Emerald City Comicon 2013: the Loot

I mentioned in the first part of my con report that I would list the new books I picked up, so here it is.

DC Comics

  • Action Comics: 2 bought, 18 remaining
  • Adventure Comics: 4 bought, 14 remaining
  • Atom: 6 bought
  • Atom and Hawkman: 2 bought
  • Batman: 9 bought, 105 remaining
  • Batman and Robin Adventures: 26 bought, none remaining
  • Batman Adventures: the Lost Years: 5 bought, none remaining
  • Batman Family: 3 bought, 1 remaining
  • Birds of Prey: 4 bought, 9 remaining
  • DC Special: 2 bought, 7 remaining
  • DC Special Series: 1 bought, 18 remaining
  • Detective Comics: 6 bought, 73 remaining
  • Flash: 3 bought, 23 remaining
  • GI Combat: 15 bought, 13 remaining
  • Ghosts: 24 bought, 34 remaining
  • Green Lantern: 2 bought, 18 remaining
  • Jonah Hex: 29 bought, 39 remaining
  • Justice League of America: 7 bought, 16 remaining (80 for complete series)
  • Our Army at War: 3 bought, 35 remaining
  • Our Fighting Forces: 11 bought, 19 remaining
  • Phantom Stranger: 5 bought, 26 remaining
  • Plastic Man: 3 bought, 1 remaining
  • Plop: 11 bought, 10 remaining
  • Power Girl (the most recent series): 1 bought, none remaining (this was just an alternate cover to issue #1)
  • Sandman: 1 bought, none remaining (I have two other copies of this issue, but one is sun-damaged, the other has...something sticky on it that I don't want to think about)
  • Secrets of Haunted House: 11 bought, 17 remaining
  • Sgt. Rock: 9 bought, 18 remaining
  • Shazam: 2 bought, 3 remaining
  • Star Spangled War Stories: 7 bought, 18 remaining
  • Superman: 3 bought, 26 remaining
  • Superman Adventures: 22 bought, 20 remaining
  • Superman's Girl Friend, Lois Lane: 4 bought, 19 remaining
  • Swamp Thing: 2 bought, 6 remaining
  • Tarzan: 6 bought, none remaining
  • Teen Titans: 4 bought, 9 remaining
  • Unknown Soldier: 2 bought, none remaining
  • Weird War Tales: 8 bought, 77 remaining
  • Weird Western Tales: 3 bought, 23 remaining
  • Witching Hour: 13 bought, 32 remaining
  • Wonder Woman: 1 bought, 24 remaining

Marvel Comics

  • Avengers: 1 bought
  • Battlestar Galactica: 14 bought
  • Contest of Champions: 3 bought
  • Rom, Spaceknight: 16 bought
  • Shogun Warriors: 1 bought
  • Thor: 1 bought
  • What If: 7 bought

That's a total of 325 issues added to my collection. In addition, I picked up the newest Love and Capes trade a couple weeks early, and Son of Origins of Marvel Comics, and my wife picked up three or four trades, including Killing Shakespeare.

Emerald City Comicon 2013

Emerald City Comicon was this weekend, and the wife and I spent quite a bit of time and money there.  This year, the con more than doubled its floor space by opening up a second large room, and they also added areas for costuming stuff, gaming (both board and computer),

Friday

We got to the con early, only to find out that the line to exchange tickets for badges was out the door and around the corner.  Unfortunately, the way they had set things up, you had to walk through smoker's alley to get there, which caused some allergies to flare up.  I really wish event promoters would consider that when making those plans.  Also, since we had to wait outside in Washington, they were very lucky it didn't rain, or they would have had some wet and angry patrons.  But before you think this is going to be nothing but a negative rant, this was pretty much the only negative of the weekend.

Once the line started moving, it never stopped.  They got all of us through the line to get our badges and into the con as quickly as possible.  Once I got into the main room (which I ended up thinking of as the creator room, as opposed to the other room, which was mostly vendors), I started by trying to figure out where Mike Grell's table was, since I was determined to get onto his sketch list.  The problem was that the map didn't really show where you enter the room, so I ended up wandering around a bit.  At one point I stopped to figure out where I was, and I was only slightly aware of a group of people near me.  The wife pointed them out and made me really look at them.  It turned out that one of them was Chris Cashman, local comedian and co-star of a local comedy sketch show (like Saturday Night Live, but very Seattle-based).  The show had only had a couple episodes, which were then repeated, but there hadn't been any new ones for a couple months.  So I took the opportunity to ask if they were still going to be doing the show.  He was very nice and he let me know that the initial episodes were essentially pilot episodes, that the show had done very well, and that they had just finished filming a Breaking Bad parody sketch for the show's return in April.

I finally figured out where we were, so I headed over toward Mike Grell's table.  In doing so, I ended up passing by the table of Thom Zahler, creator and artist of the comic series Love and Capes.  I had gotten onto his sketch list before the show, so I knew he had stuff for me.  The first one I saw was Composite Superman.

Next was the Marvel Family. 

He also had a copy of his numbered print for me, and I had requested that I get the same number this year, if possible, and it was. 

He also had copies of his newest, as-yet-unreleased trade which I also purchased and had signed.  I read it that night, by the way, and it's excellent, just as funny and touching as the rest of the series has been.

I finally figured out where Mr. Grell's table was located, and got in the short line to get some books signed and to get on his sketch list.  I put myself down to get a sketch of Shakira, a character of his from his time on Warlord who was a cat who could assume human form and who was one of my favorites from that series.  I was also going to have him sign Warlord's first appearance, his first ten or so issues, a couple issues of Legion of Super-Heroes, and the tabloid LSH book he had drawn, but then I discovered that he would only sign one book for free, and any others you'd have to pay to have signed.  I refuse to pay to have books signed, so I only had Warlord's first appearance signed, from First Issue Special.  I also got gently berated by Mike Grell for only having one issue signed.

I moved on and found the table of Mike Dringenberg, an early artist on Sandman.  I brought and had him sign his issues that I had previously had signed by Neil Gaiman.  He seemed a really nice guy, though I didn't get much chance to talk to him.

From there I moved on Gerry Conway's table.  More than any writer, he's probably most responsible for my love of comics.  The first superhero comic I remember owning (Justice League of America #174) was written by him, the first JLA/JSA crossover I read (JLA 195-197) was his, the second JLA/JSA crossover I read (JLA 159-160) was his, and the first two books I purchased with my own money (LSH 274-275) were his.  These books represent pretty much everything I love about comics.  For years, I didn't realize that JLA #174 was actually part 2 of the story because it was so skillfully written, you didn't need to have read the first part.  At any rate, I had him sign all these books, along with JLA#173, since it went along with the set.  He seemed a very humble and gracious person, and he even apologized for having hooked me on comics.  He also cracked a joke about some of the dialog in the books, since he wrote Black Lightning with a very stereotypical style of speech.  We also had a nice bit of chat about his work on the LSH.

