience in this issue – that “about” moved up a lot closer, and we open with the Barda in labor as Scott argues with the valet at the hospital.

Along the way we learn that after the events of last issue, Scott has ascended to the role of Highfather, and that the war between New Genesis and Apokolips rages on.

Despite this, the two decided that they wanted their child of two worlds to be born on a third, hence the arguing with the valet at the hospital.

Most of the action takes place in a hospital room as the expectant parents await their son’s arrival, passing the time with Scott suggesting names and Barda shooting them down, or sitting in awkward silence as they consider the manner in which their already chaotic lives are about to change, talking about the various birthing tips and techniques they read about in “the book,” Scott dealing with calls from work – “An Apokolips army of three million has just boomed into the Desert of Angels. Please advise.” – and, of course, coping with the inevitable arrival of family.

While they are enemies on the battlefield, the Female Furies had, once upon a time, been part of the Mister Miracle act, faithfully following their leader – their big sister – Barda, before ultimately returning to Apokolips and the service of Darkseid.

Still, Barda is family, and this child about to be born is family, too.

Following the recent announcement of a New Gods movie being helmed by director Ava DuVernay, there has been a lot of discussion about potential casting, and in one such conversation I had with my friend Scott (not Free) I talked a bit about Bernadeth, the sister of Darkseid’s cruel and cringing lackey DeSaad.

Scott (not Free) felt that the pun contained in Bernadeth’s name is too subtle for Kirby, particularly given that her weapon of choice is the Fahren-Knife, which can cause its victim to burn from the inside.

It was an interesting coincidence, given that said weapon figures prominently into this story, as Bernadeth explains to Scott (Free, not my friend) that mortal instruments will not be strong enough to cut Barda, should the need arise.

“This the Fahren-Kife. It kills gods. I will one day use it to kill you, Highfather. But for now, you may have it. It will cut her as she needs to be cut.”

Barda doesn’t trust Bernadeth’s motives, of course, explaining that the knife was forged from Darkseid’s own flesh, and that it doesn’t cut.

This leads to a bit of what I assume is meta-commentary on fan reaction to an earlier issue.

Still, it proves to be Chekhov’s Fahren-Knife, as, when the time comes, the baby is born with the umbilical cord wrapped around his throat, and the cord proves too tough to be cut by anything immediately available to the medical staff.

And thus, little Ironbreaker Starrazer Axeblow Thunderdeath Jacob takes his first breath.

There was not a lot of action in this issue, but, as with every issue, there was still a lot happening, with Scott’s continued listless agreeableness – saying “Okay” to pretty much everything – and the implication of his glance at the weapon forged from Darkseid’s flesh, which makes the cry from Jacob that ends the issue something of a sinister note upon which to end, even though it’s in the nature of babies to cry.

It seems particularly sinister, given that before Scott reached for the knife, we received our periodic reminder that

Darkseid is.

Something of a running theme throughout this series has been the way in which it makes you question everything you’re seeing. Was the resemblance of the lines on the heart monitor to the Omega Effect just a neat little visual Easter Egg, or something more? Was the grayish cast to Jacob’s skin an attempt at capturing the skin tone of a newborn, or something darker?

Then there’s Mad Harriet’s reaction to learning the child’s name.

“Oh sweet little Jacob! It’s finally time to wake up! Reality is about to break up!”

Even something that seems sweet – and is, really, no matter what else it might mean – can feel ominous, as Barda, in an effort to remain calm as the birth comes closer, thinks of something soothing, going to her happy place, the memory of falling in love with Scott (which also provides the name for their child). She describes the way Scott would climb Jacob’s Ladder – the only way out of the Pit in which they were raised – and would look so handsome as he waved at her and the Furies who were chasing him and said, “I can always escape.”

“And then we’d…I…Got you.”

There are those who think of marriage as a trap, and of having a child being the lock on that trap, and while that is a rather cynical take, I would remind you that “Darkseid is.” and that Scott is an escape artist, the greatest of many worlds, and yet this issue finds him confined to a hospital, free only to move from room to hallway and back again, and we find ourselves wondering, again, if he really did manage to escape from death all the way back at the beginning, or did he escape from life?

The overall composition of this issue feels intensely personal, as both King and Gerads have lived through the experience of becoming a father, of experiencing the waiting, the uncertainty, the excitement, and the boredom, and the story is filled with those little details. The ice chips. The hospital chair that turns into a bed. The “They say” and the “I read” of first-time parents. The moments of panic – “Why did it stop beeping?” The moments of relief – “It was just a positioning problem.”

And, of course, for me, as I try to move on from thoughts of death to thoughts of life, I find some comfort in the notion of the continuity of life, of the new taking the place of the old, even if that new life – that new New God – is fictional and may turn out to be something other than what it seems.

My youngest nephew is named Jacob, and as I think about the old giving way to the new, I remember his birth nearly eighteen years ago, as I was nearing the lowest point in my life. My depression never made me quite suicidal, but it made me somewhat less averse to the notion of dying, and I thought often about that idea, and there was a certain appeal. I had no plans to take any direct, immediate action to end my own life, but, I thought, with this new life in the world, it would certainly be okay for me to step aside and make room.

I didn’t, obviously, and I found that there was room in this world for both of us and eventually climbed up Jacob’s Ladder at least a couple levels from my lowest low in the Pit.

Of course, the idea isn’t really to get out of the way and make room anyway; it’s simply that life, as long as some of us are still here, at any rate, goes on, continuing its cycle.

My mom is gone, but life continues, and though as a man I’m reluctant to make any analogies involving going through labor – my mom was in labor for days with me – there is pain, awful, searing agony, and fear, but there is also joy, and promise, and hope.

I suppose what I’m trying to say is that Darkseid is.

But he’s not the only one.

On the topic of joy, I’ll close this one out with something that happened on Twitter recently that is so utterly perfect that seeing it made me feel – for a moment, at least – as if I had climbed all the way up Jacob’s Ladder and escaped to the Heaven that those in the Pit believed waited for them at the top.

Note: I modified the reply from Mitch Gerads slightly so that the full image could be seen.


Recommended Reading:

THE SHERIFF OF BABYLON: THE DELUXE EDITION – Inspired by his real-life experiences as a CIA operations officer in Iraq, writer Tom King teams with artist Mitch Gerads–the creative team behind the critically acclaimed Mister Miracle–to deliver a wartime crime thriller like no other. The Sheriff of Babylon: The Deluxe Edition collects all 12 issues of the groundbreaking Vertigo series. This special hardcover volume also features a new introduction by King and afterword by Gerads, as well as a gallery of preliminary artwork from Gerads and cover artist John Paul Leon.

OMEGA MEN: THE END IS HERE – From one of the hottest writers in the industry, TOM KING (BATMAN, GRAYSON) and artist BARNABY BAGENDA (A1) comes the critically acclaimed, #1 New York Times bestseller OMEGA MEN: THE END IS HERE—a revolutionary new take on the classic DC space opera. Collects the OMEGA MEN #1-12

As one life begins, this post ends. Be sure to stop by for the next Showcase Saturday so that you can see what I’ll be selecting from when I craft the next Spotlight Sunday!

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).

And support OpenDoor Comics on Patreon!

Showcase Saturday 3.17.18

It’s a St. Patrick’s Day Showcase, free of any Irish affectations or appropriations. And free of a lot of options for me to choose from, for that matter. One of the drawbacks of picking up comics on Saturday is that there won’t be a lot of impulsive or incidental purchases, as the shelves are pretty well depleted by the time I get to the shop.

For example, I went in thinking of picking up Green Lantern: Earth One Vol. 1 – even though the Earth One books have been more miss than hit – but it was sold out.  I did take a long look at a Harley Quinn statue, based on the work of the phenomenal Joëlle Jones, but ultimately decided that, as pretty as it is, I don’t really have room for another statue right now, and in particular, I don’t really need another Harley. (But it is very nice.)

In any case, here’s what I bought this – all-DC – week:

ACTION COMICS #999 – “The General”! Superman’s journey through time has crashed to a halt, and at the end of the line General Sam Lane stands face to face for the first time with his grandson, Jon. Buckle up, because the most awkward super-family reunion in history is about to begin!

MISTER MIRACLE #7 – Mister Miracle and Big Barda are in a panic. The war with Apokolips isn’t going well. And it’s Barda’s turn to have her past come crashing back into her present as the Female Furies appear on the scene with blood on their minds. Continuing the acclaimed miniseries that Entertainment Weekly called “by far the best comic on the stands right now.”


WONDER WOMAN #42 – “Amazons Attacked” part two! The power of the ancient gods has returned Darkseid to his former self, but he wants more—he wants the throne of Apokolips back! But to put down the rebellions and civil war raging on his homeworld, he’ll need an army more powerful than he’s ever had before. That sounds suspiciously like the Amazons!

Come back tomorrow to see which of these I select for Spotlight Sunday.

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).

And support OpenDoor Comics on Patreon!

Spotlight Sunday 3.11.18

The combination of novelty, quality, and what one might consider a sign, if one were more inclined to believe in signs, means that there are spoilers ahead for…

East of West #36
Writer: Jonathan Hickman
Artist:  Nick Dragotta
Cover:  Nick Dragotta
Rated M

“Dying as you lived is a just end…but an end nonetheless.”

My dad has been gone for over eleven years, but I often dream of him.

Even in dreams, though, I know that as much as I want him to be there, he can’t be there, he shouldn’t be there, and so my mind creates some justification, some illusion for how this can be the case. “It was all a mistake!” “That part was the dream.” “There was some scientific breakthrough or supernatural occurrence!”

I have that sort of dream often enough that I sometimes don’t even bother with the mental handwaving. My dad is there. That’s all I need to know.

Of course, the illusion doesn’t last – typically not even all the way through the dream – but for that moment, that single moment in which I can believe that he’s really there, I believe it, unreservedly.

I had one such dream not long before reading this issue, and though this is perhaps not an ideal jumping-on point for the series, given how much has happened so far, and how much keeps happening, having such a dream before reading the latest in an arc titled “Things Fathers Do With Their Sons” felt like something of a sign, which felt like even more of a sign, given that one of the central premises of the book is built upon the receipt of signs.

It’s especially on-the-nose that the son in this case lives in a world of illusion, though one of the major differences between us is that while my father is dead, his father is Death.

To provide some background and to bring non-readers as up-to-speed as possible, East of West takes place in the future of an America whose history deviated considerably from our own during its Civil War. Their war raged on for another fifty years, and grew to involve more than the forces of a single divided nation, ending, finally – or at least moving in the direction of becoming a Cold War – in 1908 when what we refer to as the Tunguska Event happened…in Kansas.

The site of the impact became known as Armistice, and the remainder of what we know as the United States of America was divided into six separate nations:

The Union – The northern states involved in the Civil War

The Confederacy – The states that seceded from the Union

The Kingdom of New Orleans – A nation formed by freed slaves

The Endless Nation – A technologically advanced nation of indigenous peoples

The Republic of Texas – Kind of speaks for itself

The People’s Republic of America – A nation of Chinese exiles and immigrants

Simultaneous with the impact, two parts of a message made themselves known. For fifty years “the Message” remained incomplete, until Mao Zedong, leader of the People’s Republic, writes an addendum in 1958 that makes the meaning clear: the end is nigh.

Several years later, the Four Horsemen arrived at Armistice and begin killing everyone who makes a pilgrimage to the holy site and built a structure around it to prevent further intrusion, with Conquest taking the child of one slaughtered pilgrim and raising him to be the carrier of the Message. Representatives known as “The Chosen” are selected from each of the Nations to help bring about the end.

Things proceed according to plan, until Death turns his back on the apocalypse after falling in love with Mao Xiaolian, the daughter of the Premier of the PRA, and the two have a son. However, Xiaolian’s sister betrays her, and the life she tries to build with Death and their son comes to an end.

That was part of the prophecy, however, and their son is taken to Armistice to be raised to be the Beast.

Though the cause isn’t clear, at some point, as the result of some conflict, three of the Four Horsemen are killed. Death, who does not know that his wife and son are still alive, was believed to have died as well, but was saved by the intervention of Wolf and Crow, two members of the Endless Nation.

The series begins with the regeneration of the three Horsemen, and Death, who is represented as a thin, pale, Spaghetti Western, “man with no name” type, learning that his wife and son are still alive, and largely follows his quest to reunite his family.

By this issue, Xiaolian has taken control of the PRA, and Death has found their son and is in the process of bringing him home to his mother.

Elsewhere, the Union has fallen to a revolution, which makes it ripe for conquest by the Endless Nation, led by Wolf, who has not only ascended to the rank of Chief of Chiefs of the Endless Nation, but has also – by devouring the former carrier – become the carrier of the Message.

That conquest takes up the bulk of this issue, with a brief scene of the three Horsemen closing in on Death and his son, and an interlude in which Death answers some questions that his son – Babylon – has about his mother as the mother and child reunion gets closer to being only a motion away.

“To put it plain…your mother is nothin’ short of the most impressive woman I’ve ever met. But that’s not even the best part.”

“What is, dad?”

“For the first time ever, someone made me not wanna be a monster. And now, I get to do somethin’ for her. Bring you home.”

After completing the conquest of the Union – as part of his effort to “heal old wounds” – Crow steps down as Chief of Chiefs and heads to Armistice, to set about the work of his other job: bringing it all to an end.

East of West can be a difficult book to keep up with, even if you’re a regular reader. Particularly given that its erratic publication schedule makes it difficult to be a “regular reader.” Consider: this is the 36th issue, in 2018, of a “monthly” series that launched in 2013.

Beyond that, it’s complex, with a lot of questions that have yet to be answered, and a narrative approach that doesn’t lend itself to anything other than a very careful reading.

While I like the art a lot – I’m particularly fond of the use of negative space in the designs for Wolf and Crow – some of the characters aren’t quite distinctive enough to be immediately recognizable, which can lead to confusion, particularly if it’s been months since you read the last issue (#35 came out in November of last year).

I’d probably be better-served if I switched to trade-waiting on this, but at this point it seems like it’s a little too late.

That said, for as much as I forget what the hell happened in the last issue far too often, it is a series that I enjoy, and this was a strong issue.

While there was very little focus on Death and Babylon, the relationship between fathers and sons remains pivotal, in the form of the lessons that Wolf learned from his which allowed him to join the old ways (magic) and the new (technology) to allow the Endless Nation to take the opportunity that the collapse of the Union presented. While the idea of combining magic and technology is hardly novel, the particular application of that idea in this issue provided a powerful concept presented with striking imagery.

That entire approach – taking an idea that is almost cliché and reshaping it into something new – is central to East of West and the world in which it’s set. We see it in the core concept, which is, ultimately, a collection of answers to a series of “What if?” questions, and in the art, in which we see things that are familiar presented in new and interesting ways, such as the futuristic White Tower as the seat of the Union’s government, or in the robotic horses that are disturbingly reminiscent of the walking, door-opening horror shows being created right now at Boston Dynamics, or in the High Plains Drifter look of the rider of the pale (robotic) horse.

Even Babylon himself, as the presumed Great Beast, is familiar; the boy who is prophesied to one day bring about the End of All Things, but who, for right now, in many ways, is just your average ten-year-old who wants to have fun and spend time with his dad.

Of course, where it takes a decided turn is in the details; Babylon has spent his entire life living inside a virtual reality, tethered to a floating, robotic nanny he calls “Balloon,” who controls everything that he sees, capturing all visual input and translating it all into a far rosier picture of the world around him before allowing it to reach his mind.

Beyond any of the other “What if?” questions at the center of East of West is a more essential idea, as expressed by series writer Jonathan Hickman, one that, in addition to the personal connection of the dreams of my dead father, prompted me to select it for the Spotlight this week:

“The things that divide us are stronger than the things that unite us. The end times are imminent and we all hate each other too much to come together and solve our problems.”

That part, given the current, perhaps perpetual, state of things rings much more true to me than some of the scenes in the previous issue in which we saw an unconventional father and son engaging in some of the more conventional father-son activities.

I loved – and still love – my father, and I know that he loved me (and, perhaps more importantly, in some ways, he liked me), those sorts of bonding activities weren’t a big part of our relationship, in no small part due to my own lack of interest in, or aptitude for, them. The things that divided us – time, most notably – were, perhaps, stronger in some ways than the things that united us, but, to finish out the full quote from Hickman, “Our final destination is imminent, and it is the Apocalypse. And then, in the face of all that despair and gloom, somehow there is still hope.”

Recommended Reading:

EAST OF WEST VOLUME 1: THE PROMISE – This is the world. It is not the one we wanted, but it is the one we deserved. The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse roam the Earth, signaling the End Times for humanity, and our best hope for life, lies in DEATH!

S.H.I.E.L.D.: ARCHITECTS OF FOREVER – Leonardo da Vinci. Galileo Galilei. Sir Isaac Newton. The titans of history, they discovered the truth of reality in mathematics and the limits of possibility in science – and pushed past those limits with their boundless imaginations. And each has weighed the same question: What is man’s destiny? For these men were also all members of the Brotherhood of the Shield, a secret organization that has been safeguarding humanity and shepherding the future for almost 5,000 years. They turned back the Brood in ancient Egypt. They kept a Celestial from destroying Earth in first-century China. They stopped Galactus the first time he visited our planet during the 16th century. And still they watch over us all. But during the late 1950s, the Brotherhood faced a test like none other: the Night Machine, a super-powered being driven to bring about the organization’s utter destruction. His vicious attack on the High Council’s Rome headquarters causes a line to be drawn between the members of the Shield, and the questions about man’s destiny will be resolved once and for all! Collecting S.H.I.E.L.D. (2010) #1-6 and material from S.H.I.E.L.D. #1 DIRECTOR’S CUT.