Next, I headed into the other room, the vendor room, to find Kurt Busiek's table. I had met him when he did a signing at Olympic Cards and Comics, and I had him sign all of his Astro City books that had been published to that point.  This time, I had him sign his books that had come out since that time, along with his first work for DC Comics, from Green Lantern #162.  He also had a jar out to collect donations (in lieu of a signing fee) for Hero Initiative, if I remember correctly.  I willing put some money in the jar. And before you berate me paying for a signature, I didn't.  I wasn't forced to pay for the signatures.  In fact, the books were already signed and I could have just walked away.  I donated out of thanks to Mr. Busiek, and because it's such a worthy cause.  He also had a lithograph by Alex Ross of his Astro City characters, which I purchased and had him sign.

e returned to our room, dropped off the signed stuff, and I grabbed my bag and returned to the vendor room for some shopping.  I picked up around 60 or 70 books before returning to the room for the night.

Saturday

The con was supposed to open at 10am, but it was already open by the time we got there.  I went by Danielle Corsetto's table, but she wasn't in yet.  Danielle writes and draws the awesome Girls with Slingshots webcomic.  So, instead I spent quite a bit of time at the back issue vendors buying books I needed for my collection.  I returned to our room for lunch and to update my list before heading back in.  While we were eating lunch, I got the call that my Mike Grell sketch was done.

I returned to the vendor room and spent yet more time with the back issue vendors, and again returned to my room to update my list.  My wife came back, and she had managed to find a couple of trades that I had missed, including Killing Shakespeare.  With my list updated, I decided I was going to take the time to collect my sketch and try to stop by Danielle's table again.  My route to pick up my sketch was going to take me right by her table, but when I got there, she had quite a line waiting for her, so I moved on to Mike Grell's table to collect my Shakira sketch.

After that, I wandered around a bit to give Danielle time to work through her line, but when I got back to her table, she was on a break, so I returned to my room for the night.

At some point on Saturday, I also managed to figure out where the cosplay and gaming area was, because I wanted to meet Yaya Han, a beautiful cosplayer who does amazing work on her outfits.  Unfortunately, the first time I went down she was in normal clothes and had a bit of a crowd, and the next time I went she was in costume and had a huge crowd and was being filmed.  So sadly, I never got to meet her.

Sunday

Since we needed to check out by noon, I only had a little bit of time left.  I got there quite early, hoping to maximize my time if they let us in before the 10am opening time.  Sure enough, the opened the doors about 10 minutes early.  I headed to Danielle's table but she wasn't in yet, so I headed back to the vendor area and bought another 90 or so comics.  With that finished I headed back to the room to check out.  I'm disappointed that I wasn't able to get Danielle's new trade, but I guess that's just what happens sometimes.  I will just have to hope she comes back next year.

I will post again later with a more complete list of my haul, but I managed to find quite a few of the war and western books I needed, including most of the Jonah Hex series from the 70s and 80s.  I also got quite a few mid-grade Atom comics from the 60s for really cheap, as well as a couple of early-middle LSH appearances from Adventure Comics, a couple of early JLA/JSA crossovers, and two of the four bicentennial covers I needed.

All in all, it was another great con, and the changes they made for this year really improved the experience.  I have heard that they are hoping to have Friday run the whole day, rather than just a couple hours, and that would be the best change they could make.  Well, that and they should also make a change to the bag they sell, since it is too small to actually put a comic book flat in the bottom of the bag.  Seems like a silly oversight to me.

The new look

You may have noticed a few changes! My domain name was coming up for renewal, and while I had been relatively happy with GoDaddy, their support of some bad legislation in the form of SOPA and PIPA had me looking for a new domain name service.  In addition, while I loved my old hosting service, SquareSpace, I had a few ideas for my site that they couldn't support.  So I started looking around, and discovered Bluehost.  For about 1/3rd of what I was spending before, I could set up a Wordpress site with unlimited storage, which would give me quite a bit of flexibility. It took me a weekend or so to move my old posts from SquareSpace, to find and implement a comic-styled theme, and to set up all the pictures and links in my posts.  Pretty soon, I will be uploading some of my photographs, and I'm hoping I will also be starting my DC Comics Chronology project.  More on that another day.

Please feel free to leave me comments on the look, or if you find anything that doesn't work.  I've tested quite a bit of it, since there isn't much to test yet, but I could have missed something.

Emerald City Comicon 2012 recap

I think I have finally recovered from ECCC 2012. I was there for all three days, from March 30 through April 1st. Overall, it was a great show, with a lot of great guests. The check-in was a little disappointing, however. There were nearly as many people helping the walk-ins as there were helping the pre-sales. In fact most of the walk-ins got in before I even had my badge, so what was the advantage of buying ahead of time? At any rate, the first thing I did when I got in was to head to Thom Zahler's table. Thom is the writer and artist of the amazing, funny series Love and Capes. I had commissioned a piece of artwork from him, and I picked up his con print. I also had him sign my trades of Love and Capes.

Next I headed to Don Rosa's table. Outside of Carl Barks (Scrooge's creator), no one has done more for Disney's Duck comics than Mr. Rosa. I got a free sketch from him, and a print of his Duck Family Tree. He does something cool for the print, in that he fills your name in as the previously unknown father of the three nephews, Huey, Dewey and Louie. I also had him sign my Boom! hardbacks of The Life and Times of Scrooge McDuck and found out how disgusted Mr. Rosa is with Boom! If you see him, have him sign the Gemstone versions which he prefers.

hile I was waiting to meet Mr. Rosa, my wife found an awesome Muppets Doctor Who print by Amy Mebberson at the table next door, which she later purchased.

Then I went to the tables of David Petersen of Mouse Guard fame, followed by Katie Cook, writer and artist of the Gronk web comic. I had my Mouse Guard hardcovers signed, including having Ms. Cook sign Legends of the Guard, and moved on to see Danielle Corsetto, writer and artist of the Girls with Slingshots web comic, where I scored the next two books of her strips. Next to her was Jeff Schuetze, the writer and artist of the JEFbot web comic. I picked up his book of strips because I have never taken the time to back and read the earlier strips, and because I love to support web comic creators.

After that, we returned to our room so I could off-load all the hardcovers I had been hauling around. We ate lunch and returned to the con so I could begin my shopping. I spent most of the rest of the con looking for books I needed for my collection. All told I ended up getting around 500 back issues, including a couple missing issues of Justice League of America, Super Friends, Star Wars, and Kamandi, complete runs of The Shadow and Strange Sports Stories, and large chunks of Alpha Flight, Champions, Logan's Run, Batman Family, Ghosts, Weird War, Weird Western, GI Combat, Detective, Men of War, Challengers of the Unknown, Unexpected, Unknown Soldier, and a bunch of the digest books I was missing. I also found a paperback, published in the 1970s, that reprinted a couple of older Legion of Super-Heroes stories. I think I might have seen it as a kid but I never owned it, until now.

Here's looking forward to next year!

Harry Potter and Emerald City Comicon

If you haven't been paying attention, the Harry Potter books were recently released for electronic readers.  I, for one, say that it's about time they did it.  What surprised me was how it happened.

Trying to buy it from Barnes and Noble, since I have a Nook reader, I followed the link and saw that there was no pricing shown.  I refreshed the page, thinking that it might not have gotten the page correct the first time, but it still didn't come up.  So I decided to try to purchase it, at which point it would have to tell me the price, right?

Surprisingly, it took me off B&N's site to the new Pottermore website store.  Purchasing it there gave me the ability not only to download it up to eight times, but also to link my B&N account so that the books became "natively" part of my Nook's ecosystem.  My dream has finally started to come true, that my Nook account is effectively a locker that my Nook connects to for me to read my books.  I'm sure B&N didn't get as much for my purchase as they would have if I had purchased it directly from them, but I'm sure they will still be making out like bandits on all the sales of the series.

Reading the series again, which I haven't read for years, is definitely like revisiting an old friend.  I still feel the disgust I felt the first time I read about Harry's poor treatment by his aunt and uncle, and the sense of wonder when Harry gets chosen by his wand.  Yes, the later books were a bit too long and could have stood with a bit of editing, which probably didn't happen as much because of the meteoric rise of fame J. K. Rowling received, but the series is still amazingly good.

On another note, I'm going to be at Emerald City Comicon this weekend!  If you are planning to be there, I would love to meet you.  Just post a note in the comments!

Anne Rice's The Wolf Gift

I realized a funny thing while reading Anne Rice's new novel, The Wolf Gift.  It read exactly like a superhero origin story. 

I admit I've never read one of her novels completely.  I started Interview with a Vampire many times, but I have never been able to finish it.  I think it was as much me as it was her.  Her writing style made it easy for me to become distracted.  However, I read enough to believe that I understood her style: florid, with long descriptions.  Never having finished one of hers, though, I thought I'd start with her newest series.

For the most part, I enjoyed the book.  It tells the story of a journalist who gets bitten and turned into a werewolf.  However, as with the Vampire series, Rice's werewolves are unlike most werewolves you've seen before.  They don't look particularly like wolves, nor are they harmed by silver.  They are, however, drawn to evil.

The writing, like I said earlier, made me think of an origin story.  The main character gets his powers, tests them out, learns about them, and ultimately learns how they came about, both how he got them, and whence they originally came.  And it wasn't at all what I expected of Rice.  Yes, there were moments where she got florid, and she overused the word "boiling."  There was actually a moment where something happens between the main character and his eventual girlfriend that almost made me quit the book.

But I didn't quit, and I did enjoy the story.  While I had enjoyed it throughout, the events about two-thirds of the way through the book grabbed me and I couldn't put it down until I finished.  All in all, I recommend it, especially if you haven't read her books before, and I'm looking forward to the next in the series.

Star Wars Episode 1: The Phantom Menace in 3D

As I'm sure you know, Episode 1 was released last Friday to 3D theaters.  I debated for quite a while about whether I was going to see it.  There are two main reasons why I debated so long.  The first is that I really don't care for the movie because it has always felt to me like George Lucas couldn't make up his mind who his audience was going to be.  There is too much Jar-Jar Binks, too many poop and fart jokes, and really bad slapstick for adults to enjoy.  On top of that is a totally-incomprehensible-to-children story about trade agreements.  In addition to that, two of the main characters are played by horrible actors, in the forms of Natalie Portman and Jake Lloyd.  The other reason I debated, besides my dislike of the movie itself, is that I have always thought that 3D is overly-hyped, and that there's no way that paying extra for 3D would ever be worth it.

Having said all that, I'm a died-in-the-wool Star Wars fan, and I can't pass up the opportunity to see that universe back on the big screen.  So I got tickets online for my local theater.  And that's where my distaste for modern theaters is proven correct again.  They service-charged me for getting my tickets early.  Except that I didn't really get them early.  I had to print the email, bring it with me to the theater, along with the credit card I used to buy the tickets.  How is that worth the service charge?  And they didn't tell me that I had to do all that until after I "purchased" the tickets.

We arrived at the theater, got our commemorative glasses, and got our seats.  It turns out I shouldn't have bothered to get my tickets early, because there were only about 10 of us in the theater, and we were the first ones there anyway.  The trailers eventually started, and I expected to get blown away by the 3D on those movies that were designed with it in mind, but I really wasn't.  It could have been our theater, but there was a slight background "echo" of the image that was distracting.  We saw trailers for The Lorax, Paranorman, and the new Spider-Man, and while there were a couple moments that gave me the "wow" feeling that I wanted, they were few and far between.  In reality, the things I liked most about those trailers would have worked perfectly well in 2D, such as using Spider-Man's point of view while working his way across the city, including flipping the view upside-down when he was walking on a ceiling.

Then the feature started. My feelings about the movie itself are unchanged.  It's still a confused mess.  The 3D worked okay for things like the space battles, the pod race, and the final battle between the Jedis and Darth Maul.  In fact, the shot of Obi-Wan hanging in the tube made for a wonderful perspective shot.  They also did some interesting things in order to accentuate the perspective from the flat, 2D film, such as adding window frames to the foreground to add depth to long-shots.  Unfortunately, though, one of the ways they did this in medium and close-up shots was to blur the background, which gave the background a "rear-projection" feel, so that it seemed as if the background wasn't really there (which it wasn't in most of the shots, since they were doing green-screen, but the green-screen work in the original still felt present, rather than added later).

At any rate, the conversion was at least partly successful, but I'm still not impressed with the 3D technology.  I suspect that it was a combination of my theater and the hype and recommendations I've gotten that got my expectations too high.  I will probably see the other five movies in 3D, because how can I not?  But I have to console myself with the fact that I'm not seeing them for the 3D, I'm seeing them because I love Star Wars, and I prefer it on the big screen.

 

Asimov's Elijah Baley stories

Thanks to the advent of electronic books, I've been reading more now than ever before...well, more books, that is. And saying that I've been reading more is an exaggeration, even then. I've actually been rereading more. I find myself buying and reading books I already own more often than I'm buying new books.

Case in point, I was ecstatic to find that they were finally releasing Asimov's Elijah Baley books. I preordered them so that they would show up on my Nook as soon as they were available. I remembered reading and loving these books as a teenager, and I was actively watching for their release.