Just like the world, this post is coming to an end, and so we’ve reached the point at which I must deliver the Message to you:

Be sure to stop by for the next Showcase Saturday so that you can see what I’ll be selecting from when I craft the next Spotlight Sunday!

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).

And support OpenDoor Comics on Patreon!

Showcase Saturday 3.10.18

A fairly light week, with not a lot of choices, given that I’m unlikely to read a full trade in time to formulate anything to write about.

It’s worth noting that this is the first week in which my theory that I wouldn’t have it in me to get in my car and drive to the comic shop after spending an hour and a half on the bus on Wednesday was put to the test.

My theory was confirmed.

In any case, take a look at the books I’ll be choosing from for tomorrow’s Spotlight post.

From DC:

BATMAN AND SUPERMAN IN WORLD’S FINEST COMICS—THE SILVER AGE VOL. 2 – The adventures of the World’s Finest Heroes continue in this new collection of tales from the 1950s as Superman and Batman encounter alien gamblers, battle a space explorer turned villain, foils Lex Luthor’s attempt to conquer the bottle city of Kandor and visit an exhibit of futuristic crime-fighting inventions in Gotham City. Plus: Bat-Mite and Mr. Mxyzptlk trade foes and engage in a battle of magic! Collecting stories from WORLD’S FINEST COMICS #95-116.

BATMAN BY NEAL ADAMS BOOK ONE – Neal Adams’ epic tales of the Dark Knight are presented in a newly recut collection of stories from WORLD’S FINEST COMICS #175-176 and THE BRAVE AND THE BOLD #79-85. These stories include Batman’s team-up adventures with Deadman, The Flash, Aquaman, Green Arrow and the Teen Titans!



SUPERMAN #42 – “BOYzarro RE-DEATH” part one! It’s a bizarre, Boyzarro world—and we just live in it! When Superboy comes face to face with Boyzarro, the Son of Bizzaro, a strange transformation begins to take place. But that’s not all that the Kents have knocking on their door! Superman versus Bizarro round one am not just the beginning!

From Image:

EAST OF WEST #36 – “THINGS FATHERS DO WITH THEIR SONS” We catch up with Death and Babylon.

THE WICKED + THE DIVINE #34 – “MOTHERING INVENTION,” Part One It’s around 6,000 years ago. It’s never happened before. Let’s talk about that.





That does it for this week’s Showcase Saturday. Be sure to come back tomorrow to see what the Spotlight shines on!

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).

And support OpenDoor Comics on Patreon!

Spotlight Sunday 3.4.18

I considered several options this week. I was particularly interested in taking a look at Gail’s Crosswind, because Gail, but as I’ve mentioned, I’m disinclined to dive into trade collections if I don’t have to, and given that I now no longer have to do anything…

(Beyond that, as of this writing, I haven’t gotten around to reading it yet.)

I also considered talking about Giles, just to be a jerk, but quickly dismissed the idea.

But if I’m honest, I knew which one I was going to pick even before I went to the comic shop, and so there are spoilers ahead for…

The Terrifics #1
Writer: Jeff Lemire
Artist: Ivan Reis
Cover: Ivan Reis
Rated T

“They embody a spirit of epic adventure and bravery—the kind you may remember from another era, but updated in an exciting way for today!”

First it was “The New 52.” Then it was “Rebirth.” Now, “The New Age of DC Heroes” steps up as DC’s latest branding effort, part of a launch of new titles spinning out of the “Dark Nights: Metal” event…which I haven’t read at all, though I’ve read good things about it.

But I can’t buy everything, so my familiarity with it is pretty thin, and I’m relying on some of the summarizing that takes place in this issue.

Essentially, it was an excuse to make a bunch of villains who were basically Batman + Other Character.

So there was an evil Flash, who was also Batman. An evil Batman who was also the Joker. A Batman Doomsday.

Basically, it was DC doing what so many fans – and DC itself – desperately want to do: make everything and everyone Batman.

The story itself involved the discovery of a “Dark Multiverse,” and then…stuff happened, I don’t know.

Still, despite my lack of familiarity with the comics this comic spins out of, based on the overall concept of “The New Age of DC Heroes,” about which more in a bit, and the characters and creators involved I decided to check it out.

I’ve greatly enjoyed writer Jeff Lemire’s work on Black Hammer (see Recommended Reading), and Ivan Reis is a very good artist.

The full gatefold front cover image. Click to see it at a TERRIFIC size.

But mostly it was the characters that drew me in, as it contains some of the more interesting B- and C- and D-list characters, such as Plastic Man and Metamorpho, as well as an enigmatic version of Phantom Girl, who, based on her identification of herself as Linnya Wazzo, might be an ancestor of Tinya Wazzo, the Legionnaire. Given that the Legion has been in limbo for several years, I’m hopeful that her inclusion is an indication that the Legion might make a return to the stands. (They have been on my mind lately, after all.)

This comic also marks the incorporation of characters from America’s Best Comics, the line of comics written by Alan Moore in the early part of this century. ABC was published by Wildstorm, and then became the property of DC when DC acquired Wildstorm (Jim Lee, who’s working on one of the other titles launched as part of this new initiative, was probably the most valuable part of that acquisition).

I’m not thrilled about Moore’s Watchmen being incorporated into the DCU, but while I loved some of the ABC books – most notably, Promethea, who has also recently popped up in the DCU – I don’t have the same kind of emotional investment in the characters, or the same kind of visceral negative reaction to them joining the DCU. (I will admit that I’m not keen on the Promethea appearance, but…ehh.)

In the case of this comic, the ABC universe contributes Tom Strong.

Or does it?

I’ve mentioned before that there was a significant hiatus in my comic-buying, a period during which, barring a few trades and hardcovers (such as Promethea), I wasn’t buying or reading comics much at all.

While I was away, a number of new characters were introduced, many of whom I got to know once I got back in the comic-reading habit and started catching up on some of what I’d missed over the years.

One of my favorites of that bunch was Michael Holt, AKA Mr. Terrific.

Mr. Terrific is a “legacy” character, in that he’s actually the second character to go by that name. The first, a man named Terry Sloane, was a character introduced in the Golden Age who was somewhat in the mold of Batman, in that he had no superhuman powers.

He was, however, considerably more cornball than Batman, wearing a costume emblazoned with the words “FAIR PLAY,” and he pretty much became a costumed hero just because he was bored. Sloane was a genius, and a top-tier athlete, and just generally, well, terrific. Having accomplished everything he’d ever set out to do by the time he was in his early twenties, Sloane was beset by a near-fatal sense of ennui, and contemplated ending his young life before discovering the joys of masked heroism.

Michael Holt is quite similar in that regard, though he is somewhat less…er…vanilla, in many respects, and is a bit more Batmanish than Sloane, though he was inspired by the example of the (at the time) recently-deceased Sloane, with whom he felt an obvious kinship, and took on the mantra of “FAIR PLAY” along with the name Mr. Terrific.

Of course, that was all before Flashpoint rewrote history*, so I honestly don’t know what this Michael Holt’s origin is, or how he decided upon “FAIR PLAY” as his guiding principle. But I guess I’ll find out.

In any case, this issue opens with Mr. Terrific arriving at Stagg Industries, which recently acquired Holt’s company Terrifitech.

It seems that old Simon is meddling with things beyond his ken, as is his wont, and Mr. Terrific’s tech alerted him to the fact that ol’ Staggsy was trying to open a portal into the Dark Multiverse, so Michael showed up to put the kibosh on that.

Unfortunately, he arrived a bit too late to put the kibosh on Java’s late-night snack selection:

Even Simon Stagg is, eventually, willing to admit that he’s in over his head, and asks for Mr. Terrific’s assistance…after Michael arrives and sees that the portal is already open, and that the strange energies of the Dark Multiverse are having an adverse effect on the Element Man himself, Rex Mason, AKA Metamorpho.

When Rex goes wild, Michael finds himself dragged through the portal, along with Plastic Man, who, as a result of being used by Batman to probe the Dark Multiverse – his unique physiology allowed him to survive its deadly energies – had been in stasis, all egged-up like so much Silly Putty.

The sudden burst of Dark Multiversal energy proves bracing, and Mr. O’Brian wakes up just in time to form a protective barrier around Rex and Michael, while they get their bearings.

The Dark Multiverse is, apparently, supposed to be lifeless at this point, but – after refreshing the somewhat-amnesiac Plas about what’s happened in the time that he was dormant, which Plas is none too pleased about – some of Michael’s tech detects signs of life and a distress signal.

Mr. Terrific gives Rex, who has also come to his senses, the advice on how to alter his body chemistry to survive in the Dark Multiverse that Simon should have said before trying to send Rex through the portal, and activates a force field which will allow him to stay safe, and the three land near the source of the signal.