Having reread them, I'm not sure why I was so taken with them.

Basically, they are science-fiction mystery books. The main character, Elijah Baley, is a detective on Earth. Assigned to solve various mysteries, he is accompanied by his unwelcome (at least, at first) partner, R. Daneel Olivaw. The R stands for robot. But Daneel is a special robot, even by robot standards, as he is almost unmistakably human-like.

The first book, The Caves of Steel, introduces the characters and their world, where Earth has been left behind by those who have settled fifty other worlds. Those settlers, referred to as Spacers, consider themselves vastly superior to their forebears on Earth, who have consolidated themselves in massive city complexes where thing like weather and even sunlight are all but forgotten. Baley, with Olivaw's help, must solve the murder of a Spacer with Earth's position in the galaxy in the balance.

The second book, The Naked Sun, takes Baley off Earth to the planet Solaria to solve the murder of another Spacer, reuniting him with Olivaw and introducing the dead Spacer's wife, Gladia. Once again, Earth's position in the galaxy rides on Baley's ability to solve what is essentially a locked room mystery.

Lastly, the third book, which I've been reading this week, is The Robots of Dawn, which takes Baley off-world again to solve another "murder", this time of a human-like robot in the service of a relocated Gladia. Not to sound like a broken record (shouldn't that phrase really be a scratched record?), but Earth's position in the galaxy depends on Baley's ability to solve the murder, as does his own position within Earth's police force.

In the first two books, quite a bit of time is spent with Baley making bad guesses about what was going on. For example, in the first book, he spends an entire chapter detailing Baley's supposition that Olivaw wasn't really a robot, when simply having Baley, a supposedly good detective, ask Olivaw, who must obey orders from humans, to prove his robotic nature would have shortened the book considerably.

The second book also spends quite a bit of time dealing with Baley's newly-discovered agoraphobia. Having been raised in the all-encompassing City on Earth, Baley hasn't spent any time out in the open. Asimov constructs many contrived situations that force Baley into the open, only to spend needless pages on the consequences. Baley supposedly can't solve the case without traveling to interview the witnesses instead of using a three-dimensional video phone, yet there's nothing in what he discovers that proves him right in that respect.

The worst, by far, is the third book. Firstly, Asimov uses this book as an opportunity to tie together all his previous robot books and short stories, by referring to Susan Calvin, and his Foundation novels thanks to continual references to psychohistory. In addition, there is a secret, mostly unimportant to the story, but leading up to the reveal, Asimov can't resist making little off-hand references to it, which on rereading come off as smug, almost as if Asimov needed to point out how much smarter he was than the reader. Lastly, he also breaks one of my cardinal rules of writing by making many references to a hard-to-find short story starring the pair. If you intend to spend pages referring to a short story, you might be better served just including the story.

These books are fine for what they are, but now I'd be hard-pressed to give them more than a passing grade. The first two are better than the third, but not by much.

Stumptown 2011

Last weekend found me making my way to Portland, Oregon, for the Stumptown 2011 comic convention. The main reason was due to the fact the Larry Marder, creator of Tales of the Beanworld, was going to be there signing books and giving a talk about the origins of the Beanworld and where he's going to be taking the series in the next couple of years.

Recently, the series has been reprinted in smaller hardcovers, and a whole new story was also released in the same format. The next book in the series had been previously announced, but at the talk he revealed plans to publish a thinner volume collecting missing stories including the story from Asylum, his online-only story, and his holiday special.

While I was there I also had him sign my copies of the hardcovers (I had him sign my issues and trade paperbacks a couple years ago at a previous Stumptown) and also bought a couple pieces of art, including a Mr. Spook that I requested since he didn't already have one for sale. You can see those above, along with the piece I bought at the earlier Stumptown.

I also bought a couple books from some other creators, including one by Phil Foglio. I always enjoyed his work at DC and it was great getting to meet him.

What I read: October 3, 2010

Incredible Hercules: Assault on New Olympus TPB: Herc and Amadeus Cho reunite to take on Hera and her plans to recreate the world.  This has been a great series written by Greg Pak with art by Fred Van Lente.  My only complaint is that toward the end of the trade, Pak seems to have forgotten that Herc brought heroes with him, as they aren't mentioned for about two or three issues.  I also wish Pak would get a gig on Spider-Man.  He definitely has the correct "voice" for him.

Daredevil: The Devil's Hand TPB: It seems like forever since the last trade came out.  This one tells the tale of Daredevil's taking over the Hand (a group of assassins who have plagued his life for years) and his first couple of "missions" leading them. This was the first storyline written and drawn by the new team of Andy Diggle and Roberto De La Torre, respectively, and I certainly enjoyed it.  I would have preferred there to have been a bit more movement in the story, as there was quite a bit of political machinations by the Kingpin, and some obvious contrivances with repect to Matt Murdock's support team of Foggy Nelson and Dakota North.  However, the story itself was interesting and the art ranged from good to excellent.

Ms. Marvel: Best You Can Be TPB: In this book, Ms. Marvel tracks down Mystique because she believes that Mystique is impersonating Captain Marvel and attacking Kree-religion churches, but discovers she has a much larger plot.  While the first issue in this book has extremely uneven art, the rest of the art in the book was stunning, and the writing was great.  However, the editor should be replaced.  In one issue, Ms. Marvel supposedly takes someone 500 miles in 5 minutes, but in the next she claims that she can fly 700 miles in 2 hours if she's going flat out.  In showing that flight from San Francisco to Seattle, they show her flying north with Mount Rainier behind her.  For those Pacific-Northwest-impaired, that would mean she's in Eastern Washington, and couldn't be a straight-line flight as she said it was.  Otherwise, it was a great book in a great series.

The New Avengers: Luke Cage TPB: This book covers three stories.  In the first, Luke Cage goes to Philadelphia to help an old friend stop an incoming drug shipment.  This story was okay, but the art by Eric Canete was awful, and I'm not a big fan of stories where a superhero faces off against normal thugs.  It seems like a waste of a super-hero story.  After all, how big a hero can they be when they really have no possibility of losing?  The other two were fun, meaningless, one-off stories.  It also includes a reprint of the first issue of Luke Cage's original series, Hero for Hire.

 Captain America Reborn TPB: This is another that I was looking forward to, much like Wolverine: Old Man Logan.  Thankfully, this one was much better.  It tells the story of the return of Steve Rogers, who was killed at the end of the sort-of-recent Civil War series.  I did feel that too much of Ed Brubaker's story was spent telling snippets of Steve Rogers's past, but the art by Bryan Hitch and Butch Guice was good and, overall, the story was entertaining and held my interest throughout.

That's it for today.  I should be back later this week with more books I've read.  I still have a couple of Marvel TPBs to go, as well as three (soon to be four) weeks of regular issues.

What I read yesterday

Old Man Logan TPB: This was a book I was very excited to read, as I had heard so many good things about it while it was coming out.  Unfortunately, it didn't live up to the hype for me.  Written by Mark Millar and drawn by Steve McNiven, it tells of a futuristic Hawkeye and Wolverine crossing a country controlled by various super-villains.  Wolverine has been broken, becoming a pacifist (which annoyingly he reminds you every four pages or so) and Hawkeye is blind due to cataracts.  Hawkeye coerces Wolverine to become his navigator on this cross-country trip, so that Hawkeye can try to create a place for himself in the new society.  Unfortunately, Millar makes Hawkeye and Wolverine sound exactly the same, and he continually uses the same phrasing over and over.  By the end of this book, if I never hear the phrase "pop his claws" again, I will die a happy man.  Also, there was very little new in the story.  It followed many of the same tropes as every other "future of the super-heroes you know and love" story.  We run into Spider-Man's daughter, who coincidentally was Hawkeye's wife once, and Spidey's grand-daughter (Hawkeye's daughter).  We see what happened to each of the major heroes as the main characters fight their way across country.  And the ending was telegraphed from nearly the first page.  The art was good, but there were many things where artistic license overrode realism and that took me out of the story for a panel or two each time.  For example, in the scene of Hank Pym's gigantic skeleton, it showed that his finger bones were apparently fused together, as his fingers were pointing upright into the sky.  Once the skin, muscle and tendons had gone, the bones should have fallen apart.  At any rate, this book didn't live up to the excitement with which I anticipated it.

 

Comics I read yesterday

Incorruptible TPB #2: Mark Waid proves to me once again why he's in my top 10 or even top 5 comic book writers.  Though I still prefer Irredemable, this is a great series set in the same universe.  The art was good, but it could be better.

Adventure Comics #518: Unfortunately, my copy had a binding/printing issue that affected both the Legion story and the Atom backup.

Batgirl #14: A great story that attempts to re-establish a link between Batgirl and Supergirl.  The worst thing about this issue for me was that it reminds me what we lost thanks to Crisis on Infinite Earths.

Batman #703: Finally, they allow Dick Grayson to do something and use the fact that he's Batman, rather than writing Batman in such a way that it doesn't matter who's wearing the costume.  However, once again they can't decide how long Bruce Wayne has been Batman, saying that he fought Getaway Genius ten years ago.  Up till recently, hasn't Bruce Wayne only been Batman for five years or so?  I guess Damian proves that wrong, but still they need to get their story straight.

Batman and Robin #14: Admittedly, I'm not a fan of Grant Morrison's current writing style.  Moreover, I really hate the way he writes Batman, particularly with respect to Batman's villains.  Morrison's point of view is, apparently, that Batman only fights villains who are insane and who speak in non sequiturs.  Unfortunately, that makes his stories totally incomprehensible for me anymore.

Batman: Odyssey #3: I can't believe this series is scheduled to go to 13 issues.  Neal Adams's art is great, but his writing is mediocre at best.  I don't remember Talia even acting the way he writes her in this issue, and since when does "water" rhyme with "order" (a sub-plot in the story depends on this rhyme)?

Booster Gold #36: Keith Giffen writes an okay story, but it's obvious that he's at his best when his writing is tempered by J. M. DeMatteis.  And really, Estrogina? It's official, all the hero names have been taken if this is the best he could come up with.

Doc Savage #6: The Doc Savage story plods along, and I have an idea they don't know where they are going with it.  The Avenger story begins a new arc, and was intruiging.  Generally I've enjoyed the backup stories more than the main stories, and I'm a fan of the Doc Savage pulps.

Doctor Solar #2: While this issue was certainly better than the first, and much better than the first issue of Magnus, Robot Fighter, it appears that Jim Shooter has forgotten that kids occasionally read comics.  I wouldn't want my kid reading this one.

 More to come later this week, I promise.

Annuals, milestone and anniversary issues

Like usual, I got behind in my reading, so this weekend I ended up reading the recent milestone issues for both Superman and Wonder Woman.  Like the Batman milestone before them, they consisted of a collection of short stories, written and drawn by various people, many of whom have a connection to the series.  At best, all three of these issues were mediocre, featuring unimportant stories as well as serving to introduce new teams (in the case of Superman and Wonder Woman) and whole new series (in the case of Batman/Batman Beyond).  It makes me long for the Silver Age, when milestones, anniversaries and annuals featured special stories, ones that needed the extra pages that were always given to these types of occasions.

Take Action Comics #544.  A true anniversary issue, it celebrated Action Comics' 45th year by introducing changes to both Lex Luthor and Brainiac in the form of a power suit for Lex and a whole new body for Brainiac.  Admittedly, this issue did have multiple stories (two, as opposed to the recent milestone books having three), but they weren't serving as prologues for new series, nor were they introducing new creative teams: three of the four creators were the regular writers and artist of either Action Comics or Superman.  What was special about these stories was the changes they introduced.  Lex had been relatively unchanged since the '40s, and Brainiac was unchanged since near his introduction in the early '60s.

How about Brave and the Bold #200? This milestone issue teamed up Batman with, well, Batman, umm, sort of.  The first part of the story, with art meant to invoke a Golden Age style, chronicled a showdown between the Golden Age Batman (of Earth-2) and one of his villains.  When that villain is defeated, he takes over the body of his Earth-1 counterpart in our present, facing off against the modern-day Batman.  By this time, the Golden Age Batman was long-dead, so stories starring him were rare, and Brave and the Bold was almost the only place outside of Justice League of America where we could get stories of Earth-2.  Admittedly, this was the final issue of the series, and it had a "pull-out preview" (a bit of a joke, since the book was perfect-bound, meaning that pulling out the preview was nearly impossible) for the series it was effectively becoming, Batman and the Outsiders, but the star of the issue is truly the "team-up" story.

The early and mid-'80s also saw the return of the annual at DC Comics.  And those early annuals were special.  Take All-Star Squadron Annual #1.  In it, Roy Thomas linked together the origins of three golden-age heroes with boxing in their pasts, retelling their origins along the way.  Such a large story demanded the space given in an annual in order to tell its story.  And Legion of Super-Heroes Annual #2 featured a marriage between two long-time characters.  Justice League of America Annual #2, for better or for worse, featured a new direction for the team, bringing them back down to Earth and moving the team to Detroit. 

One thing to notice about all of these annuals is that they featured the creative team of the regular book.  There was also little "padding" in these books.  There were few, if any, pinups or backup stories or diagrams of headquarters.  They just had a great, important story that seemed like a special issue of the regular series.