They get attacked by some weird bug creatures, who stop attacking once Ms. Wazzo shows up and tells them to stop. Introductions are made – and the fact that Linnya’s stuck in her intangible phantom form is made known – and the quartet heads for the source of the signal, which Linnya was unaware of.

The source is a broken flying saucer, which Linnya says “doesn’t do anything.”

However, being, you know, tangible, Mr. Terrific pushes a button, which activates a holographic message.

“My name is Tom Strong. If you are seeing this recording, it means I am probably already dead. That means it is up to you to save the universe.”

This was a fun little comic. I liked the shades of the introduction of Fred on Angel, when, after her years of captivity in Pylea, she’s unwilling to accept that Angel actually exists, when Linnya, who has similarly been trapped and cut off from contact with other people, isn’t entirely sure that she’s not just seeing things.

While I don’t have much interest in most of the other titles launched under the brand, the whole “New Age of DC Heroes” concept is kind of interesting.

In many ways it’s intended to parallel the beginning of the “Marvel Age of Comics” back in the ‘60s, and that idea is made manifest by the new comics serving as analogues, or as they say in the industry, homages, to the comics that debuted back in the days of Stan and Jack, with The Terrifics bearing some obvious – though ultimately superficial – similarities to The Fantastic Four.

I’m not certain if the comics are being produced via “The Marvel Method,” which consisted of the writer and artist working together to plot out the story, the artist drawing it, and then the writer filling in the dialogue and captions (as opposed to a writer providing a completed, detailed script that the artist would then work from), but they are taking a very artist-centric approach, even going so far as listing the artist first in the credits.

I’m not certain how advisable that approach is, given that it often seems that the primary cause of missed deadlines for most comics is the artist not finishing on time. I say this not to find fault with artists – drawing a comic is a lot of work – but simply as an observation. And when a specific artist is viewed as being a central and integral part of a book, that’s bound to cause problems. Readers often feel cheated as it is when some other artist has to step up and fill in for a book’s regular artist even under normal circumstances, so when a given artist is promoted as a book’s main, er, draw, that will only serve to exacerbate the problem.

Again, it’s not my intent to beat up on artists**, but, well, life happens, and even the most reliable and timely of artists are bound to miss deadlines somewhere along the line, and it just seems to me that DC is kind of painting themselves into a corner with this approach.

But speaking of art, Ivan Reis is a fan-favorite, and with this issue, I can see why. (I just hope he’s as reliable as he is good.)

This is the only one of the books in the new line that piqued my interest, particularly after having read the previews for some of the others that have been included in several of DC’s regular books for the past month or two, and I’ll definitely be picking up the next issue. I mean, I need to know what holographic Tom was talking about, don’t I?

The large image on the inside of the gatefold cover depicts “The New Challengers” – another book in the line that I might check out – though there’s also a bit of Plas in it, as well as the Hulk-like Damage, so I gather that it’s part of some much larger image that’s distributed across the other books in the line.

The Terrifics, so far, can’t lay claim to the title of “World’s Greatest Comics Magazine,” but it’s got potential.

Recommended Reading:

BLACK HAMMER VOLUME 1: SECRET ORIGINS – Once they were heroes, but the age of heroes has long since passed. Banished from existence by a multiversal crisis, the old champions of Spiral City–Abraham Slam, Golden Gail, Colonel Weird, Madame Dragonfly, and Barbalien–now lead simple lives in an idyllic, timeless farming village from which there is no escape! But as they employ all of their super abilities to free themselves from this strange purgatory, a mysterious stranger works to bring them back into action for one last adventure! Collects Black Hammer #1-#6.

PROMETHEA, BOOK 1 – Sophie Bangs was a just an ordinary college student in a weirdly futuristic New York when a simple assignment changed her life forever. While researching Promethea, a mythical warrior woman, Sophie receives a cryptic warning to cease her investigations. Ignoring the cautionary notice, she continues her studies and is almost killed by a shadowy creature when she learns the secret of Promethea. Surviving the encounter, Sophie soon finds herself transformed into Promethea, the living embodiment of the imagination. Her trials have only begun as she must master the secrets of her predecessors before she is destroyed by Promethea’s ancient enemy.

TOM STRONG DELUXE EDITION VOL. 1 – Tom’s remarkable exploits over a nearly century-long career feature an amazing cast of characters including his wife Dhalua (the daughter of a mighty chieftain), their daughter Tesla, the enhanced ape King Solomon and Tom’s robotic valet, Pneuman.


I almost didn’t do this. I knew that, technically, I was supposed to, but I figured no one would notice if I didn’t, particularly because I only bought this issue because I liked the cover (which was actually why I bought the first issue, really), and I was planning to drop it after this. It turns out, however, that this is the last issue anyway – I don’t know if that was plan from the start or it’s due to low sales – so, for the sake of completeness, let’s see how Bettie Page wraps things up with #8.

This final issue finds our Bettie experiencing the thrill of seeing her (terrible) movie debut at Cannes, which is, in some ways, made even more thrilling by doing so while being held captive – unbeknownst to everyone around her – by Soviet agents. The Reds want the alien MacGuffin that Bettie has in her possession in exchange for the release of her G-Man boss.

Bettie manages to trick them and escape with her partner, and the two locate their boss on a yacht, and our about to make good on their rescue…until the Reds show up and pump Bettie and crew full of lead.

Well, not really. It turns out that MacGuffin – they go so far as to refer to it as “the MacGuffin” and have a discussion about the Hitchcockian concept; they are at a film festival, after all – can stop time, which it does, just in the nick of…well, you know.

An alien doing the whole “taking on a form that you etc.” shows up looking like Buster Keaton and explains that Bettie is the first human to manage to activate the MacGuffin, however inadvertently, and while he’s impressed, it’s not something meant to be in the hands of humans. Bettie agrees to give it back to its rightful owners, in exchange for helping her get her boss and partner off the yacht to safety, sinking the yacht, and, oh yeah, getting time moving again.

I can’t say that I’m sad to see this end, nor will I be sad if it doesn’t turn out to be the end, as the book promises, only “for now.”

There’s potential for a fun and interesting book based on the famous pin-up, but this book, while certainly not terrible, didn’t deliver.

Unlike Ms. Page’s adventures, this ending is definitely only of the “for now” variety, so be sure to stop by for the next Showcase Saturday so that you can see what I’ll be selecting from when I craft the next Spotlight Sunday!

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).

And support OpenDoor Comics on Patreon!

*There was a “New 52” version of Terry Sloane, but he was very decidedly not the “FAIR PLAY” type.

**Though some of them are pretty terrible. I mean, the artist on my comic Worldtamer couldn’t even manage to deliver a single page on time this past week! I should fire his ass!


Showcase Saturday 3.3.18

It’s time for Showcase Saturday! I’ll show you mine even if you don’t show me yours! (Click on the comic title to see more information at the publisher’s site)

From Dark Horse:

From Joss Whedon and Erika Alexander comes a series that returns Buffy’s Rupert Giles to high school! But this time–as a grown man living in a teenage body–Giles will be a student instead of a teacher. At an inner-city LA-area school, when a mystical influence is detected and teachers start to go missing, Giles enrolls to investigate. What he finds is more than vampires and demons; something unusual and frightening is happening here. If Giles can get through one day as a student, he’ll have a chance to find out who, what, and where–but high school is still hell, y’all.


From DC:

“BOOSTER SHOT” part six! Escape from Planet Zod! Superman and Booster Gold must escape to travel back to the present, where the life of the captured Sam Lane hangs in the balance!

“The Long Payback” part four! Following his defeat at the hands of Stalker, Batman is delivered into the arms of the mysterious villain pulling all the strings—someone he never expected! Humiliated by past defeats, this deadliest of enemies wants to drag Batman through the streets of Neo-Gotham en route to a public execution. With Bruce Wayne hampered by injuries, the rescue mission falls to a complete unknown, with dire consequences!

Having learned who is responsible for the hellish transformation of the Earth, our reluctant team makes its way toward the source of the hell zone across the brutal nightmare landscape of Death Valley to put an end to the horrors facing the Earth. But with a group of people who all hate each other, tensions run high, and the fears of Etrigan and Jason come into light. Will the group hold together? Or will humanity’s last hope shatter?

Bound together by fate, united by the spirit of exploration and hope for tomorrow, the Terrifics bound from the Dark Multiverse of Meta! When Mr. Terrific, Metamorpho, Plastic Man and Phantom Girl find themselves literally bound together by a tragic accident, our team of unlikely allies must rely on one another to make their way back home. But a startling revelation on their return trip brings them face to face with a new mystery: where in the universe is Tom Strong?