I miss these events being treated as they used to.  I believe the recent special issues could have been so much better if they had focussed a bit more on one special story, rather than the three each that we were given.  It would also have been nice if the books celebrated the milestone rather than the fact that the books can't keep a steady team of creators.  Hopefully, DC and Marvel will one again treat these issues as the grand occasions that they should be, but until then, seek out earlier special issues.

Doctor Who: The Pandorica Opens

Wow. Another great episode written by Stephan Moffett, though I had a few quibbles with it.

Building on so many plot threads of the season, the Pandorica was first mentioned in the Weeping Angels two-parter by River Song.  Supposedly it contains the worst creature in the universe, a creature that frightens even the worst races of the galaxy, such as the Daleks, the Cybermen, and the Sontarans. As a side note, I don't know how the Sontarans are considered among the worst.  It's not like they can hit anything with their weapons.  Of course, the same can be said of the Daleks and the Cybermen, so maybe worst means worst shots.

At any rate, when River mentioned the Pandorica, the Doctor blew it off as a myth, but this episode shows that it is no children's story.  The episode ends on quite the cliffhanger, with the revelation of what's in the Pandorica, and River trapped away from both the Doctor and Amy, and with Amy's fate revealed, we are going screaming into the series finale.

Now, my quibble.  I knew something had been bothering me when I watched the episode, but it took a comment by someone else who'd seen the episode to make me realize what it was.  River, in searching Amy's house, found a picture of Amy standing with Rory who was dressed up for Halloween or a fancy dress party or something like that.  Given what's happened to Rory, how could that picture be there?  In addition, how could she remember Rory's last name later in the episode?  I trust Moffatt, so I'm sure there's a reason.  Moffatt seems to be inclined to make the Doctor more fallable, so I suspect it will turn out that the Doctor is wrong as to what happened to Rory and that will explain my problem with the episode.

Problem aside, this was a great episode and does nothing so much as make me anxious for the finale.

Doctor Who, series 5, so far

The fifth series of the return of the Doctor is nearing its end.  We have two episodes to go, and more than a couple plot-lines to wrap up.  This series introduced a new actor to the role, Matt Smith, and to be perfectly honest, I was worried how he'd do.  I'd never seen him in anything, and the roles he had done seemed like nothing that might prove him to be the kind of actor I'd prefer to play the Doctor.

I should have known that the show was going in the right direction when they chose Stephan Moffatt, the man who has written all of my favorite episodes of the newer series, to guide the show when Russell Davies stepped down.  His best, in my opinion, was Blink, a story that used time-travel very well, and showed that Moffatt could take something ubiquitous like stone garden angels and make them creepy and down-right frightening.

At any rate, since I like Moffatt so much, I should have trusted his choice of Smith.  And to a point I did, but Smith has far exceeded my expectations.  The first episode, Eleventh Hour, showed that he could be funny and warm, but still have a touch of menace.  The episode showed the kind of Doctor that Smith was going to be: Protective of children, curious about everything, and not one to take weapons or threats lightly.  Moffatt, who wrote the episode, also has a sequence that effectively passes on the role to Smith, with a montage of previous Doctors through which Smith walks at the appropriate time.  It was nice for them to acknowledge the previous Doctors, especially the eighth who seems to be ignored or forgotten most of the time.

The next episode, The Beast Below, was a bit of "more of the same."  They again show that the Doctor can't stand children being threatened, as the Doctor and his new companion Amy arrive in a future where the whole of humanity has taken their cities and lifted them off the Earth in search of a new planet to call home.  Children have started to go missing from the flying Britain, and a mass of clockwork creatures is suspected.  It turned out to be nothing of the kind, and Amy saves the day, which to me made the Doctor seem a bit, well, weak for not figuring it out himself.

The return of the Daleks is next up, with the Doctor trying to help out Winston Churchill with a Dalek problem he didn't even know he had.  The episode results in the evolution of the Daleks into what we are lead to believe will be much more viscious enemies for the Doctor.

Stephen Moffatt brings back his Stone Angels in a two-parter, The Time of Angels and Flesh and Stone.  These episodes also saw the return of another of Moffatt's creations, Professor River Song, who is a future companion of the Doctor.  Like Blink, this episode used time-travel really well, with River leaving a message in a place that she knows the Doctor will visit in the future, telling him when to return to get her out of a sticky situation.  From there, the Doctor faces a ship full of Stone Angels and a crack in time that causes people caught in it to be completely removed from time.  The crack is a running plot point this season, appearing in nearly all episodes.

Nowadays, all shows must have a vampire episode, and apparently Doctor Who is no exception.  Vampires of Venice tells the story of a shapechanging race who need human blood to survive.  I had more than a few problems with this episode, not the least of which was the ending where one of the shape changers removes clothing that we have been shown is part of her metamorphing.

In Amy Choice, the Doctor and Amy, along with Amy's fiance Rory, are trapped in a dream by the Dream Lord.  Or is it a dream?  From one point of view, Amy and Rory have been married for five years and are expecting their first child.  From another, the three of them are trapped on the TARDIS heading for a cold star.  If they die in the dream, they return to reality.  But which is the dream?  I found this one to be entertaining, but I knew what the final solution was fairly early in the episode.

Another two-parter, The Hungry Earth and Cold Blood, brought back an enemy of the third Doctor, the Silurians.  Once again, the Silurians are angry at the surface humans for "invading" their world by drilling.  The basic plot is practically a direct retelling of third Doctor episodes, and for me there were no surprises, as all of the characters were fairly one-dimensional.  Only the heart-breaking ending mattered much, but I'm pretty sure it's only a plot point that will be reversed or at least resolved in the series finale.

In order to cheer up Amy, the Doctor takes her to an exhibit of Vincent Van Gogh's paintings in Vincent and the Doctor.  The Doctor notices a monster in one of the paintings, and he and Amy go to help Van Gogh defeat the creature.  My problem with this episode was that they spent far too much time having Van Gogh gaze mournfully at Amy and almost no time on the creature.  The actor who played Van Gogh did look just like the painter's self-portrait, though, so that was at least interesting.

The episode that aired last weekend, The Lodger, has the Doctor stranded on Earth while Amy in the TARDIS is unable to land due to something happening in the upstairs flat of the room the Doctor takes.  We discover that (no surprise) the Doctor is good at everything, from football (soccer) to sales calls.  An amusing episode, but one that suffered from not enough Amy.  Originally I thought that it was that there wasn't enough interaction between Amy and the Doctor, but I realized that in most episodes Amy and the Doctor split up anyway, so that the writer can use them both as POV characters.

If this sounds like I'm down on the series, I'm not.  I love Matt Smith as the Doctor, and I adore Karen Gillen as Amy (C'mon, cute and a redhead? I'm so there.).  I suspect that I know the cause of the crack that's become the super-story of the series, and I think I might also know how it's going to be resolved.  Having said that, Moffatt always surprises me, so no matter how I think it might end, I'm probably wrong and that's what will make the journey fun.

WWW: Wake

www wake cover

The last time I was in the bookstore, I discovered that one of my favorite authors, Robert Sawyer, had a new novel out.  Titled (in the US, anyway) WWW: Wake, Sawyer begins a new trilogy apparently about the emergence of an artificial intelligence on the world wide web.  Interwoven into that plot is also the story of the blind girl who is given sight and in the process discovers the new being and helps to teach it more about our world.

It was a good novel, though I wouldn't consider it among his best work.  It seemed like there were too many plots that had nothing to do with the main story.  In addition to the main threads about the blind girl, Caitlin, and about the emerging intelligence, there are sub-plots about a disease outbreak in China, China's disconnecting itself electronically from the rest of the internet temporarily, the plight of a blogger in China and his running from the law, and a painting monkey.

The disease outbreak is what lead to China's cutting itself off from the rest of the world in order that the citizenry not hear anything negative when the rest of the world discovers that China carpet-bombed the infected area, intentionally killing villagers.  China's cutting itself off is later referenced by the characters as the reason the intelligence finally gained enough "steam" to become self-aware.

China's cutting itself off is also what lead the blogger to try to circumvent the firewalls, and what lead to the blogger getting himself chased by Chinese law-enforcement, but so far that story hasn't lead anywhere, nor has the plot thread of a monkey hybrid who demonstrates the ability to paint objects from memory, implying that it has the ability to create abstractions of reality.  I suspect that these threads will get picked up in the next volumes, but so far they seem fairly pointless.

My biggest problem with the book has to do with Caitlin's father.  Throughout the book, a big deal is made over how he isn't particularly demonstrative, that he never gives her any reaction, never hugs her, never gives any of the reactions that she expects and even desires.  The reason for that is revealed about two-thirds of the way through the book, and I had a hard time accepting either it, or the reactions of the other people around him.

Other than that, as usual, Sawyer presents many different, interesting ideas and fuses them into an intriguing narrative.  His dialog never seems forced or artificial, and his characters are all fully formed and realistic (well, other than her father).  Bottom line: even a moderately good Sawyer book is better than nearly any other book you could be reading, and I'm looking forward to the next one.

Emerald City ComicCon 2010 report

I'm back from the convention, and overall I had a good time.  My wife and I went to Seattle, where we had a room reserved for us through my mom's travel club.  When we finally got there, we got checked in and the condo place asked us if they could pay us to sit through their sales pitch to join the travel club.  That was a bit of a mistake, as the sales guy, once he knew we weren't buying, began insulting us.  We did get a $75 credit card out of it, but I'm not sure it covers the abuse I took.

Once the sales pitch was out of the way, we headed over to the convention center to exchange our tickets and get our passes/badges.  Coming up the escalators, a helpful lady indicated which way to go for ticketing.  Unfortunately, it was across the convention center from where people we supposed to do the exchange, so we had to head back the way we came.  We got our passes and then made our way to the convention hall.

I had prepared by printing the map from the convention's website, and marking down the locations of the people I wanted to meet.  Fir on my list were the Comic Geek Speak guys.  I have listened to them since their first episode, and they were one of the main reasons I wanted to go to the con.  Four of them were attending, though only Bryan Deemer and his wife were at the booth at first.  Eventually another showed up, Adam Murdough.

I discovered that right next to the CGS guys was the booth for Jill Thompson, one of my favorite artists on the Sandman series.  She got there a bit late and was having trouble getting her backdrop set up, so I offered to help and managed to get the thing to open up. More on her later.

Next we moved on to Eric Trautmann and Greg Rucka, whose booths were right behind the CGS booth.  I've seen both of these gentlemen many times, as Eric's wife owns and runs a local comic shop, Olympic Cards and Comics, and Mr. Rucka visits that shop fairly often to do signings and such.  While waiting in line for Rucka, I chatted a bit with Eric, and took a picture for a fellow attendee of her and Rucka.  I had Rucka sign a couple of his books, and he made fun of me for bringing real books to a comic convention, to which I pointed out that he'd already signed all of my comics.

From there, we visited Mike Norton, artist on the All-New Atom and Green Arrow/Black Canary, and co-star of the Crankcast podcast.  I know from listening to his show that he doesn't take compliments well, but I couldn't help telling him how much I like his artwork and how much I enjoy listening to the show.  I picked up a real copy of his self-published 24-hour comic, The Curse.  If you haven't read it, take a look, but be warned that the language isn't for younger kids.

After that, we visited the creator of a web comic that I just adore, Danielle Corsetto, creator of Girls With Slingshots.  I had wanted to get her four trade paperbacks, but once I knew that she was coming to the con, I held off in the hopes that I would get to meet her and have her sign and sketch them for me.  It's been hard for me to read the trades, as I will sit down to read a page or two and discover that I've read ten or twenty when I had other things to do.

Next we headed over to the table of Steve Lieber, artist on Whiteout.  He kindly drew a sketch in the first volume and signed both of them for me.  I had already gotten the writer, Greg Rucka, to sign them one time he visited Olympic Cards and Comics.  It was interesting to watch him first sketch the rough lines, and then use inks to finish the line art and to fill in the shading.

It was around this time that I realized that I hadn't prepared as well as I should have, as I didn't check the list of guests as well as I should have and had forgotten about half the books I should have brought.  For example, I forgot the Strangers in Paradise and Echo trades for Terry Moore to sign, as well as the Starman Omnibi for James Robinson.  Next year, I will try to do better.

The last books I needed to have signed were the Essex County trilogy by Jeff Lemire.  When we got there, he had stepped away, so we decided to wait. While we were waiting, I saw Mark Waid walking by, got his attention, and made a total fool of myself before he excused himself. Oh well, another lesson learned: I'm not good at small talk with people I admire that greatly.

Jeff Lemire returned, and he quickly signed my books before stepping away again.  I barely had time even to express my love of his books.  I suspect he hadn't intended to return and only did so to sign our books.  Hopefully I'll catch him again next year if I love his new book, Sweet Tooth, as much as I suspect I will.

We returned to the CGS booth, where I finally got to meet the other two guys who came from Pennsylvania, Brian and Peter.  It was nice chatting with them, as Peter's reading habits as a kid tend to mirror my own, and Brian is a mostly-DC reader like myself.

Now that Jill Thompson was set up, we watched her draw a spectacular Sandman, with some incredible use of negative space.  We also purchased a copy of her Death book and after some prompting, we got her to sign it.  At the time I was bothered that it took some prompting to get her to sign it, but I suspect she was focussed on doing her commissions.