“AMAZONS ATTACKED” part one! The Gods separated Themyscira from the world for a good reason: it serves as the prison for the God of War, and the most powerful army ever created stands guard around him! So what happens when the greatest evil in the universe decides he wants that army for himself?


From Dynamite:

Bettie hunts an alien artifact and Soviet spies at the 1952 Cannes Film Festival! Will she manage to get Gene Kelly’s autograph and save the world? Only David Avallone and Esau Figueroa have been authorized to tell you the classified story, in this thrilling climax to Bettie’s French Riviera adventures.




From Image:

Goodfellas meets Freaky Friday in this mind-bending new ongoing series from fan-favorite creators GAIL SIMONE (Wonder Woman, Batgirl, Deadpool, Secret Six, Birds of Prey) and CAT STAGGS (Adventures of Supergirl, Smallville Season 11, Wonder Woman ’77). A slick and ruthless Chicago hitman. A smart but downtrodden Seattle housewife. When an inexplicable event strikes these two random strangers, their bodies, souls, and lives are switched—to potentially deadly effect. Collects CROSSWIND #1-6

Our Featured Image this week is the cover for THE TERRIFICS #1. It’s a cool cover by Ivan Reis – and in physical form it’s even cooler, as it’s a gatefold that when expanded reveal even more above and below, with another big image on the inside. It’s, er, terrific!

I also liked the GILES cover, and, of course, the BOOTY BETTIE PAGE cover, so I included them. The other covers are all fine, too, but not fine enough to get me to fiddle with the layout of the post in order to include them. But do check them all out.

That does it for this week’s Showcase Saturday. Be sure to come back tomorrow to see what the Spotlight shines on!

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).

And support OpenDoor Comics on Patreon! Come on! You know you want to!

Spotlight Sunday 2.25.18

The best part about the death of the Weigh In is that I’m free to write about any comic I choose.

The worst part about the death of the Weigh In is that I’m free to write about any comic I choose.

This wasn’t a great week for freedom, as there were a lot of strong contenders.

I mean, I could write about Sex Criminals for the first time ever, given that none of you ever had the good sense to vote for one of the best comics out there, but while the issue was good, of course, it wasn’t really a great jumping-on point, so there would be way too much backstory to have to delve into to make my ramblings about it at all understandable.

President Luthor presents the opportunity to get in lots of digs at our actual cartoonishly evil president who is more cartoonishly evil than a president who is a cartoon.

I would have been sure to note that President Luthor:

  1. Actually is a genius.
  2. Is as rich as he claims to be.
  3. Is evil, sure, but is at least competently evil.
  4. Has the dignity to embrace his baldness.
  5. Properly divested himself from the company that bears his name when assuming the presidency.

I don’t really like putting multi-issue collections in the Spotlight, though, so that one got ruled out.

I considered Superman, as, for what was essentially a filler story as we close in on Action #1000 and the changes that will follow, it was a decent – if not exactly action-packed – issue that shows that, in stark contrast to his work on the comic that appeared in the Spotlight last week, James Robinson can tell a compelling story, at least if it’s not about Wonder Woman.

Speaking of, Wonder Woman, a kind of “Wonder Woman Fatigue” kept me from selecting The Brave and the Bold, even though it was a promising start to the mini-series, and Sharp’s artwork was a treat (he’s a better artist than he is a writer, but that’s not really a ding on his writing ability, given what a great artist he is).

Beyond that, the finale of Wonder Woman/Conan shows up in the Bonus section below, so the Amazing Amazon will make her presence known no matter what.

In the end, I decided that I’d just do the most sensible thing and write about the best new comic I read this week, which means that there are spoilers ahead for…


The Mighty Thor #704
Writer: Jason Aaron
Artist: Russell Dauterman
Cover: Russell Dauterman
Rated T+

Prayers, both unanswered and unasked, figure prominently in this issue, as we visit key moments in Jane Foster’s past, and in the present as we witness the battle between Odin and son against Mangog. In the past, we see Jane’s inability – or unwillingness – to rely on prayer, and in the present, we see unanswered prayers made manifest coming demanding an answer.

Mangog was born from the souls of billions, a race destroyed eons ago by Odin, It has been defeated and returned multiple times – even after Odin restored the lives of the beings whose deaths created it – and it has returned again to put an end to the unworthy gods who so blithely ignore the prayers of their worshippers.

Jane, on the other hand, was born, as most of us are, of a woman, a mother who was taken from Jane when she was a child by the same deadly disease – cancer – that seeks to claim Jane’s life now, as she rests in her hospital bed, reflecting on her mother’s last words.

“Find a god to believe in, Jane. Find one who’s worthy of you, my beautiful daughter.”

Jane never managed that, but, in taking on the name and role of Thor, she strove instead to be a worthy god.

But for all that she accomplished in her role as the Goddess of Thunder, her efforts ultimately brought her here, to this hospital bed, fighting for her life. Whenever she picked up Mjolnir and transformed, her divine form drove out the poison introduced into her system by chemotherapy, but the cancer remained, so when she resumed her mortal form it was as if she had never gotten the chemotherapy at all.

Jane decided it was worth the cost, given the need for a Thor – there’s a reason Mjolnir deemed her worthy, after all – but ultimately, she agreed that the cost was too high, and was convinced that the world needs Jane Foster just as much as it needs Thor. With the knowledge that her next transformation into Thor would be her last, she sets Mjolnir aside and focuses on a much more personal battle than the War of the Realms.

As Odin and Odinson battle against Mangog, the Lady Freyja watches helplessly, desperate for some way to defeat the monster, but is informed by Loki that Asgardia will fall. She’s not exactly thrilled to see Loki, given that she just recently awoke from a coma that Loki put her in. Granted, he claims he did it to protect her, as Malekith needed her out of the way so that she would not intervene in his war – he knew that Odin would choose isolation over intervention – and the only way to keep Malekith from killing her was to almost kill her himself.

In the battle, Mangog destroys the controls that keep Asgardia in orbit around Saturn, which sends it hurtling towards the sun.

On Earth, we see some pivotal moments in Jane’s life, as she recalls receiving the news of her father’s passing from Dr. Donald Blake, and the angry confrontation with the Odinson (when he was still Thor) after the death of her husband and son.

“’Find a god to believe in.’” I tried, mother. I did. But I don’t think they believe in us. And I don’t blame them.”

When he left to defend Asgardia, the Odinson left behind his companion, the Hel Hound Thori, to ensure that no pesky hammer finds its way into Jane’s room.

After Jane visits – and prays with – another patient, she overhears Roz Solomon, former Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D. and Jane’s successor as Senator in the Congress of Worlds, on the phone with someone from Alpha Flight, checking on the status of Asgardia, as the Odinson’s sudden departure, and her inability to summon the Bifrost, have her concerned. She becomes even more concerned when she learns that satellite imagery shows Asgardia whizzing past Mars.

Jane returns to her room, to see Thori chasing after a hapless hammer-wielding maintenance worker.

She picks up her chart and reads it closely.

“I would’ve beaten you, you little cancerous sons of bitches.”

She looks out her window, where Mjolnir awaits.


This issue exemplifies one of the many reasons I’ve enjoyed Aaron’s work on Thor over the years. He doesn’t shy away from examining the theological ramifications of a world in which the existence of gods is a matter of fact rather than of faith.

What does it mean to pray when you know, you absolutely know without question, that there are beings out there who have the power answer your prayers, while also knowing that most of the time they not only won’t answer them, they aren’t even bothering to listen?

Where do you place your faith? What does it mean to have faith?

As Jane asked of Thor in her memory of the death of her family, “Where were you, Thor? Where was Odin or Sif or Hercules?”

And finally, she asks, “Where…where was I?”

It’s that question that drives Jane, when the time comes, to be the kind of god she needed, to have faith in something other than the faithless, disinterested gods, to teach the gods themselves how to be gods.

It’s a very different take on the Marvel Universe version of mythology, but one that stays true to the cosmic adventure and science fiction elements that have been the hallmark of Thor since the original Lee and Kirby run, building on the “back to the original myths” approach that Walt Simonson took during his legendary run, and exploring the facets of human nature that drive us to create those myths and seek to understand the nature of the divine.

There’s also the simple fact that he just plain tells a great story.

And this was a great story, but this was a brutal issue. Not just because of the brutality of the beating Mangog delivered to Odin and Odinson, or even the subject matter, with the exploration of the losses Jane suffered in her life, but because of how deftly Dautterman’s art shows the gravity of Jane’s condition.

The art conveys a palpable sense of her weariness with her pale skin and sunken eyes, yet in those eyes we see an undeniably steely resolve.

It’s made all the more powerful by the fact that we know how this going to end – the arc is called “The Death of the Mighty Thor,” after all – and that we know there’s only one way it can end, even as we pray, despite seeing how often prayers go unanswered, or answered in some way other than what we might think we wish.

We know it can only end one way, because we know who and what Jane is.

She is worthy.

Recommended Reading:

THE UNWORTHY THOR – Unfit to lift his hammer, with another now wielding the power of Thor, the Odinson’s desperate quest to regain his worthiness takes him out into the cosmos – where he’s learned of the existence of a mysterious other Mjolnir! This weapon of ultimate power, a relic from a dead universe, is the key to the Odinson’s redemption – but some of the greatest villains of the Marvel Universe are anxious to get their hands on it as well. And when the Realm of Old Asgard vanishes, the Odinson’s hopes might go with it – unless good tidings from Beta Ray Bill offer fresh hope! Can the Odinson reclaim his honor, or will the power of thunder be wielded for evil? Let the battle for the hammer commence!

BIG HARD SEX CRIMINALS – Seriously, people: this is a good comic. The fact that you never voted for it is bad and you should feel bad.

Collecting the first ten issues of the Eisner and Harvey award-winning, TIME Magazine Best Comic of the year of our lord 2013, SEX CRIMINALS, in an oversized hardcover format guaranteed to embarrass you to order.

Suzie’s just a regular gal with an irregular gift: when she has sex, she stops time. One day she meets Jon and it turns out he has the same ability. And sooner or later they get around to using their gifts to do what we’d ALL do: rob a couple banks. A bawdy and brazen sex comedy for comics begins here, by Matt Fraction (Satellite Sam, Hawkeye) and Chip Zdarsky (Prison Funnies, Monster Cops).


I’ll be wrapping up the leftover Bonus content – I think that all that’s left is Deadman – but with no voting, there will be no new Bonus features. (See what happens when you don’t make it economically feasible for me to continue not having a regular job? This is the price you have to pay for, er, not paying.)

With the finale of Wonder Woman/Conan, it’s unlikely that we’ll ever see this pairing again, as Marvel has reclaimed the rights to Conan from Dark Horse, and Marvel is not particularly amenable to engaging in crossovers with their Dynamic Competition these days.

As the final issue opens, we find Diana, back in her own time getting a stern talking to from her mother about leaving the lasso behind. While Diana wants to return to the past to help defeat the Corvidae and defend the city they intend to slaughter, Hippolyta explains that the past is the past, and they have to worry about the Corvidae in the here and now, and she makes Diana promise not to attempt to return to the Hyborian Age.

Meanwhile, in that aforementioned age, Conan has been engaging in a ruthless, one-man guerrilla campaign against the army of the Corvidae as it prepares its siege on the city. Inside, the “welcher” who set so much of this in motion leads a revolt against the slaver who’s working with the Corvidae.

On Themyscira, Diana’s brooding is interrupted by Artemis, who says she has a way past the security protecting the Silver Mirror that would allow them to return to the past, though there is the small matter of Diana having promised that she wouldn’t return. Diana notes that she wasn’t holding the lasso when she made that promise.

Conan, realizing the futility of his harrying of the forces outside the city, openly challenges the Corvidae, vowing to battle a champion of their choosing for the safety of the city, and for the safe return of Yanna.

With the help of the lasso, Conan defeats the champion, but the Corvidae regard that as cheating. Luckily, the Amazons have arrived, and with their aid, the people rise up and defeat the army, as Conan and Diana defeat the Corvidae, and the Yanna, who has haunted Conan’s memory since childhood is returned to him.

It turns out, however, that she’s happily married and has kids that she wants to return to. Still, Conan’s not even mad; he’s just glad she didn’t die all those years ago and has found happiness, if not the life of adventure she had dreamed of as a child.

Conan muses about how convinced he had been that Diana and Yanna were one and the same, but before telling him of her current life, Yanna reminds him of a time when she speculated that, just as their voices echoed in the chasm they were exploring as children, perhaps there are “echoes” of people in other places and times.

With her bracelet and lasso restored to her, Diana bids farewell to Conan, and returns to her own time.

We end with Diana, in civilian garb, sitting in a coffeeshop writing about her experience, and thinking about Yanna’s “echo” theory as a tall man with long dark hair asks if he can borrow her honey. His resemblance to a certain sullen-eyed, iron-thewed Cimmerian is uncanny, and, deciding that whether it is an “echo” or a mere coincidence, it’s worth asking him if he’d like to have lunch with her.

That does it for the first Jon-selected Spotlight Sunday. I hope that you’re not too disappointed in the results.

While you often had terrible taste, I do miss you input…kind of. A little.

Be sure to come back for the next Showcase Saturday, in which you can at least pretend to vote. So that’s…something.

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).

And support OpenDoor Comics on Patreon!

Showcase Saturday 2.24.18

Weigh In Wednesday is dead…long* live Showcase Saturday!

I haven’t actually started working yet, but I decided to forge ahead with the new direction that will be forced upon me once I do start working, which means that I’ll likely do my comic shopping on Saturday mornings. That doesn’t leave a lot of time for voting, especially given that in the future these posts won’t appear until a bit later in the day, but I thought it might be worthwhile to at least let you know what I bought.

After all, while not that many people ever viewed the Weigh In posts at all, of the small number who did, most simply looked without voting.

This way you at least get some idea of what I’ll be choosing from when I decide what to  write about in my Spotlight Sunday post.

You can’t directly weigh in on what it will be, but you can make a guess, leave a request (which I may or may not pay any attention to) in the comments, or place your bets as to what you think I’ll choose.

If no one wants to wager with you, you can place a bet with yourself/the Universe. If you win, you get to read a post about the comic you thought would win. If you lose, you get to read a post about a comic you didn’t think would win. Either way, come back tomorrow and read what I write!

(I’ll mix in some cover images with the text if I think the comic has a cool cover, but opted not to select it as the Featured Image. Liam Sharp’s The Brave and the Bold cover is fantastic, and Ben Caldwell’s cover for Red Sonja is pretty great, but how could I not go with an Alex Ross cover? Answer: I couldn’t. This isn’t intended as a slight to the covers of the comics that don’t have an image with them, it’s just that I’ve decided to focus on the standouts. You can see the covers, and more information about the comics, by clicking on the comics’ titles.)

In the Showcase this week we have…

From DC:

“Mother’s Day” part one! Talia al Ghul returns for her son Damian, whom she trained from birth to be an assassin. With the evil in Robin’s past finally revealed to Superboy, it might be too much for the Sons’ partnership to survive…especially when the boys find out her next victim is one of the most important people in their lives!

“SUICIDE PLANET” part two! Superman and Superboy battle the alien extremists of a world on the brink of disaster in the hope of saving them from themselves!

Lex Luthor is the most powerful man in Metropolis. So what’s next on his horizon? The White House, naturally! It was only a matter of time before billionaire Lex Luthor ran for the highest office in the land. And besides bringing him victory, Luthor’s campaign for the presidency is calculated to bring maximum grief to the Man of Steel. This title collects SECRET FILES: PRESIDENT LUTHOR #1, SUPERMAN #162-163, SUPERMAN: THE MAN OF STEEL #110, SUPERMAN: LEX 2000 #1, LEX LUTHOR: THE UNAUTHORIZED BIOGRAPHY #1, plus content from ADVENTURES OF SUPERMAN #581 and #586, SUPERMAN #164-165 and SUPERMAN: THE MAN OF STEEL #108-109.

Don’t miss the start of a new, six-issue miniseries written and illustrated by Liam Sharp (WONDER WOMAN)! When a Celtic god’s murder leads to a war between the fairy folk and a possible breach between worlds, Wonder Woman must find the murderer and keep the peace while Batman investigates strange occurrences in Gotham City. As Diana must turn to the World’s Greatest Detective for help, the two heroes quickly learn their cases may be connected.

The final battle is here! Diana has regained her sense of self—and with her mind and memory intact, she’s an unstoppable force. Conan believed her to be his lost childhood love, and the revelation of her true destiny does nothing to lessen his admiration for the warrior he fights beside. The Corvidae may live to regret their wager. Copublished with Dark Horse.

From Marvel:

Mighty Thor #704
Jane’s cancer has taken a turn for the worse. But while she faces the enemy of her body…The Mangog ravages Asgardia! Odin and his son unite to take on the Ultimate Judgment. But without their mightiest warrior, the time of gods may come to an end. The Death of the Mighty Thor is coming. Will the world survive it?

From Image:

“FIVE-FINGERED DISCOUNT,” Part Two Ghosts! Ghoooooooosts! Okay, not literally. But still. Suzie and Jon find themselves haunted by their pasts, in different ways, for different reasons. Also: Ana, too. And Doc. And Kegel. DANG!

From Dynamite:

Red Sonja and her time traveling companion Professor Wallace take a wrong turn on their way back to the Hyborian Age, and now they find themselves in…Hell. Can the She-Devil fight her way back out? Or is this where they finally belong?




From Heavy Metal:

Heavy Metal’s legendary character finally gets her own ongoing series courtesy of writer, Alex de Campi (No Mercy, Sem-iauto Magic) and artist Esau Escorza (The Door) delivering another tale of the immortal warrior’s quest to avenge injustice. Alex Ross provides two beautiful cover selections, launching this character into her greatest adventure – Comics!