By this time, I had gotten all my books signed and seen pretty much every one I wanted to see, so my wife headed back to the hotel and I started to do my shopping.  Over the course of the two days, I ended up buying about 200 books, which is still somewhat disappointing to me.  I usually end up getting closer to 500, but I know that it's because I already own a majority of the books I want that would end up in a cheaper box.  It didn't help that my list was a bit broken, as I'm converting to a new inventory program.

At any rate, I ended up buying quite a number of 80s Superman and Action Comics issues, as well as the issues I needed to complete or nearly complete a couple of series from the 80s and 90s, including Catwoman, Deathstroke, Unlimited Access, and Star Trek.  I also picked up a bunch of the issues I was missing from Batman and Detective Comics from the 90s, and random issues of Showcase, Tarzan, Korak, and others.  I also discovered a Seattle comic shop that appears to run occasional sales like the shop I visit in Portland, so the con was probably worth it for that, if for nothing else.

It was great getting to meet all those great creators, and my shopping was good, if not as comprehensive as I'd hoped.  My guess is that I will be going again next year, and hopefully I will be a bit better prepared.

Emerald City ComicCon 2010

Emerald City is coming up next weekend, and I can hardly wait.  It's been a bit over a year since I went to a con with comic shop vendors.  I went to Stumptown in Portland, Oregon, but the only people selling are the creators.

I've already gotten to work getting my list ready, my list of things I need (not want, but need).  So far, I have a smattering of issues that I need to complete a few series from the 1990s, and a couple issues that I am looking for to complete the Daily Planet pages, and I'm really hoping to finish off getting those Dollar Comics I still need.

Most of all, though, I think I'm going to be looking for later issues of the Brave and the Bold series from the late 80s that sort of became Batman and the Outsiders.  I had quite a number of those issues and I would love to have them again.  I'm also looking to collect a couple series to be bound, including Amethyst, All-Star Squadron, and Atari Force, things I know will never be collected by DC.  I'd love to have a nice hardcover of these books that I can read whenever I feel the urge.  And Library Binding now allows you to create a custom graphic to be printed and bound as the cover, so each volume can be truly unique.

Now I just wish I had some art skills.

My love affair with the Composite Superman

Composite Superman

When I was very young, no more than seven or eight, as all kids do, I had to go to the dentist.  More than most, I didn't mind going.  Why? Because my dentist had comics for the kids to read while they waited.  It was probably my first introduction to super-hero comics, and the book of his that I read the most was a coverless book that told the story of Joe Meach, a janitor at the Superman Museum who has the worst luck in the world.  While standing in front of a display of statuettes given to Superman by the Legion of Super-Heroes, lightning strikes the display and transfers all the powers of the Legion into Meach. Meach attempts to use his powers to take over the world, but in true Silver Age fashion, all is forgiven when the powers wear off and Meach doesn't remember what he did as the Composite Superman.

It wasn't until years later that I discovered that book was World's Finest Comics #142.  The character has always fascinated me.  From his look, a split-down-the-middle pairing of Superman and Batman, to his having the powers of all the Legion of Super-Heroes, who were obviously young heroes, a concept that I found immensely appealing, I was soon in love with both the character and super-hero comics.  Imagine my surprise when I discovered that, at that time, the Composite Superman only made one other appearance!

In World's Finest Comics #168, an alien appears and duplicates the accident that gave Meach his powers, who goes on a rampage.  After he loses his powers again, Meach sacrifices himself to save the duo from the alien's ray gun.  I hadn't read this story until recently, when I picked up its reprint in Super-Team Family #6.

I scoured my copy of the Overstreet Price Guide, looking for other appearances by the Composite Superman.  Surely he had made other appearances, as he was everything a writer could hope for, from his look to his power set. Surely he had appeared somewhere else, and more recently in a book I could find at the little used book store that was near my grand-parents which also carried back issue comics.  But no, he had never appeared after that.

It was years before the Composite Superman made a return appearance.  By this time, I had been reading comics regularly for a couple of years. Imagine my excitement when World's Finest Comics #283 showed up on my local grocery store's spinner rack, sporting a cover featuring the Composite Superman! Finally, another story with my favorite villain. Except, it wasn't quite the same.

The alien who recreated Meach's accident returns and makes himself into the Composite Superman. It continued into the next issue, with an appearance by the Legion, and the alien renames himself into Amalgamax before getting defeated, but overall it's a fairly uninteresting story, with unimpressive art.  Even a guest appearance by the Legion during one of its most important times couldn't save the issues.  At least the second part had a nice cover by Keith Giffen, who was also coming into his best period, in my opinion.

At least the Composite Superman wasn't forgotten by the folks at DC. When they began releasing a line of plastic figures showcasing the looks of various characters during their First Appearances, he was included in the third wave. I first saw the figure at a local store a couple years ago, but didn't have the money at the time.  By the time I was able to afford it, of course the figure was gone.  But yesterday, while checking out a store I had never visited before, there on their back wall was the First Appearance figure I had been wanting all this time.  And one of the coolest things about these figures is that they include a mini-version of the characters first appearance comic.  Though I managed to pick up his first appearance a couple years ago, it's nice to have this rarely-reprinted story included.

Sure, he sort-of made an appearance recently, as a giant robot. But it's not the same.  The original is still the best.  I'm sure it's what made me a fan of Curt Swan's art, and helped to propel me into being as huge a fan of the Legion as I am. I'm sure everyone has a favorite, little-used character.  Leave a comment and tell me yours!

The Life and Times of Scrooge McDuck hardcover

life and times of scrooge mcduck cover

A couple years ago, I finally managed to read The Life and Times of Scrooge McDuck and its companion volume.  These books tell the life story of Scrooge McDuck, the richest duck in Duckburg and great-uncle of Donald Duck.  The Life and Times tells the main story of his life, while the companion tells some lesser stories that fall neatly in between the main tales.  Boom Studios recently re-released The Life and Times of Scrooge McDuck as a hardcover. Well, that is to say that they released the first half of it.  Annoyingly, I didn't notice in the solicitation text that this book only reprints the first six stories of the twelve that comprise the first storyline.  This is where I think Boom Studios failed.  This version is a page-for-page identical reprint of the trade that was released by Gemstone, even down to Boom's not having updated the page references in the text, and Boom should probably have released the hardcover in one volume.  Certainly size wasn't that much of a consideration, as the trade has held up extremely well under repeated readings.

On the plus side, the content is outstanding, with wonderful stories and art by Don Rosa, the main successor to Scrooge's original creator Carl Barks.  If you've ever had any interest in Disney's duck characters, you will definitely want to read this collection.