That does it for the first-ever Showcase Saturday. Be sure to come back tomorrow to see what the Spotlight shines on!

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).

And support OpenDoor Comics on Patreon! (If you do, we may be able to revive the Weigh In and put an end to this “Showcase” nonsense.)

*Or, you know, at least until I get sick of doing it.

Spotlight Sunday 2.18.18

One last-minute vote in the final Weigh In broke a tie, and so there are spoilers ahead for…

Wonder Woman #40
Writer: James Robinson
Artist: Emanuela Lupacchino, Carmen Carnero
Cover: Jesús Merino
Rated T

If I’m honest, I was hoping that it would remain a tie, in which case I would have opted to write about Action Comics #997, in part because the final issue of Wonder Woman/Conan comes out next week, and I’ll be writing about that one way or the other, as it’s my intention to wrap up the storylines that fell under the Bonus.

Mostly, though, I just didn’t want to write about this issue because I did not particularly like it or the storyline it provides the conclusion to, and it makes me mad.

I could forgive it for just being mediocre, but it does such a disservice to some beloved characters that it actively makes me angry. The latter point would be something I could accept if it weren’t for the former. A good story that treats characters for whom I have a fondness might be forgivable, but a mediocre one? Feh.

This storyline features the reintroduction – and “Rebirth” debut – of some old friends of Diana, and an old enemy, the Silver Swan.

The original Silver Swan was a ballerina who, while tremendously skilled, was overlooked and less successful than she felt she ought to have been because she was unattractive. She strikes a bargain with the god Mars (at that time, Wonder Woman largely went with the Roman names of the gods rather than the Greek), who transforms her from the ugly duckling she had been into a beautiful – and deadly – swan, in exchange for her vow to destroy his enemy Wonder Woman.

Years later, in the new continuity that arose after Crisis on Infinite Earths, a new version of the Silver Swan debuted. This one was a woman who had been born deformed as a result of being exposed to radiation while in the womb, and as a young woman fell under the sway of an unscrupulous scientist who performed experiments on her that transformed her from…well, you get the idea. Eventually, she saw through the man who was manipulating her and she gave up her villainous ways.

The third Silver Swan, and now also the fourth, was a young woman named Vanessa Kapatelis.

While Vanessa was a young teen, her mother, Julia, met a wondrous young woman named Diana, whom the rest of the world would soon come to know as Wonder Woman.

As an expert in the history and culture of ancient Greece, Julia served as something of a mentor to Diana and a bridge connecting her from the world she knew to this strange new world she found herself in. Soon, Diana became something of a member of the family with Vanessa – or Nessie – filling the role of younger sister, and both characters were important parts of Diana’s adventures during the iconic post-Crisis run of the series launched by the legendary George Perez.

But being friends with Wonder Woman isn’t exactly an easy life, and Diana’s various enemies exploited the cracks in Nessie’s psyche, and eventually, through cybernetic implants, Vanessa became the new Silver Swan.

Fortunately, Nessie eventually recovered, and her cybernetic implants were removed and she was able to get on with her life.

Until now, anyway.

In the “Rebirth” continuity, Diana never had that relationship with the Kapatelis family, and neither Julia nor Vanessa have been a part of Diana’s life up until now.

The new versions were introduced at the start of this arc, with Vanessa being a casualty of a battle between Diana and a supervillain called Major Disaster. As a result of the conflict, Vanessa is left unable to walk. While Vanessa is hospitalized, Diana visits her regularly, and the two become best friends – at least, as far as Vanessa is concerned. Being stuck in a hospital bed leads Vanessa to resume her once-abandoned interest in art – she had set the dream of being an artist aside to pursue her dream of being a dancer – and she illustrates the adventures of a fictionalized version of herself called the Silver Swan, who works as Diana’s partner.

Some doctors approach her to discuss a possible treatment involving nanotechnology that might allow her to walk again, and, in time, the treatment shows signs of success. However, while she is overjoyed to be able to walk again, however haltingly, Vanessa is considerably less happy about how infrequent Diana’s visits have become.

All of this happened during the previous storyline, in which Diana was preoccupied with her quest to find her brother, and then with fighting Darkseid, so it wasn’t a matter of just blowing Vanessa off, but Vanessa doesn’t see it that way, and after her mother dies in a car accident, her mental state worsens.

She becomes enraged after seeing a news report about Diana saving a local family, and argle-bargle nanites, creates some kind of cybernetic armor for herself, based on her original Silver Swan designs.

She then proceeds to viciously murder the family Diana saved to get Diana’s attention. They fight for a couple of issues. Jason, who’s finding that he doesn’t quite know how he fits into his sister’s life – he elicits a lot of “I’m not mad, I’m just disappointed” responses from Diana – joins the fray, and gets his throat slit by one of the Silver Swan’s razor-sharp wings for his trouble. Enraged, Diana cuts off Vanessa’s wing, there’s some kind of explosion as Vanessa screams, and all three tumble out of the sky, which is where this issue picks up.

Fortunately(?), Jason heals quickly, but the Silver Swan is nowhere to be found. Not able to think of where else she might be, Diana and Jason head to the hospital where Vanessa had been a patient, only to discover that Vanessa murdered everyone in the hospital, and used the nanites in her blood to hack into the computer network and erase every record of herself.

Jason heads home, only to be attacked by the Silver Swan. He’s saved by the timely arrival of Diana, who realized that if Vanessa wasn’t attacking her, Jason would be the most obvious target.

Diana and the Silver Swan – who becomes enraged every time Diana calls her Vanessa, insisting that Vanessa is dead – fight, Diana keeps her screaming so that she’ll be out of breath as she forces her into the ocean and holds her there until she passes out, at which point she reverts to her non-cybernetic form.

We get a wrap-up letting us know that Vanessa is in a coma from which she might never recover, and the doctors intend to study her so that they can study the nanites in order to help people in a way that doesn’t transform them into homicidal maniacs. And then one of the doctors, who, as soon as he said that he specializes in the mind, led me to say, “That’s Dr. Psycho,” looks at the specially-designed glass tube that Vanessa is in, and his non-matching reflection reveals that, yep, he’s Dr. Psycho.

It ends with Jason leaving a note for Diana telling her that he needs to take some time to find himself or whatever, but before he can actually leave, some weird energy blob thing envelops him and he disappears.

(I say don’t bother trying to find him again, Diana.)

Oh, and also in this issue Steve and the Oddfellows spend some time fighting the Female Furies as they go around investigating some of the places that Darkseid and Grail had been to because argle-bargle Apokoliptian energy something-something.

Like I said, it was a mediocre storyline, and it was stretched pretty thin across multiple issues, with the other sub-plots about Jason being a screw-up and Steve and his old pals going off on adventures and realizing that they’d be much better off if Diana were with them, not really adding enough to it to make it interesting.

And, like I also said, it made me mad. While there is precedent for Vanessa becoming a villain, it was originally a long, slow, process, and she was someone a longtime reader would be invested in and care about. Here, we get one issue to learn who this familiar but not-familiar character is and watch her quickly descend into villainy. And such gruesome, over-the-top villainy at that.

Granted, his presence at the end may indicate that Dr. Psycho had something to do with it, but his influence alone, in the old continuity, wasn’t enough to push Vanessa over the edge. The old Vanessa was a great POV character, one we could relate to as she struggled with her conflicting feelings about this goddess who had come flying into her life.

This Vanessa…I mean, if it had been some entirely new character for whom I had no pre-existing affection it would bother me less, and I could judge the story a little more impartially on its own merits.

What really bothered me, though, was the treatment of Julia. She played such a vital role in the comic in the past, but this version barely contributed anything, and seemingly lived only for the purpose of dying.

And she didn’t even look like Julia, for crying out loud.

Of course, the cherry-shaped turd on top of the whole shit sundae is Jason. He’s not interesting, and I don’t care about him, and he shouldn’t even exist. I’m not at all a fan of Diana having a father in the first place, so I especially don’t like the idea of her having a brother.

At least when Azzarello introduced the idea of her being Zeus’s daughter back during the “New 52,” he used it to tell compelling stories and made effective use of the dynamics of family ties.

Ultimately, though, the family I prefer for Diana is the one she made for herself back in the Perez era, a family that was destroyed here before it could ever form.

The art is…fine. Not good enough to make up for the story, but…fine.

That’s about the only nice thing I can say here.

(It probably would have been better if I’d written about Action.)

Recommended Reading:

WONDER WOMAN BY GEORGE PEREZ OMNIBUS VOL. 1 – There’s a reason that, during the “Special Thanks” portion of the credits for the Wonder Woman movie that George Perez’s name came first and was set a bit apart from the names of the others whose work the movie drew from. Buy this, and find out why.

WONDER WOMAN, VOL. 1: BLOOD (THE NEW 52) – I have problems with a lot of the core concepts introduced during this run, but if you’re able to get past them, the actual story is good; this was one of the few really good books to come out of the initial run of the New 52.  Hippolyta, queen of the Amazons, has kept a secret from her daughter all her life–and when Wonder Woman learns who her father is, her life will shatter like brittle clay. The only one more shocked than Diana by this revelation? Bloodthirsty Hera–so why is her sinister daughter, Strife, so eager for the truth to be told? Superstar writer Brian Azzarello creates a new direction for one of DC’s best-known heroes, with spectacular art by Cliff Chiang and Tony Akins!

WONDER WOMAN: THE REBIRTH DELUXE EDITION BOOK 1 – An incredible collection that marks the long-awaited return of legendary WONDER WOMAN writer Greg Rucka, featuring stunning art from Nicola Scott (EARTH 2) and Liam Sharp (GEARS OF WAR)—WONDER WOMAN: THE REBIRTH DELUXE EDITION BOOK 1 collects stories from one of the breakout hits of DC Rebirth. This series is a perfect jumping-on point into the world of Wonder Woman and the first hardcover collection of the new Rebirth series!


There is a lot I could say about Deadman #4, but a lot of it would be a retread of the things I’ve said about 1-3 in terms of just how bizarre the whole thing is, and how Neal Adams should stick to art. I could tell you about the plot – such as it is – that involves Boston’s dad somehow knowing that Cleveland was possessed by the spirit of his dead brother and thus fed a story filed with lies to Deadman (including that Boston’s murder was a warning to the Brand’s to stop trying to find Nanda Parbat) in an effort to trick him into going to Nanda Parbat, and then someone who Deadman thinks is Rama Kushna trying to force him to go after he refuses, and then him deciding to do it anyway because he just wanted to prove that Rama was willing to force him to go, or the bit after that when Boston leaves and  Ra’s al Ghul shows up to talk to Mr. and Mrs. Brand and it turns out that the missing Brand brother Aaron is with him, and Etrigan tries to rescue him, but Aaron is there willingly and somehow manages to beat up the Demon.

But the main takeaway from the whole thing is that Ra’s al Ghul says – sigh – this:

“You are being sarcastic. Sarcasm takes away airline upgrade points.”

Because yeah, that’s totally something that he would say. Obviously.

I know a certain someone was pulling for Barbarella #3 this week, but it came up short. Fortunately, not all is lost, as this end-of-the-first-arc issue qualifies for a Bonus.

When we last saw our heroine, she’d been shot and left for dead on the floor, but while gravely injured, she’s alive enough to take out Pendrum’s robot assistant, and make use of the body loom in the room to repair the damage from her injury. As a bonus, the body loom changes her clothes back to her original outfit, and fully restores her original body configuration, reinstalling her kajigger in the process.

I’ll bet you will.

In a clever little sequence, Barbarella is able to reconstruct what happened while she was lying on the floor as the little talking fox introduced last issue repeats back much of what it heard Pendrum and Quire discussing

It turns out that the doomsday weapon isn’t so much a means of killing the Parosians as it is a means of mandatory, extinction-level assisted suicide that uses their own piety as its means of bringing their race to an end. Given that the body looms remove everyone’s sexual organs, reproduction happens artificially, in orbiting factories that manufacture childen. Pendrum’s plan is to shoot those down, and then introduce a virus – contained in the component that Quire unwittingly brought him – that will destroy the body looms, preventing the Parosians from reconfiguring their bodies and continuing their race the old-fashioned way.

Pendrum succeeds in the first part, but Barbarella prevents the second. Still, the end result is much the same as it would have been had the plan succeeded, and the war between Terra and Parosia comes to an end, as the Parosians use their still-functioning body looms to restore their kajiggers and whatchacalits and get to work on making a new generation, opting to make love, not war.

And that does it for this, the final reader-selected Spotlight Sunday. I can’t say that the Weigh In is gone forever, because who knows what might happen? After all, we’re talking comics here, and, in a refutation of half of the old saying, not even Bucky stayed dead.

Still, next week will see the beginning of a new era for the Spotlight, and I hope that those of you who have been stopping by will continue to do so, and that those of you who haven’t will start.

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).

And thanks to those of you who voted in the Weigh In. Ive appreciated it…even when its led to me having to write about comics that make me mad.

And support OpenDoor Comics on Patreon! (If you do, we may be able to revive the Weigh In.)

Weigh In Wednesday 2.14.18

There is no asylum for Dylan even in the asylum, Barbarella can’t find a way for the ends to justify the means, Deadman is still dead and this comic is still an octopus of a thing, Superman and Booster face off against Zod and son, a collection of Brubaker’s tales of the Bat, a look behind the scenes and a new story round out the Director’s Cut for Mister Miracle, and Wonder Woman’s Swan’s Song storyline sings its, er, swan song just in time for the Weigh In to do the same.

Yes, that’s right, (un)true believers: the end is no longer near, it’s here. This is your very last chance to vote in the Weigh In, so make it count by doing so before 12 AM Eastern on 2/18, and then come back for the last reader-selected Spotlight Sunday.

Which comic should be featured in this Spotlight Sunday?

  • WONDER WOMAN #40 (DC) - “SWAN’S SONG” finale! Wonder Woman fights to break Silver Swan out of her mania and stop her all-out assault. (28%, 5 Votes)
  • ACTION COMICS #997 (DC) - “BOOSTER SHOT” part five! Superman and Booster Gold are stranded in time on a world ruled by not one but two Generals Zod! (22%, 4 Votes)
  • BARBARELLA #3 (DYNAMITE) - To stop a war a planet must fall. (17%, 3 Votes)
  • BATMAN BY ED BRUBAKER VOL. 1 (DC) (TPB) - Ed Brubaker’s legendary run on Batman is collected, starting with stories from BATMAN #582-586, 591-594 and BATMAN: OUR WORLDS AT WAR #1. (11%, 2 Votes)
  • MISTER MIRACLE #1 DIRECTOR’S CUT (DC) - We crack open the vaults on MISTER MIRACLE #1 to show you this issue’s original black-and-white artwork by Mitch Gerads and the script by Tom King. (11%, 2 Votes)
  • KILL OR BE KILLED #16 (IMAGE) - Brubaker and Phillips' bestselling series keeps ratcheting up the tension! Even the walls of a mental hospital can’t protect Dylan from his curse. (11%, 2 Votes)
  • DEADMAN #4 (DC) - From behind the scenes rises “He Who Is Always There,” Ra’s al Ghul, the very worst option before or after the death of Boston Brand. (0%, 0 Votes)

Total Voters: 18

Loading ... Loading ...

TPB = Trade Paperback, a volume containing a longer original story, or collecting multiple issues of a regular comic.

HC = Hardcover, a volume containing a longer original story, or collecting multiple issues of a regular comic.

The featured image showcases what I feel is the best cover of the bunch, and is not intended to sway your vote. (For real, though; as bad as the comic has been, that cover is amazing. Why can’t you just stick to art, Mr. Adams?)

One person, one vote. If you vote more than once, all of your votes for that Weigh In will be discarded.

Admittedly, I don’t know for sure that I’m starting the new job next week, as I’m still waiting for the adjudication of my clearance, which takes some time, and I can’t start working until that happens. I mean, it’s a Public Trust, after all, not some trivial thing like working in the White House and having access to classified information. I’m not some common Jared Kushner, after all, free to roam about wily-nily without clearance…

Still, I decided that a day that for many is, at best, bittersweet was as good a day as any to call it quits on this unloved beloved feature.

What does the future hold ? Well, the Spotlight will continue, at least for a while, albeit without your input, but some things about it will likely never change, such as the fact that practically no one reads it.

I may do some kind of non-voting post  ahead of time just to let people know what I bought that week, but maybe not.

Of course, despite the commuting nightmare that awaits me and will interfere with my energy and my comic-buying, I could continue the Weigh In as-is if I were to make the switch to digital.

There’s definitely an appeal to that, but ultimately, I want to keep supporting my Local Comic Shop,  Comic Logic Books & Artwork. Remember to support your LCS (find one here, if you don’t already have one).

After all, would a digital comic book service give me a Valentine?

When I decided that I would take on the Sisyphean task of attempting to generate traffic by adding content in the form of some ramblings about comics, I hit upon the idea of the Weigh In and thought it would be a fun way to add a little interactivity and make the whole thing a bit more like a conversation than just some dry recap or in-depth review.

While it was often a frustrating experience for me, overall it was fun while it lasted, and while the vast majority of the online world took no notice, I hope that the handful of you who did had fun, too.

Ending a relationship is never easy – especially on Valentine’s Day – but just keep in mind that it’s not you, it’s me*.

And remember, you can still support OpenDoor Comics on Patreon!

*It totally is you, though.